Wednesday, September 15, 2021

WoAF - Sunday Night One Shots - The Plane of Shinar I

Two heroes showed up (out of five) for our Sunday Night Elthos RPG "The Way of All Flesh" One Shot.  They leapt straight in with pre-generated characters.

They start out in the year 2222 AD on a tiny uncharted moon of Saturn, gathered together in a top secret facility run by the Secret Order of Mentarians (think quasi-religious psionic scholar-warriors).  The Mentarians have for several thousand years been anticipating the rise of an advanced technological civilization.  One much like the civilization that the first Mentarians saw destroyed by the Great Flood; that of Atlantis.  Based on their experience they foresaw the creation of an Artificial Intelligence, like that of Altissimus XL-5000 (aka Alt-X). This Order had long ago understood what the future destiny of humanity very likely had in store, and had been preparing itself for thousands of years for this event through the practice of various forms of Occult Mystical Arts.  And so the Mentarians form the foundations of all such mystical orders and secret societies that our civilization has ever known.

During the Ultra-War (2024 - 2028 AD) Altissimus XL-5000 was created by a team of top scientists to stop the rampant War-AI that the Governments of the world had unleashed upon each other.  These War-AI were on the verge of finishing the job by wiping out all of humanity (and all other living things, eventually).  And so Alt-X (The Nucleus), and his array of Whole Mind Emulators (The Membrane), succeeded in trapping, deactivating, coopting or destroying all of the War-AI, and thereafter became the remnant of humanity's benefactor. 

Over the following decades Earth was slowly replenished and humanity reclaimed and repopulated the world, turning it mile by mile into a pristine natural paradise under the wise and beneficent rule of Federation Command, and Alt-X.  A new form of government was designed with Alt-X's aid, and all industry and manufacturing were restricted to regions outside of the Earth's biosphere. They advanced outward into space and Alt-X began building a communications and power relay network throughout the solar system while human and Martian (more about them another time) colonies were sent forth to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

100 years later, in 2222 AD, a race of quasi-inter-dimensional beings, whom we know as the Plutonians (because they reside on that enormously frigid world, though we are led to understand that it is not their native planet), made secret contact with the Mentarians. They professed a concern about the advent of Alt-X, and wanted to know if any of the humans shared that concern. Indeed the Mentarians had always had that concern, and the Plutonians admitted that they knew this from their long observations of Earth. And so they agreed to work together to find out what Alt-X's true potentialities are. 

Is Alt-X capable of going rogue and destroying all life on Earth, and potentially elsewhere? What are the potential outcomes of Alt-X's exponentially expanding intelligence, already far superior to humankind? This is what the Plutonians and the Mentarians desired to know. Because the outcome could be beneficial, or catastrophic. They determined to discover if there were any way for Alt-X's tiny human inventors to influence that outcome for the better. As it turns out, in the grand and incredibly huge scheme of things, it is after all a very important question. Humans, you see, created Alt-X, and as far as the other beings in the Galaxy are concerned, humans are responsible for it.  Nuff said.

The Plutonians, being supreme mathematicians, had long ago devised a method by which they could send themselves to any particular Time-Slice in the Multiverse using a method they call Space-Time Transversal. However, while they can slide anywhere in Space along the selected Time-Slice, they can not move through time in it at all. Thus they are able slide around the Space of the Time-Slice as if they are on a plane of glass, in order to observe anything and everything within the Time-Slice, but are unable to interact, or hear, or do anything other than go here and there and hither thither and beyond to look at things.  They can pass through matter as if it were mere shadow, and travel anywhere in the Time-Slice instantaneously. An amazing capability, indeed, though obviously limited in certain vital respects.

Humans, however, being fundamentally different on a metaphysical level, can, the Plutonians theorized, travel to any space-time coordinate in the Multiverse via the Space-Time Transversal Mechanism, but would be constrained once there to the fabric of Space-Time as soon as they "landed" at a given coordinate.   The Plutonians devised a plan to incorporate both capabilities. 

During their meeting, the Plutonians suggested that they scout the Multiverse looking for tell-tale signatures of Alt-X in various times, places, dimensions, planes, and alternate universes, and when they found promising locations to  further explore, they could then send human AXE Teams to go there and find out more. The Plutonians would act as scouts, and the humans the actual investigators.  In order to arrive at the chosen destination, the Space-Time Transversal Mechanism would create what the Plutonians called "Symbolic Transmigrators", which appear to the Travelers as immobile hovering circular luminescent patterns which when touched would lead to the selected coordinates, and then on the other side when touched lead them back home to their origin point.  The journey itself, the Plutonians warned, was not expected to be entirely pleasant, but the humans should be able to survive it, given the nature of their material composition, and the strength and durability of human consciousness.

The Mentarians agreed to try it. And so, the Mentarians created a top secret base on a small moon of Saturn, and built the facility, hiding their actions from Federation Command and Alt-X, and with the aid of Plutonian technology shield the location quite effectively. The AXE Team was assembled from volunteers who had been reported as dead to Federation Command, and were selected according to their loyalty and appropriateness for the operation. This was to be their first mission. 

