Beyond the Mountains of Madnes continues the story begun in Lovecraft's novella At the Mountains of Madness, the tale of an Antarctic expedition gone wrong. This is the tale of the Starkweather-Moore Expedition of 1933, mentioned by Lovecraft, which bravely (and foolishly) seeks to finish what Miskatonic University's Pabodie-Lake Expedition began three years before.

The investigators are members of the Starkweather-Moore Expedition, competing against other expeditions, time, and weather to return to the Mountains of Madness, deep in the Antarctic wilderness. There they learn the truth of the Miskatonic party's awful fate. They will travel beyond the mountains to see what only two living men have ever seen-and penetrate a mystery far older than mankind, one that will test all life on Earth.

This scenario is a complex one. Mood and confusion play large parts in the evolving story - confusion over loyalties, allegiances, identities, and even the morality of duty. In the end the investigators find great responsibilities in their hands, and discover that the burden is not one they can ever put down.

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Chapter Ten: Dec 9 1933 - Jan 24 1934 - The Long Road Home
The Belle set down at Lake's camp late on the 9th of December. As the plane touched down they were greeted by Dr. Thorson who, as the most senior member of the expedition present, taken over operations. He and the others had gotten the generator and radio that had been recovered from the Germans' supply cache set up and running. After unloading Professor Moore from the aeroplane, hasty explanations were made. Buernor realized that the others were not telling him the whole story, and Stacey reassured the big Norwegian scientist that he really did not want to know everything that had happened. Nevertheless, Tyson shared the basics of what they had learned which proved enough to ensure Thorson's silence.

After a few hours of rest, the investigators were woken up by the sounds of three triple-engine Fokker aeroplanes landing nearby. The Barsmeier-Falken Expedition had sent a rescue party, as promised. After the DBFE-B, DBFE-C, and the DBFE-D set down, the investigators met with Jacob Falken, the co-leader of the German expedition. He inquired as to Dr. Johann Meyer's fate, and was saddened to learn of his colleague's death. Despite his leading questions the investigators did not reveal the secrets of the City of the Elder Things or the monstrous truth of the Elder Pharos. Acacia Lexington intervened at that point, explaining that she had extensive footage of the super-plateau revealing only unusual rock formations. Though they could tell Falken was skeptical, he relented and made sure that his people would be on hand to help both the Starkweather-Moore Expedition and the Lexington Expedition evacuate back to the Ross Ice Shelf and from there to their ships. It was time to leave Antarctica.

It was time to evacuate both expeditions from Antarctica.

But Professor Moore would not be joining them. His injury was too serious, and he was to be airlifted back to the Barsmeier-Falken Expedition's base on the Weddell Sea for surgery. From there he would be taken to Buenos Aires aboard the Graf Zeppelin. "I will see you back in America, my friends. Take good care of our people." With that, the expedition was bereft of its leadership, and Tyson stepped up to take the role for the remainder of the voyage home.

By the 12th of December both expeditions had left the ice, and the Gabrielle and the Tallahassee were under sail. After no more than a day both vessels ran into heavy pack ice, and from the 13th to the 17th they were at anchor. It was too dangerous to turn back and it would have been suicide to press on. Their hulls creaked and groaned as the thick ice scraped and threatened to crush them. But the ships proved as steadfast as the members of both expeditions and their crews, and the pack ice broke at last. By the 22nd of December, the Tallahassee parted company with its sister ship, as the Lexington Expedition was bound for Hobart in Tasmania while the Gabrielle was bound for Dunedin in New Zeland. With luck, the Starkweather-Moore Expedition would arrive on Christmas Day.

Shortly after dinner on the 23rd, the officers' mess was disrupted as Bert Pacquare, the engineer's mate, brought a trio of squabbling crewmen in for Turlow, the first officer, to deal with. Two of the men, Beakins and White, had been accused of theft by the other man, Humphries. After a brief talking to, the men were set back about their duties. Out of boredom more than anything else, the investigators set out to see what had caused all the fuss. Tyson went back to the crew mess to speak with Beakins and White, while Thorson, Myers, and Jeeves sought out Humphries in the engineering room. Humphries stated, "I won a pair of black opals from that German pilot in a game of cards. Them two stole them from where I had 'em hid, in my tobacco jar." When pressed, he revealed that he didn't really know what black opals were, but assumed that the smooth, matte-black, and cool to the touch stones were valuable. The other two stated their bunkmate had grown suspicious and covetous of his new treasures, while all three of them had "been having bad dreams."

After sharing this information, Tyson became suspicious of the stones he had picked up outside the Elder Pharos and opted to investigate them further. The rest checked the three engineers' cabin, finding an empty and suspiciously clean tobacco jar along with a trail of corrosion staining the wood floor. It ended at the base of the radiator, which had been turned up to a blistering 80 degrees, and a hole had been dissolved to the stainless steel showers on the deck below. No sign of the stones was present. Tyson's experiments revealed that the stones could blunt chisels and hacksaws and proved impervious to corrosives. But once heated...the one he was testing began to move.
It became a blob of black foulness, slightly corrosive, and heavier than water. Cooled to freezing, it became dormant and solid once again. Smaller fragments became completely inert, but were eventually re-absorbed by the rest. He made sure the samples were refrigerated, and tracked down the rest. Late that night, he tossed them overboard, hoping that their lack of buoancy and the cold of the deeps would keep them inert for all time.

As the group struggled with this information, things took a turn for the worse. Early on the morning of the 24th, shortly after breakfast, screams echoed up the stairwell from the engine room. Rushing down to see what had happened (along with much of the off-duty crew) they discovered one of the engineers, Brunel, had been horribly injured and much of one of his legs was gone, dissolved by a powerful corrosive. Two other men had tied the leg off with a tourniquet, but Brunel was in bad shape. As Jeeves and Tyson saw to his aid, Buernor went into th engine room. "Careful!" One of two other mates in there yelled, "It's in here!" Stepping in he saw two sailors, one armed with a huge spanner and the other a fire axe, watching an overturned bucket on the floor. Suddenly it moved as a black ooze beneath it tried to wriggle out. Thorson called for a sheet of metal and some ice, remembering Tyson's discovery, hoping to cool the grapefruit-sized lump off. With a bit of caution, they had captured the black ooze.

