Thursday, May 21st 1925, continued:
Spalding asks Kakakatak if he knows about Nyarlathotep, but his knowledge is limited; He takes many forms, and has great power. Asked if they are underground, he responds in the affirmative, but that he doesn’t know exactly how far. The conversation then turns to the machine he is building. He describes a powerful payload, powered by Radium, that will be detonated in the atmosphere at an appointed time. He has built these, and is now in the process of constructing the delivery vehicles; a rocket for Penhew, and a trans-phase gate for Huston. Neither of the delivery methods are operational, nor are they likely to become so without his help. Spalding asks him if he can destroy the payload here, and he says that he certainly can.
While this conversation is going on, Nickels talks with the Aboriginal Kakakatak about the optical device he found and used. Kakakatak listens with interest.
This knowledge in hand and the wind still howling, they settle on a plan to get Hustons notes, set the bomb to explode, and escape. They briefly wonder where the quasi material wind beasts and the Mimis live, and if they will be affected. They also voice concerns about the geography of the area. These concerns are set aside as acceptable risks.
They have Kakakatak draw a map of Hustons headquarters, a newer wood frame construction built abuting an existing collaposed ancient structure. He labels the second floor ‘Prisoners’, and explains that some are for labor, and some are for breeding.
Nickels, meanwhile, has continued talking to Aborigine Kakakatak, asking about matters from ‘home’, and if he knows who he is. Ernst and Eastwick overhear him introduce himself in his real name, and are concerned over the alien pronunciation. They keep quite for the time being.
Spalding tries to make ‘academic inquiry’ on where he is from and his travels, but Kakakatak says it’s not relevant. His focus is solely on Huston’s notes and gaining his freedom.
Eventually, after an hour and some, the wind dies down. Kakakatak scouts around the structure and determines that it’s safe to move. Viljoen-Ballard expresses a desire to return to the titanic ring holding the throbbing mass and destroy it with one of Kakakataks devices, thus returning the beast to Hell. Ernst stresses that they must remain focused on the matter at hand, and that they should stealthily approach Huston’s headquarters along dark streets.
Kakakatak leads them along back ways, passing along thoroughfares, alleys, through buildings and plazas, bringing them eventually to the wood structure he had previously described. It is three stories tall, with lights lit on all three levels. The windows are simply square holes in the wall, and the doors just rectangular breaches. What it lacks in style, however, it makes up for in utility: the bottom floor is stuffed with mining equipment… arc lights, machine parts, gas cans, block and tackle, just about anything a miner could want. Sleeping on the floor are a dozen men in miner’s garb. A large generator thrums outside, electrical conduit snaking in.
Nickels makes a break for the generator to overload it and burn the building down, but Ernst grabs him. Extolling the benefits of stealth, and a desire not to warn the sorcerer of their approach, Ernst asks Viljoen-Ballard to keep Nickels here. Viljoen-Ballard pulls a gun, but Kakakatak says not to kill each other, and especially not to make loud noises, like with the gun. The wind beasts would return, and they may very well all die. Viljoen-Ballard puts it away.
Viljoen-Ballard, Nickels, and Eastwick, as well as Kakakatak stay hidden in place, the former saying that they will come as backup if needed. Nickels says he can disable the generator if things go south. Ernst and Spalding sneak across to the building, and climb the ramp. At the second floor, Ernst observes iron cages firmly welded together of bars and repurposed rail ties. Inside are dozens of people, mostly Koori, despondent and slumped. Seeing the electrical conduit running to the cages, he suspects they are electrified. Ernst signals Nickels to join them, and when he arrives asks him to free the prisoners.
Nickels, entering, discovers a junction box, and traces the lines to the cages. They power strong electromagnets that hold the doors closed. Carefully peeling back the sheathing he determines that the cages are likely not alarmed. The wiring is not professional, and he can’t trust the color coding on the wires, so he takes a guess and cuts the white wire in one of the lines. One of the men inside the cage had been leaning on the door, and it now comes open. A call goes up in the cage, but Nickels cannot understand their language. He tries to keep them quiet. He opens up another cable, cutting the white wire again, but this one is live and the shock sends him reeling. In great pain, and smoking slightly, he decides to return below to the generator and try to overload it. The Kooris in the two open cages emerge and attempt to free their comrades.
