Our Cast of Players:
- Alexei Makarov (Ian): Human Expert – Technician/Adventurer, level 1.
- Christian (Craig): Human Psychic – Adventurer/Psychic Researcher, level 1.
- Hilton “Hiltie” Jones (Max): Human Expert – Biotech Crew/Pilot, level 1.
- Jonah Priest (Alan): Human Warrior – Security Crew/Ground Forces, level 1.
- Lazarus Morgenstern (Dave): Human Expert – Noble/Adventurer, level 1.
- Munroe (Ricky): Human Warrior – Soldier/Merc, level 1.
You successfully unload all of the gear from the store room and transfer it to the large room with all the hammocks. Once you have it there, you decide the best move is probably to take it all back to The Leadbelly and Hiltie starts to load up your net sample bags. Few of you are keen on carrying any of it though lest you meet trouble on the way and the burden falls to Hiltie and Alexei to drag it all, bumping along the ground.
Munroe leads you back to the shuttle by the exact route you came, resisting the urges of others to do a little exploring along the way. Once you have your retrieved items safely stowed, he relaxes a little. Returning to the ante chamber beyond the airlock, he ventures a little way down the bronze passageway to the right. It looks to lead on to a large chamber and Munroe swears he can see some sort of vegetation in the distance.
He calls the rest of you this direction and leads you off down the passageway, Beth drawn and ready for some action. The room is large, well lit, and humid. Wildly extravagant blooms of red and orange and purple hang from fruited vines in a profusion of colours and smells. A narrow, winding path leading through the thick foliage toward the sole visible exit on the left hand wall. Several pieces of discarded fruit lie on and around the path.
Beautiful though the sight is, it is somewhat disconcerting in its incongruity to many of you and a reluctance to cross develops. Munroe overcomes this with some straight talking and leads you across to the single exit. The passageway beyond leads to an octagonal room. Four of the walls have doors in them, three have exit passageways, and one is blank. Choosing the nearest door, Munroe opens it and checks above the frame before assessing the contents of the room beyond. It is small, has five walls, and no other exits.
In the centre of the room are two pods made from a blackened metal of spidery construction. They both have a bifurcated folding lid that is neatly peeled back and look large enough to hold a human sized figure. The walls of the room are the usual bronze panels worked with Ushan tomb decorations. Leaning over very cautiously on one foot, with Beth in hand, Munroe checks the content of the pods. Both are empty.
He breathes out slowly in relief. Other than the pods there is nothing else in the room. Returning to the octagonal chamber he checks the other three doors. Behind each is an identical five walled room with two pods in the centre. All of the pods are open, and all of them are empty. Alexei examines them and is mystified by their purpose. However they are manufactured, of that he is certain.
Deciding to put some distance between yourself and the sinister looking pods, Munroe leads you along the left hand passageway from this room. It seems to be one of the longer ones you have seen and after 50 metres or so you come to a door in the right hand wall while the passageway continues in front of you. Alexei and Lazarus take up positions to either side of the door, the former with the instapanel in hand, while Munroe carefully and quietly opens the door.
Beyond lies a rectangular room containing half a dozen low, circular nests. On four of them lie Chittik, seemingly asleep on their bellies. Munroe signals you all to be quiet and he and Lazarus stealthily enters the room. Some sixth sense disturbs one of the Chittik and it sits up with considerable grace for its clumsy looking bulk and swivels its multi-faceted eyes around to Munroe.
It calls out in a chittering voice to its fellows, who also bestir themselves and then, with some clicking of mandibles, speaks in disjointed but recognisable English to Munroe, who is temporarily frozen into immobility at this turn of events. It asks if you are pirates and Lazarus replies enigmatically that you are here to help. The rest of them raise themselves and a couple exit through the door and into the corridor where the rest of you are. Munroe isn’t too happy about this but he doesn’t really know what to do about it.
They ask if you will help them in their struggle against the Ushans, who they tell you are dangerous and evil escapees who must be recaptured before they kill everyone in the complex. Lazarus cannot help himself and asks the Chittik to “take me to your leader”. The Chittik disclaim knowledge of where any leader is and reassert that you are pirates. Priest denies this and one of the Chittik accuses him of lying. Then, for some reason best known only to Priest, he raises his shotgun and blows the offending Chittik’s head clean off, spraying most of you in the passageway with green gore.
There is a stunned moment of silence as the Chittik who has been thrown against the wall by the blast slides to the floor and then all hell breaks loose. The two Chittik still in the room launch themselves at Munroe and Lazarus in a desperate battle for survival. Munroe fires his pistol into the ceiling to try and intimidate them but things have now gone far beyond that and the two are soon engaged in frantic hand-to-hand combat and are quickly over-powered by the stronger aliens and left for dead. One of them relieves Lazarus of his revolver and shoots it out into the passageway at Alexei, narrowly missing.
The Chittik still alive in the passageway claws at Priest, wounding him, but this gives Alexei an opportunity to stab it with his monoblade, which he takes.
To be continued…