87. Roast Veg

“LG, can you close the access to this room so that we are out of their way while they sort it out between themselves?” Asks kalam.

“What room? You’re stood in the corridor. And I’m sorry but I have no access to any of the ship’s systems until the local mechanisms have restarted.”

“How long do you need until you assume control?” asks Kalam.

“Oh, 17 (something incomprehensible).” says LG.

“Gildor, Gordon, have you understood what it said? I suggest someone try to open this door right next to us. If not possible, we are in for a fight! I am going to try something else as well!”

Daldin hits the button by the door, like he’s seen the others do and it hisses open, to reveal an almost empty room. He nips inside and begins explaining what’s in there to the party outside. “Thaurr is a table an’ a load ay chairs alang a wall an’ posters oan th’ walls wi’ lots ay human rrunnin’ abit an’ eatin’ vegetables. Looks clear. Och, there’s a yella’ duirr an’ a grey duirr tay! looks a bit loch ‘at place wi’ th’ healin’ golem. ”

Call it inspiration or just a whim, Kalam wasn’t sure himself which one of the two it was. As he talked with LG and to Gildor and Gordon, Kalam unfastened his two bundles secured at the backpack, his regular blanket and the much heavier winter blanket, and tossed them towards the tribe, along with 3 of his dry rations.

“I sincerely hope it will be perceived as a gift offering, but we may have a fight on our hands nonetheless!”

The vegepygmies stop as Kalam tosses his blankets and food onto the floor. The smaller creatures look back at their leaders. One of the larger ones nods and grunts. Several of the braver vegepygmies creep closer and grab what they can, quickly discarding the blankets and sorting through the rations to find any meat, almost coming to blows in the process. They take a few bites of the jerky before their faces screw up in disgust. One of the larger ones leans in and takes the meat, takes a nibble and then tosses it away with the word ‘dung’. He then points directly at Gildor and snarls something which Gildor’s spell translates as ‘food!’

Kalam unsheathed one of his shortswords which he held in his right hand, keeping the magical knife on the left hand, planning on fighting in a two-weapon style, always coordinating with the others and never venturing forth on his own, unless someone’s life was endangered and there was nothing else left to do.

Gildor has comprehend language going possibly if it didn’t run out. He should understand the veggies.
Gildor will calmly try to communicate with them and using hand signals until he can form a small list of words he can use from the spell. He recast the spell if needed. He has his gun thingy on his belt just in case but not in hand so he looks less threatening.
Gildor says, “I’ll try and communicate with them. Give me a bit to see if it works.”
Gildor relays what he says during any pauses and their responses.

“Lets hope they are amenable to gifts as a means of avoiding slaughter!” says Kalam.

In response to the vegepygmy uprising, Talo keeps his needler pistol at the ready in case something drastic happens. Waiting for the negotiations to begin, Talo attempts to detect evil among the vege-folk. With a sniff he tells the rest of the group his findings in hopes of playing off the interests of the sentient plant-people.

Talo’s prayer reveals no sign of evil coming from the vegepygmies.

Knowing that his arrows have little effect on these creatures Kradorn pulls out the blaster. Cocking his head the side, Maybe this will work better, he thinks.
“Overwritten… who and where are you being overwritten by.” Kradorn ask with a little worry in his voice.

“ I need to rewrite some of my commands to allow me to use lethal force in defending myself and in rebuilding damaged sections of the ship.” Replies the avatar.

Gildor stays non-threatening as he negotiates unless it’s obvious it’s not working.
If negotiations breakdown, Gildor falls back with Talo and fires his needle gun also when the threat warrants it.
“Talo let’s hope I can talk sense into them. If not I’ll form up with you”,Gildor says. “Stay back Saphiria. This might get rough. Find a safe place.”

“Hurrumph, I guess.” Talo does not seem committed to the diplomatic process. “These fellas don’t seem to have earned a good death anyhow… but I don’t mind laying them back to their flower-pot in the sky if things go sideways.” Talo appears interested and letting things go south if they must. Talo tries to mitigate the distance between Gildor and the rest of the group by standing closer than the others but not as close as Gildor.
“I wager a snoot full of fire from your wee dragon would thin their herd pretty good,” the fighting cleric whispers through a bushy grin and over the elf’s shoulder.
“Also: fireball!!” Talo cannot hide his glee.

