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The Expedition

.Chapter 3 - The Zipline

The Mysterious Crystal

Riding the Zipline
There is so much to tell and I have fallen so behind in the telling that I beg your forgiveness, dear reader, for the torrent of verbiage that follows. 

It began with a Crystal of immense size and peculiar properties that I discovered in an extremely deep cave near the lead mines of Naica, Mexico. At first I had thought it merely another artifact of the natural processes occurring within the cave but further research into its constitution and properties led me to determine that it was in fact a fragment from the Yucatan Meteor strike that had wiped out the dinosaurs some 65 million years ago.

The Crystal Cave
As I applied various chemicals, energies and vibrations to the Crystal, I began to catch glimpses within its depths of a place I later came to understand to be the Automatic Wasteland. At first I believed I was seeing images of another world perhaps within our own galaxy but certainly within our universe. As events unfolded, however, I became certain that I was looking upon another dimension, another universe entirely and that this crystal had by some incalculable chance come to me from much further than I ever could have imagined.

First Contact

As I refined the apparatus I used to activate the Crystal, I soon was able to move my view across the desolation of the Automatic Wasteland at will. I saw heaps of twisted machineries wherein similar crystals were embedded and came to the conclusion that it was a sympathetic resonance with these crystals and the remnants of their complex mechanisms that allowed such communication to exist.  This place could only be the true source of the Crystal that found its way into my hands.  With further refinement, I was able to hear as well as see but for a long time the only sounds were a constant ticking and whirring against an empty and derelict wind.

Imagine my surprise when one day while surveying a particularly intricate ruin, I spied a shambling, misshapen figure stumbling across my view. I cried out in surprise and, to my utter astonishment, the figure turned toward me and approached, muttering obscenities and imprecations that sounded to all the world like English, salted with a heavy Irish brogue. Whatever thing or mechanism it was that provided my vision of the Automatic Wasteland through the Crystal, apparently worked in both directions!

The creature was, as I later learned, the Yard Sailor, cast upon the shores of the Automatic Wasteland by a chance gravitic anomaly contained within the great Norwegian Maelstrom. Almost entirely deranged by the experience, it took many long and frustrating months to establish the circumstances of his unlikely fate and enlist his aid in further experiments due to his penchant for conducting almost all of his rambling conversations through refrains and verses of Irish drinking songs.

The Yard Sailor’s tale

The Yard Sailor had been a member of the British Royal Navy for some thirty years without ever setting foot on so much as a dinghy, rowboat or punt, yet rising to the rank of Petty Officer due to his skill in maintaining the grounds of naval officers’ houses and headquarters and in cultivating the various botanical specimens returned to England from all their explorations of the far corners of the world.  Yes, that is correct. The Yard Sailor (as he came to be disparagingly known among his fellow seamen) was born in the early 1830’s and vanished as nearly as I can ascertain in our year of 1867 CE. I do not believe that he has spent nearly 150 years in the Automatic Wasteland, however. It is apparent that his travel across the dimensions also involved a dilation or distortion of time itself.

Lady Honoré
Oddly enough it was a predecessor of Lady Marzipan’s, one Lady Honoré Ticketing-Boothe, who set the Yard Sailor upon the course that was to eventually lead him to the Automatic Wasteland. One afternoon while admiring the Yard Sailor’s legendary roses in the gardens of the High Admiral’s quarters in Portsmouth, her small terrier (Pippin by name) relieved himself on the verdant lawns. Before the aghast Yard Sailor could dispose of the droppings, none other than First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir John Parkington, placed his gleaming leather boot square in it. Within the week, the Yard Sailor was consigned as a common Seaman aboard the HMS Sir Daniel Simmons bound for the Arctic by way of the North Sea.

In The Maelstrom

Off the coast of Norway, the disconsolate Yard Sailor - having enough of seasickness and the taunts and jeers of his shipmates due to his lack of any nautical skills whatsoever - cast himself into the fearsome ocean.  As he waited for the frigid water to steal his life, he felt a sudden current beneath him that soon carried him faster and faster in ever-decreasing circles.  It was The Maelstrom and he was caught fast in its grip.  Soon he was whirling around a tremendous Hole in the Sea and, as he was carried deeper into its horrifying maw, he caught a glimpse of the HMS Sir Daniel Simmons being rent asunder directly across from him.  No other man from the doomed ship survived the encounter and that is all the Yard Sailor can recall (or chooses to remember).  He awoke in the midst of the Automatic Wasteland and wandered there and about for some number of lonely years before hearing the sound of my voice.

The Zipline

Zipline Generator
My communication with the Yard Sailor was galvanizing. Now, knowing with certainty that human beings could make the transit across dimensions and survive, I set to work in a fever of invention to construct a device that would allow the transgression and return of a party of explorers.  Within weeks I had a working prototype of a coiled quantum singularity that could, by the use of “Heisenberg Hoops,” achieve this end.  The primary limitation was that it required a receiving mechanism, a “Terminus,” on the other end.  My only ally in this endeavor could be the Yard Sailor but to instruct and lead him through the acquisition of parts from the ruins of the Automata’s machineries and their assembly into a working Terminus required agonizing months of repetition and inhuman patience on my part.  Finally, it was only the promise of whiskey and sardines that provided sufficient motivation for him to complete the task.

