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Tag: sabotage

Chapter Eight: Dec 5 - Dec 6 - The Black Tower, Part One
Following a brief rest in the tight quarters of the ancient ruin, the investigators rose early on the 5th of December and resumed their examination of the City of the Elder Things. Evelyn Dubois and Richard Greene returned to the subterranean hall they had discovered before, though Evvy narrowly avoided falling as they made their way down the icy, rubble-choked passage. Dr. William Scott Tyson, James O'Neil, and Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko returned to the pit at the center of the plaza where they had landed, and resumed their examination of the murals that decorated the walls beside the ramp that spiraled down into the deeps below. Jeeves and Stacey Meredith Whitehall III headed south, examining the white obelisk they had seen the day before. Buernor Thorson and Samuel Brighton-Foyle remained at the camp with Professor Moore, analyzing specimens of petrified wood he had discovered. "How," Moore wondered, "did they harvest wood at this altitude? According to Dyer's text, the valley was once lush with vegetation, an impossibility at this altitude."

The day saw a number of important discoveries made. As Tyson, Schevchenko, and O'Neil finished translating what they could on the sides of the fallen tower, Evvy and Greene finished in the great hall and decided to see if the passages would connect as stated in Dyer's manuscript. Her keen sense of direction enabled the two parties to find each other, though O'Neil found something else - a crushed tin can! Tyson did a survey of the area and found an ancient stone door that had been forced open in recent months. The tracks were identical to those found around Lake's camp. "We are not alone here," Tyson reported.

Jeeves and Stacey had examined the obelisk, then continued on past several other ruined buildings. At one point, Jeeves was certain he saw movement atop a nearby roof, but nothing was there. On the duo went until they found a sloped ramp that led down through an archway and began to spiral ever downward. They walked for nearly half an hour, covering more than a mile, passing empty galleries all the while. The ramp began to slope sharply at that point, and Stacey heard a strange, trilling sound below. "Tekeli-li, tekeli-li" the high-pitched sound repeated, and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. "We need to go - now!" A strange, pungent stench like rotten fish washed up behind them, and both heard movement from below. He and Jeeves began to run as if the devil himself were chasing them, until at last they reached the surface.


The ramp descended far below the surface, to unguessed at Stygian depths.

Reconvening at camp, the investigators shared what they had learned. The murals and dot-script of the Elder Things presented a story across millions, if not billions, of years. They had arrived from space when the Earth was young, and used a biological technology to create food and servants. The servants - shoggoths Dyer had called them - had rebelled against their masters, only to be put down after a long war. Other creatures had arrived, and they warred with the Elder Ones as well, with the last confining the city's inhabitants to their settlements in the Southern Hemisphere. As the continents drifted, the ice eventually came, and the Elder Ones were forced to retreat to hidden cities next to sunless seas far below the surface. Moore, Thorson, and Brighton-Foyle had discovered the wood was from tropical plants. The murals had shown that the Elder Ones had used some massive air-pumps threading through the Miskatonic Mountains to pressurize the plateau, a feat of engineering Moore could scarcely conceive of.

Starkweather had returned with Miles at that point, and the discussion turned to what they would do as they were undoubtedly not alone in the city. Stacey's report was especially disturbing. If any of the monstrous shoggoths had survived, they were all in deadly danger. Starkweather scoffed at the idea, but had everyone keep weapons close at hand. "Should there be any danger, fire off a round and I will come running. I've faced down charging bull elephants in my time. This is no different." Schevchenko assured him that the protean shoggoths were both much larger and more difficult to kill than any elephant if Dyer was to believed.


Their exploration of the strange city continued.

They opted to rest at that point, though Moore continued working. Rising early on the 6th, the investigators were greeted by the sight of Moore being treated for frostbite. "I was out and about gathering samples," he said sheepishly, "and in my enthusiasm ignored the cold until it was too late." Tyson and Greene grounded him for the next few days, at least until his blisters healed. As she stepped out, Evvy noticed the wind had died down, making the pass navigable by their planes. Plans were made to depart on the next day. "Get your exploring done today and we will load samples. We've used enough supplies that we have plenty of room." The investigators continued their exploration while Greene went with Starkweather to survey some nearby pyramids. They found ancient towers with murals depicting thousands of years of war with insect-like fungi from space, great breeding pits where the Elder Things reared their larval young, and a great arena where ceremonies of some sort were held. They also found a buried Elder Thing, though the burial was recent. "At least some from Lake' camp survived," Tyson mused. They returned to the camp.

A quick headcount was done upon Starkweather's return, and Greene was not among them. Devising a search pattern, the investigators set out. Stacey and Jeeves remained behind with Moore as the rest fanned out. Tyson discovered signs of a struggle, as if Greene had been carried off. The tracks were those of the Elder Things. As he and the rest examined the area to determine if Greene had been taken underground, the camp had a visitor.

