The party appears to be within the city of Ferran, but not in the way they intended. They're at the edge of the industrial, subterranean heart of Ferran and the only way out is in.
The Dwarven engineer is prostrate, pinned, face-up on the concrete floor, surrounded by thundering intertwined land of pipes and machinery. Balcazar straddles him and demands answers. He's still wet from the effluent and it drips from his hair and face onto the engineer. The engineer is petrified. The rest of the party, List, Hardy, and Orryn have gathered around.
Balcazar, frustrated, angry, asks the engineer to explain exactly where they are and gestures generally at the room. "Where are we?"
"You're in room 14C, secondary extraction room, I'm an engineer" he replies. "I don't have anything. I don't have anything. Please let me go. I won't let anyone know you're here if you let me go."
The engineer remains pinned. Balcazar wants specific information about their location. He presses to extract it (intimidation check).
"You're in an outer station. Room 14C, fourteen levels below upper deck. We make sure the liquefied ore is mostly free of impurities. I don't know anything more than that. I just make sure the controls are in the right range."
"How did you get in?" he asks. "How'd you get past the scanners?"
Balcazar asks for more information. The engineer says the main entrance is carefully monitored by scanners that check if the person entering and editing is authorized. If not, anti-measures are activated. The engineer doesn't know what the anti-measures are. He's never seen a trip.
It looks like it's the only exit out of the room, except for heading back through the pipe. But Balcazar and Orryn would rather make a stand and die on their feet than drown in the pipe.
The engineer lets them know there might be a second engineer in the area. Maybe a janitor or some other authorized worker. He doesn't know. His shift can changes from week to week.
Orryn and Hardy walk off to investigate the rest of the space.
As Orryn and Hardy fan away, a worker, an half-elf janitor, looks on. His name is Arcos. He's hidden himself among a bank of elephant-sized tanks. Even Orryn the scout misses his presence as he walks by with Hardy.
He watched the party burst through the upper level chamber, descend, tackle the engineer. He tries to submerge his hope of escape that he'd intentionally suppressed for his own sanity, but can't. He must play this right but, he doesn't know how.
He shifts his position to track Hardy and Orryn. They've found the second engineer. They move up from behind and incapacitate him and bind him tight. Orryn moves like a ranger, just like him. Then Orryn and Hardy move further into the room, towards the back and the open pool and out of sight.
In the far back corner of the room, well beyond the view of Balcazar of List and their point of original entry, Hardy and Orryn come across a dozen workers, Human, pushing long barge poles into a thick dirty brine. Lazy, head-sized bubbles rise and burst showering them in effluent. They're dirty and wet.
Most are seriously afflicted with open wounds and fingers of flesh pushing their way out. Some are blind. Some cannot stand and are pushing their poles seated on grass mats.
They startle when they see Hardy and Orryn but continue their work warily.
Hardy is angry. This whole city has made him angry, maintained his anger, and provided no way to express it. He steps forward to tell the workers to put down their poles and they do. They stand around waiting for instructions.
Hardy tells them we're getting out and you're coming. Hardy speaks with conviction. They listen. Like Arcos, they've had to live in a world of resignation. And then this bizarre aberration of a humanoid in front of them, with a long tail and horns. They don't know what to think. But at least in the afterglow of Hardy's speech, the feel like following Hardy is better than the grind to death in front of them. They put down their poles and gather around. Hardy and another pair of Humans support those who have trouble walking.
A dirty Elf, dressed in Human rags walks around the corner. He doesn't look fully Human. He has clear Elven heritage. He says he wants to help. There's fire in his eyes. Hardy says of course.
Arcos retreats back into the machinery and. He returns with an unstrung bow, carefully crafted from mop handles and bits of machinery. It looks effective as anything a ranger would carry. He says he's read to fight. He'll club Dwarves to death if he has to.
Orryn says he has a couple extra strings. He pulls off his sling-back pack and pulls one out, gives it to Arcos. Arcos nearly cries. He strings his bow.
