Never Tell Me The Odds!

Episode XVII: Grave Expectations

We join our heroes beneath war-torn Theed on the edge of a underground cistern where something rotten stirs…

Characters

  • Oskara (Joey)
  • Khron Lyssk (Chris)
  • Mathus (Pilat)
  • Dua Neb (Hammer)
  • Desric (Kevin)
  • GM (sparker – why do I list myself? I’m always here.)

Maternal Instincts

The party pauses at the opening to a large underground cistern where they see an unsettling swirling in the waters ahead. Anticipating a fight, they take stock of their provisions and situation.

Oskara retreats back to the site of the booby-trapped grenade explosion to further investigate them. She can’t quite trace their origin, but she is able to tell the trap was set expertly. The line was set right at the waterline – perfect to avoid disturbing the local aquatic waterlife but still catch trespassers unawares. It was set somewhat recently, but further details remain unknown.

Our far-flung traveler Dua is able to recognize the abundant eggsacs in these tunnels. It looks it’s mating season for an “Andoan Gravedigger” – a large aquatic worm native to Ando. They’re known for being brutish creatures, particularly when their young are at risk.

Meanwhile, Desric uses a pair of scanner goggles to take a closer look at the cistern. There’s a sturdy grating high along one wall which looks to lead up and away. It’s clear this used to deposit fresh water into the cistern but stopped at some point in the last few years. Cutting into this tunnel will require either a decent explosion or some time with Mathus’ fusion cutter. Our heroes, none too eager to cross the cistern and face this Gravedigger, decide to sneak into the cistern and plant a grenade.

While others are better suited to stealth, the high odds of getting drawn into combat lead the group to send Khron wading into the cistern. He creeps along the walls, hoping to avoid attention from whatever horrors lie in the central depths of the cistern, until his makes his way to the grating. He sets the frag grenade, but in his hurry to escape the blast radius he attracts the attention of a few sickly Gravedigger hatchlings.

Khron stumbles away from the blast just in time. Parts of grating and stone go flying into the water, damaging the hatchlings and attracting the ire of the Gravedigger herself. In a flash the beast raises up from the brackish waters, revealing a gray-white elongated slug-like body. At its head are two long, slender tentacles on either side of several circles of gruesome teeth. The Gravedigger quickly encircles Khron with its hindquarters and puts him in a severe strangehold, suffocating him and crushing his armor. It looks down upon him hungrily, the teeth dripping a noxious mix of stale water and foul bile.

Khron squirms enough in the creature’s grasp to point his blaster in its general direction. A wild shot nonetheless lands a massive wound on the beast. He manages to sever the beast in two. Unfortunately, the half that has him strangled is now detached and floats down into the central depths of the cistern, dragging him with it. The rest of the party watches as the Trandoshan sinks below the surface.

Dua dives into the waters to help Khron as the other heroes contend with the wounded and angered animal. Oskara manages toss a frag grenade into the beast’s throat just as Mathus hits it hard with his shock gloves, deeply disorienting the foul beast. Desric fires wildly into the waters as the hatchlings enter the crazed melee.

With Dua’s help, Khron is able to finally climb to the surface, choking and sputtering. With his help, the party slays the foul beast and sends its broodlings fleeing.

This was probably our most exciting fight yet because of the strangling and incapacitating abilities of the Gravedigger. I should find more excuses to have my heroes fight bizarre monsters.

Data Banking

Our heroes resume their journey to the rendezvous point with the Daredevils. When they arrive to the rubble-strewn town square, the ragtag Daredevils are nowhere to be seen. Confused, they reach the friendly Trandoshan over the comlink.

Again, really wish I gave that guy a name. Always name your NPCs, Scott!

Turns out the Daredevils were demolished in today’s assault, and he recommends that everyone pulls back to the Royal Palace to regroup. So close to their vault goal, our heroes reject that offer but the Trandoshan continues to insist. Before they can find out why he’s so insistent, the comlink connection is abruptly jammed by a mysterious signal.

The party presses on through the wartorn streets of Theed with Oskara leading the way and Mathus scanning for signs of life as they approach. He finds nothing nearby but an increased level of activity as the periphery of his scanner’s range.

They find the vault, an imposing circular building in the middle of one of the many plazas of Theed. The building seems to have taken a coulpe of artillery hits in the fighting with chunks of missing roof but is otherwise largely intact. They cautiously walk inside and find a large lobby with a number of service terminals and meeting rooms for guests retrieving their data. A central stairwell leading downwards into a darkened recess with only a flickering of light. They follow the stairs downwards where they find a lonely R2 unit booping about in the silence.

I legitimately love plot holes. In this case, one of the players pointed out that someone trapped this R2 unit here because the only way in or out was stairs. Obviously that’s a GM oversight but at the table we had that serve as the cause for the unit’s rather angered and unhelpful demeanor. The plot hole led us towards a more interesting story as they often do.

The R2 keeps a lonesome watch over the receiving area for the private corporate vaults, scattered with a number of private booths and malfunctioning terminals. A massive central door leads to the main datavault but is inoperable without power. Mathus tried to communicate with the droid, but all he discern from the droid’s sharp beeps is some kind of “302 – Moved Permanently for Maintenance” message.

Another dark impulse comes over Desric as the sound of distant fighting and artillery draws near. He draws his blaster and shoots a few shots towards the R2 unit before backing it into a corner and coercing it into restoring power. It does so and the terminals within the room flicker back into life before the droid cowers in the corner silently.

While the power is restored to the vault door, the terminal still complains that there is still not enough power to operate the vault. Mathus removes the paneling and rewires the primary and secondary power supplies. Instead of providing an unlimited amount of standby power, he manages to get enough power for a brief period of full vault activity.

The terminal next to the vault door alights and indicates that the vault will open by either CTO-level “Code Indigo” CSA clearance or in the event of a maintenance emergency. The crew deceives the terminal into believing such an emergency exists and the vault door opens with an hour countdown timer for the maintenance operation.

As the group enters the vault though, they notice the display which is counting their hour in the vault is moving too quickly: 00:00, 00:01, 00:03, 00:06, 00:10, 00:15, etc. Dua quickly sees the pattern – the clock is incrementing seconds cumulatively — adding 1, then 2, then 3, then 4, and so on.

If that clock is correct then the door will shut permanently and their “hour” will end in only 86 seconds…

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