Having landed at the bathysphere docks at the abandoned underwater amusement resort Aquaria Playland, the party faced the inner bulkhead doors when something shiny caught the eye of both Silas and iZac. The docks were littered with old but useful tech and unique gadgets. The team quickly found several useful devices in the debris.
Next they tackled the bulkhead door leading into the complex. The computer wasn’t just damaged it was gone, live wires exposed. Tor approached the arch around the door triggering a public information screen that was apparently still receiving a hyperweb signal. The lead story on GNN reported that Laya Bogana’s corpse had been found headless in Crux on Finally and that the Hivesovereign Ki’kist’ac was still at large and considered extremely dangerous. SDF and the Ares Marshalls believed that the ki’tik posed not only a threat to Mars and the Sol system, but the galaxy at large. Tor quickly located an access panel to the door machinery but, realizing he was out of his depths when it came to brute force, he summoned Kavita and Kit-Kaat to do the muscle work. She found the rigging for the door and with a wrench, screwdriver, Kit-Kaat’s bulk and a couple of tries they triggered the door mechanisms.
Klaxons sounded and the main bay doors under the submarine slip of the bathysphere closed before the inner bulkhead doors opened. The party had gained access to the Playland and decided to make haste to the Concierge. Stepping into the hallway beyond, Silas quickly realized that something wasn’t right. A flaky chitinous growth with a tough, fleshy tendril snaking out of it was on the wall just inside the door. Gray spores drifted about the corridor. Further down there were more of the same. They didn’t seem to be bothered at all by the presence of people and so the team moved down a corridor — the only one apparently open — with the cryotube containing Ki’kist’ac toward what they assumed would lead to the Concierge.
The “growths” got thicker the further the party progressed. At a cross-junction they heard a noise. On investigation, Silas was attacked by three pale, emaciated, slack-jawed humans. One was wielding a machete, another a club. The party made short work of their fragile frames and noticed that they coughed a green glowing spores that quickly faded as they died. At the onset of the fight Kavita began the wake-up sequence on the cryotube.
After several minutes the tube slid open with a “woosh” and Ki’kist’ac slowly emerged. The ki’tik’s first words were “Have we arrived?” to which the party assured it that they were indeed on Aquaria Playland… and it attacked! But before it could get a blow in, Silas the bug whisperer managed to miraculously talk it down again. The hivesovereign agreed to let the party live and lead the way to the Concierge. But as Kavita excused herself to collect the cryotube to bring along, the ki’tik stopped her, “You will not be needing that.”
Ki’kist’ac ushered the party down the long curved corridor to a hard left turn. They passed a crossing corridor and could see dozens of emaciated figures down each passage as well as in a better lit room at the end of the corridor in front of them. The strangers parted for them as they entered the room, a lobby of some sort with a long, wide corridor beyond that was filled with niches. Tor suddenly recognized the place. He’d been here before just a few years earlier. The lights came up and a distorted voice cut through the silence:
“Ah, visitors… *bzzt* it’s been so very long. I am CaTSI, the Concierge and Tourist Services Intelligence. I will do everything in my power to make your stay comfortable. I live to… *bzzt* …to serve. Perhaps you would like to purchase one of my servebots or workbots for your home? Or maybe secur… secur… CURE… curity is your concern? I have a full range of… *bzzzt POP* range of models ready to fulfill your every need. I just want you… *bzzt* you YOU you you to be happy…”
The ki’tik hivesovereign backed up into the doorway making itself as obtrusive as possible. The oddly silent slackjawed figures moved to the sides of the room. Two shapes moved out of the niches down the broad corridor. Securbots… but with strange chitinous “growths” on their armored shells. They proceed down the corridor toward the party with stunners ready.
Kavita took the initiative and deftly dodged around the ki’tik and down the hallway the party came from. Tor leapt over the counter and searched for a terminal or any sort of interface, finding it and immediately hacking it. iZac, Silas, and Kit-Kaat engaged their primary captor. They crowd of zombie-like beings strangely, did not interfere. Kit-Kaat opened up with his assault blaster scoring a direct hit severely injuring the hivesovereign and then the wall and corridor. The structure creaked and a panel blew out knocking the creature to the side. With the securbots bearing down on the lobby, the remaining party took the opportunity to run. The emaciated denizens of Aquaria lurched into action attempting to close off the only route of escape. The team just barely made it through as the ki’tik regained is footing and gave chase with it’s minions in tow.
Bypassing the abandoned cryotube and rushing into the bathysphere launch bay, they turned and fumbled with the jury-rigged manual override on the doors finally engaging them. The bulkhead closed in the nick of time as pounding outside ensued. Our heroes ears popped as the bay doors opened and they piled into the late Cap’n Ron’s submarine. iZac engaged the drive and deftly slipped out of the bay with centimeters to spare as Silas triggered the little surprise he and Kit-Kaat had left in the cryotube. With a “WHUMPH” against the hull the party watched Aquaria Playland implode on itself via the holovid image created by the ships sonar, presumably killing all aboard.
When they returned to Xanthe our heroes reported what had happened to them. In debriefings they’d learned that mindworms had infiltrated the vagrant population at Aquaria. They had found a way to interface with the artificial intelligence there, the Concierge, giving it psionic powers. The computer then coerced Laya Bogana into a visit there, infecting her with a mindworm parasite and sending her on a mission to retrieve a ki’tik hivesovereign that it had been in telepathic contact with. The creature would lay eggs and serve as mother to an army of ki’tiks that would invade Mars, spread the mindworm infestation and eventually set out on a conquest of the Milky Way.
The party had subverted the very plan that they had helped set into motion.