<<<26 July 2057, 09:23Predator and Prey
I should have expected that things would get weirder.
We settled in to rest, setting up camp to allow our charges a few hours' sleep before pressing on. We had dropped off to sleep (with 'Wraith and Joe on watch) when our two watchmen were startled by the sound of Dr. Sanders screaming. They investigated as the rest of us were awakening, and discovered that the good doctor was hacking away at his arm with a machete (Bischo's, to be exact) and yelling for someone to "get them off him." We managed to get him somewhat calmed down, whereupon he dropped back to a restless slumber after assuring us that he did not eat any of the kiwifruit (which was our first suspicion, given that they were said to have hallucinogenic properties). We let him rest awhile and then set off again.
We hiked on for awhile to get away from the site of Dr. Sanders' "episode" and decided that we still needed to give our scientists (not to mention ourselves) a bit longer to rest. To that end, we set up camp again and prepared for a peaceful couple of hours. Little did we know that our problems were only beginning.
We were startled by the sound of helicopters, indicating that once again the Amazonian government patrols were most likely looking for us. There was no more time to rest. We attempted to rouse the scientists in preparation for leaving. (Joe had been making lunch; he prepared to stow it away for eating on the march.). It was at this time that we realised that Dr. Fukuhara was apparently a very deep sleeper. This hypothesis was refuted in rather grisly fashion when Joe discovered the doctor dead in his tent, bloodless, his body riddled with small holes.
We barely had time to react to this new development when Dr. Al-Mansour and Bischo went at it again, the former convinced that the latter had somehow murdered Fukuhara in his sleep. After getting them reasonably calmed down (this was accomplished mostly by Ocelot clubbing Bischo, who was none too popular with the team, into submission), we reluctantly decided to leave Fukuhara's body behind, along with most of the nonessential equipment and a large portion of the kiwifruit that was not contained within steel boxes. Neither astral nor mundane examinatin was able to reveal the cause of Fukuhara's death, but all of us were convinced that it had something to do with the mysterious plants. Deciding that survival was our goal now, we pressed on, carrying Bischo and Sanders on a makeshift travois pulled by Joe.
After moving on for quite some time, we stopped again to rest, leaving Sanders and Bischo to sleep peacefully. It was when we set off again that we made another grisly discovery: Sanders wasn't sleeping. He was dead. Very messily dead. As 'Wraith tried to rouse him, his head turned to one side, revealing the fact that the entire rear portion of hi skull had been removed and his brains were dribbling out through the hole. 'Wraith was violently ill (I think this may be the first time I've ever seen that happen) and the rest of us were not far behind. Once again, astral examination of Sanders' body revealed nothing of note. Thoroughly spooked now, we prepared once again to leave, figuring that the sooner we could get away from Amazonia, the better off we would be.
Apparently things were not weird or frightening enough for whatever sick entities were watching our exploits, though, because it was at exactly that point when things took a left turn into Hell. As we gathered our wits and our belongings and prepared to set off for the border (which was not far away now), two more...creatures...appeared in the clearing. Lucky me, I got to see them first, because they showed up quite nicely on the astral. At first I did not believe that I was seeing what I was seeing--I didn't want to believe it. But as I tried to control my fear enough to tell the others what I had seen, I became aware that they had seen them too. And come to the same conclusion that I had.
We all thought we had left our last sight of these creatures on the Metaplanes with Harlequin, years ago.
No such luck.
The two Horrors were of a different type than any we had fought before, but it was easy enough to identify them as such anyway. It wasn't as if they were hiding. They attacked us with a kind of mad glee, pleased with the fact that they were going to get a rematch with the group that had bested (with the great aid of Harlequin, of course) some of their brethren.
Somehow we managed to beat them. Even Dr. Al-Mansour, with the courage of those who have utterly no idea what they are up against, managed to get in one splendid shot before fainting dead away. When the battle was done and the Horrors were gone, the four of us merely stared at each other, each undoubtedly considering the implications of what had just occurred. Certainly Amazonia was a magic-rich environment, but still--they were supposed to be locked away for millennia yet. What was happening?
We pressed on, taking the unconscious Al-Mansour with us and leaving Sanders and Bischo (who had finally succumbed to the team's paranoia that whatever Sanders had was contagious). Not since Chicago had we been so glad to reach a border and board a plane for the safety of home.
Should have known things wouldn't go that easily. We had taken off and settled in when the pilot informed us that something was wrong with the wiring in the cargo hold, which was playing hell with the landing gear. An astral look-see determined that the hold was full of...something alive. Not again...
We arrayed ourselves around the cargo door as the things managed to open it a bit; Joe tossed in two gas grenades, but they didn't take out all of the creatures--large spiderlike things with long legs and nasty-looking teeth. They weren't difficult to fight, but there were quite a lot of them. I got bitten, and discovered the hallucinogenic properties of their poison which had probably affected Dr. Sanders as well. We dispatched the creatures, allowing the pilot to repair the wiring, and we were on our way.
The remainder of the trip was relatively peaceful...except for the lingering reminder that the Horrors could, apparently, travel to our plane. And once here...
We really must step up our efforts to contact Harlequin. I believe it just got significantly more important that we do so.