The black blob had been caught. Could it be destroyed?

Taking it up to the impromptu lab they had set up in the owner's cabin, Buernor waited on Tyson to continue their investigations. Tyson meanwhile had helped the ship's physician, Lansing, amputate the man's leg. As he headed up the stairs to join his comrade, Paul Turlow stormed on to the scene. "Get that damned thing off my ship!" Before the matter could get out of hand, Captain Vredenburgh intervened. He chose to give the investigators a day to figure out what it was, if there were any more on board, and how to deal with them. Revealing their previous experiments, the precautions they had taken, and what the likely outcome would be, the captain offered them his full support. They found that the larger sample acted the same as the smaller ones, though that the bigger pieces still moved independently and would eventually rejoin.

A few preliminary searches revealed nothing, but by evening the situation worsened. That afternoon they had talked with Brunel, who revealed he found the black blob atop one of the engine stacks. "I thought it was a grease-soaked rag, and shoved it in the front pocket of my overalls. Then it started burning and eating my leg!" Despite that gruesome news, they joined the Captain for a bit of Christmas Eve dinner. Tyson and Thorson opted to remain in the cabin above in case Turlow tried anything - a reasonable precaution, it turned out.

But the relative calm was ruined by the sound of dogs howling and snarling from the hold. Rushing across the deck, the investigators made their way down. Jeeves, Evvy, Myers, and Tyson went below as Stacey remained above, looking down from the hatch. Eight of the nine remaining dogs were snapping and tearing at their harnesses, while the last was writhing on the ground tearing at her own belly. Jeeves approached and saw another black blob, slowly devouring the poor animal. Blasting it with a fire extinguisher from the engine room, he lost sight of the thing. Fiskarson, the dog wrangler, was beside himself but panicked when the dead dog began to move of its own accord. Jumping back, all present saw a black, rat-like blob the size of a large cat explode out of the husky's chest and dart for the storm lantern carried by Evvy! She dropped the lantern, spreading fire over the hold, but Jeeves quickly put it out. Though they tried to capture the mass with buckets, it was too large and quick, and oozed up the ladder with lightning speed. It latched on to Stacey's leg, and began dissolving his boot. Jeeves tore it off before it could reach flesh, and the thing darted for an open hatch and into the main castle, past Pacquare. It had lost them.

Tyson had realized what it was at this point. The black stones were no less than seeds - aminiculi - of the Nameless God. They were part of it, not bound by physical contact or distance, and the energy and mass they absorbed were the prisoner's way of trying to escape the Cold Hole. As they grew, so would time and space distort around them. One alone could grow, devouring a world if necessary, to free the prisoner. The revulsion they caused was a consequence of the Nameless God's presence. The aminiculi could not be destroyed - only contained - and had to be stopped lest the world be doomed.

The hunt was on. After talking with the investigators, Vredenburgh addressed the crew. "The Black Rat," they had started calling it, was loose on the ship and had to be hunted down. Knowing that the creatues sought out heat, the boiler was turned down and the ship cooled. It was likely it would try and find warmth. Crewmen were advised to avoid it and keep in contained with metal, hatches if at all possible. They would set traps for it, with three groups scouring the ship, one led by Turlow, one led by Driscoll, and the other led by the investigators. The plan was simple - lure it towards the deck with torches or herd it with fire extinguishers, then try and trap it in a steel fuel drum. The drum would be sealed and filled with icy saltwater. When cooled, it would go dormant. The barrel would be sealed and then dumped overboard.

The search of the ship finally led to the engine room. There Myers saw the blob perched atop the boiler. It had grown to the size of a large dog, and undulated with sinister purpose. Turlow and his men tried to dislodge it with poles and hooks and the thing leaped down to the bottom of the engineering deck, landing atop an unfortunate crewman and killing him instantly. As it began to feed, Jeeves blasted it with a fire extinguisher. Dislodged, it went after Tyson's torch. As the creature pounced, he dove to one side and tossed the lit brand into a steel drum maneuvered into place by Myers. In an instant, he had the drum tipped and the creature trapped! It strugged fiercly, latching on to his skin for an instant before Tyson scraped it off. But with Buernor's help, the lid was secured and icewater poured in. Moments later, the drum was pitched over the side into the frozen waters of the Southern Ocean. The danger had passed.

Come Christmas Day, the Gabrielle steamed into Dunedin Harbor, greeted by cheering crowds, reporters, and well-wishers. A few days passed, and cautiously guarded interviews were given. O'Neil had prepared their stories carefully, and the heroism of the explorers was emphasized while the truth was obscured. Word reached them that Professor Moore had safely reached South America, and wished them well. A telegraph came in from Nicholas Roerich in New York, thanking them for Acacia Lexington's return and asking to meet with them when they returned to the United States. There was also news of a tragedy from Antarctica, as a blizzard had struck the Barsmeier-Falken Expedition's base. All but four men out of the hundred there were lost, and their efforts abandoned. After reading Pym's manuscript, Stacey wondered if they had found the tunnels that ran from the coast to the Mountains of Madness - and the seeds of the Nameless God. They could only hope that none of the seeds had reached the airship dock at the volcanic caldera on Desolation Island just north of the Antarctic coast. The boiling water there could prove a recipie for disaster...

After what seemed an eternity, the Gabrielle returned home to New York.

