End of an Emperor

Part 1
With the enemy's probable location figured out, the crew of the HMS Menace head for Acidalium Mons. Captain Harper orders that the ship make a maximum altitude pass over the volcano. Approaching at dawn, they see smoke and a red glow within the volcano's caldera. Hestia Entwistle spots defensive guns on the volcano's rim and they spot buildings and a ship on the ground. One of the guns is an unusual arrangement of tubes or large pipes, like a giant pipe organ. They back off and decide on a plan of attack. The Menace will come around from the West, with the wind behind them. They will take out the guns as they approach, cross over the ship and drop bombs overboard onto it, then land in the caldera and rush the compound.

Coming in to attack, Gunnery Chief MacCraig opens fire with the forward 5" gun and destroys the western gun position. But Dashwood's Radio Graphic Ranging and Detection System sounds a warning, something is approaching the ship! Lookouts ahead spot a rocket like device launched from the multitube weapon, its an electric motorized liftwood aerial torpedo! (Matt, Mike and Raleigh all shouted "What?!" out of character, it was great.) Captain Harper orders his helmsman to dive under, the torpedo passes overhead and detonates with a proximity fuze. The ship is rattled around, Mrs. Entwistle is injured and half the sails are stripped by the blast. As the Menace continues its approach, another torpedo is launched, but Chief MacCraig shoots it out of the air, then fires on the torpedo launcher and destroys it completely as the ready missiles gang fire.

As the ship passes over the enemy vessel on the ground, Harper and MacCraig heave a crate overboard onto the enemy ship. With 20 vials of Nitroglycerin, carbide and water and some of the chief's special Hellfire compound, it's an impressive explosion. The nitro blows a whole in the deck and blasts burning Hellfire and carbide all over the ship and into its interior. The Menace is struck in the bow by the last enemy gun, then that too is silenced. Harper takes the helm and brings the Menace into a perfect landing in the volcano's caldera.

Harper leads his marines into battle, accompanied by Mrs. Entwistle, Chief MacCraig, Dr. Reddington and Wayland Dashwood. Juan Escobedo remains aboard the ship. He secretly conceals a bomb with a 12 hour delay in the forward magazine and steals some dynamite from MacCraig's quarters. Harper leads the marines to cover by the nearest building, which is a steam turbine electric plant, powered by heat from a lava pool in the caldera. MacCraig heaves some nitro at the turbine to disable it. The marines take fire from turkish and martian soldiers approaching from across the compound. The crew of the Menace returns fire and begins working their way to the next building. The next building is a factory with a forge and metalworking tools. The exchange of fire continues, and while there are more defenders, the superior skills of the attackers inflict greater casualties. Harper calls some of his crew forward to recover his wounded marines. Hestia is wounded twice, but continues to fight on as do Dashwood, Nigel, chief MacCraig and Harper himself. Harper calls for fire from the ship's guns and his crew hammer the defenders with 5" shells and a storm of 6 pounder shells from the two Hotchkiss cannons. With their rapidly mounting casualties and having lost most of their best soldiers, the remaining defenders lay down their arms and begin to surrender.

Part 2
With resistance dying down, Chief MacCraig, Hestia, and Dashwood head across the compound with some troops to investigate the armory. They find a stockpile of small arms ammo, naval shells and kegs of gunpowder. Nigel returns to the ship and begins unloading his and Juan's three steamer trunks of equipment to the ground behind the ship. Juan goes through Dashwood's plans and photographs them. He also attempts to sabotage some of the lines controlling the ship's lifting panels. More shots come from the house at one end of the compound and Harper leads some of his troops inside. At the sound of gunfire, MacCraig sends two of his marines back to help, then they load up some loot from the armory. On the way back, they encounter some men trying to ambush Harper's troops guarding the prisoners. Hestia and Dashwood open fire, while MacCraig runs around the other side of the building to get up close. Hestia and Dashwood drop two of the ambushers, then MacCraig charges the survivors. Unfortunately, he is struck by Dashwood's next shot, doing a minor wound, then shot by one of the enemy. They finish off the ambushers.

