Morning called before the Prince of Thoth. He is sending a diplomat, Thyratis, to Syrtis Major via caravan. Umatek et al ask to go along, as that is their destination as well. The caravan will go straight west to Meepsor, then south to Syrtis Major. 40 day trek to Meepsor. Travel 4 hrs, break for 4 hrs midday, travel 4 hrs, then 12 hour camp.
Sergai stays with us too. Percy likes him because he’s a noble, hates him for being a socialist, and ambivalence toward him wanting to everthrow the tzar.
Pennyworth and Gilhooly stay with us.
4 Rhoomit Breers with drivers and connected wagons.
All our soldiers.
Commander Wiiso of Thoth royal guard accompanies Thyratis with 10 troops under him.
Plus 20 assorted servants, drivers for the breers, the caravan master Iliisor, teenage errand runner Quumbobpa Diliascophus Iknaradomuus (who is great great great grandchild of the overthrown former king of Thoth supposedly) whom LP hence we take to calling Quimbi, etc.
We buy 4 gashaunts, for LP, Covey, Brutus and an extra that Martin, Gerald, Gilhooly, and Pennyworth will rotate. Covey will spend a lot of time on the wagons so he can research. LP rides upon the Rumit breer a lot for the high vangage point.
We also buy a camp’s worth of the cheapest crap tents we can find. LP has an idea to set up a faux camp many nights to draw in ambuscades.
Nov 17 to Dec 1
Off we go. 2 or 3 scouts will be about a mile ahead, a few half mile. Flanks only half a mile. Brutus will be from 1 to 2 miles ahead of the forward scouts.
LP spends a lot of time with the Martians on the trip, going native.
1st thru 5th days: nothing happens.
Day 6: a scream from a martian attendant, running off into the desert screaming.
Covey “What’s going on back there!”
He reaches the top of a dune, throws his arms up and topples over. LP rushes back, the doc goes for the downed Martian with Martin and Gerald.
He’s stone cold dead.
Doc finds that is leg is massively swollen.
Martin “Bit by something?”
Fang marks in ankle.
Couple natives who followed start dancing, but actually avoiding biting “Sand viper nest!”
Everyone on the ground frantically starts to try to mount or get on wagons!
The diplomat is beatiing them down with his cane.
The Brits with boots “thank god we have boots” and start jabbing at any they see.
LP “Fast ahead! Move now! As many w/o boots, on animals or wagons!”
We make it through. Looking back, we see the things writhing all over the body.
Next night: LP wakes up with feeling something is wrong, his tea cup rattled next to his bed, he swears. Its pitch dark, draws his revolver from under his pillow.
One of the sand vipers is in his bed!
It bites, but its at his hand and hits the pistol instead breaking a fang!! He hammer it with his pistol grip. Donning his boots he calls out for all to stay in beds, do not move! Snakes abound!
Finally, a search reveals there is only that one.
LP “Assassination attempt. Broadstone, kill all the martians.”
Covey calms LP down, but, the attempt was made. Someone who knew how to handle them grabbed a snake and brought it back.
Asking around reveals no information.
LP “Martin, how do you feel about sleeping under my bed?”
Martin “In the sand? Not good.”
Covey says that is essence is a good idea. After sleep, one of us should sneak into his tent to keep watch and rotate. We can put a carpet under the bed. LP wants to rotate the Celts. Martin and Gerald are convinced its a good idea. Covey adds number 1 to the rotation.
Day 12: Brutus spots bodies lying in the sand ahead. He carefully approaches. 1 is a man wearing safari garb, vest and frock coat over it, and top hat. Other is a blonde blue eyed girl in tattered skirt and blouse.
They are alive! but near death. He waters their lips, trying to revive one. They need out of the hot sun. He positions the mounte tween them and the sun and keeps slowly hydrating them.
The scouts catch up then the caravan. The doc gets them on stretchers and to his medical wagon and begins working on them.
Brutus follows the tracks from where they came, finding a dropped canteen, machete, rifle, etc. Comes to a massacre sight where a small caravan was wiped out. Desert raiders are the culprit, he’s sure. They rode off away from our line of march. He follows their trail, and they are just ahead, only a few dunes away. It’s only about a dozen, small fire, white man staked to the ground fire tween his legs. They are going to burn him up slowly.
