Numenera Up North

Beneath the Unseen Lake (Part 2)

Nibov struggled to haul Mondo out of the precarious position he’d been left in: dangling down in the centre of a steel spider infested shaft. Not quick enough to pull Mondo out of harms way, two of the spiders scurrying up the shaft managed to latch onto Mondo. Perhaps spurred on by the looming threat of danger, Mondo managed to pull himself up onto the edge of the doorway that the rest of the party had gathered in.

Psychic blasts were hurled at the spiders, as the second pair neared their prey. Nibov donned a pair of cypher gauntlets with the power to create a repulsive magnetic field.

The party returned to the room where they had discovered the large hour glass and decided to investigate the rooms purpose further. Numenera experts Von Katzenjammer and Seeto studied the device up close and at a distance. A careless tap from Von Katzenjammer’s metal suit caused a crack in the surface of the hourglass, but it was Seeto who brought the sphere truly to life.

Sseto activated a small sphere that the group had picked up earlier, in the very same room, and the small sphere caused the large sphere at the centre of the hourglass to come alive. It rotated slowly and its surface lit up with dozens of interlocking circles: some large, some small, some concentric, some bisected by lines. The consoles surrounding the sphere also illuminated, the chunky buttons on their surface lighting up with similar circular patterns. The walls of the room – and the corridor beyond – began to radiate with a luminous pale green glow. Frantically mashing the console inputs, the party saw the spheres rotation accelerate and decelerate over and over, and heard the sound of metal grinding against metal somewhere nearby.

Returning to the corridor behind them, the path ahead of them was now newly illuminated. It seemed that activating the sphere had returned power to the structure around them. Curious what effect this new power might have had on rooms they had previously explored, the group returned to the room containing nine identical slabs. Deciding to try and prove a hunch, Nibov laid down on one of the slabs and a pale green light rose up around him, responding to his presence. Translucent circles – similar to those that had flashed across the surface of the structure power source – appeared from the side of the slab. When touched, an energy shell slid into place over Nibov and immediately the temperature around Nibov began to drop. Once again, the rugged glaive’s naivety of technology had betrayed him – and if lucky hadn’t been on his side, he might well have been frozen inside the shell forever.

Deciding against any further meddling with the slabs, the group returned to the shaft and decided it was time to explore the structures upper levels. Though the inside of the shaft was covered with steel spider webs, a well-placed series of psychic blasts from Mondo sheared through the webbing and gave Nibov the space needed to climb to the next level. Not quite as confident in their own climbing skills, the rest of the party turned to their resident tinkerer, Seeto, for a solution. Cobbling together tools and parts of his own with the remains of the steel spider he’d scavenger earlier, Seeto fashioned a crude yet highly effective grappling system, which would allow the groups less nimble members to make their way to the upper level without difficulty.

On the second level of the structure, the group were confronted once again with a locked door. Von Katzenjammer scanned the solid metal door, in search of any traces of life, but could feel only faint traces. Deciding against investigating this for the time being, the group pressed on to the right of the shaft and discovered what appeared to be an abandoned laboratory. Seemingly dead steel spider specimens contained within huge glass cylinders were overlooked by banks of controls and equipment. The group picked through the equipment, trying to find anything of use, and decided to chance activating some of the controls too. While some causing the spider specimens to move or rise upwards in their containing cylinders, it was the buttons which activated the peculiar device in the rooms opposite corner that worried some of the party.

Peering at the strange sphere – a construct that looked to be made of a metal different to the steel spiders, and different again to the structure itself – Seeto recalled an early memory of wandering past the abandoned ruins of a factory, where he’d seen something very similar drifting through the air and been warned that he should, “stay away from diassemblers. You never know what they’re up to.” In no hurry to find out what the diassembler had been programmed to do, the group left the lab behind.

At the opposite end of the corridor, they at last found another sign of life – though not the kind that they might have hoped. At the far end of a room containing a few tables and benches, the group found a creature stuck to the wall. A roughly humanoid torso with arms and a head, the body looked to be missing from the waist down – though it was tough to say, on account of the steel spider web covering almost all of the creatures visible flesh. Its chest cavity torn open, there appeared to be dozens upon dozens of tiny metal eggs incubating inside of it. Frozen and uncertain whether to try and engage the creature or make a run for it, Zaine sought a compromise as he sent an illusion of himself to test the creatures reaction.

As the illusion of Zaine neared, the creature wheezed through its slit of a mouth, a metallic groan rising from its throat. It’s lifeless eyes watched Zaine’s illusion, growing wider under the illusion was within arms reach. At that moment, the creature began to choke and splutter, and within seconds tens of tiny steel spiders began pouring past its lips. With a little power still left in his magnetic gauntlets, Nibov created a safe zone around himself, allowing the party to avoid the steel spider swarm – but engaging with the creature proved useless. In the interest of science, Von Katzenjammer removed one of its hands: a large, two-fingered appendage with smooth almost metallic flesh. With nothing else to be done for the creature, the group made a swift exit, with Seeto sealing the door shut behind them and trapping the steel spider babies inside.

Not deterred by the oddities they had found on the rest of this level of the structure, the group returned to the last sealed door and forced their way inside. To their dismay, invisible water began to rush out into the hallway. With barely any time to spare, the group scrambled up the shaft, carrying as much scavenged debris and loot as they could. Quick investigation revealed an access panel in the ceiling of the ‘shaft’ – which lead the group into what appeared to be an elevator. Unable to fight his own curiosity, Seeto hauled the lifeless disassembler into the elevator, sealing the small room shut as water level rose beneath them.

In a moment of respite, the group caught their breath and examined what they had salvaged from the levels below. Recognising the strange circular symbols on the walls around them, the group activated the elevator and continued their journey upwards…

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