The Red Menace

Underground Film
Episode 13

sewer-thing.jpgAfter a quick check-in with Dally, our heroes returned to the city in an attempt to find an airship. The computer had told them that House Kor To’gian had once run flying routes between martian cities, but there was nothing more than a historical record. Leaving Percy and Crispin to work on the distillation, Penelope, Dash, Charlie, Joe, Frankie and Arat went to their last known address.

While he was collecting B roll footage in the sewers, Frankie heard slithering noises around him. Flashing the lights down the tunnel, Penelope spotted two shapes disappearing down side tunnels and heard more above her. Firing quickly, her shot landed in a barrel-shaped tentacled marauder and ti fell to the floor of the tunnel.

Four more came out of drains from above and swarmed over our heroes. Mighty Joe slipped on his knuckles and buried his fist deep in another. The alligator-shaped beasts clung to the walls and tore at the party, but failed to land any telling blows. Shots rang out in the tunnel and soon the monsters had all been destroyed.

Joe patched up Penelope’s scrapes and they moved on. They came to the surface on a gritty, abandoned street at sunset. Within a couple blocks they came to their destination — a slim tower held up by a central post. They found a stripped vehicle in the open space below the tower and stairs leading up.

Charlie made short work of the lock and Joe forced the ancient ceramic doors aside. The second level was also open and once were gardens. They found a bench and broke it apart to cover the gap in the doors. While looking for materials, Joe stumbled on a pair of martian feet sticking out from a pile of rubble. They dug out and found that it was fairly recent and that the head was close to the center of the pile.

They left it behind when they found a decorative set of doors in the central column. After trying to activate the door (which they believed was an elevator), Joe forced it open. He, Arat, and Charlie went inside while Dash and Penelope explored the side staircase and Frankie collected footage. Joe tried to make the elevator work from the inside and failed again. He found a panel and the intricate tubular workings within.

He twisted some of the controlling knobs on the workings, and the doors slammed shut with the trio within.

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Market Research
Episode 12

city.jpgOur heroes — minus Frankie, Opal and Les — followed Arat into the city. Mighty Joe pulled a cart and tried to look small, while the others hid in their cloaks and tried not to attract attention. They moved through mostly abandoned narrow streets and finally emerged into a vast marketplace in the shadow of the Tower of Light and Life. The open space was filled with tents and stalls, and hundreds of humans purchased foodstuffs and small machine components from vendors. The front-line servers were invariably human, with highly decorated martians in the rear of the stall preening and looking important.

Dotting the market were narrow towers with armed martians atop scanning the crowds. Moving through the masses were groups of human guards trying to look intimidating and enforcing the peace. The group slowly moved toward the center, stopping as a palanquin led by a group of humans physically beat their way through the crowd, knocking down any who were too slow to get out of their way.

Dash heard an unsettling growl that chilled him to the bone. Off to the side of the market an exotic animal dealer was exhibiting a martian lion, using a coptic slave to demonstrate its ferocity. They swiftly moved on toward to the tower.

The crowds thinned slightly nearer the Tower of light and Life and it appeared that the wares offered were of higher quality. While Arat made a show of perusing these objects our heroes got a closer look at the tower’s entry. Tall guard towers flanked the three-story entrance and a series of iridescent teal awnings wrapped the building to the right. Under the awnings was dim and misty and it appeared that martians (both in an out of bipedal suits) were relaxing and enjoying the day. Only small groups entered of exited the tower, and nearly all were human. Arat explained that the tower distributed special occasion water and allowed clients to recharge the large industrial batteries.

While they were watching, six human guards with long staves pushed through their group staring them down. They all averted their eyes and tried to look submissive and the group passed. They decided it was time to go and turned away from the tower. From this vantage point they could see the market was part of a did boulevard that ran between the Tower of Light and Life and the slimmer Tower of Eternity. This was the home of Terrak S’yss’ court and what Arat called the Shapers of Destiny. She added that it was also the storehouse of the martian nobility’s egg clutches, watched over by the Shapers.

As the moved away another group of humans approached. Again they tried to look as meek as possible, and although they were given cruel stares they were allowed to pass. They quickly left the market by a different path and returned to Dally’s headquarters.