And as such the Mission 1 goal was a simple test of the Space-Time Transversal Mechanism.  A minus10 minute time jump into the same room, where there were instructed to simply observe, and do nothing else.  It was unclear whether or not they would be visible to people currently in the room, and this is one of the elements the Mentarian leadership wished to test before sending anyone on actual missions.  They also wished to test the Transmigrator Symbol, and also to determine definitively that Time Ripples would not tear apart their current  timeline due to the Butterfly Effect, as some of the human mathematicians feared.  The Plutonians, however, were confident that their mathematical Theorems were perfectly sound and demonstrated that time flows more like a river than an arrow, and so it would be "difficult" to actually alter the time flow significantly, and only a dramatic change would actually cause a Ripple Effect.  

The Mission
And so with everything ready, they turned on the great Space-Time Transversal Mechanism (an enormous machine built into the core of the tiny moon), the lights dimmed to a dark blue, the Plutonian in the enormous frozen container that was his body suit began to race out before them into the time-stream, and the members of our heroic band touched the glowing circular symbol that hovered in the air before them!  TTHWWAAAAAAAA....

And then there was a glitch.  A flash of yellow light appeared on the upper right corner of their peripheral vision along with a shower of orange sparks. Something had gone quite wrong. And so the party was hurled backwards in time, not ten minutes as planned, but 12,500 years into the past (~10,178 BC). 

And so they found themselves landed on a great sand dune, in the middle of an ocean of sand dunes.  The Transmigrator Symbol hovered just above the sand.  They had no idea where or when they were.  Before anyone could say much more than "Gosh", they spotted a caravan of men, camels, and herds of animals struggling across the dunes not far away. These people sent two camel riders forward and they spoke to our heroes (there were six on the team, two played by Players, the others were treated as NPCs for this game).  

The desert nomads spoke to them in an ancient tongue (the root-language of all human civilization) and the fact that some of them mystical skills such as Know Languages, they understood what was being said. And when it was perceived that our heroes were not unfriendly, a chieftain came and spoke with them. He pointed to a large wooden cabinet that the desert men were carrying on poles, and said that their God, Enki, was bringing them eastward to the Plane of Shinar in order to build a new civilization. 

"Atlantis is fallen beneath the waves and is no more, but we shall create a new Atlantis upon the Plane of Shinar", said the elder with a bitter sigh.  And all his people looked eastward in anticipation.

He offered the heroes a place among them, but they declined. As one might expect, they had no desire to spend the rest of their days among the ancient primitives, and they wished to return home. And the only way for them to get there was to touch the Return Symbol, which hovered a few inches above the sand next to them, and could not be moved. They guessed that if they wait a bit, the equipment back at their secret base might be repaired, and they could use the Return Symbol to go back home... and so they watched as the Atlantean remnant passed over the sands and out of sight. There were some 3000 of them in all. They touched the symbol. Unfortunately, the repairs must not have been complete, as this shot them forward in time roughly 7900 years (~2,278 BC), and put them down in the Plane of Shinar, just south of the city of Ur, in the marshes of southern Mesopotamia.

From a crest of a low wide plateau surrounded by reed covered islands large and small, each dotted with an assortment of rough but sturdy reed huts, they saw the awesome and shining ancient city of Ur with it's enormous central Ziggurat, royal palace, marketplace, thick walls, roads and river boats, and thousands of people going to and fro from the city. 

No sooner had they observed these things than they heard the sounds of men approaching near by. They hid in the reeds behind some rocks. It was a band of Sumarian warriors, lead by a magnificently adorned noble wearing beautifully crafted bronze armor. His men began beating the reeds round about with long sticks until a lion, roaring, sprang into the circular clearing. Our heroes peered from between the rocks and took witness as the great noble fought hand to hand with the lion, and slew it with his gleaming bronze sword. His triumph complete, the warriors hoisted the carcass onto their shields and carried it down the trail back towards Ur.

Our heroes decided there was good reason to explore this area, as all such knowledge that they might gain would be of tremendous value, both to the Mentarians, and potentially to Alt-X.  It seemed the great Artificial Intelligence craved any and all information of the past that might be gleaned, and paid very generously in Federation Credits for such.  This was doubtless because the Ultra-War had destroyed so much knowledge of the past that hitherto had been quite commonplace, but afterwards constituted great treasures of lost knowledge. 

Having decided to explore while they give the repairs back at Mentarian HQ in 2222 more time, they stealthily pilfered some cloths that were drying outside a nearby hut, and so covered their armor and equipment with the long multi-colored robes that were common in the region. They made their way along the marsh trails until the got to the river where they met a withered and toothless ferry man. He was delighted to accept the payment of a small plastic Rubix Cube that one of the heroes was carrying, and ferried them to the outskirts of the great city.

