With the commoners placed down in town, lady Miren is asked to come along, as she is the only other known magicker of any power. Mela is left to help tend the thousand+ injured from the brimstone fault that opened up and affected the easternmost section of the port. Ylliya, too, is dropped off at the Governors' Mansion.
The two Governors, the three Abbekqorru Death-goddess devotees (who have now prostrated themselves in her presence within the Aelbaan Sphere), Darius the stalwart, and lady Miren hop over to the bulldozed ruins of the former Merry Tea-time house, where guards of the highest quality were posted, only to find a few of them still human, while the others have been corrupted into Undeath, glowing yellow-green from their skulls.
--One of the human guards is whisked up into the craft and he explains that beams shot-forth from the site where the demon's scimitar was buried, and all who were so struck turned within a few seconds. He and the others were doing their best to prevent the Undead from digging the weapon up, but a few were cut down by the things. One guard (under the evil influence) was successful in excavating it and then fled over the elevation crest toward the jungle on the south side of Doran, leaving a wake of twisted and hostile vegetation as it travelled.
This trail led the party and this lone guard (the others presumably dismissed to find shelter in the building stationary hurricane) then found a channel in the rock that led from the dense vegetation to the flotsam and jetsam-choked rocky coast. They made the decision to go inland, but first skimmed for Deuterium to fuel the Sphere. They were careful not to fly the canyon (drat...lol), and eventually found a cave entrance below the wind-whipped canopy, and descended and entered the cave, after opening it further.
The Abbekqorru ask if the Goddess can take their lives now, making them immortal guardians of her person, and the ship tells Ashta, that it is possible, not only for the furries, but the PCs as well. They party thought it an interesting idea and before they knew it, a silvery beam struck each of them in the sixth Chakra (Indigo), between their eyes, and they feel themselves ascend to the Aether where they witness a vast fortress of mirrored glass floating in the expanse, rainbowed by curtains of every conceivable colour and hue, like Aurora Borealis. I said that they felt as though they were travelling in all directions simultaneously at the speed of light. It is explained that the ship has copied their consciousnesses and is capable of supporting them in this environment (demi-real illusory magick [Maya?]) so long as the craft survives --a sort of limited immortality, and the closest thing to eternal security that they've yet encountered in the setting.
--When they 'came down' again to their material forms, the already fervent Abbekqorru were sublime, and took the vanguard.
Now forced to go on foot, they proceeded to a set of well-worn crudely carved steps descending into the damp stone depths of the island. The fatigued and outclassed guard was ordered to secure the cave as the Sphere departed to refuel and scout (and able to Telepathically communicate with Ashta, the two essentially being the same entity, one of flesh and blood, the other of gravitically-cultured crystalline material). The guard was told to yell if things required their attention (callous curs that they can often be).
The curved stairway reached a circular chamber with a 20' ceiling and five tunnels leading off in a pentangular distribution. It was cold and grew deathly cold (they took 19 points of damage [6 D&D-type points] and would take another iteration in 10-min. Turn) in a Round, suggesting the Void-aligned presence had been there. Tyb, spooked about clockwise rotations after his near-death via petrification, chose to take the furthest tunnel which was nearest the cave and coast. The tunnel they chose was a 10' gothic arch its full length, with debris-clogged runnels on either side, and curved a few times before reaching a hole in the ceiling which led to the outside and the storm-filled sky, as well as a mossy patch on the floor with creeper vines along the walls and ceiling. Tyb's player remembered they had a Rod of Plant Control, and used it to allow them to pass, as it was clearly a hostile zone/trap. Ashta used her Ring of Scorpion Summoning and Control to draw 5 FD (that's kinda' like D&D Hit Dice, but only sorta', folks)-worth of the creatures, consisting mainly of one Collie-sized critter and a few normal-sized specimen. It was here that Skelk, the leader of her Abbekqorru cohort asked if it would not be a better use of their prowess to send the scorps ahead, which she did.
--The reached a 45* left turn (more counter-clockwisdom) which extended about 45' with 'alcoves' staggered on either side, and terminated in a wheel-valve-door. Along the floor slabs and the walls, a sort of blue-green algae-looking stuff could be seen, and the lead scorp didn't want to proceed. The party fiddled about for a bit until Tyb noted (through his Engineering-'clan'-training) that the alcove-like indentations suggested a compression or other mechanical work feature to them, and that the blue-green was connected to vapour venting up from between the floor slabs. Ashta's searching for Architectural Features was confirmed when she found a scan-plate on the wall, which responded to her, and allowed her to bring up a holo-schematic of the corridor. Tyb then took over and called up a map of the entire level, then understanding that each 'alcove' was in fact a doorway to a pressurised and climate-controlled chamber, some designated as Exploration Gear, Solvent Crew Genetic Material, and other 'stuff', some of which the words held no meaning in current Vrun. It was determined that this was an Early Imperial complex, founded by Scouts who had located Urutsk in a Periphery survey mission. The computer indicated that the wheel-valve-door led to a reconstitution vat and cryo-medical station.