Back in the sewage treatment plant, Dally met them in the same location as before. He detailed his plan to overload the Tower’s power system, and showed them the X-Ray Displacement Engine. The group discussed the plan, and decided that they could only get four people inside together. They also thought they needed a distraction to cover their exit from the plant. They thought a bomb on the bridge between the city and the Tower of Eternity.

Penelope thought the easiest way to get to these areas would be by flight. They asked Dally about martian airships and the computer returned data about balloon craft used in the polar areas and flying machines made by a long-defunct martian household. They decided that exploring their manor should be the first course of action.

While they were doing that, Dally’s men were going to collect fertilizer while Percy and Crispin distill the coptics brown beer into something highly flammable. They also want to find a place to steal a martian palanquin. After that, they will break into two teams— one placing the bomb on the bridge and they infiltrating the Tower and planting the device.

Once the device is planted, they will set off the bomb to distract the tower guards and regroup to signal Earth to be returned via the mass kinetoscope.

It’s that simple.

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Exposition
Episode 11

3_mutant_copy.jpgWhile our wounded trio was being treated, the others settled in with the martian slaves. Charlie taught a few some ‘games of chance’ and made light conversation. Penelope approached a trio of matronly women and presented them with gifts. After a cautious start, they showed some facility with English and asked her if she was here to save them, and why she was so small to be a soldier. She assured them she was capable of fighting. Meanwhile, Opal questioned the martian desire to resist, Percy practiced his coptic language skill, Les got extremely personal with the runaway martian Aiofa and Franke tried to capture the whole thing on film.

After a few hours of this, the martians encouraged our heroes to get some sleep. Charlie and Penelope declined, taking turns on watch through the night. A few more hours later, the door in the back of the main chamber reopened and the wounded men returned with a quartet of Dally’s guards. They collected our heroes for planning meeting with the leader himself outside his office.

The met in the reception area between the two sick bays, with the electric lights of Dally’s private chambers glowing behind them. Once again Mr. Edison’s assistant introduced himself and apologized for his half-martian appearance — explaining that only the alien technology has kept him alive following his nearly dead bout with x-rays.

He explained that the martians they have seen were a middle caste and that the rulers were massive gray octopods composed largely of brain. These leaders claim to have created all the technology and that its human proportions were for ‘their’ convenience. The green martians were simply consumers and maintainers of technology and most have limited understanding of its workings. He believed that once humans ruled the red planet until their slaves rose up on them.

He applauded their courage for coming this far to take the fight to the enemy and protect the Earth from the martian scourge. Our heroes looked slightly abashed at the idea that they were soldiers for his ‘cause’, but chose not to share their concerns. He then detailed his plan to have our heroes infiltrate the martian Tower of Light and Life, install his X-Ray Displacement Engine near the core of the geothermal power generator and overload the system sending an uncontrollable flow of magma through the adjacent canal system. This move, he said, would destroy the entire city and cripple its ability to support the outlying settlements, and send the martian civilization into a cycle of civil wars that would stop it from threatening Earth. Then, our heroes would activate the beacon and return victorious before the martians could retaliate.

Our heroes had several concerns with this plan, but Dally waved most of them aside in favor of bold action and not revealing themselves prematurely, He assured them that he had worked out the inner details and that all would go well. He gave them the night to consider and planned to show them the city in the morning.

Back among the coptics they discussed the merits of the plan and the relative sanity of their benefactor. They decided not to make any decisions until they could see things for themselves and went to sleep. In the morning the were returned to the sick bay chambers where they were dyed the skin tone of the coptic slaves and had their hair and facial features disguised to allow them to pass as coptic slaves.

As they prepared to follow their escort Arat out into the marketplace below the Tower of Light and Life, we called it a night.

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In the Cutting Room
Episode 10

2208_copy.jpgWe rejoined our heroes in a darkened passage following the fight with the martian hunters. Two figures lurked in the shadows down the side passage. Percy tried out his expanding language skills and tried to convince them to come closer. They slowly edged toward the light until Joe presented them with food, which promptly convinced them to come out.

