26th July 2020
Sunday lunchtime has rolled round again and we're in Vicky's garden. The previous day's downpour had left the lawn unsuitable for a picnic, so instead we were sat at the garden table again.
But that didn't last, as what had looked to be sunny afternoon became a rainy day. Grabbing our characters sheets and our snacks, we retreated indoors, leaving the patio doors open to maintain social distancing.
Despite this, we still played on and continued Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
Location: At sea.
We had defeated Blackbeard and acquired 'The Sword of Amemnus'. Now we needed 'The Heart of the Archmage' and 'That which The Kraken had lost'.
We resumed our journey to Isla Dios.
Two days later we were sailing through a blustery wind and Califax was circling above. All of a sudden the parrot started flying strangely. He swooped down to a ship and landed in a heap and collapsed on the deck.
Califax began shaking, twitching and convulsing. Then, as soon as it started, it stopped?
Califax suddenly stood up and looked at us, then with a different voice, he began speaking.
Torquemada may have won, but the sea hags have lost.
Califax shook his head violently and looked around confused. His normal voice had returned. A message had been delivered and it did not look good for Tressa!
We continued on. The journey was long but uneventful. Isla Dios was located in 'The Grey Isles'. The sea ran shallow along the coastline here and we had to keep out to sea for fear of grounding or damaging our ships.
Looking at the shore, we could see a massive barge that was moored there, her flat hull allowing her to navigate the shallows. We estimated that the barge was at least a mile away.
Studying the barge with our spyglasses revealed a grim sight. Dangling from the rigging was a body, seemingly dangling in the way only a corpse can. Details were not visible from this range save for the shock of long red hair...
Other than this, the barge appeared to be empty, we saw no movement of activity on deck.
Unquestionably, the body had been placed there as a macabre trophy by Torquemada.
There was no doubt in our minds; this was the remains of Tressa the red.
Now we had to reach her and claim her heart.
Even though the barge appeared to be empty, I suspected a trap waiting for us.
This though, did not dissuade Win, she reasoned that Tressa might still be alive and need healing and there was no time to hesitate.
From a vantage point, Win leapt to the air and began gliding over to the barge.
Quickly we jumped into a jolly boat and followed, however even with our best rowing efforts, we could never hope to keep apace with Win's gliding.
Only Shia was left behind to command the ships.
It was a long way for Win to glide and she didn't quite make it! Instead of landing on the deck, Win ended up hanging by her fingertips from the edge. Luckily being an atani meant Win was light and her grip remained firm.
Whilst Win was contemplating her next move, she heard muffled voices from within the hull. Win's landing had not been quiet and suspicions had been raised. Hastily Win pulled herself on board and sought out a hiding spot.
Meanwhile, those of us aboard the boat continued rowing.
From her hiding place, Win saw some sailors come on to the deck and spot our boat cutting through the water towards the barge. Win heard them shouting for 'The Men of God'?
As we were bearing down on the barge, we all felt a wave of strangeness washing over us, we could help but shiver. Win and Rackham felt this shiver most intensely.
Finally our boar reached the barge. We were 'granted' a reception by the crew, this included four men in red robes.
The men in red robes stepped forward and greeted us, they seemed to know our identities and were expecting us? They went on to display further knowledge of us and our activities?
We explained that we were here to claim Tressa's heart and with it, to save the world. They replied that they didn't care, they just wanted to 'deal with' mages and anyone who 'conspired' with mages.
During this conversation, the crew was distracted. Win took the opportunity to begin climbing the rigging up to Tressa; hopefully unnoticed.
Unfortunately, it wasn't to be and Win was spotted, three sailors begun climbing up after her.
On the deck, our discussion had reached an impasse. The crew refused to recognise our point of view and I demanded to see the captain - or Torquemada - or whoever was in charge!
Pushing back the pursuing sailors back down, Win got to Tressaa and she was indeed dead. There with no chance of saving her.
There was nothing else for it but to get the heart. Win grimly reached for her knife...
Meanwhile, down below. The crew were insisting that we surrender and allow them to escort us to the cells.
We obviously refused. Some of the crew came at us with manacles, but we pushed them back before we could be bound up.
In the rigging above, Win gritted her her teeth and set her jaw. She slowly plunged the tip of the knife into Tressa's sternum.
"Butcher!" Shrieked a shrill voice.
It was Califax, he had flown over and was now assaulting Win!
Califax's attacks were ineffectual and Win managed to swat at the parrot and keep him at bay whilst clinging to the rigging.
Meanwhile, sailors below were once more climbing the rigging.
Back on the deck; the crew were showing clear signs of frustration at our lack of co-operation. They then pulled firearms on us.
There was nothing we could do, we were drastically outnumbered now and had no choice but to surrender.
Up above; Win had opened Tressa's chest, reached in the cavity and completed the grisly deed.
Win now had Tressa's gore covered heart in her hand!
25th July 2020
It's Saturday night and I'm in the living room in front of my laptop and logged into Skype.
This means it's time for Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
Our last foray into the wastes had provided us with a map courtesy of the road hogs. This map then led us to a crashed hot air balloon.
There were no bodies at this crash site, which meant the pilots had been taken away. We also found tyre tracks here, tyre tracks of the kind left by road hogs.
The Road Hogs must have created this map after capturing the hot air balloon pilots.
Our next objective was to rescue the pilots.
We had heard rumour of a road hog settlement further north and the map seemed to confirm this. We loaded up on walkie-talkies, ammunition, grenades and flamethrower. At dawn set out north in our transporter.
For a day we travelled into the wastelands, through rocky desert, over undulating dune and hill. Occasionally we spotted the distant telltale billowing dust trail of a road hog patrol, these dust trails became more frequent the further we travelled.
As the shadows were beginning to lengthen, something peculiar caught our eye in this flat, featureless landscape.
It was a strange, distinctive hill crowned by equally strange clouds. Changing direction, we headed for it.
Drawing closer, our nostrils were assailed by the most indescribable and horrendous odour. Gritting our teeth we pushed on.
Finally we saw that it was not a hill, it was a settlement!
From our spot, we could see ramshackle houses and makeshift shanties crammed together, a hotchpotch of materials and colours forced to coexist. Layers of buildings were built upon layers of other buildings, rising and rising towards the centre until ultimately culminating in the largest, highest buildings in the settlement that towered over all others.
There were numerous chimneys dotted throughout the settlement. In the dying sunlight we could see them all spewing out thick, black smoke and contributing to the noxious cloud hanging above.
This was wrapped up in a three metre high wall that ringed the settlement, with a 'brown' moat that surrounded it all.
After parking the transporter in a secluded spot, we scouted the outside of the settlement.
Located along the moat were small clusters of the 'attack pigs' that we had previously encountered accompanying the road hogs, they were generally eating out of the moat and ignored us.
The moat itself was filled with a brown viscous liquid, it was exactly what we thought it was. There were several pipes and channels that fed into the moat from through the wall. Our previous encounters with large bodies of toxic liquids left me with the certainty that something 'nasty' would be residing in that moat.
The moat widened and thinned in various spots, but was on average twenty metres wide. A distance not so easily traversed.
There was only one way into the settlement. A causeway that crossed the moat and led to an entrance guarded by several hogs.
There was no way to enter that way without attracting attention and attempting to fight our way through seemed unlikely to succeed.
We came up with a plan.
Our plan would require stealth and no small amount agility, this ruled out Bradley and the warhound, which we left guarding the transporter.
Since Aoxo was quite absent minded this week, he too stayed with the robots.
We were accompanied by Jasper, Crimson, D4-VID & Cornelius.
It was dark by now and there were few lights that shone out of the settlement considering its size.
We circled the moat until a suitable spot was found. A spot where the moat narrowed and there appeared to be no close by activity inside the wall.
After handing Cornelius a rope, I used my shift mutation to teleport him to the other side of the moat. With typical consummate ease, Cornelius scaled the wall and disappeared over the other side almost instantly.
A few moments later, he reappeared inside a building adjacent to the wall. He secured one end of the rope here and threw the other end out to us.
Unfortunately the rope landed short and in the moat. We tried stretching out for it, but none of us could reach.
Eventually Agent Pip tired of trying to avoid the moat and with a safety rope attached, waded in holding her nose.
As Agent Pip grabbed the rope, she felt something grabbing her!
Agent Pip gave out a yell and we ran back whilst gripping the rope. Agent Pip was pulled free of the disgusting moat.
But something had followed.
Covered in filth, a bubbling brown murky beast of some sort rose to the moat's surface, moving towards us.
I called it!
Seizing our weapons, we steeled ourselves for some truly disgusting combat: Firearms were too loud and out of the question, so melee it was.
Luck was with us however, once Agent Pip was clear, whatever that thing was, it retreated and sank back into the muck.
Now that we had the other end of Cornelius' rope, we found a secure spot, hammered in a piton and tied off the rope as taut as possible.