Gildor is still trying to think of how to begin his conversation when there is a shout from the east and about 25 vegepygmies appear around the corner of the central block. Moments later there is another distant call from somewhere to the west.
One of the two large vegepygmies in the group standing in front of the party shouts “Dogs kill” and points to Gildor. From out of the group come a dozen large, dog-like creatures, covered in blade-like thorns.
Everyone who has one, pulls out their new weapons and prepares to shoot, Gildor and Kradorn at the group before them and Talo at the three thornies attacking from the east. Cynan gives a curse and then asks Ringheru for strength.
Gordon casts his standard Mirror Image spell and four more gnomes pop into existence.

Kradorn takes aim and gets off four shots with his blaster. Four of the thorny vege-dogs go down. Three scramble back to their feet but all are badly wounded.
More thornies join the charge and Kradorn is hit by two and though badly bitten, not wounded through his mithril chain. One of his attackers skids past him into the wall but Kradorn ignores it and turns his fire on the closest. He misses when his arm is grabbed by a set of slavering jaws. More shots graze, then miss one of the thornies and then hits the other in the face. The thing is bowled backwards but scrambles back to its feet, its face scorched and blasted.
Being pulled back and forth by one of the creatures, with its jaws locked on Kradorn’s wrist, the fighter can’t get a clear shot. The other thorny bites him in the leg and he feels its jaws sink into his flesh just as a hail of darts arrives, though they do no harm.
Kradorn swaps hands and hits the thorny gripping his wrist point blank, knocking it down and then finishing it with a shot in the eye. The blaster bleeps, showing a constant red glowing gem and then goes dead.

Gildor shoots his needler pistol into the charging thornies and sees two of his darts penetrate one’s thick hide and explode beneath. The creature stumbles but comes on.
Gildor keeps shooting, finally catching a thorny with a spray of the deadly needles as it leaps to attack him. The things front quarters explode in a sticky, fibrous cloud and the rest of it thuds into the deck.
Another thorny snaps at him a couple of times and Gildor staggers back, firing over the thing’s head. At close quarters the elf is finding hitting the creatures quite hard. He’s also distracted, when the mass of vegepygmies give a yell and charge into the combat.
Gildor tries to back off, fighting two thornies at once. One is badly burnt and staggering somewhat but the other looks lively enough. Gildor sprays the deck with needles and then is hit by two or three darts thrown from the mass of vegepygmies. One of the darts penetrates but does little damage.
At almost point blank range Gildor sprays needles across a thornies head and shoulders and is relieved to see them rupture in gouts of sticky fibre, bringing the creature down. The needler gives an odd bleep and the 6cm square box on top of the grip, now empty, drops off onto the floor.

Gordon and Talo turn to face the twenty plus vegepygmies and the three vege-hounds charging at them from the east.
Cynan calls to Daldin and the dwarf sergeant comes running.
Talo shoots three bursts from the needler and only manages to catch one of the beasts with perhaps a single needle. By then the thornies are on them but everyone’s ready, axes and shields out.
The short warriors hold their own, none taking damage and dealing out a little of their own.
The vegepygmies charge but they’re slow and by the time they reach the fight, Gordon, Talo and Daldin have inflicted more damage while suffering none. A scattering of darts lands on and around them but does no damage. Gordon has two of his four copies left.

Cynan moves around behind Gildor, Kalam and Kradorn to cover the right hand flank with his sword. By the time he’s in position the dog-like creatures are upon them. Cynan takes on two and his plate saves him more than once from being bitten. Twice his sword connects but can do no more than minor wounds, the legacy of the shadows still weakening his blows. He sees the vegepygmies charge and is soon surrounded by many of the smaller ones, armed with little more than knives. The paladin ignores them for the moment and is satisfied to see Bronzefire slice off a few thornies blades. Cynan estimates there are about 50 vegepygmies in the main group and half that number in each of the flanking groups.

Kalam waits impatiently for the thornies to arrives and while dodging one is bitten by another, though it’s horny teeth fail to penetrate his glittering green chainmail. The fighter’s first sword and dagger attack swings close but doesn’t hit. He wheels and tries again, connecting with both but only the shortsword leaves any wound. Teeth slide off armour as Kalam twists away from a thorny. A sudden hail of darts hits him and bounces off, enough to distract Kalam. He is also suddenly surrounded by five or six vegepygmies armed with daggers.

Kalam kept fighting. While he was careful not to present his enemies with attacks of opportunity, he used the battle’s footwork to concentrate his attacks to those blocking his way towards Daldin, slowly inch his way towards the opened door, while shouting:

“We should protect the room because we might need it if it goes against us here!”

Kalam starts to back off towards the door and juggles his sword and dagger swapping them seamlessly from one hand to the other.

