34 – Strangle Vines01-Oct-08
Wisely deciding not to poke around the refuse pile at the bottom of the drop chute, the party has returned to the botanical garden level. You stand beside the drop chute in the middle of a 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.
You note with some concern that a number of alarmingly mobile vines are creeping towards you from the garden!
Olive cocks his head, his single glowing eye observing the creeping vines. “Observation: Those vines seem to have noticed our entrance. Tense humor: Maybe, just maybe, we should go up to the next floor.” With that, Olive leaps across to the upward moving handrails, climbing them hand-over-hand until he reaches the next floor. The rapidly-moving android is so fast, none of you have the chance to object!
(Olive also considers anchoring the rope above and dropping it so the others can climb up, but the next level is much too high – about 80 feet above the botanical garden.)
Gene shakes his head at Olive’s action. Thinking also of the retainers, he comments: “Lets get everybody down here, no sense splitting up.”
As Rasputin sees Olive leaving he commands, “Collect the retainers and bring them down; we don’t want to split up in this place.”
Looking down as at Rasputin as Olive climbs up, the android cocks his head. “Hesitant response: I’ll… get right on that.” Olive climbs to the top, letting the retainers know the situation and makes plans for getting them down.
Yobo becomes alarmed about the encroaching vines and backs up into the southern corridor to hopefully avoid them. He sniffs around trying to make out something familiar among the cacophony of scents.
(The vines are creeping relatively slowly from the garden – about one foot per round – so Yobo is able to easily avoid them. Sniffing the air, the mutant snake detects many strange and alien odours. The pungent smells remind him somewhat of the vegepygmies, and somewhat of a rotting compost heap, but he cannot identify anything in particular – other than Aka-Vasha’s alluring scent, of course.)
As Ibben steps back, following Yobo to the south, he extends his mind outwards, to see if the vines have an intelligence, or are mindless…
(Using Neural Telepathy, Ibben detects no conscious thoughts. The vines are mindless, or nearly so. They are not actively hunting the group; they must simply be reacting to your motion or noise.)
“Come, into the southern corridor, quickly!”, Ibben urges the others from his location near Yobo. He then uses his Echolocation to sound out the southern passage.
(Ibben’s Echolocation picks up a narrow side passage that you didn’t notice before. It’s about twenty feet south, and leads west. Further south, wide stairs lead downward deeper than Ibben can sound out. The stairs appear to descend further down than the elevator shaft, perhaps to a lower level.)
The party pauses for a few moments, waiting for Olive to return with the retainers before moving onwards. The vines continue their slow crawl forward, creeping south towards you. Yobo skitters behind the others and watches the vines approach.
Aka-Vasha pulls out her cutlass like a machete. “Well, you guys wanted to stop and smell the roses. If we don’t find food now, then later something gonna find us as food!”
Rasputin moves to just behind Ibben. He gets out a flask of oil and readies himself to light and throw it at the vines.
Gene also readies an oil flask. “Don’t get too close! They may be faster than we think! Be prepared to escape into the chute if we must!” Gene worries, however, that the vines may already be close enough to the shaft to pose a threat to those within…
Slinker glances sideways to Rasputin as he slides behind Ibben. “That oil better taste good if we’re going to have ourselves a decent salad!” Slinker pulls out his axe. Shifting his eyes over to Gene, Slinker states: “Escape to the chute? Escape? I’m ‘escaping’ into the garden if we need to escape!”
Slipping his pistol back into his belt, Apollo withdraws his sword. Backing slowly into the southern corridor after Ibben, while maintaining a careful watch on the approaching vines, he states “If we can draw these things into the southern corridor then Olive should be able to escort the retainers down in safety”.
(Very good; the party – minus Olive and the retainers – has withdrawn to the southern passage. The vines are creeping slowly towards the group, but are slowing down the further they reach from the gardens. They now cover a twenty-foot wide strip from the main garden doors, past the chute, almost to the edge of the southern corridor.)
(The referee tosses some dice…)
After a few minutes, you hear Olive’s familiar whistling approaching from above. He is whistling a mournful dirge.
“Look out, Olive!” warns Rasputin. “The vines are near the shaft!”
Heeding Rasputin’s warning, Olive deftly swings out of the shaft away from the vines. You note that he is heavily laden with gear. Following him are Reesus, Rogaine, and Andre – but not Pris or Xanax! Exiting quickly from the shaft, they move to the west side of the room, away from the vines (which are now also creeping slowly towards them).
“Where are the others?” asks Apollo with concern.
Reesus responds, and you see that he and the other retainers sport fresh battle scars! “We were attacked by fearsome beasts. They bent space to avoid our blows, and we were taken by surprise!”
The retainers describe six-legged catlike creatures, with ridged tentacles rising from each shoulder. A duo of the beasts struck from the north, catching Pris by surprise and mauling her from behind. After several rounds of combat, Xanax fled west and was not seen again. The remaining retainers were able to drive the displacer beasts away, but only after sustaining injuries.
Olive interrupts their tale, seemingly unconcerned about the loss of two allies. “Observation: The vines have moved between us. We will need to cross them to reunite.” The android is correct – there are about twenty feet of strangle vines now covering the floor between the shaft and the southern corridor, with no way around them.
What are your actions?