A few days later, the Gabrielle steamed out, bound north for the Panama Canal. More than a month passed, and early in new year the ship docked back in New York. Grand crowds, fireworks, and the world press greeted them. Their celebrity was assured. Stacey received a knighthood for his bravery, and Jeeves a well-earned pension. Tyson became a celebrated lecturer and earned tenure at Miskatonic University. Myers did likewise at Harvard. O'Neil went on to write a best-selling book about the journey to the southern ice. Evvy and Acacia formed a venture that spearheaded the women's movement. Buernor went on to continue his explorations, using his famed expeditions and cover, searching the polar wastes and the mountains of South America for signs of the Elder Things.

But the problem remained. The God Trap was failing. In time, all would be doomed unless living brains could be provided to the alien denizens standing vigil over the Elder Pharos. Rumors began to circulate of a conspiracy in the pre- and post- World War II years. Flying saucers in Antarctica? Strange disappearances in major cities? Perhaps all of these were merely wild rumors. Only the survivors of the Starkweather-Moore Expedition would know the whole truth...
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Chapter Nine: Dec 6 - Dec 9 - In Flight, Part Two
After unloading enough supplies for Moore, Lexington, Meyer, Halperin, Priestly, and Miles to survive for a few days at most, the Belle took off and flew through the pass towards Lake's camp. The winds were severe but Evvy managed to keep the aeroplane flying despite the beating it had taken. Going through the pass, they could all see that the Miskatonic Mountains had been severely damaged by the quake, losing as much as 10,000 feet in height. Gone were the strangely symmetrical peaks, the cuboid formations, and the oddly regular cave mouths. It had been no surprise, following the reveleation that the mountains were artificial. The vast expanse of tunnels and underground structures had withstood millions of years of erosion, but the force unleashed by the Nameless God stirring in its prison had left the timeless mountains looking more like rotted stumps than the soaring peaks they had been only hours ago. Buernor had come to, and he said "There is no way that anyone could climb down that mess," as he pointed to the collapsed and broken slopes below. "If we do not save them, Miss Lexington and Professor Moore are doomed."

The mountains had collapsed under the onslaught of the earthquake, leaving only their shattered stumps.

The flight was quick, and before long the Belle circled Lake's camp. It was obvious the earthquake had reached here as well. Great cracks had formed in the ice, and smoke was billowing from where the Starkweather-Moore Expedition's generator shed once stood. The tents were still intact, though shrouded in snow and ice. Fearing the worst, all aboard the Northop Delta were relieved to see a figure emerge from a tent and wave to them. Coming in for a landing, Evvy misjudged the damage done to the once pristine runway and all aboard could feel the plane's other ski bend with a sharp jolt as the aeroplane skidded to an uneven stop. Samuel Winslow approached, bewildered that the membersof his own expedition were stepping out of Lexington's craft. "What happened to Miss Lexington and the Professor? What about Mister Starkweather? Where are the rest?" His questions were answered in a perfunctory manner, and he was quizzed in turn on what had transpired at the camp in their absence.

Winslow shared that the quakes had struck several hours ago, and the aftershocks had opened up fissures in the ice. The generator was damaged and caught fire, quickly spreading to a nearby tent and the overturned fuel drums. Most of their fuel and food was gone, and they only had enough for a week at best. Most of the dogs had run off, and those that remained would not be enough to see them to the coast. Sykes and the Sorensons advised against any travel, stating the region was too unstable. The remaining Fokker had tipped over into a crevasse, and was damaged beyond repair. They had lost three men - Bryce and Cartier were in the sample cave, which had collapsed, and Stoltz, the BFE radioman, had fallen in a crevasse. Doctor Professor Uhr had been badly burned, and there were other injuries as well. They had seen the Weddell fly overhead, turn towards the South Pole, and then fly on. Evvy remembered they had laid supply caches between their base and Lake's camp, and realized they only had enough fuel to reach the nearest one. If they hurried, they could catch the two Germans.

It was early yet at Lake's camp, 6 a.m. to be precise, and time had to be spent straightening the Belle's damaged ski, checking the engine, and getting what fuel they could from the D-BFEA. Tyson gave what aid he could to Uhr, who kept up a brave face despite the 2nd and 3rd-degree burns on his hands. The rest aided in clearing the cave to try and recover Bryce and Cartier's bodies, but only found the former. Myers found his notes and samples, and opted to destroy them rather than let evidence that the cave had been worked by intelligent hands reach the outside world. Stacey and Pierce Albemarle siphoned what fuel they could, and after Huston and Longfellow had filled the Belle, the group was on its way again. Colt Huston had joined them, as someone would need to fly the Weddell back to camp. One of the Germans, Benecke, decided to join them as well. Though an opportunist by Jeeves's reckoning, he would present a friendly enough face to Baumann and Rucker.

The Belle was ready to fly before long.

An hour later, they spotted the BFE's supply cache from the air. The big Boeing 247 was three miles away on rough ground, but looked intact. Opting for expediency, Evvy set down as close as she could to the tent and radio mast the two men had set up. Taking precautions, Jeeves stepped out with a rifle much to Benecke's puzzlement. "They have gone snow-crazy," he explained, "and that's why they stole the plane. We need to be cautious." Despite his misgivings, Baumann emerged from the tent with a friendly wave. Though obviously shaken, he was still sane. He explained that Halperin had gone mad, and they feared the others dead when they saw the damage that had been done to the tower. Rucker had been shot in the belly, and was in bad shape. He had contacted the Graf Zeppelin however, and expected the airship to arrive in about ten hours. As he spoke with the others, Tyson went to examine Rucker. Though the geologist was in bad shape and feverish, he would survive with proper care. But Rucker seemed determined that the truth must get out to the world, and Tyson saw that he had no choice. A syringe full of morphine later, and Rucker would be a problem no longer, though Tyson opted to keep that detail to himself.

