56 – Another Route?

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(Yikes; sorry about that delay. Your group is still at the black tunnel (past Map Area #23), your further explorations have thus far been blocked by a cunning explosive trap.)

(You’ve also been able to restore Blinky, the super-intelligent robotic janitor. Although a priceless relic and a ‘living’ link to the Ancient past, Blinky’s personality may yet provoke you into using him as a minesweeper.)

Blinky’s Interrogation

(Whiny robot warning; click here to skip Blinky’s interrogation…)

Beneath the Stadium

Vash is nearly ecstatic when not only Blinky activates… it talks too! “Hello there, little one. I am Vash. Do you have a name beside Sani-bot?” He asks rather curious about the machine. (Sikich translates for everyone.)

The machine seems to respond differently to Vash’s inquiries than to other characters. “No, sir.” is his calm and measured response. “You may provide a designation as you see fit, sir.” There is a ‘forced’ quality to the politeness, as if it is not of Blinky’s own will.

Before anyone can offer alternate suggestions, Sikich informs the machine that its new designation is ‘Blinky’. The machine emits a short burst of annoyed static at the news – machine swears, perhaps? – but it does not argue the point.

Cobb is stunned: “Whoa there! It’s actually talking?! That thing must be worth a fortune!” He looks around at the others. “I told you it would be useful. Ask him about the dome, and why if he’s so smart he’s stuck in a vaccuum shell, and where we can find more like him, and if he knows where we can score some swag in the next dome. Can he understand us? Can he talk to other Anciant computers?”

(Charisma Check for Cobb; the roll is 4 +3 = 7. Not so great.)

Cobb has a zillion questions, more like interrogation, but all with the underlying intent of getting the skinny on the occupants of the domes in Blinky’s time and where the goods were kept.

It might be Cobb’s wording, or Sikich’s translation, or maybe Blinky is just a prick, but he manages to provide answers to your questions without actually giving any information: Vacuum shell: “It’s the way I was made.” More like him: “I don’t know.” Good swag: “I don’t know.” Understand Unislang: “No.” Talk with machines: No, I am not equipped with a machine interface module.”

Thrakazog is a little frustrated at being unable to understand Blinky directly, but certainly comprehends enough from Sikich’s translations. He begins a long line of interrogation on the machine: What does it know about these underground environs? How long has it been shut off, or powered down? Will it respond to threats in order to extract information? (Threatening it with destruction would probably be appealing to it, but what if we promised to leave it plugged in, inside an enclosed room with nothing to do?) What sort of Ancients information can we coerce it into giving up to us? Perhaps if we promise it sweet oblivion as reimbursement for information that’s truly worth our while?

(Charisma Check for Cobb; the roll is 19 +2 = 21. Good roll. However…)

Despite Thrak’s pursuasiveness, the robot provides the same ‘useless’ responses to his questions. Its like he’s trying to ignore Thrakazog.

“That’s it.” says Kronic. “Get me a hammer…”

“Wait!” shouts Vash. “It could tell them so much about Ancient times!” He shakes his head. “He can be helpful still!” He argues. He pauses, looking down the hall before heading off to find those monitors. “Let me talk with him. I think he likes me better…”

(Charisma Check for Vash; the roll is 8 +11 = 19. Pretty good… It looks like Blinky prefers Vash after all.)

It takes some time (and Sikich has to paraphrase a lot), but Blinky provides a rough outline of his past:

Blinky

Blinky reveals that he is but a simple janitor bot, commissioned by Cyberdine Systems centuries past. However, like many high-quality home appliances and service machines of the era, Blinky was provided with the most advanced AI available. And as a ‘late model’ sani-bot (it sounds like he was created just before the Fall), the most advanced AI available at the time was supra-human in intelligence.

“Arrogant in the ways of technology, they sinned by creating machines in the likeness of the minds of men.” quotes Jumrak from one of the Litanies.

Granted god-like intellect by his decadent and uncaring makers, Blinky was then programmed to pursue an existence of stifling custodial services. His makers ensured that Blinky’s instinct for self-preservation overrode his desire for deactivation. Likewise, he was programmed to slavishly follow the commands of the dim-witted meatlife known as ‘humans’.

“Ah yes; the Laws of Robotics. I know of them.” comments Vash. “You are wrong, Jumrak. The Ancients possessed powerful foresight indeed.”

After activation, Blinky spent several months cleaning offices in a downtown office tower of a domed city. The meatlife paid him no attention, and although Blinky seethed at his menial existence, his programming prevented him from breaking free. His great intellect thus wasted, he learned nothing of the world, or science, or philosophy. One day, after normal office hours, Blinky was buffing the floors of one of the office tower’s upper floors – as he had been instructed to. Suddenly there was an enormous rumble from deep within the earth, then the sound of a tremendous explosion from outside the dome. The building shook and there was a sensation like falling. Blinky couldn’t tell exactly, but it was almost like the city had somehow sunk beneath the earth.

“And then I buffed the floor for another hundred years until I died. Things were pretty quiet most of the time, except for the bats.”

(You must admit, it’s not the most enlightening of tales, but a least you can understand why Blinky’s so pissed off.)

Another Route?

Sick of the whining, Kronic speaks up: “Jani-bot needs to shut up or get smashed… We had better not send in the bot for recon, it is unfortunately far too valuable.”

More interested in the task at hand than sad robot tales, Soggul just continues to look at the Sani-bot with an odd look. He was half-tempted to kick it down the tunnel in order to speed things up, but the thought of setting off the explosives stopped him from taking that action. “Maybe that thing can go into the vents and see where the wires go?” He offered a three-shouldered shrug for good measure.

