Last Time in Nature’s Labyrinth
When we last left Nature’s Labyrinth, the contest was heating up and the participants were dwindling down. Despite the efforts that Jane (the Shield) had expended to keep Nasir (the Terror) alive, all he wanted to do was complain about the brutal way Jane had accomplished it. It’s easy to see why Nasir wasn’t called “the Grateful” instead of “the Terror.”
Regardless, both of them were still alive and in the game. How long that would last would depend on Nasir and Jane working together. Although at this point, that seems like a longshot. However, with six contestants left, it may prove to be the difference between dying or surviving to the end of Nature’s Labyrinth.
Nassir’s Need for Trust
As Jane and Nassir move toward the next information point, Nassir continues to bombard Jane with questions about what she knows. As far as “The Terror” is concerned, honesty is all they have left, and Jane is not being forthcoming. He also questions why she hasn’t been asking him about himself. All of the other players had. Perhaps it is because Jane already KNOWS about all the contestants and more importantly, what this all means.
The Information Booth
As for Jane, she keeps moving them forward, giving Nassir survival tips as they progress through the maze and the information stop. At the stop, Pancho appears again, this time sans his face. He explains to pair who is still left in play for the game. This includes the other two females in the game, The Silence: Soffia Ricci and The Kiss: Julia Petrakis. Ladies who have no qualms in dispatching those who cross them. Plus, The Sword: Sunny Khan, who they already know is more than willing to slice and dice his opponents.
Pancho also makes sure that Jane and Nassir knew the rules going forward. Rule#1: The players are not allowed to stop until they reach the end of the maze. Rule#2: Players must remain within the boundaries. If they stray outside them, they will be eliminated. Most likely from their handy, dandy backpacks. Rule#3: Players must play on an empty stomach. But that’s not all. He also informs them that the odds of the game will change drastically at the half-way point.
The Pirate Colony of Sovereignialia
As Jane considered this new information, Nassir continued to brow beat Jane about how she dispatched The Flame, Alexi Babin. He once again told her that he would not be able to trust her if all she gave him was silence. Jane decided to volunteer one piece of information. Her name was not really Jane. Not exactly the heart-pouring that Nassir apparently wanted. But before they could further the conversation, they had triggered another animatronic. This time it was like the Country Bear Jamboree as they sang, welcoming them to the pirate colony of Sovereignialia. As they arrived at the entrance, another animatronic bear asked them to deposit their weapons into a black box. Sovereignialia was a no weapons zone.
A Six-Hour Respite
As they walked to the center, Jane was on edge. Due to the information that Pancho had given them previously. Especially about the odds changing. And the fact they had surrendered their weapons. Nassir, however, seemed less concerned. He was framing this with his computer gaming knowledge. He considered this a cool-down point. Just like in most RPG’s. But Jane had her doubts.
Once they arrived at the Pit Stop, once again they encountered Pancho. This time in giant size. He informed them that there was now a six-hour suspension of the game’s rules. That meant that during that six-hours, no one was allowed to kill anyone else. Or as Pancho described it: “No Fightin, No Cussin and NO KILLIN…or ELSE!” He also suggested that the “Jamboree” would commence at the end of the time. When THAT happened, they best get to runnin!
The Other Contestants Approach
Meanwhile, the Silence and the Kiss were working together and heading toward the Pit Stop. As was the Sword, but he was working outside the boundaries. This was a breakage of the rules. However, the person monitoring his progress had decided not to penalize him for the infraction. He found Sunny Khan much to entertaining to kill him. Good entertainment takes precedence over the rules. At least in THIS case.
The Hanzel and Gretel Method
Soon all three had arrived at the Pitstop. While The Sword and the Shield still believed that something bad would happen after the six-hours were up, Nassir talked to the girls and explained how working together would improve all their odds for survival. Using the bread they offered him, he explained by using the tried-and-true Hansel and Gretel method, they could navigate the maze more easily. (It would seem that the girls had not got the message about playing on an empty stomach).
The Flame Returns
At that point, however, another contestant had arrived: Alexi Babin. Apparently losing half his face courtesy of the Shield didn’t prove to be a fatal blow. He sat in silence next to the campfire as the six-hours began to dwindle. As the clock reached 10 seconds left, Pancho came back to life and warned that the Jamboree was about to commence. He pulled out the box that contained their weapons and told the players to retrieve them.
Time is Running Out
Jane, remembering what Pancho had told them at the information booth, tried to get Nassir to leave with him. Before the Jamboree started. But Nassir was now committed to his new colleagues, the Kiss and the Silence. He refused to go with Jane since she had not told him everything. Alexi was also wondering what the four of them were scheming about. But just as Jane and Alexi started to square off, they were warned that the 6-hour hiatus was still in place. Elimination was the penalty for breaking that rule.
The Jamboree Commences
As the timer counted down, all of the contestants faced each other. Jane could feel the rumbling of the ground underneath. Something bad was about to happen and she was not wrong. Because underneath, 10 MORE contestants for the prize were about to enter the contest. All of them armed and ready to fire at a moment’s notice. Which they did upon arriving at the surface. Not caring who they hit. It was everyone on the own. But it left the original six contestants at a disadvantage.
As they dove for cover, Nassir and his female partners aimed their guns at Jane. But because Jane HAD saved him during their journey together, he told the girls not to shoot Jane. As far as Nassir was concerned, this repaid Jane for her help. But she was on her own now. As were the rest of them. Pinned down by a crossfire of the new contestants.
As Nature’s Labyrinth draws to the half-way point, the remaining contestants are starting to come into clarity. At least what they had done that got them chosen for the contest. Alexi Babin, the Flame, was an arsonist for hire. A flaming terrorist, at least as Jane describes him. Soffia Ricci, the Silence, is heir to New York’s Ricci crime family. Her claim to fame was killing her uncle with an ice pick. While Julia Petrakis, the Kiss, is the Madame to the largest sex trafficking network in Greece. Her specialty is using a garotte on what she considers useless men. (This would explain why Alexi was given a flame thrower, Sofia was given an icepick and Julia was given a wire with two handles attached.)
The mysteries, at the half-way point still remain Jane and Nassir. We know that Jane is not what she appears, including her name. While Nassir is even a bigger mystery. He has some expertise in computer programming and gaming but what did he use these skills for? Being called the Terror has ominous connotations. The fact that they were given a knife and a hand-held gaming console respectively, doesn’t answer too many questions. But Nassir is right about one thing. Jane knows more about what is going on than anyone else. Whether that proves to be an advantage or not remains to be seen.
A Wild and Twisted Maze of Drama
So, depending on how many of the additional contestants survive the Jamboree (assuming they don’t shoot themselves in this first melee), we are deep into the Nature’s Labyrinth. What the purpose of it all is still unclear. But with three issues remaining, and creators Zac Thompson and Bayleigh Underwood starting to leave us “breadcrumbs,” things will no doubt begin to unravel. If the first three issues are any indication, we are in for a wild and twisted maze of drama. Just as I like it.
Mad Cave Studios Nature’s Labyrinth, Issue 3 by Zac Thompson and Bayleigh Underwood is available now on their subscription service here.
Senior Writer at GeekVibesNation – I am a 50 something child of the 70’s who admits to being a Star Trek/Star Wars/Comic Book junkie who once dove head first over a cliff (Ok, it was a small hill) to try to rescue his Fantastic Four comic from a watery grave. I am married to a lovely woman who is as crazy as I am and the proud parent of a 18 year old boy with autism. My wife and son are my real heroes.