During their stay at Mount Pleasant as special guests of Captain Allen Underwood, the team recovers and re-equips. Kranky and Gyorj use their skills to modify one of the tactical armor suits to fit the non-human form of Sleestak. One suit has to be dismantled for parts during this work. All the team’s chemical cells are recharged using the recovered Solar Charger (which fortunately doesn’t malfunction).
Bannstone and Sleestak spend a lot of hours in the huge main hangar where a number of vendors and traders sell their wares including a number of artifacts recovered by scavengers from the vast ruins that dot the landscape of central Utah. Gooptaz obtains a good condition pump-action military-caliber rifle. Bannstone buys a large flashlight with extra chemical cell. Unfortunately there is no additional ammo available for the shotguns or submachine gun.
After four days at the skyship settlement, Pembroke, Allyson and James begin to sicken, victims of the poisonous environment of the 28th century. Allen takes them in and provides drugs and protective gear to extend their lives as long as possible, meanwhile taking full advantage of their knowledge of ancient facilities and technology. Among other valuable secrets, Pembroke and Allyson reveal the existence of a heretofore unknown ground-level entrance to a known Shadow Years subterranean ruin located high in the mountains 40km to the southwest: ‘Enclave Mine City 5’. Using this entrance, scavengers from Mount Pleasant should be able to reach unexplored areas without the need for a lengthy mountain climbing expedition to the main entrance hangars (many Shadow Years ruins were intentionally located in extremely remote areas intended to be accessible only by air transport or via underground transit tubes).
Maggie remains healthy. She seems to be the lucky beneficiary of certain heritable bio-genetic modifications added to the human genome during the Shadow Years in an attempt to safeguard the human race from even greater disasters down the line…a precaution that would prove prescient. Everyone currently alive, humans and mutants alike, are the beneficiaries of these modifications which provide incredible resistance to wounds and of course ability to withstand a toxic and radioactive environment that would surely kill unmodified humans.
Captain Underwood offers the team permanent citizenship in Mount Pleasant if they can return with at least 3000cr (150 silver) worth of artifacts salvaged from the ruins, or in the unlikely event they somehow manage to return with an intact auxiliary reactor for the skyship. Membership with a settlement or base is highly sought after, providing safe haven, food, water and storage space in exchange for contribution of skills to the community. Hundreds of miserable wretches wait outside all the major settlements in feeble hopes of gaining entrance. As a final gesture of goodwill, Underwood provides a hand-drawn map of the Utah region to the team, with the location of numerous ruins marked, including the recently-revealed ‘Enclave Mine City 5’ secret entrance.
Sleestak, Bannstone, Humongous and Gooptaz decide to head south and explore Mine City 5, possibly as a waypoint on the way farther south to Sipio and what’s left of Eagle Clan. On the 2nd day of travel the team is climbing up the western slope of the valley when a group of distant figures is spotted heading east through the dawn light, more or less directly on the way to Pembroke’s secret entrance to Mine City 5. The interlopers apparently spotted the team just moments earlier and quickly disappear behind a ridge. With weapons drawn the team carefully makes their way up the sandy slopes.
Luckily Gooptaz is able to blow the pending ambush when he spots the reflection of sunlight off metal at the edge of a sandy rise 200 meters away. Gooptaz and Bannstone try to lead the huge iguanodon pack beasts to cover (little is to be found on these sandy slopes). Crackling white beams of energy lance out from behind the ridge to cripple first one, then both iguanodons. Sleestak and Humongous open fire with a hail of carefully aimed assault rifle bullets, then charge forward to flush their single assailant. Both score a number of probable hits against the well-protected shooter.
This tactic is successful. When Sleestak peeks over the ridge he observes two figures in tactical armor already about 300 meters away and fleeing south. A 3rd figure bearing a longarm (presumably a laser rifle) and wearing heavy pre-war armor is already 200 meters distant and running with superhuman speed at something over double the fastest human. While the rest of the team tends to the wounded iguanodons, Sleestak ditches most of his gear and begins shadowing the fleeing trio of humanoids. Due to the now-bright morning light and open terrain he is soon spotted, but continues to follow his quarry for two more hours south along the valley, about halfway to a tiny settlement marked on Underwood’s map as ‘Efram’.
Meanwhile Humongous has used his medical skill to patch up the iguanodons and at least get them moving again. The team regroups and soon finds the secret entrance to Mine City 5, which turns out to be a well-hidden tunnel at the end of a short box canyon into the mountains. The 4-meter opening would likely be impossible to spot without the exact description provided by Pembroke. This exit was a secret evacuation route large enough to accommodate vehicles. After traveling 500 meters along the dark underground road the team makes camp and prepares for the trials ahead. Can a team of only four explorers successfully negotiate the deadly depths of Enclave Mine City 5? Only time will tell.