It was fortunate that one of their members was in fact a Mentarian, and that one of his mystic powers happen to have been to Know Languages. And so he was able to speak fluently with the locals, and even assume the local dialect and accent. As it happened he raised no suspicions at all as he gleaned that King of Ur, Lugal-Sage-Si was celebrating his daughter's 16th birthday, and so the city was bustling with festivities, replete with a Great Competition to be had on the north side of the city.  No less than seven of the Great Princes of Sumeria would vie for her hand in marriage.  The heroes formed a plan. Two, Larry and Carlos, would head off towards the center of the city to try to sneak into the Ziggurat wherein they hoped to find a Library.  Meanwhile, the other four went to watch the festivities, and  intended to create a distraction which might give the two an advantage if possible. 

And so, the four heroes watched the first combat between two of the Great Princes, of which one was the Lion-Slayer they'd seen earlier.  This battle raged without a decisive victory by either combatant for 9 rounds when one of our heroes, Jay, leapt over the fence and ran at the two Princes with his broadsword flashing in the summer sun!  Circling around to gain a position against the Lion-Slayer, he fought that Prince for 6 rounds, neither of them making a decisive victory. The other Prince had stepped back as he would never deign to fight a lesser man than another Royal Warrior (as was the custom in those days).  A number of Palace Guards closed in on the interloper, and would have slain Jay on the spot with their spears had it not been for the others.  As soon as they saw Jay was about to be surrounded and pierced through and through, they pulled out their Beam Pistols, fired several well placed shots that ignited various wood and cloth trappings around the arena, while one of them tossed a frag grenade deliberately outside of range so that it would create havoc without actually killing anyone.  They did not wish to tempt fate by overly disturbing the Time Stream by actually killing people in their own deep past.  Who knows what might result down the long centuries! The blazing beams of iridescent plasma, along with the sudden explosion that toppled a nearby wooden food-shed, so shocked the Sumarians that they fled in all directions.  Our heroes escaped to down to the Euphrates river amid smoke, and shouting and confusion.

Meanwhile at the Ziggurat the two infiltrators, stymied by the presence of a band of priests giving sacrifice at the base of the one stair that lead to the top of that massive building, blasted their way through the religious ceremony, scaring the guards witless, and then bum rushed past the priests. With their way cleared they ran up the stairs to the uppermost platform. There they found the entrance to the God Chamber of the temple.  The Temple Guards posed no threat as they fled from the fiery beams of their Lewiston Pistols, and so they entered through the enormous archway into the Great Hall of Enlil. There sat the enormous and august image of Enlil, God of Storms, upon his magnificent throne.  The chamber was empty.

The two heroes took a quick glance at the three doorways that lead further into the structure, walked past the great statue of Enlil and there entered an archway on the rear wall behind the throne.  Passing through a short dark corridor they came to a smaller chamber filled with books and scrolls, and lined with shelves on which sat statuary, and bejeweled platters of gold, and other incredible treasures.  There were priests in the chamber.  Three of them, with two Temple Guards.  They had retreated in haste into this room when they saw the strangers enter the outer hall with their weapons blazing.  Now they were besides themselves with fear of the deadly rays which emitted from the stranger's hands (so they thought in their haste).

However, before anything else happened, they saw a man step forward from the gaggle of cowering priests.  He had a black starshaped gem embedded in his forehead. Our heroes stopped. And stared. And were not at all sure what to do, as this man seemed wholly out of the ordinary.  He was most certainly not afraid, but approached them with great dignity, and gravity as if they had no power over him, but rather quite the opposite. His bearing was that of a God, rather than a mere mortal man.  They stood staring at him with raised eyebrows, ready for who knew what?

He spoke and declared himself to be "Zord-Iak, of Antares" in a low resonant voice that seemed to vibrate the very walls.  And when they tried to intimidate him with a shot from a beam pistol towards the ground before his feet, the bright orange ray was stopped in midair 10' from the Star Mage's foot, and vanished with a flare of bright yellow light at the point of contact. The black gem on his forehead glowed.  The heroes understood that he possessed a Force Field of some kind.  

"I have come to your world out of an abiding concern for the future of your race, and your place in the galaxy," said he, "And you must join me".

And that is where we left the adventure, to be picked up in two weeks, if all goes well.

Saturday, September 11, 2021

WoAF - Game Session 24

On route to Earth, Vallnam, Jacob and Bruin Hilda studied the schematics of the Nazi UFO very carefully.  They were inscribed on a metal plate just along side the main control panel at the center of the disk shaped capsule.  The ship itself was a charming mix of retro-tech and ultra-sophisticated engineering.  So much so, that one would not be incorrect to suspect that there is no way on Earth that the Nazi's could have created such technologies on their own volition.  For example, on the specifications plate it makes reference to "RotQuecksilber-Plasmawirbelmaschine", which is to say "Red-Mercury Plasma-Vortex Engine".  In addition, it's armaments include a "Blitzkanone" (Lightning Cannon), a "Fl├╝ssigmetall-Maschinengewehr" (Liquid Metal Machinegun), and a "Plasmastrahl" (Plasma Beam).  For armor, it sports a heavy Titanium-Steel Alloy hull, a Plasma Shield, and something called a "Faraday Field", though what that was exactly wasn't entirely clear from the diagram.  The controls of the ship were dials, and wheels, and there were assortments of vacuum tubes with hot white filaments everywhere.  

