Welcome to "The Diary of a Miner"; a blog detailing the adventures and mysteries that I, Syeonyx, embark upon in my quest to further my mining and survival skills! It'll be tough, there will be good times and bad times, but I'll always be alive to post my adventures... probably...

Day 93: Plan of action!

     OROTHO and COLUS seem to have been working all night! They looked very tired, yet enthusiastic, which led me to believe they had discovered something from the data we had amassed yesterday. We had been very thorough, taking images of every important report and file, careful not to displace any. I took copious amounts of images of the main chamber itself, as well as the exterior of the tower, the conducting rod itself, and the mechanism to shift a section of it. All in all, we had come back with A LOT of data! As we all arrived in the science lab, I wasn't surprised to see a mess of papers, photos and empty cups lying around. I joked to AMPHIS that he had his work cut out for him documenting it all!

"You think...!"

We settled around the table OROTHO and COLUS had set up, just in front of the glass screen. I stood back from the table, trying to keep away from the Creepers... Even though they were behind a glass screen a couple of inches thick, it still unnerved me...

"Gentlemen. We think we have cleared up a few things overnight. Rigorously going through the data, we have settled on a few conclusions that we will be running by you all. Some are theoretical, whilst others are based on the images Syeonyx managed to take. Good job on that by the way; it made our job a lot easier. It should help AMPHIS out later too! The reports we have read through from the images confirm OROTHO's theory about there portals which link multiple ones to the master portal. It turns out that there are actually two types, which we settled with the names primary and secondary."

OROTHO took a piece of paper with a rough sketch on it, and passed it to UOPETA, who studied it for awhile, before passing it round to the rest of us, COLUS continued to speak all the while.

"We have destroyed countless portals which are used as a link to activating the master portal. Through them, anyone or anything can pass through between Minecraftia, and the Nether. We believe HoN Co. activate them and place these Affinitas cages nearby to lure the creatures from the Nether out of the portals to protect them. A crude, but effective method of security. Once a portal becomes active, it becomes linked to the nearest secondary portal. These are the portals with the additional protrusions that you three found a few days ago. They work by linking every portal within the vicinity together. Then there are the primary portals; they are very similar to secondary portals, only they link multiple secondary portals together. They then transfer all of this energy to the master portal. We know that there are only sixteen primary portals, as indicated in the images, but we don't know how many of any other type of portal there are. Nor do we know how many secondary portals are needed to link together to activate a primary portal, and so on... A few days ago, we got lucky! We found a secondary portal which will have knocked out every portal linked to it! This much is clear as one of the reports makes note of a change in state of one of the portals. However, as one was knocked off, another became active! As the primary portals seem to be indestructible, the last line of attack for us is the secondary portals. Knock these out, and we can take out multiple portals in a single blow! But they are likely to be heavily guarded and harder to find."

OROTHO took over at this point:

"From the images, we were able to determine that only three out of the sixteen primary portals were active. As long as a single primary portal is active, the master portal cannot be touched. But if all of the primary portals become active, they can slide a portion of the conducting rod into place, and wait for a electrical storm. Meteorological reports state that they are common in that area, so they wouldn't have to wait long in order to active the master portal! Now, other topic concerns this strange connection between four primary portals and the master portal."

OROTHO held up the image and pointed to the strange, golden structure embedded in the ceiling above the pillar. It was connected to the four closest primary portals in the ceiling, and a gold channel linked them to the master portal, just beneath the conducting rod.

"We believe that this is the way in which the energy is transferred to the master portal itself. We are unsure what energy form is used to create the network between portals, but we hope to get to the bottom of that by the end of the day. As of now, we need to concentrate our efforts in locating the secondary portals and eliminating them. Any normal portals we find we destroy entirely as well. As we can destroy the secondary portals, we can drastically reduce the number of portals that can become linked to the primary ones. But there is a fail safe: if any active portals are knocked back into a state of inactivity when a secondary portal is destroyed, they can be activated again and linked up to the nearest secondary portal again. Logically we need to find the secondary portals and take them all out, but we have only the Solus stone to guide us to them. We do believe however that the secondary portals are closer to the conducting tower. This hasn't been proved, but we believe it to be a possibility."

"We have since taken another look at the maps of the portals, and have ringed a few suspected locations closest to the conducting tower. THEXIS, we need you to stay here, and monitor radio broadcasts. We could have to teams: a scouting party to find the suspect portal, and anther party to use the Solus stone. We increase out chances of finding a portal without wasting time. As the second party destroy one portal, the scouting party go out and find the next. We need to be fast about this as recent reports show that HoN Co. have come across a cave complex which is supposed to be riddled with portals! This hasn't been confirmed, but we can't take that chance. This is all we can do, short of venturing into the Nether to retrieve another stone!"

I was surprised at that statement! Was that even an option? I knew that the Solus stone was said to be incredibly rare in Minecraftia, but abundant in the Nether, but could we just go into another dimension and take it!

"UOPETA? You have the choice of leading the scout party, or going it alone? It's up to you."

"I can do it alone. I move faster that way."

"Very well. Get ready to move out to the first location. Take the radio with you, and send us a communique if it's a positive location. If not, inform us and move onto the next one. Syeonyx and THEROS! Get ready to move to the intended locations, so don't busy yourself with something important! If all goes according to plan, we could knock out one or two portals before the day is done!"

We all headed out to the discussion room, whilst COLUS, OROTHO and UOPETA stayed behind. UOPETA would be briefed and then sent out with a copy of the map. Once he had determined if a portal was present, he would radio back to THEXIS, and me and THEROS would be sent out to destroy it. It was risky doing it this way, but it was faster, and time was definitely a factor in this dangerous game!

Syeonyx signing off

Primary and secondary portals...

     What did he mean "You see the active portals..."...? Was he saying what I think he was saying? Before I could vocalise my suspicions, UOPETA jumped in with the same thought:

"The portals... They're linked to the master portal... The active ones show how many 'node' portals are active and receiving energy from other portals?"

There were three portals currently active, two on the left wall, one on the right... The more portals that were active, the closer the master portal was to being operational! Then, all it needed was a surge of electrostatic discharge, and the master portal would open!

"Yeah, sounds about right... According to these reports and schematics at least... Seems like the third portal came online a few days ago, it doesn't mention anything about the other two..."

"Well what are we waiting for?!?! Let's destroy these portals and put a stop to this now!"