The were even more welcoming when Charlie used the name “Clarence Dally”. The two groups briefly checked each other out, the newcomers were frail and dusky with shoulder length cropped hair. They were very concerned about the evident wounds on our heroes and encouraged them to seek “Bauer-Black.” After a brief negotiation the couple — Aoifa and Messe — agreed to guide them back to the encampment to find help and Dally.

After quickly removing the weapons from the martians and failing to extract the power sources from their armored bodies they stuffed the corpses in a side chamber and moved on.

A few more hours winding through the stage plant brought them to the entrance of an office complex, which was at the end of three layers of laddered tunnels. Crispin wondered aloud why people with tentacles would build things with ladders. The escaped slaves said the heroes use present themselves to the guards. Percy stepped and grandly introduced the party in the Coptic language, ending with a flourish and and Dally’s name. The guard behind the desks immediately dropped their weapons and heralded the earthlings. It was immediately apparent that these guardians ware in much better physical condition that the slaves.

Our heroes were taken to a large chamber were nearly 50 humans were gathered about. While Frankie tried to capture the moment, Crispin unveiled a few choice illusions to the marvel of the collected group— who were largely thin, frail and undernourished. A middle-aged balding human with a gray fringe of beard approached them in broken English and welcomed them, saying that Clarence Dally would be glad to see them but first they needed to be tended to.

While Penelope, Les, Charlie, Frankie, Percy and Opal stayed with the humans, the others were taken to a medical area and placed into fluid-filled tabs. Dash quickly checked with his portable device to see if they were indeed medical, and learned enough to deem it safe. So they entered the tubs and drifted off to sleep.

Both Crispin and Dash were troubled by dreams of lightning, flashing lights and cables wrapping them up. Dash was jolted awake by one of his, and found himself in the darkened chamber. Nearby he heard Joe muttering about the generator in the basement of his school, and Crispin quietly talking about movie screens overtaking vaudeville halls. He relaxed his head back into the tub and heard a voice in his head asking Wall Street and major corporate players. He tried to answer simply, but when questions become broader he added a bit of wild conspiracy to throw off his interrogator. He quickly decided that whatever was questioning him was not reacting to his answer immediately.

He decided to let this play out— answering questions and waiting to see what happened next. He soon became aware of rising indicators on a panel near his head. He tried to stay calm but the needles continued to raise. Not long after, he could hear someone enter the room and a dusk face appeared over his tub. The stranger pressed some buttons on the panel, and Dash lunged up — grabbing the stranger and pulling him into the tank. The stranger struggled free, but seemed a little dazed by the contents of the tank. Dash climbed out and tried to bring him down, but the guardian managed to reach a device on the wall and activated it. Before he could speak into it, Dash grabbed a loose piece of equipment and brought it down the stranger’s head, dropping him to the floor.

He quickly work the others and tried to track down where the information gathered was going. He could not, but did earn that it wasn’t going far. They crept out of the sick bay and into a central station, with a guards to their left and an office suit to their right. Crispin and Joe snuck across the central chamber and down into a dimly lit hall. INside the room, they could barely hear Joe’s own voice talking about his fear of electricity and how the school was wired with AC. Dally’s gravelly voice was heard saying “The old man lost that one, my friend.”

Dally.jpgJoe burst into the room, demanding to know why Dally was poking around his head and what his plans were for the school basement. He was immediately taken aback by a martian squid head in a tank next to the scientist. He tried to throttle the creature while Dally tried to calm the pair.

Apologizing profusely, the deformed man tried to explain that he had so many questions about what was happening back on Earth that he thought this method would be faster and less intrusive. He added that for proper healing the brain must be stimulated as well as the body. In good faith, he called off the guards and welcomed dash to join them in his study.

Once together, he explained that the martian — Kanaloa — had been shunned by his people for questioning the cruelty to his slaves. He found his way to Dally and had taught him many of the secrets of the martian technology. Together they had built this place, treated Dally condition and helped others escape the slavery of the martians. He explained that this slavery was soon to end, and that his fellow countrymen (and a couple of limeys) would destroy the martians permanently and end their threat to mankind.

