Uldrus: Ice and Darkness

Escape from Rodion Labs

The agonized sobbing sounds ricocheted through the hallways, and then stopped. Even so, Sergei’s training enabled him to detect the slight scuffing of clothing over the concrete floor of the hallway, and he cautioned that there were enemies approaching. The heroes put themselves into a defensive formation, with Terra and Atu-Sinda blocking the doors into the laboratory with their bodies. For all that they were roughly human-sized and human-shaped, the attackers possessed an inhuman strength, and burst through the doors. The assailants proved to be rather wretched-looking things, like withered bodies wound up in stained shrouds. Heavy nails had been driven into their eyesockets, which now weeped a constant stream of blackish blood that trickled down into the creature’s own mouth. Their forms were covered with long scars that were not scars at all; these wounds split open to reveal teeth and tongues-dozens of small mouths scattered about the creature’s form, even on the sides of its head and on the palms of its hands, all of which gave voice to the creature’s sorrow and self-loathing. The wailing from these creatures was sufficient to cause Atu-Sinda to shake in his steel-toed boots, but not enough to drive him from the fight. The party fought back against the intrusion with martial maneuvers, lightning blasts, magic missiles, and a great many misplaced bursts from Sergei’s assault rifle (he being hampered by the close quarters and the lack of a clear shot). The wheeps went down, but not before inflicting a number of gashes upon Atu-Sinda and Terra, the wounds burning with the wheep’s vile tears. Poison coursed through the systems of the martial adepts, the two of them drawing upon their extraordinary abilities to combat the poison and mostly succeeding, but not without Terra incurring some toxic shock.

Back out into the main hallway, the party proceeded towards the door marked “Administration” with the express purpose of shutting down Dr. Raskolnikov’s game but good. Disdaining the complex security system, Rhyken shattered the door with a spell, revealing a brief corridor leading to another door. Sergei went on ahead to check, but missed the subtle, almost invisible disruptions in the air that signify the presence of a magical trap, and before he could react the corridor was filled with flames and blinding smoke. Most of the heroes attempted to flee from the incindiary cloud-Terra sticking around to fight it for some reason that I am at a loss to explain-but the cloud moved out into the main hallway, flooding the passageway with flames. Ultimately, though, the heroes managed to get it together and flee back into the Necrobiotics laboratory and close the door. Stray cinders and the scent of smoke floated through the crack beneath the door, but the cloud passed on, leaving the heroes singed but more or less intact.

Sergei went to make a second attempt on the trap as the rest of the party went off to investigate the rooms marked “Server Room” and “Maintenance.” The server room proved to lined with strange cabinets that were all aglow with small green lights. Paeael opted to throw blasts of lightning at the mechanical Mordent servitors, they shorted out with a spray of sparks and the smell of melted plastic. The Maintenance room Was also filled with complex machinery that Paeael also overloaded with blasts of lightning. Past that, though, were a series of lockers, and past those was a door leading off into another room. The door opened onto a small chamber where a number of former residents of Guia were now residing/ Their were all clad in the same bright blue jumpsuits, indicating that they had found new employment as custodians the service of Rodion Labs. Their eyes, ears, mouths, and nostrils had been sewn shut by crude, thick stitches, and the dusky, bloodless color of their flesh and the stink of formaldehyde indicated that they were no longer among the living. Atu-Sinda fell about them with much violence, hacking their bodies to pieces and liberating their souls.

At this point, Sergei rejoined the party, assuring everybody that the trap had been dealt with. He noticed the remains of the cleaning crew, and suggested that these mindless undead had probably been under the control of a handler who had most likely employed magical means to order them about. A search of the lockers revealed a wand of Command Undead, which Rhyken pocketed.

And thus, on to the Director’s room. There was another doorway at the end of the short corridor with another advanced biometric security lock on it, which made little difference when the door was being bashed down by Elder Mountain Hammers. And so the party charged into Raskolnikov’s office. They found tasteful leather furniture, a steel structure of a double helix which rotated slowly in the corner, a desk made of fine (and now extinct) jungle mahogany, and no Raskolnikov. His voice, though, having its origin in a helicopter that was safely hovering some several thousand feet above the complex and as carried through the electronic speakers, reappeared, and he sounded quite put out at the vandalism and destruction of corporate property. To add insult to injury, Paeael began stealing the pens off of Raskolnikov’s desk. Sergei and Rhyken rifled through desk, finding a lot of blank forms, paperclips and liquid paper, as well as a bottle in one of the lower drawers filled with a viscous reddish liquid. Thinking it to be wine, Rhyken opened it and inhaled an indefinable scent with no distinct analogues that nevertheless filled him for a brief moment with an intense euphoria. Sergei assured him that this was “the good stuff”-liquid pain extracted from an unwilling victim by means of hideous torture. Rhyken passed the bottle to the undead ranger, who gladly put it into his backpack. Having ransacked Raskolnikov’s office, the party searched around for some means of exit from the complex. The first door opened onto Raskolnikov’s closet, where several fine suits and pressed lab coats were hanging. Since this closet did not open onto a land of magic and adventure where it is always winter but never Christmas (since such conditions already exist in the campaign setting), the heroes tried the other door that led out of Raskolnikov’s office, finding an emergency escape elevator shaft, blocked by the lift that was at the top of the shaft and now unpowered thanks to the general sabotage. For good measure, Terra braced herself against either wall of the shaft and climbed up and attempted to destroy the lift with a shortsword, but that effort proved rather unsuccessful as she was unable to inflict anything more than a superficial scratch on the bottom of the lift. Raskolnikov had had enough, and he informed the party that the laboratory complex would become the party’s tomb, and that he had initiated the self-destruct sequence. Racing back out through the hallways, which were now awash in flashing red lights and a droning, repetitive warning message, the party made for the lobby where it had made its initial entrance into the complex. Rhyken attempted to slip through the intervening space by means of a dimension door, but found himself stepping through the thin blue gap in space only to exit immediately on the other side.