Stacey explained the situation to Baumann, whose glimpse of the Nameless God had been enough to convince him that the world should never know of the horrors that lay locked in the southern ice. A plan was made to port fuel and supplies to the Weddell, though the going was slow and the wind brought with it a whiteout that did not clear for several hours. By late evening, the Graf Zeppelin had arrived, and German parachuters had landed to help secure the area. The situation was explained, and after Baumann and Rucker's body were taken back, a rescue flight would be lauched to Lake's camp. With luck, they would be in Argentina in a week's time. Relieved that their comrades would be safe, both aeroplanes were flown back to Lake's camp. Following a few hours' rest, they were once again en route in the Weddell for the City of the Elder Things.

Despite the turbulent winds (and a bout of airsickness) the aeroplane was circling the ruins after a few hours. A figure could be seen on a nearby tower, several hundred yards north of the original landing site at the plaza, waving a red flag or shirt of some kind. Setting down about 200 yards away, Evvy and Tyson remained with the aircraft while Jeeves, Stacey, Myers, and O'Neil made their way to the ruin. A figure emerged, and after a tense moment, it was revealed to be Patrick Miles. He explained that the Elder Things had returned to the city and attacked them. They had used some strange device to dissovle what was left of the Enderby with a glowing blue mist. They had shrugged off Moore's pistol, but Miles kept them at bay with his rifle. Moore had fallen down an icy slope and broken his hip - badly - and Lexington and Preistly had not yet returned. He made sure that the two on the plane would remain there before escorting the rest to their temporary redoubt inside a collapsed tower.

The city of the elder things was no more.

Moore was there on an improvised stretcher and in great pain thanks to his broken hip. Halperin remained there, still bound and glaring furiously, while Meyer sat in a corner nearby, muttering softly to himself in German. Before concrete plans were made gunshots sounded from outside and Miles, who remained by the door to the crumbled tower, entered. "They are coming back," he yelled, "and they have that strange box with them!" Moments later they could feel a vibration that reached down to their bones shake the tower, and a blue mist could be seen descending from the ceiling. "Run, in God's name run!" Miles yelled. O'Neil grabbed Meyer as Stacey and Myers hauled Moore's stretcher. Jeeves attempted to pull Halperin along, but the man began to fight like a savage beast. Believing that a clean death was preferable, he put a bullet in the madman's head and ran.

Running out of the ruined tower, up the icy ramp of rubble, and into the plaza, all could see the tower dissolve in a haze of luminous blue mist. Suddenly, there was a hail of loose stone, shards of ice, and a spray of water as the foundation of the disintegrated tower erupted upwards. Horror followed. A massive, irridescent black ooze with a multitude of eyes, chittering mouths, and lashing pseudopods rose from below - a Shoggoth! Miraculously, the only one who froze was Myers. A quick slap from Stacey shook him from his stupor. Herr Meyer screamed and tore lose of O'Neil's grip, running headlong into the ruins. Jeeves had lagged behind, and now ran for his life. The Shoggoth was not along, piping "Tekeli-li, tekeli-li" madly, as four Elder Things swooped down from the nearby rooftops.

A shoggoth emerged from the ruins, firmly under the control of the elder things. Horror came with it.

A hail of gunfire greeted them, to little effect. O'Neil ran and managed to inflict damage on two of the monstrous aliens with his shotgun, while Tyson remained by the Weddell to lay down covering fire. Stacey and Myers kept dragging Moore's stretcher as he fired off rounds from his pistol. Miles ran ahead and was snatched by one of the flying creatures, as was Meyer. It was too late to help them. Although all who had visited the Black Tower knew the fate that awaited them, it was all they could do to survive. Jeeves shot the Shoggoth with a round from his flare gun, and the monstrosity screeched in a multitude of reedy voices. It grabbed the Englishman, and began to pull him away. O'Neil blasted it with his shotgun to no effect. Tyson was pulling the survivors aboard the Weddell when he remembered something - the Dust of Suleiman! Reaching into his parka, he pulled out the three small packets of dust. Handing one to O'Neil, they launched a volley at the shambling horror. The dust dissolved the irridescent protoplasm on contact, forcing the creature to drop Jeeves and retreat howling into the ruins.

In an instant, Evvy had the Boeing 247 in the air. There was still no sign of Acacia Lexington and her cameraman, Priestly, but they had no time to wait. They circled low over the city, and by sheer dint of luck O'Neil spotted them returning to the plaza. Despite his misgivings, he alerted the others and signaled to the pair below to run ahead. Coming in for a quick landing, the duo were brought aboard, and the aeroplane took to the skies once more. They had lost two to a fate worse than death, but there was naught to be done but survive. With a mixture of regret and relief, they turned towards the pass through the ruins of the Miskatonic Mountains and flew towards Lake's camp.

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Chapter Nine: Dec 6 - Dec 9 - In Flight, Part One
Following the calamitous events in the Elder Pharos, other events were in motion outside. Unbeknownst to the other members of the Starkweather-Moore Expedition, Dr. Charles Myers had accompanied Ms. Lexington and the members of the Barsmeier-Falken Expedition on their flight to the city of the Elder Ones. Having explored some of the structures and tunnels over the last few days, he was convesant with the Elder Things' history and had grasped the rudiments of their written language. Despite his initial reluctance to show that he had cut a deal with Acacia Lexington and her party, he could not put off his examination of the black tower any longer.

Following the hour-long hike, Myers found the outer garments of the others in the entry chamber, and felt that the temperature in here was above freezing. Taking a cue from the others, he shed his parka and began to venture down the spiral ramp, guessing that is where the others had gone. The temperature rose steadily, quickly nearing 100 degrees. An archway covered with a curtain of dried, woven, reedy plants about 30 yards down led into a narrow hall with six rooms (three to a side) extending off it. A preliminary examination revealed chambers were curious sewing was being done, and what appeared to be a livng chamber of some sort. Heading further down after that, he discovered an archway leading to a single, large room about 60 yards down the ramp. The ramp was no longer walled on the inside at this point, and had opened up revealing a well or shaft descending to what appeared to be magma far below. A quick examination revealed several huge crystals in the room, along with what appeared to be ventillation shafts drilled through the stone.

