From the journal of Chester Flapjowls – London Post Gazette
These inadequate words must suffice to describe the mixture of fear, excitement and anxiety that all of us felt while engaged with the denizens of a certain mysterious valley in Zimdar. Local villagers had told quite the tale of a valley that was loaded with gold and other potential riches. They also told of the native’s beliefs that the spirit of the God of Death haunted the valley. Snort had promised he would send help to cleanse the valley of this danger. He owed them his life. Lord Swithington had insisted that samples of the “rocks that float in thunderstorms” be brought back for examination.
We arrived in the Sweesweesh village about mid-day, and after talking to the chief it was decided to wait until dawn of the next day to enter the valley. A native named !Tix!Tax was “enlisted” to be our guide. The night was spent by the villagers in front of a roaring bonfire dancing, singing and shouting brave insults at the valley entrance. As dawn broke, !Tix!Tax, wearing a death mask, led us to the entrance of the valley. He was quite impressed with our mechanical steam powered woodchopper, and its two huge axes. Little did he know that this infernal contraption was a cobbled together collection of ill-fitting parts reclaimed as part of the HMS Drake salvage.
As we started into the valley, the Woodchopper died and wouldn’t restart. It was stuck right in the middle of the entrance gap with just barely enough room to pass it on either side. As the group squeezed by the silent machine, our attention was caught by the lure of obvious gold deposits in the mountains to our right and a mysterious multi-colored ore in the mountains to our left. There was a heated debate about splitting our forces or not. That decision was taken from us by an act of fate.
Amidst a tapestry of swearing, and a truly virtuoso performance it was, Mechanic 1st class Burt Genneve managed to repair the Woodchopper and it roared to life. It lurched forward straight into the heart of the jungle. People scattered left and right to avoid the spinning axe blades that were felling palm trees with one cut. As the Woodchopper was cutting a swath into the primordial jungle, it disturbed and enraged two nests of snakes. Snakes swarmed in every conceivable direction. They attacked several of the men while some slithered deeper into the jungle. As the men reacted in panic the expedition party was driven further and further apart.
Brains Sweeny, Gils Chadbury and Louis Smythe-Scott swept to the left firing their weapons at the snakes. They dispatched several but not before Chadbury was bitten and wounded by one. The mechanic would not leave the Woodchopper and his best mate Marlin Cuthburt stayed close by. They did their best to defend each other from the hoard. The very superstitious !Tix!Tax took this swarm as an evil omen and ran for his village. Steven Dekopp, Nathan Rosefelt and Alan Lawsfree were forced to the right.
Dekopp, Rosefelt and Lawsfree spent several anxious minutes killing the snakes that swarmed beneath their feet and around their legs. It was touch and go for a while, but finally the last snake was dispatched. Just as they relaxed, a small snake hidden in the brush struck at Marlin Cuthburt. To say this delicately, a full venom load was deposited into Cuthburt on the opposite side of his posterior. Sadly, he did not survive the extremely painful attack.
Meanwhile, out on the left, sounds of breaking brush and fierce trumpeting were heard. As they turned to face the sounds, a very angry large green animal burst into the clearing. The three stood frozen in disbelief as a green sailback dinosaur fixed them with a malicious stare and bellowed a challenge. Brains Sweeny was the first to awake from his trance and hastily brought his rifle to bear on the Sailback. The round wounded the Sailback but did not kill it. The situation for Sweeny was tense; the beast was truly berserk and raised its tail for a final slashing blow.
At that precise moment the Woodchopper belched a large cloud of steam and lurched forward with axes spinning. With a roar, the Sailback turned and charged into the Woodchopper! Slamming into its side, the Sailback’s three tremendous tail spikes pierced into the steam lines and control cables of the Woodchopper disabling it.
As Chadbury moved in to help protect Sweeny, Smythe-Scott took the opportunity to head for the multi-colored ore. It was the most unusual looking rock he had ever seen. All the colors of the rainbow shimmered in each nugget. As he bent down to pick up some of the material, an explosion knocked him off his feet and covered him with dust. He picked himself up and carefully reached for another piece of the ore. A strange shadow crossed over him and another explosion blasted nearby rocks and trees to flinders. Smythe-Scott again just barely escaped. As he raised his gaze upwards, an unbelievable sight, straight out of the stories of Aladdin, greeted his eyes. A flying carpet was hovering directly over him! A little wizened old man wearing a turban was lighting the fuse of another bomb to drop on Smythe-Scott’s head from the perch on the carpet.