UOPETA ran up to the left hand wall. He dug into the small bag and took out the Solus stone.

"Syeonyx, give me a boost. I want to take these ones out first before we deal with the inactive ones!"

I ran over and helped UOPETA up, allowing him to place the stone on the ledge of the active portal. He hopped down and we stood back. We waited, and waited... Nothing happened. Was there a delay? Did these portals take longer to destroy?

"What's going on, why isn't the stone working?"

"There's only one reason I can think of that would be the cause of that... It's a stable portal... They all are! They can't be destroyed!"

"What about the inactive ones? Surely we can destroy them because there's no rift to link to the frame?"

I interjected at this point, telling him that inactive portals couldn't be destroyed with the stone, only unstable active ones. We also didn't have a pickaxe, but I doubt we would be able to destroy it even if we did.

"The report continues with a bit about these portals... '... The secondary portals show remarkable resilience to all forms of intentional destruction. The use of diamond-edged tools and explosives did nothing more to these portals than expected. It is an intended fail-safe, a last line of defense: if the other portals are destroyed, the secondary portals and the master portal remain resistant to damage. This enables them to lie dormant until additional portals are brought online...'. Basically, these can't be destroyed..."

Great! Just as I feared!

     What were we to do? UOPETA says the sedative only lasts for a few hours, and the more we stand about wasting time, the less information we can take back. They would see it as suspicious if a load of papers and records went missing, so we've decided to take as many images as possible, including those of important documents. Instead of taking the reports, we'll take copies!

"Remember to get one of the centre of the ceiling. No doubt OROTHO will be intrigued to see that!"

We hadn't been down long, but I was already beginning to worry about the guards. The sedative would work to varying degrees depending on the physiology of that particular guard, so it might not keep them all sedated for the same length of time. Not only could one wake up and discover something is going on, but they may also wake up and see the other guards unconscious! I helped UOPETA look through important looking records and files, hoping to find as much useful information as possible. THEROS was busy examining the master portal itself. Who knew why, but we didn't have the to argue about it. After about twenty minutes of sifting through papers, taking pictures and putting them back in roughly where they belonged, we had all we needed.

"Come on THEROS, we're going. I don't want to risk being here too long in case OROTHO miscalculated with his sedative! We've got all we need!"

     THEROS began walking back down the stairs that led up to the master portal. At the bottom, he paused and looked back...

"What? What is it?"

"It's... Erm.. Nothing, nothing. Let's go..."

We headed back up the stairs to the conducting rod, and all the way back up the winding stairwell. A few moments later, we ascended through the last of the stairs, and the unconscious guard's body put me at ease. The sedative was still in effect. We didn't want to risk anything, even at such a late stage, even if it looked like we had gotten away with it. We crept from the base entrance, UOPETA flicking the lever to lock the door behind us. The wall slide back into place, and we cautiously made our way back to the treeline. Skirting around the edge, we checked on the guards from a distance: still out cold! After that, we quickly made our way back to the base. We were carrying very valuable data, and the last thing we wanted to do was get caught with it!

     We got back around mid afternoon. As soon as we got there, we transferred all of the images over to AMPHIS who examined them, along with OROTHO and COLUS. Everyone seemed to be showing signs of disbelief, all except OROTHO, who was fascinated by the image of the ceiling construction.

"Is this what you found? How many guards were there? Any scientists? Any other civilians?"

"There were four guards posted outside, with one more guarding the interior. There were no civilians of any kind. It was almost too easy. When we got into the main chamber, we found the master portal easy enough, and then we noticed these portals on the walls... It seems OROTHO was right..."

At the instant he heard his name mentioned, he looked up from the image and beamed! OROTHO's theory of the portal we found being a "node" portal or a secondary portal, whichever you chose, was correct. Or so it would seem.

"Ok, you three get some rest and come find us later. We'll need a few hours to sift through the data and make some sense of it."

We all headed off to our rooms for something to eat. I was famished, not having eaten anything at so far!

     A few hours later, COLUS called us all to the discussion room where everyone was currently in attendance, even OROTHO. COLUS told us the news: OROTHO had hit the nail on the head about the latest portal we found. It was a way of linking multiple portals to the master portal without hundreds of connections. It seemed that this was a way to reduce the chances of the master portal being found, if anyone was able to detect the energy signatures given off by an active portal. OROTHO stepped forward now, presenting the information we collected from the reports and files we had taken photos of:

"From the data you collected, I am able to inform you that the additional portals you found within the master portal chamber are similar to the node portals. They are referred to as secondary portals, and perform the same job as the portal you found. However they link multiple node portals to the master portal. This may seem to be a waste of resources, but in fact, it is quite the opposite! It seems their construction is much more rigid, allowing them to stand up to a large amount of damage. It also seems that every one is physically indestructible when enough node portals connect to it, thus activating it. The only way to deactivate these secondary portals is to knock out enough node portals that link to it. The secondary portals cannot be destroyed however. They are the last line of defense. If these portals were to be destroyed, the master portal would be vulnerable, but at its present state, the master portal cannot be destroyed either! As long as a secondary portal is linked to other node portals, the master portal cannot be destroyed."

COLUS took over at this point:

"That means then that the only way to completely remove the threat of the master portal is to remove the node portals. This will knock out the secondary portals within the chamber, and allow us to attack the master portal."

"All of these random names is getting confusing, and it will be very inaccurate to write a report about this when I'm constantly switching between portal types. We need to set out the types, and establish obvious names for them. That will make documenting them easier, and it'll be easier as well for a legend on a map!"

"AMPHIS is right, this will get confusing. How about this: a standard portal is just a portal, the large one that is linked to everything is the master portal. The portals beneath the conducting tower are primary portals, and the node portals are secondary portals. It all links that way and avoids confusion!"

We all agreed to this method of naming the portals. I had to admit it was a little confusing with the word 'portal' being thrown around a lot.

"OROTHO needs some more time to analyse the images of the strange construct embedded into the ceiling. We believe it links the 'primary' portals to the master portal, but we need additional time to verify that from the reports. Me and OROTHO will remain here to work that out. Everyone else, get some rest. We may have a mission tomorrow!"