Gildor seeing the threat of numerous veggie pygmy thingies tries to cast Fireball in such a way the it take out a large section of the main group and doesn’t harm any of his team. Gildor says, “Fireball going south.”Gildor says to Saphiria, “Defend east protect east and stay safe.”

If Gildor can gauge from combat that these little guys don’t take very much damage he will use burning hands instead and fans his hands in an arc to maximize his effectiveness.
Gildor opts to cast Burning hands. He’s damaged the ship enough and perhaps he can break the morale of these creatures with his burning hands spell and Saphiria doing her part might be enough to scare the little shits. Gildor shouts,”Burning hands to the south and a bit east.” Gildor casts burning hands and adjust as needed for safety when his friends attack.

Kradorn growls as the weapon has run out of projectiles. “No damn warning” dropping the blaster. ‘Lets test the new blade’ he thinks as he rips it from its scabbard and his shield in the other.
“Come on tree folk. Burning ya didn’t work so I will chop you into little pieces.” Kradorn continues his foul demeanour.

Kradorn dodges a thorny’s serrated beak and is aware of a hail of darts coming from all directions, though none are aimed at him, he notes to his relief. He swings and misses but the thorny bumps into and snarls at one of its own pack and the distraction is enough for Kradorn to draw back his sword and impale the creature through the chest as it lunges again. The wound isn’t as deep as Kradorn would like but the thorny goes down all the same.
He turns to help a retreating Kalam, fighting off two more thornies but Kradorn’s sword is still stuck in the beast at his feet. With a curse the fighter kicks it over and jerks out the blade. Kalam takes down one of the thornies with a knife to the skull. Kradorn’s first blow against the remaining beast clatters off its horny armour but his next stab brings it down.
Kradorn’s relief is short lived as vegepygmies pour through the gap in the line caused by Kalam’s retreat and a new wave of attackers surges around the isolated figure of Cynan.

Kalam’s retreat to the door is dogged by the relentless and tough thornies and a constant hail of darts coming from the smallest of the vegepygmies. Despite their best efforts Kalam avoids any injury and manages to twice wound one of the thornies he’s fighting.
Then one of them catches him and while only a light wound, it bloodies the fighter all the same.
Behind the thornies, the vegepygmies push forward, surrounding Cynan and Gildor, though the elf seems to be blasting them back with occasional bursts of fire. Kalam brings down a thorny with his knife and reaches the door behind him, just as Kradorn kills the last of the dog-like creatures.
If Kalam thinks he’s reached safety, it is short lived, a swarm of metre high vegepygmies and their slightly bigger brethren armed with daggers and clubs respectively push forward around Cynan, Gildor, Kradorn and Kalam and attack Gordon, Talo and Daldin from behind.

Cynan stands alone amid a sea of enemies, thornies as well as knife and club wielding vegepygmies. He dodges the thornies but is wounded by one of the dozen or so darts that fly at him. Enraged, the paladin batters one of the thornies with his shield and hacks Bronzefire through armour, flesh and bone. By the time he’s jerked his burning sword free from the body, the other thorny has drawn yet more of the paladin’s blood and another dart has found its mark through his increasingly battered plate.
Knives scrape against the plate and one finds a chink, leaving another shallow wound. Cynan ignores the smaller foes and concentrates on the thorny, wounding it again and driving it back just enough to bring his sword down upon it, splitting the things misshapen skull.
More knives skitter off his armour but Cynan ignores them as best he can, trying to assess the fight around him.
“Gildor, we need that fireball! Right here, right now!”

Gildor’s use of Burning Hands initially seems to solve all his problems, blasting two thornies and two knife wielding vegepygmies into burning husks with its first use. Darts just bounce off his armour and as the vegepygmies regroup another Burning Hands toasts five more and a sixth staggers back burning. However they keep on coming and even a third blast, that downs four and ignites two more doesn’t seem to stop them. Gildor’s all too aware that there’s nearly two dozen left and these are mostly the larger club wielding variety. A glance to his right shows Cynan surrounded by a hoard of his own and behind him, Gildor is aware of Saphiria having no luck bringing down the larger vegepygmies at the back of the eastern group and being hit with numerous darts herself.

