96. The Lurker

Talo lays his hands on Gordon to mend his many wounds.

Gordon looks somewhat surprised by Talo’s prayer but accepts the healing all the same.

Still breathing heavily from the fracas, Talo takes a moment to bless the souls of the honourable dead. “Let’s press on, shall we?” The Axe of Clanggedin smiles at the war-friends he has.

Gildor says,”Let’s clear these rooms. Search for anything worthwhile. Perhaps Cynan and someone else can stay in the hallway to watch our backs?”

Cynan nods and he and Kradorn take positions at the ends of the corridor.

Gildor continues,”Let’s clear and mark the rooms as we go. Start with the rooms to the west but work east then north. Deal with stuff as needed. Good job everyone. Use healing if you need it.”

Talo’s smile glints as he squints, “Let her rip!!” The dwarf can’t hide his glee.

Jenson sighs as the fight ends, see some of the group pray, he guesses for the fallen or maybe their good fortunes in battle. He will have to explore there religion more, especially when it comes to Talo. This of course makes him remember the promise to teach him this magic, it looks cool and can do some neat stuff. Looks at his blaster a moment, thinking this blaster is good but will it last in heavy combat like the old fashioned metal weapons or even the magic he sees done.
Shaking his head to come out of his thoughts, Jenson follows the group. “I still have our 6, I mean our back, you know the rear of the group.” Smiles at the questioned looks, “I can explain it later but yes, we should clear out all we can on this level so it is safe.”

Gildor takes a healing spray and uses it on himself and judges based on how much better he feels if he needs to use his last one. Before doing so he checks Saphiria for wounds and if necessary uses his last one on her but first testing it to make sure it will actually heal her and not harm her before doing so. If it harms her he ask Talo to help her.

Saphiria is only lightly wounded, not much more than a scratch. After the two applications of healing spray that Gildor has used the bottle still seems to have one or two doses left. He thinks the other, full bottle, should contain five or six doses.

Once ready Gildor states, “OK, we ready to go then? Let’s get moving and not take too long with clearing this section. Search each room as we clear it.”
“Jenson, I know your itching to learn the art of magic and I promise I or Gordon can teach you but it takes a long time to train someone in the ways of the mystical arts. Copying spells can takes days, weeks or months. You’ll need to buy a spellbook or I may have one I can give you. I got one off a necromancer we took care of If I remember right. It might be in the room near LG as we put some of our gear there while we searched the other levels out so we didn’t have too much weighing us down.” says Gildor.

Jenson grins like a kid in a candy shop at the encouraging words he has not been forgotten about being trained in magic and that a spell book may be available “Really, you need a special book, a spell book. Wow and you may have one I can use, why that would be awesome.” Chuckles, “This spell book sounds like a cook book with recipes in it right?” Then concentrates as they move to the next room keeping watch as the rear guard of the group for now.

The search of the rooms reveals little in the way of useful items, the rooms being littered with piles soft debris serving as beds, stocks of food from the nearby kitchen and the odd half finished crude weapon.
The lounge seems to be some sort of meeting room or throne room, with a large chair sitting against the eastern wall. There are grisly war trophies as well as the heads of a security golem and a displacer beast.
Behind the throne Gildor finds a vent grill and inside a stash of treasure, 6 100gp spherical gems, a laser pistol (with no power cell) and a blaster rifle, holding a minimal charge.
Jenson takes a look at the blaster rifle and says it has three settings – single shot, rapid fire and blast.

The party leave the room and head back down to the main east-west corridor where Cynan and Kradorn are waiting for them.
“Which way?” asks the paladin.

Jenson looks over the room, “wow these veggie guys got sophisticated with a throne like room plus tossing a grenade. Almost too smart, they should have just parleyed with us instead of trying to kill us.” Moves over and after examining the blaster rifle and it’s functions. Jenson hefts it up to weigh it and turns to the group, “Can I carry it?” Smiles, “honest I will only use it if I have to”. Looks to the laser pistol, “might as well take that along, I am sure we can find more power cells for it”.

“hmm, maybe we can go right, then hang a left and see what is down that way, though I am guessing the veggie guys also have that place occupied” as Jenson point to the right then swishes his hand left with a shrug. Smiling “I’ll take my normal back of the group spot”

While taking stock of his wounds, Kalam said to the party. “I suggest we move towards the west end of the corridor, as their chief was defending that”
Then he took his position in front and waited for everybody to start walking again towards the west or wherever else the party decided. His attention was fixed once more to their surroundings after offering his opinion, constantly checking for signs of danger.
Kalam waited for a while to see if Kradorn would object, then moved on towards the western end of the corridor and studied the floor for tracks, on both north and south.