He noted that he believed that the octopods were not the original martians, but that they were ‘created’ by humans as slaves. But the slaves rose up and took down the human civilization. He was not sure what, or if, the martian humans were related to the earthlings.

The trio demanded he explain his plans to their entire group, so they went to gather up their friends.

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Surprise Guest Stars
Episode 9

3d_sewer.jpgAfter a quick check to make sure that the way back was not blocked, they moved forward down the tunnel. It emerged into a control room above another sewage pool with all the machinery removed.

They did their best to follow the copied the map and continued through the abandoned facility. In a central chamber they came across four doors going each direction. Looking around, they spotted a smear in the dust on the floor. It looked to be made by a tentacle, but they found no further evidence of enemies. They decided to leave it be and continue in the direction the slave had come from.

Penelope and Jim scouted ahead down a long series of tunnels. They stopped at each one looking fro sign of trouble, but found nothing. After a few minutes, Les spotted a set of tracks crossing the passage that the pair had overlooked. Dash determined that they were made by barefoot humans, and that they were running.

The group started to follow the tracks when Crispin noticed that something was coming from the passage behind them. They hurried back to them main passage and set up an ambush. Soon a pair of large tentacle-walking creatures burst across the hall and continued on before anyone could strike. A whistle was heard, and the two turned back in the face of gunfire. Penelope shook the first before it could reach Dash and the other tried to dig its beak into Joe. Meanwhile, shots rang out from the hall indicating more enemies behind.

Penelope slid across the gap, dodging some kind of electric net that tried to snare her and fire at a trio of martians coming up the hall. The group tried to get better firing positions as shots rang both ways through the tunnel. Crispin pulled a shower of glittering lights and flashes from his pocket, distracting the enemy and giving Joe the opportunity to rush their leader with his oversized martian sword. He smashed the blade down but blow glanced off the heavily armored body.

A lucky shot from a martian ripped into Dash seemingly taking him out. Our heroes rallied and finally managed to dispatch the trio of trackers. As Penelope jumped to provide first aid to Dash, Crispin saw a pair of human shapes lurking in the shadows down the tunnel…

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Zooming in

5288dabdd51c5e676456933e7681611e_large.jpgFollowing the escape of the Martian’s head, our heroes rushed to the aid of mighty Joe. Penelope tried to stabilize him while the others took a quick look around the station. They found several working areas with some kind of typewriter device attached to a screen, and many panels filled with switches.

Moving farther in, Charlie found a table device and a large screen showing the Martian night sky. In addition to the keys, this had two bongo sized panels on either side. As a musician, he began to play. As he tapped out a rhythm the screen filled with words and windows filled with martian scribbling. He called in Dash and Percy and they found one of the frames showed words in the Coptic language they recognized.

Tapping the selector on the “bongo” on this panel he brought it to the front. Struggling to decipher the strange language, they found the word ‘medicine’ and then showed physical diagrams for both martian and human biology. Taking the controls, Dash found separate controls for information and practice. When he chose ‘practice’ two arms extended from the table top and unfolded a number of instruments.

Feeling the pressure to keep moving, they decided to experiment on the now living, but severely weakened Joe. They laid him out on the table and selected what they thought his injuries were and hoped. The machine leaped into action and quickly patched up the wounded janitor.

While they were finishing up Dash heard a strange hiss and a thump in the hall. Charlie and Penelope tried to sneak out and see what was happening, and came upon a large-suited martian wielding some kind of heavy weapon. It saw them and moved to intercept, and they fired. Their shots glanced ineffectively off its heavy armor, and Opal rushed out firing her rifle. The lightning projector fire back at all three, but only unprotected Opal was caught in the blast.

The newly healed Joe rushed out and jumped on the creature, trying to keep it from escaping. Les joined in, and Crispin tried to tie it down with tubes removed from its fallen comrade. Finally, Charlie leaned over and fired a rifle blast into the grappled creature.The heavy bulk of the monster burst open and once again the head detached in an effort to escape.

It scrambled into an alcove and started climbing a ladder to the surface. Crispin raced into the chamber and struck the ladder with his cattle prod— sending electricity up the steps. The creature was jolted and dropped to the ground, and was quickly dispatched by the gathered heroes.