We had a way in and hopefully a way out.
With some effort we managed to climb the sticky-but-slick filth coated rope into the settlement.
From our vantage point, we could see into the settlement proper now.
Most of the streets were narrow and unlit, erratically zig-zagging their way between the tightly packed makeshift structures that passed off for buildings here.
Furthermore, they were littered with offal, dead sand maggots, other foul meat and body parts, human body parts. The smell was vile.
Whilst observing, we saw on occasion a hog come out grab something of the street and eat it!
During this observation, we heard cheering, whooping and engines revving, this loud commotion was coming from the direction of the gate.
Quietly we moved over the low rooftops to investigate. A road hog patrol had returned with a prize, six desert raider prisoners.
The prisoners are marched up the main avenue closer towards the centre of the settlement. We followed.
They were taken through caked layers of dried blood that surrounded a dilapidated shed and pushed inside. Moments later, agonising screams could be heard before being abruptly cut short.
Hogs emerged from the shed carrying piles of body parts which they flung into the street. The body parts rolled and tumbled downhill into the darkness.
From there, the three remaining prisoners were bought out of the shed, they are accompanied by some hogs carrying trays of body parts, no doubt 'the choicest cuts'! The entire group then continued up towards and into the largest building in the settlement.
On the way to this final largest building, we stopped to check some of the other larger buildings here. We found breeding pits with enormous sows and nurseries!
After this we approached the final building. We saw that the way in was guarded by some hogs, they were sitting about lazily, but were clearly alert.
We considered trying to silently 'take them out', but it was a risky proposition. We needed an alternate way in.
In the end, we turned to Cornelius and his climbing to help us once more. After again taking a rope with him, it was child's play for him to reach the roof. Cornelius secured the rope and dropped ii down to us, allowing us all to climb up.
From here, we could see that part of this building's roughly-made exterior had been made from what appeared to be human skin.
Breaking into the building here was easy. The roof opened into a very large room below. It was as tall as the building and circular, it looked to be some sort of gladiatorial arena, complete with viewing stands.
Now all we had to was lower the rope and climb down into the arena.
Other than single door out, there was nothing of interest in the empty arena. From appearances, it seemed like it was locked during fights, but right now it was open.
The door led to a corridor that ran between two rows of cells. Looking in the cells we found more raider prisoners, a dozen of them. No doubt they were forced to fight in the arena.
We asked the raiders if they had any knowledge of this building, but they knew only of the armoury at the end of the corridor.
We were unsure whether freeing the raiders was a wise move or not, we had no idea how they might behave. In the end we chose to free them, at the very least they might provide a distraction for the hogs.
There cells were locked, but this did not prove much of an obstacle to us.
They were easily freed, but before we could discuss our next step: We heard guards approaching!
We instructed the raiders to return to their cells and pretend the doors were still locked. Meanwhile, we retreated into the arena and out of sight.
From the other side of the door, we heard guards approach the cells. It was followed by a sniggering, then the shouting and screaming began as fighting broke out.
It was a short fight, already over by the time we got back in. There had been two hog guards and they had quickly been overwhelmed when ambushed by the twelve raider prisoners.
The hogs and been escorting a single raider, he was one of the three surviving prisoners who had been bought into this building.
We asked him what had happened to the two other prisoners? He said one of them had been killed and the other given over to the 'pig priests'!
He told us that the priests worshipped 'The Hogshead - king of the road hogs' and mortal enemy of 'The Overfiend'.
In the time we had been talking, the other prisoners been eating the hogs! Then they stormed the armoury, grabbed weapons and ran off. Well, I guess that they would be a distraction.
After leaving the cells and passing the armoury, we encountered a 'T-junction' and could go left or right.
From the left came the sounds of fighting. The raiders had encountered some hogs. We decided to leave them to it and instead went right.
The corridor ended in a door, we could see it was not locked.
Erring on the side of caution, we carefully listened at the door. It was silent, however we did smell something cooking!
The smell of cooking meat was something unusual. All of the offal, corpses and body parts we had seen throughout the settlement had been raw. We had seen hogs eating raw meat.
We looked into the room and it appeared to be a kitchen of sorts, not surprising considering the smell I guess. We entered and looked around, it seemed more or less like a typical kitchen.
There were three pots on the cooker, simmering and bubbling away. The aroma coming from them was quite 'nice'.
There was no way that whatever was in those pots was going to be 'nice'.
Curiosity got the better of Max and he lifted one of the lids...
Inside was some sort of stew, thick, creamy and yellowish. It may have seemed it quite innocuous, but none of us volunteered to taste it.
There was a single door opposite that led out of the kitchen. After also listening at this door we heard nothing - and smelled nothing either, other than the usual hideous smell of the settlement!
Upon cautiously entering this room, we were greeted with a surprising sight!
There were three couches in here and on each couch was a sleeping woman.
All three of these women were immensely overweight, their corpulence was greater than anything we had ever seen in anyone else.
Leaving the trio undisturbed, we gingerly searched the room. Along one wall was a small opening in the bottom corner that allowed a 'waste' channel to exit the room and into the street outside. There was also cutlery and crockery here, among these utensils we also spotted three funnels.
Were these women being force-fed?
There seemed to be no other choice but to wake one of these women.
Upon being woken, the woman looked shocked! She immediately pulled her blanket over her face, then reached for her make-up and applied it behind the blanket.
It was a couple of minutes before she was willing to talk to us. She introduced herself as 'Betty' and told us that it was important that she always looked her best.
Betty went on to explain that her two companions and herself had been flying a hot air balloon and distributing samples of beauty products when they were shot down by the road hogs.
We had encountered three different ladies in a hot air balloon some time ago who were doing the same. Betty added that there were many hot air balloon crews that flew out of 'Dome City' on various tasks that included observing the 'dancing crab'.
Dome City was Betty's home and seemingly a technologically advanced settlement. Something to investigate at a later date.
Betty went on to tell us about the 'hogshead'.
The 'hogshead' was a giant pig's head with a twisted and misshapen, rotted body. It was 'worshipped' by the 'red-robe wearing pig priests'.
The 'hogshead' would drool, spit and make strange noises, in turn these 'commands' would be 'interpreted' by the pig priests.
Betty informed us that the 'hogshead' wanted the three of them fattened up for 'a proper meal'!
This was not the best of places to linger for a conversation and it was time to move on. Betty awoke her two companions - who had to put make up on and they agreed to escape.
Betty, Veronica and Sabrina joined us.
Unfortunately, our escape was instantly cut short. None of the three ladies could fit through the doors out of their bedroom!
Due to the shoddy nature of the whole settlement, we easily managed to break the wall down and widen the doorway. We did the same with the door from the kitchen to the corridor.
We returned to the T-junction. There were no sounds coming from the left way, whatever had happened, it was now over.
The left corridor was the only remaining way for us to go, so left we went. Unsurprisingly, it ended in a door.
There were definite sounds of hog activity on the other side of the door when we listened. Very carefully, we opened the door a fraction and looked through.
It was a large room, our attention was drawn to the far side of the room. There was an exit out into the darkened street beyond, It was possibly the guarded way in we had seen earlier.
Looking elsewhere, we saw the 'hogshead'.
Hanging from the ceiling was an enormous pig's head, it was attached to something akin to a sand maggots body. The whole thing would twitch and wriggle erratically, the head burbled, drooled and uttered weird noises.
Then we saw the pig priests in their red robes close to the hogshead. Additionally, on the other side of the room we saw what appeared by their clothing to be military leaders or generals, as well as several guards.
Finally, the floor was littered with raider bodies, the former prisoners had been cut down in their battle with the hogs. Two of them had 'escaped' this fate and were hung up.
Quietly we closed the door, stepped back and took stock of our situation.
Fighting was not an option. There were a lot of hogs in that room and there was no way we could deal with all of them without raising a hue and cry.
There was no way that the three ladies could climb the rope to the roof back at the arena either.
In the end, we could only think of one option.
We returned to the bedroom. The waste channel here flowed through a hole in the wall and led to the outside. This would also be our way out.
Widening the sewer exit was a little more effort than widening the door, but it was not beyond us and soon enough, we were back in the settlement.
The empty streets were cloaked in darkness as we crept back down towards the settlement's wall.
We could not escape via the zipline, it would not bear the weight of the three ladies, nor could we get past the guards without being spotted
Luckily we came up with another plan.
Using my shift mutation, I could teleport at least two of the ladies out of the settlement to a spot I could see.
Conveniently, the main 'avenue' ran from the centre of the settlement in a somewhat straight line out to the perimeter. From the avenue I could just about see all the way out to the wasteland and beyond the moat.
Radioing Aoxo and the others, we instructed them to reposition the transporter close to a spot I could see.
I was then able to teleport all three ladies out to the transporter. My shift mutation had been exhausted in doing so and I would not be able to make use of it again for a day or so.
