NOTE: this journal contains massive spoilers. If you plan on participating in Beyond the Mountains of Madness as a player in the future, i encourage you to stop reading now. Otherwise, you will completely spoil the campaign for yourself. You have been warned.
My Dearest Uncle,
I am quite, quite tired, having done much physical labor in the last few days. I neglected to tell you that in the last meeting we had with Professor Moore, he said that all the food needed to be examined for further evidence of taint. We had also decided that all of the holds needed to be inspected as well for signs of sabotage, particularly the equipment that is to be used for our expedition once we reach the Antarctica. We were cautioned to be extremely discreet, and to take our time as we had a full ten days until we reach Melbourne. We discussed the best ways to do this and made the decision to start at the top hold and work our way down.
The next day we began with the lower deck of hold #1, oxygen tanks. Several of them were stacked in a configuration that strongly reminded me of the lawn gnome heads in our garden at the London house! Scott checked them with soapy water, as he said if there were any leaks this would make them apparent. It was a clever idea and worked well. It was discovered that several of the tanks, 13 out of 80, were only half full. The seals were tightened on them, though it seemed quite suspicious that so many of them would have been loosened. We checked everything against the manifest as we went along, and discovered nothing else awry. It takes roughly about a day to do this, and is sweaty, grimy, tiring work. We met with the professor that night with our report on the day's discoveries.
The next day we checked the electrical equipment of hold #1. In looking at the generators, we discovered scoring next to and on the oil ports of all three generators, reminiscent of the corrosive scoring of the pipes in the refrigeration unit. Scott took it apart to inspect it more closely and informed us that some sort of acid had been poured into the oil ports. Quite frightening to see such obvious evidence of such deliberate sabotage! We again reported to Moore that evening before retiring.
The next day we began with hold #2, plane fuel. Oleg found a small cloth parcel stuffed between some of the barrels. Inside was a large coil of a quick-burning fuse and some blasting caps. Some of the caps were fixed to the end of the fuse. Mawson said that it was an obvious sabotage job, but that it was not yet completed. Whoever had been working on it had been interrupted and had not yet returned to complete it. Worthington and Oleg decided to stay and hide out there in the hopes of catching the saboteur returning to finish his work, while we reported to Moore. In checking the manifest, Worthington noted that the fuse material had been missing from the manifest when the ship was first loaded. Professor Moore was extremely concerned and agitated in our meeting that evening. There was quite a bit of heated discussion as to how to proceed with the information. Did we now pass it on to the captain? Did we forget about the discretionary part of it and rouse the ship? We also discussed creating a ship's diversion in the hopes of flushing out the saboteur, which would throw discretion to the wind. The professor was reluctant to do that at this point. He asked us to come up with an alternate plan for now. We decided to keep searching and take shifts in hiding out with the plane fuel to catch the unknown person/s.
We decided to work through that night with further inspections, with Oleg and Scott hiding out in the fuel hold. Myself, Worthington and Mawson continued with checking the dynamite. In that particular hold, against the aft port wall stood a small, sturdy room, 8 by 8 ft., surrounded by bags of cement. The door of the wooden room was padlocked. Worthington decided to wake Turlowe up as he had the only key. While he was gone, I decided, almost for the fun of it, to try to pick the lock. To my surprise, it worked, though it created some significant confusion when Turlowe and Worthington returned with the key. I gave Turlowe a story about it not having been locked thoroughly, though it was rather awkward and I'm not at all certain he bought it. As he took his responsibility for the dynamite very seriously, Turlowe insisted that only Mawson accompany him in to check the dynamite, though he reluctantly agreed to let us observe from the doorway. Everything checked out, and Turlowe departed, not at all happy to have been woken up in the wee hours of the morning. Scott, Oleg and Worthington stayed in the fuel hold, sleeping in shifts while the rest of us returned to our quarters.