Jenson seeing Kalam identify some tracks asks “Kalam, what kind of creature made those tracks? I think we should go North.” Looks at the others and shrugs, “One way or another we have to clear this level out sooner or later”.

Gildor grabs the gems saying,”The blaster’s yours Jenson, just be careful with it… once we search all the rooms just north of the kitchen let’s head north towards the chute searching rooms on the west side if they’re not marked as searched yet. Then work eastward, sorry westwards in around until we clear the area and are back where we started. If that clears the area for LG then we can go back to it.”

Smiling “Thanks”. Jenson slings the blaster rifle on his shoulder and moves out humming “hhmm hmmm hmmm”

“Nahh Gildor, we’ve just come from there. Let’s finish this quadrant first,” suggests Gordon. With the party stood at the crossroads Gordon gives a nod South, “I don’t feel happy about leavin them rooms unchecked at our rear, an t’North is where some of us took sick.”

The gnome is happy to lead the way checking the rooms to the South and round the corner until they meet the main East/West corridor half way along the Western stretch. Once that is cleared he suggests they head North once more and continue clearing that section, careful to avoid the contaminated rooms. Following that Northerly route should bring them back around to the chute at the Northern end of the level, from where they can head South and check the rooms on either side of the corridor.

“I will follow you guys lead clearing this place out but we should just get along quickly, I fear time may be running low for us and that gate with those on the other side impatiently waiting for us” sighing as he looks about as they move. “I hope we can find a solar battery/power cell charger for these power cells we have, or at least this translator, you guys are hard to understand still but I am working on knowing your common tongue as quickly as I can”. Says Jenson.

By consensus the party head east, towards the main north corridor with the intension of clearing the rooms on either side.
They get to the end of the corridor where they are met with a hellish racket coming from two large purple mushrooms, whose upper surfaces are covered in little mouths, from which the shrieking is emitted. The party immediately go on the defensive, checking the corridors north, south and east for any signs of movement but nothing appears to investigate the noise. The party move out into the main corridor and a few minutes later the noise stops as quickly as it started, leaving the whole place in eerie silence.
The first three rooms on the left seem to be yet more vegepygmy quarters, deserted and ransacked. The purple coded rooms on the right are in better condition, they all look like dormitories but contain nothing of value.
The party move into the hall containing the northern drop tube and search it but find nothing here. Jenson points out the airlock leading outside the ship but tells the party that going outside without a spacesuit would be a bad idea.
Moving west, the party check all the rooms on their right and left. The rooms on the right, those against the outer hull are all manufacturing facilities of various sorts, for the production of bulk materials and finished goods of all sorts.
The party pass one of the rooms where they previously discovered the headless body of a security golem and avoid the red lit rooms warning of radiation danger. The purple coded rooms on their left are mostly crew quarters containing nothing more than death and ruin.
Heading back south they come to the western end of the corridor they just fought the vegepygmies, again it is protected by shriekers but the party avoid setting off their hellish din.
Gordon indicates they keep heading south, following a twisting corridor which opens onto the main western corridor.
“Okay, where to now?” asks Kradorn.

“Kradorn, lets go straight South down this corridor” Jenson points the way “and get those areas then swing east and finish up this level for LG.” He looks to the group for confirmation.

Gildor says, “I will share the Gems. One to Jenson, Kalam, Talo, Kradorn, Cynan and Gordon. Let’s move south like Jenson suggests and clear any rooms we’ve not searched and then move east continuing to clear as we go. Be ready for fights along the way in our standard marching order. Let’s get moving when ready.”

Gildor checks his blaster over to make sure it looks functional and if not he gets it functional unless he’s missing any parts needed then he just gets his laser carbine ready.

Holding the gem, “um, thanks Kalam. Not sure what currency you have on your world and how far this will go but I guess I will learn soon enough” Then Jenson puts it away and continue looking behind the group as they move.