Talo, Gordon and Daldin fight on against the thornies, the score of vegepygmies behind them and their smaller dart throwing kin. Teeth and darts scrape and clatter across shields and armour but none of the the fighters manage to land a blow on the thornies either.
The fight goes on, with flames erupting somewhere at back of the group and more darts and teeth, met with dwarven axes. Daldin scores a hit but only a minor one. The thorny Gordon is fighting suddenly weakens, staggers and drops quivering to the floor, parts of its flesh turning soft and watery – like a rotten pumpkin – thinks the puzzled gnome.
Talo finally manages to land a half-decent blow but the thorny seems to shrug it off.
As Gordon braces for the on-rushing vegepygmies, he notices Daldin pin his thorny’s head against the wall with his shield and hack it off with his axe.
Talo is hit from behind and while the knife does little damage, it takes the dwarf by complete surprise.

Kalam kept on fighting with knife and shortsword, coordinating with Daldin and Gordon. He shouted. “Try to make your way here, close to the door! A room is easier to defend against than this corridor! Cynan, do you need me to come?”

“No, stay there. I’m coming, I’m coming.” bellows the paladin, knives and clubs clattering off his shield and armour.

“Retreat into the room! Cynan fight this way.” Kradorn yells above the dim of battle. Kradorn hacks and slashes. Keeping the creatures in front of him and the wall behind. Hoping that Cynan, just turns and bull rushes his way over them to the door.
“REGROUP” Kradorn yells.

Cynan hacks down a vegepygmy and moves backwards trying to keep the hoard at bay. He’s hit several times but takes no damage and inflicts a couple of minor wounds but not enough to down another pygmy. The paladin’s fearsome plate is badly damaged and hanging off in places. He backs into the wall next to Kradorn with a clatter and snarls “where’s that fireball?”

Kalam battles on but struggles to hit the vegepygmies with his sword in the wrong hand. Eventually he connects with his shortsword and one of the creatures goes down but there are still dozens of them about, all focused on tearing the party to pieces.

Beside Kalam, Daldin exchanges blows with a vegepygmy, the dwarf’s armour saves him from the creature’s knife while its hide gives it no such protection from Daldin’s axe. As another closes on the dwarf, Daldin makes a mighty swing and decapitates it. “Ah cannae keep thes up aw day, we need tae move!”

Gildor casts three more Burning Hands spells, the smaller vegepygmies going down with one hit but the larger variety taking two blasts to kill. He avoids their knives and clubs for the most part but is unable to move much in the push and pull of the melee.
The elf is aware of Saphiria blasting the largest of the eastern group of vegepygmies again but it refuses to go down and when one of the darts throw by the smallest of the vegepygmies hits and wounds her, she turns her last blast of venom on them and toasts three before fleeing.

Kradorn parries and dodges the knives of the vegepygmies and after bringing down the one directly in front of him, hacks down the one trying to stab Gordon in the back.

Gordon can’t hit anything but thankfully is only hit once in the continuing melee and that fails do any damage to the gnome.
Talo isn’t so fortunate, while he can’t hit anything either, at one point he slips and falls and the thorny is on him instantly. The creature’s jaw scrape and slide across his armour and a knife occasionally glances off it too but the plate prevents any real damage.

Gildor says,”Back into the room and I’ll be last in while I cast fireball. The room will shield us for the most part. I’ll detonate it far enough we should be fine. Everyone get to the opposite side of the room too.”
“Saphiria magic fire? stay away.” Gildor is beside himself for letting Saphiria get so far away that they are separated now. His stomach is in knots worrying for her.

Gildor says, “Get the door open and everyone inside keep my flanks protected as we back into the room. Once I cast, the rest of us jump in the room and close the door or just back up to the other side of the room and fight what makes it through the door.”

“Everyone IN!” Kradorn yells as he hacks towards the door and any that would be attacking the party as they run to the door. Not worrying about his back as much knowing Cynan is behind him fighting a retreat.

Kalam did his best to help everyone along, fighting off the pygmies, seeing as he was one of the least wounded.

Talo scrambles to his feet and grabs Daldin by the pauldron and makes a motion to the door with his axe. “Shoulder to shoulder lad. Let’s get in there.”

Kalam attacks with his shortsword and dagger and brings another of the knife wielding vegepygmies down, helping clear a path for Gildor and Talo.
The elf and the dwarf scramble out of the melee, Talo feeling the teeth of the last thorny slip across his plate and Gildor being caught by a vegepygmy knife across his back.
Daldin is bloodied and terrible but all the gore seems to belong to thornies or vegepygmies. He takes Talo by the arm and helps him to the back of the room.

Gordon and Kalam come in behind them and Kradorn and Cynan fill the gap, blocking the doorway while Gildor prepares himself. Clubs and knives rain down on the two fighters but do no harm and Kradorn hacks off a hand in the melee.

