85. Scary Shadows

The avatar greets the party and asks how things have gone. It asks if they found the captain and the white card she had with her or any sign of where she might have gone. Her suite of rooms were in the north east section of the level. LG brings up a map of the level and sure enough the captain’s rooms are the ones with the full suite of coloured cards and the platinum model of the star ship. The LG tells Gildor he can keep the weapon he took from the security chief’s room. The avatar says it will answer any questions the party may have that will help in the return of the captain’s white card.

Gildor grabs the ammo pack and evaluates its use then stows it in his backpack.
The needler consists of a grip and trigger upon which sits a 6x6cm ammunition block.
He says to LG,”We only found these cards. There was a safe but we couldn’t find a way to open it and there was an alarm on it.”

“Unfortunately the captain’s cabinet can only be unlocked by her hand print and the same for the safe, which requires her thumb print. I could open both if I had access but unfortunately I do not.” says LG.

“The white card was not in the room so it’s probably on her or lost where ever she went. Will any of these cards help you?” asks Gildor.

“I’m sorry but the captain’s white card is the one I need. Only it, will allow me to begin securing essential sections of the ship and its resources by overriding certain restrictions placed upon me. I am permitted to allow you to keep weapons to protect yourself, if the situation warrants it, as I believe it does but not to issue you with weapons.”

“Our main goal now is to find a way back to our home. There were pictures of what seemed like different worlds. Is there a way to travel to them without the ship going there and if so how?” asks Gildor.

“No, this section of the ship is barely able to maintain its orbit, it was jettisoned when the nature of the infection was ascertained. It has no means of star travel. I assumed you arrived in some sort of vessel, could you not return the way you came?” LG asks.

Gildor makes sure to translate for the others what’s been said and will ask their question if they have any?

“Gildor, is ‘Ell-gee’ able to tell us where the captain kept her card in her room?” asks Talo.
Looking at the map, Talo nods, “Alright, let’s head out and see if we can get that white card from the captain’s quarters.”

Once translated LG replies “The captain had to keep her card with her at all times. She will not have left it anywhere in her room.”

“Can you also ask him if there are repair functions we can perform while we are out there that would help him restore functions to the rest of his vessel.” asks Talo.

“Are any of your group familiar with ships systems?” LG asks hopefully. “The primary communication nodes were all destroyed by a power overload caused by the alien entity. Short-range communications devices still function but internal ship communication is not possible within the high energy fields generated inside the ship and its exotic structural materials. If you see any mechanic golems while exploring the ship please bring them here. It may be possible to instruct a security golem to repair one that is not too badly damaged.”
LG shows a picture of a mechanic golem and the party recognise it immediately as the mechanical spiders it saw in the lair of the mind flayer and the things putting out the fire after Gildor’s Fireball spell.

“Oh, and what are these for?” The dwarf holds up one of the tablets in hopes for something helpful.

“Those are personal communications and data assistants. Unfortunately they have no life left in them but may be revived if placed close to the correct power source.” The avatar pauses and then asks.

“Please wait while I send a security golem to collect these items. If I can replace the power units of these PCDAs, I can record a message on them which in conjunction with an orange or red card will instruct any golem to proceed here where I can utilise them. This should only take a few moments.”
Soon enough one of the security golems comes striding around the corner and takes any of the tablets offered by the party. It returns 5 minutes later with one of the tablets, which it hands back to Talo.
“Show an orange or red card to any golem you encounter and draw a circle with your finger on the glass face of the tablet and a message will be replayed instructing it to return here.”

“Star travel… What!” Kradorn cries out. “Just grand. We are further from home than I thought.”
“Do we know our way back to where we started? Or are we going to look for this White card and help this magic ship?” Kradorn continues.

“Kradorn my friend. I don’t think we can get back just yet. Once we have the white card we can find our way back. The white card will be on the captains body. We must find her”, Gildor says.
“LG, did you say the captain went below to fight an alien being?”

“Indeed she came into the command area and checked out a blaster and light rifle for the purpose of killing the escaped alien entity.”

“How many levels are there and do you know which level she went to?” asks Gildor.