Captain Harper has stormed the house and fought the turkish leader, Ozan Babar and his henchmen. Babar was killed in the fighting and a few of his men taken alive. With the last resistance crushed, the crew of the Menace begin to consolidate. Father Lars is ending to the wounded, including Hestia and Chief MacCraig. The prisoners are herded to one side against the wall of the crater, under the watch of the starboard gun crews of the Menace. Dashwood, Juan and Nigel head to the main house and begin searching. They find Babar's papers and his diary, sort of a manifesto about how he is the reincarnation of emperor Constantine, and therefore the rightful ruler of the empire. There is a great deal of correspondence exposing his support from Germany and Oenotria. A fair amount of currency is recovered, but no secret plans. Instead they search the factory building and find a drafting room upstairs with plans for all of Babar's inventions, and the heat ray from the martian canal blaster. Juan photographs the plans and Dashwood takes them to study. Juan and Nigel carry their steamtrunks to the house and set up a darkroom for Juan to develop his pictures and Nigel begins typing reports and summaries. MacCraig pulls a primer from a captured shell and fits it into the bunghole of a keg of gunpowder. He sets it in the open door of the armory and Hestia detonates it with a shot from her pistol, blowing the armory sky high and showering debris over half the crater.

It is getting late, and the crew is beginning to work on repairs to the Menace. Harper hopes to take off shortly after dark, but Juan asks him to wait until morning so they can develop pictures. Nigel borrows Babar's plans from Dashwood. (At this point I separated the players, Mike and Matt went into another room) With most of the crew back aboard the ship, Juan and Nigel put their plan into operation. Two of their steamer trunks have liftwood bottoms, mechanisms are assembled and fitted to holes in the trunks, converting them into pedal powered liftwood fliers! They load them with some survival gear, the stolen plans and Juan's pictures and wait for their chance.

The night is quiet. Bonfires burn around the huddled prisoners so guards on the deck of the Menace can see the prisoners. Suddenly, the night is ripped by explosions as the time bomb in the 5" gun's magazine explodes. The bow of the Menace is torn to shreds and the forward gun destroyed. Fire breaks out aboard ship. Juan and Nigel toss some dynamite into the house and take to the air. While Harper rallies his crew to fight the fires, Dashwood gets to safety on the ground. MacCraig is torn between saving his precious explosives or his whiskey, and ends up taking a keg of each. As he watches the crew fight the fires, Dashwood spots Nigel and Juan in their flying trunks. They pedal furiously, flying as fast as they can, then pull up at the last minute and clear the lip of the crater and disappear out of sight as they soar down the side of the volcano into the night…Dashwood reports to Harper after the fire is under control. The Menace is a wreck. With the earlier damage and the fresh damage from the forward magazine explosion and the fire, she has only half of her operating altitude and maybe a quarter speed. Chasing the traitors upwind in a kite in such poor condition is probably beyond hope. Hestia uses the hertzian wave communicator and radios back to Parhoon for assistance, but it will be days before the Royal Navy can send ships.

Juan and Nigel have escaped, but all is not well. Trying to pull up at the end of their long swoop down the side of the volcano, Juan crashes and damages his craft. It can still hover, but cannot move forward. They rig a rope and take turns pedaling the working craft, pulling the damaged one behind while they try to fix it with hand tools. Their goal is the american settled city of Thymiamata, where hopefully they can use their connections to get off Mars and return to Spain. As the sun rises over the wreck of the Menace, things look bleak. A few prisoners have been killed by gatling fire over night as they tried to escape in the darkness. Then they spot a ship approaching from the East. As it draws nearer, they hear the distinctive hum of the electric motors of one of Babar's ships. Were there more ships in his fleet? Are they about to be captured?

