Part 4: The Last Update to Include a Capsule, Until the End of Our Venture, God Willing
The Last Update to Include a Capsule, Until the End of Our Venture, God Willing
Hate to disappoint you, but there's only so much to shoot at right now and I respect Nikola Tesla a bit too much to pump his gut full of shotgun shells. Plus it would create a time paradox and wipe out my update as well as the internet and I'd rather avoid that for the moment.
Alright, so we're outside on Mars. We can't breathe terribly well. And now we're hearing sounds to the east.
Yeah, Shamino isn't here and we can still hear dangerous (and not dangerous) stuff. We have ears you know. We just didn't want to tell Shamino.
First thing to do then, just in case, is arm up. A rifle for Dr. Spector, twin pistols for Nellie, and a cavalry saber/prybar combo for Steve (with the Combine in reserve). Everyone's dressed up, so let's explore!
The first sign this is not quite the Mars we're used to. The flower doesn't seem possible to interact with yet, but perhaps if we were to learn some way to interact with Martian flora.
Speaking of, it would seem there are trees on Mars. Not trees as we understand them, but certainly trees. We can kind of follow the treeline east until we encounter a sign of the 1893 expedition capsule.
On the way, our first encounter with nasties. These strange things are called Creepers, and they're not terribly difficult.
Even gasping for air and with Warren off picking his nose, Steve and Nellie dispatch them with no meaningful damage taken.
When I said a sign of the other capsule, I meant something like this: the giant depression in the ground where it
The original capsule is longer and more posh, but it's mostly been looted. There's this box of pistol bullets that Nellie will appreciate.
And under a copy of Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," a crate full of interesting stuff. A weed sprayer? This game really does have everything. The crate the candle is sitting on has a mortar and pestle and some mugs. I'm pretty much taking one of every even remotely useful tool at this point. We might very well need chemistry and weed killer to solve this mystery.
There's also a single person at the site. Where'd everyone else go? Maybe he knows!
You see a young British cavalry officer.
The man in blue leaps to his feet and salutes smartly. "Thank God you've made it, Madam!"
"Well, I only had to travel a hundred bazillion thousand miles to get some respect around here!"
"Around 36 million I think, though I haven't calculated the distance in 1895. A silly mistake, I know."
"Everyone does it, Dr. Spector."
"I moved my camp here in anticipation of your arrival. I had begun to worry, though, that a second expedition might not be sent." He begins collecting equipment and seems truly overjoyed to see you! "It will be wonderful exploring with you, Madam. Let's go to the traders' outpost at Arsia Mons and get you outfitted for survival on Mars!"
"Whoa whoa, hold it cowboy. Who are you and why should we care?"
"Dibbs, Madam. Leftenant, Her Majesty's Black Horse Guard. I was the commander of the ceremonial guard at the British exposition at the time we left. Now I've been waiting a long time to contact the second expedition. You, Madam. Mr. Lowell said we could expect another landing. I've been camped out here for a month or so, waiting."
"Naturally. The first place we would look would be the landing site for the 1893 expedition, but given the number of individuals onboard, it wouldn't be feasible for everyone to remain here for an extended amount of time."
"Yeah, whatever Warren said."
"I've been here several weeks, Madam. I've learned quite a lot about surviving in this area. The two main things you'll need to prepare for, Madam, are extreme cold and the different atmosphere. It will drop far below freezing at night. We must either bundle and sleep, or prepare warm clothing to travel. Just like the Arctic, eh, wot?" He grins jovially.
"She... isn't very good with landmarks on Earth."
"I would chalk that up to spending all her time at home doing nothing when she isn't on another planet."
"Hey, fuck you, gargoyle crime really tires you out."
"Ah... yes. There is less oxygen here than on Earth. Thankfully, Mr. McGee has found a vast supply of oxium."
"Who is this, and what is this oxium?"
"Odd man. Thoroughly delightful. He supplies most of the oxium for the colonies. Prospects it in the mountains to the east. Oxium's an odd substance, Madam. It's precious, so we tend to use it like money. It seems to be a naturally-occurring mineral. When chewed, it releases oxygen. Damned convenient for us, Madam." He blushes slightly. "My apologies, Miss Bly. Such language should never be used around lovely ladies such as yourself. And yourself also, of course, miss. Ahem."
"Did he not just hear me dropping f-bombs?"
"I suspect he tuned you out, as most of us do."
"You said we should go to the trading post. Where is that?"
"Yes, Madam, if you wish to trade anything, you should check with Buffalo Bill or Calamity Jane. They would have most anything you could want at the outpost. It's to the east, at Arsia Mons. I believe the approximate coordinates are 12S 129W."
"More critically, Lt. Dibbs, where is Mr. Lowell?"
"Ah, a sad tale indeed."