We all headed off to our rooms again. I was in deep thought, and was wondering about the secondary portals. They were linked to each individual portal and acted as a telegraph pole. It collected the energy signatures from each active portal, and transmitted that to the primary portals. The collection of primary portals all needed to be active before the master portal could be opened, via electrostatic discharge. But for a primary portal to be active, a specific number of secondary portals would need to be linked to it, and for that to happen, a specific number of portals had to be linked to the secondary portals. Logically, the best place to attack this network was at the primary portal, but these were indestructible, so we would need to aim our efforts at the secondary portals. Hopefully OROTHO and COLUS would be able to work through the data a bit more thoroughly by tomorrow, and we'd have some answers. The only good thing about the situation was that in the master portal chamber, only three of the primary portals were active, out of ten... I had a feeling the conducting tower was going to be a regular visiting spot in the future...

Syeonyx signing off

Day 92: I think OROTHO was right...

     As we had a long journey ahead of us, we set off before the sun had appeared fully over the horizon. From the base to the conducting tower, it was more or less due North the entire way! I remember the entrance being on the Northern side, so we would need to skirt around the edges of the forest until we faced the right side. From there, we could work out the details of the plan based on the number of guards that were currently posted there. The journey to the conducting tower was full of the same monotony. We kept moving the entire time, pausing briefly to allow UOPETA to scout out any areas ahead from a convenient vantage point. We had the advantage of low light cover for a brief period until dawn broke properly, and the sun rose higher into the sky. From then on, it was simply a case of staying within the shadows of the trees. Despite all of the sneaking and hiding in shadows we have done over the past few weeks, we have yet to bump into a guard let alone a Creeper! I'm beginning to suspect that something is happening with them that might not necessarily end well with us, but for panic's sake, I've kept it to myself. Doubtless, a few others have thought something similar...

     We've spotted the main antennae looming in the sky overhead. We're close. We're going to get a closer look from the three sides we pass to see how many guards there are, and then decide on the approach. If we did this from one side, we could underestimate and end up being spotted off guard.

"There's two on that side..."

"One there..."

By the time we got to the North side - the entrance essentially - we had spotted four guards at the most. That was one more than the last time we were here, so maybe they stepped up security a little. Had they noticed the missing papers? Regardless, we hunched in the cover of a large tree deciding the plan.

"Right. There are two guards always at the entrance to the base of the tower. They don't seem to move, but there are two other guards who are going back and forth around the other three sides, shifting from one side to the other. Once they get to the end of each side, they turn around and repeat. We need to remove the front two whilst the others are returning to the middle wall around the back. THEROS and I will go in and take out the first two. It will take a second or two to drop them, but once they're down, you move forward and to the right. You and THEROS will take out the other two guards whilst I check on the first two. Remember: Don't come out until the first two guards are down, and when you do, go to the right. THEROS will cover the left. Everyone clear?"

We both nodded, and I waited in the shadows, as THEROS and UOPETA crept forward with their blow pipes. I took mine out, and clipped the magazine to the side, ensuring it was secure. I wouldn't get another chance if I messed it up. The other two were still within the shadow of the tree, blow pipes to their lips. There were two rapid swish noises, much like the sound of a suppressor of a gun from films, and the two guards dropped almost immediately! Taking action, we all moved up, myself moving to the right, whilst THEROS went off to the left and UOPETA headed for the two downed guards. As I got to the corner, UOPETA whispered:

"Aim for the neck!"

Aim for the neck. Right... I actually hadn't had any practice with this at all! I sat there, peering round the corner, waiting for the guard to appear. I had a number of options available to me: take him out from a distance and risk missing and drawing attention to myself, wait until he's a few feet away, try and possibly miss, and end up getting caught, or hoping he won't come as far enough to see the entrance side, so I can wait until he turns around... I decided to go with the former. That way, I had the option to release a few darts if the first missed. A ranging shot so to speak... The he appeared. The guard's leg became visible, followed by his body, and then his head. He was holding a sword in his right hand... Worried I would freeze up, I decided to take the opportunity and I inhaled. Then, I exhaled violently into the end of the pipe. I felt the dart leave the pipe, and another slide into place. I was ready for another if it came to it. He stopped, clutched his neck and fell face first into the sand! I did it! I sat there for a moment, shocked at what I had done. I couldn't tell if I was more shocked by the fact that I had injured a human being, or because I hit him first time! I eventually went with the latter, and waited for THEROS. After another moment, another swish noise, and THEROS gave the all clear. I went over to my guard, cautiously and bent down. He was definitely out for the count. The dart had embedded itself fully into his neck. Removing it, I noticed it left no imprint or mark of any kind! Remarkable little thing!

     UOPETA flicked the lever above the hidden entrance, and like before, a portion of the wall slid back and then to the right. Stepping inside, one by one, we all had our blow pipes ready. But once again, no-one was here. Maybe they were all down below where the master portal was likely to be... As AMPHIS instructed, I began taking photos of the inside, hopefully giving him enough data to add to the report. UOPETA and THEROS began searching through the chests and tables again, but more thoroughly as they knew they could relax and take their time. I stood guard near the stairs, watching out for anyone. We didn't know if anyone worked here, if there were just HoN Co. guards here, but I was expecting to see at least one person in a lab coat!

"Nothing... A few bits about the portals, a load of equations... again! Nothing about 'node' portals, or anything similar... Looks like we're headed down then. Anyone coming up?"

There was a guard about two flights down from us. He was on his way up, so we would be able to catch him off guard by hiding behind him as he ascended. We all moved behind the stairwell, waiting for the guard to appear. Thankfully, he was whistling to himself which made pinpointing his location very easy! Eventually we saw his head pop up, and UOPETA quickly embedded a dart into his neck. UOPETA rushed over and took the dart out, leaving the guard otherwise unchanged.

"Right. Down it is! Keep your eyes peeled for any more guards... Last thing we want is to be pinned on the stairs!"

     As we headed deeper and deeper, I began to feel more apprehensive. The conducting rod drove deeper into the earth and centred the entire shaft, right to the bottom. Once we emerged from the stairs, the rod branched off and headed horizontally into a large chamber. We all slowly approached, partly because of the possible presence of guards, but mostly in awe! At the end of the walkway, was a fence. The fence led around to the left and followed another staircase going down into the heart of the chamber. A large support strut took up the centre of the room, supporting the conducting rod, which fed straight into a large obsidian wall... Was that the master portal? As I looked around, I became aware of something else... Portals! Embedded into the walls were portals, but each one had the same appendages like the one we found two days ago!

