33 – Botanical Gardens24-Sep-08
You have descended into lower levels using the drop chute, each PC hanging onto a downward-moving handle and linked to one another by a safety rope. Invisible Ibben is on the lowest rung, followed by the others in marching order. The retainers stayed put on the ‘top deck’ for now. Over a descent of approximately 170 feet, you passed by three levels. The first was blocked by a closed doorway, from the second you saw a huge open area, and the third is the botanical garden.
Further descent is blocked from below. Peering down, Ibben sees that the bottom of the shaft ends in a garbage heap (any access to levels further down appear to be buried under refuse).
Filth and Flies
(I almost forgot about your safety rope. I assume Aka-Vasha, familiar with ships and sailing, would have rigged up knots that could be easily untied if necessary. You’ll each have to untie before taking any other actions.)
As he reaches the bottom of the shaft, you hear Ibben shouting from below! He indicates that fifty feet below the botanical garden the shaft ends; filled with garbage, debris, refuse, ordure, and much unpleasantness…
Ibben continues his ride to the bottom, intending to move across the refuse to the upwards track. (The referee tosses some dice.) His boots sink ankle-deep into the wet filth, stirring innumerable gnats and crawling insects from their homes. He’s definitely detected signs of life! Luckily, it appears to be harmless (though disgusting).
Ibben unties the knot on the safety rope (to avoid entangling others) and squeltches through the muck – stepping to the side to allow the others room. He then remains motionless and invisible. Now that the the refuse has been disturbed by movement, the stench here is nearly unbearable. The muck here consists primarily of ‘biological byproducts’!
Aka-Vasha gets off at the bottom and undoes her safety rope. She moves next to Ibben (judging his position by the holes in the muck from his invisible feet) and asks him what he sees.
“Filth and flies, my dears.” responds Ibben. “Filth and flies.”
Apollo looks on with quiet concern as the party decend towards the uncertainty of the distinctly unstable-looking rubbish pile. Deciding that pondering too long on what manner of tentacled monstrosity might reside in such a foetid heap is doing his sanity no good at all, he resolves to take more practical steps.
Taking one hand off the descending handrail, Apollo unties the rope linking him to the others and frees one of his pistols from its holster, holding it ready to unleash hot lead into any creature that chooses to take issue with the party’s intrusion into its lair.
(Apollo; I couldn’t picture how you could hold a gun with one hand and jump across to the other track, so I’m assuming that you travel all the way to the bottom.)
Stepping off at the bottom with Ibben and Aka-Vasha, Apollo unties and calls to the rest of the party: “Let us not tarry in this pit – as soon as the last of us is nearing the bottom of the chute, we will grab the ascending tracks and lead us back to the gardens we passed. I fear for what we might wake in this filth if we dally for too long.”
Gene agrees. “I’ll take a walk in the park over this dumpster diving any day, lets get out of this mess” He unties himself and with his free hand reaches across to an upward-moving handhold. (DEX check; roll is 9. Good enough for Gene) Grabbing onto a handle he begins rising upwards.
Slinker comments: “Amen brother, this place feels like it’s going to start closing in on us or something… I’m in for checking out Eden! And I’m NOT touching any of those things at the bottom…” (Slinker’s roll is 17.) He unties himself and grabs the first available handle after Gene.
Annoyed that he missed his chance to get off directly at the botanical gardens, Rasputin waits until he is just above the pile of refuse before untying attempting to jump to the upwards moving handles. (DEX check; roll is 13. Success.) Rasputin avoids the unpleasantness below, and proceeds up.
Meanwhile, thoughts whirl through Rasputin’s mind. It is very plausible that the botanical level is where the creatures from above originally lived, driven out by even more efficient predators when one of the previous bands of explorers opened up whatever containment used to exist.
Using his prehensile tail as a third arm, Yobo is easily able to transfer tracks before reaching the bottom.
Not impressed at all with the refuse pile, Aka-Vasha grabs a handhold. Apollo follows, ten feet below Aka-Vasha. Leaving the filth-covered safety rope in the goo, Ibben gathers grabs a hold and begins rising. (A few gobs of unwholesome slime drop from Apollo’s dangling boots down onto Ibben’s robe.)
Olive (who was the last to descend the drop chute) peers down at his upwards approaching allies, as well as the cloud of flies which now shroud the refuse below. “Wry comment: I think we found where everyone dumps their trash.” The android reaches across to the other track (I’ll assume he keeps the rope, since he is the only one still tied to it. DEX check; natural 20!) and gracefully transfers to an upwards-moving handle. He is the first of your party to reach the bonatical garden.
Deeming it safe, he jumps off onto the ledge, gathers the rope, and helps everyone else over. “Analytic result: This level has a higher probability of producing more information.”
The drop chute is in the middle of a forty by forty foot square room, constructed from the same metal as the rest of this installation. Although there are no lights in the room, ‘sunlight’ filters in from the botanical garden (to the west) through a large archway. Corridors (twenty feet wide) extend north and south, each heading to a set of stairs leading downwards into darkness. The floor to the north appears to have suffered damage, though it should be easily passable.
It is immediately apparent that the botanical garden 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 garden, earth spills onto the heretofore bare metal decks surrounding the drop chute.
Impressed by the variety of life, Rasputin exclaims: “I guess we won’t be running out of food then.”
However, you note with some concern that a number of alarmingly mobile vines are creeping towards you from the garden!
What are your actions?