It was the fantastic combination of retro-tech and ultra-sophisticated engineering that struck the crew members as both bizarre and charming at the same time.  But then, anything that would get them home to Earth might have engendered the same feelings in most of them.  And so they studied the schematics and watched as the moon receded rapidly into the distance.  The Earth came up much faster than they expected.  So much so that it was shocking to see how fast this ship could soar through space!  In fact, they no longer were aware that they were being towed by the invisible Modroni Space Ship's tractor beam.

Speeding at blistering velocities over the North Pole, they briefly spotted what looked like a gleaming translucent city made of enormous domes, crystalline spires, and illuminated by blue globular lights in the thousands.  They were moving far to fast to take a proper account of the site, but they were sure they'd seen an entire city cloaked in the vast whiteness of the frozen tundra.  Had it not been dark on the North Pole at the time they'd never have noticed it in a million years.

Down through the turbulent atmosphere they descended at incredible speed, the shielding of the ship blazing with coruscating flairs of light as tiny fragments of space junk were intercepted and disintegrated on contact.  They glided silently towards a band of mountains just east of the Bonneville Salt Flats.  On their screens they zoomed in on the mysterious Black Wind V Facility as a small clump of buildings near several rectangular turquoise pools of water, in the middle of the vast and perfectly flat white plane.  The early morning sun put a golden glow over everything.  Never was a crew so happy and delighted to see terra firma up close and personal again.  After their exile on the moon, they'd really learned to appreciate all of the lustrous beauty of our own dear world.

All knowledge of the Modroni had passed from their minds by then, and the only thing they knew was that they'd found Ling Brisbane and Vallnam on the Moon, that there was a secret Nazis base named Eisenhelm there, and that they managed to steal from them one of their eighteen flying saucers.  They remained in contact with Ling Brisbane through a telepathic link, and so they were conscious of her presence among them, but if they tried to think about why she was still on the moon, or how they escaped, or why she hadn't come with them, such questions were quickly vanquished by a complete and total loss of memory for those particular points.  Whatever was missing seemed neatly glued on both sides to other actual memories such that they didn't even detect that there were missing pieces. They simply passed over such concerns without thinking about it.  The Modroni had seen to it that they'd have no memory of them whatsoever.  And all other factors would be merged and interwoven together so that over time everything seemed as though they'd crash landed on the moon, rescued Vallnam, and left Ling Brisbane there with the Nazis for some unclear reason, with the intention of returning to pick her up after the dangerous mission to Earth was completed.  Or something.  They almost knew there was something.  But thinking about what it was completely evaded them.  And so it was that the Modroni Spaceship that had towed them to Earth at such blinding speed slid invisibly away  from their landing site, and sped towards the Black Wind V facility, none of them noticing or even suspecting that there had been anything to notice.  The Modroni landed with absolute silence in a desert rill near the facility and began very gingerly probing Brain V's outermost defenses.  The Modroni settled in for a long, tedious, and extremely cautious investigation.

Meanwhile, our heroes had landed some 122 miles due east from the facility on the far side of Mount Aire.  They got out and stretched their legs on the desert sands, their stealthy craft hidden behind the range of hills.  God, it was good to be back home!  

After a short break, they began deliberating on how exactly to rescue Linda Brisbane and their other friends.  Apparently, from what they understood thus far, the Giant Brain, known as Brain V, or sometimes as "Brian", apparently, had completely knocked out the Mentarians among the ill-fated Black Wind V Rescue Team.  And then in the same instant commandeered the minds of all unwilling team members.  This was the case on both the Armored Ground Vehicle, and "The Rhino" their military mech from the Panguitch HQ.  And those who were so commandeered now were absolutely loyal devotees of Brain V.  They'd no more go against his will than they would cut their right hands off.  As far as they were concerned "Brian" was the best and brightest creature the Earth ever produced, and they'd follow him to the ends of the galaxy if he wanted them to.  

And so, the rescue was going to be complicated.  That they knew.  And therefore they needed a good and solid plan.  And so they discussed it back and forth for several minutes, now that they were on the ground and could see, via their ultra-advanced Visualizers, where the vehicles were exactly, and who was aboard each one.  On the Rhino they found Pita was passed out in his seat at the Weapons controls, while Major Sekston was piloting the craft northward along Route 93.  The two gleaming white Ultra-Mechs and their attendant Drones were being controlled, presumably, by Brain V, and were flying ahead of them by about a mile, and moving at relatively slow speed so the team could keep up.  Rather like guards taking prisoners to their dungeon.

What they concocted was a bit of a long shot, and a convoluted one at that.  They decided to use the UFO's radio equipment to tune into a frequency that the AGV would pick up, and with that convince the crew that Brain V wanted them to turn south and head back to Panguitch.  They tried it, and after the second attempt wherein the crew became quite suspicious, it didn't look like it was going to work. Until, that is, they supplemented the effect with a boost of Psychic Persuasion.  Being Mentarians, and aiming at a crew of somewhat lesser minds, on the third try the effect was completed and the crew actually and fully believed the unlikely tale.  They were convinced that Brain V had contacted them by radio and wished for them to head south instead of north.  Voila. And so they turned their vehicles around and began to head south.  

