The Red Menace

The Stage Is Set
8/21/1918

Essanay front door copyA large crowd gathered outside the north side studios of Essanay Film Manufactuing Co. for an opportunity at working on a ‘great adventure’ with one of the biggest stars on film. Brought inside in a large group, they were each quickly interviewed by studio girls and given a blood test.

All of our heroes made the first cut, and were invited inside the studio while the next group was ushered into the lot. There they were given coffee and snacks and were greeted but ‘Fabulous’ Frankie Borzage. He explained that each would be given a screen test on some of them would be given the opportunity to ‘make history’.

The test involved each one explaining a dramatic moment in their life, such as Joe’s hand-to-hand fighting. Charlies flight from the cops, a vicious beating that Dash received and a harrowing rabbit illness that Crispin overcame. They were also questioned about their family responsibilities, with special attention given to Lester’s relationship with his sweetheart Vi.

Later, some men walked through the crowd with some kind of monitoring device and headphones. Joe asked one what he listening for, and the man answered ‘harmonic resonance’. Joe replied that he did not resonate, and but the man said. “I’m afraid you do.”

Again, our heroes seemed to make the cut. They were ushered through the studio— along one hallway that seemed to feature a tow-way mirror— and into a well-appointed but seemingly unused office. They poured drinks and chatted with each other while they waited.

Unexpectedly, a deafening horn went off in the studio. Crispin dove under a desk while Dash went to the window to survey. He noted that the studio staff did not seem to be panicking and urged calm. Quickly thereafter, nurses with earplugs came in to take everyone’s vital signs. Questioned by Joe, the nurse said she was only contracted for one day of work and had no idea why the studio folks needed all this medical information.

Some time later, Frankie returned and ushered them back through the studio to dinner. Two other groups were there as well, but were given walking papers along with dessert. Dash had to convince Crispin not to switch place cards with another table and encouraged him to ride it out.

Finally, Frankie came back and told them that it was time to meet the bosses. Returning to the mirrored hallway, it split down the middle revealing a large studio space littered with strange gear. At the far end of the room sat Charlie Chaplin, Thomas Edison and an attractive young woman with a scar running down her face.

Crispin asked to see the ‘script’ for this caper, which prompted Edison to dig into his valise and pull out a worn copy of ‘War of the Worlds’. He explained that much of what is told in the book is true, and that Earth has been undergoing an invasion for 20 years. Trouble, plagues, and even the Great War can attributed to these alien abominations, and he plans to turn the tide and take the fight to them.

He told them that he has invented a ‘Mass Kinetoscope’ which will convert their bodies to light and beam them to the red planet in one second, where they will be reformed. Again, Crispin explained he knew this trick and people shouldn’t worry. By the end of the night, Edison declared, this lucky group will on Mars and truly fighting a war to end all wars.

There were many questions, and Edison introduced Opal Elphinstone, who was captured by the Martians as a girl and escaped. She has spent the intervening years studying the enemy and may know more than anyone about their foes.

They were given contracts for $500 for one month’s work, and instructions on giving this sum to their next of kin is something should happen. Someone suggested a toast, and Chaplin ordered hism an to bring champagne for all.

While they were waiting, the skylight above them shattered, showering them with glass. Loud static from loudspeakers blared into the studio while five people in hoods and heavy garments clambered down ropes and fired rifles into the room.

Following Opal, our heroes ran to a rack of weapons on a far wall while Edison tried to protect his machineā€¦

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Action!

111253 gi joe cobra commander costumeOutside the sound stage a young woman was creeping down the hallway searching for Mr. Chaplin. She had arrived late for the audition and snuck into the studio to make her case in person. When she heard the crash, she grabbed a glass of champagne from a nearby cart and went to check out the action.

Meanwhile, our heroes were running for cover as the glass rained down on them. Sixe figures descended on ropes from the skylight as loud static blasted out from a loudspeaker on the roof. Joe ran out the door, followed by Dash. Les ran to Mr. Edison’s machine to hide behind while the others followed Opal to a rack of weapons on the far wall of the room. Percy took an alternative route, running to the catwalk and moving around the back.

In the chaos, Charlie noted what seemed to a streak of lightning flashing down on Edison. He was struck and fell back into his Mass-Kinetoscope, dazed.

Opal grabbed a rifle and fired at the hooded figures rushing down on them. Crispin grabbed a cattle prod and connected it to a nearby power cable and charged an enemy.

In the hall, Joe noticed the young woman but was more interested in the cart behind her. Dash took cover in the doorway and fired into the room. Penelope, undaunted, walked by them and went into the doorway to take a closer look.

Our heroes exchanged fire with the hooded strangers, and the strange lightning flashed down again and Mr. Edison collapsed. Chaplin and the director ran to the corner and hid behind barrels of sand. Percy dropped from cat walk and picked up a revolver and joined the fight. Opal, Charlie and Les kept up fire while Crispin waved his electrical baton at the enemy.

Joe charged one of the men with his champagne cart, after removing the slack body hidden under the skirt. He slammed into the man, dazing him. Crispin followed up with his prod, jolting the man into unconsciousness.

Most of the gunmen had fallen to group of shooters, which now included Penelope as well. She was startled to discover the guns were not firing blanks, but joined in in the spirit of the show. Lightning bolts continued to shoot down from the figure crouched on the darkened rooftop.

Joe and Crispin took to the support posts to get a better angle of attack, while the others looked for cover and tried to take planned shots at the enemy. In a burst of speed, Joe quickly found himself on the roof next to what appeared to be a hooded woman and a loudspeaker.

He jumped across the shattered skylight and took cover behind the speaker he upended. She continued to fire down on the others. One more leap, brought him face-to-face with the leader of these hooded attackers. With a single shove, he launched the woman through the hole and down to the concrete floor below.

With the gunfire stopped, Chaplin and Borzage came out from hiding. They immediately started questioning the newcomer, seemingly more interested in her ‘harmonic resonance’ than what she was doing here.

Opal started dragging the bodies toward the center of the room while our heroes stood in shock at the bloodshed around them.

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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