In The Key of Time II

Part Two– The Doctor is Waiting for You

The Wayfarers are in Navarene, near to the city of Shallamas. They have come through an encounter with a band of Margr armed with black ray energy emitters and are currently in a chamber with three Aeon Priests, having passed through a Portal of some kind.

                (For ease of description. I’m labelling the tunnels as per the points of the compass.)

Galadiir greeted Tevarus and was introduced to his companions Valniir and Pitracc.

“Are there any more of you?” “Kappad and Holgar went exploring, they have not returned yet. We were about to search for them when the Margr attacked. We will stay here to hold them off.”

Galadiir triggered a glowglobe and the Wayfarers headed off along the eastern tunnel. The tunnels are circular in cross-section, with a flat floor. The walls bore marks to suggest they were constructed. After a short distance it opened out into a circular chamber with a central dais. A tunnel led off to the NE, in the east wall was another tunnel, completely blocked by fused and melted rock. Harrylock tried to punch his way through, using his skill of Damage Inanimate Objects, but to no avail*. Examining the dais revealed nothing, so they continued NE.

A short distance later they entered a rectangular chamber. There were exits N and NE. In the chamber were several tables and chairs, also some easy chairs and sofas. There were posters and pictures on the walls; all very faded and peeling. They couldn’t make out what was on them. Up against one wall stood a tall rectangular box with five vertical transparent panels. Above each panel was a vertical slot, about 2cm high. The panels were dark; it looked like there was something behind them. A search round the room and furniture revealed two round metal discs down the back of the sofas. Galadiir took one and put it into one of the slots in the machine; there was a ‘whirr’ and a ‘thump’, as something landed in a hopper at the base of the machine. It was a can, somewhat corroded; the writing faded and unreadable. As Galadiir picked it up it burst, showering him is a sticky sweet-smelling liquid. Harrylock tried the second ‘coin?’ in a different slot; the machine produced a small wrapped bar. He opened it; whatever it had been had long ago decayed and become rock-hard. He threw it at the wall, where it bounced off.

Whilst they were messing with the vending machine, Judson investigated the two tunnels leading off. The north tunnel led for a short distance; at the end was a flickering glow; like a fire. There was also a faint smell; a sickly smell that he couldn’t identify. The NE tunnel also led for a short distance; at the end was steady blue glow.

“Blue means cold”, declared Galadiir. “I deal with the cold, so that’s the way we’ll go”.

A short distance along the tunnel and they entered a long elongated oval-shaped chamber, lit by a blue tube running the length of the ceiling. There were exits W and SE. Along the chamber were 12 glass and synth cylinders, set on frames at a 300 angle, all connected to complex machinery

Examining the nearest cylinder was a male human clad in orange and yellow robes, with a circular raised headdress. Various devices hung from his belt. With him were three assistants. As the Wayfarers entered he turned; pulling a device from his belt.

“Hold! I am Erinnis of Bodrov and I claim salvage rights here. However; I would trade knowledge. Do you know what they are for?”

“Yes”, called Galadiir. “They are mine. I have just bought this place. They (indicating Judson, Harrylock and Sonny) are my servants”**

“I do not believe you”, replied Erinnis. “I think I would like you to leave”. He pressed something on the numenera device and a barrier of force sprang up across the end of the chamber; sealing it off. With no way to get through, they went back to the Recreation Room. They headed up the north passage; the smell grew stronger until they identified it; the smell of hot metal and blood.

At the end of the north tunnel was a rectangular chamber with exits N and E. It looked like a grotesque hospital ward; six beds lined the room; all of them surrounded on all sides by heavy synth cages. The nearest two cages had a captive man in each; the third cage was empty but the bed was soaked in dried blood. Cages four and five were empty; cage six held an impossibly beautiful biomech

“Get us out of here!” The man in the nearest cage was hammering on the bars. “They’ll be back any time now.”

“Who will? Said Harrylock. “Talk later! Just get us out, and her. They seem really interested in her. Hurry! The receptionist will be here soon.”

Judson took his bow and climbed up on top of the third cage to cover the exits; Harrylock broke open the door of the cage holding the biomech.

“Who are you?” “I am designated Talia-5,” replied the biomech.

Harrylock and Talia-5 broke open one of the cages; from somewhere came the sound of a motor spooling up. They opened the last cage just as a crackling voice spoke from behind them.

“Do you have an appointment? The doctor will see you now if you have an appointment. If you don’t have an appointment then I will book you an appointment to see the doctor. I am the receptionist. I book appointments so that you can see the doctor.”

The speaker stood in the entrance to the eastern tunnel; a wrinkled old crone, easily 70 years old, with straggly white hair; wearing an old, faded nurse’s uniform. The name badge reads Sharlin***.

“Run!” yelled Judson. “I’ll hold it off”.

“Do you want an appointment?” Nurse Sharlin advanced towards cage #3. Judson looked up to see,from out of the east tunnel, a robotic monstrosity emerging. It was on a wheeled platform and was 7 feet tall. It was equipped with grabbers, claws, restraints, drills, needle-probes, abraders, shock-terminals and all the other implements of the interrogation biomech. The most horrible thing was the living body of another nurse hard-wired into the system. Although most of its humanity was gone; it still wore the name badge Cathenie. As it approached, Judson did a magnificent back flip off the top of the cage and ran out of the north tunnel, following the others.

The tunnel exited them into the centre of a large group of humans, wearing armour and carrying an assortment of weapons. All of them had a distinguishing mark; a large scar bisecting their left eye. There was no negotiation, the Split-Eye Reavers grabbed their weapons and attacked.

The fight was a complex affair, with the Reavers ganging up on the Wayfarers. At one point, one of the Reavers produced a cylinder with a short hose attached; a horrified Harrylock recognised this as a cypher containing Metal Death. They managed to keep the bearer of this off-balance and dazed; at one point the thing was dropped and another Reaver grabbed it, only to be targeted in turn. **** Finally, the surviving Reavers fled into the west tunnel. The Wayfarers took stock; they had taken light wounds. Talia-5 was unhurt and had taken down two Reavers; of the brothers, Lorn was impaired and Dorn was bleeding out; he died before they could do anything. They decided to retrace their steps back to the prison area. Amazingly, Harrylock decided to leave the cylinder of Metal Death behind.

As they entered the tunnel, from all around them came a loud wheezing and groaning sound; echoing throughout the tunnels and the walls. They felt a strange rippling sensation and they found themselves in a brightly lit room with an exit E. They were standing by the north wall. The room smelled of fresh paint and disinfectant; it was a hospital ward. There were six beds, surrounded by complex medical equipment. A doctor and two nurses stood by one of the beds. One of the nurses, a young blonde woman, looked up and flashed a smile.

“Hello. I didn’t see you come in. Would you like to see the doctor?

—- To be Continued —

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GM Notes

* He had no way of determining how thick the lava plug was, so there wasn’t much chance of him succeeding.

** I have no idea at all what Matt was doing at this point

*** This REALLY freaked them out, which is why they ran (I think)

**** This was largely due to the extraordinary number of “19’s” and “20’s” rolled by the Wayfarers during the combat – the dice were with them tonight.

The combat made us realise that we did need some way of marking who was fighting who. I don’t want to use a full-blown battlemat system; I want to keep the simplicity of Numenera. I’m going to look at adapting the combat/move system out of ‘Mars Attacks’. More on this later.

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