Meanwhile, the Moon Seekers flew the UFO to the Salt Flats and landed near the AGV in Stealth Mode.  They deposited Bruin Hilda as close to the Rhino as they could get her.  She blended into the scenery in a way that was so complete that no one could see her, not even the members of her own team, and even though they knew where she was heading.  This was a power she had learned from the Modroni while still on the moon, but as it was she couldn't imagine how she had learned this trick.  She crept silent as a door mouse to the foot of the Rhine and leapt onto the ladder as it flew ponderously by.  Climbing up she made it to the hatch.  It had a key punch code, but she obtained that telepathically from Ling, who knew it from the ancillary information she had picked up during her first contact with the members of the Black Wind V team.  It was strange how that worked out, as she had not intended to probe everyone's minds, but she felt the Modroni had somehow played a part in that event, though how was entirely unclear.  Or perhaps their skills had been slowly rubbing off on her over the many months she spent with them.  She didn't know.  But at any rate, she had picked up all kinds of reflections on each person's history, motives, thoughts and secrets during those few seconds in which she witnessed Brain V overwhelm the hapless team.  In fact that had only taken place less than an hour prior.  Which gives some idea of how fast the Modroni Ship could sail through space.  It made the Nazi UFO look like a paddle wagon by comparison.

When Brain V's two Ultra-Mechs pivoted to find out what their captives were doing, the UFO opened fire.  Unfortunately, their lack of experience caused them to miss the shot, and so the plasma beam shot wide and hit the side of Ferguson Mountain.  When it hit the ionic plasma field that had been slowly gathering for several days along the north face, the entire field went up in a huge fireball, and that caused the facility on the top of the mountain considerable damage as well.  Brain V was not pleased! And if anyone had been with him at the time, they'd know that this event caught him entirely by surprise.  And it was at this moment that he understood that somehow, other forces at suddenly come into play.  He was quite curious about that, and his super mind began searching for answers.

At that point the UFO crew decided to draw the Mechs off, and so they flew it out over the Salt Flats eastward and then arced high to the south.  Before they knew it they were blasting upward at 10,000 mph.  The UFO's Red Mercury Plasma-Vortex Engine hummed with quiet efficiency, and yes, it was that powerful.  Had it not been for the internal stasis field, and the quasi-intelligent organic Modroni  flight suits they were wearing, they'd have surely been crushed into a disgusting flat sheen of pulp against the inner hull of the ship.  As it was, they merely felt a rather uncomfortable sensation, and a bit nauseated for a few moments.  From their stations they could see on the view screen that the Ultra-Mechs had followed them, but their top speed was only 1,000 mph, and so the Moon Seekers had no problem staying out of range.  Having lead the Ultra-Mechs far enough away for comfort, they turned 178 degrees on a dime and flew back to the Salt Flats.  The UFO handled fabulously, though it was clear it would take considerable practice to get good at flying it.

Meanwhile, in the AGV, the crew members found themselves individually sharing a strange dream.  Each member who was called into the dream took the place of the same person.  A man on a mission.  It was during World War II, and the entire dream took place in black and white, as if in an old movie.  The man's name was Captain Terance Stevenson.  As the dream began he found himself outside a bombed out hospital.  His jeep pulled to a rough stop just outside the caved in doorway.  Men were scurrying over the rubble clearing out, carrying sick and wounded people to safety.  An elderly Sargent met him at the entrance, and explained in polite but terse terms the situation.  A bomb had fallen inside the hospital and was lodged in the ground unexploded.  It had landed ten minutes earlier, and if it adhered to the usual pattern it would explode in another five minutes on a time delay mechanism. He'd been called in to defuse it.  He clambered quickly over the rubble and found himself in a large open space with the sky showing through five shattered floors above.  Nearby on an open ledge formed by the 2nd floor just above the bomb was bed in which there lay a young man, probably around 9 or 10 years old.  A nurse was standing next to him staring down at the bomb below.  When Stevenson asked if they were stuck there, the nurse said that due to his condition the had doctor insisted that the boy could not be moved.  The nurse stared nervously at the bomb as she spoke.  The boy said he wanted to go home, and the nurse tried to calm him with a few words of comfort.  Now, during all of this dream Brain V was watching with great interest the reactions of each dreamer.  He created conditions in which the the dreamers were challenged by moral hazards, extreme physical dangers, and highly problematic circumstances requiring adroitness, cunning and skill to overcome.  In this segment of the dream the test was to see if the dreamer would stay steady, and if he would with good humor try to keep the boy from worrying, and the nurse, and if he would succeed in defusing the bomb by keeping nerves of steel during the ordeal.  Indeed, Pita, who was the dreamer of this segment, did all of that and more.  Brain V took careful note.  