Leaving the corpse, they returned to the information table. They found maps of the canal system, more information about the martians and their bipedal armor suits. Dash found a small device that seemed to be able to take information from the table with them. The others searched the remaining chambers and found that nearly everything was built to human scale and comfort, and was very old. Entertaining theories from ancient humans evolving into squids to some kind of alien overthrow— they could fin an answer to this problem from the table.

Moving on, they gathered the heavy weapon and some other small gear and packed them onto a motorized cart they had found. Joe claimed the oversized sword the lead martian had been carrying. They found a way to attack the weapon to the cart, and Dash discovered a way to connect the portable device to the cart and control it from a distance. Destroying any suit that they could find, they moved on from this pumping station toward the city of Merineum.

The walked for several hours down the tunnels, following the plans they had recovered. As they approached where they thought the sewage plant would be be— they began to smell a foul trace of rot in there. Moving cautiously, they came upon a faint blue glow coming up from beneath the tunnel.

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Parting shot?

19-2yo4exi_copy.jpgWhile resting in the hidey-hole, Quincy tried to parse the scribblings. They quickly found a warning that a station staffed by three Martians just a couple hours ahead.They also determined that others who had passed through found there was a ‘safe window’ to get by the Martians.

Charlie, Penelope, Joe and Opal took the vehicle ahead to scout the location. They found a grate covering the tunnel and when they approached close they could see that lights were responding to their actions. They decided to pull back and gather the others.

Collecting the group, they returned during the ‘safe window’ and gathered near the grate. Joe lifted the metal barrier about halfway and the others crawled underneath. As they crossed the chamber toward a grate on the far side, Charlie noted that there movements were being tracked by a device mounted on the ceiling that bore a strong resemblance to the lightning projector they faced earlier. Our heroes scattered, and Charlie, Penelope and Quincy moved to the far grate to open it.

The found the grate stuck fast, with a lighted panel next to it. When they pushed its buttons, it seemed to set off some kind of alarm. The lightning projector fired at the trio and the room became brightly lit. Quincy continued to work on the panel to no avail, and Les leaped up to hang from the projector— trying to pull it down.

Two martians appeared from around the corner and also shot lightning at the group. Dash pulled his shotgun and blasted one to kingdom come. The other tried to find cover and fired at Joe. Opal fired at the enemies while Frankie looked for the best position to cover the action.

Joe charged the enemy and attacked with his bare hands, while the others tried to find a better firing position. A third martian arrived on the scene, dropping the big vet. The fire fight continued, and Opal managed to shoot the martian full in the chest. It fell, and to many’ surprise, its green head detached from its body and scurried away across the floor. Dash tried to blast it with buck shot, but it disappeared into an air vent.

Our heroes gathered around their fallen friend hoping to see if he was still breathing.

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Jump cut

618_gaming_review_rage.jpgWhen Penelope and Jim returned, they saw that the rest of the group had prepared the ramp for the jump. They next turned to clearing a path for her to build up speed. While they were removing rubble from the tunnel Jim noticed that the power cable above them was twitching.

Fearing the return of robotic rats, Penelope hopped into the vehicle while the others ran to get behind it. She accelerated through the rubble-strewn path and reached top speed in time to launch herself over the gap. She cleared the crevice by more than a yard, but struck the far end hard and the rover skidded into the wall. She gathered her wits and brought the vehicle to a stop with just a few bumps and bruises.

As she went to retrieve the winch cable, the lights on the other side went out. Suddenly the walls and ceiling erupted with small mechanical vermin. Charlie pulled out a flashlight and the others went for their guns. Jim smashed the creatures with his bare hands while Dash fired his shotgun without effect at the swarm. Percy slashed with his rapier but could not get through their armored hides. Opal fired her rifle at rats, ignoring the creatures that tore at her legs. Both Crispin and Dash were mauled by the swarming constructs. Meanwhile, Frankie was sprinting down the passage trying to capture the fight on film.

When he arrived, the additional light greatly improved out heroes progress. Jim left to grab Penelope’s rope and Crispin climbed the wall to escape and ripped out a power cable to discourage followers. Percy switched to his pistol, and both he and Les cleared the rats off themselves. A few moments later they managed to crush the remaining robotic vermin. Crispin gathered up some of the more ‘interesting’ parts and the group turned to the cable now crossing the gap.

