During the course of a long and terrible night, as the wind howls through the canyons and hills outside, Humongous is again forced to tend his own injuries. This time the menu consists of serious burns from android lasers, stab wounds from an infinitely sharp energy blade, and three combat knife cuts. No one else on the team has knowledge of anything beyond the most primitive first aid. Unfortunately the pain is too much and Humongous passes out, but in the morning is still alive and able to move thanks to his multiple-redundant organ systems and survival bio-modifications.
The team reaches the sanctuary of Sipio around midnight the next day. The small village is built high in the hills at the base of a 30-meter escarpment. Above the town is a recently-expanded fort and wall of plasma-welded stone blocking the narrow canyon providing access to the Ag-station valley. Strelok is quickly recognized in the glare of spotlights from the wall. However Strelok’s new companions are not, and the team is given a shack to sleep in near the gates until morning when an Eagle Clan doctor, senior officer and four heavily armed soldiers arrive.
Eagle Clan suffered nearly 50% casualties during the Android Wars of 2754 and welcomes the arrival of potential recruits, but extreme vigilance is the watchword. Android ‘infiltrator’ units, superficially identical to humans, cost Eagle Clan dearly in the last months of 2754. Over the course of the morning the team is questioned by Major Sands and subject to a rigorous medical examination that puts Dr. Jellyfinger to shame. The officer, ‘Major Sands’, seems particular interested when she discovers Sleestak, Bannstone, Gooptaz, Humongous and Gyorj are refugees from a little-known valley high in the mountains 75km to the north east. Sands appears completely human, but seems to have a number of non-random appearing scars…suspiciously similar to those of the cyborg ‘Mr. T’ (now a warrior for the Mount Pleasant tribe).
Sipio was almost completely destroyed and then abandoned by the end of the Android Wars. The buildings originally housing around 150 persons are constructed of cinderblock, brick, corrugated plasteel sheeting and a variety of other salvaged material from the ruins of the ancient town located in the valley below. Four months later the population has swelled to around 300 humans and mutants living among the remains of original buildings and a newly-constructed shantytown clustered at the base of the new Eagle Clan fortification. The current inhabitants are mostly refugees from Gunson and surrounding areas who didn’t flee north to Nephi, drawn here by the prospect of food and water and any chance to join the ranks of Eagle Clan. Every week a few more refugees are cleared for entrance into the Ag-station valley where they live and work in much improved conditions. Surplus food produced in the huge Ag-station greenhouses is traded to the new population of Sipio and up the I15 as far north as New Salt City.
After their interrogation is complete, the team is given access to the Ag-Station (aka ‘UWS Research Facility 6’), but elects to spend the morning at the large outdoor market set up at the base of the wall. Several iguanodon caravans arrived this week from places as far north as New Salt City and Spanish Fork. Putting their credits and silver together the team is able to acquire a somewhat-rusty light machine gun, missing some parts but probably functional assuming a quantity of the required disintegrating metal links can ever be found. Some pre-war medicine and a few other goodies are purchased as well.
A few hours later the team arrives at the high valley, the fabled Ag-station, home of Eagle Clan since the perilous evacuation from Vault 57 at the height of the Android wars. The valley hosts a subterranean research laboratory and headquarters, a 160-meter duralloy building, and six surviving ‘Large Scale Habitats’. These gigantic greenhouses dominate the valley. The Facility 6 Headquarters and ‘Medium Scale Habitat’ remained sealed after the 2nd Apocalypse, though the subterranean headquarters complex was breached and later resealed toward the end of the war, probably by mutinous UWS or Texahoma troops roaming the area. Two accessible greenhouses are used to produce food with the aid of several recovered light agricultural bots. These bots were destroyed during recent events, but replaced by newly-discovered ‘Heavy Agricultural’ models of substantially greater capability. Eagle Clan now has access to all parts of the facility.
Research Facility 6 was built in 2558 by the Union of Western States enclave government. The valley includes about 1.5m x 2km of usable space. The east and south ends of the valley were covered by massive rock-slides sometime during WWIV or the Proxy War decades that followed. The Station Headquarter doors are carved into the face of an 80 meter cliff beneath the granite and shale stone mountain surrounding the valley. This small subterranean facility houses the precious power reactor and now serves as Eagle Clan HQ.
From an original population of close to 400 prior to the Android War, Eagle Clan was reduced to little more than 200 people by the end of 2754. Since then they have been slowly and selectively rebuilding their ranks and now number close to 300. The Ag-Station could probably support double that number at the current rate of food production, for as long as the research facility reactor holds out. Though technically a secret, it is widely rumored that the reactor has only a few years of life remaining.