>> Mis-diagnosis of how to equally de-pressurise the chambers caused the Solvent Crew Genetic Material chamber to explosively decompress, doing a fair bit of damage, and knocking everyone back out into the main corridor. Another of the chamber doors opened and tightly segmented metallic tentacles could be seen by Darius who had taken the lead in exploration do to his greater toughness in comparison to Tyb. This thing turned out to be a Defence Droid with a suspensor field, and looked essentially like two 50-gal. oil drums stacked atop each other, with two tentacle manipulators (a la Gamma World), and a laser designator that painted the mutant Darius' forehead. Quick thinking (and a superior Initiative value) on Tyb's part prevented the Droid from killing Darius and then the Abbekqorru.
--However, this Droid's AI was highly adaptive and suspicious, and was, as I said on more than one occasion, set to K*I*L*L* anything that was Aberrant, Alien, and/or dangerous by Early Imperial programming standards (it was a sentinel left behind not only to protect the solvent crew in their cannisters, but to aid them in their dangerous survey duty, should they have been reconstituted). It was not happy that the slightly genetically peculiar Ashta (quasi-Aelbaan) and Tyb (partly-Dryvv-Aelbaan) were contravening its standing orders by telling it to not fire upon Darius or the furries. Lady Miren didn't seem objectionable to it, but it simply ignored her in comparison to the real and present threats blinking in its sensor array. It contents itself with launching an arrow-head-sized micro-missile down the hall to destroy a five-limbed semi-simian critter (non-native) without authorisation from the suspicious quasi-humans, until Tyb secured any unauthorised combat initiatives. I rolled for the AI and it complied, but was growing increasingly ... non-plussed.
With what I am encountering as typical Gamer-ADD, the group only investigates 18 of the 27 crates set up in a cube in the first chamber (E-sheath suits with field communicators, and in the second layer of nine-boxes, rations, no care given to the bottom 9, let alone the other chambers), and then takes this Droid down the corridor back to the central chamber, which is now warmer, and warms fully once Tyb activates Environmental controls via the Droid's interface with the much less 'intelligent' and independent AI of the complex. They proceed down a security corridor that, due to the Droid's interfacing with the complex, required security overrides each 10' to prevent energy weapons in ceiling drop-turrets (they've encountered these before) from blasting them (save lady Miren) into incoherent agitated molecular residue. This, they know, leads to a cargo elevator down.
--It is here that Tyb informs the Droid that the quarry they seek is a dangerous monster and it is free to destroy it and its weapon. Sadly, the Droid has access to the complex' sensor logs which shows that a human (the possessed guard with the demon's scimitar) is the only recent life form to have descended (via a drop-shaft) to the bottom level (which is off-line; the top level being isolated from the rest of the complex' AI-grid). This flagrant violation of its Pro-Human security policy sets in motion its override and it attack's Tyb after he tried in vain to re-gain authority over it.
One tentacle misses, while the second grapples and severs his left leg with 90 points (30 HP in D&D terms) of damage. Tyb, already in terrible condition, goes into a deep and likely terminal coma as he is bleeding 3+ Dynamic Points (like HP, but more useful) a Round. Then Ashta swings, severing one of the tentacles, and penetrates the Droid's casing with her Hullmetal sword, but doesn't do enough past the 15-point armour to really affect its internal workings. Darius sees that the tray of micro-missiles is primed and ready for launch the next Round, and pounds the casing in the desperate hope to deform it and prevent launch, as everyone (again, save lady Miren) is painted by the targeting lasers. A new Round's Group-Initiative roll (then broken-down by Individual Init mods.) has the Droid attempt to strike Darius with its only remaining tentacle, but it fails to do so. Instead, the Abbekqorru (acting in concert) grapple the manipulator for Ashta to then cleave it. Having taken its only possible physical action in the Round, the Droid initiates self-destruct in a vindictive attempt to neutralise the non-human threat to the complex, etc.
--The party drag the dying Tyb with tem, only to have the defences fire upon and strike all three of the Abbekqorru, blowing a few limbs off, and nearly detaching Skelk's chest from his abdomen. Ashta hauls him over he shoulder and begins shouting overrides to the complex' AI (less inclined to blast away with vengeance), but not before all three are badly, badly wounded. Similarly, Darius the Aberrant is targeted, but carries Tyb in front of him and Miren behind him as meat-shields, and has his head missed by a shot. They make it to the end of the long corridor after Ashta succeeds in overriding the security protocols, just as the Droid detonates, doing a mere 3d6 (1d6) damage to everyone.
Tyb's player was less than thrilled, but had to run to his alternating weekly 9Pm game.