"Erm... I think we found the master portal..."

     We all made our way cautiously down the stairway, but there was no-one down here... There wasn't even a passage or another room where they may have gone to! There was no-one down here at all! Just five guards! Something was wrong... We all stared in awe at the size of the chamber. The main wall was taken up by a huge portal that had the conducting rod attached to it at multiple places. On either of the walls, numerous portals sat with their appendages, some active, others not.

"Is this is then? Is this the master portal?"

"It would seem so... What are those other portals then...? Why are only a few active?"

"I have a feeling OROTHO was right... Look!"

UOPETA motioned up to the ceiling. There were portals embedded into the ceiling! In the centre of four joining portals was a strange, glowing orb. The orb was attached to a golden part of the ceiling which also connected with the portal at the centre... What was all this?

"I think OROTHO was definitely on to something... These other portals... They're linked..."

THEROS had walked away from us and was examining a load of papers on a nearby table. We hadn't noticed until he called us over...

"Erm, gentlemen? These are more than just portals... They're counters..."

"What do you mean?"

"From what I can make out... They indicate how close to powering up the master portal is..."

"How? I see no counter!"

"Well... You see the active portals...? Work the rest out for yourself..."

Syeonyx signing off

Day 91: Portals, portals portals...

     Since yesterday, OROTHO has come up with a few additional theories as to the purpose of those strange appendages attached to the portal. He's got AMPHIS to note it all down in this new record, so it can be stored for future reference. We initially thought it may be an indication of a portal that was activated by lightning, and was considered "stable" and couldn't be destroyed using the Solus stone. That was quickly thrown out when we managed to successfully destroy it. OROTHO believes that if HoN Co. can activate the portals, maybe they are creating them, and it may be a way to lock a number of portals together. But that didn't explain why not all portals had them. It was the first one I had seen with them on, and AMPHIS assures me he has no record of any portal they destroyed having the same protrusions. Another theory is that they help with the master portal network. He went on to elaborate a few sub theories as to how it helps this, but was keen to put large amounts of detail into one particular area:

"Is it possible that these obsidian 'arms' on either side improve the network link between the master portal? Maybe they allow the master portal to be activated with less normal portals already connected. We still don't know how this network functions, and what energy is transmitted to ensure the master portal can operate. Alternatively, they could act as main nodes. Each portal diverts energy to one of these node portals. A node portal receives multiple energy links from other normal portals, and then passes it straight to the master portal. That way would be more efficient at sending energy rather than hundreds of individual links to the master portal. We need to know more... A possible expedition back to the conducting tower may be in order..."

COLUS seemed to agree with this

"He has a point... We need more information, and where better than the master portal! The darts that OROTHO has created will make infiltration much easier, and you'll have more time to look for more relevant data rather than grabbing what is just there!"

I agreed with COLUS at this point, now seeing the logic behind it. And what OROTHO said also seemed to make sense; why have multiple links to a single location when you can break them done. I spoke out with an idea which surprised me! I said that if OROTHO's hypothesis was accurate, than looking for individual portals was irrelevant. We could concentrate on taking out the node portals to cut off all portals! And if they were closer to the master portal, they would be easier to find! The search area just shrank considerably, and a resolution looked clear on the horizon!

"Exactly! Who knows how many portals link to a node portal! Hundreds! Thousands! If I'm right, then a single node portal could take out hundreds of portals linked to the master portal in one shot! However these are likely to be guarded heavily!"

"Hang on a minute... We're going back into the realms of speculation here... We don't know any of this is true yet, so we can't base on fact on it. We need to revisit the conducting tower above the master portal and search for hard evidence to support that, or at least an alternative that explains it! It's too late to start now; we need to establish a plan and then execute it at an appropriate time. We'll convene in the discussion room later."

Everyone began leaving, except me, THEROS and OROTHO. Before heading out the door, COLUS stopped and put a hand on my shoulder

"Excellent foresight! Still feel like a spare part...?"

     I went to talk to AMPHIS, who had made his way back to the library. He had begun writing up the reports that OROTHO had dictated to him, and was adding bulk to it.

"Hey, nice thinking back there. Really. I hadn't got that far ahead when you came out with that. You even surprised OROTHO! Not the first time, but sure as hell is one of very few!"

I didn't know what to say... It was the first thought that had come to me at the time and I deemed it important enough to tell the others. But as well all knew, it would have to be proved first, however it seemed the more likely hypothesis. The former had been disproved, and the second idea didn't have much of a standing as this was the only portal to be found with this addition. It was doubtful to be a coincidence that the distance from the master portal was also the shortest so far.

"When you go out to the conducting tower again, take lots of images. Not only does it help OROTHO with his theories, but it also helps me when compiling the reports. A visual representation of something is often a better method of recording data when referring back to it at a future date. As for the recent portal, did anything else strike you as odd? I need to add as much factual data to this as possible."

I couldn't recall anything... It was just the strange protrusions. They were constructed from obsidian as well as the frame, and disappeared when the rift collapsed, just like the rest of the portal. This one was buried in sand, but that was unlikely to be of any significance...

"Thanks for your help. Good luck on your next assignment. I believe OROTHO was working on something to help with the blow pipe... He was working on something yesterday while you were gone. You should go and see him now that he's finished theorising!"

     OROTHO had indeed been working on the blow pipe. He was already very smug about the chemical concoction that worked to take out guards, but we hadn't tested it in the field on a Creeper... Yet. Not that I was inviting any to come and try!

"As you may know, the blow pipe isn't a particularly fast weapon. You insert a dart, inhale and then exhale into the tip. The reload another and repeat. With this pipe, you have no need to load new darts in!"

He held up a small, silver tube, with a strange metal box attached, that curved slightly, finishing as part of the tube."

"This is the blow pipe equivalent of a magazine. You can insert up to a maximum of six darts in the magazine, and attach it to the pipe. The first dart is forced into the pipe when it clicks into place, and you blow as normal. A spring set into the magazine forces the next dart into place, and you can send out another dart immediately. This can be done a further five times before a new magazine is needed. Not only does this increase the speed with which you can fire, it is faster to reload, and much easier to carry. There is no need to fiddle around with small darts, as the magazine can be loaded before you set off."