Zipline Terminus
The Yard Sailor received his reward and used the prototype to return to our world, drunk and stinking of fish.  Before he sobered up, I dispatched him back to the Automatic Wasteland with the parts and plans to construct a more permanent installation.  Despite my reservations regarding the Yard Sailor's tenuous grasp on reality, his knowledge of the Automatic Wasteland and his peculiar status as a “non-person” in this world made him a singular candidate.  I would have gone over as well, and perhaps I should have, to supervise and assist in the construction of the Terminus however, I must admit, I believed the Yard Sailor would have slit my throat at the first opportunity owing to my rather harsh treatment of him in the course of his construction of the prototype.

Over the next several years, I maintained a regular transport of supplies and inducements (primarily whiskey and sardines) and construction materials to the Automatic Wasteland and coaxed, goaded, threatened and tempted the Yard Sailor through the rigors of the fabrication and construction of the final Terminus. Only when it was complete, did I allow him to return to our world and enjoy the comforts of my Redoubt.  It was then that I first heard of the mysterious LaSalada, although I had previously come across cryptic references to its existence in my more arcane researches.

The Transgression

Across the Cosmos
At last, all was ready.  The Explorers were assembled in the Transgression Chamber of the Zipline Generator, perched atop the Redoubt, clutching their Heisenberg Hoops strung along the glowing coil of the Zipline.  As each stepped forward, I threw the Great Switch and saw them propelled at unimaginable speed along its shimmering length and into the Vanishing Point. Across unimaginable distances they flew in mere moments.

A Near Disaster
The only mishap came when Lady Marzipan lost her grip on the Heisenberg Hoop under somewhat suspicious circumstances.  Within mere microseconds of being cast into the infinite deep, she reached out with a vestigial appendage and managed to reengage the Zipline and complete the transgression.

Map Detail
Despite the success of this first transdimensional passage, I knew that my labors had just begun, even as a new plan - based upon the Yard Sailor's revelations of LaSalada - began to shape itself in my mind.

.Chapter 2 - The Explorers

Team LaSalada
Finding just the right team to penetrate the Automatic Wasteland and return with the Relic took many months of research and investigation. My team required very special skills and qualities - both individually and collectively - such that my efforts resulted in a group that would certainly appear an odd sort to the uninitiated. However, their eventual success was proof of my ability to judge character and quality.

The Yard Sailor
The Yard Sailor
The Yard Sailor served as navigator through the shifting and treacherous geometries of the Automatic Wasteland being, as he was, the first man to make the transgression from our world to it by means of a Norwegian Maelstrom.  I myself taught him the art and science of interdimensional navigation and transgression.

Lady Marzipan
Lady Marzipan
Lady Marzipan, Duchess of East Ticketybooth was chosen for her preternatural sensitivities to chromo-harmonic vibrations. Of noble lineage and independent spirit, she had cast aside her traditional role in favor of a life of adventure and discovery. Accomplished in the techniques of Fontaineography, it was her task to construct a visual record of the expedition.

LaRosa Rota-Scopa
LaRosa Rota-Scopa
LaRosa Rota-Scopa possessed a toughness of mind and spirit that was to prove essential to the success of the expedition. Although she blamed me for the loss of her sister, LaRosa Negra, on a previous and ill-fated attempt to penetrate the Automatic Wasteland, she served the explorers (and myself) extremely well.

The Celluloid Scholar
The Celluloid Scholar
Certainly the most cryptic member of the party, the Celluloid Scholar was certainly a cipher to the other expedition members. His habit of shouting "Action!" at particularly dangerous or crucial moments of the journey earned their enmity. However, his knowledge of the optical and alchemical processes used by the Clockworks in the creation of the Relic was absolutely critical to a successful outcome.

Ms. Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade
I did not wish to bring Ms. Arcade into the expedition but her absolute determination to accompany the explorers was indomitable. She soon proved her worth to the other explorers through her keen mind and empathetic nature. In the end I came to believe that her familial relationship to one of the original actors in the Relic, LaSalada, was essential to unlocking its powers.


.Chapter 1 - The Feast

Fontaine-Bleu's hospitality
Perhaps the Celluloid Scholar and the Yard Sailor may have had some idea of what they were facing but the others... Ah, the others could not conceive of what awaited them. I held a feast in their honor. To me it seemed as if it were a wake. Did I did try to warn them; to hint at the dangers they were about to face? No. They were like stubborn children filled with hubris, convinced of their ability to face whatever obstacle or opposition might confront them in the journey to come.

Lady M with fruit
And I fed their confidence, their arrogance, their courage to insure their cooperation. They could not imagine the extremity of their peril nor, in the end, could I.

The Redoubt
We gathered at my secret base, The Redoubt, where I had finally managed to establish a stable "transgression" point. Curiously, this method, the means of travel between the worlds has come to be known as "transgressing" as if it were a sin. It is certainly a transgression against our limited understanding of the laws of nature and, if that is a sin, well, so be it.



In the Wasteland
Here you will find the story of all that our brave explorers endured as they made their way across unimaginable distances, past the deadliest of perils and the most amazing marvels in order to retrieve a very special artifact.

Who are they? Why did they do it? What did they see? What did they find? All will be revealed in the days to come.