Having located evidence of where the “ABM” site was south of Fort Smith, the company set off through the overgrown paths and stifling heat. The locals at the Fort had mentioned the village of Potu in the direction we were headed, and Mr. Dwight’s status as an Inquisitor of the Protectorate seemed to be a relief to the folks at the Fort who had heard strange stories of the ‘hicks’.
Noting tracks of some great beast that wasn’t a ‘Jesus lizard’, Gabriel sought to ask Mr. Dwight if he knew what kind of creature could dwell here. He confidently spoke of some tree-swinging monster and the party keep a wary eye up. Alas, Mr. Dwight’s knowledge of such things is limited and he was surprised as the rest as we stumbled onto an “octo-elephant” that took umbrage at our passing. With little cause to kill the creature, Mr. Dwight far-stepped away to safety, Khiron flew away, and Gabriel disappeared into the shadows. Unfortunately, that left Olis. Rather than kill the beast, he tried to jump aside as it charged but ended up thrown back some distance for his pity.
Arriving at the village proved that they were not demon-possessed, but just extremely isolated. The forest around the village was sickly, heavy with beetles and other blighting insects. Mr. Dwight noted that the beetles themselves carried some taint, possibly demonic, but couldn’t be sure. The source he felt was definitely up in the mountains where the “ABM” site lay in wait. The wise-woman of the village spoke of dark dreams, and something dreadful in the pits below the ground awaking.
Resting the night in Potu, the party set off through the blighted forest. There were no animals or birds, just insects. Mr. Dwight’s sense lead up to a buried structure. Gabriel noted that the whole area had been turned over by hordes of insects coming in and out of the structure. Digging down to a door, an old screen lit up and a woman spoke
She introduced herself as Janette Armstrong, and spoke of many ancient things. The insects were her work, but insisted it was done with care. Mr. Dwight pressed her to ask that we come and see if her work had been subverted without her knowledge. The company was let in and led to a ‘conference’ room where there were three identical women. Her story made little sense to some, but apparently she and her companions had been sleeping since the Fall, and she was the only one awake. She was using the ancients systems to coordinate many copies of herself and “generic engineering” to gather energy from the forest with insects of her creation.
What became apparently quickly was that her perceptions of the outside world were an illusion. She thought that the insects had careful pruned the forest per her instructions instead of laying waste to the surroundings. When Mr. Dwight and Khrion took her outside, she still didn’t perceive the world as it was. Mr. Dwight put up a ward to block out the influence of her ‘wifi’ and she immediately passed out. That’s when all hell broke loose.
Olis and Gabriel fought a pitch battle with three of the ‘clones’ who exhibited demonic powers and traits as they fought. Mr. Dwight and Khiron tried to wake the woman with little effect, then joined the fray along with the remaining ‘clones’. All pretense of a peaceful resolution as destroyed and the company had to put down four of the six Janette’s, only to hear the demon below rising in response.