Subsection: Before the Dawn Up Subsection: Before the Dawn Subsubsection: 28 November 2013 (a fight with a dinosaur, and under the Earth to the Nile air base) 

14 November 2013 (a fight on the road, and finding the digging machine)

It’s been about three months since the world ended.
About, because over the last few weeks the days have been growing longer, and now the sun is fixed in the sky. When the team left Kentucky, it was six degrees over the previous heat record… and the clocks said it was three in the morning.
But food still needs to be run into the Living Land, and people need to be persuaded to come out. So our heroes are driving a 2½-ton truck full of tinned food through what was once Ohio.
There’s still a road to follow, but it’s not the blacktop it used to be before the invasion, the Deep Mist of the Living Land cuts vision down to no more than a few yards, and Diamond isn’t surprised when one of the tyres bursts. It’s an easy task to wrestle the truck to a stop; a sharp rock’s gone through the tread, and David gets started fitting the spare tyre while the rest of the team keeps a look out.
Some minutes later, there’s noise from ahead, footsteps breaking branches and splashing through puddles. After a few seconds, a young woman bursts out of the mist, throws herself at David, and babbles hysterically in German — which, fortunately, he speaks. She talks of being chased by lizards, points along the road in the direction from which she came, and asks for help.
It’s just about then that the Edeinos start to become visible out of the mist. Two come out of the trees on each side, while three are coming along the road; all of them have spears, and one of the front group is chanting. The undergrowth starts to writhe and bind people in place, though Diamond and David manage to evade.
Diamond opens up with a pair of pistols, dropping attackers on the left; Hayami throws shuriken, which injure but don’t immediately stop one of the front group; Thorfin skewers one with his crossbow, then drops it and readies his pick; David shoots one with his cyberlinked pistol.
Several of the survivors throw spears, but they either miss or bounce off Thorfin’s heavy plate armour. Hayami threatens one with some flashy sword moves, and he hangs back a bit — then, when Diamond runs up the nearest tree and flips over their heads, shooting as she goes, and Hayami finishes off one of the wounded Edeinos with a single katana blow, he breaks and runs. At which point David shoots him in the back; can’t have him summoning help.
There’s not much to find on the bodies, which (in the way of the Living Land) start to rot almost at once. The woman, who’s been cowering away from the action, introduces herself as Hildy Marlen; she’s the daughter of Herr Doctor Professor Heinrich Marlen, an engineer. They were in Cairo when the invasion hit, and the Doctor was forced to work for the Pharoah under the direction of Professor Shariff — who used Hildy as a hostage to ensure good behaviour.
Doctor Marlen has been working for the last two months on a strange digging device, not at all the sort of thing he designed before the invasion. Three days ago, Shariff forced Doctor Marlen and Hildy into the device; during the two-day trip from Cairo to here (Thorfin, no stranger to tunnelling, raises an eyebrow), they overheard Shariff talking to the soldiers; they were planning to meet some Edeinos to trade weapons (there are several crates of rifles on the digging machine) for “a key”, which the Pharoah would be able to use to “unlock the power of the Still World”.
When the machine arrived in the Living Land this morning, the Professor spoke with some lizards, who then went away. Then they were waiting; after a bit, the Professor let Hildy and her father outside for some fresh air. Doctor Marlen hit the guard on the back of the head, and told Hildy to run; she did.
Hildy knows the way back to the digging machine… so after clearing up, and moving the truck to the side of the road and somewhat under cover, the party heads on. It’s about forty minutes, first on the road, then along a winding track; eventually Hildy raises her finger to her lips and whispers that the machine is somewhere ahead.
Hayami vanishes, sneaking through the jungle and locating the nearest guards — who aren’t keeping a great lookout, certainly can’t spot her in a sneaksuit, and don’t cope well with having a katana shoved into their kidneys. The digging machine is half-buried in the earth, a monstrosity of bronze and rivets with a massive conical screw on the front, but there’s nobody immediately nearby. Four more guards are slightly further away, in two groups on another path through the jungle. Hayami returns to report.
Hildy stays back in safety. Most of the group then sneaks up on one of the pairs of guards, while Hayami stays in the jungle a little further along the path, planning to ambush the second pair when they come to help. Thorfin kills one shocktrooper with a carefully-placed crossbow shot, while Diamond leaps out and bashes the other; it takes a bit longer, and the other guards hear the scuffle, shout, and start to advance. Hayami is able to take them out from ambush.
There’s sound of moving men from the clearing. The team gets there, Hayami coming in at a slightly different angle, to see a man vanishing into the mist on the far side; he spins round, shouts something obscene in Arabic to the effect of “back here, you fools”, and raises a bulky contraption which includes a megaphone. He’s wearing lightweight exploring clothes and certainly matches Hildy’s description of Professor Shariff. Three more guards come out of the jungle behind him, and level their sub-machineguns.
The megaphone device makes a penetratingly loud thudding noise; the party dives for cover, and manages to avoid whatever its effect might be, though nearby trees shake and small branches fall off. David shoots at the professor, but his bullet sparks against something rather than penetrating. Hayami moves round in concealment, while David keeps shooting and Diamond flips across the clearing to shoot more shocktroopers. Shariff keeps firing, but without managing to hit the heroes.
Hayami spots a bulky backpack on Shariff’s back, and reckons this might be something to do with the protective barrier. Inspired by Diamond’s acrobatics and encouragement, she carefully shapes her hand for a breaking strike; she’s slightly burned, but the backpack crackles and catches fire. Thorfin stands firm and calls on Shariff to surrender; he doesn’t, but he’s taken aback. David hits with another round, and this time Shariff’s killed.
There’s a thumping sound from inside the digging machine; David picks the lock on the hatch, and they release Doctor Marlen. (Hildy comes out of the jungle, and they have a tearful reunion.) Also inside the machine are cases of rifles, and what appears to be Shariff’s diary, in which he talks about arranging for a transport plane to fly the Pharoah to Indonesia… and, in the current mission, to pick up “an egg” from the lizards in exchange for the weapons, to be used by gospog (mobile plantlike entities created by the invaders) for the assault on Philadelphia. Apparently the egg is they key to unlocking the world’s energy, and the Pharoah wants this for himself.
The team considers what to do next. They can’t hand over the weapons to be used against Core Earthers. Doctor Marlen reckons the digging machine has enough power in the batteries to get back to the secret base where it was built, and there might be more information there.
 Subsection: Before the Dawn Up Subsection: Before the Dawn Subsubsection: 28 November 2013 (a fight with a dinosaur, and under the Earth to the Nile air base)