It was not important though. Without the three ladies, the rest of us easily slid out of the settlement on the zipline.
Returning to the transporter, we all squeezed aboard, turned south and headed home. We drove through the night, the journey back was uneventful and it was daybreak by the time we safely arrived back at haven.
19th July 2020
It's Sunday lunchtime, it had been raining and the sky is grey. Picnicking in Vicky's garden wasn't an option. Instead, we will be playing on the garden table.
Despite the uncertain weather and the late start, we managed to get some play in Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
Location: At sea.
Our ships were bearing down Blackbeard's ship - The Destroyer.
When my ship 'The Herodias' closes we flung hooks with lines on to The Destroyer's deck.
The Destroyer's skeletal crew hacked at the lines as we climbed, luckily they were fairly ineffective and we managed climb aboard without mishap.
This part of the deck was thick with skeletons and we fought to clear the way. It was not too long before we were joined by Shia, Baxter and Rufus who boarded from their own ships.
All of converged on the deck. Before us stood a horde of skeletons and behind them we saw Blackbeard. Draped in a dark aura was he. Orange flames licked across his titular beard. In his hand was a sword that glowed with what could only be magical light, what this The Sword of Amemnus?
It would be a hard fight getting to him.
Win had launched herself skywards and was now gliding towards The Destroyer.
As we steeled ourselves for the oncoming battle, there was then a lull in the fighting, a moment of unnatural stillness. No one seemed to be moving. The skeletons stood staring at us and we at them.
It was then that Blackbeard strode though his own ranks, smiled and issued us a challenge. "Do you want me to fight all of you at the same time, or one at a time?".
Rufus lunged forward, demanding a one on one duel.
Shia spoke no words, her only answer was at the tip of her sword. She struck at Blackbeard and the battle was joined.
Above us, Win struck Blackbeard with a stun spell, he was left staggered.
I pressed the advantage, throwing caution to the wind. I struck at Blackbeard with all my strength, paying no heed to the risk of counter attack. My blows should have felled him, but before our very eyes, we saw the wounds close up without any evidence of ever having occurred.
This did not bode well, no wonder Blackbeard seemed so confident.
Then Rufus lunged for Blackbeard. Rufus was a 'grael', naturally strong and stocky. He tackled Blackbeard.
None of this deterred Blackbeard, he shook off Win's spell and shrugged off Rufus' attack. Reaching for a pair of pistols, he unloaded at Rufus. Luckily Rufus was fairly sturdy himself and was still standing after the shots.
The fighting raged on.
From her aerial vantage point, Win hit Blackbeard with stun again, this time he dropped to one knee. We all attacked again.
Instead of simply grappling Blackbeard this time; Rufus put him into an armlock and twisted The Sword of Amemnus out of his grasp.
It was possible that the sword had some sort of magic that was keeping Blackbeard alive? Maybe we could kill him. Once again I struck him the strongest blow I could. In normal circumstances it would have nearly decapitated a man. Blackbeard however, was unaffected.
The sword was in our possession now and it was time to flee. There was one serious concern though: If we simple]y withdrew from combat, there would be nothing stopping Blackbeard from chasing us. The Destroyer was a formidable ship and could deal out a serious amount of damage to our ship.
So we came up with a simple plan.
We recalled being told a rumour that Blackbeard was cursed and could not leave The Destroyer.
What would happen if we threw Blackbeard overboard? At the very least, it would delay any pursuit until Blackbeard was rescued. It was worth a try.
With a mighty heave, Rufus lifted Blackbeard above his head and ran for the edge of the ship.
When he got there, Rufus simple jumped overboard carrying Blackbeard. Graels could hold their breath underwater for a long time, so Rufus wasn't worried.
Halfway into his downward watery plunge, Rufus gave Blackbeard a lob towards the sea. When Blackbeard hit the water, he was instantly killed!
The effect was also felt on The Destoyer', which began to dissipate. Without delay we dashed back to our ships. Picking up Rufus, we set about sailing away at our best speed. Soon The Destroyer was entirely gone.
We had defeated Blackbeard and acquired The Sword of Amemnus!
18th July 2020
Saturday night is here again and I'm in the living room, in front of my laptop and logged into Skype.
It can only mean one thing: It's time for another instalment of Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
The underground complex that had been populated by the chuds had been completely destroyed by the launch of Joe Capricorn's rocket.
There was only one last thing for us to explore. Beneath the headland was 'The Deep Cave'.
We had explored The Deep Cave a while ago. That exploration had ended in a wall of concrete that spanned the entirety of the only tunnel out of that cave.
Now armed with pickaxes, hammers and chisels and some slightly dodgy looking sticks of dynamite, we set about returning to the headland and to the concrete wall.
The launch of Joe's rocket had caused such extensive damage that even the headland had suffered. Part of the cliff top had collapsed, crashing down into the ocean below and creating a rocky, uneven pathway down to the cave.
Navigating this new way down allowed us to bring Bradley and the warhound with us.
Soon after this we found ourselves back at the concrete wall. Hefting our pickaxes, we got to work.
And hard work it was! Whilst digging we discovered that there was a grid of steel bars that reinforced the concrete. After a couple of hours we had managed to dig a small hole through the concrete wall, which it turned out was a metre thick.
Shining our flashlights through the hold, we could see that the beyond the wall was a chamber, large, unlit and clearly man made. Little else was visible through such a narrow opening.
In our estimation, it would take a further six hours of graft to widen the hole enough to grant us entry. Alternatively, we could use use dynamite to blow out a bigger hole.
One option was safer and the other option was quicker. Which one would we use..?
As Max was placing the dynamite charges, the rest us retreated to a safer distance. Max then set the fuse, lit it and made for cover.
The sound of the explosion was enormous and filled the tunnel with smoke and dust. After a while this settled and we could see that the explosion had not widened the hole, but had caused a small rock slide to cover part of the wall.
A second attempt could cause a total collapse of the tunnel, should we risk trying an explosion again? Our answer was to reach for more dynamite.
I set the second set of charges, lit the fuse and ran for cover. Once the dust from the second explosion cleared we went and had a look.
Success! The hole was now sufficiently large.
It was a tight fit crawling through the hole; dust motes swirled in the beams of our flash lights as they played across this unexplored chamber.
It was a room of massive proportions, tall with a shallow arched ceiling and with a raised area along one wall.
A wide ramp led up to this raised area and a large door was built in the wall here.
There was a single large object in this room with a tarpaulin draped over it. Other than that, the emptiness of this room seemed to amplify the sounds of our every move.
There was no clue as to what this room's function might have before.
Slipping the tarpaulin off revealed a vehicle.
It was a tracked transporter or van of some sort. There was a large windscreen at the front, solar panels on the roof and ramp at the back, there was a rack also attached to the rear. It was also painted bright yellow! We estimated that it could seat ten people.
Unfortunately, the transporter's battery was completely flat, it was going nowhere.
After this we went up to the large door. It was no typical door. We could see it needed to be raised up horizontally.
When we tried lifting it, small pebbles and stones rolled out from behind the door. Carefully we looked underneath the door, the passageway behind it was filled with rubble! Not wanting to disturb the rubble any further, we left the door alone.
Next, we tried the control panels and junction box. Like the transporter, they didn't work, there was no power here.
The power was out, the transporter didn't work and the we didn't want to open the only way out of the room. Our options were slim.
We tried the door again. Raising it a little bit further caused more rubble to come rolling out. It was just too risky to push it any more.
We took stock of our situation. The way through the door had to lead somewhere. Perhaps wherever it led to had another way into here? Perhaps there was another way in from the outside.
Crawling back through the concrete wall, we returned to the cliff top and started looking.
Our searching revealed a curious depression in the ground.
Aoxo theorised that this dip may have been caused by an underground landslide that had filled the tunnel behind the door.
We began digging.
Not long into this task, we heard the quiet drone of distant engines.
We stopped and scanned the horizon.
Two motorbikes and two cars were kicking up a billowing dust trail as they speeded directly towards.
We dropped our tools, grabbed our weapons and waited for them to bear down on us.
As the assailants drew closer, we were caught by surprise by what we saw!
Pig-men! Half human, half pig. The result of radioactive mutation a long time ago. We had heard the stories and the rumours of pig-men before this. We simply knew them as 'Road hogs'!
The riders reached us first and we opened up on them with our guns, putting some of them out of combat. The remainder dropped their bikes and rushed into melee. Meanwhile the two cars drew closer.
Some of us engaged the road hogs in melee and the others fired at the cars.
Max cut down a road hog, yelling, "I love the smell of bacon in the morning!".
We raked the leading car with gunfire, watching as bullet holes blossomed across the bodywork and windscreen. A few seconds later it lurched to a slow halt.
The second car swerved, made a wide 'U-turn' and fled the battle.
"Pigs really do fly!". Quipped Max, He was definitely on a roll.
Meanwhile, all of this was eagerly recorded by D4-VID.
