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Contractual Obligation
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Contractual Obligation

by Ulysses Ai


This is the fifth instalment in the series starting with Wrong Way Go Back, though it works as a standalone gamebook in its own right.


Background
Contractual Obligation Cover Illustration
Artwork © Ulysses Ai
It was a long and perilous journey to the Cluster of Doom. Even worse, the homicidal deathbots of the planet Demise didn't even seem to want the unstable explosive material that they hadn't ordered anyway.

You risked your life to cart the stuff halfway across the galaxy, alone in a dilapidated, malfunctioning ship. And so after what must have been the most stressful week in your life, you finally return to Amorphonon 12, looking forward to spending some time with your girlfriend.

Reflecting on what has happened, you have a sneaking suspicion that Lord Gablentite is trying to kill you. But why? You are a hero! True, no one else seems to have noticed your great exploits, but they are impressive nonetheless. Your girlfriend Pomplompotom enjoys your stories at least.

Soon after your arrival, you are suddenly summoned to see the Merchant Prince. Carefully, you make your way to his audience chamber and slip in through the back way. "Ah, welcome back!" he greets you as you climb in though the window. "Please have a seat."

You eye the seat he refers to. "Er, I prefer to stand."

"Suit yourself," Lord Gablentite says easily. He currently wears the form of an aristocratic human in blue and golden robes, seated at a large desk where he pushes papers around in an important manner. "I regret to inform you that I can no longer allow you to court my daughter."

"Wa?" you respond. "Why?"

"It has been reported to me that you are currently under contract to someone else. Is this true?"

"No, of course not! Who said that?"

The Merchant Prince picks up a piece of paper and peers closely at it. "Apparently you made a contract with the treemaids of Teeheehee."

"Them? No! I was only there for a week. I mean, I did some work for them, but there was no contract, and I didn't even get paid."

"Hmm. It says here that during your initial contact with the treemaids, you promised to do anything, if they would just take you to their planet." The Merchant Prince looks at you and arches an eyebrow.

"Well, I may have said that," you admit sheepishly. "But that's not a contract!"

"A legal court would differ. You made a verbal contract, and the treemaids have fulfilled their obligation by taking you to their planet as you stipulated. All that remains now is for you to do whatever they desire."

"I saved them from being turned into tissues!"

"Ah, yes. But not under the terms of the contract. So whatever you did on Earth was, unfortunately, just recreation."

"Recreation?! I could have been killed!"

Lord Gablentite shrugs. "Many people seem to enjoy extreme sports. Anyway, the task the treemaids did give you under the contract, to catch the spiders that had escaped from their research facility, you left incomplete."

You shake your head in confusion. "What has any of this got to do with me and Pomplompotom?"

Lord Gablentite explains. "To be allowed to court my daughter, you must sign a suitor's contract, which you have done. However, in light of your prior commitments, that contract is now void." He picks up a piece of official-looking paper and places it inside a clear glass box. He shuts the door and the paper starts to blacken and curl, smoking into nothingness within seconds.

"Why do I need a contract to have a girlfriend? I just want to hang out and... er, talk to her. It's not like I'm going to marry her!"

"We do not do things so... casually here," the shapeshifter says. "No doubt you share the common delusion of all humans of permanence. You think your reality is solid, thus you seek transience. My people know better. The universe is ever-changing and transient. The only permanence is that we create ourselves, through our word, and through our law!"

"Huh?" you say.

The merchant prince waves away your confusion. "Now, you are free to continue working for me, since our agreement has no conflict with whatever demands the treemaids may make; since I will grant you Leave whenever they demand your services."

You tap your chin with your finger. "What if I go to Teeheehee and resolve this, then can I come back and sign another suitor's contract?"

"Well, I suppose I would have to consider it," Lord Gablentite grumbles.

"And if I have a contract, with you, I can stipulate that I must be allowed to spend time with your daughter!"

"The contracts are traditionally negotiable," the Merchant Prince says, looking flustered.

"In that case, I want to apply for Leave now, to go to Teeheehee," you declare.

"Very well," the Merchant Prince agrees, looking shrewd. "Good luck."

You nod carefully and back from the room. Once outside, you turn and run off to organise your passage back to Teeheehee.


Additional Information
You start unarmed, but you may acquire weapons later. As usual, you can choose the one that you will use in battle by selecting in the list of possessions and clicking on USE.
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