“In this section of the ship there are six levels and one sub-level, though the sub-level is inaccessible. The decks are –

Level I: Officials’, officers’, and technicians’ quarters

Level II: Service deck 5, or ‘tween decks

Level III: Upper walkway and lounge area

Level IV: Botanical gardens, rockery, and menagerie

Level V: Service deck 6, or garden ‘tween decks

Sub-level V: Atmospheric ballast

Level VI: Theater, athletic, activity and storage deck

I am unsure which deck the captain went to, though she did contact me from the western drop-chute before we lost all the communications nodes. She was trying to get hold of the chief of security.”

“Are there healing stations on the other levels?” asks Gildor.

“I am sorry only this level has full medical facilities, though emergency medical packs may be found throughout the ship and in the escape pods.”

“Let’s head back down to find her.”
Gildor makes sure his needle gun is loaded or he uses his ammo pack to load it or makes sure it’s ready to go and works with Talo on how to use it.

“LG, we teleported to a location (Gildor shows on the map), but there didn’t seem like there was a device at that location that would teleport us back home. Do you know of a device onboard that can do that?”

“You arrived at the southern airlock by teleportation? I am unfamiliar with this technology and have no record of having such a device onboard.” says LG.

“Well let’s go find this card, treasure and glory. Hopefully we all live to see the dirt again.” Kradorn replies with a smile.

“LG, Please show me the location of the emergency med packs on this level and the levels we can access below this one. This will tell us what level we are on and what’s below us, which is where the captain went”, Gildor explains to the others.

“I am sorry but the only records I have, are of this level and the emergency medical packs may have been used after the communications network failed. However, here is a map of the unused packs before the network failure.” says LG.

“We will send any golems we see back to here using the pad and instructions you provided.”
Nodding at Talo Gildor continues “I suggest using the eastern drop-chute to get below and work our way to the west and see if there are any tracks. I am concerned that we webbed a large creature there at one point and we do not know what happened to it. We must stay alert and find that white card and hopefully the captain. Shall we go?”

Talo listens to LG’s response and then turns to the group, “Gildor, let’s make haste to that chute and see if we can find that card. Chances are, we won’t be able to save the captain. Gildor, we can follow your pathway back you identified for the search of this level. Ready?”

“We are in unfamiliar lands. We should not split up. We will all go after this Captain, or make haste in searching this entire ship.” Kradorn replies coming to a partial grasp that
this place is like a sailing ship.

Kalam remained alert even though they were in the safety of the central area. The arachnid creatures taught him the fallacy of feeling safe anywhere. He was getting sloppy and he was almost killed because of that. He might be free from slavery, but his former masters had taught him well about the need to always be prepared and he needed to use those lessons now and for ever after. Always alert would be his new creed. Deceptively calm on the outside, even indifferent or bored if the situation warranted it, but alert nonetheless.

The party move quickly back to the drop-chute and after a minute of reorganising, float down the chute a short distance, to the small circular door (75cm diameter) in the western wall of the chute. The door slides aside when the button is pressed, revealing a dark, low ceilinged (2m high) space, diamond shaped and dominated in the north by a 7.5m diameter cylinder going from floor to ceiling and in the south by a doughnut shaped device 7.5m across and attached to the floor and ceiling by metal supports and covered in thick cables and pipes.
A narrow section of both the cylinder and doughnut are covered in black glass panels and blocks of blinking lights. The air is filled with distant hums and insect-like chirps and clicks.
The walls, ceiling and floor of the room are built from triangular metal grids of various sizes and thicknesses, allowing a limited view of the sections beyond the walls. As the first party members enter the room, thin strips of metal, set into the ceiling, begin glowing brightly. There are three exists from the room, two to the north and one to the south-east.

Kradorn doesn’t like the sight of the panels and has a bad feeling should they enter or touch them.
“Lets us move to our right and clear rooms before anyone investigates that blinky light thing.” Kradorn says as he moves cautiously towards the “exit” on the right.