Stacey saw him approach from across the mound of rubble. Trying to determine if it was Greene, he called for Jeeves. The man pointed behind them, and as the duo looked, he moved towards the planes. Fearing the worst, Jeeves looked for a shot with his rifle while Stacey began to move closer. But they were too late. The figure emerged from the cockpit of the Enderby, an empty fuel can in one hand and a flare in the other. He lit the flare and tossed it into the cockpit. There was a whoosh of flame, and a moment later there was a terrific explosion. A fireball soared up into the sky as the Enderby was destroyed. The man stumbled backwards, reeling from the force of the explosion. Without hesitation, Jeeves put a bullet in his shoulder. Stacey was on him in a heartbeat, kneeling on his wounded shoulder to prevent him from moving or bleeding out.

The sound of the explosion brought the rest running back. Evvy and Halperin did what they could to ensure the Weddell was safe, and had to watch the other plane burn. Stacey found a sled the man had been pulling, and brought it back to camp. The man himself was taken back to the tents in the camp they had established. He turned out to be none other than Kyle Williams, Lexington's pilot! Williams fed them a story about Lexington and the Germans conspiring to kill Starkweather, but Jeeves and O'Neil saw through his lies. As he was pressed, the man collapsed into babbling. "Don't you understand? We are a virus! We shouldn't be here! If we return, we infect this place. The world isn't safe! We all have to die! Dyer and I saw it the last time, in the Wesetrn Range! Oh God, they aren't gone! The servants speak with their masters' voices!"


The investigators were not alone in the city.

Stacey went through his belongings, finding a spare oxygen tank, spare rations, and a mysterious mail pouch. It contained a journal in German, a hand-written notebook, and a manuscript - none other than Poe's complete copy of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, missing since it was stolen from Acacia Lexington's father nearly ten years before! As Danforth babbled off into madness under questioning, Starkweather set out to determine if he had been accompanied by anyone else. Several moments later, a shot rang out from the nearby ruins. Rushing out, everyone saw a horrific sight - two of the Elder Things, very much alive, hauling off Starkweather into the air in a tarpulin held between them! Regaining their composure, Jeeves and Tyson took pot-shots at the monstrous forms. Even with a direct hit, the creatures did not appear to slow much. Jeeves attempted to put a mercy round in Starkweather, but was unsure as to its effect.

"My God," Moore yelled, "they have James! We have to pursue and try to rescue him. Get the Weddell ready to fly!"
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Chapter Five: Oct 18 - Nov 24 - Onto the Ice, Part Two
The expedition's journey south continued, and on the 8th of November the pack ice had closed in. The Gabrielle was stuck. "There's only one option open to us now," Starkweather said as the expedition's senior members met with Captain Vredenburgh, "dynamite. We will place charges, and break the ice." With their plan of action settled, Dr. William Scott Tyson accompanied Starkweather onto the ice. Explosive charges were carefully placed, and with an imposssibly loud roar and sprays of ice and mist, the pack broke up. The process was repeated half a dozen times over the next two days, but in the end the clear ocean lay ahead. On the 14th, the Admiralty Range came into view and Ross Island was sighted. The smoke billowing from Mount Erebus hung like a plume over the Ross Sea as the ship steamed ahead. That afternoon, the Gabrielle set anchor and the expedition had landed in Antarctica.

The Gabrielle's cargo hatches were opened and the great wooden ramp was lowered. The ship's cranes were deployed, and the Starkweather-Moore expedition began to unload its gear. The crew and the expedition team worked in 6-hour shifts, and less than a day later all of their gear and supplies had been unloaded. Evvy and Jeeves helped get the tractors unpacked and running until the planes were unloaded, at which point the young adventuress began to work side-by-side with Patrick Miles and Lawrence Longfellow to get the aircraft assembled and ready to fly. Tyson helped with the dog sleds, getting freight hauled at first and then taking off with Snabjorn and Fiskarson to scout for a permanent camp off the Ross Ice Shelf. Samuel and Stacey helped direct the flow of traffic and get gear stowed, while Nikifor and James did much the same after failing to much aid in setting up the radio tower. Buernor was a workhorse, hauling out twice as much save the big Bolivian camp worker Hidalgo Cruz.


Unloading the Gabrielle.

As the ship had been unloaded, the captain pulled her back out to the Ross Sea for safety. Plans needed to be made to move to a permanent base camp, and soon. "Less than a month from now," Professor Moore informed the group, "this ice shelf will be gone. We need to get settled soon." The work thus far had been hard, and adjusting to the ice difficult. Sameuel took a hard fall on the ice and ended up with a broken nose. Careful eye had to be kept out for signs of frostbite, and no one was allowed to work up a great sweat lest they cool suddenly and risk hypothermia. They had visitors too, as the local penguins took great interest in what was happening. But things seemed to be off to a good start. Evvy, Douglas Halperin, and Ralph DeWitt took to the air as soon as they could, and a new base camp site nearly 40 miles inland was soon found.


