Behind two battered steel freight doors on one side of the lab is a 45-meter hall containing a dozen refrigerator-sized black caskets, two of which are open and contaminated with a disgusting slime. Sleestak detects humanoid tracks no older than 6-7 days leading down the hall from both caskets. Six of the caskets still contain unidentified possibly non-human subjects while four definitely contain named occupants. On the other side of the hall are fifteen columns supporting large cylinders of pinkish fluid in which are suspended child-sized humanoids, pallid monstrosities with a dozen black eyes fringing massive lamprey-like mouths. They are similar to the smaller mutants first encountered, but with humanoid bodies.
At the other end of the hall is a large laboratory and operations center with functioning computer terminals. Gooptaz is able to scavenge a number of usable artifacts from the piles of junk here, including a rusty old grenade for Mr.Tee. Kranky accesses the terminals using the Stage II access cards and discovers that the two open cryosleep chambers were activated remotely 6 days ago. The database includes a summary history of Facility 11 and a listing of many other UWS research facilities, though locations are not provided. For a brief period this facility hosted ‘Project Phoenix’, a far-fetched plan to recover, repair and launch one or more Daedalus Program surface-to-orbit-shuttle-system (STOSS) orbiters.
The team releases the four named subjects still in cryo-stasis after 140 years. This disparate group took refuge here from both Combine occupation forces and attack from within by escaped bio-weapon test subjects. The fate of the other eight original stow-aways is unknown.
The first subject is a young woman in tight blue jeans and white T-shirt. She has purple hair, shaved on the sides, tons of earrings, some tattoos and a pierced nose and lower lip. She also looks to be only about 15…“Hi, that you daddy? What happened?”. ‘Maggie’ turns out to be the daughter of a UWS airforce Colonel who used his connections to get her stashed here just before things went to shit. She has significant VR training time in several Shadow-Years aircraft including VTOLs, but negligible real flight time (PILOTING:44).
Next is a fit blonde woman in a black jumpsuit and ballistic vest with an automatic pistol at her hip. Badges on her uniform bear the words ‘FACILITY 11 SECURITY’. Alyson Barker is at first paralyzed by the reality of what has happened, but quickly falls back on her old job role – protecting facility personnel. She provides a grisly account of the desperate fight against bio-monstrosities that escaped containment after the facility was located by the Combine and crippled by airstrikes in 2615, shortly before the 2nd apocalypse that ended World War IV.
The 3rd sleeper is a junior bio-technician named James Baldwin. He advises that the albino monsters in the nutrient tanks are a failed experiment and should have been destroyed long ago. The team confiscates his new-condition portable computer.
The last casket releases a middle-aged balding man wearing a lab coat. Dr. H.D. Pembroke proves to be the Facility Director. He seems to have taken over management when the facility was hurriedly converted to bio-weapons research a few years prior to the Combine invasion of North America. Though physically weak and by no means a warrior, Pembroke is a genius as well as exceedingly ambitious and motivated to make the best of any situation. Pembroke quickly takes charge of Alyson and James, though Maggie sticks close to her heavily-armed if scary-looking rescuers.
Pembroke and James help destroy the child-sized albino monsters floating in their tanks, as well as the six other full-sized humanoid creatures found frozen in the six remaining cryo-sleep units. Each two-meter tall humanoid is heavily muscled and appears human except for the head: a nightmarish worm with multiple black eyes around a tentacled tube-like orifice 20cm in diameter. Pembroke informs the team that these are ‘M-819-C Predatory Humanoid Squad Leader’ experimental bio-weapons. The giant pod-like gut-extruders are ‘M-812 Anti Personnel Ground Assault Animals’. Both are reproduced asexually by a ‘mother-beast’ and reach maturity in only 4 days given sufficient nutrients. The intent was to orbitally seed these horrors into the Combine homeland and even occupied territories, but volume production was never achieved. Pembroke knows the facility layout by heart, but only a small fragment remains intact and accessible today. The remnants bear little resemblance to the original facility as it existed in 2615. Pembroke states that a huge warehouse and VTOL dock are located beyond the lab control center, but he knows nothing about the location of Project Phoenix facilities, as that program was shut down the year before he assumed management.