Talo scans the room briefly, “Let’s search this room and be on our way.” Talo searches around the large devices in the room. “I say we head through this Northeast corridor. Any of ’em will do.”

Kradorn moves cautiously towards the first opening to their right and peers through. Sword and shield at the ready.

Gildor tells all, “Ok. Let’s search this room and move on like Talo says. I not sure what this room is about.” Gildor helps search with the others. Spot checks traps too.

Kalam followed the rest of the party moving in the room, taking care to always be able to fight complementing others and not alone. On his way in, he cast a look through the grids to see what’s on the other side.

While Talo and Gildor quickly search the room and find nothing, Kradorn, Cynan and Daldin stand guard and Kalam tries to peer into the next room through the grills. The rooms beyond look very similar to the one the party are standing in, some larger, some smaller. The spaces between the walls and under the floor are filled with cables, tubes and pipes.

The next room is half the size of the last and filled with another huge cylinder or tank in its centre. Doorways between rooms are little more than missing triangular sections of the grid. A quick look finds nothing of interest in this room either.

As Gordon and Kradorn pass through the next archway into a much larger room – empty apart from two large machines in the far corners – Kradorn signals a stop, thinking he saw a figure move in the darkness, through the arch in the western wall, before the lights came on in the room. There’s no sign of anyone now and peering through the walls into the next room is difficult in the bright lights.

Gildor mentally tells Saphiria, “Stay safe my dear. I know this place is creepy. Hopefully we won’t be here too much longer.”

Gildor looks for tracks of any kind but mostly for the captains trail they were looking to find. He looks for traps as they move along scanning the floors, walls and ceilings when he can see them for anything unusual.

Gildor can see no sign of prints or tracks on the metal grid of the floor.

Softly he says to the others, “Watch where you are walking and where you’re going. I’m trying to find the captains trail or any trail for that matter. Let’s keep moving west and back track as we need to on any dead ends and try other openings behind us as needed until we find the Captain or the card or trouble we didn’t mean to find.”

Kradorn motions that he saw something over at the western entrance. Looking at Kalam, “Watch that other opening while we focus on that one (western one)”
Making sure everyone is ready to defend themselves he moves towards the western opening.
Kalam nodded and did as was suggested. Crossbow at the ready for anything.

“Stay bristled, boys!” Talo grunts at mention of Kradorn’s sighting of another being sneaking about.
“Do we call them in? Or run ’em down?”

Gildor nods to the others and gets his bow ready. Gildor says softly, “It might be the captain. Let’s go check it out.”

“Move with caution. We’ve had too many surprises” Kradorn replies.

Kradorn advances carefully to the western arch, while Kalam watches the southern one. The fighter peers into the gloom of the triangular room beyond, an inverted version of the one they stand in, with humming, bleeping machines in all three corners and another exit in the middle of the north wall. Through the far western wall, Kradorn can just make out three columns of dim blue light. One or more figures walk past the columns but it is difficult to make out any detail as they are nearly 40m away and seen through the complex wall construction. As He steps into the room, the lights come on and he looses sight of the figures. Kalam tries to peer through the wall to see into the adjacent room but has no luck.
The rest of the party move into the room and head north to the room beyond, an inverted version of the one they’re in with an exit in the north western wall. There are no signs of movement and so they head quickly west into the next large triangular room. This room has exits in the north and south-west walls.
When he reaches the centre of the room Kradorn looks north and sees beyond the archway, what he takes to be the northern drop-chute, its door lock just visible in the gloom. As he approaches the western exit he can clearly see a shadowy figure standing just beyond the triangular arch. It has its back to Kradorn and the others and doesn’t appear to have noticed them. Kradorn thinks he might actually be able to see through the man.

Whispering “I think we may be chasing a ghost. I can see through the figure at times”
Kradorn relays to the party. Motioning for them to follow Gildor. Looking at Kalam with hand signals for him to watch the other archway as they move.
Gildor signals the others to try and be quiet. He looks west using his enhanced vision from Saphiria trying to see into the room. He signals for the others to stay put and he will scout up to the opening. He fusses mentally about the lack of hiding in shadows but does his best sneaking.