The little snake that had felled Cuthburt was evil incarnate. It made several strikes at the mechanic. It was so quick that Burt Genneve could not get an accurate shot. The little snake was positioned so that he could not get back to the disabled Woodchopper in order to effect repairs.
About the same time as the Sailback bellowed its challenge at Sweeny, Alan Lawsfree spotted a tremendous gold deposit on the far right. The nuggets were large and just laying on the ground. He absently noted several birds circling overhead but ignored them as Gold Fever struck full force. He hurried forward to gather the loose nuggets. Dekopp screamed a warning as one of the “birds” stooped on Lawsfree at tremendous speed knocking him to the ground. He couldn’t believe it but a Pterodactyl had just attacked him. As he scurried for cover he realized that there were four Pterodactyls in the air, orbiting around a nest perched high upon the mountaintop.
Dekopp joined up with Lawsfree, both grabbing a few nuggets before scurrying for cover at the base of the cliff. Dekopp was convinced there were eggs in the nest and was determined to fetch one back for Lord Swithington. They started up the spine of the mountain and noticed that the Pterodactyls were highly agitated but the reptiles were diving on something that was deeper in the jungle. This was their chance to grab an egg. Unfortunately, as Dekopp and Lawsfree reached the top of the mountain one Pterodactyl noticed and dived on them. Dekopp was knocked from the rocky precipice and plunged to his death hundreds of feet below. Alan shot and missed as the beast turned its attention on him, a quick dive and sharp snap of its jaws marked the end for Alan Lawsfree. Rosefelt fired at the reptile, wounded it and drove it off, he decided to leave the nest and eggs alone. The Pterodactyls were still screaming at something that was deeper in the jungle, but Nathan could not make out what it was.
!Tix!Tax was so ashamed of himself, that he turned around and reentered the jungle. As he did, Chadbury took careful aim and shot the Sailback through the neck killing it. Almost simultaneously, !Tix!Tax killed the nasty little snake with a shot from his hunting bow. Genneve immediately raced to the WoodChopper to see how badly it was damaged.
Another bomb exploded just behind Smythe-Scott, knocking him off his feet one more time. He and Sweeny both took blind shots at the carpet, just to force the occupant to take cover. As Smythe-Scott ran for cover, Sweeny took one more shot at the carpet. It quite simply exploded, vanishing in a cloud of carpet bits, coiled wired and pottery that rained all over the jungle. Both men gathered up as much of the ore and debris as they could carry and headed back to the village.
As Chadbury looked around, he saw the alluring shine of gold and headed for it. As he got closer to the ore, Rosefelt screamed at him to look out. But it was too late. The big green pig had arrived and its attention was fixed directly on Chadbury. It was indeed a huge T-Rex, green in color, with bright red eyes. It charged Chadbury, tail whipping, feet smashing and rending the earth.
It bit at Chadbury many times, and slashed at him with its short forelimb claws. It was miraculous, Chadbury was lithe and agile and avoided all of the attacks, even managing to get a shot or two into the beast himself. A pterodactyl struck at the beast slashing a deep wound in its back. But the T-Rex whipped around and with one mighty bite, yanked it out of the air and bit it in two.
In the midst of all this Rosefelt had been shooting round after round at the beast but to no avail. He only had a few rounds left and had to make them count if he was to save his friend. He steadied his rifle in the crook of a tree and took most careful aim at the T-Rex. He didn’t have much time.
In an attempt to save himself, Chadbury was trying to play dead, just under the massive jaws of the Tyranasaurus. Just then the Woodchopper belched into life again and lurched toward Chadbury and the dinosaur. The startled T-Rex whipped around to face the new threat, just as Rosefelt squeezed the trigger and shot it dead through an eye. In what seemed to take an eternity, several tons of green dinosaur meat collapsed to the ground directly on top of Chadbury, crushing him to death.
For Rosefelt, Smythe-Scott, Sweeny and Genneve it was past time to get out of this valley. But they would be back. With heavier machines next time...