“Gildor, I suggest we take the main western corridor towards the red marked doors. I know, we are not supposed to open them and that isn’t my intention. As we turn left at the end of the western corridor, after all the doors we saw with the red light, there are two we haven’t checked. Then we turn left again and clear all the rooms on the right side and work out way towards the main southern corridor.”
Then Kalam turned to Gildor and spoke to him: “Thank you for the gem offered Gildor.”
While speaking to Kradorn and Gildor, Kalam kept his vigilance up, reminding himself to be as ready as possible to react at a moment’s notice against seen and unseen enemies, the memory of the invisible beasts still fresh in his mind. After offering his advice, he concentrated again to being aware of his surroundings. He moved just a tiny bit ahead of the party, just enough to be able to use the shadows for cover.

Jenson positions himself into the groups marching order in the back. “Again, I’ll take the rear so you more experienced fighters can easier deal with most of the fighting. I’ll help when the technology is in question and support. Let’s clear this out quickly but carefully” and smiles.

“Kalam your route seems fine to me. Let’s clear and go once we get to the section we need to clear. Jenson, thanks for covering us as we go. Everyone, stay alert and speak up if you see anything.”
Gildor gets his laser carbine ready.

“Jenson what is this soola bet-tree churja you speak of, is it the sort of thing LG could give us or tell us where we could find one? From the way you speak it might be of use for us.” Ask Gordon.
“As for the route, I’m happy with that,” and the gnome assumes his position in the marching order with his axe at the ready and his eyes scanning the route ahead for any warning signs of danger.

Chuckling, “Gordon, yes this solar charger device I speak of will help recharge um restore the batteries” points to the cells “these cells our guns use to power the laser beams err beams of powerful light” sighs” Lightning that come out of the barrels front here” again points to the tip of the barrel. As they continue on “The solar charger uses the suns power, light and heat to rebuild the cells power.” Smiling “I hope LG knows where some are or else these guns will be worthless soon after we leave this ship and if I do not learn your common language by then, It will be very difficult to communicate with you all.”

“Jenson, it was I, Gildor, who gave you the gems.” Gildor also teaches the common language to Jenson off and on, not using the translator. “We use coins, gems and jewellery as currency.”

“Right, let’s go.” Mumbles Cynan. He waits for Kalam to take the lead, who heads west to the drop-chute junction. Kalam looks about carefully, with Cynan, Kradorn and then the rest of the party a little way behind.
Kalam moves south, keeping and eye on the rooms to the left, all open and wrecked. He comes to the escape pod on the right with a green glowing light above it and with the rest of the party in support, opens it.

Behind the door is a hexagonal room 3m across, its walls lined with 3 padded chairs on 5 walls and two just inside the doors. There is also a central column with 6 more seats cramped around it. The place is in much better condition than the similar one at the other end of the corridor. It looks untouched by the vegepygmies and its black glass panels are filled with scrolling numbers and incomprehensible diagrams.
When Jenson gets a look at it, it all seems to be in working condition. Looking at the screens he can see the escape pod is on standby, just waiting for the doors to be sealed and the big emergency launch button to be depressed beneath its protective cover.
The pod is stuffed with various pieces of survival equipment – 3 inflatable dingies, 3 survival domes, food packs, 3 medical packs, surface to space radios etc. Under each seat is a survival suit and helmet. There is only one weapon, a laser rifle with a power pack attached.
Having finished exploring the escape pod, the party move on to the next door, violet coded. It seems to be an access point for escape pod maintenance. A hatch in the north wall gives access to the escape pod bays and contains readouts of the escape pods’ status.
Next the corridor turns left and on the right are two doors leading to a large dining and kitchen area, wrecked by the vegepygmies except for the food dispenser which still seems functional.
Then they come to a junction, south is a corridor 18m long with doors along the west wall and at the end. It looks to turn left at the end, heading east.
Moving past the junction, Kalam opens a few of the doors on the right to reveal 3 by 9 metre rooms devoid of any real furniture. It takes Jenson a moment or two to realise that these are wet rooms, for washing and cleaning.
There’s another short passageway to the south lined with doors and then the corridor opens out into the main southern corridor.

The party check the rooms on either side but find nothing of interest there and emerge into the southern drop-chute hall. The portal back to the Mind-flayer lair remains open and through it, a single Kuo-Toa can be seen on guard.

As they get to the portal, “Let me check the power level on the cell powering the portal. This should help me figure out how much longer this power-cell will hold open the portal to how much time we have left here to explore” Jenson moves to check the power cells power level, kinda smiles at the Kuo-Toa across the portal wondering what other odd humanoids he will find on this planet.

The power cell attached to the portal is on 2% but it was on 2% when the dwarves first attached it to the portal. Estimated battery life is 14.25 days.