OROTHO never ceased to amaze us. He then demonstrated by rapidly blowing darts against a paper target; his aim was terrible, but he accurately showed us how fast the whole operation could be sped up! He managed to fire off about two darts a second, and emptied an entire magazine in less than five seconds. That had the potential to put down six close targets! This would make our lives much easier, especially when we were going back to the conducting tower.

     The plan was simple: get there, find a way in, look or valuable data and collect it. Then proceed into the chamber where the master portal was located. COLUS had told us he suggested the use of darts was a mandatory thing. From what happened last time, we would need to! The stairs following the conducting rod had been guarded, and the exterior was also heavily defended. If we were quick and thorough, we could get in and out easily without a hitch! OROTHO has told us to look for data specifically linked to the portals them selves, as well as the master portal. Anything we pick up could be useful as it may contain useful information about the new portals we found. OROTHO has already made it official: if his theory is correct, he's calling them node portals! COLUS joked about hoping to find some notes about them being referred to something else! We would have a very dangerous job ahead of us tomorrow, and one slip up could literally mean life or death! We would have to watch each other's backs, and keep the blow pipe ready at all times! With that in mind, I've decided to catch some early sleep. We're going to need it if we're travelling a long while!

Syeonyx signing off

Live fire testing!

     We ascended the ladder, one at a time, after waiting for the pathway to drain. Since the new activity of the HoN Co. guards, we're all taking extra precautions to mask our presence. After we got to shore, UOPETA flicked the lever buried beneath the sand, and we headed off East! Instead of initially heading West to get to the coast like I had assumed, we started off due East. Looking at the location on the map, it was most logical, but surely the HoN Co. guards would be expecting it. Nevertheless, we continued Eastwards, staying hidden behind any and all cover available. UOPETA lead up front, ensuring we only proceeded when he knew it was safe. THEROS was in the middle, holding the map and, the look on his face, looking for possible locations of interest hidden around the sprawling landscape. I stayed at the back; I was inexperienced and would likely bring undue attention to us if I was leading. Besides, UOPETA was the master of this! If he could stalk me without letting me know, then I trusted him to lead us to a destination safely. We travelled due east for only a few minutes, before altering our course to South East. Looking over THEROS' shoulder while waiting for UOPETA, that put is in pretty much a straight line course to the location... I suppose what are the guards likely to expect more: something we expect them to expect us to do, or something they don't expect at all! My head hurt at how many times that psychology had been reversed!

     As we progressed, I noticed a considerable increase in the size and number of large hills! I wasn't complaining; after all we were using the terrain as cover as much as possible. They only made our job easier! The sun had begun its descent into the Westerly sky, but the sky had not yet begun to get dark. After coming to another hill, UOPETA moved over to a small cliff face to our right. I couldn't figure out why, but after rising over the top, looking down I could see the sandy patch of ground circled on the map before us. Now we had found the location of the area, we would begin the search for the portal.

"Down there! Half buried... There it is!"

Squinting slightly to see past the glare from the sun, I could indeed see the portal; the lower frame was submerged below a metre of so of sand, with only the top left exposed.

"Does that mean... The Solus stone won't work?"

I recalled what I had read about the portals in THEROS' note: they could be activated using thermal energy from fire, or electrostatic discharge, or lightning. This portal was on the surface! That meant it could have been activated using lightning, which would mean the stone wouldn't work. The stone only worked on unstable portals; portals activated using thermal energy. A stable portal was literally indestructible!

"Let's hope it does... Can you see what I can see though...?"

UOPETA pointed down towards the portal, but I couldn't see what he was referring to. Then I realised he wasn't pointing at the portal, but at a small enclosure behind it. A small, rocky chamber had been covered with dirt, and was barely visible from this angle.

"How much do you want to bet a HoN Co. guard is in there...?"

     UOPETA had formulated a plan. It was a good plan, but it also involved a bit of a risk. We had all come to the conclusion that at least one guard was posted in the little rocky chamber set behind the portal. If we blundered in completely oblivious then we would fall straight into a trap!

"Syeonyx. Once we establish that there is a guard or more in there, you move around to the far Eastern side and create some form of noise diversion. Once they turn around, me and THEROS will appear at the little exposed area on this side and use the blow pipes to sedate them. We remove the darts, destroy the portal and head back. We'll give you a hand signal to tell you when to go, and how many guards are there... If you get the chance, take one out if we miss! It's very important you get their attention! Alternatively, if there's no-one there, it could still be a trap. It's buried in sand, so it could be a falling sand trap: we step into the middle and someone drops us into a pit. If there are no guards there, one of us stays behind, just in case. Are we good? Ok, let's go!"

We all moved up, quietly sneaking up to the hole. THEROS and UOPETA remained out of sight near the entrance, and I continued around to the other side. I sat there crouching, waiting for UOPETA. It seemed like an eternity to wait; my heart was in my mouth and beating like a jackhammer! I was sweating profusely and I was worried I would fumble with the blow pipe... I was nervous, but a sense of priority sat there lingering, keeping me calm. After awhile, UOPETA popped up, holding one finger up. Right, there was one guard. That wasn't too bad... Then I stopped... What distraction did I use? A rustling? A fake animal call, or a random cough? In the end, I went with the only thing that would seem confusing to the guard. I hoped it would cause him to move with caution; I jumped up and stamped back down, hard! I sat there crouching, staring at the small window I could see through, expecting to see a guard's face. I readied a dart and put it to my lips. But nothing happened. I waited and waited. But still nothing. UOPETA popped back up from the front entrance giving the all clear sign and I relaxed! That was one of the most chilling moments of my life... It was great!

Putting the dart and blow pipe away, I moved around to join UOPETA and THEROS, who were already near the portal.

"Right, THEROS is going to use the Solus stone to destroy the portal, but he needs your help to dig it out a bit. I'll stay here and keep guard. If you trigger a sand trap, I can help you out."

UOPETA moved to the safe ground, whilst me and THEROS began to dig out the portal. As we scooped sand aside, we noticed something odd... This portal... It seemed larger somehow... As well as the standard frame that they are constructed from, we began excavating strange appendages attached to each side of the frame. What were they? I took a photo for later study, and continued digging. What did they mean? Was that a sign of a portal activated by lightning? I had never seen one before... It was certainly possible... After exposing the majority of it, THEROS took the Solus stone and placed it on the portal. We stepped back, fingers crossed that it would work...

