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.
The 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.
Not 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.