After checking the portal, “OK” pointing in the direction of the sections of the ship they have not explored yet behind the (assumed) wet rooms “shall we clear out the section behind the wet rooms, then swing across over there” – pointing East “and check that area and finally end up back at LG?”

“Let’s do it! I like the sound of getting home soon-ish.” The war-priest cracks his neck and nods to the open corridor.

“I’d like to clear the rest of this, like you.” said Jenson. “I’d also like to get some of that gear back in that escape pod thingy before we go and I’d like to get my gear from the area near LG, that we left behind while we searched and cleared out this place. If we’ve searched all the rooms we can get into on this level then let’s just get our stuff from the room near LG and the lady too. We can make our way back to the escape pod and then back to the portal and head home. How does that sound gang?”

The party head west and get halfway down the corridor when a large section of the ceiling falls onto Kradorn. As the party watch in horror the ceiling panel seems to twist and constrict around him and its colour changes to a mottled grey. Kradorn lets out a muffled shout “Crushing me!”

Kalam looked at the ceiling for signs of more of this new creature.

Kalam can’t see any sign of any other concealed creatures but he does remember that it was this exact spot where he noticed the ceiling seeming to shimmer and the party threw a coin on the floor to see what happened.

Gildor casts magic missile at the creature that’s wrapped around Kradorn then says,”If you attack the creature don’t hurt Kradorn friends.”

Cynan and Talo both look unsure as how to help their friend being crushed by the lurker.

The three magic missiles slam into the Lurker and cause considerable damage, all three good hits, Kradorn cries out with each hit though. Clearly the missiles are having some effect on the fighter as well as the creature.

Despite the obvious impact that he will also be effecting Kradorn, Gordon rushes in and unleashes a Burning Hands at the strange creature which has enveloped his friend, he tries to aim his flames at areas which aren’t actually around the warrior if that is at all possible.

Fire blasts up and down the Lurker and sets it alight but it continues to crush Kradorn, wrapped up inside it.

Straining to see what is happening up front, Jenson calls out, “What is it, what fell?” Jenson then looks up, pointing his gun at he ceiling as he scans it for any loose ceiling tiles, oddities about the ceiling or stains/dis-colourations and movement on the ceiling, prepared to shoot into the ceiling if he sees anything amiss.

As Jenson points his blaster, scanning the area for other hostile creatures (ceiling, walls & floor) he calls out “Help Kradorn guys, get that thing off of him. I will cover the group from back here in case there are other things about.”

Cynan and Talo put aside their weapons and take a grip on the Lurker, trying to pull it off Kradorn but even together they can’t peel the thing off him.

Gildor say, “I hope there aren’t any more of them. Back up a bit. Shoot at any wall sections that move. I need to get to Kradorn to help him get that thing off him. Quickly.”
Gildor tumbles backwards and comes up firing at any wall section that moves with his rifle as long as he can safely do so without harming his friends.

Jenson continues to scan the area, walls, ceiling hallway behind and in front – ready to blast anything not of his world in here. “Gildor I am ready to blast anything that moves but be quick about it Kradorn does not look good, anyone help out – pull it off if you must.”
Jenson scans the walls and ceiling panels frantically and spots a section of wall right next to him which seems to twitch or move fractionally.

Jenson blasts away at the wall, putting three smouldering holes through it before he realises he has made a mistake.

The creature shudders and its grip tightens around Kradorn. The sounds of things snapping and bending can be heard from inside the Lurker’s folds

Once it seems safe to get to Kradorn, Gildor tumbles forward in a zigzag pattern and works to pull the thing off Kradorn trying to toss it away from the group.
“Ok Gordon we’ll cover you. Worst case I’ll throw a sleep grenade and pull you two out of there. Gildor fires at the wall and ceiling as Gordon moves in careful not to hit him”, adds Gildor.

“Gildor, if you toss that sleep grenade makes sure you remember the areas of affect and not get us in it too”, Jenson nervously chuckles as he to trains he blaster on the walls, ceiling and even the floor ready to blast at any movement in hopes without shooting one of his group members.

Gildor says, “I’ll only use the grenade as a last resort. If I throw it get back out of radius. I’ll be moving back if I do throw it. Anyone still in there we’ll wake up after pulling those things off Kradorn. That’s the plan b anyway. If anyone has a better one, speak up.”

Gildor casts mirror image. Then says,”Everyone fire at the walls, ceiling just once on each section . If none move by Kradorn or just past him we can get to him safely all fire and pick one so it goes quick. If one moves unload on it.”