Next day the inspections resumed with hold #2, the two Boeing planes and the kerosene. It took all day, but everything checked out. The next day we continued on with hold #3, the lower part containing only the huge wooden ramp for offloading equipment. It was checked rather quickly and we went on to the tween deck to inspect the sledding and camping equipment. We discovered 5 of the radios had been tampered with. Scott thinks he may be able to work on them. Oleg noticed a large brown bottle that was supposedly filled with chemicals used in developing photographs, though he remarked that it smelled rather odd. In checking it, I discovered that it was instead filled with chlorine bleach. We again reported our findings to Moore and then went to dinner.
Do you remember the mess boy that originally reported the ammonia leak in the refrigeration hold? I wanted to talk to him further to see if he himself was guilty or perhaps unwittingly was privy to information about the incident. Under the guise of a follow-up medical checkup for ammonia inhalation, I called him to the medical office. Worthington was also there pretending to have a checkup himself. The young man, a Mr. Cotes, was a very plain, salt-of-the-earth sort of seaman. We both questioned him as unobtrusively as possible, but did not get much useful information except to find out the Polaski, one of the dog handlers, has access to both the dog food and the refrigeration units.
Next day we continued with inspection of the final hold, which held the materials to be used for building the base camp. Everything checked out against the manifest and seemed to be in order. Later that night, Oleg invited Polaski to his quarters for an evening of drinks and cards, to see if he could get any information that might prove his guilt or innocence. Although a mighty attempt was made by Oleg, helped by significant amounts of alcohol, nothing of much use to us was found. The next day was my turn to stake out the hold, while the others inspected the hold containing the dogs and their supplies. Nothing seemed out of place or sorts, and those of us that could, retired for the evening.
That is all for now, uncle. We will be in Melbourne in a few days. I shall pick up any packages waiting for me and will post you all I have.
Your Loving Shelby
My Dearest Uncle,
So much has happened since I last sat down to write I scarcely know where to begin. Let's see, we were retiring for the evening...
After lunch the following day, Moore met with us - those of us not on the stake-out - to discuss any new ideas for catching the saboteur. What resulted from the discussions was that we do know that rumours fly like eagles on a ship like this, and so we decided to use that to our advantage to flush out our bad guy. Goodness knows there have been enough rumours spread about our expedition, about Starkweather being mad and bringing bad luck wherever he chances. We decided that Mawson should start the rumour with the cook, Sanchez, as he is quite friendly with him. The rumour will basically start out that we were to be met by a british warship in deep water prior to reaching Melbourne. They would then board the ship, ferret out the saboteur and arrest him. It is our hope that sometime in the next few days until we reach port that the saboteur will panic and seek out to either remove his handiwork or complete it, in which case we would catch him and prevent further harm to our expedition.
So, directly after dinner, Mawson steps into the galley to talk with his pal, saying, 'Hey, did you hear...?' I hoped this would work as I was terribly concerned about continuing without knowing who was trying to stop us. The rumour spread like wildfire. A few days later, Worthington was approached by one of his cabin mates, Griffith, who said he happened to hear a few rumours floating around and did he know where they came from? Worthington said that yes, he had heard them too, but that the originations of such things are hard to pinpoint. What a chap! I spent some time looking up the personnel files on the newest of the kitchen crew, a man named Hennings, but did not find much information to go on.
The next morning around 7 am, while Mawson and myself were on stake-out duty, was when the event we had hoped for came to pass. We heard the creak of the hatch opening in the fuel hold where we were hiding out behind a couple of large barrels. It was quite dark in there, and at first all there were was the sound of footsteps approaching us, then passing and going to where the small package of explosives were. We heard a click, and then the light of a torch. In the circle of it's light we could see a man in a kitchen crew's uniform bending over the bundle. Mawson approaches him from behind as I crept towards the hatch opening to prevent his escape. Mawson went quite near him, shined his torch directly onto him and shouted, 'It's Hennings!' I couldn't quite see what happened next as I was nearer to the door, but I did hear the unmistakeable sounds of a fight in progress. I struggled with the dilemma of whether to stay put or see if Mawson needed my help, and finally went towards the sounds, my heart beating like a locomotive! As I neared them, I could see that Mawson was in a bad way. Hennings had been injured too, by the looks of it, though I knew he was quite desperate and needed to kill us in order to remain anonymous. Desperation lends strength to the weakest of us, as you well know. Remember the ruins in the jungles of Peru?
