See Rumor Mongers, Wycroft? Becausecroft!, and Provisions and Natives
Sunday, May 17th 1925:
Ernst’s stake out continues, and Viljoen-Ballard ventures to other outfitters to acquire doses of anti-venom for local fauna. He makes sure to have enough doses to go around, at least 6 of each. Meanwhile, Spalding asks around about Mackenzie. She learns that he is a mining engineer and well regarded in his field.
Nickels busies himself with checking over the Daimlers and determines that they are good to go.
Eastwick has determined to find out what’s going on with Ernst and Nickels, and so continues to research their conditions.
Viljoen-Ballard brings water to Ernst. Ernst has watched Wycroft’s man bring around another truck and load it.
Spalding and Eastwick observe Nickels popping the luggage and going through it. Nickels gives an excuse that he is trying to make sure that everything is packed well, and that he doesn’t remember what is his. Eastwick and Spalding are suspicious.
Ernst sees Wycroft finish the packing and disappear inside. All is quiet.
All save Ernst are back in camp discussing plans. Spalding wants to visit Mackenzie, but taking the train back to Port Hedland might miss the window to follow Wycroft. A decision is made not to trust Nickels and do no planning around him.
Viljoen-Ballard goes to check on Ernst, and fills him in on their plans, then relieves his watch. They debate sending Nickels away, but agree to keep him along under a watchful eye. Ernst goes to sleep.
Viljoen-Ballard observes Wycroft and his men load up a few last things in the trucks and drive away. He and Ernst get back to camp quick, stow their tents and gear, and pursue. Ernst and Buckley drive. Ernst, Spalding, and Nickels leads in the first truck while Viljoen-Ballard, Eastwick, and Buckley follow. It is dark, but the tracks are easy to follow in the desert.
En route, Ernst quizzes Nickels again, asking about everything he remembers. Nickels is circumspect.
Monday May 18th 1925:
Ernst tenses up, and gives the lead to Buckley. Ernst is nervous about the dark sky above, and what may descend from it.
Buckley stops the convoy, having spied that Wycroft has stopped due to a blown tire. Viljoen-Ballard runs to inform others. Ernst and Buckley sneak ahead to scout, and the others gas up. Ernst and Buckley climb a rise and spy them finishing tire repair.
Returning, the pursuit continues. Eastwick knows nothing about his gun, so Viljoen Ballard cleans it for him.
Just before dawn, Viljoen-Ballard signals that they should pull off. They debate whether to continue the pursuit in daylight. It is decided that they will give Wycroft more space, and continue.
Wycroft breaks down again, and camps down. The party regularly sends up a spy to watch, but otherwise they camp down too. They observe that some of Wycroft’s men will range out a bit, but that Wycroft himself, in long khakis, a long white shirt, and a wide brimmed hat, never ventures from the trucks.
Wycroft makes to travel again, and the pursuit continues. Over the next few days this process repeats. Making sure to ration out the water from the tanks on the truck, the party plans to refill when they intersect the Canning Stock Route. It is a long, hot journey. At times the scenery goes from sand, to karst, to rocks, to sand. At one point, the party observes a red glow far to the south, as if a great fire burned. Nonetheless, the keep on Wycroft’s trail.
Wednesday the 20th 1925:
The party finally intersects the Canning Stock Route. Wycroft;s trail heads north, but the party continues to Mallowa Well to the NE since they need water. Arriving at the well, they use the truck wince to draw enough water to fill their tank. Ernst stands guard. Doubling back, they pick up Wycroft’s northerly line.
Wycroft’s trail passes by an old camp set in the shade of a steep cliff face of red stone. Ripped and scattered tents dot the area, along with a shack with some machinery on top of it. Nickels determines it to be the lift mechanism of a mine shaft. Nearby is an explosives shack, but the crates inside are empty, save for sand. Ernst steps on something in the sand, and discovers a human skeleton, sandblasted. Searching the area, many other bones are found, many pocked and broken. A ford truck is also here, but it looks like it has been crushed… like a giant foot stomped on it.
One area of the camp has a tent that has been mended and looks recently lived in. TIns of food and supplies are present, as well as empty containers of the same. Nearby is a basin set near the cliff, where it catches a small jet of cool, sweet water.
