Into the Mountain
Attack of the Oso
Alpha One heard a fearsome roar which extended above and below human hearing range. The Mystic looked worried. “It’s the Oso!” he shouted, forgetting to use mindspeech for a moment.
Groo and Alpha One rushed outside, quickly followed by Kitra and Tarse. Indeed, a huge bearlike creature, taller than a man was bearing down on the village of Sanctuary. It roared and charged.
Groo scampered off to one side. Alpha One readied his sword — he was an honourable assassin, and carried no guns. Kitra and Tarse blazed away with their guns as the monster approached. Kitra hit it but it shrugged off the pain. Tarse, grinning madly, threw one of the Collector’s grenades. There was a huge flash and boom, and the Oso backed away into the dark woods.
The long tunnel
The Mystic agreed to take them to the site of the escape tunnel. It was an uninviting hole in the ground. Alpha One lowered himself down and found a regular square tunnel of some man-made stone-like material. It extended as far as his eyes could see. The others joined him and they began their march.
After a while they became aware of a faint greenish glow from panels overhead, which made visibility no problem (especially with their various night-vision enhancements). In a small side alcove Kitra found a cupboard containing white suit of some cloth-like material.
Eventually, they came to a pit, square, dark and endlessly deep. Ladder rungs set into the wall descended into blackness. Down, down they climbed, until they dimly perceived the cave opening on the other side, just as the Mystic had claimed. With amazing agility, Groo half-jumped, half wall-walked to the cave mouth and secured a rope for the rest to follow.
The new cave was dark, rough hewn and probably natural. Rounding a bend, they breathed fresh night air and saw the bright stars. Below them was the village of the Power Seekers
Power Seeker Village
Kitra sneaked down from the cave to the first of the visible huts. The first one was large and she saw sleeping forms inside. The next hut also had a sleeping form, but on a workbench were various tools and a white suit similar to the one she’d seen in the Mountain. Could this one be the Bone Man?
Bone Man, awakened.
Kitra took a chance and sure enough it was he. The Bone Man was confused. He said he had been sacrificed by the priests, but inexplicably returned carrying some of the Collector’s precious material, which he’d recovered from below. The priests had wanted to kill him but the chief intervened when he’d made an axe head out of the strange alloy. The Bone Man happily accompanied Kitra back to the others, after grabbing his tools.
Kitra realised from talking to the Bone Man that the Power Seekers used the cave as a sacrificial area, and rarely if ever ventured inside. That meant that with the co-operation of the Mystic and his village, a minor mining operation could be set up to retrieve the material under the very noses of the Power Seekers. The Mystic agreed to help, and the group flew back to the Collector with the Bone Man to make the arrangements.