Brutus lies down and starts firing. He drops the first one nearest to the white. 5 of them start looking around as another drops from Brutus’s new rifle. All of them drop to the ground. 5 fire muskets in return. More musket and bowfire as Brutus wounds another.
Another falls dead.
Last 2 musket men fire, the rest but 2 who stay to guard the prisoner mount up to charge. Brutus ducks, sets his top hat on his spear to bluff them and moves down and around.
By the time they get up top, Brutus arrives at the 2 guards below! He kills both in consecutive rounds. The mounted are charging down, and Brutus readies to defend.
It’s now 1 on 7!
Once they are down to 4, they break and run for their mounts. He picks up his rifle and drops a wounded. The other 3 take off across the flat desert. He starts firing as they flee. He drops 2, then its the mount of the last and he is thrown! The gashaunt continues fleeing and Brutus catches the downed desert dog taking him prisoner. Dragging him back, the tell the dog how he’s going to eat him from the feet up unless he has something interesting to tell.
“I know nothing!”
“Well, better think of something.”
He says they were just as looked, only raiders who hit an opportunity.
Brutus sets the man free. In Venusian he says to Brutus “Hail and well met traveller, far from your home.”
He takes his pistol off of one of the dead and puts a bullet in the captives head.
“Mighty white of you to save me.”
He sent away the 2 whites that Brutus recently found.
THey return to the caravan with 7 gashaunts, including the one Harry rides. Cpt Harry Towers. Of his majestey’s fusilliers.
Percy is happy to outrank him, as a major.
Stationed on India, fort on Venus, commanded the guard to archaeological expedition into the swamps there where he learned the lizard man language. Harry has a stiff leg, stabbed in a skirmish there severely. He was mustered out for the injury. Bored living onpension in ENgland so came to Mars. Became guide, bodyguard, whatever here on Mars. He was hired to this dead caravan by professor and his daughter into the desert looking for the lost temple of gold.
Gilhooly “Did you say gold?”
Martin “Temple to what?” He says the prof. will tell us about it when they are revovered enough.
We camp here.
By nightfall the professor is up. He is an old professor of Rathbone’s? His daughter (picture Susan George) also was close to Richard as well (ahem).
Percy “Does this have anything to do with Seldan?”
He has a piece of pottery with a map to the lost tomb of Seldan 25th.
Covey “How close are we, by your reckoning?”
He already thought he knew but he was off. He needs an expert to look at the data and correct his mistakes. He will accompany us to use the heliograph to contact Rathbone on earth in hope that he can come to Mars.
LP is very excited by this prospect.
Covey and Amanda strike up conversation, and as the caravan goes on soon feel as kindred spirits.
Midnight: piercing scream rips through the camp. Covey charges out, seeing a tale just going into the tent. He charges in finding a steppe tiger stalking, Amanda screaming in fear.
“Good god, man!” He kicks sand up at its ass so it turns its attention on him, then backs out, it following.
As it is about to pounce on Covey and rip him apart, a drunken Martin and Gerald who were passing nearby come from tween the tent. Martin gives it a swift kick. It turns on him now.
Martin “A giant cat!” It bites and rakes the Irishman
Covey runs into his tent for his saw sword. LP and No. 1 arrive next. Then Broadstone! in quick succession!!
Drunk Gerald almost falls over missing do drunkenly.
Covey returns saw sword in hand and we cut it down together.
Covey goes in and checks on Amanda, none the worse for ware but for frightened.
We find 2 guards dead, waterskin poisoned. One throat cut, must not have drank.
Martin and Gerals says some of the scouts were up drinking. We search but find no bloody knife.
Day 15: reach oasis!!
Large pond, we rest the day and night here. Amanda goes to take a bath out of sight w/o telling anyone. Soon, we hear her screaming. We rush to her again finding a Green Coco wrapped around her, in the water. Its like a python!
We jump in the water. Martin grabs it just under its head, keeping the bite at bay. It starts wrapping around him. It releases her, and she drags herself out into the mud. They grapple back and forth as Covey cuts at it with his blade. Brutus arrives soon after and leaps into the fray. They finish it off. Covey rushes to check on Amanda, again. She’s ok, again. He accompanies her back to her tent and stays with her for a while, again.
