78. The Search for the Grey Card

“LG, the dwarf we seek is a he and is a king named Thraim. Can you locate that group now and direct us to them? Can we help you in some way so you can help us better?”
Gildor translate for the others and tells Munin “We can communicate better now and we are asking if LG can tell us where the king is, but we need to stay together.”

“As I said, the group headed east beyond my range to keep safe. I detect a group of animals occupying that area but I don’t have the information to identify them.” says the mask.
“There are two ‘tribes’ of mutants on this level, one to the north-west of here and another to the south-west. Somewhere in these areas may be a grey pass card which will give access to the commanders quarters in the north-east section. In the commander’s quarters I hope to find a white pass card, this pass card will allow me access to information and the vessels systems current beyond my reach. Once I have full access I can be much more effective in assisting you.”

“Ahh right, what is a pass card LG, what would it look like? So you have any way of showing us,” asks Gordon? “And if we find these ‘pass cards’ you’ll be able to tell us where Thraim and his comrades are, is that correct?”

“All the passengers and crew carried pass cards, which allowed access to rooms and sections relevant to their position. The cards were colour coded in relation to their level of access – Grey for the ship commander and top officials, red and orange for police/security officials, yellow for medical officers, violet for vessel engineers, brown for crew and maintenance workers and black for passengers and colonists.”

There appears before the mask a small, grey, shiny rectangle, 7 by 5 centimetres but only a few millimetres thick and perhaps made of grey glass.

“This is what a pass card looks like. The black cards are keyed to specific rooms but the other coloured cards will open all doors of their colour and below. For example a brown card will open all brown and black doors but not violet doors. The doors can sense the presence of a card within 3 metres and will open if you press the circle symbol and close if you press the circle with a vertical line through it symbol. Doors will automatically close after a count of 30.”

“I cannot guarantee I will be able to find Thraim and her bodyguards but the white card will grant me much greater access to the vessels internal systems and monitors. However I do not know the current state of repair of these systems so I cannot promise anything.”
“If you are injured, please return here to the medical section and I will do my best to repair you.

“Wait. Red cards? That tentacle-y feller had a red card on him, I think”, Talo chimes in.

He turns to Gildor, “Would you mind translating? Can LG show us what the original occupants looked like and what the other creatures on this vessel look like?”

A figure promptly appears, slightly taller but thinner than a normal human and dressed in what looks like the suit of armour Kalam is wearing only in a different colour. It is slightly transparent.

LG can’t produce a picture of any of the creatures aboard as he doesn’t have the records. He does produce a flat image of the mutants roaming this level (see attached picture of vege-pygmies)

“Ok, so we need to go north west or south east and find this grey card then go north east and find a white card”, Gildor says to the others as he translates for the others. “There are two tribes of mutants on this level so be careful. Let’s get a move on shall we.”
Gildor takes point with Munin or one of his men and moved slowly to the north west hoping they find the card there. If not they can search south west too.
Gildor corrects northwest or southwest.

“I thought you said Thraim went east?” asks Munin. “We’re going east, after Thraim.”

“Munin does have a point Gildor, they just want to find their king and be gone from this place,” comments Gordon before turning to address Munin. “Munin my friend, I understand your eagerness to track down Thraim, especially as we do not know what peril he may be in with these mutant tribes, but may I council that we do not rush off to the East and instead pursue the oracle LGs directions. If I understand LGs auspices then if we can find these cards it speaks of then we will be able to locate the king far quicker and more swiftly come to his aid. What say you?”

“So be it.” Growls Munin with a nod. “Which way then?”

Barely able to hear the conversation. Kradorn picks up bits and pieces.
“We are here… wherever here is to get the King and get back.” Kradorn shouts back. Turning back towards the party.
Once out of sight of the golem he draws his dagger and marks the floor with a K.

The party head west then north to the junction guarded by the golem. West the corridor extends away into the darkness with what looks like another junction similar to one the party arrived at. Several red lights glow ominously beyond the cylinder in the centre of the junction.

“Red lights, are we going that way… ?” Kradorn says softly as they move cautiously towards them. Making his bow ready, nocking an arrow, prepared to draw should something other then a dwarf spring out.

Gildor nods at Kradorn and starts heading west since north-west was the direction indicated by LG. He makes sure the others agree with his thoughts as he looks to them as he points to the west where he is starting to move off. He reminds himself, Grey card and white cards like what they were shown. He marks their directions as they go away from LG. Gildor listens to the others should they have a different course of action in mind. Gildor has his hands free but his buckler is on his left forearm as he moves along. He precedes the group by about 40 meters. He whispers, “Try and be quiet when you follow about 40 meters behind me.”