Viljoen-Ballard leaves a note in the tent. It reads “May 20th expeditions, will return. DAVB”. The party loads up and continues on with Wycroft’s trail.
An hour or so later, the trail leads into a ravine. Driving in, silhouettes are spotted against the sky at the top. The party brings out a light and shines it up, seeing 2 kooris looking down at them. Buckley calls out to them, and brings Spalding out from the truck. He says that having a female shows they are not a war party. Buckley’s shouts to them are not returned, but they converse amongst themselves briefly and then leave. The party continues on.
Thursday, May 21st 1925:
The trail leads into an area rife with ancient standing stones. Convex tops fit neatly into concave bottoms. This is certainly not aboriginal. Winding their way through to the edge of the covering stones, all agree to stop. Eastwick hears a generator nearby. They drive the cars back a bit to obscure them and pitch camp.
Ernst, Viljoen-Ballard and Spalding sneak to get a better look towards the sounds. Viljoen-Ballard trips over a stone, and suddenly they hear voices in the distance. They are silent and still… soon a truck makes a round, but continues on. They continue to the edge of the stones and observe a small outpost in the middle of an open area. There is a small shed reinforced with sandbags, a tarpaulin covering a pile of something beside it, and a number of trucks parked around, including Wycroft’s. The search truck that had been making a round pulls in. There are no tents. Walking in the area are 3 aborigines with rifles.
The scouting party falls back to their camp. Conferring over what they’ve seen, they briefly entertain the idea of going back to investigate the fire they saw a number of days ago. Ernst warns that this could be Misr house all over again. Resolving to investigate this outpost, Buckley expresses his intent not to get involved. Ernst asks Buckley to wait 3 days for them, guarding the trucks. Buckley agrees.
Ernst asks Nickels to walk out with him a bit into the stones to converse. Once away from the party, Ernst asks who he is, and is very insistent. The conversation quickly heats up, and Nickels breaks down, drawing a knife across his own arms and demanding if this is what Ernst wants, and that he simply doesn’t remember. Nickels says that Ernst is supposed to be his friend.
They are interrupted when Ernst catches movement out of the corner of his eye. Ernst pulls a knife. Then there is a clicking, and Ernst charges towards it. Nickels heads back to camp, meets Spalding en route who had heard the conversation and was coming to investigate. Nickels tells her that Ernst needs help.
Meanwhile, Ernst aggressively approaches the clicking noise, keeping his back to the stones when possible. Rounding a crumbled wall, he finds himself face to face with an unnatural tall human-like creature. It is thin, and has long, long hands and fingers. He wraps his knife on the nearby stone to call the party. The tall thing retreats a bit at the noise. Ernst asks if it speaks English. In response, it crouches and draws a picture in the sand with its long fingers and beckons to Ernst, waving in the air in a rolling motion.
Ernst beckons the approaching party, who are brought into the creature’s presence. All but Buckley comes. The creature, through drawing esoteric, but meaningful pictures in the sand, conveys a sense of danger, and a way into the place where it lives. It thinks that the party can do away with it, and will help them to that end. Spalding and Eastwick discern familiar elements within its pictures… as if it were drawing in some kind of proto-occultic iconography. This is the only way they can think that everyone would understand the pictures the same way. Viljoen-Ballard runs back to the trucks to get the dynamite and tommy gun, and returns.
Agreeing to the creatures request, the thing stands, and slides a finger down the lin of a nearby boulder. It is like he is parting a curtain overlapping another, that had until now looked solid. Hesitating a moment, the party then steps through.
They find themselves in the dark, but their flashlights illuminate a wide boulevard of dressed stones. Ancient buildings of gargantuan size line the thoroughfare, some intact and some crumbled. All show the weight of great age. Nearby there is a large hole in the ground, surrounded by a metal frame. A heavy metal lid hinges on one side. The party tries to lift and close it, but it is too heavy. Looking behind them, they can see no door, hidden curtain, or other means of going back to where they were. The tall creature is gone. Pressing forward along the boulevard, they eventually reach a cross street where a long string of standard light bulbs has been strung, electrical wire bolted into the walls. Obviously, humans have been here. Attempting to discern which way the generator for these lights might be, they follow the line.