Gildor can see the figure, a man he thinks, judging by the short hair and he can see through him too, just as Kradorn says.

Crouching down moving slow and using an arc approach rather than straight ahead to the opening and making sure his gear is quiet and snug to his body. If he can get up to the opening undetected he peers in with just one eye keeping the rest of his body out of sight. He’ll signal to the party to use his route once he gets in position so they’re out of line of sight hopefully.

Gildor gets a good look at the ghostly man, dressed in trousers and a jacket and wearing a small peaked hat. He has numerous tools attached to his belt and stuffed into the pockets of his jacket and trousers. He also carries a tablet, like the ones they have found around the ship only slightly larger. Gildor can definitely see through this figure. This close to the archway he can also hear a whirring noise from somewhere to the west.
Behind him the party move as silently as they are able around behind him.

“By the Lady of Summer”, whispers Gildor. “I can see through him”. Gildor continues to whisper to the others, “We need help to get off this thing and back home. The captain came this way and for all we know that’s the Captain. Let’s go say hi or we can backtrack and search the others passages we didn’t take first then come back to here”?

Gildor waits for the others to reply before he moves in to greet the apparition or move out to backtrack to the other doors they didn’t take, starting at the beginning and working their way back to here, unless something of interest peaks their interest along the way.

Kradorn clinches his teeth at the thought of messing with the dead again. If he still had that spear, then it would be a different story. Looking at the party then back to Gildor shrugging his shoulders.

Gildor looks to see if he can tell if the creature is acting calmly or aggressively?
As it’s calm, he casts comprehend language and moves in, holding his hands out non threateningly. Gildor tries to work out hand signals to communicate. He’ll try the magic language too.
Gildor makes sure the party joins him whichever option he takes.

Gildor approaches the figure silently but it seems to sense him somehow and turns around. Gildor stops about 5 metres away from it. The ghost is tall, healthy and clean shaven and clearly human, though not of any race Gildor has seen before. His eyes seem to take a moment focus on Gildor and then a look of puzzlement crosses his face before turning to fear. He opens his mouth to shout something, a warning Gildor senses and then the apparition dissolves, melting and distorting into a ‘shadow’. A creature Gildor, Kradorn and Cynan have all seen before. It gives a chilling scream before lunging at the half-elf.
Gildor has enough of a head start to make it back to the party, knowing full well he has no weapon to slay the shadow but it is faster than him and he has to roll aside to avoid the creature’s chilling touch.

Kalam stayed watching the other entrance as it was assigned to him. Seeing the shadow and understanding the magical limitations of striking such a creature, he decided to waste no ordinary bolts on it. Instead he drew his knife given to him by Cynan which he knew to be magical and had a chance of dealing some damage. On guard and very observant for the moment, no mad dash to engage the shadow, unless he was called upon.

Kradorn makes ready. Rising to the balls of his feet. Knowing his shield might be useless he hopes his sword makes short work of the Shadow.
“Stay together! Only magic works!” Kradorn shouts.

Talo brandishes his holy symbol in front of him and invokes the divine power of Clanggedin, “Be gone and follow the light to a warrior’s rest, your fight is… finished here…”

His invocation is cut short by Kradorn’s sword. The fighter slashing through the creature, dodging a phantom claw and finally impaling it on the end of his sword. The shadow shrinks to nothing more than a cold spot on the tip of the blade and is gone.

There is no time for congratulations as two more shadows explode from the darkness of the archway and lunge at the party. Kradorn’s sword slices and stabs one, while Cynan’s sword simply divides another in two. Neither fighter is hit but Kradorn’s shadow remains, a faded and tattered shell of its former self.
Talo brandishes his holy symbol in front of him again and invokes the divine power of Clanggedin, “Be gone and follow the light to a warrior’s rest, your fight is finished here, shade!”
The shadow hears the dwarf’s words but pays them little attention and it takes Gordon’s axe to finish the fiend.

Howls and screams, sounding strangely human and yet not quite human enough, echo from out of the darkness, some close and some far. The party takes a couple of steps back but before they can properly organise themselves, three shadows burst through the archway and attack instantly.