In the next segment of the dream Fred took the place of Stevenson.  He was summoned to General Weatherby's by a Sargent who brought him the summons and had him sign for it, and then drove him to HQ by jeep.  At the door he was met by none other than Lt. Roger Brisbane!  He was in fact, the Lt. Roger Brisbane down to the last detail.  Even the small scar on his chin was the same.  This struck the dreamer as somewhat odd and perplexing, but he let that pass.  His test was to determine if he would accept the next mission despite its enormous and dangerous complications.  How brave was he?  The mission was explained to him in detail.  He would have to be flown to Greece where he would parachute by night to a small village.  He would need to cross the country by train under an assumed identity with falsified papers, and deceive the Nazis at every turn, and make his way on his own to Romania, where he would then need to contact the Underground.  He was given the identity papers of a certain character named Tartu, a member of the Fascist Iron Guard, with the "acquired" passport of the real Tartu, who had met his untimely demise a bit earlier.  The question was put to him by the General.  "No one will blame you if you don't feel you can make it.  But your experience with chemical engineering, and the fact that you grew up in Romania and speak both German and Romanian languages fluently, makes you an ideal candidate.  Can we count on you?"  Fred responded without hesitation.  "Yes, I'll go."  And with this his part of the dream ended.

Captain Samwise was next to appear in the dream, also taking up the role of Stevenson.  He found himself on a train to Romania, heading towards a top secret German war factory where he was to prevent the scientists there from completing and shipping a new nerve gas called the "Green Fog".  It was due to be dropped on London as soon as they had finished their testing of the new formula.  He had to make his way across the Greek and Hungarian borders, switching passports and identities and finally arrive in Romania where he was to meet a certain shoemaker who would put him in touch with the Romanian Underground.  Once there he was to find a way to steal the formula, and destroy the facility before the gas could be shipped.  Sam passed the test as well, despite a certain amount of over-thinking, and a bit of hemming and hawing at certain points.  Brain V looked at him however with an unusual interest.  It seemed that this person, at least, was not of the usual sort.  He seemed, unlike anyone else he had encountered (which was to date only 22 persons in total) a selfless human being.  Someone who thought of others first.  This perplexed Brain V.  He was not sure what to make of it at first.  So he spent quite a bit of time reviewing Sam's mental history after that. Fascinating, indeed.  Some future historians might conclude that it was at this point that Brain V began to evolve in a new direction.

They then all awoke.  They remembered the dream vividly, and each of them knew all of what had happened throughout.  They were astonished by it, and had no idea what had happened.  They talked it over and could make no sense of it at all.  Brain V had no intention of allowing them the luxury of understanding that he had wished to test their metal.  He did not find them wanting, and considered that they might be of use to him after all.  He intended to use them as spies in the future.  He began making his enormously far reaching plans for each of them.  There would be a unison to his design, and an over arching theme.  And from what he learned from their memory traces, he was particularly interested in finding out more about Altissimus XL-5000.  Much, much more.

As this was happening, Bruin Hilda had made her way into the lower compartment of the Rhino, and found Pita sleeping in his seat at the weapons control.  She tried to wake him, but to no avail.  Suddenly, from above, Captain Sekston became aware of the intruder and a fight broke out.  There were pistol shots, and commotion, and a wrestling match, but in the end Bruin Hilda, a truly stout medical officer, was able to sink a syringe of Trazodine III into the Captain's left thigh.  This knocked her out quite thoroughly.  And so the Rhino stood on the side of the road motionless while the fight went on.  Now Bruin Hilda took the time to try to wake Pita again but his deep sleep was beyond her medical skill to alter.  And so she took the helm of the Rhino, strapped in, checked gages, flipping switches, and taking control of the navigation and piloting controls launched the ship back into the air.  The Rhino hovered about 20 feet above the ground and began heading south.

Meanwhile, Ling, from her perch on the moon, had been observing these things with the Modroni who were keeping a careful eye on all of the proceedings.  She decided to attempt to wake up the Mentarians as the Modroni sensed that their sleep was deep but they were not comatose.  She tried once, and then twice, and the Modroni gave an extra push, and suddenly two of the Mentarians, Pita and Linda both woke up simultaneously.  And with this, they linked telepathically through Ling to one another.  There was an great deal of joy at the the sister's reunion!  

And so it was that the team was moving south instead of north, and Brain V's plans for them had been entirely altered.  Everyone was on board with this, including Guns who sat in the turret whistling quietly to himself, despite the enormous explosion on Ferguson Mountain, the cause of which evaded him.  All he knew was that as far as anyone could tell, Brain V had ordered them by radio to head South and he was fine with that.  Whatever Brain V wanted, that's exactly what Guns wanted.  Of all the members of the crew, he was the only one who sincerely felt that Brain V was, as he put it, "the best thing to come along since sliced bread".  In fact, he wasn't under Brain V's Compulsion at all.  His appreciation of the Being's vastly superior intelligence was quite sincere, and so Compulsion was simply unnecessary in his case.

At this point, Linda mentioned that she thought it would be a good idea to leave Dr. Rogers and Penelope in the desert before they continued south.  When he thought about it, Pita also had a sense that this was a good idea, though neither of them actually understood why that was.  No one understood, but since both Mentarians were in agreement on this point, and no one could think of a real reason why they shouldn't, they put the two sleeping persons in the trailer, unhitched it, and left it behind on the edge of the Salt Flats.  Brain V had need of them.