As the ship comes over the crater, they recognize the ship: it is the Intikam, the Skyrunner they captured and turned over to the Royal Navy in Parhoon, and she is flying a British flag! The ship comes over the Menace and a boarding rope is flung over her side. A single figure slides down the rope to their deck and lands smartly in their midst. The older, distinguished man opens his arms to Mrs. Entwistle and says "Hestia, darling, I thought I would never catch up to you!" Hestia flies into the arms of her husband. (Emily spent all of her remaining chips to have her character's husband show up to save the day, but I wasn't going to make it that easy). Captain Harper, Chief MacCraig, Dashwood and Hestia board the Intikam to go in search of Juan and Nigel. But where to go? There are three cities nearby: a French colony, a native martian city and the American colony at Thymiamata. If they guess wrong, their quarry will escape. Rehashing what they know, they decide to go to Thymiamata.

Juan and Nigel are headed across the plains of mars, headed for Thymiamata. They are following a dead canal line. They spot a ship approaching from behind and realize they cannot escape. They decide to split up, land and attempt to conceal their craft in the plants growing along the canal. Hestia's sharp eyes pick out Nigel's hiding place. With no chance to escape, and determined not to be captured for interrogation, Nigel burns the captured documents, steps out into the open with the burning papers in one hand and his pistol in the other. Looking defiantly up at the Intikam, he raises his pistol… and blows his brains out. (I made Matt roll a Willpower check to commit suicide and he almost maxed it). Now their only hope to recover the documents is to find Juan. The ship begins a spiral search pattern from Nigel's last stand and Dashwood spots Juan's craft with his spyglass. Juan begins taunting Harper over the radio, trying to confuse the issue and finally offers a bargain: a fight to the death. Juan will surrender without destroying the photographs. If he loses, they get the photos of the plans. If he wins, they let him sail away unharmed. Captain Harper agrees and Chief MacCraig is put forth as champion. The Intikam lands and MacCraig, claymore in hand, goes forth to fight Juan, armed with a sword. In the initial exchange of strokes, MacCraig cuts Juan deeply, but Juan is light on his feet, and wearing armor as well. The two dance around and while Juan cuts MacCraig a couple times, but they are light wounds. MacCraig scratches Juan a few more times, but finally he gets the better of Juan and runs him through. (This was a fantastic sword fight. Raleigh hit Mike for ten points of damage in the first round, but the combat was stretched out for nine rounds before Raleigh hit Mike again for at least twelve points of damage).

Epilogue
The crew of the Intikam recover Juan and Nigel's flying craft and Juan's photographs of the plans. They sail back to Acidalium Mons and meet the Royal Navy's relief ships. The Menace and her crew are returned to Parhoon to a hero's welcome. For their parts in foiling the plots of Ozan Babar and his German and Oenotrian allies, Captain Harper and Wayland Dashwood are knighted. Chief MacCraig and the rest of the Menace's surviving crew are given a reward and a Distinguished Unit Citation. When last seen, Mr. and Mrs. Entwistle were talking of leaving Mars for a second honeymoon, something about dinosaur hunting on Venus…

Quotes and Smart Remarks
Mike: "Cannibal Corpse is from Buffalo?" (the band, that is)

Raleigh: "Green Jello is from Buffalo?!" (another band)

Mike: "They're working on an 'Occupy Evans' <protest>" (meaning the town of Evans)
Raleigh: "What, Bob Evans?" (thinking of the restaurant)

Matt, Mike and Raleigh (simultaneously) "WHAT?!"

Kevin: "There's another ping coming!"

Emily: "Mrs. Entwistle needs to change into her adventuring corset."
Jim: "You mean your fighting corset?"

"Its a natural instinct to want to shoot the Gunny" after Kevin's character accidentally shot Raleigh's character.

Raleigh's character pulls the primer from a 4 inch shell and fits it into the bunghole of a gunpowder keg to improvise a bomb. He rolled really well, so I said it fit perfectly.
Emily, as Mrs. Entwistle: "Mr. Entwistle always plugs the hole perfectly and smoothly…"
and: "When Mr. Entwistle and I played TNT croquet, there were occasionally small munitions detonations"