     We waited... For ages we stood there waiting for the Solus stone to drain of colour and begin destroying the portal, but nothing happened! My heart sank... Now what? This was one portal we couldn't destroy and HoN Co. had already active... THEROS bent down to pick up the stone when it began to drain of colour! The bright yellow faded, and melded with the purple rift and the process began! We both stood back, watching in awe, despite seeing it countless times before! I half expected to feel a falling sensation and then find myself in a pit, but I continued standing there, watching the obsidian disappear, chunk by chunk. After a few moments, the portal was entirely gone, and the piled up sand slid back in to fill the space. THEROS retrieved the stone, and we made our way over to UOPETA...

"That seemed too easy... Keep your eyes peeled... Something might happen on the way back!"

We all settled in for another few hours journey back. The sun had almost gone down entirely, and the light of the moon cast an eerie hue across the hills and cliffs ahead. "Keep your eyes peeled..." he says...

     We made it back to the base without so much as a hiccup! We were careful to ensure no-one followed us, and so far we haven't been attacked so it is likely to be fine. We told OROTHO about the success of his darts, but as usual he acted as though it was supposed to work right from the off! We've also informed COLUS about the strange appendages that were attached to the main obsidian frame.

"They could be anything... They can't be an indication of a stable portal, otherwise the Solus stone wouldn't have worked... It could be merely decoration... Or it could mean a stronger link to the master portal network, we don't know... There's very little we can get from an image, merely speculation. And speculation without the facts breeds inaccuracies. We should just treat is as a standard portal. Well, one less now..."

COLUS was right: it was the Creeper incident all over again! Speculating on the unknown was dangerous, and it was best to act accordingly as the situation plays out. A more accurate conclusion can be reached after more facts are gathered. Nevertheless, AMPHIS has added this to a new record, along with the images I took and a general hypothesis from OROTHO. As for me, well I'm off to bed!

Syeonyx signing off

Day 90: Gearing up for round 2!

     We've decided to leave the search for the next portal until tomorrow. OROTHO hasn't finished with the sedative yet to help us with the next portal, and we'll all feel much safer knowing we can use it without causing harm to anyone. The best thing is, he's hoping to get it working on Creepers as well, and he's been thoroughly testing it on the Creepers within the screened off area. I don't know why I didn't ask before, but today I finally asked OROTHO about the Creepers. I was curious, because they were behind a glass screen which would surely cause them considerable stress, so why hadn't they blown up yet?

"I have built in a water inlet system which allows me to flood the chamber at any time. Creepers don't like water; it seems to disorientate them, and before they have a chance to release the adrenaline, I simply pour water into it! They become dazed, confused, and don't explode, but I have to do it quite regularly... Another control alters the filtration pipes to drain the water if I need to perform an experiment."

I was a little confused by this, but the fact that the glass screen hadn't be blown out by now, and we hadn't been attacked by a Creeper mob was proof of that theory... I guess... OROTHO told me he was close to synthesising the sedative, hoping to combine the necessary aspects required of it. It needed to relax the muscles and the secretary glands of both humans and Creepers and induce a mild form of amnesia. This would remove the risk of being found out, and they would simply assume they had blacked out or lost consciousness... Provided we removed the dart! I went to talk to THEROS, finding him with THEXIS talking about maps and guard positions. They had a whole stack of papers around them that I later found was from AMPHIS' digging! They had found some old copies of the current maps with annotated places on them indicating portals. The problem was, I couldn't tell if these were active or if they had been dealt with!

"No... These are the suspected portal locations, but as we scanned a wider area, more and more suspect areas popped up. They are loads of places where there could be a portal, or it could just be a natural occurrence. We simply don't have the man power of the time to search each one, so we document it and only send out a team when we find a positive find! The one you dealt with yesterday was a definite location; UOPETA was certain that the hole he found wasn't natural... Turns out his hunch was good... They always are."

THEXIS spoke up now, speaking about the locations of the portals in relation to the guard positions:

"Just recently however, I picked up a few communications broadcasts from a short-band radio out near the location of a previously suspected portal area. I couldn't track the destination... It was bounced off a nearby relay, but I intercepted the main conversation about a portal in the vicinity. The broadcast was made almost smack bang in the middle of one of the circled areas. It doesn't happen often, but we take anything we can get! Randomly ambling around outside with the Solus stone is inefficient and a waste of time. It is also dangerous, as you no doubt already know!"

THEXIS pointed to the location of the portal and the radio broadcast. It was just to the East of us, in a similar location to the previous one. I could already smell a trap! After yesterday, I didn't want to take an unnecessary chances!

"Doubtless that HoN Co. know about us, but now where we are based. I wouldn't be surprised if that incident with the chamber was rigged by them! This communications broadcast could be a lure, but the fact that it's so close to a suspect area is suspicious... A portal could still be there in any case, but the chances of it being a trap are higher than ever! We would need to be more vigilant than ever to ensure we didn't get caught again. We'd also need to make sure no-one followed us... Even if we were to successfully destroy a portal, their intentions could be just to follow us back to our base and trap us... We would be in serious trouble then because COLUS would no doubt activate the defensive measures..."

I remembered THEROS telling me about the whole base being rigged to blow if an enemy intercepted too far inside. I have been reassured that this is a last line of defense to ensure no data gets into the wrong hands. COLUS came into the room looking very happy!

"OROTHO's finished the dart! Come and have a look!"

     It was done. OROTHO has managed to produce a dart that can help us ensure we remain undetected by Creepers and guards!

"This dart contains a muscle relaxant and benzodiazepine, a powerful anesthetic used to reduce blood flow to vital memory centres of the brain, causing hallucinations and temporary loss of memory, but more importantly, total loss of short-term memory! The tip is pressure activated, so when it pierces the skin, the inertia of the dart forces the concoction of chemicals into the bloodstream. A standard metal blow pipe is needed: simply place the dart inside the pipe, take a short breath and exhale violently, lips closed tightly around the end. Be careful! Don't inhale with your mouth to the pipe. You don't want to sedate yourself!"

OROTHO turned around where he had a small window open in the glass wall. He inserted a dart into the pipe, inhaled, and then exhaled with force. The Creeper hissed and spat for a moment, and then fell to the floor, mere moments after the dart had pierced it's skin!

"As you can see, it has a very quick effect. The amount of time it will keep a Creeper sedated is about an hour or so, a human a little longer. This is open to variation due to the unique size of each dart."