Anyway, I could not bear to stand by and watch a friend and colleague in danger so into the fray I went. After much struggling, and one point at which Hennings almost got away, I got in a couple of very respectable kicks and down he went, quite unconscious. I will never again joke about all the self-defense training Father made me take back in good old Pak. They served me well that day!
We tied Hennings up quite competently with rope. I climbed out of the hold and went one over where Scott was and alerted him to what had happened. He came back down into the fuel hold with me and agreed to stand guard over Hennings while I helped Mawson up to the medical offices to tend to his wounds. Along the way we let Worthington know and off he went to see if Scott needed any assistance. I deposited Mawson on a cot with some painkillers and went to find Moore. I quickly told him what had transpired and he was shocked and angry. He went off to fetch Starkweather, the captain and whatever guards they have here to take Hennings in. In the meantime I tended to Mawson. Nothing terribly serious, uncle, though a good deal of bruising and cuts and abrasions. He will take a couple of weeks to fully recover, though as we both know from his history he is a hardy fellow indeed!
What happened down in the fuel hold was related to us later by Scott and Oleg, as Worthington was busy taking most of the credit for events - events which he was not even present for! Just as well, I suppose, as there is bound to be much publicity and I do not want too much of that at this time. Must keep up appearances! The captain was terribly, terribly angry at the near disaster of his beloved ship. He was initially irritated at not being told all the facts ahead of time, but was much appeased by the success of our plan and the capture of our saboteur. Starkweater sent for Miss Whiston to take photos of the prisoner as he is very focused on gaining as much positive publicity as possible. Turlow arrived with four big burly men to take Hennings to the bridge, just as he was coming to. As he regained consciousness and realized what was happening, Hennings began to laugh rather maniacally, in between bouts of spitting blood. Quite gruesome! He seemed quite mad...
News of the capture spread like fire during the next day as the events were told and retold. Starkweather bragged on quite a bit about us - "his boys" - capturing the saboteur in a bold and clever move! There was much made of it in the public radio broadcasting to the rest of the world. Mawson and I attended the questioning of Hennings while Worthington and Scott searched his footlocker. They found a folded, much-worn copy of Starkweather's first expedition, as well as two small vials, one full and one with half of it's contents gone. After testing it was discovered to be sulphuric acid. The one quite interesting thing uncle, was that on a corner of the expedition announcement was a strange symbol. After it was showed to me I realized that it was the very same symbol that was painted on that old Church of Contemplation, back in Boston. To be honest, it gave me the creeps...
As we would be at the Melbourne port the next day, we radioed ahead for some of our supplies. After we dock, there is a short rail trip into the city of Melbourne proper, where we will be seeing to our supplies. We will be there for a week and it will be our last port. The trip into the harbor itself was quite a pretty one, lots of lush greenery. When we arrived, we could see a huge crowd of people waiting for us, a great many of which were obviously reporters and journalists. Starkweather loved the publicity, as did our own Worthington, who relished the attention, spotlights and made much of the question and answer period. Hennings was lead away by a bevy of lawmen, looking over at us and smiling before he was taken out of sight. We met briefly with the local constables to give our depositions while the rest were surrounded by reporters. Mawson arranged for us to meet with one of the local reputable reporters and we gave him our story. Mawson is quite well known and popular here. As a bit of a gag, and since Worthington was really playing up the hero bit, Mawson arranged to have three of the local natives to follow Worthington around for a few days playing their didgeridoos ceaselessly. It was quite hilarious over the next few days, especially since Worthington wasn't quite sure whether it was some strange custom or not!
