So, after healing up the suffered injuries, or buying new ammo, respectively, the team went back in.
All the way, to find out where the corridor west would lead, the one that Snips had covered against anyone cutting off our retreat. It made a hard bend left and turned into a well-made modern corridor, but covered in a thick layer of waste, including standard food ration packages with standard logos – relatively fresh production from the city. A short corridor to the west, and, at the end of the south corridor, a service elevator. It went up, to something called “ground floor”, and the team crammed in to check it out.
To their surprise, they reached the actual aboveground, coming out of a shack some 200 yards behind the Osprey. Snips went around the corner to wave at the corporate guns. Then they checked out the closest storage hall, but found only broken windows, dust and debris.
They went back down and checked out the door to the west. It was an obvious door on this side, but a secret door when seen from the other side, looking perfectly like a stone wall. The room beyond was dark, with eight fat columns blockind sight in many directions, and two obvious exits, north and south. From the north, the hissing sound was heard again.
Dante did not trust the peace and quiet, and threw some flares across the room. And the dancing shadows revealed it: A hulking mass, as it stood silently behind the farthest column. Quickly everyone hid back in the corridor, except Messy Montez, who tried to sneak closer. The hulking beast noticed him and started to move, and Messy chucked a hand grenade its way.
Dante was against using grenades – he felt that the team had too few of them. But Messy thought differently, and he thought this moment might warrant a good boom.
Sadly, neither boom nor fragments did impress the hulk in the slightest. With heavy hydraulic sounds, it started moving.
Messy fled down the room on his skateboard. The hulk tried to cut him off, and that was when the others, from the secret door, spied it. Something akin to a Space Crusade Dreadnought, or a Robocop ED-209-like guard robot, fully armed with miniguns.
For a moment, the columns provided an advantage for team blue: The Dread could only lign up his visor OR his gun with the team, not both. Before he could bring superior firepower to bear, Messy threw all thoughts of sneak out the window, raced out through the door on his skateboard, and shouted: “Fall back! Fall back! Fall back!”
And they did: They slammed the door and ran.
“We can’t take on something like that,” they agreed.
“Later, though…” added Asher, overly optimistic.
Asher presented himself to the disciples again, and led a group of them out to the Osprey. The corporation was rather abrasive again. They decided they could take the group down, break some legs, and capture a couple of specimen by force. But they relented and agreed to tranquilize them instead. However, they were too nonchalant with the aiming, and their sleeping darts only got two of Asher’s cultists. They loaded them up to take them back city-side for experimenting, to see if they were clones or what. But three escaped back down underground — now painfully aware of Asher’s failures as a trustworthy leader of the tribe.
The corporation shelled out 1000 dollars for some guinea pigs out of that green vat – normally ethically questionable, but since some of them had almost bashed Snips’ head in, she felt only limited empathy with them.
Once more the team went down, to explore more rooms – expecting outraged cave-youth attacks from every shadow. But no: The guys were nowhere to be seen.
Snips and Dante completely failed to open the eastern door, the access-card door. So they tried the western one. Messy threw himself against the door to break it open, but failed. Asher tried the handle, with success.
The team found an encrypted, locked computer access terminal and pool full of yellow acid, which contained bleached bones and waste.
Snips theorized that this could explain the absence of adults: The clones might be born in the green slime, then live out their teenage years as weird, pale cultists, and finally “ascend” into the yellow goo once they hit 20.
“And then they get fed to the others as Soylent Green?” Dante theorized.
Meanwhile, Asher and Messy moved farther west and found another full-floor-trap-room with another gigantic woodchipper, and on the far side a ramp,that led approximately towards the Dread. A test run showed that this woodchipper was quite active. So Snips remembered the intact skeletons, possibly hinting at a malfunction of the trap, and they went to test the first full-room-trap they had found, the one with the slurping sound around the corner.
Pretty Boy took something heavy and chucked it into the room (through the freshly installed fake-floor! Who rebuilt it?). The test showed that contrary to Snips’ theory the woodchipper was not broken — just on eco-mode, so it expended just as much power as necessary to scrap fresh items. The skeletons were just very lucky to be light enough to “swim” on the revolving blades.
The whirring sound of the blades brought attention, though: Slurpy, the slurper, showed up. He turned out to be a glowing skeleton inside a goo-ish, slimy seet-hrough-“body”. The monster bent a weird see-through-head around the corner, saw fresh meat, and started slurching along the wall, on floor level, sliming toward the group’s side. And relatively quick, too.
“Run!” advised Snips, and they started crawling back along the ledge in a long row, on all fours. The Slime-Boy caught up with them quickly, so they sped up a bit, then a lot, a heated balance act between falling into the bottomless abyss and getting slurped up by the Slimer, which may entail some very unpleasant experiences.
They all made it along the ledge, a tiny bit quicker than the monster, and ran onwards, through the old guardian’s room, to start and climb, as the slime-skeleton slurped in and closed in on their position like a heat-seeking missile.
As the last of them reached the top, breathlessly, Slimo started sucking and slurping up the sliding ramp. Asher shot down the shaft with his signal-pistol, hoping to set the foe ablaze. But the glaring shot tumbled past the monster to explode and illuminate the old guard-room behind it, lending the see-through-shocker’s ascent an even more sinister quality.
Like little hares the group raced to the secret door to close it and strand the thing here with the six unexplored doors, and possibly more electro-zapping discs to burn it — but Slimey was faster, and reached the top in time to see them close the exit.
All jittery from terror, our heroes raced all the way back and scaled up the elevator shaft again, then ran to the Osprey: “Liftoff, liftoff!”, they cried in panic.
However, even as the Osprey rose to turn towards home, and Snips hoped to catch the fiend in her cross-hairs, the slimey fellow did not lurch out into the open. Might be he could not open the secret door, or might be he did not like the light and was waiting in the elevator shaft. Might be he was right in the little shack, glaring out at the receding plane.
During the flight, they started adding cashouts from the corporation and saleable loot.
“We could also sell that grenade launcher!” mused Dante.
“No!” laughed Messy, patting the stocky-looking gun. “We will buy AMMO for it! Lots of ammo!”
But that is another story.
Cutting, Sewing, and Levelling
Returning back to Corporate HQ, Snips and Pretty Boy levelled up.
With that, the team voted Level-2-Snips to be the best candidate to “inherit” Reynolds’ cyber-organs.
Retainer Pretty Boy rose to Level 1 and chose a class. Being strong and dashing, he selected the path of the Ronin: The classic long-coat wearing, sun-glasses sporting, gun-toting hard-ass fighting-man of the future. He also made his loyalty roll, to stay by Snipses side, which made the heavily armed teenage girl deliriously happy for some strange reason.
Snips herself got cut open and sewn together in the corporate med-lab, dished out the required dolares, and got her CON boosted up to 18. Her new HP-maximum raced up all the way to 12: No more fearing one little pale boy with a stick on the next delve.
Although…. two little pale boys with sticks might still bring her down. B/X D&D is not a system that lends itself well to characters getting cocky, the Wastes are unforgiving, and sometimes, sometimes, even a little loudspeaker can spell D.O.O.M.