The expedition had found an audience from among the locals.

On the 18th, disaster struck. The ice shelf had begun to break up early and a large crack had started not more than 200 yards from the expedition's camp. With all due haste the expedition began to move. The planes were kept flying non-stop, the dog sleds were running tirelessly, and the camp crew and expedition members hauled frieght by tractor and by hand for hours on end. The cracks grew and began to spread. Jeeves lost a pallet of aviation fuel as a crack spread beneath the tractor he was running, but the ever-competent Englisman managed to prevent the machine from following the drums into the deep. Nearly half the fuel for the expeditons aeroplanes was gone, but by the 19th the camp had been successfully moved inland. The rest of the day was impossible to work in, as the wind and blowing snow created whiteout conditions.

Early on the 20th, the alarm bell on the camp's radio sounded. It was a mayday from none other than the Lexington Expedition! They had arrived on the ice four days earlier, and their camp was about eight miles north. A panicked voice could be heard over the wireless. ". . . Help! If you can hear me, land a party at once! The camp is under attack! This is Tony Hopewell calling Tallahassee. Mac, can you hear me? They 're -" The voice stopped, punctuated by two sharp reports like gunshots. A moment later the carrier faded, leaving only static. A low rumble, like thunder, could be heard coming from the ice to the north moments later. Something had exploded.


Base camp had been established.

With all due haste, a rescue party was put together. Starkweather could not pass up the opportunity to play the hero, and he led the members of the party, Sykes, Snabjorn, and Pulaski north on dog sleds and skis. It took two hours to cross the eight-mile stretch of broken ice, and by the time they arrived...it was all over. All could see the Lexington camp's generator had exploded, and their main building was scorched and burned in places. Ash lay across a few of the tents, and several members of the expedition could be seen tending to the clean-up. Acacia Lexington spotted James Starkweather, and the two exchanged a few curt words before meeting in the main building. The rest of the camp could hear their heated exchange of shouts, insults, and blame on and off for the next two hours.

Despite the tension, the party members helped out as best they could. James O'Neil spoke with Kurt Jenner, the team's electrician, as he he hauled debris. The Lexington Expedtion had been beset by sabotage and strange events too, it seemed. Half their provisons had spoiled in the freezer aboard ship, and an electrical storm knocked out their power for a day or two at sea. Evvy spoke briefly with pilot Charles Wright and mechanic Robert Marklin, finding both somewhat unfriendly. Wright seemed to warm up to her, though he was obviously protective of Acacia. Tyson and Samuel spoke with Dr. Curtis Anthony, who was tending to Albert Prietly, the senior cameraman, and two other expedition members, Bradbury and Dinsdale. Both had snapped, emerging from their tents in the perpetual daylight screaming about spiders. They took a few shots at the camp, then set fire to the generator shack. Both were subdued without further harm, apart from Preistly taking a grazing shot to the face as he slept and one other, Tony Hopewell, catching a slug across his arm. Dinsdale couldn't explain why he had gone mad, and now seemed calm and remorseful. "We saw giant spiders everywhere," he said. "And knew we had to burn them out. I don't know what we were thinking." With naught else to do, and with Starkweather ready to storm off and leave "that damnable woman to fend for herself," the expedition headed back to camp.


The rescue party left as soon as possible, but arrived to late to be any big help much to Starkweather's chagrin.

Professor Moore would not leave it at that however, and on the next day made radio contact with Lexington's ship, the Talahassee, and eventually the woman herself. A meeting was arranged, and she and Priestly arrived later that day. A sit-down over tea was arranged, and despite uncivil words on both Acaica and Starkweather's parts, a deal was reached. Both camps would combine resources, enabling a longer stay. Acacia and her crew would film Lake's camp and the Miskatonic Mountains while the Starkweather-Moore Expedition would do scientific reasearch. As it was the 23rd, an impromptu Thanksgiving dinner was arranged, and the tractors were used to create a flat hightway between the camps. On the next day, the 24th of November, the planes were fueled up and ready to fly - Lake's camp had been found.
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Chapter Five: Oct 18 - Nov 24 - Onto the Ice, Part One
The Gabrielle's departure from Melbourne was smooth, and the seas calm as the ship rounded the coast of Tasmania on the 19th. Classes continued aboard the ship, with Sykes, the Sorenson brothers, and Pulaski taking special care to go over cold-weather survival procedures. The strong, cold winds blowing from the south were a constant reminder of what the expedition had to look forward to on the ice. As the shp sailed on the seas became rougher, and soon several members of the expedition were incapacitated by sea-sickness once more. Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko was once again at the cruel mercy of the sea, and it appeared that his nausea would likely continue all the way to Antarctica.