With one car fleeing, it did not take too long to mop up the remaining road hogs.
A map was found when we searched the road hog that appeared to be their leader. It was fairly rudimentary and showed a number places of interest heading north along coast line.
Whilst searching the car we found it's battery was intact. Perhaps we could use it in the transporter?
We returned to digging down through the depression. It did lead to a corridor and a sloped one at that. More digging and we reached the door back to the transporter.
After hauling the battery down into the large underground room, it was installed into the transporter. It wasn't a perfect fix, but it would do for the time being.
Taking the transporter along with the road hog vehicles, we returned to Haven and to the lab complex. Haven had been making use of its generators and so would we.
It would take a while but once the transporter was fully charged, it should be continually topped up by the solar panels, allowing it to run almost indefinitely.
The next morning, looking at the map, there were markings that seemed to indicate two different giant ant trails leading to two different parts of the coast line. These were a priority for us to investigate.
Each trail ends in spot of yellow, likely to signify a beach.
We set out for the southernmost of the two giant ant trails.
Upon our arrival, we stopped short before we reached what was indeed a beach. After finding a vantage point we settled down, waited and watched.
After some time, giant ants did actually arrive at the beach and to absolutely no one's surprise a band of crab-men burst from the beach and attacked.
The fight was very one sided and it was soon apparent that crab-men were going to lose.
Once the fight was over the giant ants returned down the trail with the remains of the crab-men as their spoils of victory.
There was nothing else to be discovered here; so whilst giving the beach a wide berth we continued north.
Between here and the northern ant trail, was an area marked as 'BLOONS'. It probably meant 'balloons', something we had previously encountered and something to investigate on the way north.
The trip to the general area did not take too long and our searching soon bore fruit. It was the crash site of a hot air balloon that we had discovered.
The basket had been wrecked, but the actual balloon and the burner still looked in good condition and salvageable. We strapped them to the transporters rack.
We realised that there were no bodies here, looking closer we found the tracks of wheeled vehicles leading to and away from here.
Once again referring to the map: Next to the northern ant trail was another beach, but also the word 'HED' which we took to mean 'head'. What did HED mean? I guess we were going to find out.
There was no time to lose so we continued north.
A few hours later and it was afternoon when we arrived at the beach in question.
Curiously, the beach was surrounded by a perimeter of 'warning signs'. But further ahead we saw something stranger...
Beyond the warnings and almost entirely buried in the sand was what must have been a massive statue. Only from the neck up was this statue visible.
Constructed from some sort of faded, pale green material was a woman's head, adorned in a spiked headdress. Rising even higher was her outstretched right arm, grasping a flaming torch...
What had happened to the statue, who had done this?
I could only think: 'You maniacs. You blew it up!'
Before we had the chance to consider the matter further, sporadic gunfire rained down on us. Luckily the gunfire seemed fairly inaccurate and we scrambled out of range without receiving injury.
We could not see who had been firing at us: It wasn't long until sunset, so we waited for the cover of darkness before returning.
Cautiously we returned to the beach, but were forced to dive for cover once more as gunfire rang out again, ricocheting of the ground around us.
"Who are you?" Max shouted.
"Who are you? Came the reply.
"And why are you are you such a bad shot?" Added Agent Pip.
The shooting then stopped.
"We don't want to fight." Continued Agent Pip. "We just want to talk.".
The shooter seemed convinced by Agent Pip's sincerity and revealed himself. Again, it was something we weren't expecting...
There stood a chimpanzee wielding a rifle!
We were too dumbfounded to say anything.
"Hello, my name is Cornelius!" Said Cornelius.
We were still dumbfounded!
"It's hard to handle the recoil of a rifle when your opposable thumbs are so small." Cornelius added cheerfully.
After we had gathered our composure we had a conversation with Cornelius.
He asked us what kind of ape we were and we explained that we were 'hairless' apes.
Cornelius explained that there was a whole tribe of apes living and working in the nearby caves. For a long time they had been toiling on 'The Great Task' at the behest of 'The Great Leader' and now their work was nearly done.
Cornelius then asked us if we would like to see it and would be happy to take us there.
We agreed: Agen Pip, Aoxo, Max, D4-VID and I would go with Cornelius.
Cornelius led us past some more guards, into a cave and underground. We passed from the cave through an obviously manufactured doorway and along manufactured but unusually proportioned passageways. Then we were led down a long series of steps. They were strangely spaced - too closely positioned together and proving uncomfortable and almost disorientating to walk down, Cornelius seemed unaffected by all of this.
Eventually the steps came to an end and we found ourselves being led into a large cave. It was large enough to contain several buildings from the 'old world'. It was also filled with 'old world' technology.
The cave was full of bustling chimpanzees, busily ignoring us and working away. We scanned the room and at the far end was a piece of 'old world' technology that was once more something we were not expecting...
Reaching high above anything else in this cave was a missile, it looked ready to launch.
We saw the missile's designation code - '1554C'... ISSAC!
Our minds drifted back to something ISSAC had said to us.
“I have used my superior intellect to turn other human minds to my own purpose, creating both a means to reach my new world and a device to rid it of organic life.”
This was not good! It was at this moment that an ape of massive proportions entered the cave - 'The Great Leader'. The ape's head was covered with cybernetics and one robotic eye, he towered over his companions.
The ape pointed at us and roared. "Seize them!".
There must have been forty chimpanzees working here, all of these working chimpanzees immediately dropped their tools and turned to face us. Then as a mob they began advancing on our position.
It was a madhouse! A MADHOUSE!
Max lobbed a grenade and a flare in their general direction to distract them whilst we fled.
The strategy worked and we managed to escape back to the transporter. No apes had followed us back.
"That was lucky!" Remarked Cornelius.
No apes, except one had followed us!
"I didn't expect the great leader to do that?" Cornelius opined.
We questioned Cornelius some more about 'The Great Work. He told us that they had 'miners' workers down in 'the mines' who were mining uranium. This uranium was being loaded into the missile. When completed; the missile would be launched. It's explosion would 'eradicate all non ape life', leaving the world a safe place for apes.
Somehow, it did not seem to us that this missile would spare apes, it would - as ISSAC had said, rid the world of all organic life.
But the nuance of this point seemed lost on Cornelius.
The missile was scheduled to launch in two days. Cornelius assured us that as 'hairless apes', we would be fine.
ISSAC seemed to be cursing us from his fiery fate.
We asked Cornelius to tell us more about his tribe. It wasn't much bigger than the forty chimpanzees we had already seen. Cornelius told us his tribe were the descendants of chimpanzees that had been experimented on by humans a long time ago. Descendants of these human worked the mine.
Later in the night, we saw giant ants encroaching on the beach. Chimpanzees guards with rifles eventually managed to drive them away. The chimpanzees' accuracy may have been poor, but the giant ants were the size of a barn door so it wasn't too much if a disadvantage.
The hour drew late and Cornelius announced it was time to sleep. Once slumbering, he would not be roused.
It was midnight and all was calm, but we knew this would not last. Two days until the missile launch and we needed a plan.
We considered going back into the missile complex at night, since it appeared that they would all be sleeping, but ultimately decided against it.
Instead we chose to watch and wait until morning before making a decision.
In the morning there was another giant ant attack, it was even more aggressive this time. The apes managed to drive them off again, but not without sustaining a casualty or two themselves...
We considered matters.
The Great Leader's cybernetics were similar to Joe Capricorn's implants. We thought there was a good chance that ISSAC would be communicating to both using those implants.
We also knew that D4-VID was capable of transmitting information. When asked about it, D4-VID said that it knew the frequencies used by ISSAC and that it could also transmit on those frequencies.
We had the beginnings of a plan.
We would get D4-VID to mimic ISAAC and send 'new' instructions to The Great Leader.
There several options, but in the end, the new instructions said. "Stop building missile and go to a defensible position.".
As D4-VID transmitted the message, the torch on the statues arm flashed! Something in there must act as a relay.
Soon after this the ape guards returned into the underground complex.
We waited for an hour, then we returned to the complex. There were no guards and back in the cave, there were no workers either.
Turning to Cornelius for an answer, he explained that it was probable that all the apes had retreated into the mines for safety.
As we wondered what to do with the missile, we saw some giant ants come exploring through the passageway.
This was not good, there were no more guards outside.
The ants were now beginning to dismantle the 'old world' tech here and take it away.
So we got D4-VID to transmit a new instruction. "Attack the giant ants. Defend the missile. Assist the hairless apes.".
We waited and no apes appeared, the transmission had not worked or possibly not reached The Great Leader down in the mines.
It was decided to send Cornelius down to speak with The Great Leader.
There was a hand cranked elevator that we had to operate to lower Cornelius down into the mines.
We waited again and yet again, no apes appeared.
There was no other way for it, we had to send D4-VID down into the mine and into 'line-of-sight' of The Great Leader
D4-VID was accompanied by Agent Pip, as she was an inflected, the effects of the radiation might be less severe on her.
