Of the investigators only Hubert was still fully in control. Cassandra was able to act, but suffering from a strange case of echopraxia that meant she couldn't think for herself and would only take orders from others, acting on them immediately. Isoge, Willard and Sebastian were in varying degrees of catatonic states, unable to act, and Harry had run screaming from the cavern and disappeared into the jungle.
Despite all that they were still in grave danger. The Shoggoth and some of the cultists had been injured in the blast of dynamite from Hubert's jerry-rigged barrel-bomb, and the strange bullet-shaped rocket contraption had begun to fall into the magma pit in the centre of the chamber, but there were still plenty of cultists and Deep Ones converging angrily on our heroes.
Rather than run Hubert bravely (stupidly?) decided to try and fight. He wanted to ensure Penhew's plan to poison the skies had been scuppered. He pulled out his revolver and fired at a closing cultist, but missed. "Get the Browning," he shouted at Cassandra, who immediately ran off up the tunnel to where they had left the huge gun. Displaying unusual bravery Hubert decided to try and hold off the enemy until she got back.
Meanwhile Penhew had been busy. He was chanting on the other side of the chamber, invoking dark names such as Yog-Sothoth. A moment later a huge fist of air slammed into Sebastian, knocking him back up the passageway but failing to do too much damage.
Hubert dropped the revolver and picked up Isoge's sub machine gun. He unleashed and took out the closest two cultists then tried to lift Willard to his feet. Willard was a dead-weight however, moaning and weeping on the floor, and Hubert was unable to drag him up.
Hubert managed to take out two more cultists before they reached the group. The narrow tunnel limited the number of them that could attack the group at once, but the nearest swung his sickle at the prone Willard, cutting deeply into his chest and leaving him bleeding on the rock floor. Hubert was calmly reloading the SMG.
Penhew changed tack, noticing the danger his rocket was in. His chant changed and he gestured at the machine, which slowly rose from the magma pit and floated across the cavern to a place of safety, one of it's tail fins eaten away by the heat.
The cultists continued their attack, but their strikes went astray as they slipped on Willard's blood. Hubert readied his gun, waiting until he could see the yellow of the cultists eyes before firing. Then Cassandra arrived carrying Harry's Browning with the makeshift handle that would allow it to be fired without using the hard standing. "What do I do?" she asked. "Pull the trigger!" Hubert shouted back.
Planting her feet she unloaded, filling the narrow tunnel with smoke, hot shell casings and a noise like the end of the world. The nearest cultist disappeared in a cloud of blood and bone, then the noise stopped, replaced by a clicking. The Browning had jammed! (Cassandra managed to roll 100 for her second attack!).
In the heat, blinding smoke, chaos and shaking of the tunnel following the Browning's shots, Willard finally succumbed to his wounds, quietly passing away on the cold stone floor. Then the smoke parted to reveal a horror. A huge webbed claw reached through the miasma, followed by a pair of slobbering jaws. A Deep One had reached the tunnel. It roared in Hubert's face and lunged, the hunter only just managing to avoid being bitten.
"Pull the pin and throw it!" he shouted at Cassandra, and she obeyed unthinkingly. Unfortunately her aim was off, and the grenade bounced off the tunnel ceiling and came to rest just a few feet away. Time seemed to slow down, and Hubert ran and dived away as the grenade exploded. The noise and light were painful and disorienting, and as the tunnel began to fall in Hubert looked back in horror. Isoge and Cassandra were lost in the explosion and falling rocks.
After a moment silence seemed to descend along with the dust. Hubert looked around and saw Sebastian close by. He dragged the architect to his feet and they both slowly made their way out of the volcano. As they exited the tunnel they saw the first rays of light start to creep over the eastern horizon. Below them the jungle was burning in several places. There was no sign of Harry.
Hubert decided to head for the boat, but as he and Sebastian made their way carefully along the path they saw movement in the trees ahead. Jack Brady emerged from the jungle, a deep cut on his forehead. With him were two members of the New China strike force, both in equally sorry states.
He saw Hubert and Sebastian and grimaced at them. "It's a fucking disaster," he groaned. "We're leaving". With that he headed back into the trees and ran off towards the beach. Hubert and Sebastian followed, more slowly.
Step-by-step they carefully made their way down the hill. As the trees began to thin they saw figures fighting on the beach. Brady was there. One of his companions was dead on the sand. The other was fighting several cultists in bloody hand-to-hand combat.
Hubert ignored them and lead Sebastian to the boat. It was still where they had hidden it behind the rocks. It seemed to take an age to get the boat dragged into the water, then Hubert had to painfully draw the oars and start rowing out to the reef.
As they rowed the sun finally broke, lighting the sky up in a blaze of pink.
They had failed. They had damaged Penhew's plans, delaying them, but the rocket/weapon had not been destroyed. What's more, six of them had entered the cavern, and only two had returned.
This session was a bit shorter than usual as we spent the second half rolling up some new characters for the players! Expect some new faces in the next journal entry.