Myers found a number of strange artifacts on the lower levels of the black tower.

Upon exiting, Myers could hear movement from another arch, about 20 yards further down the curved ramp, but opted instead to head back up. Examining the remaining rooms he found additional living quarters with maps, charts, and instruments taken from Lake's camp three years ago along with a strange, crystalline device that let out an unearthly chime he found disturbing. In another chamber, he found a pit filled with ice and three stone cylinders with tops that could be removed. In one he saw a fetid, irridescent, black mass that moved of its own accord. Shuddering, he sealed it and left it where it was.

Upon returning to the entry chamber, he was nearly knocked off hsi fet by a series of tremors. After gathering his wits, Charles was surprised by Dr. Meyer of the BFE running down the ramp, shrieking! Acacia was quick on his heels. "Grab him! He's gone mad, and will run outside and freeze if we don't stop him!" Grabbing the desperate man, Charles and the German tumbled down the ramp but avoided any serious injury. They were quickly joined by Jeeves and Evvy, but there was no sign of the others. Jeeves was evasive about what they had found, stating that in this case ignorance was preferrable to the truth. Despite this, Myers pressured Evvy to know what was in the canvas satchel she was carrying. Upon seeing the severed head of Richard Greene, Charles could only agree with the stoic English butler.

Following an echoing oath or cry above, they were joined by Tyson. Wide-eyed and obviously shaken, Tyson brushed aside all concerns for his well-being. "We should go. There is nothing more for us to do here." When asked about Samuel, Dr. Schevchenko, and Starweather, Tyson only replied. "Dead. All of them." He pointed to the bag Acacia was carrying. "That is all that remains of James Starkweather. There is nothing to bring back of the others. It is for the best that you do not know why." Once again, Myers was forced to agree.

Upon leaving the tower, they discovered that the earthquake had extended far beyond the tower. Part of the ridgeline of the valley had collapsed, and strange craters now dotted the broken ice of the valley floor. Tyson and Myers went to examine one while the rest escorted the incoherent German back to the planes. They found a strange, smooth, black stone there. A wave of revulsion swept over both men as they looked at it, and the sensation only grew as they touched the thing. Tyson could feel his back warming up, and pulled the dark gray star-shaped stone found in the cave at Lake's camp from its box. The stone was hot, hot enough to cause the oustide of his mitten to smolder. As it drew within a foot or so of the stone, it exploded in its box. Tyson took the black stone, intending to sample it later.

As they hiked towards the planes, the group saw the Weddell fly overhead on a course back to the City of the Elder Things! Quickening their pace, they came within sight of the Belle. "Stop right there!" A voice yelled out. It was Douglas Halperin. "Faces! Show me your faces!" Jeeves could hear the ragged edge of panic in his voice, and Myers spotted the barrel of a rifle poking out of the open cabin window. Acacia stepped forward, attempting to calm the pilot, but two shots were placed into the ice near her feet. "I said show me your faces!" With that, all threw back the hoods on their parkas, and were signaled to approach. Halperin's eyes were wide, and dried blood had crusted on his face from an ugly wound on his forehead. One cheek was pale with frostbite, and he was raving. Whatever he had seen had driven him mad, and in his madness he believed that the elder things could disguise themselves as humans. Halperin stated that Baumann and Rucker had overpowered him and Thorson after sharing some hot coacoa. From what they could glean, the earthquake coincided with the momentary failure of what Tyson called the Cold Hole, and there was no doubt that they had all caught a glimpse of the Nameless God. But Halperin was there only way out, and he kept one hand near his gun even as he taxied down the ice and the Belle took to the air.

Halperin had caught a glimpse of the Nameless God through the storm, and sanity had fled him.

Upon their return to the city, the group made plans as best they could under Halperin's watchful eye. No matter what, Baumann and Rucker could not reveal what had been found in the City of the Elder Things and beyond. The world could not survive more meddling by human hands in places man was not meant to venture. They had to be stopped. But Halperin was too dangerous to himself and others to be allowed free reign. If he left them in the city, they would all die there.

Much of the City of the Elder Things had been reduced to rubble by the earthquakes.

Drawing closer, the group could see the earthquake had done tremendous damage. Much of the city had been reduced to rubble and the peaks of both the Western Range and the Miskatonic Mountains had collapsed. But the plaza was still intact, and the landing was smooth. As they touched down, Evvy made a pretense of checking the engines for Halperin. With the madman distracted for a moment, Jeeves made his move. Halperin managed to squeeze off one shot, grazing O'Neil's ear in the tight quarters of the aeroplane before Jeeves jammed a syringe filled with morphene that Tyson had provided him into his neck. In seconds it was over and Halperin was drug off the plane and bound. Moore approached them from the nearby ruins, and after a quick explanaton of what happened and a moment to grieve for the loss of his friend, their plan was finalized. Acacia and Priestly would remain with Moore and Miles to film what was left of the city and the surrounding mountains. This would prove that there was nothing of note here. The rest would pursue the Boeing 247. It was their only chance to get everyone, both in the city and at Lake's camp, back to safety.

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Chapter Eight: Dec 5 - Dec 6 - The Black Tower, Part Two
An hour after Starkweather was abducted, the Weddell was airborne and headed towards the mysterious western range. Halperin was flying, with Evvy acting as co-pilot. Doctors Tyson, Thorson, and Schevchenko, along with Stacey, Jeeves, and Samuel, were along for the ride. Moore was too injured to go along, and Miles opted to stay with him for safety's sake. They had found an ancient observatory earlier in the day that doubtlessly once tracked the position of the stars in the heavens. Millions of years of stellar drift rendered it useless, but one constant remained. Something blocked the view at a heading of 290 degrees - the view to the west. Murals in a nearby tower indicated there was something there, something the Elder Ones feared. But it was too late to second-guess what they were about to face.