The situation changed for the worse on the 23rd, as gale-force winds rocked the Gabrielle and sent the ship heaving up one wave and crashing down the trough before another struck. Water washed over the deck and the crew and scientists opted to ride out the squall as best they could with the hatches battened down. By sunset the storm had abated, but Captain Vredenburgh advised that more stormfronts were likely. He ordered ropes strung along the deck for safety, and all were advised to hang on to them while walking due to the buildup of ice rime. Visibility was poor for the next two days, and the first icebergs were spotted. Eventually the ship resumed its southward course.


Icebergs had been spotted.

On the 26th, a second storm struck, and the ship was caught in a powerful gale. At 9 a.m., shortly after breakfast, Jeeves and Samuel heard a terrible crash from one of the forward holds, only to hear it repeated time and again moments later. Realizing something had broken loose, they and Buernor, Dr. Tyson, Evvy, and Stacey braved the howling winds, freezing spray, and heaving deck, crossing with a hold on the rope, until they reached the inspection hatches. They had lashed themselves together, a fact which saved Dr. Thorson from sliding off and over the side when he slipped and fell. Upon reaching the hatch for the number two tween-deck hold, they discovered that two of the engines for the Boeing 247 had broken loose from their crates and were slamming from side to side, threatening to breach the ship's hull. At great personal risk, they climbed down, dodging the thousand-pound machines, and managed to lasso, pin, and secure them. Evvy barely dodged one, but James O'Neil was clipped by another and suffered a broken right arm as a result. Samuel was able to set it, and it looked as if it would heal fine. Careful examination showed that acid had weakened the bolts holding the straps securing the crates in place. The sabotage had been undetectable. It looked as if Henning had one last laugh at Starkweather's expense.


A second storm struck, even more terrible than the first.

The plane had been damaged beyond repair, but two more of the big boeings and the expedition's Fairchild FC-2W were still intact. Unfortunately the careening engines had ruptured the kerosene drums below, and fully half the expedition's heater and stove fuel had been lost. Both Moore and Starkweather agreed that turning back was out of the question, so the Gabrielle pushed on. The storm did not abate until the 28th of October. The sea was thick with ice floes and slush, though the captain steamed ahead until reaching the edge of the pack ice on the 31st. Turning south was impossible at this point, and the ship turned east until the 3rd of November. Turning south to take advantage of an opening, the ship was caught in another ferocious storm. This time ice surrounded the Gabrielle on all sides, and all aboard could hear the armored plates groan and huge bergs continued to grind and scrape along her hull, threatening to crush the vessel. All aboard kept busy as best they could, or simply prayed and worried.

Miraculously, the ship survived, and by the next morning the pack had broken up. Continuing south, the ship passed a strange sight on the 6th - another ship, half covered in ice, sticking out a huge iceberg ahead. "It's the Wallaroo," Paul Turlow said spying the hull through his field glasses, "a whaler out of Australia. She was lost last year." As the Gabrielle drew closer, all aboard could see her boiler had exploded, rupturing the hull. Both Evvy and James Starkweather were in rare agreement as they convinced Captain Vredenburgh that it was his Christian duty to look for survivors or, more the likely, remains for proper burial at sea.


The remains of the Wallaroo, frozen in the polar ice.

The members of the expedition took a longboat over along with Jack Driscoll and two able seamen. Unfortunately Dr. Schevchenko hadn't recovered from his sea-sickness fully and slipped climbing the line up the whaler's deck. He plunged into the icy water, and the sailors were barely able to haul him up. Dr. Tyson tended to him as the boat rowed back. "We have to get him warm in a hurry, before hypothermia can set in!" Buernor, Evvy, Samuel, Stacey, Jeeves, and James were left to explore the wreck. Much to their horror, they found skeletons stripped of flesh and frozen gore over much of the deck. Making their way into the cabins, they found most empty apart from a few possessions. In the captain's cabin, they found the captain's body along with his final log entry (see Captain's Log, Final Entry for details). Disturbingly, the captain's pistol had been discharged several times and his frozen corpse was missing a head, though no signs of blood could be found. Sameul saw strange marks, like those of a clamp, pressed into the frozen flesh. Apart from a few, strange gold coins in the captain's desk, some whale meat, oil, and a dozen bottles of rye whiskey looted from the hold, there was nothing more of interest. The captain's body was wrapped in a blanket and brought aboard the Gabrielle. After being given last rites by Vredenburgh, he was laid to rest at sea. As the ship steamed on, another dark shape was seen in the ice less than a quarter-hour later. Through the field glasses, they could see it was one of the Wallaroo's lifeboats, crushed and frozen in the ice. The crew had not made it home.

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Tags: Recap , Sabotage