Gildor is off the south wall by a meter and moves foward. Once he gets forty meters ahead of the group he scans the area and signals for them to come forward or stay back. Should anything alert him prior to getting 40 meters ahead of the group he stops then and signals for the group or he runs back if it is more prudent to flee rather than wait for the group to get to him. Gildor is scouting and hopefully minimizing the risks for the rest of the group. Gildor requests to go alone so his elf training can assist him as he scouts. If there is no light provided his night vision and gifts from Saphiria will help his senses.

Cynan follows along with the group totally bemused at the magic of this dungeon. He grips the hilt of his sword firmly as he looks around. ” I have no idea where we are or how to react here please let us find Thraim as quickly as possible so we can return home. Grey cards, red cards? what are these things? Will they get us home sooner?”

“Eye tis a very strange place is this Cynan. From looking through one of the windows earlier and from the strange things the Oracle LG said it would have me believe that we are somehow floating beyond our own world, floating in the aether around it in some way. It called this a vessel, but unlike any I have ever encountered,” Replies Gordon. “If LG is to be believed, which I grant you we have just taken at face value with no suspicion, then yes if we can locate this white card then ‘he’ will be able to help us find Thraim more quickly.” The gnome gives one of those looks which is a bit non-committal and almost a Gaelic shoulder shrug.

“Come on let’s get moving, I know we need to exercise some caution but I think we need to push on faster than we are doing. Gildor, do not range so far ahead at 40 yards, it will take too long to drag you out of anything just go 20 at most and push on.” Gordon hopes to inject a little more urgency into their mission, which might placate Munin and the other dwarves’ grumblings.

Gildor hears Cynan and Gordon and gives a nod he understands not to go to far but perhaps pick up the pace a bit. He proceeds as before but only 20 yards ahead.

Kradorn nods in approval, “40 is too far, half that distance is good enough.” Kradorn whispers following as quietly as he can.

As the party make their way toward the junction with red lights, Talo takes his position with the rest of the party ready for whatever the halls hold in the way of surprises.

The party move west, following 20m behind Gildor. When they get to the first junction the clean walls and polished floors stop abruptly, beyond it the 6m wide corridor gets steadily dirtier and littered with scraps, bones and unidentifiable detritus.

Gildor spots nothing moving in the side corridors and the open, small rooms he passes are in various states of disrepair and covered in filth but they look empty. As he approaches the entrance to the junction with the cylinder in its centre, he hears a constant, faint metallic rasping coming from inside the cylinder.

The western wall of the junction seems to consist of nothing but a line of large circular doors (Gildor can see 5 from where he’s stood) and above each is a glowing red bar, one of these pulses slowly and flickers occasionally.

Kalam waited for a decision as to where they would go, for the cylinder or one of the doors. Senses alert and knife drawn always in this weird place.

Gildor waves the others to come on up to where he is. “I didn’t spot anything in the rooms but I didn’t really search them. If we had a red card we might be able to get into these red doors or the ones that are close behind us and search them out. I am concerned about the blinking light but that might just mean It’s ok. A steady light might be worse than a blinking one. We are kind of stuck unless we have a red card If not let me search some of these rooms that were open real quick” whispers Gildor. If someone doesn’t have a better plan Gildor will search the rooms he can get into.

The two small rooms on the right (northern) side of the corridor have scattered debris and litter covering the floor. From what Gildor can see, each room had one large padded leather chair against the north wall, over which loomed some sort of complicated machinery (reduced to metal struts, a few wires and shattered crystals).

The larger southern room is thoroughly looted, has some jumbled furniture or rotting goods therein, and 2 inanimate skeletons of generally human appearance. Everything looks worthless or in bad condition, the furnishings bone or metal, and only bits of rag or odd pieces of unidentifiable junk can be found.
Gildor moves north into the 6m square room and its adjoining smaller room and as soon as he enters realises he’s in a nest or the den of some creature. Bones of all descriptions are piled up in the north-west corner of the room, some from unidentifiable animals, some birds perhaps and numerous small human or monkey bones and skulls. He stops and listens but hears nothing and starts to back out silently.

“Yeah, if we had a red card to get in to these red rooms it would be great. Unfortunately I have no magic which could help, I have heard of spells which can open locked doors but alas have never found one to copy. What did LG say the red cards were for, something about security.”

Gordon approaches the nearest door with a solid red light and looks at the buttons, are they as LG described with the symbols? He casually presses the circle symbol in a mildly frustrated way (as if to say if only we had a card).

The outer edge of the symbol flashes red and a sound like a depressed duck quacking sounds when Gordon presses it, then a deep, loud voice, much like that of the golem, says something urgent though incomprehensible to Gordon. To the north and south similar loud voices call out and the lights above the doors at either end of the north-south corridor flash pale green.
What Gordon took to be just a panel of dusty black glass by the door suddenly comes to life and a 3 by 3 grid appears with what Gordon takes to be numbers in each square. A quieter voice speaks from the number panel, clearly asking for something.
At this point Talo, who was cautiously examining the odd scraping noise from the cylinder in the centre of the room, spots furtive movement at the far end of the southern corridor as two small figures duck out of sight around the corner.