It didn't take long to spot the flying Elder Things with their burden clutched between them. They were slower, moving at about 60 miles per hour, and the Boeing 247 could easily outfly them. But to what end? Tyson wondered briefly about taking a shot at them, but with the cold, the wind, and the roughness of the flight, 50 feet might as well be 50 miles to a rifle at this point. Halperin flew in long circles to prevent the engine from stalling. Wherever they were headed, the Elder Things would arrive soon.

Looking out the left side of the plane, Stacey saw they were not alone. Another aeroplane had joined them - the Belle. Evvy could see Baumann was at the controls, and he waved at them then pointed to the flying creatures in front of them. Before long, both planes were flying in tandem towards the towering black mountains beyond. The peaks of the western range soared up to the edge of space. More than thirty thousand feet high, they had a disturbingly regular appearance. Sharp and conical, they had no caves or structures like the peaks of the Miskatonic Mountains. Stacey and Tyson felt that there was some dread purpose to the mountains, something they couldn't quite fathom, and it chilled them to the bone.

As they flew on, a light appeared, flashing blue against the dark sky beyond. A storm hung on the horizon. Ruddy light shone through dark, icy clouds which whirled like a hurricane. Impossibly, the storm did not move, and seemed centered on a valley of some sort. At the edge of the valley stood a tower of black stone, fully 500 feet high, with a flashing blue light at its pyramidal apex. The light did not grow brighter as the planes approached, but rather harder to look at, as if it would sear the very sight from their eyes. The planes circled as the Elder Things dove towards the tower. Baumann pointed to the icy floor of the valley. The same ancient river that ran through the city ran here, and its long-frozen surface formed a perfect landing strip.

The black tower of the Elder Pharos stood like a lonely sentinel at the heart of the valley.

After touching down, the Belle landed about 50 yards away. The hatch opened, and Baumann, Doctor Meyer, the geologist Rucker, Acacia Lexington, and her cameraman Priestly stepped out. Curt greetings were exchanged and questions were asked. The Lexington party had suffered a mild disaster upon touching down in the city. The bottom of their Northrop was dented and scraped, and the landing skis had been repaired with wooden struts as best as they could manage. Kyle Williams had gone to search for the Starkweather party to get help, according to Acacia. She and Meyer were shocked when the investigators revealed that he was actually Paul Danforth, and had been behind the sabotage both expeditions had faced since before they left New York. Meyer also revealed that Danforth had stolen his copy of Poe's unexpurgated The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, upon which revelation he was slapped by Acacia Lexington. Apologizing for whatever dastardly actions his superiors had taken, Meyer suggested that they enter the tower to find out if what Pym described was accurate and to hopefully recover the remains of Starkweather and Greene. Rucker and Baumann remained behind, as did Douglas Halperin and Buernor Thorson. The rest made their way to the black tower.

The upper reaches of the tower appeared damaged, but the base was solid and a ramp cut from the ice led to an arch-like opening. Making their way inside, the investigators found a domed chamber with a ramp leading up, spiraling along the inside of the tower. It was warmer in here, and they shed their parkas lest sweat become an issue after they left. The temperature rose steadily as they climbed, reaching 80 degrees Farenheit as they exited on to an upper floor. The walls were carved with murals showing the Elder Ones calling down something from the outer darkness, with the tower and the mountains at the center of it all. A map had been carved into the floor, and all could see the mountains formed a perfect pentagon around the tower. There could be no doubt - the entire western range was artifical! A pit in the center of the room dropped out of sight, with only an orange glow far beneath hinting at what lay below. A ramp on the far side continued up, and the group opted to push onward.

The ramp spiraled up, past strange clusters of shining crystals that reflected the light of their electric torches a million times. "I think they can see in the dark," Acacia said. "Shut those lights off." Even in the near-darkness, bizarre hues of indigo and violet played over the crystals, and they seemed to ring and chime with the slight breeze of the group's passing. Evvy struck one of the crystals with the butt of her torch, and it rang like a bell, echoing all the way up the tower. A few harsh glares were shot her way. Curious, Tyson touched one directly. It was as if he had grabbed a live wire. He jerked spasmodically and fell over, Jeeves barely catching him before the scientist pitched off the ramp. With an oath, he hauled the insensate man to his feet. Tyson roused to consciousness but seemed stunned and was unable to speak.

Leading him along, they ascended to an upper floor. Five rooms radiated out from a central chamber that was like the inside of a truncated cone with a central altar of some sort. Strange, pallid, fleshy plants with pale leaves and quivering stalks were threaded througout the chamber. Two of the side rooms held tubs filled with foul liquid, and the vines ran down into them from small holes in the ceiling. One chamber's outer wall was cracked, and ice had formed over the rubble that lay on the floor. Another chamber held stretchers of hide and strange wood along with stone tables. There were curious stone bowls here, implements of crystal and stone, and oddly enough a set of stainless steel surgical tools - stolen from Lake's camp, no doubt. Another room O'Neil discovered was filled with skeletons and bones, ranging from those of large penguins and seals to those of men, old and yellowed, all of which were missing their skulls. Atop the pile were two fresh skeletons however, with bits of gore still clinging to them. All hope of rescue was lost at that point.

The final chamber was the worst. A pentagonal stone, like an altar, stood at an angle in front of a stone tub. Evvy and Herr Meyer had entered. "This is where Pym's companion was sacrificed. The slab paralyzes anyone touching it. The man was placed there" he said, "only to be killed by some strange acid in the tub. If I can get a sample..." Screams split the air as a fetid column of black irredescent ooze covered in chittering mouths, glowing eyes, and probing pseudopods rose from the stone tub. "A shoggoth!" Meyer yelled. Schevchenko ran in, pulling the German and Evvy from the room as the mass lowered back into the tub. He spied a pair of boots and a tattered parka by the tub as he did, and he realized they belonged to Starkweather. The investigators took this as their cue to leave, but Acacia insisted they needed to find Starkweather's remains for a Christian burial, and both Samuel and Stacey agreed. Reluctantly, with the frightened and incoherent Meyer and the stupefied Tyson in tow, they continued up the ramp.

