After the combat the team collected armor parts and weapons and tried to figure out if poor Reynold’s pumped-up organs would be salvageable to sew into someone else. After all, they cost several thousand dollars.
The back of the octagon opened up into the total darkness of a bottomless abyss, but it was the only exit — there was a narrow, slimy, lichen-covered joke of a ledge leading off into the darkness. Without a handrail of course. And with residents unknown: Wispa’s imagination populated the inky darkness with legions of giant vampire bats who would swoop down on anyone dumb enough to try to inch along the slippery deathwalk.
But before that, Max Brainpower was about to flex his mad h4xx0r skillz. He sat down on the throne and logged into the security system, facing two standard security bots. Several seconds later, he lolled across the armrests, sweating and stunned after losing a cyberfight.
The group decided to leave him in the care of Melody and move on. While it was debated if Melody could be trusted not to steal his wallet and take off, leaving even more people to watch her watching him sounded like a waste – almost as much of a waste as 40 guaranteed gold per day for a guy who basically had failed his only task of the day. But since Melody turned down every task given to her, she was the perfect candidate to “just look out for him”.
Messy Montez, the daredevil, volunteered for the slime-trail. He put his skateboard into the backpack and crawled along the ledge on all fours, first through slime and moss, then through bat-shit and other unsavory, rotting substances. But he made it and found a corridor going south, blocked by a big security door with heavy bolts and — loudspeaker-like parts attached. Old Man Wishum followed Messy and cautioned against playing with that door.
Moving on after that corridor, they found a rickety, rusty, slimy, old elevator that should go down, but was not powered. After that, another corridor south, this time without a killer door.
Messy held the fort alone, while Old Man Wishum returned to tell the others, who all agreed that the door was not worth it. Wispa would like to see Melody open it, but was not delusional enough to believe the girl would actually do it: “She has done fuck-all for us so far!”
The lift to hell
Obviously, the mainframe and the mission objective would be found farther down, at the lower stop of that elevator.
Also obviously, the contraption itself would make enough noise to wake everything that might live in here, and maybe the whole thing would fall down. Climbing down that rusty widowmaker could just as easily end in a TPK that would leave Melody as the sole survivor. The idea made Wispa consider shooting Melody right then and there to avoid such an outcome.
Anyway, they decided to skip the elevator and check for loot on this level first.
One by one all of them, apart from Brainpower and Melody, crawled across, slow and steady. The corridor led forward to a T-intersection turning left to a closed door, and onward into a square room with an exit on the far right corner. The square room turned out to be one huge 20 by 20 pit trap, with another gigantic woodchipper at the bottom. However, the woodchipper was not active. Two skeletons lay on the quiet blades.
One of the skeletons had a valuable-looking ring, and Wispa coveted it. So once again Old Man Wishum climbed down to dangle over a monster-shredder, held by the efforts of Wispa, Pretty Boy and Dante. He retrieved the treasured finger — but there were slurping, wet sounds from the exit beyond the trap.
Everyone imagined slimy horrors from the deep, or at least a gelatinous cube. However, spending a grenade sounded like too much as long as the enemy was not known, and Old Man Wishum theorized it might be just a little robot serf with a mop and bucket, so Snips stayed to aim at the slurper-corridor, while the others checked out the closed door, where some weird sound could be heard. It opened into an almost bare room with a door on the far end, leading right. From that door came a hissing sound.
Everyone expected gas and hesitated, and Snips was happy to be far away from it, but daredevil Messy once again went ahead and tapped the floor with his skateboard to go and find a safe path. In the middle of the room he found magnetic manacles lying on the floor. They seemed to move slightly, so he borrowed Dante’s collapsible 10-foot-pole and rudely shoved the things back to the wall.
They did not strike back.
He made it all the way to the door, then offered point to someone else. Old Man Wishum stepped up to explore the next, empty, corridor, and the room beyond: A square room with three exits: A cardreader-door, a bashed-up, broken, almost destroyed door to another corridor, and a closed door to the right — this was the source of the now extremely loud hissing. Loud enough to be heard through four doors.
The Care and Feed of Retainers
At this point the group took a quick break (the session was postponed for the week) to drag all the loot so far back to the exit — and for Wispa to fire Melody. Or Melody quitting… it was mutual. People were called “mean-spirited poopy-pants”, “worthless crap-head”, “boob-envy” was mentioned, people were flipped off. Young Dante tried to salvage the situation and re-hire Melody, looking at her with big puppy eyes, but she laughed him off, calling him “needy” and “horny teen”. Wispa called her a “Milf”.
Melody took her money and her XP and stomped off, vowing to tell every other retainer on offer what a bunch of fuckfaces this group was.
Snips shrugged it off. As long as Pretty Boy was still with her, she was fine. And so she nudged and pushed everyone to return to the deep right away and continue the exploration on this same day.
“Do you really want to pay Max Smartypants another 40 gold for tomorrow when he did not really do anything worthwhile today? Those were no more than 2 ingame-hours so far. Let him earn his keep!”
The others agreed, so next session is continuation of this same day, just without angry Melody – and poor Reynold.
Image: Dimitri Houtteman, Unsplash.