Jenson puts a blast through the ceiling and the other wall before his blaster rifle bleeps at him to tell him he’s down to his last shot.

4 Gildors appear and Cynan gives the elf a confused and then exasperated look.

Gildor says, “Everyone get back 30 yards, I’m tossing in the sleep grenade.”
Once they get back Gildor pulls the pin or activates the grenade so that when he tosses it, it will go off.
He tosses it by the lurker and runs back to the group, “We may have to move back more so be ready to move if the gas expands even more than we thought.”

When Gildor stated he is using the sleep grenade, Jenson puts his blaster rifle away pulling out his blaster pistol and moves back up the hallway past the Game Room and Lounge keeping an eye on the areas he is moving back into as he moves back. “Everyone move back at least 30 – 40 meters, I hope this works Gildor. Everyone keep an eye on the smoke and not get in it.”

The grenade goes off with a bang, filling the corridor with a bright yellow gas. It is hard to see through the gas but it soon begins to drift to the floor and change colour to a dirty green. The lurker is still moving but it seems it is Kradorn, trapped inside the creature’s folds, that are causing the slight rocking motion.

Gildor says,”Hurry let’s get it off of him. Don’t breathe that stuff in either. Just the tall folk should go in at first.”
Gildor goes in to pry off the creature from around Kradorn with the help of the others.

Jenson pauses a moment since he is in the back of the group to see who rushes in to aid Gildor. If no one reacts to help Gildor, Jenson sighs and rushes down the hallway to help Gildor try to pull this beast off of Kradorn . “Short guys stay and guard us tall ones, do not bend over and breath that smoke in yet, give it time to defuse. Gildor here, let me help pry a corner back to give Kradorn breathing room.”

Thankful for the help,”Good job Jenson. Cynan, Kalam give us a hand to please. 2 on each side. Someone get a healing pot ready or spell.”, Gildor states.

By the time all the party have helped peel the Lurker off Kradorn – Talo and Gordon giving Gildor angry looks when he tells the ‘short guys’ to stay back – Kradorn has stopped breathing.
Talo’s healing spell brings him back from the brink however and a dose from the dwarf’s healing spray brings him back to consciousness.

At this point Talo commences his work of retribution, hacking into the creature’s form. Those closest can hear the foul curses he mumbles under his breath. “…foul-fated, motherless, scab…”

Jenson helps pull the beast off and then pulls Kradorn away, so healers can work on him, to revive him.
Grinning as Jenson looks to the group “Thank the lord, err your god Talo, he is alive.”
Jenson then moves back in the hallway (the 4 way intersection) to cover the group in case something else decides to come at them while they are not prepared. “I’ll step back here and keep guard again while you guys take care of that …. Um Talo, yea, looks like you have that covered”.

Jenson regroups into the main intersection. “OK, so do we continue on past where that thing fell on Kradorn and clean up that area? Gordon and Gildor, I totally have to learn how to do that projection of 4 holograms of yourself – that was awesome and without any cameras or lighting equipment to boot. Gosh this magic stuff is way cool.
Looks to Talo and the others, “no offense guys but wow and those electric bolts shooting out of ones hands, that is exciting.”

Talo goes to some effort to get the muck and grime off of his axe as he cleans it after making short work of the beast. The dwarf hustles over to Kradorn’s side and administers a healing blessing and continues to do so until the fighter is nearly at full strength.
“Alrighty, let’s finish clearing out behind the wet rooms and then swing back around back toward LG. I am also interested in clearing out the other levels as well. There seems to be some nasty creatures that we would benefit from their extinction. What say you all? We head down to the other levels after this?”
After brief discussion the dwarf continues forward, urging the group onward to finish clearing out this floor.

Talo manages to cast 4 healing prayers on Kradorn before running out of power. Kradorn is better but still wounded. The fighter thinks perhaps everyone could do with a rest, everyone is looking tired and jumpy.

Jenson steps up to follow Talo – “Lead on Talo, probably best we do as much as we can but remember we don’t have a lot of time until the other Dwarves blow the caves you guys came in from?”

Gildor says, “Whoa… Whoa… Perhaps Talo can heal Kradorn a bit before we go. Spells or healing stuff. Let the man recover a bit before we trod off to quickly. I want to get going to but let’s be a bit cautious. There might be another one of those creatures too. Let’s heal Kradorn then move out. If anyone else needs healing use your own healing spray. If you need one, ask.”