After some deliberation, Tai managed to trip the bunker’s motion-sensitive door and get a glimpse at the battle inside. He was startled to see the silent, transparent shape of an ancient soldier run across the threshold. Paradox felt his head ache as again, his mysterious nemesis and doppelganger appeared in the doorway and was disassembled by a pair of lasers originating from inside. Some creature in the bunker screeched, and as the party looked on they saw feathers and a large shadow move about the interior.
Tai and Paradox rushed inside, with Pseudo and Fim taking up the rear. A pair of ghost soldiers engaged a snallygaster, a huge eagle-like bird with tentacles surrounding its terrible beak. It noticed Tai as he entered and, thankfully missing him, cut the door behind him in half with lasers that emanated from its primary set of eyes.
The soldiers fired erratically around the room, having little effect on the beast but wounding the new intruders. Focusing their attacks on the snallygaster, the party managed to trap it in a corner as it snapped free from Tai’s flaming webs and bashed a hole in the ceiling of the chamber.
Amid the sounds of combat, Fim recognized the possibility that he may not have been the only being held inside of the bunker. Examining the faulty lights of the room and the myriad horrors that only now had begun to run wild in the complex, he deduced that the power to this area must have been somehow damaged in Dome Foo’s recovery of his body.
Tai took advantage of his periodic mutation to conjure a mini black hole in the room, which pulled everyone near it. This proved dangerous, as the snallygaster buffeted him and his allies with its wings and then buried its beak deep into his chest. Fim and Paradox found themselves grappled by its many facial tentacles.
Paradox noticed one of the ghost soldiers they had engaged come out from the door to the auxiliary room it had been using as cover. He shot the snallygaster with his temporal gun, sending it through a time slip and into the cramped room. Fim got into position and fired his newly acquired laser rifle, destroying it and painting the insides of the room with feathers and entrails.
The final ghostly soldier soundlessly fought against his attackers, but was slain like the rest. Pseudo investigated the snallygaster’s limb and blood-covered roost, recovering a mechanical fist weapon while the others rummaged through the room.
Deeper in the bunker, another entity awoke from a long sleep. Hearing battle off in the distance he rose and shuffled outside of his ruined room and down a hallway. Undeterred as the hallway seemed to change around him into a technologically advanced version of itself, he reached with a decaying arm to his right and grabbed a hi-tech grenade. The hallway changed once more into a hand-dug passage lit by string lights, and the traveler grabbed a flamethrower from its resting place on a nearby table. These dimensional hiccups seemed to settle down, and again the bunker was dimly lit and in decay. The traveler slid on his night vision goggles and continued upward.
Paradox and Tai found themselves in the company of this visitor, who groaned as his night vision goggles hit the light and lifted them to reveal a decaying face with half of a cranium. Briefly alarmed but intrigued, Fim tried to communicate telepathically with their guest, who introduced himself as Roberto.
The party remarked on his appearance and demeanor as Fim stumbled trying to form a rapport with Roberto, who was preoccupied with eating the bodies of the defeated ghost soldiers. Tai decided to initiate the zombie as a Node host with his new acquaintance by crawling above him on the ceiling to avoid a hostile reaction, and bleeding directly into his brain pan. Roberto paused as he felt the collective influence of The Helix Hegemony and then returned to the dullness associated with having half of an intact brain.
The others noticed that Paradox had disappeared, and made to pursue him downstairs into the dark hallway below. Paradox found and downloaded onto his laptop suspicious schematics regarding experimental nanotechnology, deleting the files from the computer console after. Fim found and examined the chamber in which he was trapped in cryogenic stasis, pocketing the personal effects he didn’t know he had – a typical environmental mask, a laser pistol, and to his surprise, a transmitter. He made no mention to the others of his origin in this place, and continued to float about inspecting with the others.
Tai found a security terminal, grabbing some knickknacks – a hula girl and plastic purse he would give to Pseudo and several computer parts he’d pass on to Paradox. Pseudo found its way into the chamber from which “the big birdie” came. Rifling through the bodies, it found a pair of eggs nestled in a pile of intestines. Holding them up to a flickering light on the ceiling, Pseudo discovered that one of them had been fertilized. It formed a sling with its radiation cloak in which to hold the egg and wheeled back to the others, who had gathered around a semi-powered lab off to the side.
Reading up on a second console at the foot of an operating table, Fim was struck with the realization that he could perform several of the experimental procedures related to the nanomachine research. Of particular interest was a fix for adrenaline limiters, which would allow a user to take advantage of a surge of energy. Several tiers of mutation alteration piqued the group’s interest as they read, and Fim telepathically noted these interests, not letting on that he was going to humor them.
This was going to take coordination. Pseudo’s pliable personality was conned into volunteering as a test subject. Fim manipulated the many tools at his disposal using his gravity control while Paradox conferred with him over his shoulder about the procedure, taking mental notes. Tai read off the schematics from the console, picking up a few science pointers along the way. Roberto manned the mechanism for the ceiling hatch, enabling the experiments’ requirement for sun exposure.
Pseudo’s dinosaur-like screech indicated its disapproval to prolonged surgery. The radiation rain, forecast earlier by Dragon, hampered the operation as well, but a surprisingly intelligent maneuver by Roberto kept too much rain from getting inside the chamber.
With each success the room got a little dimmer and the tools worked less efficiently, but as the last experiment was completed a surge of energy tingled through the very atoms of the group. Fim took little time to reflect upon these new developments, musing over and eventually discounting the possibility of restoring the room’s power grid.
The party assembled at the functional, locked door at the end of the hallway, and split up to attempt to find a key card. Roberto helpfully attempted to pick the mechanism with his silverware, instead electrocuting himself in the process.
Tai again visited the security station and rummaged through the area, eventually finding the corresponding key card hidden under a keyboard at the terminal. As the party regrouped to unlock the door, Paradox felt another twinge in his head as his doppelganger appeared and ran through the threshold. He tried to dive past a gap on the left hand wall towards a console in the corner of the antechamber, but as he did so a laser barrage perforated his torso.
The group charged through the doorway to their next challenge…