Eventually the lights lead into a great plaza. The floor glows with a soft blue light, making the light string or their flashlights unnecessary. There is a thick layer of dust here, leading across the plaza. Nickels makes for an exit, and Ernst grills him about what he knows about this place. Nickels says he knows nothing.
Across the plaza, they find another string of lights proceeding down another thoroughfare. Following it, they at times find it splits or combines with other lines. At times it proceeds through areas where the great stone has collapsed entirely, and the party must climbs through tunnels or over great mounds.
Eventually they come into a circular room, this one has the string of lights skirt around the outside and exiting on the far end. In the middle of the room is a pit from which wafts a horrid stench, that sends the party into wretches. Noises emanate from the pit… growls, snarls, groans, and what Eastwick is sure is a baby crying. The party decides to avoid the pit, and slink around to the exit. Nickels tries to fall back, but Ernst notices, and hits him solidly with the butt of his rifle to knock him out. Viljoen-Ballard carries him thereafter.
Continuing to follow the lights, the party comes to another great plaza, this one being dominated by a fleshy mass pushed up through the floor. A titanic ring of stone bearing strange markings is tight around it, holding the herniation in place. Great veins in the mass pulse with blood. The party continues on.
Over more rubble piles and down another road the party enters a plaza much like the first, though this one glows red. The lights take a short stint to the right, and go down another road. Further on, at a cross street, great conduit has been placed along a side road. The party investigates and finds that a great stone building has been repurposed. Inside the door there are stores of machine parts, including metal parts that iridesce strangely like the sample from Shanghai. A door leads further in. Within the next room is a great machine, it’s console stretching along 3 walls, but much to high for a human to comfortably control. One panel has been removed, exposing a mass of wire and machinery that is incredibly advanced. A modern cable runs from the machine to a conical cap resting on a divan. There is also an arch leading into the next room.
Within, the party sees a collection of machine parts, including the missing panel, immediately to the right. There is also a fusebox in the wall, the terminus of the large conduit. Wire from this box runs to the middle of the circular room, where there is a slightly raised lip. Embedded there-in are a series of translucent orbs, set at regular intervals along the line of the floor and up the walls, dividing the room in two.
On the other side of the divide is a bed, a small table and chair, and dozens upon dozens of designs and sketches hanging on the wall. There are two men, one laying down in bed and another writing at the table. The one lying down appears to be an aborigine, wearing only a ripped pair of pants. The man at the desk is white, and in miners coveralls. Ernst blasts the fusebox with his shotgun and approaches.
The men stand up, and speak in unison. They say that someone will have heard that, and that they should leave. Ernst makes introductions, and asks to know who the men are. They respond that they are Kakakatak, a prisoner here. Ernst and Spalding somehow recognize the name. It has occurred in their studies somewhere. This is a being who is a great explorer, bound by neither time or space.
Nickels rouses, and Ernst, Eastwick, and Spalding suddenly feel their heads spin. It’s as if their minds are a card catalog, and someone just rifled through it. It is clear that they should not tarry here, and leave the structure, following Kakakatak.
Ernst pauses outside to grab some of the dynamite and throw it back in behind them. The explosion is significant, and reverberates along the avenues and off the stone. A wind suddenly picks up, bearing upon it a piping sound. Kakakatak breaks into a run, shouting that they need to flee faster now. The party follows him down side ways, back ways, through structures, and finally across a courtyard and up a ramp into a building. Regular arches and strange sigils dot the walls. He guides the party to the second floor, into a room with walls set with metal doors. Having Ernst and one half of himself brace the other, Kakakatak climbs up to one of the doors mechanisms, fumbles with some dials and a massive lever, and causes it to drop open. Hoisting himself back in, he disappears into the cavity, then pushes out 4 devices. The party gathers them, then retreats into an interior room containing a tall pedestal, deeps grooves in the walls, and, most importantly, only one door and one high arched window. The wind whips outside.
Kakakatak explains the operations of the devices, saying they are weapons that could help them. Kakakatak takes two, and Ernst and Viljoen-Ballard take the others. They watch, vigilant, at the door and window.
See “A coversation with Kakakatak”.