For the Heroes aboard the Eileen, it’s a nightmare unlike any they’ve seen before. For Hermione Granger and the crew of the Seeker, it’s a nightmare they hoped to never see again.
Just as Zog parks the Eileen into orbit, Sanjit and Orien scan the prison from above. Hermione follows suit on the Seeker. Between both scans, our Heroes find out:
- HellSpike Prison comprises 4 buildings, connected together by pathways and tunnels.
- An energy field shields the prison complex from external communication. It also makes teleporting difficult if not impossible.
- The prison population is currently about 600, most of whom are inmates/bad guards.
- The prison is enclosed in an octagon wall 20ft. high. At each corner is a laser cannon. There are also 4 missiles range of 800 miles for taking out orbital targets.
- The prison, located on a peninsula, is surrounded by mountainous terrain except for a corridor from the southeast.
- Near the western coast is a landing field on which a large object is being built.
While the Heroes debate the best approach to the prison, two missiles launch to greet the Heroes’ ships. Both ships manage to evade the missiles, which explode harmlessly in high orbit as the Seeker and Eileen descend to the planet to make their strafing runs toward the prison. The Heroes decide—-after most of the debate from Sanjit, Orien, Zog, and Hermione—-that the best plan is to approach the prison from the west, then land/dock their ships to the west near the landing field and move east on foot. Seems like an easy enough, direct plan.
As the Heroes make their strafing run, they re-learn the hard way that whatever can go wrong will go wrong. Closing in on the prison, Zog & Orien perform a zig-zag maneuver that nearly makes them permanent residents in several redwood trees. Meanwhile, Hermione botches a maneuver and winds up skimming the top of a mountain, so badly that she damages the Seeker’s starboard caterpillar drive intake door. Still, with some clever flying, both ships manage to take out 5 of the 8 laser cannon turrets guarding the prison before landing west of the prison. Zog sets the Eileen down on the landing field, while Hermione docks the Seeker (now without her starboard waterjet engine) on the coast.
The Heroes meet on the landing field and immediately encounter several armed orcs, pirates, fighters, and armed techies. Zog, Orien, Sanjit, Loren, and Cylarus dispatch them while Kaleb guards the Eileen. The villains seem target Zog, Orien, and Sanjit more than the others, bombarding them with explosive spells and weapons fire. This, of course, turns out to be a mistake as the Heroes live up to their butt-kicking reputation in spades. During the battle, a handful of prison guards sneak on to the field in an attempt to surprise the Heroes currently locked in combat. They realize too late that this strategy has failed thanks to a barrage of magic missiles and weapons fire, compliments of Hermione.
After the battle, the Heroes search the landing field, the makeshift hangar, and the object being built. In their search, they discover:
- project plans to convert an existing barge into a second, smaller Stormbringer Juggernaut ship
- documents tying the prison guard to the Stormbringer Giant clan, some members of Mezzenbone’s advisor staff, and the Black Hole Syndicate.
- agreements to compensate those who help the Stormbringer Giants with their plans.
- the ship being built is capable of mounting 10 ion cannons, 3 of which are already in place
- the ship’s cargo hold contains pieces of a large robot construct, capable of housing Kraxxox Stormbringer’s spirit gem, one of the items stolen from the secret warehouse on SeaTac.
Storming Building 1
Armed with this new information and an attack plan, the Heroes head due east to the Prison, attacking Building 1. A band of armed Barghests greets them with claw attacks and weapons fire. The building, partially damaged and burned out, is surrounded by a small moat of burning oil and lava. The Heroes take up position and move forward as a group toward the Barghest onslaught. Meanwhile, Cylarus spots a side entrance and sneaks around toward it, intending to surprise the Barghests from behind. Sanjit demonstrates his superior martial arts prowess with a series of dodges, power strikes, and stunning blows against multiple Barghests, fatally injuring all but one. They retaliate with claw attacks and weapons fire, much to the irritation of Loren, Orien, and Hermione. At this point, a warning alarm sounds, indicating intruders in the facility. Lorien and Kaleb spot and take out the offending surveillance devices. Meanwhile, Orien takes out one of the heavily-armed Barghests and injures another. Hermione unleashes a cone of cold for maximum effect, instantly turning 5 of the Barghests(including the leader) into icicles. Zog, Cylarus, and Lorien help themselves to the remaining Barghests, killing all but one. The Heroes take their bound prisoner into an abandoned store room for a nice chat, complete with Zog’s axe.
With Sanjit and Cylarus on lookout and the rest of the Heroes surrounding them, Zog & Hermione ‘interview’ the captive Barghest, named Blunt. He acts defiant at first, immediately recognizing Hermione. He confirms that the warden and Stormbringer Giants plan to use the prison as a base for their operations. He also leers at Hermione and indicates that she’s saved the warden a lot of trouble. Now he won’t have to pay the bounty he’s placed on her head since she’s brought herself to him. Zog growls at him and prods him for more information. He replies only that the warden has exquisite plans for Hermione and her crew. Two amputated fingers later, Blunt begins to regret his earlier threats. He cringes as Hermione admires her newest souvenirs, compliments of Zog’s axe.