Anyway, that first day we checked into our hotel, had a hot bath and a hot meal of real food, and then slept for quite a number of hours in clean, comfortable, real beds! It was wonderful! Before leaving the ship, Moore asked us to be responsible for the bulk of our main supplies, making sure they were thoroughly inspected by us before being loaded onto the ship. There were the generators, the pemmican and photography materials. He gave us a list of the contacts and their addresses. And so after an initial day of rest, we set out to see to our supplies. There were four places to go. The first place we headed out to was in Braybrook, to an R.J. Manfield and Son for our pemmican supplies. Upon arriving, however, we discovered that they did not know what we needed, and indeed were a peach canning factory. There must have been some misunderstanding. After some discussion, though, we did discover that their equipment would be adequate for making our pemmican. The owner agreed to allow us the use of it and volunteered to get the materials we needed. We would have to come up with the work force, and one or two of us would have to stay during the process to ensure no contamination. We called Moore and authorized a group of men from the ship to come down the next day, and I would stay to oversee.
The next place was in Richmond, a Pease Power Equipment to obtain our electrical equipment. We had ordered three generators, they had six...and all six were not to our specifications, being the wrong wattage. The owner recommended another place, which turned out to be the place we needed to get our photograpy materials from. However, when we arrived, we discovered a recently burned-out shell of a warehouse. At this point I began to feel quite uneasy about our apparent difficulties with obtaining our supplies. Could someone be hindering us here still?
We went to another photography supply place where we were able to elicit a promise of delivery that afternoon. We then went on to Williamstown to an electical outfitting place where we were able to obtain three acceptable generators. Having taken all day, we went back to our hotel to rest and relax. And that, dear uncle, is where I will stop for now. I will go to the bank tomorrow for any letters and packages, and to post all that I have.
I remain your faithful,
Dearest Uncle Lawrence,
Once again, I have much to relate of the last week, culminating in a serious injury to one of our group. I take up where I left off...
About 9 am the following morning, we received a call from constable McCluskey wanting us to come down to the station to go over our depositions. After breakfast we left the hotel, being swarmed by reporters which we fended off as soon as was possible, and made our way to the police station. The inspector questioned us privately, one by one, being particularly interested in any possible motives Hennings might have had in sabotaging our expedition. He got little information from us, partly because we don't have much to go on yet, and partly because a lot of what we have experienced he simply would not believe. Hennings has told them nothing.
The questioning took up a great deal of the afternoon, after which we headed over to the factory to see to the making of the pemmican. Sanchez the ship's cook had been put in charge of the other men sent from the ship for this process. As soon as we entered the factory, we could smell the almost overwhelming odor of molasses, meat and sweat, for there is no cooling system in the building and the heat is overpowering. As Sanchez badly needed a break, Mawson took him to lunch and also to get a list of the foodstuffs we needed to procure for the voyage. We also arranged for a welcome reward to the men who were working so hard on the pemmican. A hot bath and meal, night on the town and a bottle of rum each. The news was met with much enthusiasm, as you can imagine! Oleg went off to see about acquiring some good dogs to replace those unfortunately killed earlier. He and Fiskerson were successful in getting about half a dozen of good stock.
Mawson went back to the hotel to call our private investigator. There was not much to be gleaned there, no apparent connection between Alexia and the germans that he can find. The Lexington manuscript appears to be unique, no copies or rumours of copies to be found to date. The murders that happened in Boston before we left, if you remember, were never solved. The "culprit", that undead creature we accidentally unloosed has not been caught. Our PI says there have been a few more similar deaths since then. We continue to retain him to follow any other seemingly related murders. Mawson also received an invitation to a function being thrown by the mayor, which he will attend with Worthington in tow.
Early in the evening, we closed down work at the factory, the men cleaning up before they left. I did see a rather interesting thing; when Scott was cleaning up I saw part of a strange looking burn on his back which looked like it had been branded there deliberately. Only part of it...perhaps I shall find out more about it later. There is still much that I do not know about my companions, which I hope to begin remedying. It goes without saying there is much they do not know about me!