     Me, THEROS and UOPETA have been preparing for our new mission to the East. We're going with the same basic essentials: the map, the Solus stone, some basic provisions etc. But this time, instead of weapons, we each have a blow pipe and ten darts. It's considerably easier to carry, and I feel easier carrying these, knowing I can use them. I've said my goodbyes to Chiron - and Hermes, who is always with him now! - and we've just finished being briefed by COLUS.

"Good luck out there! Use those darts sparingly, if you have to use them at all! Get in, destroy the portal and get out. But check the place first. If necessary, keep one of you posted at the entrance with the radio. Then we can determine if a trap is being sprung or not. See you in a day or two!"

"Let's go!"

Syeonyx signing off

Day 89: Confusion

     The three of us managed to get back to the base undetected just before morning light. We are so tired, but what has happened has kept the fatigue at bay! When we got back, COLUS met us at the entrance to the discussion room:

"What happened? We tried raising you on the radio, but all we got was static! You've been gone far longer than necessary..."

We told them of the sequence of events that led from the discovery of the hole; finding the portal, successfully destroying it, being trapped for hours beneath dense cobblestone and rock, mining our way out and finding ourselves next to my house, and eventually the daring raid on the house to retrieve the book and get out without being noticed... This seemed to satisfy COLUS' anxiety quite well, as he instantly relaxed when he saw then book... The Codex Solis!

"So you weren't followed? No-one saw you?"

"You know me! We got in and out without anyone knowing we were even there! Got ourselves this souvenir too!"

THEROS handed COLUS the book. He opened it, and I informed him that it was initially written in symbols that needed the pigpen cipher to decode. Then it was a case of reading the Latin that it coded for.

"THEXIS, take this down to AMPHIS and see what he makes of it. We'll need to be able to read it before OROTHO can study its meaning. In the mean time, you three rest. You've been through an arduous journey over the last day or two. We won't require your skills for some time anyway..."

We all bowed towards COLUS, and then headed off towards our own rooms. Now that I was in a more comfortable environment, the fatigue caught up with me and I began yawning! A few hours sleep should be enough to recharge my batteries. I also had one less thing to worry about; my house hadn't been destroyed or vandalised as I had envisioned, but instead had been fortified by guards... Was that actually better? Who knew... I was too tired to care then and there...


     It's just gone midday and I've woken up... I could never sleep during the day, even with the absence of the sun! I can get back into the routine tonight, and reset myself, but for now, I'm staying awake. It seems THEROS and UOPETA got the same idea, because when I went to find anyone, I found everyone in the lab with OROTHO. AMPHIS had already decoded the symbols using the pigpen cipher, and translated it from Latin into English. AMPHIS confirmed a lot of what HoN Co. said when they initially translated it, and it does seem to suggest some form of sorcerous experiment was used to imbue Creepers with the ability to survive daylight. The only problem is it also makes them incredibly volatile, leaving them prone to exploding when provoked or put under stress.

"From what the book says, the experiment was designed to allow the Creepers to move freely during the day without suffering any ill side effects from the sun. The one major side effect is the ability to explode almost at will. However, the book does not document this. It could be that whoever did this to the Creepers was unaware of the possible side effects of performing this experiment..."

OROTHO stepped forward holding a small vial of Creeper blood and kept looking into whilst talking:

"The experiment outlined in the book does show how this transmogrification was achieved, but I am unsure as to why HoN Co. would choose this method! It is highly experimental, and there are far easier ways to approach it than they did such as gene splicing. It leads me to believe that whoever performed these experiments on the Creepers was not part of HoN Co. ... To back this up, why would they note it down in Latin, encrypted using a pigpen cipher and then write it down in a book! Why not store it on a computer database, or encrypted files? A book makes no sense for a technologically advanced company! It poses incredible security risks!"

"Unless someone wanted it to be found..."

We all looked back at THEXIS, and thought about that statement... Did HoN Co. really perform these experiments on the Creepers? Had they tried to keep it quiet but someone found out and was trying to make it public? Who knew anymore! It was not linked to the more pressing matter at hand, but it posed numerous questions about HoN Co. and the origin of the book...

"If it wasn't written by HoN Co., but but someone else instead, why hide it in an easy to find spot?"

I cut in, pointing out that at the time I had found it, it was within a chest in a mossy chamber guarded by a cage. Whoever left it there did not do so with no security! The cage would lure creatures from the Nether to the chamber where they would remain until the person returned. I also pointed out the presence of a cage outside a portal on an island to the South of us I had found. I told them that THEROS had told me to return and destroy it, but HoN Co. had told me to ignore it. I decided to defy HoN Co. and found a cage outside the portal which had lured a number of Creepers from the Nether... I still lean towards the idea that HoN Co. can control the creatures using the cages, so whoever placed the cage in the mossy chamber was obviously a member of HoN Co. trying to protect their assets... Either that... Or they were trying to keep people away from a secret they couldn't dispose of until a later date...

"Wait wait wait... Are we suggesting that not only is there the figure working with HoN Co., but there is the possibility of another group or person who has become involved? That they have altered the DNA of the Creepers but not for HoN Co. ... If so, what is their goal? What do they hope to achieve by helping Creepers survive daylight? The person or persons who performed the experiment either didn't know or didn't care about the explosive side effect, so it is possible that they're a neutral party? Initially we thought HoN Co. had altered the Creepers as a form of disposable guard... But... Arrr!!! This doesn't make any sense!"

I had to admit, even my head was beginning to hurt! Was there someone else out there trying to thwart the evil deeds of HoN Co.? Or were they just swept up in something they couldn't control. We couldn't even confirm anything about an additional group, but I had to admit, it seemed a little odd for HoN Co. to do this to Creepers... What was the purpose? What did it achieve...? I think I was ready for another lie down!