Just as the Heroes finish chatting w/Blunt, Sanjit and Cylarus spot more visitors heading their way: 5 Military Robots and 2 Clerics. As the Heroes take up position to face this new threat, Hermione realizes that the warden has upgraded the prison more than she expected, and for the first time begins to wonder if she’ll survive this adventure.
After dispensing with Blunt (leaving him tied up in a storage locker), the Heroes blast, fireball, freeze, and chain-lightning their way past the clerics and military robots on to Building 2 and more of the same, only this time more armed inmates join the party.
Treasure and Terror in Building 2
The Heroes investigate building 2, which only appears to be empty. Here they find answers to key questions:
- Where are the Stormbringer Giants getting weapons from?
- What do they plan to do with whatever they’re building?
- Who from the empire, if anyone, is involved?
While Sanjit and Lorien stand watch, Orien, Hermione, and Kaleb search several store rooms and find spare maintenance parts, misc. supplies, a cache of hand weapons, and pieces of what appears to be an Ion Cannon. The crate containing the Ion Cannon has the mark of an organization the Heroes know all too well: the Black Hole Syndicate. Cylarus finds several abandoned cells and makeshift offices. In one such office he finds data scrolls with:
- project plans, and
- messages between the prison warden, the Stormbringer Giants, and Bondee, a junior aide to MaynZerr, one of Emperor Mezzenbone’s top advisors.
The messages confirm the Heroes’ worst worries:
- The warden intends to work w/the Stormbringer Giants to use Hellspike Prison as a base of operations.
- They intend to wreak havoc across the Empire, and then
- turn the ship over to Bondee in exchange for a huge undisclosed reward.
Meanwhile, Zog investigates a burned-out, blown-out makeshift workout room and finds several bodies, rubble, and 4 large shipping crates. Three crates have the mark of the Stormbringer Giant clan and contain gold and silver coins, credits, title deeds, and first-class passes on cruises to luxury resorts. The fourth crate, emblazoned with the Black Hole Syndicate mark, contains weapons, ammunition, and blueprints for weapons and fighting vehicles. Zog reports back his findings, and asks if anyone’s interested in a cruise.
Just as the Heroes respond to Zog’s invitation, an alarm goes off as a warm reception teleports into building 2 to greet them: fireballs and blasts from 9 Barghests, 4 Mechanical Robots, and 4 Imps. Over the PA intercom, Arozza Stormbringer and the Warden’s voices boom out, “You know, this is really getting to be annoying. First Hermione trashes this lovely prison last time around. Then you meddling idiots stick your noses in our business on Cairvos Island. Now you’re turning up here stirring up all sorts of trouble for us. Well ok, since you’re trashing our place, we’ll trash yours. Let the fun begin.”
Through several rounds of fireballs, negative energy blasts, stunning blows, magic missiles, chains of lightning, and cones of cold, the Heroes prevail…just in time to greet another party outside building 2: Two Vrocks, 4 Mechanical Robots, and 30 armed inmates, including several Clerics and Barbarians. At this point, the strain of the recent battles begins to take its toll on the Heroes; they feel tired, they’re injured, and they’re running low on spells and their weapons are low on ammo (except for Zog, whose battery-powered blaster cannon is his new best friend). Stressed and fatigued, the Heroes press on, defeating their newest enemy party. A half-dozen armed inmates realize they’re losing and give up the battle. Hermione, Sanjit, and Zog interrogate them and find out that:
- The warden and Stormbringer Giants are in Building 4, where they plan to make a stand.
- Troops are being deployed near the landing field and dock.
- Many new inmates were jailed on bogus charges.
The inmates agree to encourage other prisoners not to fight. In return the Heroes promise to have all inmates’ cases reveiewed after they retake the prison. Wounded and low on spells, Hermione again wonders if she’ll survive this journey through Hellspike Prison.
As the Heroes clean up what’s left of building 2, Lorien & Orien get automated intruder alerts from the Eileen. Hearing this, Hermione contacts the Seeker and finds her crew in the middle of a firefight, with Zooky and Jozan leading the fight. The chief navigator indicates a half-dozen intruders have boarded the ship, injuring 5 and killing 2 of the Seeker crew. With evening approaching, the Heroes improvise a plan to retake both their ships, starting with the Eileen.
After an intense firefight on the Eileen’s cargo deck, the Heroes retake the ship and capture 5 intruders. The thugs are a mix of servants loyal to the Stormbringer Giants and armed inmates loyal to Warden Bailey. Zog has them all standing on chairs w/nooses around their necks. They disclose their plan to take both ships to aid in their plans to wreak havoc across the empire, and dispose of anyone who resists them. While interrogating them, Zog recognizes one of the Barbarians (named Krask) from several years ago: turns out Krask held up Zog’s former place of employment (weapons/sport shop) and injured several people, including Zog’s friend Carey. Krask recognizes Zog and taunts him, “So how’s that straw-necked pinhead Carey doing? Has he recovered from my blaster shot yet??” Zog responds by kicking Krask’s chair out from under him. Shocked, Krask gasps and struggles to free himself. As he dies, Zog leans into him and answers,“Carey is doing fine. He sends his regards.”