He remains the gentleman, though. She tries to get him to ‘punish’ her. Covey is a bit perplexed at first until he finally catches her implication.
He excuses himself “Well, we’ll talk about things tomorrow.”
Dec 2 thru 3
Noise like a rifle shot in the distance, then a thundering coming closer toward us.
Brutus ahead hears a shot behind him. Rides back to see a huge herd of Eegaar, like Martian antelope going right toward the caravan.
Soldiers line up at front to fire into them. It turns the herd away.
LP “Free food.”
A scream of fright from behind. Ont of the Breers bolted, throwing its driver. It then stepped on him, running from the shots as fast as it can go. In the haudau is Amanda, wailing for help.
Covey and Percy charge after it, mounted. LP is able to get onto the gashaunt and pull it to a stop just short of a dropoff. A Covey looks up, LP gives the ride a quick jerk to the left so that she drops off right into Covey’s arms.
Covey is starting to get exhausted of this.
She is simply a danger magnet.
Once back, we have to find who started the stampede. Again, no answers, no one saw anything.
Dec 5, night
On Sergai’s and No. 1’s duty:
No. 1 catches a funny but familiar odor on the wind: high martians!
He warns the others quickly. Suddenly they drop out of the sky, spears in their feet, going for all awake in gangs.
Frederick and O’Bannion go down at B post. It was a ferocious initial strike by the enemy on them. Frederick was put down fast. O’Bannion put up a valiant fight with multiple crits in defense, but was finally brought low and bled out.
One other private just in neg.
Around this are is our closest point to Shastapsh.
To the SW, LP sees a dust trail in the distance coming in our general direction.
LP “Brutus, end that scout.”
Cpt Tower accompanies him.
They see 3 mounted men in Shapshapsh garb. Brutus lines up on one with his new sniper rifle and hits. Tower chases on his mount and catcvhes one, engaging
Brutus mounts up and chases the other an cathes up quickly to the other 2. One turns to fight him but the other continues on. Brutus breezes past him, who then continues on to double on Tower, for the runner and catches him!
Cpt Tower finishes off his first opponent then his 2nd as well!
Brutus is having a devil of at time fighting mounted but kills him.
They return to camp.
Back at the camp, we know the enemy regiment may be around somewhere if those men are a patrol. A decision is made that we can’t sneak the caravan through. An idea is to drag up a large swath of dust to stir up a dust cloud that will draw the enemy that way.
O’ Malley volunteers. Hung as well, and half a dozen soldiers with a Sgt. Brutus goes as well, and Cpt Towerm who is in command.
We make north with the dust cloud. Brutus lags behind to watch for the enemy so we can stop the ruse and flee as soon as necessary.
Brutus sees 2 dust clouds, of about the same size. They may have split up. Both is coming for us in 2 different columns, SE and SW. He estimates about 150 per group. Brutus rides to report but over a sand dune ahead, an enemy cavalry squad appears blocking his path.
Brutus lets forth a mighty whoop and charges! They are so shocked to see a lizardman riding a martian mount and charging them unabashedly they break and scatter.
He cathes up to us and reports the 2 columns. We continue leading them away until nightfall, covering about 15 miles. Using the cover of night, we circle back, Brutus accurately leading us to the caravan.
Dec 8 to 14
Still on our way. From high ground in the early afternoon, we see the 4 regiments of the company searching in different directions. One has picked up our trail and is about an hour behind us. A few small patrols scattered about the area as well.
Brutus needs to cover our trail!!
We race ahead, the Cpt moving us tactically. We gain at least a half hour on them. We gain another hour and half from Brutus’ wilderness skill, then we make fast for the caravan and make it without incident.
We are in Meepsor’s patrol area at this point.
Covey says we need to travel enough to let them catch us at night. Set up our fake camp to draw them in, and then ambush them within.
Prof “Good show, general Covington!”
We set up in a rocky path, line the sides, set Martin, Gerald, No. 1, and Phat in the camp to make it look good.
They wait for dawn to attack, we have started cooking to make it look like we are preparing for everyone else to wake up.
3 volleys, our melee masters in the camp with a gattling gun, and the unexpected amount of dead makes them panic and flee!
Back on the road and we run into a Meepsor patrol!
12 days travel there including today.
We wire to Sirtis Major for a pick up by the HBTC.