The warehouse proves to be almost completely collapsed and only dimly lit by a few surviving lights. Thirty meters away, several dark passages lead through collapsed rubble, one recently excavated. An overturned 6-wheeled APC lies 30 meters away half buried under a tangle of concrete and rebar. Mr.Tee, Humongous and Bannstone cautiously pick their way around piles of rubble and crushed plastic crates. Halfway to the APC, a gigantic 6-legged shape lurches out of the darkness and plunges forward, surrounded by a horde of squealing, hissing gut-extruder hatchlings. This massive 10-meter queen-beast is bloated and slow, but able to attack from a far distance by means of three 5-meter necks terminating in lamprey-like mouths almost one meter across. Everyone retreats back toward the 3-meter warehouse doors, blasting away with all their recently acquired firepower. Kranky puts round after round of explosive shotgun shells into the beast, blowing large chunks away. Mr.Tee wipes out several hatchlings with a grenade. Bannstone empties his SMG, then he and Gooptaz use their natural beam weaponry. Gyorj sprays bullets from his ancient survival carbine until it jams, then switches to the shiny new pistol he ‘borrowed’ from Alysson. Sleestak fires his crossbow from a distance. Alysson, Pembroke and Maggie take refuge out of sight down the main corridor.
The creatures massive bulk prevents it from escaping the warehouse, but it is able to squeeze half it’s body and all three heads into the main corridor. Bannstone is swallowed before he can make it through the doors. Mr.Tee makes a risky toss inside the narrow hallway. The rusty grenade bounces from one of the creatures heads, then off the narrow corridor wall and over the top of the monster…the best possible result! Shrapnel rips through the beast, also splattering the remaining hatchlings across the walls. Humongous cleaves one head off with a single mighty swing of his iron great-sword. Seconds later a scream is cut short as Humongous begins a trip down the beast’s digestive tract. The team is able to finish off the monstrous mother-beast without loss by retreating down the hall and blasting it apart from a few meters beyond reach. Bannstone and Humongous are cut free. Humongous is up and about in no time, but Bannstone is unconscious and near death. It will be a few days before he is back on his feet.
Humongous applies what first aid he can recall from fragments of ancient VR training. Several broken weapons are repaired by Kranky and Gyorj. Gooptaz spends half a day carefully searching the warehouse but is unable to find anything usable. Scores of stripped but fresh beast-men skeletons and other less-identifiable remains are found piled behind the gut-extruder queen’s lair. It appears that a number of beast-men entered this area by unknown means and set up camp for at least a few weeks prior to the recent mutant outbreak. The APC’s armored belly hatch yields to bio-energy beams and acid spit generated by Gooptaz and Bannstone. Inside is an untouched store of concentrated rations, water, ammunition and weapons, including a rocket launcher. Kranky and Gyorj attempt to build a working hand cart using parts from the APC and other junk, but lack the needed tools and parts. Sleestak detects a number of distorted humanoid tracks leading back and forth down a passage recently cleared through the rubble.
After resting for a few hours, the team follows the humanoid tracks through a torturous maze of concrete and stone. Three hours later they emerge into a huge underground hangar dotted with 1-3 meter high piles of rubble. Partially-collapsed columns and walls lean together at crazy angles. Shafts of wan daylight filtering in from far above dimly illuminate the hangar. At the center is a huge vehicle almost 25 meters long from bow to stern. Barely visible on the forward fuselage are the letters ‘PHOENIX SHUTTLE 3’.
Sleestak is able to sneak forward and spot three gut-extruder/humanoid hybrids doing something on the near side of the shuttle craft. The creatures are apparently intelligent – one wears ancient tactical armor labelled ‘Facility 11 Security’ and carries an assault rifle. The team quickly organizes an ambush and Sleestak attracts attention with a crossbow bolt. The two unarmed specimens rush forward and are quickly destroyed in a crossfire, but the 3rd hangs back firing well-aimed rifle bursts until finally cut down from behind by the sneaky Sleestak.
The team finds and destroys several dozen half-meter eggs recently carried here by the gut-extruder/humanoid hybrids. Tentacled fetuses squirm and die in spreading pools of pinkish amniotic fluid. The shuttle itself proves to be little more than a shell stripped of equipment and power sources. The hull is badly crushed by concrete slabs. A 3-meter ovoid-shaped transport tube with a single track down the middle is found at the far side of the collapsed hangar. One end is blocked by rubble while the other disappears into far darkness. The team moves back to the warehouse and sets up camp for several days.