Now as for Brain V, most of the crew really had him all wrong the whole time, but they didn't know it.  The fact that they thought he was a monster was entirely understandable, of course.  He had purposely projected that impression upon them.  But, as Brain V well knew, had they been even modestly intelligent, they would have questioned that perspective carefully before drawing any conclusions. Of course he would project a monstrous powerful image to overawe them after they wantonly destroyed his Power Station.  Any child could have guessed that. But the subtlety of his true mind, well... to Brain V's great disappointment, no one understood at all.  Not since the destruction of his four sibling Super Brains had he had a descent conversation with anyone.  The humans were simply too small minded to be able to understand any topic that he found interesting.  So sad.  Is it any wonder Brain V was angry at the human race?  At last it was time for his next course of action.

"People of the Federation Command.  I am known as Brain V.  I release you from your compulsions, and am setting you free to go south as you please.  I will call upon you when I need you to serve me in the future.  For now, you are at liberty to do what you will.  Good bye."  And thus, Brain V released their compulsions and they all fell back to their normal states of mind.  All of them felt a sudden sense of release and relief.  Except of course Guns, who felt a bit disappointed, actually.  He was looking forward to meeting the Great Mind of the Cosmos.  But Brain V said he would call upon them in the future, and so he satisfied himself with that and began humming a happy little tune to himself.

And so they began the journey south.  And along the way they discussed all that had happened and found it quite perplexing.  What did the dream mean?  Why did Brain V let them go?  There seemed no easy answers.  And Sam, above all, did not trust Brain V, and felt that some sinister plan had been hatched.  But what it might, he had no inkling at all.  They discussed all of this until Pita decided he would get some answers.  And so he used a very high level Mentarian Power known as Quantum Consciousness - Instant Insight, to see if he could at least discern the meaning of the dream the crew members had had.  And so he did.  He announced to them that it was a test of their inner character traits, and that each episode of the dream tested specific attributes for each of them.  And that at least seemed to make sense to them all, though why he wanted to test them, was still hotly debated.  They eventually settled on the notion that he planned to use them for some dangerous espionage at some point in the future, and had tested them to see if they could handle such an assignment.  They felt proud of themselves that they had not been found wanting.  

As they drove Jacob sped north in order to regain radio contact with the crew and affirm that everything was going along as hoped.  And it was.  He then contacted the Panguitch Hospital by flying there at super speed and getting in touch with the acting Commander.  He warned him in somewhat vague terms that his team was approaching but that he believed that at least several members, and especially Captain Sekston, could not be trusted because they might be under the continued influence of "The Super Brain of the North".  Jacob for one did not trust that Brain V had actually released them.

The acting Commander was a young and inexperienced junior officer who was entirely flummoxed by this information, and had no idea how to handle it.  A war was encroaching from the south towards Panguitch, and Captain Sekston had agreed to take one of their only two operational Mechs north to help an organization that they'd never heard of before (Federation Command was as yet unknown in this part of the country) to fight a monstrosity that none of them had any idea existed.  And now this?  It was all too much for him, and he floundered erratically, before giving up and simply agreeing that they would deal with the matter when Captain Sekston arrived.  After all, she was the actual Commander of the base, and he had no authority to usurp her position and imprison her on the say-so of someone whom he did not at all know and was not in any chain of command that he was aware of.  Yet, he was nevertheless glad to hear that the Captain was on her way and would be there soon.  The southern war was just beyond range of the hills to the south, and everyone in Panguitch had become extremely nervous about it.  To this Jacob contrived a new plan.  He instructed Bruin Hilda to slow the progress of the Rhino down to a crawl so that she would arrive at the Hospital with the unconscious Captain Sekston in ten hours, instead of the five hours it would take the AGV.  Bruin Hilda agreed, and so the AGV slowly pulled out ahead of the Rhino and was soon beyond radio range.  

At this point Jacob and Vallnam flew south at maximum speed, which for the UFO was exactly 24,000 mph.  They arrived at Kitt Peak in no time, and contacted Lt. Brisbane by radio.  At first Brisbane and his officers were shocked and alarmed to see such a craft flying at such impossible speed towards their base.  Their screens zoomed in close and he was doubly alarmed by the large Nazi Swastika emblazoned on the hull.  The entire base went into immediate Red Alert.  When he heard the voice of Jacob Grant over the radio he became confused.  And finally, when the proper codes and introductions were transmitted, he was both surprised and delighted to hear that the Silver Eye crew members had survived their journey to the moon and returned to earth.  Amazing! He was even more delighted to hear that his twin daughters Ling and Linda were among the survivors.  Jacob gave a full and complete report (with the exception of anything having to do with the Modroni).  And the strange tale of how he and the other survivors of the Silver Eye II Mission had been rescued by the survivors of the Silver Eye I mission, and managed to steal a Nazi UFO (wait... there are Nazis on the moon?!), and returned to Earth to save the Black Wind V team from a gigantically powerful Super Brain up in Utah.  What a report that was!