The party, Arcos, and the Humans have gathered. The two engineers are bound. The room is clear of free Dwarves. There is one exit and it's in front of them. To the right, the large monitoring and control panels that trace and monitor the processes in the space behind them.
Balcazar tells the engineers, "we're leaving." He looks at Orryn and Orryn smiles.
Orryn walks over to the panels. He pulls a lever, turns a dial. The bound Dwarves yell into the wadded, ripped cloth stuffed into their mouth. Orryn continues his whirlwind. Everything is moved, turned, or pushed. Finally, happy the masterwork of subterfuge, steps away.
Orryn joins Arcos, List, and Balcazar at the exit. There are two large panels that flank a narrow hallway. Beyond the hallway is a large, dim space filled with a criss-crossed tangle of beams and columns. It's pull detail from the framed view in the brightness of the current room.
Behind the party, small errors are piling up. Smooth operation has halted. There are loud pings of pressure and hisses of fluid spraying into the air and against the metal flanks of pipes and tanks.
Ten minutes go by while they plan their exit. From the back of the room, a tremendous explosion. The shortwave detonates through the room, and rocks their bodies.
The party either moves through the entrance or remain in the unstable room. Balcazar takes the lead. They walk through the planes.
Balcazar feels a tingle as his mind is interrogated. He can't protect himself. A loud siren goes off in the room. Ahead of him, to large portals, flush with the wall, push out a mass of viscous, gelatinous fluid.
The undefined masses assemble themselves into two gelatenous cubes and block the entrance.
The party fights through. Hardy is pulled inside one of the cubes. Orryn is seriously injured, but they survive. The hallway is clear. Escape is possible. Everyone steps into the space beyond while the world behind begins to collapse in a mass of spray and steel.
The hallway opens into a cavernous space of unmeasurable size. Metal gangways cross and fill the void. Cableless elevators descend and ascend. Large pipes, wider that the joined hands of everyone on the platform, humans and party combined, meander and abruptly turn into into the rock wall above and around them that demarcates the outer edge of the space.
Thick support columns of rock and steel descend into unseen moorings below. From below, it seems like a kilometer in the low light, flashes of deep blue and green detonate and propagate. Those that can see in the light notice sparse dots of people navigating the void. The hollow emptiness is alluring and List has to resist the urge to jump into the space and let gravity roll the dice.
The party pauses in counsel. They need to plane their next steps. Arcos says he's heading to the surface. He's waited three years for the moment.
Hardy talks to the Humans gathered around. Some are resigned in the enormity of the space. They say they will stay and await their fate. They've reached another end-of-line in a life of end-of-lines. How could they leave when no-one else has?
Everyone can see well below them the continuing pattern of lighted entrances to rooms exactly like theirs. Other Humans know what's inside, know of the isolation and cruelty others are enduring, and with the success of what they just accomplished are pushed belief that they could start a cascade liberation. For them, a spark has been lit. A core group of nine Humans forms. They will head to the space below.
The group decides to split. Hardy, Orryn, List, Balcazar, and Arcos will head up the surface. A core group of nine will head down to liberate and kill. As the Humans depart, Hardy encourages them and they are empowered. He leaves them a couple of spare daggers he'd saved for emergencies.
The party (now with Arcos) moves slowly and purposely, pausing to remain as far out of sight of the Dwarves as possible. When they are in a secluded space, Hardy takes the time to disguise everyone the best he can. He took the overjacket and pants from the Engineer on the way out. At least one member of the party could pass as a Dwarf. Balcazar volunteers.
The walk on, up flights of stairs and across suspended walkways. They see of the top of the chamber and can make out several spiral staircase exits.
But safe travel has become difficult. The density of workers has increased. Completely avoiding the Dwarves will be impossible. The party mostly succeeds, but they have their first encounter with a pair of engineers. Hardy and Balcazar play the part of a captured worker and handler. The engineers are a bit puzzled by the large crowd behind Balcazar but don't care enough to probe and the party moves on. As they continue, they can still hear the chamber siren below.
There they are. They are on the first stair of a circular staircase that heads up and hopefully out. Arcos has been waiting three years for the moment. He takes the lead.