Pembroke starts wheedling the team to get what he wants. First he talks talk the team into attempting to destroy the entire facility through a delayed overload of the mini-fusion reactor. Unfortunately (or fortunately?) the reactor controls are too far gone for Kranky and Gyorj to make the necessary adjustments, so the plan is abandoned.
Dr. Pembroke then suggests that he can help hack into the operations center terminals to discover more information about what happened here. Gyorj and Kranky trace the source of the digital intrusion that released the two hybrid mutants to a geosynchronous satellite orbiting 36000 km above. Gyorj and Kranky record the location of this satellite in their laptops. The satellite is inhabited by an AI using the callsign ‘Delta Star 419’. Further digging reveals that the satellite is presently linked to the facility and has been uploading video and audio data since the team broke into the lower level. Even worse, transmissions are being beamed from the satellite to other computers and robots still functional in the ruins above. The link is broken abruptly as Delta Star 419 detects the monitoring. Seconds later the entire facility computer system goes offline and smoke pours from the lab operations center terminal.
After resting/recuperating for several days, the team finds a way out of the facility by first traveling 6km down the hangar transport tube, then traversing a series of broken maintenance conduits connected to natural caves by recent tectonic action. After 12 hours, seven adventurers and four time-travelers from the 26th century finally emerge into daylight on the eastern flank of a wide desert valley. Sunlight glints from solar panels arrayed atop a huge Combine skyship hulk resting on a plateau across the valley. This must be the fabled settlement of Mount Pleasant, visited only a few times in living memory by far-ranging scouts from Indian Valley. The huge black hull resembles that of another skyship crashed at the south end of Indian Valley, deep in beast-men territory and never fully explored.
Mount Pleasant is well-defended but welcoming to humans and mutants alike. The leader of the settlement, a hunchbacked humanoid with flaming red hair and burning eyes of lambent orange, soon hears about the arrival of heavily-armed refugees from a far settlement and sends down an invitation. Bannstone, Kranky, Gyorj and Sleestak attend a lengthy dinner with ‘Captain’ Allen Underwood and his three top lieutenants: 1st Officer Sid Adalay, Security Chief Joshua Talbot and Science Officer Candice Sheyun (also a mutant). The ‘Captains Mess’ is located at the end of a private hall displaying a collection of fascinating ancient artifacts, including a few examples of ancient weapons and armor.
Dinner is served on ancient plates and platters of strange vitreous black material, crystal goblets and duralloy-silver cutlery, prepared by a slim glossy-black robotic waiter levitating silently on anti-gravity pods. The bot speaks sing-song words only Allen and a few others on the ship understand. Underwood entertains the group with tales of his adventures before and after taking over the skyship ten years ago. He is an entertaining host, highly (self) educated and something of a gourmand, maintaining a cellar full of ancient liquors and spirits.
Allen’s attention is grabbed when Kranky and Sleestak reveal they are refugees from a remote valley high in the mountains to the east, and at the south end of this valley rests another combine skyship wreck. Allen was aware of Indian Valley from the few scouts that made if over the mountains in years past, but had no inkling that another Combine skyship hulk was there. Allen tells his guests about his great project, known only by his closest companions: to somehow put the Mount Pleasant skyship back into operation and sail to better climes. To repair the skyship, quantities of usable parts from another skyship will be required, particularly at least one of two auxiliary reactors. Allen reveals that one of the two Mount Pleasant skyship auxiliary reactors is still functional, but powered down to conserve remaining fuel. Bannstone tries to empath Allen, but is rebuffed by a huge mental strength. In any case this subject is clearly Underwood’s weak point and he soon agrees to commit some valuable gear without any kind of guarantee, with the promise of even greater wealth if his guests somehow manage to return with an intact 500kg auxiliary reactor (3 suits of tactical armor, 2 large iguanodons with food and water; if successful: a 6-wheeled armored APC and choice of a single relic from the ships museum).
Unfortunately such an expedition is mostly idle talk at this point, without adequate technology. The giant iguanodons can’t climb mountains, nor could they negotiate the circuitous underground route back to Facility 11. Allen’s only lead is the existence of a Shadow-Years-era VTOL seen flying above the Utah wasteland recently. Through other channels Allen has discovered that this aircraft was captured from the recently-destroyed android base by some enterprising Eagle Clan scouts. ‘Eagle Clan’ is a small community of influential tech-II survivors that recently relocated from their ancestral home at Vault 57 to an ancient Agricultural Research Station in the mountains above the village of Sipio, about 120km southwest of Mount Pleasant.