The woodsman is awoken by Alaric and his blue drones standing over him. Alaric gives him a list of gate addresses that he remembers from his time as Divine Shadow. Senna the aeon priest tells the party that the 3 priests and 9 diggers are all counting on them to get the group back to civilization and that the party won’t be able to get paid unless they can reach a bank or church that will accept Dobbins script. A young boy named Digby gives the party 4 cyphers that diggers had collected to help them in their efforts.
Two of the cyphers they used immediately on Gerard. One is called a “contingent subroutine” which integrated into his body through his skin and will activate if he becomes incapacitated or dies causing his body to protect itself from danger. The other cypher is a comprehension graft which, unfortunately for Gerard, worked like the belly button worm from the “Matrix”. It now allows him to understand Cluster, the language spoken by Alaric and that the energy key granted to the woodsman.
The party then explores the additional 5 addresses on the list that Alaric gave them. The first location is dark and smells of dirty human and rotting meat. Goredard explores and discovers decomposing giant insects and hears sounds that he suspects are feral humans so he returns through the gate to report. The second location is under and ocean and sends a surge of water at the party knocking them to the ground, but the woodsman quickly deactivates the portal and avoids and serious problem. The third location is on the top of a large ziggurat like structure that is in the middle of black drit desert with blowing dust. Senna believes it may be the desert in the Dark Hills in the South of Navarene. The fourth location is pitch black with a stone floor. The fifth and final location they check is located on a crystal floating high above the ground.
The party returns to the fourth location which turns out to be a small stone room that also contains a large obelisk, and two big boxes, one with large green crystal sphere and the other with a large black cylinder with strange symbols and ports. The find a large iron door lock from the outside. Gerard phases through it and finds himself in a hallway sparsely lit by torches. He explores along the hallway lined with similar doors before finally finding a stairway up out of the basement. He phases through the locked basement door to find a larger stone corridor lined with pillars and some outside light through small windows. He hides behind a pillar as two armored men walk down the corridor. He decides to speak to the men who draw weapons and demand to know what he is doing in their stronghold. He tells them of the portal in the basement and one guard fetches a black robed man in a metal mask that unlocks the basement and storeroom. The robed man offers the party passaged out of the stronghold if they give up the stargate dialing device. They finally agree, giving the dialer to the man and bring the priests, diggers, and Alaric/drones through the portal.
The robbed man instead of letting them go leads them to a courtyard where two other guards are on duty. The robbed man then orders the guard to kill them and joins in the attack throwing esoteric energy beams. It turns out that the party has stumbled into a stronghold belonging to the Syndicate, a shadowy organization known to be powerful and ruthless, who feel it would be better to kill the party that just let them leave peacefully. The Syndicate are the group that Cook’s parents purchased his cybernetic upgrade from. The group took them into indentured servitude when his parents became unable to pay back the debt, and tried to repossess Cook as well but he escaped them.
The party kills the four guards and the Syndicate member in a heated skirmish. Senna shielded the refugees who huddled in a small group during this. The whole group then flee back to the stargate while being assailed from the balconies and hearing the sounds of more backup on the way. The woodsman loots the Syndicate agent for their dialer as well as his mask, shins, a cypher, and a key. The group arrives back at the gate safely but instead of just escaping Goredard uses his extensive knowledge of transdimensional numenera and programs the gate to dial the underwater address immediately after they deactivate it after their escape. The party all cross over to the mountain top location near Mehir’s teeth and see guards burst into the room just as they deactivate the gate connection.
Assumably the storeroom gate began to dial itself as guards and robbed Syndicate members rush into the basement after the escaping party. As soon as the gate connected water bust from both sides, expelling over 30,000 gallons of water per minute, nearly instantaneously filling the small room and sending a torrent of water rushing down the hallway in both directions. Most certainly drowning all pursuers in the basement and quickly flooding all the other basement rooms. Depending on how long the gate stayed connected the damage to the fortress and even surrounding area may be extensive. The party can only hope and imagine for now. Whatever the final scenario they can rest assured they struck a significant blow to the organization responsible for destroying Cook’s life, not to mention numerous other reported underhanded deeds.