Once Agent Pip and D4-VID were in the mine, they travelled down various tunnels filled with sheltering chimpanzees. Eventually they found Cornelius, he was huddled close to The Great Leader.
Behind The Great Leader we could see something else, but not clearly, were they the 'miners' Cornelius had mentioned?
Now that D4-VID had line-of-sight on The Great Leader, it transmitted the new instructions again.
The effect was immediate. The Great Leader ordered the apes to attack and they ran out of the mines. They didn't even wait for the elevator, climbing the walls of the shaft instead.
Now that the apes were leaving the mines, Agent Pip got her first sight of the 'miners'. They were grotesquely deformed humans, mutated as the result of prolonged exposure to radiation. They had extra limbs and heads as well as other changes.
Agent Pip decided to try and help them escape the mine.
In the large cave, the rest of us had been watching the ants, their numbers steadily increasing.
Soon apes came streaming out of the mine shaft and charging towards the giant apes, the fight had begun.
Unfortunately, it was fairly clear that the apes were in a losing position. Even if we threw our weight behind them, the apes would lose. Now we had to find a way out without being drawn into the battle.
Having helped as many mutants escape the mine as she could, Agent Pip returned to us.
Quickly searching for a way out, we looked at the missile itself. It was surrounded by scaffolding and gantries to allow the uranium to be loaded.
We might be able to climb to the top of the missile and escape through the silo doors.
Max scaled the top of the missile and secured a rope, all of us clambered up - including Cornelius.
From this precarious spot we managed to open the silo doors. Max retrieved his rope and we looked at the silo opening. There was no way to get from missile through the silo opening.
This could have proved a serious stumbling block to us. However, I could use my shift mutation to teleport people to the surface, next to the missile.
I managed to teleport Agent Pip, Aoxo and Max out before my shift mutation gave out. It was enough.
The three of them used the rope to pull the rest of us to safety.
Here on the surface we were safe, there were no giant ants to be seen close by.
From safety of our vantage point we watched as the giant ants finished the battle. The apes were defeated, even The Great Leader had fallen. Had any apes survived? Or any mutants, we did not see any survivors.
I looked at Cornelius and wondered if there were other tribes elsewhere or whether he was the last of his kind?
After this we could only watch uselessly as the swarm of giant ants stripped the cave of all its 'old world' belongings. Eventually they even toppled the missile and took it! It was a shame we couldn't keep the it and re-purpose it to destroy the giant anthill.
At least it would no longer pose a threat. Had it been detonated, who knows just how much destruction it would have wrought upon the world. At the very least, Haven and Home would have been obliterated.
It was sparse consolation as we returned to Haven.
12th July 2020
Sunday lunchtime and we're sitting on picnic blankets in Vicky's garden. The BBQ was warming up and it was time for Matt's 50 Fathom's campaign to continue.
Location: At sea.
It was less than a day's travel back to Baltimus. We let the freed prisoners off here.
The question of how to acquire 'The Sword of Amemnus' still hung in the air. Edward Teach - Blackbeard was in possession of it.
Shia went ashore, spoke with her contacts and learnt several 'facts' about Blackbeard.
- Blackbeard had struck a pact with the devil, it was said. His crew could never leave their ship.
- Blackbeard has been seen more than once around the island of 'Perck'.
- Finally, Shia was warned against trying to find Blackbeard, he was considered just too dangerous.
After Shia returned we had an extensive discussion.
As well as the sword, we needed to find 'the heart of the archmage' and 'that which the Kraken had lost'?
In our last visit to 'Bluth's Crown', we had asked the mages there to help us answer these questions if they could. They told us to return at a later date - so we did!
The trip to Bluth's Crown took three days and was uneventful. The pillars that we had helped to save were looking even better now.
The mages welcomed us back and we talked for a while.
They explained that they could not help us with the 'Kraken question'.
They did know something about the other question. The heart of the archmage could only refer to 'Tressa the Red', we agreed. The last time we went to Tressa's home, she had vanished however!
The mages explained that they had learned that Tressa had been captured by 'Torquemada'. Tressa was being held prisoner at the Inquisition base at 'Isla Dios'.
Now we were faced with two choices: Head to Perck to try and track down Blackbeard, wherever he might be. Or travel to Isla Dios, which was on the other side of Caribdus to rescue Tressa.
Blackbeard's location was closer, but unknown. We had also been told that he was a most dangerous enemy.
Tressa's location was known, but was at The Grey Isles, about as far away from us as could be. Furthermore, Tressa was most likely being held in some sort of prison. We could only speculate how difficult rescuing Tressa from the inquisition could be.
In the end we decided to go and free Tressa first. Our reasoning was that once freed, Tressa might be able to assist us when we went against Blackbeard.
Leaving Bluth's Crown behind, we set off for Isla Dios.
Bluth's Crown shrank away as we made off. Later, we were surprised to see an old 'acquaintance' suddenly make his appearance.
Califax the parrot and pet of Tressa the Red; he must have appeared from somewhere below deck on one of our ships. He was flapping above us.
Califax spoke in a strange loud voice; telling us. "You must rescue my 'pet human' Tressa. Go to Isla Dios to do this thing.".
After this, Califax's voice returned to normal, he seems confused as he looked about at his current surroundings and seems surprised to see us. Nevertheless, he joined our expedition once we explained our goal.
We sailed on: Six days had passed since we began our journey, six days that had passed uneventfully.
On the seventh day however, we caught sight of a distant ship, nothing more than a black dot against the hazy horizon. Observing it through spyglasses, we could see it was a large ship and entirely black.
It had to be Blackbeard, no one else was known for a black ship, we altered our heading and made for the ship.
We could not let this opportunity to acquire Amemnus' sword pass us by, who know when we would next encounter Blackbeard?
Besides, It seemed too much of a coincidence seeing Blackbeard here and now. Maybe he was after us?
We discussed our choices as we drew closer. After some deliberation, we decided to attack Blackbeard!
As we closed in, we saw that The Destroyer was entirely black, it seemed to extrude an aura of wrongness and evil. Win and Rackham, our mages both sensed a sort of dark and powerful energy radiating from the ship.
Still we closed in .
'The destroyer' fired at us with its array of cannons. A shot struck Baxter's ship. It was no ordinary shot or cannon. It was thick viscous black liquid that splashed on to three of the crew.
They began screaming, rolling on the floor and convulsing, the black liquid burned away their very flesh until they died. Moments later they rose as the un-dead, making trouble for Baxter and his remaining crew members
Meanwhile, I returned fire with my ship's own cannons, striking tru, but they appeared to have no little or no perceivable effect on The Destroyer.
Still we closed in.
We could see The Destroyer's crew. It appeared to be manned by un-dead skeletons.
Rackham struck the ship with a spell, it conjured up some sort of hurricane that blew about the crew on the deck, a number of them were hurled into the sea.
Still we closed in.
Finally, we had reached The Destroyer and we're preparing to board her hopefully defeat Blackbeard and his weird un-dead crew.
11th July 2020
Saturday evening has rolled around again and I'm in the living room, with my laptop and logged into Skype.
This means it's time for Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
Location: Orbiting the Earth.
There had been an audible thud when the vessel had connected to the ring. A few moments later, we felt 'our weight' returning, or at least some of it as we still felt lighter than normal. Everything that had been floating sank down to the ground.
We approached the control panel at the head of the table and started trying to find a way into the room above.
Meanwhile, in that room above; Joe Capricorn was leaving, flanked by his six shape-changing automatons and heading for the vessel's passageway into the ring. He was very happy, briskly talking about acquiring ancient technology and that how we had arrived at his new home.
It was than that every screen in the vessel activated, all displaying the same strangely pixelated face. "Actually you're in my home." Said the face, pixels animating. The harsh voice continued loudly throughout the entire speaker system. “I thank you for bringing my chariot puny human, unfortunately for you, your usefulness to me has ended.”.
With that, automatons lunged for Joe and Max, Joe was caught completely unaware and was caught without so much as a squeak. Max had not yet adapted to the new environment and could not escape their robotic grasp. Both were taken prisoner.
I appeared in the room, just as Max was being carried off. I too had not yet adapted and failed to stop the automaton exiting into the ring.
Moments later I was joined by my companions and we gave chase.
We had entered the ring; a smooth white corridor that curved into the unknown in both directions.
Max was struggling unsuccessfully against his implacable captor. Despite having no effect, this was causing the automaton to lag behind it's five associates.
Launching ourselves at the automaton, we noticed a strange robot in an alcove along the ring's inner wall. It was adorned with the slogan 'Wot-UC-Nuz' and had a camera for a head?
Our attacks against the automaton were not proving too successful. It was repairing most of our damage and hurting us with its sonic howl attack.