While Mawson and Worthington went off to attend the mayor's function, Scott, Oleg and myself decided to treat ourselves to a night out on the town. After a fine dinner, we went on a "pub crawl"...it was at about the third one that I found out some very interesting facts about our quiet friend Oleg. Do you know, he comes from an incredibly long-lived family? Or tribe, as he calls it. Oleg, although he doesn't look a day past 35, is actually 65, with a grandfather who is turning 115 this year! Incredible! His tribe lives on a small island on the northern tip of Norway...he decided to go off adventuring a few years ago, to see new places and perhaps bring back a bride or two back home as his tribe's population has evidently been faltering in past years. He is descended from a long family line of shamans, uncle, and is one himself. He did not speak much of the exact details of what he does, though he did speak of the wind talking to him often, and knowing various things, such as how to send someone who is dying "over". He seems to be able to have the ability to sense things about people. I asked him what he thought of Hennings, and he mentioned that he thinks "something bad" is "talking" to Hennings. As you know, uncle, we have seen some strange things on our many travels, so I do not discount his talents. I have asked him to tell me if he gets any strange feelings about other people or situations on our travels together, which he has agreed to. He seems an honest and frank man, keeping much to himself and being fairly simple - in manner, not intellect.
We head back to the hotel, where we met up with Mawson and Worthington in the hotel lounge. We were all a bit tipsy, I must admit. After an impromptu band session which consisted of the natives playing the didgeridoos and Worthington on the banjo, we agreed we'd had enough and retired for the evening. The next morning we received a notice from Moore that we need to be back on the ship by Tuesday evening, which was a couple of days away. As the pemmican production was finished and the food procurement successful, we spent most of those days sightseeing and shopping. Expect a box with some local oddities, uncle, and thank you for your letters and package. The clothing and socks and records are very welcome, as are the tidbits...tell Aunt Margaret I cannot use the manicure set though, as it would cause suspicion. She does know this is an Antarctic expedition?!
Tuesday morning we packed up and went back to the ship. Worthington mentioned at breakfast that he now hears the didgeridoos in his sleep! When we arrived at the docks, Moore was there, overseeing the loading and organizing of much of our supplies. At around 7:30 pm, we see a large, canvas-covered truck speeding to the dock, horn blaring and people scattering in it's path. It pulls up and out jumps Starkweather, behind him are three battered cars from which poured a score of reporters and journalists. Starkweather gets some men to unload the contents of the truck, which contains oxygen tanks. He spends some time talking up the expedition to the media and then disappears.
The ship set sail at around 3:30 am that morning. Later on, Moore calls a meeting of the expedition members in he officer's lounge. The weather is going to be very stormy the next few weeks, which will make the voyage very rough but will be good in that it will break up and push out the pack ice. If all goes well, we will be setting up our base camp in a month, sooner if we have good fortune, which seems unlikely considering recent events.
The weather for the next while is bad, winds are cold and heavy, almost all of us have been sick except for Worthington, who is of course playing it to the hilt! The ship is tossing furiously. My cabinmate, Abermarle is the meteorologist, keeps running back and forth from the cabin to the instrument room. He says he has never seen readings like this here. The advantage to that is that I have some advance warning when it's going to be particularly bad. When the weather broke on the evening of the 23rd, we witnessed the most glorious sunset. I wish you could have been here to see it...the next morning dawned clear and cold, with distinct ice buildup on the railings and deck, which makes traversing rather slippery and dangerous. We made excellent progress, but it was not to have been the last storm, unfortunately.
The 25th started out very foggy and cold, very slippery and visibility being almost nil. The first iceberg was spotted that morning, then more, till we had seen 12 or more by that evening. It is the most eerie feeling, seeing the giant bergs looming out of the mists like huge, sentry-like ghosts...as evening approached, the temperature began to drop drastically, signalling the likelihood of another large storm. We headed south to the ice pack on the 26th, the temperature lower than ever seen or predicted in these parts before. Abermarle is almost panicked as he has never seen the barometer this low. As a huge, dark mass of clouds came scudding across the sky towards us, I began to feel that the mother of all storms was coming - and then it hit us.