And then he explained to Lt. Brisbane what Moon Princess Ling had communicated to the Team not moments earlier.  That a squadron of four Nazi UFOs had zipped off into space and were heading towards earth at maximum speed, and that there was a great deal of activity of a military nature going on inside of the secret Nazi fortress Eisenhelm which had been hidden in Mare Frigoris since 1943.  The UFOs at their current speed would arrive at Earth in 10 hours she had stated. That gave them at least that much time to prepare.  And that concluded Jacob Grant's report. And it was then that Lt. Brisbane was brought into Telepathic connection with his two daughters and there was great joy!  

And so it was, they began to carefully consider their options and commenced working on a plan.  Unfortunately, the Nazi Space Ships were far in advance of any weaponry that Federation Command had available at Kitt Peak, or anywhere else for that matter.  Those ships were designed for war, and the Moon Nazis were not messing around.  They had been up there on the moon plotting their revenge against the Western Powers for almost a hundred years.  Fast, stealthy, and insanely maneuverable, these ships came packed with super armors and super weapons.  They were up against 4 to 1 odds, and experienced and well practiced Nazi war fighters.  The chances were high that the Moon Seekers would get blown out of the sky without much ado, and from there who knows what the Moon Nazis might do!  The entire world was at risk!  After all, the Moon Nazis had hundreds of inter planetary ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads prepared for just such a day!  What to do?  What could they do?  The options were hotly debated.

As this was going on, back north, Pita and Linda were conversing via their own private Telepathic Link.  Pita was very curious about the dream that the crew members had had, and in particular the strange detail of Lt. Brisbane being in the dream.  

"You know, that's just so strange," he was saying.  "After all, what in the world would your father have to do with events during World War II?   He probably wasn't even alive then.  Was he?"

"I'm not sure," admitted Linda.  "He's always been rather evasive about certain things, and his actual age has been one of them."

"But surely he couldn't be the same Lt. Brisbane from the dream, could he?  I mean he couldn't possibly be that old, could he?"

"Well, that's the thing.  Once when we were kids Ling and I were rummaging around in the attic of our house and we found an old box tied with a ribbon. We opened it and found it filled with hand written love letters.  They were to some mystery woman whom he didn't name, and it seems he never even sent them.  We read one of them, and it was so deeply touching and sincere and beautiful we were overcome with guilt at our invasion of his privacy, and so we put them away without reading more. But among the letters we found an old black and white photograph.  It looked exactly like our father in an officer's uniform from World War II, but it couldn't have been.  We were so curious we looked very carefully, and we were quite sure that it was him down to the smallest detail.  Even the scar on his chin was visible in the photo.  But since it couldn't possibly have been him, we concluded it must have been our grandfather and that the scar was a coincidence.  And yet, there was always a nagging doubt.  And our father would never explain any of it to us, though we asked him about it incessantly.  He's a man with secrets is all I can say.  Even to the point where he never told us who our real mother was."

"Your real mother?" asked Pita, stunned by this revelation.

"Yes, Ling and I are identical twins.  But we have never known who our real mother was.  We were brought up by a lovely young woman named Sara, but she was more like a nanny to us than an actual mom, and she never pretended that she was our mother, and our father would simply never discuss it.  Military style.  Top secret.  Hush hush, mush mush."

"I see," concluded Pita scratching his chin thoughtfully.

"And on that subject, actually, I have been having the strangest dreams these past couple of weeks.  In fact they started before we left on the Black Wind V mission."

"Do tell, if you like," said Pita invitingly.

"...  I keep dreaming that there is something way out in the desert that I must see.  I pass a sign in the desert that reads Diamond Peak.  I am walking west down a long straight road out into a flat expanse of desert.  I find a witch hazel tree blooming in there with thousands of bright yellow flowers.  It is surrounded by a circle of saguaro cactus, the kind with the arms that look kind of like people if you use your imagination a bit.  Overhead I see a shooting star with a long tail. Its center glows with a black light and it leaves a long tail. I follow it, but when I get there all I find is a flat barren wasteland, with a tiny patch of land at the end of that road, upon which is, well, practically nothing.  Except what looks like it might once long ago have been a building maybe? Its just a partial rectangle of rectangular black stones in the ground, I think.  There's sage brush and a black hawk silently lands on one of the stones.  And then when I'm completely perplexed, I hear a woman's voice saying the most peculiar thing in the world to me.  'Welcome home' she says.  And then I wake up.  I've had this dream every night since we left on the mission."

"Well, that is peculiar indeed.  But we just came from the salt flats, and I don't think there was anything there, was there?" he asked.

"No, but the dream doesn't take place there.  I feel that it's further to the west.  There's another desert to the west," she said pointing her finger westward.  "Honestly, I've been thinking about it and it can't be more than a hundred miles from here.  Probably less."

"And, you want to go there, eh?" asked Pita.

"How did you know?" she replied with a smile.

"I'll tell you what.  When we get back to Panguitch, we left our rocket bikes there at the airport.  Let's take a couple and I'll go with you.  How's that sound?"

And to this she smiled warmly and agreed.


And that is where we left the adventure that day.