Kalam is examining the cylinder in the centre of the junction and notices that the handles on the inside of the shaft are moving, those on the western side are moving up and those on the eastern side are moving down. When Gordon presses the button and sets off the various loud voices Kalam immediately looks about to check they haven’t alerted any locals. He looks back down the eastern passage and sees the golem still stood impassive at the far end and then looks north and south but sees no obvious movement in the gloom, then he takes a quick glance down the shaft and to his horror sees something move into the bottom of the shaft. Kalam can only see its silhouette but it seems to consist of a bumpy ovoid about 2m across surrounded by about a dozen tentacles.

Very slowly as not to betray his presence, Kalam backtracked and whispered when he reached the party.
“There is something coming up from the bottom of the shaft. I spotted a silhouette that seemed to consist of a bumpy ovoid about 2m across surrounded by about a dozen tentacles. I wouldn’t bet my life on it being friendly.”

Gildor quietly backs out and forms up with the group, signalling he found a nest possibly.
He whispers ” Let’s funnel it toward the golem and fan out there to defend ourselves. I can cast web in the hallway to trap the creature as we shoot arrows at it. Unless you have a better plan.”

Talo nods his shaggy head, “Good plan, Gildor!” The battle cleric takes his position in the party combat group, ready to move toward the golem.

Cynan looks totally lost as he follows the group, this strange magic is beyond his comprehension. He grips his sword tightly not sure what actions he should take but deciding to follow along as best he can, letting others who seem more knowledgeable, take the lead.

“Heads up, lads!” Talo bellows as he turns toward the movement. “I know you mentioned this was an entertainment portion of the vessel – but those little fellas seem like they are getting ready to come play!” Talo points his axe down the corridor, “I saw two of them skitter off down that way.”

Hearing about that card comments. “Didn’t one of you pick up a small red book or flyer from one of the tentacle face body…person.” Kradorn queries to Gordon.
Seeing everyone pause for a moment, tensing for battle. “Together everyone, defend as one”

“Oh shhhhh!!!!” says the gnome somewhat alarmed by the effect of his actions.

“I think the ones that have stayed red aren’t safe in some way judging by the fact they have stayed red and it’s asking for something else. I suggest we check out the green ones they seem a safer option.”
He quickly casts Comprehend Languages to try and understand the voices, he presses the red door button again and listens to what they say. (OOC – wisdom isn’t Gordon’s strong point).

A voice from above the door, somewhere in the vicinity of the red light says loudly “Rescue pod departed, there are currently two rescue pods for emergency evacuation remaining!”
Then voices from either end of the corridor say loudly. “This rescue pod is available for evacuation.”
Then the panel lights up by the door again and a softer voice says “Please enter your command code to access the rescue pod bay.

On hearing about the movement at the end of the corridor, and coming up the shaft the gnome gets his axe and shield at the ready. “I hope we aren’t going to have a fight on our hands here, let’s see if we can talk our way out of it.”

Gildor whispers, “Ok, Gordon let’s try the north green lit red doorway. The fighters and clerics can act as a buffer between you and I and anything coming up that shaft in the center of the room. Cynan, Kradorn, Talo and Kalam guard our backs please. Kalam stay close to Gordon and I and let the Fighters keep us safe.”
Gildor motions for the group to move north toward the green lit red door there.

Kradorn nods, watching behind them as they move. Glancing forward to watch how they move. Wondering what exactly they have stumbled into.

The party move north with Gordon and Gildor leading the way, Gordon seems distracted, trying to make sense of what the talking doors said.
Gildor gets to the northern end of the corridor and peeks around the corner. It extends east approximately 125 metres, getting brighter about halfway along then darker again at the far end. There are four violet coded doors at his end of the corridor. At the first junction, Gildor can see half a dozen waist high fungi with smaller species growing along the corridor all the way up to the larger junction, half way along the corridor.
Fungi aren’t the only things in the corridor, small humanoid shapes, seen only in silhouette, jump about, shouting excitedly and waving clubs and spears. At first there are only 10 or 15 of them but the number quickly doubles as they emerge from the rooms and side passages and doubles again with no sign of slowing.
Gordon stops at the open door with the glowing green light above it and looks inside. The hexagonal space is smaller than he expected and in worse shape. The remains of 17 narrow seats line the walls with 6 more seats attached to a central column. The place is wrecked and has clearly been used as a latrine in the recent past. On the ceiling of the room, bright red and green text scrolls down a black glass panel, the text shows the state of various incomprehensible devices, more than half of which are not working.
Looking south, the party can see the far end of the corridor is rapidly filling with little mutant shapes (some of them not as little as others) numbering in excess of 100 by now. They are advancing cautiously north and will be upon the party within a minute.
Something flickers and sparks in the shaft and long, two silvery tentacles waft weightlessly out into the junction.