Kradorn stabs but misses and the three monsters are upon the party. Kradorn and Talo dodge the shadows icy claws but Cynan is struck, a fleeting hit but enough to chill the paladin’s soul.
Kradorn’s sword and Gordon’s axe both strike the same shadow and it fades with a distant scream, falling away from them, into some pit of hell.
Talo rolls his shoulders and brandishes his holy symbol in front of him again, invoking the divine power of Clanggedin, “Be gone and follow the light to a warrior’s rest, your fight is finished here, shades!”
This time his axe shines with divine power and the two remaining shadows flee to the north.

Kalam neither sees or hears any sign of shadows behind them. Daldin waits with him, protecting the rear of the group. More shadows are on the way though, more will emerge from the archway within moments and many more can be heard beyond those.

Kalam spoke hurriedly. “I know I am not as experienced as the rest of you, but I was given a very good magical armour to protect me and a magical weapon. A knife only it is, but it will do some damage the shades cannot protect against. Let me stand by you and let all of us with magical weapons present a first line of defence against them”.

Gildor say, “We better go. It sounds like a bunch coming. Was there a shaft to the north we could use to get up? If not let’s back track run/fighting retreat?”

“Quickly! Everyone back into the other room.” Kradorn barks backing towards the way they came in. Hoping that the other room is far enough to keep them away from their certain death…

The party flee, with Cynan leading the way and Kradorn and Gordon guarding the rear. By the time the party have trundled across the room – Gordon and Talo being heavily laden are slower than everyone else – two shadows have appeared in the doorway behind them.
Gordon turns to fight and Kradorn stands with him, while the party funnel south, into the next large room.
Kradorn slays one shadow while Gordon maims the other but is hit in the process. The gnome staggers at the intense cold of the shadow’s touch and Kradorn orders him after the others. As Gordon staggers off Kradorn intercepts the shadow and cuts it in two with his sword. He watches ice and frost shimmer up and down the blade and then turns and runs after the gnome.
The party head south-east across one room, through an archway and then north-east, into a smaller room filled with one of the large tanks or cylinders.
Kradorn glances behind him to see a shadow closing fast. He ducks through a doorway and flattens himself against the wall, waiting as the shadow passes him before striking it from behind. Before the fiend can turn Kradorn slays it and runs on to the next archway, what sounds like a hoard of shadows flooding into the room behind him.
Upon reaching the archway to the next room Kradorn glances behind him again, only to see five shadows screaming towards him, the closest no more than 5m away.
Cynan meanwhile calls from the front of the party. “We need a card to open the hatch, we need a card!”

Kradorn grits his teeth as he prepares to defend the doorway. Hearing the call for a card he knows they have no escape. Knowing the doorway will at least slow their numbers and hopefully he can give them time.

Having said his piece earlier on, Kalam stayed silent and focused on being ready to fill any gaps in their defence as requested and if there wasn’t amongst his party the card needed to pass through, then he was ready to fight off the shades until they or them perished. One thing he wasn’t ready to do though, was to let Kradorn defend them alone. If it looked like he was left alone, then he would join in attacking the shades. Bravery or morality wasn’t the issue as much as having nothing else to do, as he sure as the Under-dark didn’t have a card to use.

Gildor says,”Talo or Gordon go open the door with your cards. Everyone get ready to make a run for the door. Kradorn, I may cast a fireball in the other room. If I do, move to the side so the wall protects you as it may come through the doorway.” Gildor calculates the safety of firing a fireball in the other room and it not backfire into their current room so Kradorn doesn’t get hurt. If it’s safe and he feels it’s necessary he cast fireball into the other room.

The shadows come howling through the doorway and Kradorn staggers back, almost tripping on the grid of the deck. One of the fiends comes straight at him and his sword impales it almost by accident.
Gordon’s axe slices through another but the creature twists and its claw passes through the gnome’s shield and his shoulder. Gordon gasps and feels his shield arm go numb for a moment.
Kalam and Gildor go right, around the huge tank in the centre of the room to assist Kradorn, while Cynan rushes left to help Gordon. Talo and Daldin rush up to the door, the priest fumbling in his pocket to find the grey card.