The small shoggoth emerged from the stone tub, ready to devour anything on the slab.

The ramp emerged into a vast chamber. It continued up past the fleshy plants, some of which appeared blackened and dying though they showed signs of recently being pruned, to the apex of the tower and the strange light. A rustling could be heard overhead. But Acacia made her way down a path through the pallid vines and crystal formations filling the area, straight towards the center of the chamber. O'Neil accompanied her, and realized that they were walking on broken crystals and the fragments of crushed skulls. As the group followed, a truly horrifying sight came into view. A lattice-wall of stone, roots, and crystal stood there, and in the niches were dozens of severed heads. Many were of Dyer's albino penguins and seals from the Antarctic coast. Others were human, brown-skinned with strange features, and some were so old that only bits of blackened flesh clung to bone. All were covered in a membrane of ooze or slime. But most disturbing of all were the two fresh ones - James Starkweather and Richard Greene. Horrifyingly, their eyes still twitched and their mouths spasmed, as if trying to form words.

Acacia let out a stifled scream, and Evvy looked ill. Priestly swore, and Jeeves and Stacey were enraged. "Get them out of there!" Acacia said. "Or I'll do it myself!" She stepped forward, pulling Starkweather's severed head out and placing it her canvas rucksack. Evvy did likewise with Greene's head. Mercifully, they stopped twitching. A shudder ran through the plants as that happened. Jeeves pulled some dynamite from off of Tyson's pack. "I say we blow this thing to hell!" Priestly, cursing a blue streak, agreed heartily. Tyson began to stir, gesturing emphatically towards the wall, apparently trying to stop them. He was not the only one.

Flapping could be heard overhead and two of the Elder Things, very much alive, landed nearby with stone weapons clutched in their tentacles. A shocking, wet sound behind them revealed a greater horror - another shoggoth, nearly fully grown! Evvy screamed, firing her derringer as she panicked. Jeeves grabbed a stick of dynamite, lit it, and tried to throw it at the shoggoth. The creature engulfed the explosion, damaged, but far from mortally wounded. One of the elder things grabbed Evvy, and O'Neil blasted the limb off with his shotgun. "It's kill or be killed," Stacey yelled.

The wall was monstrous and obscene...but necessary.

"No!" Tyson shouted. "Stop, for the love of God, stop!" The elder things backed away cautiously as the scientist interposed himself. "We can't! These creatures, long ago they pulled something down from the stars to power their civilization. The tower, the very mountains themselves - they are a machine! But they pulled down something so big, so powerful, that the machine barely held it. That's what the storm outside is. They have trapped something like a god! If it tears free of this prison, it will tear the very planet apart. Some cataclysm damaged the machine a million years ago. This - the plants - this is all patchwork repairs to replace the damaged cystals. But they need living brains to complete the circuit!" He looked at Starkweather and Greene's heads. "They are dead now, and useless to them. We need to find replacements before - "

An earthquake shook the tower. All present could see past and present blur together. Images of the tower, whole around them, flickered in their sight. "That was only the beginning. If we do nothing, everything on Earth dies!" Priestly swore and put a pistol to his own head, threatening that no one would take his brain. Meyer was a gibbering wreck, and they thought it inhumane to take him against his will. With a tremor in his voice, Samuel bravely volunteered to take his uncle's place, shuddering in revulsion as he stepped next to the elder things. O'Neil pointed out that if Acacia or Evvy were to die here, the questions would never end. And Stacey agreed that no true gentleman would leave a lady to die in his place. So it was agreed on that they would draw straws, with the short straw sacrificing himself to save the world.

It was Nikifor Schevchenko. The Russian kept a stoic face as he accompanied the elder things. Meyer screamed and ran past. Acacia swore, "Damned fool! If he runs outside without his parka, he will die! With Evvy in tow, she chased after him, Stacey and Jeeves close on her heels. The rest accompanied Samuel and Nikifor the chambers below, where each took his turn on the slab. The process was nightmarish. They lay still, their body paralyzed, as the small shoggoth in the stone tub flowed over them, devouring all save their bones, nerves, and heads. The elder things severed the spine and head, preserving them in some strange fluid. Tyson and O'Neil prayed to God that the two men were unaware of their surroundings. Without any pretense of communication, the elder things pushed past and ascended the ramp, their gruesome duty only partly done. Another quake shook the tower, rousing O'Neil and Tyson from their mute horror. They fled below, hoping that the planes were still there...
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Chapter Eight: Dec 5 - Dec 6 - The Black Tower, Part One
Following a brief rest in the tight quarters of the ancient ruin, the investigators rose early on the 5th of December and resumed their examination of the City of the Elder Things. Evelyn Dubois and Richard Greene returned to the subterranean hall they had discovered before, though Evvy narrowly avoided falling as they made their way down the icy, rubble-choked passage. Dr. William Scott Tyson, James O'Neil, and Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko returned to the pit at the center of the plaza where they had landed, and resumed their examination of the murals that decorated the walls beside the ramp that spiraled down into the deeps below. Jeeves and Stacey Meredith Whitehall III headed south, examining the white obelisk they had seen the day before. Buernor Thorson and Samuel Brighton-Foyle remained at the camp with Professor Moore, analyzing specimens of petrified wood he had discovered. "How," Moore wondered, "did they harvest wood at this altitude? According to Dyer's text, the valley was once lush with vegetation, an impossibility at this altitude."

The day saw a number of important discoveries made. As Tyson, Schevchenko, and O'Neil finished translating what they could on the sides of the fallen tower, Evvy and Greene finished in the great hall and decided to see if the passages would connect as stated in Dyer's manuscript. Her keen sense of direction enabled the two parties to find each other, though O'Neil found something else - a crushed tin can! Tyson did a survey of the area and found an ancient stone door that had been forced open in recent months. The tracks were identical to those found around Lake's camp. "We are not alone here," Tyson reported.