They used straps from their packs to build a sling to shuttle everyone across the crevice. Penelope got the rover re-started but the wheels had become seriously bent by the landing and they realized it would never ‘speed’ again.

They continued moving toward Merineum. They came to a three-way intersection and Dash saw the word ‘Danger’ scrawled on a brick by one passage. After some discussion they decided to follow the passage where Charlie thought he heard a faint ‘whooshing’ sound. Hours went by as they travelled, and the whooshing sound slowly got louder. As they started to consider where they might rest, they found a small side passage marked as ‘shelter’.

Again they discussed what to do. Annoyed by the delay, Percy lifted himself into the passage and began to crawl down it. A few feet in he was startled by a quickly strobing red light, but continued on. Roughly 20 feet down the tube he came to a widened area carved into the rock. This chamber had furs piled up and two wooden crates, and the far tunnel carried the old stench of human waste.

The group followed in, while Penelope moved the car away from the opening. Inside they found a lot of writing on the walls and drawings as well. One sketch showed some martians working at machines and some kind of clock symbol, but they could not decipher more. They settled in to rest and try to heal some of their many wounds.

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Going underground

In the silence following the downing of the last cat, our heroes found themselves surrounded by more than a dozen strangers— apparently humans. The sound of a third cat being felled rang out and three more warriors appeared, including one quite wounded.

Our heroes holstered their weapons and raised their hands but the strangers kept up their guard. Joe went to tend to to Crispin’s wounds and the warriors leaned forward, whispering “Bauer — Black”. Joe noted that this was name imprinted on the kit. He held it up and they seem to acknowledge it. After tending to Crispin, he patched up the wounded warrior. Meanwhile, Penelope shared some of her jewelry with the female warriors to their giggling acceptance.

The warriors then led the group through a hatch below the surface, They followed an ancient tunnel system into a wide cave. There they were greeted by an encampment of other vaguely arabic-looking humans. Holding their hands up and loudly saying “Merineum” , “Earth”, and “Dally” they got the attention of one old woman. She stepped away from the edge of the pit they were in and returned with an even older mail leaning on a cane.

2309e 120616070614 egypt election 23 horizontal galleryThe old man spoke a little English, and they told him they were looking for Clarence Dally to realize his plans against the Martians. He welcomed them up into the cave and gave them food and water. He told them that this place was called ‘Refuge’ and that Dally had helped them all escape their Martian overlords. He claimed that Dally stayed hidden in a sewage plant in Merineum that the Martians did not frequent and operated the escape network from there.

In conversation, Joe mentioned that he knew Edison and was misunderstood by the gathered humans. They shouted “Sone of Edison” and treated him like a hero.

None of the escaped ‘Copts’ were willing to return to the city, but he explained that the tunnels ran below the canals and would take them back there. he gave them a martian compass to help them fund their way and a picture book with common terms in both English and the Coptic language.

The spent the night in the cavern, and set out in the morning. They slowly picked their way through the tunnels, afraid of hazards and overexertion in the thin Martian atmosphere. After a few hours the path split and they chose the left-hand path. It seemed to be becoming less-and-less passable and then they came upon a wheeled vehicle half-buried in rubble.

They dug out the driver’s seat, and Penelope stuck her hands into the tubes on either side of it. Feeling places for the four-fingers of the Martians and ‘sensitive pads’, she experimented and got the machine to light up, apparently still powered. Encouraged, she continued to experiment and got the machine to buck free of the rubble.

After a few more minutes of experimenting she gained a measure of control over the four-wheeled vehicle. The decided to use it to carry packs and allow people to alternately rest as they went back and followed the other passage.

Hours went by and the passage continued to be somewhat maintained. Then, they came upon a 30’ breach in the tunnel and a chasm that dropped down steeply. Closer inspection showed that it was being eaten away by a natural acid. With no means of crossing, the group was stuck. Crispin used flexible extensions of his fingers to reach additional controls on the rover, opening a tool case with a winch and some air tools.

