On top of the Devil’s Tower, Annie sat calmly, trying to bring some order to the scream of emotion she felt from the tower below. Admist the cries she felt from this great structure of nature being somehow violated she found a song, and feeling of pure energy that radiated from the heart of the structure. With these voices seperated, she realised that whatever was generating this music what was she had been seeking.
Meanwhile Li Fu stood guard, watching over the plains. The Chinese guards below had moved back towards there camp, clearly writing the posse off as dead or as good as after the Auto-Gyro crash-landed. However a few of them started to ride out to meet an approaching form. Two riders could be seen on the horizon, one a good distance ahead of the other. Annie and Li Fu made for the shaft, leaving the man from the agency to guard Carter McCormick over his repairs. As they reached the shaft, a blaze of pistol smoke rose from the lead rider, and the four Chinese guards fell from the saddle. A second later, the four pistol shots rang out clearly across the valley. “Stone” muttered Li Fu, and they made there way into the ahaft.
Inside the garden level, Annie was interested in the vegetation, much of it familiar, but some not, and all grown without natural sunlight ? Quite alien indeed. They moved there way towards the ramp down, Annie stopping to grab a yellow curved tubular fruit from a tree. As they descended the ramp they heard a loud siren – a warning ? An alarm ? – and broke into a run. The ramp passed an opening into a floor of corridors and doors, and it was at this point they saw the rest of the posse running past and towards a nearby room and so joined them.
As the groups swapped stories about what they had seen and the Agents quietly took notes, Zachariah confessed that he had not been able to call upon the spiritual aid he normally received due to the lie he told the agency; a sin in the eye of whatever entity provided his power. The Agents were clearly interested to know about this, and here it was revealed that Zachariah had the Heart of Darkness, and not Trixabelle who held a fake. Except Trixabelle then panicked as she could not locate her stone, and let slip that she had switched the stones a while back, so now Zachariah held the fake, and it seemed the real stone had been taken from her.
Footfalls, door movement and strange language came and went outside the room. Desperate to see what was happening, Annie focused on the strange fruit she held, and reached out into the mind of one of the lizard-folk gardeners. He was in a barracks level, with two groups of four lizard-folk guards fully equipped with sticks, guns and armour, all ready and active. Another lizard-folk wearing robes led the first group into the ramp whilst other common lizard-folk came running down, gesturing and look confused by the still resounding alarm.
The posse decided it was time to move – Stone was on his way, and despite their great need, no rest was going to be had. They ran out of the room towards the ramp down and met up with the guard patrol led by the robed figure. Annie called out for peace and transformed herself into a peace lily. This sparked some level of confusion in the lizard-folk which Felix tried to monopolise by claiming they he would do the same to them if they did not lower they weapons ! The robed figure was clearly shaken, and called out for the guards to “take them down, quickly”. The posse were amazed – they understood every word of this lizard-folk ! The same could not be said of the guards, who ignored further attempts of parlay or intimidation and drew batons which seemed to inject electrical charge into their victims. As the robed lizard-folk fled, Li Fu received a couple of nasty shocks from the guard’s sticks whilst Trixabelle and himself entered into martial combat with them, aided by the rest of the posse trying to use non-lethal methods to bring them down.
With Annie’s plant magic helping to slumber and entangle them (using the skin of the unknown “banana” fruit) the guards were eventually subdued. Taking the strange weapons (and in the case of Trixabelle, the armour) they group entered the ramp and headed down. The next level down was the barracks – not somewhere they wished to explore, so carried on down. The level after had one long corridor, with a few doors. Behind the first door they found what appeared to be a lab, with two robed lizard-folk tinkering with another strange device. The posse subdued these weaker lizard-folk with great ease, and took the time to look around the room. Two tables held various experiments, but amongst the piles of odd devices and mechanical scraps there were also body parts. Human body parts. Arms, legs and hands lay scattered around next to pipes, sheets of metal and strange glowing devices. Leaving the horror of this behind the group decided to continue to continue downwards.
The next level down was the last one the ramp would take the group to, and such was the one they felt was best to explore. It turned out to be somewhat of a maze, complete with traps and ambushes ! On several occasions, Felix jumped back from collapsing floors and pressure plates. Other times were not so lucky, with Zachariah and Trixabelle triggering a pit trap that has bore Felix’s weight without activation. This knocked out Zachariah, and it came to Annie’s healing skills to revive him enough to regain his footing, albeit with battered guts leaving him even weaker. At one point Felix was separated from the posse by a wall thumping down behind him, but they soon reunited near the entrance of the level. Finally a guard ambush jumped down behind Trixabelle who had wondered off, curious to explore more. They managed to knock out the young pirate girl, although the posse knocked out two of them quickly with stunsticks and more of Annie’s slumbering magic. The remaining two guards pulled out the guns and fired blasts of high powered energy, which Annie lept out the way of at last minute.
The overwhelming power of the guns and desperately weakened party were enough to persuade Ned that it might be time to cut down on the pacifistic behaviour. He counter drew the strange energy gun he had taken from the guards above and squeezed of two powerful bolts of energy back. The guards each took a blast square in the chest, and each exploded in a shower of blood and limbs. Further patrols could be heard around the floor, but with Felix taking point and a clearer idea of where the traps lay, the group avoided further encounter and found there way to the other side of the floor, where they came across another ramp down, this one covered with a large metal grill with a lever next to it to operate it’s opening and closing. The posse pulled the lever, the grate slid back, and they proceed inside.
The ramp led down again, this time not for a couple of dozen feet but much deeper, over a hundred feet down into the belly of the tower. It ended in another square room, which a side chamber, but this room was clearly unfinished. Three natural, jagged passages led off in every direction, and the air had a much less inhabited feel. The posse moved into one natural cavern, using the handtorch found in the devil bat nest to light the direction ahead clearly, and Zachariah’s lantern to keep the area around the posse illuminated. Entering a second cavern, the group found it was a dead end and soon, Felix realised, also a trap. He heard scurrying behind them in the previous cavern…
Ned shone the light around as Zachariah and Li Fu blasted raygun shots into the cavern behind. Each gun fired 6-7 shots of powerful energy into the cavern behind before fading out with a hiss. It seems ammo could be limited, even with high-tech guns. Ned drew his still charged gun and strode forward with the handtorch looped around his head to see what foes still awaited. Li Fu and Felix followed close behind, Zachariah keeping his lantern high at the rear with Annie and Trixabelle. They moved into the previous cavern, a sound of chittering hitting the air. Ned caught a movement on the wall to his left, and shone the torch up on two black chitinous forms with red markings. These dog-like insect creatures skittered a little to try and stay hidden, and upon being revealed unfurled to reveal sharp claws, a long pointed tail, and an elongated insectile head with narrow eyes and large sharp teeth. They hissed, the sound being joined by other such creatures in the room, and one threw itself from the wall towards Ned, who similarly raised the gun to meet it’s trajectory…