Meanwhile, Ernst and Spalding continue up the ramp, finding the door at the top blocked by a heavy curtain. Across the way, over the wall of another collapsed structure, they can see the beginnings of the trans-phase gate and the Radium Bomb Kakakatak told them about. The bomb is set onto a heavy cart at the top of a ramp, with rail lines leading down into the gate mechanism, which looks much like a large gyroscope set into a 20 by 20 platform. Sneaking a peek inside, Ernst observes that the large room has been functionally split into a living area with a bed and kitchen range, a workshop with shelves, cabinets, and machine bits, and a study area with a desk and shelves of books and papers. There is also a large pile of metal cases containing further documents. At the desk in a creaky wooden wheeled chair sits Robert Huston. He is moderately sized and greying, but his appearance is much more youthful and vigorous than his newspaper photos would suggest. Ernst resolves to sneak in and slit his throat before he can bring any spells to bear against them, but he is sighted.
Huston turns to greet him, starting to say that it has been such a long time since he had visitors, but Ernst is steadfast in his goal, and springs upon him, slicing his throat. Huston burbles and tries to grab his throat, but Ernst holds his hands down on the arms of the chair and rolls him to the wall, pinning him there. Spalding runs to the desk and starts going through the many, many notes there-on, as well as digging through the drawers. On the desk is a 45 revolver, but this is not of interest to Spalding. She stuffs her bag with notes, as well as a box containing hundreds of neatly typed pages.
Though he is bleeding profusely, Huston retains his strength, and breaks free of Ernst… the wound at his neck seeming to close on its own. Regaining the use of his speech, he commands Ernst to stop, dominating his mind. He asks Spalding to kindly stop what she’s doing and invites the two of them to join him in a cup of tea. He walks over to the kitchen range where a kettle is boiling and reaches for it, but Ernst breaks free of the spell, shoves him aside, and dumps the boiling water on his face. Huston screams, and holds his blistered head.
Once again Huston commands Ernst, who is again under his thrall, and Huston orders him to stop Spalding, who has filled her satchel and is proceeding to throw notes and metal cases out the window for later retrieval. Ernst grabs Spalding, and they grapple. The blisters and redness are rapidly leaving Huston, and his neck is mostly healed. He expresses displeasure at having to boil more water, and fills the kettle back up from a tank under a counter. He says that he knows who they are, and that they’ve really done nothing to hinder his plans. It is inevitable, they are nothing more than flies, and that they needn’t be enemies. Spalding, struggling to get free and pleading with Ernst to remember that he’s Henry God-Damned Ernst, manages to break Ernsts grasp and goes for her gun, but at this same time Ernst breaks the spell again and yells to run. They flee through the curtain and down the ramp, Huston in pursuit.
The ramp is clogged with Kooris fleeing the cages, while others inside still attempt to free those in the other cages. As Huston rounds the first bend in the ramp, Viljoen-Ballard spies him, turns up the power on his device and fires a bolt of lighting. Huston is directly hit, and falls, charred and broken, the two remaining stories to the ground.
Ernst and Spalding return to the ground, and see Hustons body, his chest cavity exposed, his bones charred and brittle, a clear electric path scorched through his body, now fused to the slag that used to be his buttons and belt buckle. His shoes and socks are gone. Ernst runs into the storage area, curb stomping Huston as he passes, and jumping over the bodies of the sleeping miners. He cracks open a gasoline barrel, filling a nearby bucket. The miners awake, and watch him pass as the slowly get to their feet, then stand, staring. Having his bucket of gas, he says ‘Excuse me’ as he pushes his way through, and finds that the miners respond by stepping out of his way. He dumps the gasoline into Hustons chest and all over him, noticing as he does that the bones seem to be reforming, then sets him on fire. That should hold him for a while.
Ernst, discerning that the miners will follow commands, tells them to go out the entrance, marking the way as they go, and to take cover. They proceed in an orderly line down one of many lighted paths that lead from this place, adjusting fallen stones along the way to mark their path. Ernst tries to convey to the Kooris present that they should follow, and many do.
Nickels has succeeded in sabotaging the generator to overload it, and the mechanism kicks into high gear. The lights explode and spark, setting the structure on fire and lighting the fuel reserves in the lowest level. Kakakatak identifies the boxed document as the notes he needs, and Spalding and Eastwick collect as much of the defenestrated knowledge as they can before the party relocates to the bomb and gate.
The gate is partially completed, as Kakakatak said. A metal base covered with slats allows access to the center where a large gyroscope of iridescent metal is taking shape. They ask if it can be used to escape, but Kakakatak assures them that it can not be made ready without a significant amount of work. Instead, they ask him to set the Radium Bomb to explode, and they will follow the miners out. Kakakatak climbs the ramp to the bom, pries off a panel, and tinkers with the inner workings. After a time he says that he has given them an appropriate amount of time.