Located about 300 meters away from the station entrance is a huge hemi-cylindrical duralloy structure 80 meters wide and 160 meters long. This is the ‘Medium Scale Habitat’ building. A large opening in the west end four meters high and three meters wide provides access . The building now houses workshops and storerooms. The rear third of the building is used as a garage and workshop where Eagle Clan’s last operational vehicles and robots are maintained. Other spaces produce gunpowder and explosives, muskets, armor, and various other manufactured items for use and trade.
Six huge experimental greenhouses are still intact at the east end of the valley, each 400 meters long by 200 meters wide. Two are non-functional and used as living space. Two are tended by a pair of heavy agricultural bots and produce the bulk of all food consumed by the current population. A sizable surplus is exported as far north as New Salt City. The last two cavernous structures are without power, but still marginally productive and tended by refugees recently allowed inside the valley to work the land.
In the circular area surrounded by the six huge 400 meter greenhouses is a 20-meter square by 20-meter tall silvery gray pyramidal structure. A 30-meter antenna tower is attached to the top of structure, surmounted by a narrow 1.5 meter cone intersected by two ellipsoids. A large 2 meter blast-portal is visible on the west face of the structure. This is the control sub-station and broadcast power-transmitter for the surviving six greenhouses.
The newcomers are by no means allowed to wander about and are quickly ushered through the massive blast portal into the station HQ where the Commanding General of Eagle Clan and his five top officers await. The current ‘General’ is a dashing feline beast-man mutant wearing an ancient flight suit embroidered with blue and silver shoulder patches bearing the ancient words ‘_41st Striker Wing / Texahoma Air Force_’. The five other officers are the commanders of the five Eagle Clan ‘Companies’: Warrior, Engineer, Ordnance, Scout and Scribe. Leonidas “Leo” Tolstoy took command of Eagle Clan from the interim commander, Colonel Althea McDermott of Scribe Company, when the former commander was killed in battle (a ‘General Morgan’). McDermott was next in line for command, but turned down the position in exchange for freedom to lead a delegation to New Salt City in an attempt to convince the Mormons to enter the war against the Androids (a mission which proved successful and perhaps decisive).
General Tolstoy speaks no more than ten words during the two-hour interview, but it’s clear he is favorably impressed by the amazing combat-clone ‘Humongous’ and would VERY much like such a soldier in the ranks of Warrior Company . Colonel McDermott leads the questioning, first individually and then the team as a whole. McDermott and the others obviously see an opportunity in the fortuitous arrival of these far-flung refugees. The reason for their interest soon becomes apparent when two Scribes deliver a huge heavy post-war volume of hammered iron and velum…the ‘Logbook of the Voice’, a relic recently taken from ‘The Followers of the Voice’, a cult worshiping ancient radio messages and other ancient ‘voices’…at one time very popular up north.
The Logbook contains references to an expedition by the Followers to loot a Combine skyship wreck located in a high valley about 60km southeast of Mount Pleasant. The account reports that some parts of the skyship, notably the aft engineering spaces, were inaccessible and never looted. It is not clear exactly how much Eagle Clan knows, but apparently they know something about the efforts of Mount Pleasant to restore their skyship to operation and are keen to reach the crash site before Captain Underwood. The team does not let on that Underwood is also aware of the existence of the other skyship and in fact suggested they head south to see if the rumored ancient VTOL possessed by Eagle Clan was available for an expedition, joint or otherwise.
Sleestak inquires about the VTOL. McDermott reveals that the ancient craft and team of elite scouts that operate it are out on a long range mission for an indefinite period. Realizing that the best chance of success, and lowest cost to Eagle Clan in case of disaster, rests with these refugees from the very same valley, McDermott offers them first shot at the skyship ruin and promises provisional membership should they return with any significant quantity of usable skyship parts. Eagle Clan does not seem aware of Mount Pleasant’s specific need for an intact auxiliary reactor, or how close their skyship is to actually becoming operational. The commander of ‘Ordnance Company’ promises a functioning suit of power armor and fully charged Atomic Cell. To make this mission possible, Engineer Company will provide a powerful artifact from ancient times: an anti-grav sled capable of levitating 2500kg for up to six days with a single Atomic Cell (they do expect this to be returned). Scout team contributes five sets of precious Tech-III climbing gear: plasteel petons and caribiners, duralloy hammers and spikes, molecular monofiliment webbing and rope.
Gyorj regretfully takes his leave of the team at this point. His exceptional computer skills can easily get him into Eagle Clan Engineer or Scribe companies. Naturally Gyorj prefers the company of other scientists and joins the Scribes as a provisional ‘First Sergeant’.
The team gets to work planning their mission. A daunting task considering that 30km of high mountains must be traversed and the anti-grav sled will only last long enough for either the inbound or outbound leg of the journey, perhaps not even that long. Somehow enough food and water will have to be carried, or acquired along the way, to sustain four men for at least 12 days.