"My favorite kind."
"The distinguished Mr. Lowell was, at the outset of the adventure, a fine commander. His exploration team headed northward to Elysium. What's left of them is still there, Madam. When they found the Dream Machines, they thought that they could be the key to our rescue. Communication and all that, you know. Those that used them were never the saem again. Sad, indeed. Damned Dream Machines!"
"Intriguing. Where is Elysium?"
"20N 114E. Mr. Lowell was signalling Earth for all of us until the big reflector was destroyed. There's definitely trouble up there, Madam. They attempted to utilize one of those blasted Dream Machines. It drove them all mad. Absolutely raving. They believe they are Martians!"
"Wouldn't they sort of be Martians, in that they're living on the surface of Mars now?"
"Little green men, Steve."
"Oh. What happened?"
"Most of those who have gone insane are still in the Martian city of Elysium. Some wander about the countryside. But all believe they are now reincarnations, or some such, of the original Martians. Tripe I say, Madam."
"Are these machines in all the Martian cities?"
"Yessir. There seems to be one in each of the major Martian cities. They are in various states of repair. The one in Elysium is in fine working order, dash it all."
"What other cities?"
"We discovered the remains of four centres of civilisation, Madam. We referred to them as Elysium, Hellas, Olympus, and Argyre. Hellas is to the west of the landing site, at 27S 77E. Originally none of the parties were based there. After the blokes in Eylsium started showing signs of being a bit balmy, if you know what I mean Madam, one of their members, Marcus, took up residence in Hellas. Olympus is Jack Segal's settlement to the north. The coordinates are 10N 110W. It's where we originally began construction of the space cannon. After Mr. Segal's group took over the cannon site, however, not much work could be done. They're a bit cautious of others, Madam."
"My goodness, of course! We'd need a cannon built to return to Earth."
"Indeed, Madam, work had already begun on the return vehicle. We dug the shaft at Olympus and placed the lining. But some of the expedition saw the dangers of the Dream Machine as did I. I stayed with them for a while. Their reactions have been a bit extreme though, Madam. They have fortified the site of the space cannon and defend against anyone they consider contaminated."
"By the Dream Machine. They no longer allow me access to their camp, for example, because they consider me a threat. I have had contact with the others and may be tainted, you see. I'm not sure I blame them."
"And the final site?'
"Argyre? It's an ancient crater to the east of here. The coordinates would be about 30S 107W. The party there has occasionally supplied me with provisions, but I don't truly trust them. They're keeping too much to themselves, if you ask me. They're led by that Russian chap, Rasputin. Supposedly investigating Martian technology. Deuced strange if you ask me, Madam. Hmph. He doesn't seem to be very interested in sharing the findings with anyone else though. He uses the excuse of the 'dangerous nature of Martian technology' and 'avoiding the disaster at Elysium.' Horsefeathers! Doing something dangerous he is, Madam. I'd wager my commission on it." He looks as though he's smelled something noxious.
"What kind of technology?"
"Greenhouses for growing young plants, and transport tubes for swift travel. Canals with bridges, and the Dream Machine."
"A series of tubes?"
"Like some kind of Internet!"
"At least that's what they seem to have been. Looks like the doors and possibly the devices themselves were powered by electricity. Which we haven't discovered how to turn on. The bridges, well, I only know about the ones which were already extended when we arrived. Those would be at: 18N 111W north of Olympus, 4S 121W north of the trading outpost, 25N 121E just north of Elysium, and 36N 163W northwest of Olympus Mons."
"Let us hope Mr. Tesla can keep track of us on our investigations, then."
"Brilliant chap. I do hope he can return us to Earth."
Lt. Dibbs insinuated his way into our party at some point and won't be leaving; Steve, Spector, Nellie and Dibbs form the core group in Martian Dreams, with a few others coming along for the ride. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Dibbs comes with a little loot, and a modest supply of oxium.
You'll notice having the oxium on hand keeps Dibbs from suffering any oxygen deprivation effects. His stats are decent.
The capsule has mostly been looted clean, but there's a pair of spectacles and another pocketwatch on the seats. And what's that in the front chamber?
Oh man. An elephant gun. Let's hope there are elephants on Mars.
Better yet, let's hope there aren't.
Only one other thing in the hold: a cannister of weed killer. We've got a weed sprayer, so I might as well bring this along too.
And that's all we can do at the 1893 site. The trick now is to figure out where to go next.
(click for a larger unmarked map)
We've walked east to the 1893 site and learned a few critical locations. Dibbs has suggested a venture to see Buffalo Bill at the trading outpost to the northeast, there are crazies at Elysium, a hermit at Hellas, militant jerks at Olympus, and that creep Rasputin at Argyre. Plus dry canals and inert transit tubes all over the surface.