The Tower: Destruction but not quite as expected.
In addition to The Nightmares Underneath, which has a really nice mechanic for making a dungeon’s theme, I was reminded of another free role playing game, World of Dungeons: Turbo. Putting both together keeps the dungeon just separate enough from the real world but still offer some overarching theme that I can use next.
The tunnels lead deeper into The City center, turning and twisting back on itself in a squared spiral. With each revolution, the ceiling recedes and the floor sinks further away. When Wendy reaches five street levels below, an immense pit has revealed itself, leaving just a thin strip of walkway to follow.
A couple of levels lower, Wendy sees the collected water form a pool within a square concrete basin. A small girl plods through the water in a slow circle, singing wordlessly, swinging a stuffed animal.
Wendy taps her wrist comm and tries to contact Whiskey.
The response is immediate, “Go ahead, Fox Three.”
“You didn’t tell me it was a kid,” Wendy hisses. “I don’t kill kids. No problem shooting the fucking monkey, though.”
“Ghost, I think she’s ready.”
Whiskey’s voice is distant, not addressing Wendy but some other unseen presence. A familiar voice comes over comms.
“Ay, Foxy,” says Fetu.
The girl below flashes with static, a thin scan line slowly refreshes her image. The singing stops. The world goes mute.
“I bought us a couple cycles, ‘k? You gotta listen good, yeah?”
“You’re in a loop. We were cracking a door, and I musta triggered it. Been injecting code to keep you awake. I think I can get you out.”
“How?” Wendy asks.
“You already knew something was wrong, yeah? Playin’ the games to figure out how they work? What was the theme behind Kyriel, Visemar and Raven?”
Wendy blinks. “Cycles. Loops.”
“You got it. You just needed some pushing. I told you I was making you a module, yeah? That’s how we gonna get you out.”
“Ok. Where am I? Really?”
“You been stuck for a couple minutes-”
“Minutes?!” Wendy interjects. “I’ve been here-”
“CPU cycles are way faster than real life. Believe me, it’s only been two, maybe three minutes. Anyways, you’re outside the target area, ‘k? The door is gonna open. You gotta be ready in case trouble comes, ‘k?”
This makes very little sense to Wendy right now. She closes her eyes and takes a deep breath. Why not? This world resets itself every 24 hours. How much stranger could this get?
“Alright, Ghost. Let’s do it.”
A mirror image of Wendy splits away and walks down to the next corner of the square spiral, watching the child.
Ghost explains, “The module should duplicate you fo’ a couple cycles. Enough that the AI won’t notice you’re gone ‘til it’s too late. Sorry, Fox, but this is gonna burn.”
Behind Wendy’s ear, the neural jack burns as if it’s overheating. The heat sears beneath her scalp and the world turns white. Her vision clears, and she’s crouched against a wall, a cable connecting her neural implant to the keypad on the door.
She’s outside an office building. An elaborate downtown business area where holographic signs brightly light the streets beneath in orange, blue and red. The streets are wet from rain just recently stopped. At this early morning hour, there’s little traffic in the area.
The solid metal door slides open, and her sharp ears are assaulted with the sound of a rolling rumble. Thunder moving too slow. Orange light spills out through the doorway, and Wendy sees an orange angular fissure stabbing upward from the floor.
Three men robed in red turn, the dim light and deep cowls making their expressions unreadable. Three arms lifted and pointed at Wendy in unison with metal gleaming dull under the orange lightning.
“I don’t like the look o’ this, D,” Fetu whispered inside her skull.
“X is not One,” three voices chant tonelessly.
For the Cogitators, I build them as a Mob but use two of the free Boosts to give them a ranged weapon as well. The +1 Skill refers to their cult training.
Mob of 3 Cogitators: +2 Combat, +0 Talk, +1 Skill, talon implant (1d6 harm, close), pistol implant (1d6 harm, long), 30 Luck
Player rolls for combat: 13, Exchange. 2 Harm (28 remaining). Cogitators choose Expose.
Cogitators roll for combat: 7, Setback Raised to Exchange. 3 Harm (27 remaining). Player chooses Unhinder.
Wendy rushes forward, her Thunderbird leaps into her hand. A pair of .50 caliber bullets erupt from the pistol and tears into their robes.
The cultists respond, and the trio move to catch her in a triangle of pistol fire. One steps in with a cut to her neck, but Wendy ducks under the attack and emerges from the other side.
Player rolls for combat: 7, Setback. Uses Team Boon to Raise to Exchange. 6 Harm (22 remaining). Cogitators Counterattack for 3 Harm (24 remaining).
Cogitators roll for combat: 20, Win. 3 Harm (21 remaining).
Wendy presses the attack on the one in front of her, pistol firing twice more.
The Cogitator sidesteps, bullets flying past his head. He steps in and slashes with a metallic spike attached to his right hand, stopped by the ballistic plating in her jacket.
Player rolls for combat: 10, Exchange. 8 Harm (14 remaining). Cogitators choose Expose.
Cogitators roll for combat: 16, Win Raised to Boon. 3 Harm, expend Boon to increase harm to 8 (13 remaining).
It’s a close fight. Her Thunderbird echoes loudly in the empty lobby, another pair of bullets pierce the robed man in front of her.
The man jerks upright as one bullet enters his chest, “System shutting do-,” but is cut short as the muzzle of the pistol levels with his forehead. The second bullet rips a hole through the man’s skull. The remaining Cogitators take advantage of the situation and flank Wendy; a talon reaches forward and strikes heavily into her back, knocking her forward.
Player rolls for combat: 18, Win. 9 Harm (5 remaining).
Cogitator rolls for combat: 18, Win. 1 Harm (12 remaining).
Wendy flows with the momentum and comes up against the cultist in front of her. Her left hand presses against the body to steady herself. Energy courses down her cybernetic arm as lightning strikes from her palm.
The second cultist glances down at her palm just as the lightning emerges. His body flies back against a shatter proof window; the cultist’s heart stops from the surge of electricity, and he slumps to the floor. The remaining cultist’s bullets knock Wendy to a crouch from the impact against her back.
Player rolls for combat: 21, Boon. 11 Harm and Team Boon increases by 1.
Wendy grunts and looks up from her position. She kicks out with her foot and brings him down to join her on the floor. The muzzle catches his fall under his chin as she pulls the trigger; the top of his head erupts.
“An’ this is why you do the wet works, and I stay home,” Fetu comments.
Wendy remains on the floor, slowing her breathing. The air still roars with the slow motion thunder.
The lobby is deserted save for three moderately human corpses on the floor. Just Wendy, her Ghost and a yawning portal to another world. Some called it an Incursion, her mentor referred to it as The Shadowlands. She was going to have to shut this down...