While Zog, Lorien and Kaleb interrogate the prisoners (3 of which survived), Cylarus and Orien investigate the rest of the ship and repair the damage. They conclude that the intruders made it to the upper deck but never past the forward section. The intruders damaged power conduits, support systems, and part of the security system. They also damaged some of the outer hull near the starboard loading ramp. With the damage repaired and prisoners detained, Zog, Sanjit and Hermione make their way over to the Seeker. They find 6 pirates guarding the outside of the ship, which they dispose of quickly with magic missile spells and blasters. Quickly, they board the ship and hook up w/the chief navigator on the main cargo deck. Together they finish retaking key parts of the ship: the Starcaster, medical bay, and support systems. By now the rest of the Heroes from the Eileen join the battle with their prisoners in tow. Cylarus and Orien join Zooky and Jozan in retaking the Starcaster while Hermione, Lorien, and Sanjit retake the med. bay and support systems. At the end, the Heroes round up all prisoners on the Seeker’s main cargo deck and interrogate/detain them. Instead of killing prisoners, Zog snaps the fingers of the lead pirate before Hermione has them all locked up. At this point, the Heroes spend the night on their ships before returning to the prison to finish the job.
The next day, refreshed and recharged, the Heroes venture to the 4th and final prison building. Zog and Cylarus quickly recon the building and find windows/doorways on both floors guarded, and a pair of bay doors on the roof. Spotting the guards at the two main entrances, the team splits and ambushes both doors, taking the barbarian and inmate guards by surprise with missile, stun, and cold spells. The team wonders why the guards offered such little resistance. When they storm both doorways, they find out why:
- Once they enter the building, alarm go off announcing their arrival.
- A small army of a dozen military robots greets them with flamethrowers, blaster shot, and stun grenades.
- A voice, Warden Bailey, also greets them. “So you’ve decided to come back for more punishment, eh? I’m actually surprised you made it past those robots and Vrocks in building 2, even moreso that those bumbling dwarves let you pass through building. No matter. This is truly where you’ll make your final stand. Your ships will make brilliant additions to our little fleet. My guards will enjoy every moment with them.”
Incensed, the Heroes plan out their final assault with some more recon and are startled at what they find: 3 Stormbringer Giants, 20 Military Robots, 5 Vrocks, and another 10 barbarian inmates plus 5 sorcerers. Zog & Cylarus go to town with their blaster and assault rifles, taking out the first wave of barbarians. Sanjit indulges in the target-rich environment with stunning blows, martial arts attacks, and artful dodges. He takes out a handful of inmates while Lorien, Kaleb, and Orien go to work on the Stormbringer Giants. The enemies retaliate with weapons fire, stun, cold, and blindness spells. The Stormbringer Giants decide to toss in a few lightning/storm spells, wreaking further havoc on our Heroes. Hermione replies in kind with alternating cone of cold/fireball/chain lightning spells, first at the Vrocks then at the Giants. Needless to say, the Giants are displeased to taste their own medicine…but take it anyway (no choice, really). Through all the commotion, Warden Bailey scoots up to the top level for his escape.
Battered and wounded, the Heroes triumph over their reception committee just in time to detect Warden Bailey’s personal shuttle powering up. Using scanners and detection spells, they detect another 15+ Military Robots on the top floor guarding the Warden as he attempts to escape. So the Heroes decide to pop in on Bailey…literally. The shuttle is large enough for all of them to teleport inside, so Orien, Lorien, and Kaleb do mass teleports, weapons drawn.
Surprise! As he turns around to face the Heroes, Warden Bailey gets off a lucky shot on Hermione, taking her down but not out (he must’ve seen those spells she cast on the Giants). No problem; the rest of the Heroes pick up the slack, instantly filling Warden Bailey w/weapons discharge. The dying warden slumps back on the console, triggering the launch sequence…and the prison’s self-destruct systems. With quick thinking, luck, and technical skill, the Heroes disable the self-destruct, abort the launch sequence, and shut down all remaining Military Robots. HellSpike Prison is now officially retaken.
Over the next few days, storage facility crew (including Carey), join the Heroes and a clean-up crew sent by Richard Vastens to clean up the mess and repair damage. The cleanup crew includes legal experts to review all ‘bogus’ cases against inmates. The Heroes set up a fund to benefit the families of those affected by the Stormbringer Giants’ revenge plans, and take a share of the rewards for their efforts. Meanwhile, Zog’s old friend Carey, now being forced into retirement, lands a new job as the Heroes’ business accountant. Their plan: to build a chain of businesses to put Zog’s former employer (sporting/weapons shop) out of business. That is, after Carey enjoys a 3-week vacation at a luxury resort on Fargul. The Heroes, meanwhile, head back to Regdar 5 to repair damages…and count their latest treasure.
The End…Until Next Time, That Is