32 – Down the Rabbit Hole17-Sep-08
Your party has spent several minutes trying to decide whether to fortify your current position – given the presence of creatures skulking in the southern corridors – or continue onwards to avoid giving any would-be predators a chance to strike.
In the end, you have made some half-hearted attempts to build barricades in the refuse-filled room to the north, but your attention has been drawn by the scouts exploring the drop chute in the eastern room…
Yobo peers into the dimly-lit chute. His keen eyesight picks out several openings down the shaft. These appear to be ‘exits’ at other levels; the first of which are about 30 feet below, there may be one or two more exits much further down. The diminutive mutant snake reports what he sees to the others.
Ibben tests the shaft with his echolocation and confirms that the doorways are open 30 feet below. Speaking quietly, he remarks: “We could grab a hold of the downward-moving handles and descend into the depths.”
“Excellent work,” exclaims Rasputin upon hearing the scouts report. “Let us proceed to the shaft in force and head downwards while we can.” Rasputin waits till everyone is ready then moves forward, weapon ready.
Remembering back, Rasputin believes the distance from the airlock entrance to the main entrance outside is greater than thirty feet. Rasputin tries to work out how far we need to decend to get to the ‘main door’ level.
Gene considers the situation, then offers a plan: “Let’s let Yobo peek in first, if he’s willing. We can tie a rope to him for quick retrieval if there’s danger. If he says its safe we can move down to the next level.”
Yobo utters a quick “Eep!” but doesn’t voice any firm objections to Gene’s proposal.
Rasputin also considers the suggestion. “Good plan, but if Yobo is willing it would be best for him to locate all the exits from the shaft so we can determine the best one explore. I do not think the exit thirty feet down is on the same level as the main doors outside. If I recall correctly, the ‘main’ doors that we spotted from the outside are about two hundred feet below the upper airlock door that we entered.” (See image at right.)
“I am looking to find the lower exit before we explore too far, if possible, in case we need to retreat and regroup.”
Ibben does not favour any plan that would risk a single scout. “I would personally advise that we all head down now, together, as low as this shaft will take us. Although sending Yobo as a scout would normally be prudent, we do not know when we may be interrupted up here…” Ibben says, looking southwards nervously. “I will volunteer to go first if such is the decision.”
Dropping his field, Olive walks over to the group. He examines the shaft, both directions and thinks to himself. “Curious remark: I’m surprised there is not some sort of map or directory near these chutes…” The android looks around on the nearby walls for such a thing in any form.
There is a discoloured square on the outside of the shaft, as if a sign or picture was originally affixed to the surface. Perhaps there was once a map here, but it is gone now… Thinking back, Olive recalls seeing similar traces on the first drop chute you encountered.
Meanwhile, Slinker pulls out his notebook and pen and starts scribbling. He mutters to himself, “Down the rabbit hole, possibly to our painful deaths, before this crap pile takes hold of us and eats us alive. It’s already got to the preacher and the snakelover. It’s the beards – note to self, keep shaven. But it’ll take more than mutie garbage ghouls to take me down…” Slinker looks back intensely towards the refuse and scribbles a bit more before remarking, “Great idea team, maybe there’s a day spa down here!” Slinker struts out to look for a directory. “Or at least somewhere I can get a quick shave.”
A brief mechanical click emanates from Olive, as if the android’s body itself was rejecting the illogic just uttered. He walks over to Rasputin and lowers the volume of his voice so only he can hear. “Query: Would you like me to throw Slinker in the hole or just push him gently?” With a stuttering wave of static, Olive keeps looking around for something of use.
Aka-Vasha looks down the dimly-lit shaft. She sheathes her cutlass, and pulled out a dagger. “Well I’m ready, if you’re all ready!”, Aka says before clenching the dagger between her teeth.
(Sounds like you’re ready to go. Ibben will head down first, followed by the rest of the party in the normal marching order. I’m going to make one assumption that was not mentioned – the retainers will stay up top until notified to follow.)
(Being experienced adventurers, I’ll assume you’ll be taking some typical precautions such as roping off and having Ibben and Apollo turn invisible.)
Down the Rabbit Hole
You take a moment to examine the drop chute one last time before entering. Similar in nature to the vertical shaft you found when first entering the vault, this one is dimly-lit, with open doorways on the east and west sides. The top of the shaft is blocked by a metallic sphincter; looking down you see that it continues for several hundred feet. Inside are two tracks opposite each other, running down the vertical length of the shaft. Handles protrude from these tracks, and unlike the first shaft, the tracks here are moving – one up, and the other down.
Your plan is to grab onto the downward-moving handles, and ride the shaft down as far as possible. You’re not certain if the handles will support the weight of Andre the Goliath, so you order the retainers to stay put for now. You also take time to tie a length of rope around each party member to reduce the chances of a deadly fall. Ibben will lead, and Yobo will carry a torch in his prehensile tail to light the way for the party.
Reaching into the shaft, Ibben grabs hold of one of the downward-moving handles. It easily supports his weight, and he climbs into the chute, turning invisible at the same time. Aka-Vasha follows, grabbing the next handle (ten feet above Ibben). The other party members follow in turn: Yobo (with torch), Slinker, Rasputin, Apollo (also turning invisible), Gene, and finally Olive (70 feet above Ibben).
(The referee tosses some dice, but doesn’t say anything.)
Clinging to the handles, the party encounters no obstacles on the way down. Ten feet below the top level, you note a small closed door set into the wall with a brown keycard slot. You continue downwards (note that the first party members are already far past this point once the later PCs enter the shaft).
Twenty feet below that, there are open doorways (like the ones you entered at the top of the shaft) that lead into a dimly lit room. Beyond the room, to the west, an open archway reveals a huge open area, brightly lit and many hundred feet across. From inside the shaft, you cannot make out the floor of this area, but do see vegetation and greenery here and there.
You continue downwards for another 90 feet before encountering more open doorways. These ones expose a dimly-lit room. The open archway to the west, however, reveals an amazing sight!
It is immediately apparent that this well-lit level is teeming with life. In addition to what you can see from the elevator shaft, a number of bird and animal calls, screams, and similar sounds can be heard. From the central area (a botanical garden of some sort), earth spills onto the heretofore bare metal decks surrounding the drop chute.
You have only a moment to observe, for your downward journey continues. Suddenly you hear Ibben shouting from below! Fifty feet below the botanical garden (and about 170 feet below the top deck) the shaft ends. The bottom is filled with garbage, debris, refuse, ordure, and much unpleasantness…
And you are still heading straight down towards it!
What are your actions?