The card emerges but unsure just what he’s supposed to do with it, Talo hits the button by the hatch and is relieved to see it slide aside to reveal the drop-chute beyond. Daldin gives a snarl and then looks quickly up and down the chute. “Clear!”
More shadows pour through the doorway, one going for Kradorn the others swarming around Gordon. Cynan piles into the fight too, trying to defend the gnome.

Gordon kills a wounded shadow but is hit by another, as are Kradorn and Cynan. Kradorn strikes down one shadow while Cynan slays another beneath his fiery blade.
Kalam, Kradorn, Gordon and Cynan face seven shadows between them, a swirling black mass of freezing, mindless hate. Kalam, Kradorn and Gordon are all hit, Gordon repeatedly. Kalam manages to inflict a minor wound on one of the shadows, while Kradorn hits another by accident in the manic fight.
Gildor arrives behind Kradorn and Kalam and can see straight away that a fireball at such close quarters would be suicide. He casts a hasty Magic Missile through the melee and hits all three of the shadows swarming around Gordon. Kradorn slays another shadow and watches as Gordon swings feebly at the dark shapes all around him. Cynan’s sword impales a shadow and the paladin moves on to strike another, dragging the fading remains of the first creature impaled on his blade.
Their exit secured, Talo turns and runs back to the party as fast as his legs and overstuffed backpack will let him.
Those fighting the shadows all take a step back, overwhelmed by the numbers, luckily this gives them a chance to defend themselves and none are hit again, while Gildor peppers the shadows with Magic Missiles. Kradorn, Cynan and Gordon all slay a shadow, but Kalam misses.
At this point a snarling dwarven voice growls “Be gone and follow the light to a warrior’s rest, your fight is finished here, shades!” Holy power shines from the dwarf’s axe and the four remaining shadows howl in fear and frustration, fleeing back the way they came.

Kalam is shivering and badly wounded, Kradorn has little more than the chills but he does feel weak, while Gordon is badly wounded too and weakened by the shadows’ touch. Cynan was only lightly wounded, he’ll be fine he insists.
In the bright lights of the next room, the party can see and hear another lone shadow racing towards them.
“Do we go?” Asks Cynan. “Or do we slay this one and move forward?”

Kradorn reaches over to Kalam grabbing him and dragging him towards the drop chute.
“The fight is done for now. We risk more if we chase.” Kradorn calls out.
“Cynan grab Gordon. We are out of here.” he continues.
Helping Kalam to the chute glancing over his shoulder every couple steps to make sure nothing is following them.

Having been badly wounded and since a single shade was coming at them, Kalam started withdrawing towards the rest of the party and left Kradorn to deal with their last – for the moment – enemy.

Talo lays his hands on Gordon and blesses him with the now-familiar healing orison until Gordon is closer to fighting fit.

Kradorn turns his attention to the new shadow coming at them.
“Meet your death… end like your kin.” Kradorn barks, not caring if the creature understands.

Gildor says, “We have one heading our way folks.” Gildor will cast Magic Missile should he feel it’s necessary.

Gildor watches as Cynan steps forward, blocking the archway to the shadow. Then he drops his shield and charges, giving himself space to swing his bastard sword unhindered. The fight is over in a moment, Cynan dodges to the right avoiding the shadow’s claw and swings his sword around and down to split the shadow in two, the darkness burning as it fades.

While the shadow is dispatched Talo casts four Cures on Gordon and four on Kalam. Kalam is back to full health and Gordon says he’s okay now and that his vote is that the party should push on. “They’re only shadows.”

“Guys I think we got the better of this group. Let’s keep the door ready in case but If the captain came down this way we need to find her/him. I say we stick it out down here unless it’s obvious there are more of them than the four Talo scared away. If we need to heal up we can go back up but I think the room we heal in is almost used up. We may have to find the FirstAid boxes down here if there are any and press on. Hopefully Talo can get everyone on their feet and moving okay. I’m okay either way we go.”