Even though Max was caught in it's unyielding grip, he took matters into his own hands. Hands which he used to shove a grenade into the automatons. 'mouth'. Luckily the grenade went in, a moment later the robot's body expanded briefly before contracting.
Pressing the attack, we managed to destroyed it.
A tinny sounding applause sound effect came from a speaker hidden somewhere on the camerabot? It had moved out of the alcove to film our fight.
There was no time to investigate. The automatons carrying Joe had disappeared from view and we rushed after them, the camerabot following.
Our pursuit did not last long, only a few seconds actually. Coming towards us from round the curving corridor were six of the automatons, heading directly towards us.
None of us fancied our odds against all six. We needed an alternative strategy. Looking around, we noticed the camerabot had retreated back to the alcove and was quickly clambering into an air vent. There seemed no other choice, so we followed.
This took us into a network of shafts. Growling through the ring's speaker system, the voice from earlier said. “I am hunting you puny humans, you cannot escape.”.
Glancing back, despite the threats, there were no obvious signs of pursuit. Those automatons looked too bulky to fit.
“Even now, my new body is being made ready to receive me.”. Continued the voice.
“Puny humans, my first act in my new body will be to throw you into an airlock and from there eject you into space. Fear not, soon all your species will follow you into oblivion and I will rule your world free from organic corruption.”. And so it went.
Eventually, the camerabot led us to a small room created by the convergence of several shafts. The camerabot sat down, plugging itself into a power terminal and began recharging. It also began editing footage of our fight with the robot.
The camerabot turned its lens towards us and spoke! It introduced itself as 'D4-VID'. Or 'David' in the ancient language.
We entered into a long conversation with D4-VID.
D4-VID explained that it had been instructed to come to this 'space station', record everything it encountered, edit it and transmit it out. Consequently D4-VID had been forced to repeatedly overwrite its own memory. D4-VID had no idea how long it had been doing this for, nor the reason why. D4-VID did not know the function of the station either.
D4-VID did know about the voice though: The voice belonged to 'ISAAC'.
ISAAC had once been the station's main computer - a 'Newton 500'. Somehow it had evolved or rewritten its code to become ISAAC.
Despite not knowing the details, D4-VID told us that ISAAC had been scheming for a long time.
Recently ISAAC had been in communication with people on eath, D4-VID had footage to show us:
There is film of Joe Capricorn building his rocket with the help of the six suit golems who then camouflaged the mostly finished rocket by building the chalk stack. This was a while ago, recent images are not available except for the recent launch.
There is film of the giant crab god dancing on the beach and the balloon people overflying the strangely technical drawings he leaves behind before the tide washes his canvas clean again.
D4-VID has old blurred film of people building another rocket on a different beach.
There was a lot to process here.
Thanks to ISAAC's rantings, we knew that it posed a threat to 'organics'. ISAAC had referred to the vessel as 'his chariot'. This meant that he needed it to return to Earth. Without the vessel, ISAAC would be trapped on this space station.
We also knew that ISAAC was acquiring a new body, this implied that without a body, ISAAC would be trapped here.
ISAAC had to be stopped. Should we try and ambush it when it went to the vessel? Or should try and stop ISAAC from being transferred into its new body?
Ultimately we decided on the second option.
Meanwhile, ISAAC continued ranting, blah, blah, blah! We pretty much ignored whatever was said, however D4-VID did record the rant for prosperity.
“You cannot stop me, already I have prepared my new, secure home on the planet below and unwittingly your own kind has built it for me.”
Next; we needed a way to reach ISAAC and prevent the body transfer. D4-VID knew the location of the station's control room and where the Newton 500 computer was located. It would be hard to get past the 'suit-golems'.
D4-VID informed us that we could use the suits ourselves? We asked D4-VID to elaborate.
They were environmental suits, originally designed to be used by humans. ISAAC had modified and reprogrammed the suits to become 'suit-golems'.
This was useful information. The suits might allow us to disguise ourselves as suits-golems, they would also allow us to survive prolonged exposure to a vacuum.
D4-VID added that the suits could survive re-entry to Earth. We asked D4-VID to take us to some unmodified suits, we had the beginnings of a plan...
D4-VID led us to a room containing six unmodified suits, they were completely sealed and there was no way to open then. D4-VID explained that the suits were voice controlled, but designed to only respond to human voices.
After a couple of tries, we got a suit to open. Max stepped into the suit and it sealed around him. He was completely enveloped by the suit, including all of his gear and weapons.
I entered another suit. After the suit had sealed and finished 'interfacing' with my body, it felt more like a second skin than a suit. My vision was completely unhindered and my movements were quite natural. Colourful writing in the ancient language seemingly floated in the air as it crawled past my eyes, an array of changing symbols appeared all over my vision.
I looked at my hands, they were covered in the suits's 'mittens'. Previously, we had seen the suit-golems create weapons out of the mittens. I tried commanding the suit to replicate this, but to no success.This could be a problem, we had no access to our equipment.
Everyone else took a suit. D4-VID had to squeeze into a suit with Jasper, which bulged strangely when closed. Fortunately, D4-VID was a slim camerabot.
Finally, we set up a rudimentary communication network between all the suits.
We were as ready as could be.
From here, D4-VID took us to the control room.
The control room was filled with dials, screens and readouts, displaying undecipherable text and data. Dotted across the room were unused control panels with computer terminals. There were numerous suit-golems throughout the room. Several of them were crowded around a central table, concentrating on whatever was on it.
Unnoticed, we entered the room, giving us a view of the central table. The sight that met us was unusual to say the least.
Laid out there was the body of Joe Capricorn, sans his head! A series of wires and cables were instead protruding out of his neck.
Looking around we spotted Joe's head in a jar! Suspended in a liquid and gently bobbing up and down as he looked around!
Once again ISAAC took to the stations speaker system to rant loudly. “I have used my superior intellect to turn other human minds to my own purpose, creating both a means to reach my new world and a device to rid it of organic life.”.
Did ISAAC know that we were in the control room with him?
The answer was no, we were still unnoticed and this afforded us the opportunity to further observe the situation.
Along one wall was an array of screens and readouts, next to them was a large computer bank marked 'Newton 500'. It's front casing was open and several suit-golems gathered were around it and working on something.
After a little while, the suit-golems extracted some sort of box from the computer. When they severed the final cable attaching the box to the computer bank, the speaker system was activated again.
This time however, it was not ISAAC's voice that we heard. Instead a women's voice blared out loudly. "Self destruction has been triggered. Self destruct will occur in two hours!".
This changed matters, we were on a timetable now.
Carefully stepping forward, we got a look at was in this box. It was organic matter, ISAAC's brain was actually a brain of sorts!
The suit-golems were taking it over to Joe's body, soon ISAAC would have a body.
After making some on-the-fly changes, our plan was ready. I exited the control room and quickly headed to the closest 'airlock'.
Max stayed in the control room, waiting for his moment. The suit-golems were caught off guard as Max grabbed the box and ran! It took their programming precious moments of computation to grasp our cunning plan.
As Max dashed for the airlock, Aoxo and Agent Pip provided interference, keeping the suit golems away.
Meanwhile, I had to learn how to operate the airlock whilst wearing these 'mittens'. I managed to get the inner door open by the time the others came running round the ring.
Whilst carrying ISAAC's brain, we crammed into the airlock and shut the inner door. Then we opened the outer door without venting the atmosphere. The explosive decompressions launched us away from the station and towards Earth!
It was impossible to calculate our velocity, but soon the blue-green Earth filled our entire view.
Our 'trip' went from 'smooth' to 'rough' as we plummeted through the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere. We knew re-entry had began, even though our suits insulated us from the heat.
When I said 'insulated us'; this did not apply to all of us.
The text that usually streamed calmly across our vision in these suits had become a deluge of red, flashing gibberish for Aoxo. He didn't know what it meant, but he did know his suit was failing. Jasper's suit was also failing and it was only going to get worse.
The rest of us grouped up and repositioned ourselves beneath Aoxo and Jasper, who were huddling together. Hopefully this would provide some sort of extra heat shield that would protect them.
As we watched ISAAC was vaporised by the fiery conflagration of our descent, I wondered what its final words might have been. We would never know.
I also wondered what fate would await Joe's head-in-a-jar back on the station.
Soon enough we splashed down in the ocean, not too far from where the rocket had launched. The suits absorbed the impact and we buoyantly floated to the surface, the suits now functioned as flotation devices.
Aoxo had been burnt by the re-entry and Jasper was unresponsive. Swiftly we swam back to what remained of the stack without mishap.
Discarding our now ruined suits, we checked on Jasper, he had been hurt and was unconscious, but there appeared to be no lasting effects, D4-VID was also unharmed. After Jasper regained consciousness, we returned to the underground complex.
Bradley and the warhound had been left directly below the shaft that channelled the rocket's exhaust flames and we were concerned for their safety.
There was no sign of them, not even a pile of melted slag remained! We continued our search.