It was truly terrible, uncle, like riding the most unstable, demon-driven rowboat through the gates of hell itself! The waves were tremendous, rising up like giants to the sky, then crashing down on the ship, threatening to tear it to pieces...the screeching and wailing of the ship as timbers and metal were pushed to their limits was horrible to hear, like the sound of a thousand tortured souls...added to the horror of it were the poor dogs, tossed about in their cages and howling and wailing as if they were being skinned alive! Hour after hour it went on and on...many are seasick, though I seem to have gained some measure of sea legs...the only worthwhile bit during this time was that Worthington fell prey to the seasickness himself, though the amazing thing was that Mawson was suffering terribly. To his credit, though, it had been some time since he has been sailing. The storm had to be experienced to be believed, uncle, it was truly not something I wish to ever repeat.
Later on as I was trying to relax in the cabin amidst the bucking and rolling of the ship, I heard a strange kind of heavy crash, different than the other noises of the ship I had become accustomed to during the storm. It came from somewhere forward of the bow. I left the cabin to investigate, getting Scott and Oleg on the way, Worthington and Mawson being too ill at the time. As they too listened, Scott said he thought that it sounded like a heavy piece of machinery being ripped loose. Scott and I went up to the deck while Oleg went to tell the captain, who told him to fetch Turlow and do whatever needed to be done. We all met up outside.
The weather was the worst I have ever seen at sea. It was pitch black outside, the wind cutting through our coats like a knife, mingled with bits of flying ice. Visibility was 20 feet at best. The deck was slippery and icy. We tied ourselves to each other with an anchoring rope, and went hand over hand along the dock. I had one very terrifying moment went a huge wave hit the boat and nearly capsized the ship, ending up with me dangling over the railing, head down. Thank god for the rope or I would have been gone for good! We went to hold #1, and discovered that the equipment was straining against it's mooring but remained alright. In hold #2, however, was where the problem was. Two of the four great engines from the Boeings had broken free of their ropes and were flying around, hitting everything in their paths, with shards of wood from the broken crates littering the floor. The other two engines were still secure. The planes themselves had been hit and badly dented, with plane fuel spilled on the floor, making it very slick and dangerous. Turlowe looked and swore fiercely. He left and was back shortly with 8 men, and we all descended one at a time down into the hold. There was plenty of rope, cargo netting and D rings in the hopes that we could catch the engines in between swells and resecure them. The third man down was hit a glancing blow by one of the engines, which was enough to take a chunk out of his leg. I hurried down and dragged him behind some of the barrels and tied off his leg, which was bleeding furiously, adding to the slick mess on the floor. I then went back to see what I could do, as it was imperative we take care of this before our expedition was completely ruined.
I slipped in a puddle of the spilled kerosene and went down, right in the path of one of the wildly careening engines. Fortunately for me, Scott reached me in time to pull me out of the way, saving my life, I'm sure, though as we tried many times to catch the two engines he was not so lucky. He slipped on the floor and one of the engines rolled over the lower part of one of his legs, breaking it badly in the process. I dragged him back to the same place as the other crewman, and did the best I could without my bag. He was in such agonizing pain that I eventually had to stun him by hitting him sharply on the back of the skull. Meanwhile, the crew had succeeded in securing both of the engines through much perserverence and labor. We fashioned a couple of stretchers and took Scott and the other crewman to the medical offices, where they were stitched up. It was touch and go for a while, but after several hours of hard work, Dr. Greene and myself managed to successfully reset Scott's leg. It is a good thing we still have at least a month to go, as he will need plenty of recuperation time. I left him in good hands and even better pain medication and went to see what the extent of the damage was.
The hold was a mess. Neither of the two engines are repairable, as was the fate of one of the Boeings. Half of the kerosene is also gone. It was discovered that corrosive acid had been poured on the mooring ropes, though it looked as if it had been done some time ago, one bit of Hennings work, we think. The positioning of it would have been impossible to detect. How unfortunate! I am beginning to think perhaps we have invited some sort of bad luck with us...we told Moore and Starkweather of our findings. I hope it is the last of the sabotage, as I do not think the expedition can take much more of this...
I will end this here for now, as I am quite exhausted and heart-sore. As always, I remain your faithful,