Leaving the others to build a ramp to attempt a jump, Penelope, Frankie and Joe chose to drive back and check the last passage for possible alternate routes.

Rat6bjpgNot very far from the branching point, they had the feeling of being watched. Searching about, they watched a support beam crash down behind them. Moving up, Joe saw that the beam had been cut. He shouted a warning just before two mechanical creatures jumped out of the shadows at him.

Penelope raised her Mauser to fire, but noticed to more of the rat-like creatures digging at the rover’s engine. She shot one and blasted it to pieces. Meanwhile, Joe was in hand-to-hand with nearly three-foot-long constructs while Frankie worked to ‘capture’ the moment.

Scratched and shaken but not seriously wounded, the two overcame the beasts. They patched each other up and Joe lift the beam so that they could return to the group. By the team they had returned, the others had built up the earth in a ramp in preparation of the jump.

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Taking the show on the road

Following the cult leader’s sudden crash to the floor, the sound stage went quiet. Chaplin cried out for someone to help Mr. Edison who was crumplednext to his machine. Les, Penelope and others rushed to his aid while Opal, Dash and Percy riffled through the bodies of the invaders. Opal noted that the lightning projector did not seem of earthly design while the others could not find any distinguishing marks on the fallen attackers.

OaiPenelope stabilized Mr. Edison and Joe attended to the wounds of the others. Chaplin ordered Frankie to call their ‘people’ to deal with the situation and the group loaded Edison on a makeshift gurney and he vanished down the hallway.

Percy told the group that the symbol of the attackers coveralls was from a group of white magicians known as the Ordo Adeptorum Inivisiblum who were working to bring about the Aeon of Ma’at. Apparently, his involved taking orders from an ancient Egyptian goddess.

Penelope demanded to know exactly what was going on, and Chaplin deferred her to Charlie Heathens for explanations as there was much planning to complete if the mission was still going out tonight. The group largely fell in line and prepared to do battle with the Martians.

They gathered up their gear and before the blue moon set they were ready to be projected by the Mass Kinetoscope to the red planet. There they were to meet up with ’Edison’s Man’ Clarence Dally in the city of Merineum and begin the fight.

Unfortunately, the machine must have shifted during the battle. When the noise and the searing light faded they found themselves in a sandy badlands in the haze of a rapidly setting sun. They quickly put on breathing equipment and sought high ground. There they saw a deep canyon in the distance, and Opal told them that the Martians build their cities on Canyon walls to avoid the meteors that constantly strike the southern climes. They also saw a straight-line depression that ran toward the canyon, and decided to follow it.

The sun set as they made their way down, and they reached an abandoned canal in about an hour. It was dry and fairly filled with soft sand. They decided to follow along its side toward the canyon.

After another hour’s travel they came to a band in the canal with some strange growths in the basin. Charlie climbed down and found a growth of woody reeds— some of them recently chewed. The others climbed down and confirmed this.

BanthThey moved through the reeds some distance and spotted movement in the rocks above. A gigantic multi-legged with a dark mane cat stepped out, roared and fled as Penelope and Les fired at it.

They decided to send Charlie up to scout, and it was not long before he saw another of these creatures on the far side of the canal. While he was trying to get a better look he was jumped from behind by a third creature.

The group scattered, Joe charging, Dash and Les closing and Crispin diving for cover. Penelope and Opal fired from their position while Frankie moved to open ground to capture the action on film.

Charlie avoided the worst of the creatures attacks while Joe stabbed it with his survival knife. Charlie took this opportunity to dive away and stumbled down the bank. Shots fired out from the canal and the creature was riddled with bullets and shot.

The gigantic purple and gold feline crumpled to the sand, but another leaped from the far edge and landed on Crispin, tearing at his flesh cruelly. The group turned back to face the new danger and began to fire.

Meanwhile, some of our heroes heard the clamor of arms and shouts of men over the gunfire. They stayed focused on the creature that stood over the shaken magician and their combined gunfire felled the beast. But their victory seemed short-lived, as they found themselves surrounded by a group of dusky humans standing on either edge of the canal brandishing spears.

Mighty Joe dropped his knife and raised his hands in surrender…

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