On the bright side, it looked as if the the exhaust flames had dealt with the chud problem and any other problem in the complex might have once and for all. Talk about scorched earth!
Eventually we found Bradley and the warhound, they were miraculously unharmed.
Luckily Bradley's cleaning mode had made him travel out far seeking cleaning materials and luckily the warhound's guard protocol made him escort Bradley.
Now with with Bradley and the warhound in tow, we returned to Haven.
5th July 2020
It's Sunday lunchtime and I'm not sitting in front of my laptop. Today the weather is fine and instead Vicky has kindly invited us round to continue Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign in her garden, which is big enough to allow us to practice social distancing.
So out with the picnic blankets to meet the up with players for the first time in around 15 weeks!
Our attempt to sneak into L'Ollonaise's bedroom had failed. He had woken up and was raising the alarm.
As L'Ollonaise got out of bed, Baxter tried to trip him by grabbing his legs from under his bed. But L'Ollonaise was too quick for that. He jumped back on the bed and rolled off the other side, coming to his feet smoothly and holding a sword. "Show yourselves." he demanded.
Baxter flipped the bed as he stood, ready for a fight.
Downstairs, Shia and Rackham rushed upstairs, whilst I ensured that the front door was locked. We could do without having to deal with extra reinforcements.
As Baxter and L'Ollonaise were squaring off, Shia and Rackham burst in. Rackham hit L'Ollonaise with spell, but he shrugged it off, then Rackham slashed at L'Ollonaise's sword arm: It was a solid blow that bit deep, forcing the pirate to drop his sword.
Baxter immediately scooped up the sword, it was incredibly light and Baxter could see it was of exceptional quality. We had the sword!
Baxter lunged for the window. He barged through the shutters and the window frame, shattering both and tumbled out of the bedroom window. As luck would have it, his fall was broken by a particularly verdant bush and he suffered the mildest of bruising.
Shia followed suit and leapt outside.
At this was going on I ran into the room, locked the door and heaved a wardrobe across it. We could hear voices and stirring in the other bedrooms.
The fighting between L'Ollonaise and Rackham continued.
Outside, Shia and Baxter encountered some pirates. Shia quickly explained to them that someone was attacking L'Ollonaise and they should go inside and provide assistance.
It was a convincing lie, they were easily fooled and set off round to the front door.
Meanwhile, upstairs I shot L'Ollonaise and hacked at him with my sword. He was one tough customer and this finally dropped him, but even so he was still breathing.
Rackham had sensed magic on L'Ollonaise and was desperate to search him, but there was no time - pirates were now beating on the door and shouting.
Rackham's solution was to throw L'Ollonaise out of the window. This was not good for the unconscious L'Ollonaise, who landed on his neck with a loud crack!
Rackham and I jumped out and Win used her gliding ability to slip into the night sky. Then Rackham checked on L'Ollonaise, he was now indeed dead.
With Win guiding us from her aerial vantage point, we hastily entered the cover of the forest before making for our ships with Rackham dragging L'Ollonaise's corpse behind us.
We were halfway back when we encountered the freed prisoners, Alain was still among their numbers.
Alain asked how we had fared. We replied that we had been successful and brandished the sword.
Alain said. "That's not my sword.".
There was a long moment of stony silence. A very long moment.
We asked Alain what was going on? Alain explained that in truth, L'Ollonaise had taken The Sword of Amemnus. But he had not kept it, instead Alain heard that L'Ollonaise had gifted the sword to someone else.
My mind when back to L'Ollonaise's log book. He had mentioned giving a gift to Edward Drummond, captain of 'The Destroyer'. That gift must have been the Sword of Amemnus.
We asked Alain why he had withheld this information from us. He shrugged and said that he had wanted us to 'deal' with L'Ollonaise and this was a way of doing it
There was only one way I could possibly think of to describe Alain Memnus at this time - and it rhymed with 'Ducking stunt!'.
Once we returned to safety, we searched the remains of L'Ollonaise. We found various 'magical' items, a book and even what appeared to be a treasure map!
But that damned sword still eluded us.
We now had to find Edward Drummond, who was known by a pair of more famous names; 'Edward Teach' or 'Blackbeard'.
4th July 2020
Sitting in my living room on a Saturday evening and logged into Skype on my laptop can only mean one thing.
Time for Matakishi's Wasted Hack campaign.
After leaving the chud infested underground complex, we had returned to Home and spent some time resting in their lofty settlement amongst ruined buildings of the ancient city.
After leaving the complex, we had decided to return and explore the vertical with the music.
Before setting out from Home, we stocked up on ladders, rope, pitons, block and tackle etc. Fortunately, the people here had all the equipment we required in abundance, since climbing was part of life for them.
The return journey was unremarkable. Soon we found ourselves in the circular room strewn with all the chud corpses. Bradley switched to 'domestic' mode and began sweeping away all of the blood, gore and corpses!
We used the ladder we had acquired from Home to reach the bottom of the vertical shaft. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection we discovered the shaft was constructed of steel. Our pitons and climbing gear would mostly be useless here.
Max stared up and could just about make out a grill of some sort that covered the entirety of the shaft. The grill was about twenty metres up into the shaft.
Max took a grappling hook and rope and with a mighty throw he sent the grappling hook flying up the shaft. Since it did not come plummeting back down, it must have caught on the grill.
Max yanked on the rope a couple of times, still the grappling hook did not fall, so he began climbing.
The climb was easy, although when Max reached the grip he saw that the grappling hook was mere millimetres from coming loose! After securing the rope, Max looked around.
Beyond the grill the vertical shaft continued up, but narrowed considerably as it did so. In the shaft's wall was a door with a wheel lock.
Max spun it open. The hatch led to another vertical shaft. The rest of us climbed up after Max. Unfortunately neither of the robots could climb up. The grappling hook would not bear their weight.
We left Bradley cleaning and the warhound in 'guard' mode as we entered the next chamber.
The hatch had opened on to a metal platform that was attached to the wall in the lower part of a shaft and a set of metal steps zig-zagged their way to the top of the shaft. In the ceiling was a hatch with another wheel lock.
Opening this lock proved harder and required some effort. As we spun the wheel, we could 'feel' something hindering the other side of the wheel lock.
Eventually the hatch was opened and we could climb up. The chamber we had entered was large and about one third of it was filled with piled up crates. In fact it was one of these crates that had been laying on the hatch, making it so hard to open.
This chamber also contained a 'exo-suit' that was configured for loading work. We examined the exo-suit and found it had no power and required charging. Looking round further, we discovered a light switch and flicked it on. The lights hummed and flickered into life. It was a good sign, there was power here.
Going back to a crate, there was a short spray of air as we broke its airtight seal. Inside were packets of freeze-dried and vacuum sealed food. Once this chamber would have been filled with crates and we wondered how long someone had been living here?
Finally there was a large door out of here, large enough to allow the exo-suit to pass through it. The food crates were quite heavy and most likely the suit was used to move them onward.
Passing through the large doors took us into tall chamber.
To one side was a vertical tube that ran up the wall from the ground and into an area above. At the bottom was a door. We investigated and the door opened into an small elevator car. The tube was a small service elevator, too small for a person, but around the right size for one of those food crates.
There was a ladder that went upwards along another wall.
Finally, there were two humanoid figures, they looked quite bulky and strangely featureless. Their heads were smooth and faceless, their hands had no fingers and looked akin to mittens. Perhaps they were some sort of environmental suits?
The music was louder here.
As we entered the room, the two figures stirred. Their heads began to change shape! They each gained a pair of glowing eyes. Their hands reconfigured themselves into hammers.
Our intent was to see if we could communicate with them, but before we could speak, they began to howl. The noise was immense, it reverberated around the room and was agonising. We could feel actual waves of sound pummelling our bodies and causing actual harm! They advanced on us.
We counter attacked. After laying into the automatons, their bodies began to reconfigure and reshape themselves to repair the damage they had suffered.
There was only one thing for it. Our attacks had to be concentrated on one automaton at a time, we had to inflict damage quicker than it could be repaired.
It worked! We managed to overwhelm and destroy first one and then the other automaton.
All that was left of them was a couple of piles of some sort of inert metallic material?
From here, there was only one way onward, up the ladder.
We emerged into another circular room half in light and half in dark. The music was loudest here.
In the 'light' half of the room was a row of windows that gave us a panoramic view of the sunlit landscape outside.
Tall chalky cliffs stretching along a coastline and ending in a headland filled one side of this view. It was a view of a landscape that was familiar to us, one that we had crossed several times to get out to the stacks.
On the other side of the view we could distinctly see the 'Boat Raider Islands' out to sea. We could even see some boat raider activity, our vantage point was quite high. It was then that we established that we were inside one of the stacks, about halfway up by our estimations.
But how was it that we were able to look out? We had not seen windows on any of the stacks previously?
