The crew continue exploring the overgrown plant chambers inside the ancient space hulk Iblis, searching for Ben Rashid’s missing squad. More plant creatures emerge, and a strange light shines from an unnatural well.
Dr. Hardcastle joins the crew inside the plant, following their instructions to make his way inside. While they wait for him, Albie collects more of the melon-like fruit growing from the walls.
Active Crew: Alex Hardcastle 02BZ Sasha Denisovich J. Olivia Hanlon Albie
Reunited, the crew continue exploring, entering a large chamber. They spot an exit opposite the way they came in and a crawlspace-sized hole in the wall dribbling some kind of liquid, collecting in a pool in the center of the chamber.
J. carefully enters the room with a rope tied around her waist. The floor squelches, wet under her combat boots. As she approaches the pool of liquid, she sees it looks like water, and that it’s much deeper than it at first appeared. A golden light seems to shine up from its depths.
Albie follows and checks the hole with her handheld scanner, revealing it to be a mix of water, some complex organic structures, plant matter, and cryofluid. Checking the liquid flowing down from the hole in the wall, she determines it’s mostly just cryofluid.
Olivia checks out the crawlspace, and sees something glinting inside. She pokes the shiny object with a tentpole Sasha has with him in his exploration kit. With a tap, the object starts buzzing and vibrating in the hole before sliding out and embedding itself in the soft plant floor, still buzzing away. It’s a vibechete. They hear a groan emerge from deeper in the crawlspace.
A crit fail for Olivia.
Olivia tosses the pole back to Sasha, takes her rigging gun and shoots it into the slick crawlspace to give herself an anchor to help her climb in. Her aim is true, but the kickback from the gun and the slippery floor conspire to knock her backwards into the pool! As she sinks, the pool’s light gets brighter and brighter. Thinking quickly, she punches the retract mechanism on her rigging gun to reel herself back up.
The rest of the crew help her out of the water. Undeterred, she uses the rigging gun filament, now anchored in the slippery hole, to climb up into the crawlspace, occasionally slipping on the flowing cryofluid. Once inside, she finds a low small chamber with another plant orifice in the ceiling. It’s straining and bulging inward, leaking cryofluid into the chamber. She also finds the source of the groans: a man in a tattered hazard suit, seemingly drugged and dazed, half submerged in the plant wall. He’s unresponsive but she finds an nametag on him — he’s Oswaldo Merrick, one of the 6 crew they’re looking for. Olivia ties her rope around him and cuts up some of the wall with the vibechete to break him free.
As Sasha pulls on the rope to help pull him out, J notices some more of the faceless plant creatures approaching from behind the party. She takes aim, calling out to the others to warn them, and shoots, killing one. Several more continue shambling forward towards the chamber. O2 grabs the rope, helping Olivia pull Oswaldo out of the crawlspace.
J pauses to line up a shot and shoots through two of the zombies at once, killing both with the last bullet in her clip. Hardcastle runs up and attacks one with a vibechete, ripping a hole in its side. Albie, with no weapons, runs up beside him and tears at the hole he made with her bare hands and surprising strength. Two more emerge behind it, both lunging and tearing at Hardcastle. Sasha runs up and shoots at them with a revolver but his shot goes wide.
Olivia finally cuts Oswaldo free, and with O2 pulling on the rope, he suddenly shoots straight out of the hole, across the slick floor, and splashes into the glowing pool. 02, still holding the rope, struggles to pull him out.
Another crit fail for Olivia.
Olivia tries to pull the harpoon out of the wall in the crawlspace, but loses her grip and slips and slides down out of the hole and onto the ground, leaving the harpoon and gun inside.
A crit success for Sasha!
As a plant creature reaches for Sasha, he raises his revolver and fires, the bullet shooting through its palm, exploding his hand, ripping through the length of its outstretched arm, ripping it apart as it pierces its torso, stopping it dead in its tracks. Hardcastle lands a good blow with his vibechete, cutting a creature in half as J reloads, takes aim, and kills the last one. All’s quiet once again.
Albie tends to the delirious Oswaldo, now lying next to the pool, giving him a stim and telling him he’ll be ok. He comes to, panics, slaps her, and attempts to scramble away, falling once again into the pool. He flails wildly and sinks quickly. O2 tries to grab the rope as it slips down after him, but is too slow to grab it in time. Albie and Olivia rush to the hole, but both also fail to grab the rope as it sinks. Hardcastle jabs J with a stimpak and tells her to get in there after him. She nods and dives in with surprising grace, swimming down and grabbing the flailing man. As she swims, she sees the shaft bend off and extend in another direction, into some kind of bright, gold-green light. She brings him back up, once again unconscious, but this time they leave him be.
J tells the crew about the light, and that this watery shaft seems to lead somewhere. Sasha volunteers to investigate it and jury-rigs a rope harness for himself. As he descends, the others watch via his suit’s body cam.
Sasha swims down to the bottom, through the bend, and back up into gold-green light. The shaft opens up into a huge plant chamber the size of a cathedral, submerged to waist-height in fluid, walls festooned with hundreds of pods. A huge machine that Sasha recognizes as an ancient, massive warp drive sits in the center of the chamber, vines forming an island around it, creeping up its sides, embracing it. The light is emanating from the drive. On the vine island around it, Sasha sees piles of the fruit, and two people in vaccsuits, hunched and unmoving.
Sasha approaches the island, slowly and carefully. Approaching the crumpled figures, he finds an SMG, two vibechetes, and a shotgun nearby. He picks up the shotgun and cautiously uses it to tap one of the vaccsuits. It tips over, revealing a gory shotgun wound in the chest. Sasha now sees that the other vaccsuit’s visor is shattered from more bullet holes, weeping blood down the front of the suit. He checks their tags: they’re both part of the crew they were sent to find. Only one remains unaccounted for: Liv Chain.
Continued in 01.10 The Pitcher