Gildor shouts he’s ready and the fighters part. The elf steps forward, dodges two clubs and casts his Fireball down the corridor, to what he hopes is a safe distance.

The fireball detonates where Gildor hoped it would and rushes back up the corridor, the 10m diameter sphere of fire constrained and funnelled by the ship’s corridors. Gildor sees the fireball approach and fears he’s made a terrible mistake but the flames blast past the door and go no further. Fire and screams fill the corridors as the vegepygmies fall blacked and burning to the floor. Some, who survived the initial blast, continue to burn and fall, staggering and blundering about in flames. Then a sudden, pale rain fills the corridors and the fires begin to go out almost immediately.

Across the corridor a handful of the larger vegepygmies and their sub-chief remain, unscathed by the fireball. They see the party through the clearing smoke and rain and with a roar, charge fearlessly at the door.
The fighters take a step back to allow Kalam to help and fight three against two. Clubs strike armour and swords strike flesh and the vegepygmies begin to fall, stabbed and hacked while the clubs do little or no damage against plate and chain. Kradorn slips and is hit but suffers only a heavy bruise. One after another the creatures fall, until eventually only the sub-chief and what looks like the chief remain, scorched though he is.
Kalam helps Cynan fight the chief, hitting and wounding the creature but it size belies its strength and its halberd first parries Kalam’s dagger, then swings up and knocks him off the floor and into the wall. Kalam falls to the ground, winded but saved from serious injury by his glistening green chainmail.
The chief turns his attention to Cynan, swinging its halberd down over his shield and onto the paladin’s shoulder. Cynan almost goes down under the blow but manages to stab out with Bronzefire and catch the vegepygmy in the thigh.
Kalam is back up and at the chief, hitting it with his sword, doing little damage but distracting it enough for Cynan to drive his burning sword into the things guts. It falls to its knees and Daldin, elbowing his way between Cynan and Kalam cuts off its head with his axe.
Kradorn and the sub-chief stop beating each other – the vegepygmy coming off worse in the exchange – and watch the chief go down. Before Kradorn can react the sub-chief turns and runs, barrelling into two of his subordinates and knocking them to the floor. It keeps running, heading south and is followed by any of its fellows still able to.

Cynan leads the way cautiously back out into the corridor. Steam and smoke rise from the blackened bodies of the numerous smaller vegepygmies caught by the fireball and those dead or injured by swords, axes and the space weapons. In all there must be close to a hundred bodies scattered up and down the junction. Several of them are still moving and groaning pathetically.
Saphiria returns to Gildor’s side bloodied but only lightly wounded.

“The destruction we bring down” Kradorn softly comments as he wipes off his sword and sheathing it. Picking up the Chief’s halberd he moves through the corridor dispatching those that need it. Keeping a careful eye down the corridor for any movement.

“LG, based on the number of killed creatures in this encounter, what is your assessment of their numbers left? Are they still a force to worry about? Come to think about it, how did they end up in your ship?”

Kalam stood guard at the door to the room they had opened, eyes and all other senses focused on their surroundings.

“I believe about 10 to 14 remain, most of them the smaller variety and the rest all looked injured. Once my commands have been rewritten, I can use my security golems to eliminate the survivors of the southern group. The northern group still remains a threat however and I estimate their numbers to be in the region of one hundred and ten.

“These creatures sprang up from radiation-effected hydroponic cultures that infected exposed crew members, but they now seem to be able to bud and propagate by themselves. The larger ones are of great age and they seem to continue to grow as long as they live. Their weapons are fashioned from material found aboard the vessel and are crude but effective. The two groups fight continually but deaths are rare, until that is, you arrived.

“By the way, where did you acquire your flame weapon? It was very effective.”

Talo lays his hands on Kradorn and Cynan blessing them as much as he is able to get them back to fighting fit.

It takes all the power the cleric has to bring the fighters back to full health.

The battle-cleric kneels over the vegepygmy chieftain and checks his belongings for anything of value.

The chief has no treasure on him at all and nothing of any interest apart from a red card.

The war-priest stands, wipes his mouth of the green and sappy gore of the vegepygmies, and spits out a couple of leafy pieces as though he had just emerged from mulching acres of over-growth, “Right then, gents, let’s get going again. Let’s get to that portal and see what we can make of it.”

Cynan shakes his head, “We’ve just come back from there, we need to talk to LG. Gordon has some questions about the black box I think.”
The paladin looks down at his armour and sighs “Seen better days.”