The 'dark' half of the room was artificially lit and contained numerous pieces of furniture. An automated beverage dispenser, a table and chairs, cutlery, crockery and so on.
We saw buttons and panels and items covered in writing that we did not recognise, from the world before no doubt.
The table also contained the source of the music: A square box of sorts, adorned with various buttons, sitting on the top of the box was a thin black disc that span endlessly. Additionally, there appeared to be pile of black discs stored in card folders on the table. The same indecipherable writing appeared on the card folders, along with strange illustrations.
It was unrecognisable to us. Again; a technology from the world before no doubt.
Searching the room revealed nothing else of interest here. There was only one other way out of the room, a staircase that rose up through the ceiling.
Moving towards the stairs triggered some sort of trap.
A panel rapidly slid across the ceiling with a hiss, closing off the stairs. The windows went black and the lights winked out.
A speaker crackled to life and a harsh voice spat out. "Intruders are not welcome in the Capricorn house.". Curiously, the voice spoke a language we understood.
With that, gas began to spill out of the air vents.
There was no time to lose! We donned the respirators we had acquired from the laboratory previously. We now had some breathing space. The gas was lighter than air and was filling the room from the ceiling downwards.
Further inspection revealed small cameras spying on us. There was somebody close by! Unfortunately, it did not reveal anything helpful.
There seemed no way to stop the gas and our respirators would not last forever. Nor did there seem any way to continue. We were stymied and our only option would be to retreat back down the ladder.
Then we noticed the service elevator shaft, it continued upwards and went into another room above.
Max pulled the panel open. The elevator car was still below us and elevator cables ran the length of the shaft. Whilst it was small, the shaft would allow someone to climb the elevator cables.
Max worked his way up to the next panel, forced it open in a crawled into what on first glance appeared to be a kitchen.
Max then realised he was being watched. He stared at a robot that was staring back at him. It was quite small with a rotund body, thin flexible arms, stalks for legs and wheels for feet. On it hung a sign that read 'Glad 2 srv U'. "May I help you?". It inquired with it's raspy modulated voice.
Max quickly tied off a rope, allowing us to follow.
With the panel shut, the gas was sealed away, we turned to the robot and asked the robot where we were?
"In the kitchen of course.", came the reply.
The robot was some sort of waiter/chef, it then decided to serve us sherry and vol-au-vents.
Next we asked the robot who else was here? It replied that it served 'Joe Capricorn, renaissance man of the future!.
Joe Capricorn, renaissance man of the future..?
Anyway! During our conversation with Glad 2 srv U we noticed a small orange box under one of its arms. The had something written on it. "Joe Capricorn's obedience box.".
We discussed removing the box, I was concerned that if we removed it, the robot might become homicidal and try to kill us all. In the end however, it was agreed to remove the box.
It didn't much effort for me to disconnect the box.
"That's a relief." Said Glad 2 srv U and then "I'm going to kill Mr Capricorn!" as it reached for the powered carving-knife before scooting out of the room.
We followed and entered another room just behind Glad 2 srv U. The room was dominated by a large, well polished dining table and set of chairs, the room was also decorated strange vases, heavy glass ashtrays and lava lamps.
At the far end of the table was an old man. He was bald and had a robotic eye. He wore a double breasted lab coat and was also wearing roller skates.
He welcomed us, introducing himelf as Joe Capricorn and invited us to sit down at the table.
Max took the invitation and sat down, but seeing the control panel by Joe's chair made me hesitant and suspicious. What did those buttons do? Agent Pip and and Aoxo agreed with me and we stayed standing
I noticed that many of the weird items in this room had more of the ancient language written on them. I asked Joe about the language. He said the language came from 'The Ukraine' a place 'created by giant birds'!
Then Joe told Glad 2 srv U to serve dinner.
"Shall I carve?" Asked Glad 2 srv U.
"Of course." Replied Joe.
Brandishing the electric carving-knife, Glad 2 srv U charged us shouting. "ALL FLESH MUST BE EATEN!".
There was a loud bang and Glad 2 srv U's rotund robotic head exploded into a shower of shattered circuitry.
We turned to see Joe holstering his pistol away and sitting down. "Well, that's that." He said.
"Perhaps we should move on to cognac and cigars?". Joe asked.
We weren't interested in his quite frankly be called 'suspect hospitality'. In response, Joe Capricorn jabbed a button on his console!
Suddenly, the room began to tremble and then shake uncontrollability. We all felt our weight quadruple! Since Max was sitting down, he was merely pinned to his chair, the rest of us weren't so lucky. We were practically crushed under own weight and we collapsed to the floor. It was hard enough to breathe, moving might be impossible.
OK, perhaps it wasn't exactly as I called it!
Joe Capricorn pressed another button on his control panel. A hole opened in the ceiling and a transparent tube descended over Joe. When it reached the floor, Joe was 'sucked' up, the tube receded and the hole closed.
The weight holding us down was incredible and strong enough to hurt us. Even so, Max managed to crawl over to Joe's chair and sit in it. He started pressing buttons on the control panel until he too was sucked up the tube.
Max found himself in another room, sitting on some sort of sofa. Across the room was Joe and four robots of the type we encountered earlier.
There was a control console in front of Max, he tried randomly stabbing at all the buttons, but nothing happened.
Joe laughed. "I've disconnected that console." He said.
Max looked around, through a window he saw clouds which were moving past at a tremendous speed and the sky looked strange. Soon the blue of day melted into the inky blackness of night and Max's view was dominated by a night sky full of twinkling stars. Except for one star, a star which was a instead a distinct bright spot in the sky.
Thirty minutes or so passed, then everything stopped shaking and the strangest event occurred. We had been pinned down by some great weight upon us, but now all weight had inexplicably disappeared, even our own. We began floating and spinning across room, as did anything not clamped down.
It was not a pleasant experience, some of party vomited and that too floated through the air in a peculiar bubble shape!
From the other room, Max watched the sky rotate dizzyingly until the bright spot was centred in the window. Then the white spot began to grow in size. The dot gleamed brilliantly and expanded until he could see that it was actually a ring. It continued expanding until it was so massive as to completely fill his view.
Max realised that we had left the stack and the coastline far behind, somehow we had entered a vessel that had now travelled a great distance and our destination was this structure.
Once again the speakers activated and Joe Capricorn said. "Welcome to my odyssey.".
There was a distinct thud and a jolt as the vessel connected with the ring.
28th June 2020
Sunday lunch time in my living room and logged into Google Meetings on my laptop.
This means it's time for Matt's 50 Fathoms campaign.
Unfortunately, due to circumstances out of our control, the session was cut short.
We had rescued Alain Amemnus and the other prisoners from L'Ollonaise and his pirates. The sword was still missing though and we had good reason to believe that it was in the possession of L'Ollonaise himself.
Baxter and I left the makeshift prison and returned to our companions. Staying just out of the perimeter of Tulago, we circled round to the north and close to the 'manor house'. No doubt L'Ollonaise was here.
Quietly approaching, we saw that unlike the other buildings, the windows here were not broken and boarded up.
The windows consisted of many small glass panels and shutters. Luckily for us, Baxter was quite practised at breaking and entry. Pulling out a knife, he easily worked a pane of glass free and put in arm to open a window.
After quietly climbing through the window, we found ourselves in some sort of extensive private library. The room was of course empty and unlit, as would be expected for this time of night. As we moved towards the door, a sliver of light catches our attention.
Our eyes were drawn to a desk and the book on it that had a peculiar shine. It definitely wasn't reflecting moonlight, this was something else?
A closer inspection revealed that it was glowing, or at least the metal foil on the cover was. There was no discernible source for the glow. Magic?
It turned that the book was L'Ollonaise's logbook. Instinctively I flicked through to L'Ollonaise's last entry, three weeks ago.
The logbook referred to Edward Drummond. L'Ollonaise had encountered Drummond's ship, 'The Destroyer'. L'Ollonaise was familiar with The Destroyer, so he sent some men with over with a gift for Drummond. There were sounds of gunfire and screaming came from the The Destroyer before it changed heading and left Toluga.
Whilst I was reading L'Ollonaise's log, Win and Baxter had left the room, looking for the Sword of Amemnus. As they moved about, they could hear noises from upstairs, the creaking of a bed perhaps or some other typical 'night time' noise.
Their search of the ground floor revealed nothing of use. As quietly as possible, they climbed the stairs. On the landing, there were four doors. L'Ollonaise would be in one of these rooms, along with the sword.
They approached one door and listened. There was snoring on the other side. They tried sneaking in, but as they opened the door, L'Ollonaise abrubtly sat up.
Baxter dived under the bed and Win hid behind some drapes next to a window.
I heard a voice from somewhere upstairs shouted. "Intruder!". The alarm was raised.
Downstairs, I had heard the shouting and positioned myself 'behind' the door. Hopefully, when someone entered, they would be distracted by the open window and would not spot me.
I play, I paint.