39 – Botanical Gardens Redux28-Oct-08
While exploring the lower deck, you have paused for a moment beside a large cargo door. Entry is barred by a violet keycard panel. Further exploration is interrupted, however, as the party discovers the source of the mysterious humming noise approaching from the east…
You have been caught by a machine unlike any creature of living metal that you have seen before. Floating several feet above the ground on humming repulsorlifts, it is cylindrical in shape and constructed from Ancient alloys. It possesses two human-sized arms, with two longer metal ‘tentacles’ beneath. Several protrusions on the robot suggest weapons, though it makes no attacks yet.
The Ancient monstrosity pauses about thirty feet from the group, metallic tentacles writhing. You notice the robot has signs of damage; small dents, scratches, even shooting a few sparks on occasion. In a booming voice, the creatures utters words in the Ancient tongue. Rasputin offers a quick translation: “Police! Drop your weapons and put your hands in the air!”
Hoping that his camouflaged and invisible colleagues will gain the advantage over the robot, Gene raises his hands into the air and addresses the machine in Ancient: “Thank goodness you’re here! There is a disturbance upstairs! Bandits have stolen my identification, you must apprehend them!”
Gene grits his teeth and prays that his ruse convinces the robot to move on or provides his companions with the opportunity to surprise it in combat.
Yobo does as the robot says, lifting his hands into the air as he stands upright. His face turns to one of fear and into that of confusion as he hears Gene’s words.
Ibben remains motionless and invisible, waiting to see the outcome of the verbal exchange (once again kicking himself that he has not yet learned Ancient).
From his position at the back of the group Apollo focuses on subtly distorting the light between the party and the hovering robot (in an attempt to dissipate possible laser fire). The space between you and the robot wavers slightly, like the air above hot asphalt.
While Apollo has not encountered this exact type of machine before, he has enough experience of the technologies of the Ancients to know that it is likely to have hidden surprises and should not be taken at face value.
The police robot turns to address Gene: BZzztt! “Greetings citizen. Identification please. This is a restricted area.”
Olive complies with the robot, but asks a question in response (in Ancient). “Query: Have we been suspected in some crime?”
The machine ignores Olive’s question, and instead waits for Gene’s response.
Scrambling for words, Gene sticks to his story: “Like I said, my identification has been stolen! Bandits have infiltrated the upper levels!”
Meanwhile, Olive begins speaking to the rest of the group in Unislang so the robot can’t understand. “Suggestion: Someone, like the invisible, should look through the other rooms quickly for a brown key card. Explanation: The police robot is looking for identification for this restricted area.”
Holding up the violet card taken from Pris’ fallen form, Olive tries to buy more time, distracting the police bot with two different conversations. “Distracting explanation with ulterior motive: I still do have a violet card that the bandits did not take. Does this give me clearance?”
The robot seems confused for a moment by Olive. Glancing at the card, it simply says: “Identificaiton insufficient.”
Responding to Gene, it says: “Anomalous infiltrators have been identified in the upper levels. Several armed suspects have been apprehended.”
As the machine mentions ‘armed’ suspects, you see it focus on the weapons that your party members are carrying… FZzzzt! “Warning! Drop your weapons, or you shall be subdued and placed under arrest.”
Facing Yobo, it says: Bzzz! “All animals must be contained in the botanical level.” [Clang!]
Yobo shrieks “Why is it looking at me!!!” and skitters off behind the others.
Gene is becoming increasingly nervous with the path of the conversation. “It appears you are malfunctioning! Perhaps you should reboot your system as a safety precaution?”
Rasputin has hung back up till now, trying to figure out the motivations of the crazy machine (as almost all of them seem to be after such a passage of years).
Now he steps forwards. “We have collected up the escaped specimens from the botanical level (nods at Yobo) but were attacked trying to return them there (gestures at Gene’s wounds). We fled here to escape harm. Can you accompany us back to the botanical level to protect us?”, suggests Rasputin.
The robot turns towards Rasputin and focuses upon him closely… “Affirmative. Citizen requires assistance. Holster your weapons. Primary function- to serve and protect” [Click. Fzzt.]
Cautiously, the party lowers their weapons. The robot beckons the group forward, towards the nearest stairwell up.
Olive simulates a whisper: “Compliment: Nicely played Rasputin. How did you know what its primary protocol would be?”
Rasputin holsters his weapon but just lets out a thin smile at Olive.
Aka-Vasha stands quietly to size up the situation, but once she seen everyone put away their weapons, she sheathes her sword. She then picks up Yobo and slings him across her shoulders like a snake.
Always the contrarian, Slinker decides that it would be better to stay unnoticed and will wait until the police robot is out of sight before gathering his gear and moving to follow.
(The referee tosses a dice, but doesn’t say anything. Looks like the robot didn’t notice Slinker…)
Botanical Gardens Redux
Once it is obvious that the (visible) party members are following, the robot heads east towards the nearest stairwell up. You ascend several flights of stairs up; the only light sources are the torches carried by the retainers. You note that this stairwell is very similar to the one you walked down earlier.
You arrive back on the botanical level in a room very similar to the one you were in earlier, except you are not threatened by vines here. There is a dark drop chute is in the middle of a forty by forty foot square room. Although there are no lights here, ‘sunlight’ filters in from the botanical garden (to the north) through a large archway. Corridors (twenty feet wide) extend east and west to stairwells down – you have just ascended the east stairs.
The robot emits an odd buzzing, and hovers an inch lower to the ground for a second. “Due to staffing shortfalls, I must return to my post immediately and cannot transfer you further. Please proceed to the Retention Bays with the wildlife.” It does not wait for a response, but turns and hovers back down the stairs.
As the police robot begins to depart, Aka-Vasha (being unable to communicate directly with the machine) asks loudly if anyone is going to ask the metal-being about the significance of all the colored-coded doors.
(It doesn’t appear, however, that any of the Ancient-speaking PCs wish to pester the robot further with any questions – unless someone wants to ask it just before it leaves.)
Behind the party, clutching his gear to his naked body, the Slinker continues up the stairs. He hears the humming of the police robot as it approaches him from above…
What are your actions?