Sunday, October 25, 2009

Moaning Cryptacombs of Forqongue

Arsia Mons University
Anthropology Dept.
Building 81-1019
Tharsis, OL 72169


First, I would like to sincerely thank all of you who have sent well-wishes, cards and gifts during my long recovery. My eagerness to share our findings on Forqongue with all of you has grown ever greater over the last months; if only as a way to return some small measure of the warmth and encouragement you've shown me.

To answer the question foremost in many of your letters; yes, we have managed to return with the first known recordings of the Moaning Cryptacombs of Forqongue and, yes, we hope to be publishing our findings very soon. As I will explain, this is not as simple a task as it may seem.

I would like to point out that the 'Blue Ruins' spacecraft, equipment and crew performed beautifully. All of your contributions and the hard work of our staff and volunteers have truly resulted in a spectacular research vessel. None of the unfortunate events on Forqongue were attributable in any way to failings in the craft or personnel. Only my own ignorance and lack of foresight is to blame for any of the mishaps which occurred last summer. Indeed, it is only because of the 'Blue Ruins' and her very fine crew that I am here to tell this tale.

We did locate another entrance at Lecterne's Folly as our previous readings had indicated. We set down on the plateau above and I repelled down to the base to assemble and activate Mr. Booth. As Mr. Booth readied the terraseismoglyphs and echothrumbometers, my two crewpersons, Mia Jung and Vera Eager, stayed aboard the 'Ruins' to monitor the equipment and make ready our quick departure.

The cavern was located behind a fa├žade in Lecterne's western outcropping. For reasons of stealth and mobility, Mr. Booth remained behind and I travelled into the dark chamber alone with a small array of micronators and electro-resophones. I was only a few hundred yards into the corridor when Booth activated the alarm and almost simultaneously a strong rush of wind nearly knocked me over backwards. As I wheeled around to head back toward the entrance, I detected what I can only describe as a 'tingling' fragrance in the speeding air and the first strains of a strange beckoning melody began. A heady dizziness washed over me and the hall seemed to undulate in a serpentine motion beneath my feet as I stumbled forward through the whirling dust and noise. Where before there had been one lone passageway, I now saw a complex knot of 6 or more tunnels twisting and gaping before me. In my confusion, I reasoned that I must have somehow gotten turned around and reached the first nexus so I dropped to my knees to activate the recording devices and turned around again looking for the way out. Sick and delirious, I struggled to move forward through the stinging sands and howling cacophony. I heard urgent babbling voices echoing in the corridor behind me and I faintly remember a feeling of heavy numbness in my limbs. Panic and utter helplessness took hold as the eerie music flooded into ever deeper levels of my subconscious. I felt tiny clawed hands clutch around the back of my ankles and falling forward I saw a tinge of blue light in the distance. I hit the ground and blacked out.

Unbeknownst to me, the results of my activating the recording equipment was having disastrous effects on board the 'Blue Ruins' as well. The strange psychological effect of the Feral's music is one of almost immediate and irresistible compulsion to make your way toward the heart of their labyrinths. Accordingly, when the transmission was received over the ships communicators, both Vera and Mia instantly fell victim to the siren's call and sent the 'Blue Ruins' careening toward the main cavern entrance at Forqongue. Of course, once the ship entered the mouth of the cave the safety systems kicked in and the emergency landing sequence was initiated. The reverse thrusters let loose a massive burst that not only brought the craft to a skipping halt, but also brought down a good portion of the main corridor itself. The 'Ruins' was lodged into the collapsed mouth of caverns.

The only saving grace was that this changed the flow of wind through the Moaning Cryptacombs, which effectively stopped the haunting melody and redirected the remaining jetstream into an uncontrolled, chaotic howl. The Ferals scattered and retreated back into their hidey holes and left me for dead in the screaming corridors.

Mr. Booth somehow worked his way slowly through the tunnels and dragged me to safety. I remember none of this as my next waking moment was here at Tharsis General Wellness under the tender care of Dr. Sheba Lunes and her fine nursing staff.

It appears that among the lingering effects of the music of the Moaning Cryptacombs of Foronque is a trance-like state with a high susceptibility to suggestion. Taking advantage of this, the clever Mr. Booth managed to conduct us like a trio of automatons; to clear the debris, repair the ship and pilot us back home. It is only through a highly experimental regiment of brainwave exercises that Dr. Lunes has been able to loose some of the Moaning Caverns hold on me.

Now you understand why I can't simply play the music of the Moaning Cryptacombs of Forqongue for you. I imagine that the melody of those terrible twisted passages will play in the back of my mind forever. Even the good doctor's here at Tharsis say that only time will lessen that wound. When I am fully recovered, I will do my best to transcribe them into something that will give you all a hint of what we've heard on Forqongue.

Thank you for your continuing support,

January, 2009

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