The wind is picking up now, and the party flees along the lit path the miners took. Coming into a great dome 2000 feet across, a 500 foot hemisphere in the center glows purple. Near the hemisphere is a block of stone obviously dragged in from elsewhere that is covered with dried and fresh blood, which also spills around the floor. Nearby is an ash heap where a great fire recently burned. Silhouetted in the purple light are monstrous statues, the greatest of which shows a black bat-like thing with great wings spread. Lesser beings are represented around it, including a form like a giant baobab with razored tentacles, a mass of orbs with thin tendrils pushing from between, and a vaguely humanoid being with a long oval head with a wide mouth filled with thin serrated teeth. This horrific congregation dredges up deep panic in Spalding, who becomes convinced that Ernst is the only one who can save her, and clings to him. She is convinced to act otherwise only with great difficulty. Questions are raised as to the rooms purposes, but Kakakatak urges them on lest they die. They run on.
Over the miles they have fled, those encumbered with Kakakataks lightning guns and the copious notes are severely fatigued. Spalding is forced to ditch many documents, frantically scanning them before she drops them trying to determine if another would be a less significant loss. Viljoen-Ballard drops his gun, but the others are passed among the group and retained. The path hits a T, then branches, but each time the path is clearly marked by placed stones. Eventually they come to a terminus with a stack of wooden crates, some gas cans, and a spiral wooden stair leading up into darkness. Taking a deep breath, they rustle up, lungs and legs burning, and forcing their arms to propel themselves onwards on the rails.
They don’t know how long they climb, their minds have long since lost the ability to carefully calculate. But they eventually reach the top and fing open a wooden hatch, finding themselves inside a small shack, daylight seeping in through the cracks in the slats. Ernst peeks outside, and sees a low sandbag wall surrounding the shake, and an aboriginal guard leaning against a truck. At least 2 others are also present, being heard walking about elsewhere.
Ernst stealthily slips to the edge of the sandbags, then follows along the line of another truck before coming up behind the guard and slitting his throat. Waving to his party, they all pile into one of the trucks, and Ernst guns it, grinding the clutch at first. As they finally gain speed, two bolts of lightning shoot from the bed, Kakakatak having reduced the other guards to twitching corpses. Taking a circuitous route lest they be followed to easily, the truck careens over sand hidden blocks and smashes against columns. Through a series of ‘adjustments’, sideswiping columns, Ernst manages to realign an axel sufficiently to keep going. Eventually they find their way back to Buckley and the camp.
Buckley informs them that they have been gone the better part of the day, and that everything here is good to go. They quickly ditch the junked truck and pile into the Daimlers, and make for the cliffside camp they encountered the day before. Kakakatak urges them to greater speed, and reprimands them when they slow down. Passing through the ravine without incident, and coming up to the camp after some hours of driving, Kakakatak urges them not to stop. The party takes heed, and continues on, not seeing anyone present there anyway.
After another short stint of driving, Kakakatak counts 2, 1, 0… and the ground shakes. They look back, but no flash or cloud is seen rising. Kakakatak says this is good, that the blast did not breach the surface. Otherwise the whole area could have become very dangerous for centuries to come. The party soon finds a sheltered rocky outcrop among the karst, and they camp down, exhausted.
Nickels shows Kakakatak the optical device, and Kakakatak recommends that he use it. Nickels protests, but Kakakatak insists… “it’s too dangerous, this will die” he says, indicating Nickels himself. Nickels engages the device and looks through. Looking back up from the device, he asks where and who he is. He remembers nothing. Kakakatak partially disassembles the device, and snaps a number of thin disks he removes from a sealed cylinder.
Kakakatak is also given the box of notes from Hustons desk, which he divides in half to each of his selves. Flipping rapidly through the pages, he finds what he is after, and returns the pages to Spalding, thanking her. He says that he will accompany the party back to civilization, and then their paths will part ways.
Eastwick, referencing their notes, excitedly relates that Huston’s lair was likely one of the points on the map discovered in Cairo. With it destroyed, or at least buried with no hope of excavation by January, and further with Kakakatak removed from his servitude, that there is no hope of Penhew’s ritual succeeding. They have prevented the gate from opening. This is a great relief to the party but many things remain left unresolved.
Amongst a host of difficulties are the legal troubles from London, as well as the rise of this mystery woman from Egypt, and of course Penhew himself on Gray Dragon Island. Jackson Elias is dead, and Ernst expresses his continued mission to kill every last damn bastard that was behind it.