Life at Habitat had been busy since the party returned from the Environmental Control Center two weeks ago. Scouts learned that the team sent to explore to the west were slaughtered by wolfoids. Groups were organized to retrieve food supplies from the center, all led by various members of the original expedition. The party was asked almost daily to recount their adventure (although none except Max spoke of the Warden being a ship). Within the last week, a few village scouts and hunters had disappeared while others reported near escapes from wolfoids.
The man-wolves had never been seen in such numbers in Birnam Wood. Enginer Rorke daily spoke of the danger posed by the wolfoids and declared that the village should take the battle to them. They must be taught the fear of man! Vizor Toom was more cautious. The beast-man did not seem inclined to parley, but he wasn’t so sure that the cost in villager lives would be worth the effort to drive the wolfoids away.
The Council of Elders met to discuss a plan of action. The meeting lasted two hours and when they adjourned, word spread through the village like wildfire: there would be war! Not long after, Jim, Mister Pointy, Whoo and Zandor received an invitation to meet with Enginer Rorke.
When they arrived at the Enginer’s lodge, the group noted the absence of Jeb and Max. Rorke was surprised that they asked about Max; most villagers did not want his company. He had a reputation around the village as a trouble-maker. The Enginer admitted that he had not invited Max but if they felt the mutant should be involved, they were welcome to divulge the meeting to Max later. As for Jeb, the Rorke’s messenger had simply been unable to find him.
Enginer Rorke told the party that the Council of Elders had decided not to waste any time. A large camp of wolfoids had been found by village scouts and it would be attacked that very afternoon! Vizor Toom would lead the main force of villagers, but it had been decided that Jeb (if he could be found), Jim, Mister Pointy, Whoo and Zandor (as well as Max if the group wanted him) would be given a special mission. Once the battle was joined, they were to kill the wolfoid pack leader. The group had previously proven themselves in battle with the man-wolves so the Council thought they had the best chance of succeeding. Killing the pack leader should demoralize and hopefully disorganize the wolfoids, saving villager lives. If they accepted the mission, the party would be given the best gear possible.
The party needed little convincing to accept. They knew the threat the beast-men posed and were willing to do their part. Engineer Rorke was pleased. As promised, he equipped the group with weapons, armor and basic supplies, including two precious slug projectors with four dum-dum rounds each. Rorke even provided customized light armor for Mister Pointy and Whoo!
The Enginer was about to discuss another task when he suddenly collapsed. The party rushed to his unconscious form, finding his entire right arm covered in purplish-red splotches. Jim and Zandor were planning to carry him to the medical facilities at the Environmental Control Center when Rorke regained consciousness. He waved them away and explained that he was still recovering from a recent illness, but was on the mend and did not want to waste the center’s resources. The splotches on his arm faded as he spoke, reinforcing his words. In fact, the Enginer expected the medical facilities to soon be desperately needed by others. He asked the party to speak with Hayseed and prepare the center to serve those wounded in the coming battle. If the group hurried to the center, they could return in time for the battle. The party immediately left.
The party was almost to the Environmental Control Center when they encountered a huge man who appeared suddenly from behind a tree. He was almost eight feet tall, armed with a large rifle and wearing a full suit of glowing armor. The man telepathically greeted the group and introduced himself as Churr. He knew about the village attack and that the party had been tasked to kill the pack leader. Churr was searching for a large red crystal that could be in the wolfoid camp. If the party found and retrieved the crystal for him, he would reward them with a full clip of slug projector dum-dum rounds and an ancient weapon which fired a beam of intense light energy called a laser pistol. The group accepted the offer and Churr instructed them to meet him at the same location at midnight. He then walked back around the tree and disappeared.
The villagers completed the rest of their journey to the center uneventfully. Once there, they told Hayseed of the coming battle and after the robot first suggested the village contact ship security, he agreed to prepare the Veterinary Clinic for a large number of patients. The group then returned to Habitat.