Jeeves and Stacey had examined the obelisk, then continued on past several other ruined buildings. At one point, Jeeves was certain he saw movement atop a nearby roof, but nothing was there. On the duo went until they found a sloped ramp that led down through an archway and began to spiral ever downward. They walked for nearly half an hour, covering more than a mile, passing empty galleries all the while. The ramp began to slope sharply at that point, and Stacey heard a strange, trilling sound below. "Tekeli-li, tekeli-li" the high-pitched sound repeated, and the hairs stood up on the back of his neck. "We need to go - now!" A strange, pungent stench like rotten fish washed up behind them, and both heard movement from below. He and Jeeves began to run as if the devil himself were chasing them, until at last they reached the surface.

The ramp descended far below the surface, to unguessed at Stygian depths.

Reconvening at camp, the investigators shared what they had learned. The murals and dot-script of the Elder Things presented a story across millions, if not billions, of years. They had arrived from space when the Earth was young, and used a biological technology to create food and servants. The servants - shoggoths Dyer had called them - had rebelled against their masters, only to be put down after a long war. Other creatures had arrived, and they warred with the Elder Ones as well, with the last confining the city's inhabitants to their settlements in the Southern Hemisphere. As the continents drifted, the ice eventually came, and the Elder Ones were forced to retreat to hidden cities next to sunless seas far below the surface. Moore, Thorson, and Brighton-Foyle had discovered the wood was from tropical plants. The murals had shown that the Elder Ones had used some massive air-pumps threading through the Miskatonic Mountains to pressurize the plateau, a feat of engineering Moore could scarcely conceive of.

Starkweather had returned with Miles at that point, and the discussion turned to what they would do as they were undoubtedly not alone in the city. Stacey's report was especially disturbing. If any of the monstrous shoggoths had survived, they were all in deadly danger. Starkweather scoffed at the idea, but had everyone keep weapons close at hand. "Should there be any danger, fire off a round and I will come running. I've faced down charging bull elephants in my time. This is no different." Schevchenko assured him that the protean shoggoths were both much larger and more difficult to kill than any elephant if Dyer was to believed.

Their exploration of the strange city continued.

They opted to rest at that point, though Moore continued working. Rising early on the 6th, the investigators were greeted by the sight of Moore being treated for frostbite. "I was out and about gathering samples," he said sheepishly, "and in my enthusiasm ignored the cold until it was too late." Tyson and Greene grounded him for the next few days, at least until his blisters healed. As she stepped out, Evvy noticed the wind had died down, making the pass navigable by their planes. Plans were made to depart on the next day. "Get your exploring done today and we will load samples. We've used enough supplies that we have plenty of room." The investigators continued their exploration while Greene went with Starkweather to survey some nearby pyramids. They found ancient towers with murals depicting thousands of years of war with insect-like fungi from space, great breeding pits where the Elder Things reared their larval young, and a great arena where ceremonies of some sort were held. They also found a buried Elder Thing, though the burial was recent. "At least some from Lake' camp survived," Tyson mused. They returned to the camp.

A quick headcount was done upon Starkweather's return, and Greene was not among them. Devising a search pattern, the investigators set out. Stacey and Jeeves remained behind with Moore as the rest fanned out. Tyson discovered signs of a struggle, as if Greene had been carried off. The tracks were those of the Elder Things. As he and the rest examined the area to determine if Greene had been taken underground, the camp had a visitor.

Stacey saw him approach from across the mound of rubble. Trying to determine if it was Greene, he called for Jeeves. The man pointed behind them, and as the duo looked, he moved towards the planes. Fearing the worst, Jeeves looked for a shot with his rifle while Stacey began to move closer. But they were too late. The figure emerged from the cockpit of the Enderby, an empty fuel can in one hand and a flare in the other. He lit the flare and tossed it into the cockpit. There was a whoosh of flame, and a moment later there was a terrific explosion. A fireball soared up into the sky as the Enderby was destroyed. The man stumbled backwards, reeling from the force of the explosion. Without hesitation, Jeeves put a bullet in his shoulder. Stacey was on him in a heartbeat, kneeling on his wounded shoulder to prevent him from moving or bleeding out.

The sound of the explosion brought the rest running back. Evvy and Halperin did what they could to ensure the Weddell was safe, and had to watch the other plane burn. Stacey found a sled the man had been pulling, and brought it back to camp. The man himself was taken back to the tents in the camp they had established. He turned out to be none other than Kyle Williams, Lexington's pilot! Williams fed them a story about Lexington and the Germans conspiring to kill Starkweather, but Jeeves and O'Neil saw through his lies. As he was pressed, the man collapsed into babbling. "Don't you understand? We are a virus! We shouldn't be here! If we return, we infect this place. The world isn't safe! We all have to die! Dyer and I saw it the last time, in the Wesetrn Range! Oh God, they aren't gone! The servants speak with their masters' voices!"

The investigators were not alone in the city.

Stacey went through his belongings, finding a spare oxygen tank, spare rations, and a mysterious mail pouch. It contained a journal in German, a hand-written notebook, and a manuscript - none other than Poe's complete copy of The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, missing since it was stolen from Acacia Lexington's father nearly ten years before! As Danforth babbled off into madness under questioning, Starkweather set out to determine if he had been accompanied by anyone else. Several moments later, a shot rang out from the nearby ruins. Rushing out, everyone saw a horrific sight - two of the Elder Things, very much alive, hauling off Starkweather into the air in a tarpulin held between them! Regaining their composure, Jeeves and Tyson took pot-shots at the monstrous forms. Even with a direct hit, the creatures did not appear to slow much. Jeeves attempted to put a mercy round in Starkweather, but was unsure as to its effect.

"My God," Moore yelled, "they have James! We have to pursue and try to rescue him. Get the Weddell ready to fly!"
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Call of Cthulhu (6th)
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