So the party crashed back into the lobby with the intention of ascending the elevator shaft on the far side. But the lobby had changed-the corpses of the zombies from the battle above had been transported down into the lobby and were laying scattered about. As the party approached, tendrils of dark smoke like black snakes slithered among the bodies. The corpses, bereft now of even the last vestiges of flesh, stirred from their slumber and clambered to their feet. These new creatures were made of mismatched limbs-the few intact bits having been scavenged from the corpses above, and now bound together into a shambling, twitching whole by coils of black smoke that wound around the bones like sinew. At the back of this mob of skeletons were the corpses of three of the Mordent security detail, although these bodies, too, had been altered. It appeared as though each of the corpses had chewed its own lips away, permanently exposing a set of yellow teeth that were grown longer and sharper than human teeth would ever be.

The mass of undead charged forward. Rhyken flew over the crowd, only to strike into some invisible obstacle hovering at the center of the room. The invisible creature manifested itself; and Rhyken found himself face to face with the decomposing corpse of a fetus grown orders of magnitude too large. Its incomplete limbs terminated in vicious claws, and its brown-yellow flesh was shot through with blue veins. The creatures head had been damaged, exposing a pulsing mass of brownish brain matter and leaving only one eye intact, but this eye focused on Rhyken and the halfling could feel an unpleasant sensation slithering up and down his spine. The halfling flew back and used his new wand to charm one of the ghouls, which remained standing in front of the elevator as its fellows surged forward and engulfed the party in a flood of undead.

Bogged down by the skeletons, the other party members were unable to get at the undead fetus hanging above the room. The martial adepts smashed several of the skeletons into flinders, and Paeael’s acid gaze washed over a great many of the skeletons, leaving their bones pitted and burned. But even as the party inflicted these injuries, the skeletons’ bones became whole again, healed by the Atropal Scion’s unholy energies, which also worked to suppress the very life force of every living creature in the room, imposing two negative levels on all of the humanoid fighters. Sergei, though, took advantage of the situation (and the bolstering effects of the Scion’s presence) to fire off a couple of well-placed shots at the undead embryo; bits of rotting flesh burst from the exit wound only to orbiting around the Atropal Scion’s body like so many tiny satellites. The Scion retaliated by throwing a cone of super-cooled air at the clustered party-members, inflicting damage on everybody but Rhyken.

Atu-Sinda, who apparently spent all kinds of time in Crusader Sunday School studying some seriously morbid shit, informed the party of the creature’s nature as being the undead reanimation of a stillborn god, and warned the party that to meet the creature’s gaze could mean death, which left the party shielding its eyes against the thing’s gaze. Even so, Rhyken was a fraction of a second too late in looking away, and the halfling’s heart burst, leaving his corpse-and the six mirror images of his corpse-floating limp above the room.

The creature threw another cone of killing cold at the party, leaving several of the members near to death. Nevertheless, Atu-Sinda opted to quaff his remaining potion of fly in an attempt to close with the creature as Terra remained below, cleaving her way through skeletons. Paeael’s second round of staring acid death at people resulted in the deaths of 80% of the skeletons, leaving only a handful of those and the ghouls to contend with on the floor. Sergei ran through the piles of bones and took aim, firing at the Atropal Scion again, and his second salvo caused the creature to bring its head back and emit a wail that was uncannily like that of a human infant before disappearing in a burst of darkness.

The remaining undead were soon disposed of, and the part gathered up its dead and climbed out the elevator shaft by means of Paeael’s rod of ropes. Fearing the imminent destruction of the complex, they ran back out into the snow field, only to find their exit blocked by fully thrity Mordent soldiers with rifles at the ready. These troops, though, were insignificant compared to the tank behind them, its (10d12!) cannon trained on the party. Standing atop the turret of the tank was a familiar figure-a lean Mordent with shoulder-length grey hair and a black cloak that rustled even though there was no wind, whose thin grey lips were compressed into something of a smile, and who tossed a dagger back and forth between his hands as though it were a toy-Andrei Alexi.

Andrei seemed almost happy to see the party, greeting everybody as though he was an old friend. He informed the heroes that, thanks to their sabotage of the Rodion facility, his stock in rival Semyonova Technologies had surely gone up by at least ten points. Being in such a good mood, and bemused by Terra’s blatant attempts at flattery, and feeling that the heroes were not yet ripe, he was inclined to let everybody go and pretend like the whole thing had never happened. This caused a stir among his men, some of whom felt compelled to remind their commander that they were compelled by divine law to destroy any living creature they encountered. Andre reminded them that they took their orders from him, not from Skura. This was not sufficient to dissuade a number of the men from locking and loading their weapons and taking aim at the party. Feeling that it would be easier to coordinate the fabrication of the party’s escape without so many witnesses, Andre Alexi tossed his dagger up into the air, and before it had fallen back into his palm, had unleashed a lightning-quick barrage of daggers that had his own soldiers collapsing into piles of severed limbs and heads and denuded torsos.

The party raced across the snow fields, back towards cleric who waited for them in the nearby church with a teleport spell at the ready…

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