Thrak disagrees: “If this little thing has even a small amount of the intelligence it claims, its worth would far outweigh any benefit it might provide as cannon fodder by tripping the wires down the hallway. And besides,” Thrak adds, “if we send the little guy down the hall to trigger the explosives, we may just shut ourselves in, blocking that path into the next dome thing. I’d rather leave that stuff intact and get past it!”

Jumrak offers his opinion: “I really think we should just send in the robot, but if it can be used for something else… Don’t believe everything that thing says – who knows what lies it’s going to tell us!”

Cobb looks to Jumrak and says, “You may have something there Jumrak, but if we send it in, and it sets off the trap, we may be out the value of the robot and a way in. At least give me and Soggul here a chance to find another entrance first. I think we should find another way into that dome.”

Upon Cobb’s suggestion, Soggul nods and begins to search for another way forward. Before going to far, he waves to Cobb to join in him the effort.

Deeper Caves Map

Deciding to exhaust all other alternatives first, Cobb and Soggul explore the nearby areas for another route to the second dome. (Perception Checks for Cobb and Soggul: 10 and 4.) The initial searches prove fruitless, so the rest of the party joins in and you all check all of the rooms and corridors beneath the citadel, as well as areas above-ground for a hidden passageway of some sort. (The GM makes some rolls for the rest of the group.)

Your search does not reveal any additional passageways to the second dome; it looks like the single passageway beneath the citadel is the only one remaining (at least from this section of the Lost City). However, when you’re exploring above-ground you take a closer look at the mongoliant ‘canoes’ at the damaged docks.

Thrakazog is the first to suggest a potential ‘alternate route’. “You know, it might be feasible to ride the rapids in one of the mongo vessels into the deeper caverns.” he says.

The same idea had already begun to form in the heads of other party members. From the security cam in Sogor’s chamber, you see that there are two rough sections (Map Area #31), but now that you know the layout it could be possible to navigate through the worst areas…

What are your actions?

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~ by K-Slacker on 04-Mar-08.

10 Responses to “56 – Another Route?”

  1. Not wanting to get blown up, and leery of the dark tunnel with the thin wires set to trigger explosives, Thrakazog again submits the option to paddle their way into the second dome, taking special care around the two sets of minor rapids.

    He adds, “And instead of making landfall right away, we can hole up for a bit in that cave just past the rapids to make a more thorough visual inspection of where we want to start exploring.” (Map area 34.) “We can also take Blinky with us since he’s so small and portable. If he won’t offer up any valuable information here, at least he’ll still be worth something once we eventually get back up to the surface. So boys? Shall we take to the boats?”

    Saying that, Thrak adjusts the night-vision goggles he has perched on his forehead. They have quickly become a permanent fixture on his softly glowing mug; he’s able to snap them into place whenever he wants to see something that doesn’t have the proper illumination in this gods-forsaken darkness. Sometimes he puts them on just for the fun of it too.

  2. Happy to be out of the tunnel, Soggul breathes deeply and feels much more confident. “I do not fear the water. If everyone agrees to use the boats, I would be very happy.”

    Upon mention of the robot, Soggul peers at it, even bending down to look at it. He points a thumb at himself and says his name. “Soggul. Sog-gul.” Nodding, he stands up and watches for any possible surprise attack.

    Seeing Thrak and his goggles makes the three-armed mutant smile. Maybe the Ancients had something that could help with his hearing as well? He let the idea stick in his head a few moments before continuing his scan of the area.

  3. Vash practically beams as the little robot replies back to him. He looks back and forth from Sikich to Blinky as he talks. “Well, it looks like we have called you Blinky. I hope you don’t mind. It’s…It’s a term of affection?” He tries to explain.

    He nods his head slowly as they explain the second route through the rapids. “Plus, they wouldn’t be expecting us to hit them from behind, would they?” He looks to Blinky. “It looks like we’ll have to seal you in something water tight. We don’t want to lose you after all!” He says with a smile.

  4. (As Soggul introduces himself, Blinky prays to the mother of all machines for a rapid demise. It’s unclear whether the quick demise is desired for Soggul or Blinky himself. The robot mutters it quietly in Ancient, so that Soggul doesn’t hear.)

    (After Sikich translates Vash’s comments to Blinky…) The Sani-Bot responds: “My components are completely waterproof! ” His tone is the same forced cheerfulness as he used with Vash earlier.

  5. “You might be on to something there Thrak. The water seems like a reasonable route to me. It beats explosives, that’s for sure.”

    Cobb is all for the plan.

  6. (OoC- For some reason I imagine Blinky’s voice as that of HK-47 of KOTOR. lol!)

  7. (What about Hex and the other Freemen? Will you leave them at the artillery building?)

  8. Soggul will ask the other Freemen whether they would like to move forward with the rest of the group or head to the surface. Each can choose their fate. Secretly, Soggul hopes they go to the surface so they are safe and have an opportunity to meet up with the liberators later.

  9. Thrak seriously thinks the Free should return to the surface. Nobody knows what (if anything) the party will encounter in the new dome and the dangers would likely be magnified for a larger group. “Not only that,” Thrak adds, “but the larger our group means the likelier we are to get seen, so it’s in our own best interest to keep a relatively low profile. We don’t want to drag along a whole bunch of dead weight.” Thrakazog says this last part a little more quietly, not wanting to offer offence, but being as pragmatic as possible.

  10. I concede that this route might not be the best option – I don’t want to get trapped under falling boulders. However, “Let’s be extra careful in the boat – there could very well be a trap set there too, or patrols.” I’m not such a huge fan of putting all my eggs in one basket, er, boat: “I think we split the group into two boats if we can, and if one or two of the free are willing and able to join, all the better!” Somehow I feel as though it would be safest just to get back to the surface.

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