     We've all calmed down and decided to stick to what we know: HoN Co. is trying to activate a master portal to "infect" Minecraftia so the new resources can be mined and used as fuel. We believe the figure is working for them, but we don't know in what capacity. The current information about the Creepers is irrelevant... We can continue our campaign against HoN Co. without needing to know anymore about the Creeper situation. All we do need to know is that they are dangerous! With the help of AMPHIS digging through some old records, he believes there could be another portal close by which has been left untouched. It was picked up when THEXIS reported additional guard radio communications around an already suspected area. COLUS has told us to take our time and not rush into anything too soon, but speaking from my own point of view, I feel like a spare part when I've got nothing to do. I was ready when the other two were! THEXIS has sorted out a replacement radio as well, and we'll be a lot more vigilant about traps this time... Despite being given the option to use full force, I know UOPETA enough to know he won't do anything... OROTHO is hoping to synthesize a muscle relaxant that can be used on Creepers and guards. It will act as a muscle paralytic to prevent them from moving or calling for help. And in the case of a Creeper, it will stop them from exploding. The delivery system would be through the use of a blow pipe as an arrow would be too forceful... He's also hoping to combine a complementary sedative into it as well which results in short-term amnesia. Nothing too substantial, but enough to prevent them from remembering anything... It would mean retrieving the dart after use to clear up any loose ends, but it was definitely a start! Despite the need to concentrate on the matters at hand, I sense that everyone else is thinking about the events concerning the Creepers. It is incredibly cryptic! It's like trying to guess the picture of a puzzle with less than half the pieces... All you can do is speculate with the bits you do have... And we don't have a lot. I don't know why, but since all this cropped up, I've been thinking about the true identity of the figure... They seem to be working for HoN Co., but I'm not entirely sure it's as clear cut as that...

Syeonyx signing off

UOPETA's scouting wasn't in vain after all...

     I stood in shock for quite some time, ignoring the rain completely! Had this really just happened? We had tunneled upwards from the entombed portal chamber to within the confines of my walled area! We were right below the house; just to the right of the walkway up the hill! How had we managed that?

"Well... This is unexpected... Ideas?"

I was still too astounded to answer... How could this be? I knew we were close to my area when we entered the hole; we had descended in a Westerly direction, and then dug our way out to the South... It seems the hole was much deeper and longer than we had anticipated... It had extended all the way beneath my house!

"We could always attempt to retrieve the book...?"

This suggestion snapped me from my stupor! The book! UOPETA had come here only days ago to scout out the guard situation. After OROTHO cracked the whole Creeper experiment, it was deemed unnecessary for us to come here... Now we were here, it seemed a waste to not get it! I knew where it was, and we could always run back to our tunnel entrance to escape. If we were fast, we could get in and out without being spotted. The rain and the dark would mask us quite effectively, especially if the guards were totally unaware!

"Syeonyx? What do you think? We're here now... Now's as good a time as any!"

I couldn't agree more! I nodded. This was going to work, we just needed a plan to get in and then another to get out...

     Huddled in the entryway of the new tunnel, UOPETA went over the plan again:

"Right. I scout out the area, keeping ahead of you two. When the coast is clear, I signal you forwards. We perform this all the way to the upper floor. Your bedroom is next to the stairs so that will be the easiest bit. Then once the book has been retrieved, we go down, into the basement and attempt to access the small tunnel on the exterior side of the wall you dug out some time ago! Any guards we come across, we deal with! No killing, but put them down quietly. Syeonyx? As you are unlikely to know how to do this, me and THEROS will go first, giving us a better chance of catching any of the guards unaware! Once we're out on the other side of the wall, we block up the tunnel and head off East back towards the coastline. We then follow it back to the crossing and head off to the base. Simple!"

I had a few issues with the plan, but as long as THEROS and UOPETA were comfortable with it, I was fine to go along with it. This was likely to be our only chance to get in to retrieve the book, and I didn't want to jeopardise it by throwing spanners in the works! UOPETA moved out of the tunnel, and scaled the dirt wall to the left and began to follow the wooden steps I had placed so long ago...

     UOPETA took point, closely followed by THEROS, and I stayed in the back, waiting for UOPETA to call us forward. Despite the sound of the rain masking our footsteps, I could still hear my heart pounding away in my chest, like a drumbeat! We had made it to the porch and I hadn't seen any guards yet. I had seen a few on the walls moving back and forth... I felt sorry for them... Only in that they were protecting my house in this downpour! UOPETA instructed us to stay in the shadows of the porch whilst he opened the front door and ventured inside. We waited, for what seemed like eternity! Then, he poked his head around and beckoned us forwards. We passed the kitchen on my left, and I peered into the room on my right and froze! A guard! It took a moment for me to realise he was sleeping! I had initially thought UOPETA had "despatched" him and then called us forward, but the steady rise and fall of his chest told otherwise. We stopped in the hall whilst UOPETA edged up the stairs, sticking to the wall. After another long wait, he called for us to join him. Sneaking up the stairs so as to not make any noise, we made it to my room where I quickly but quietly moved over to the chest. Opening it, I found the book, still there, with a layer of dust atop the cover. I passed it to THEROS, who opened it and scanned a few of the pages. Then, we heard footsteps... We froze. Were we going to have to hide on the roof again. I got ready to move to the balcony door when UOPETA signaled for me to keep quiet. We stayed still, listening to what was going on... The footsteps were coming from down stairs... From the direction they had come from, it sounded like a guard had emerged from the basement and was heading to the kitchen. The footsteps stopped and we heard a voice. One of the guards was talking... He sounded angry! Had we been discovered? I strained my ears trying to catch any words; it sounded like he was trying to wake the other guard up... They were changing shifts! He was telling the other guard to go down to the barricade and guard it for the next shift pattern. The other guard sounded groggy and was uncooperative... What were we to do?

     The guard that had come from the basement was trying to get the other guard to move down to the mineshaft for his shift... Then I froze! The next words I heard put me on edge; the hairs on the back of my neck became erect and I couldn't move: "Did you leave the door open?"! That was it! we had been found out... The other guard grumbled something in response, but I couldn't make it out... At this time, UOPETA motioned down... What? He wanted us to go down there? He began whispering:

"They're arguing! That means there's no-one guarding the barricade in the mineshaft. This is our one chance to get out without alerting anyone. I say we take it! THEROS?"

THEROS nodded. I didn't know what to do... This was logically the best time to get out, but the timing was crucial! If we made one slip up, or took too long on one bit, we were in trouble! They were too far away for us to respond quick enough before the guard let out some form of exclamation to bring attention to himself! Eventually, I nodded... What was the worst that could happen...? Well, they could find us, capture us and either put us back in the tower, or kill us... On the other hand, we could get out, with a vital asset, completely undetected... UOPETA and THEROS crept towards the stairs, and I followed close behind. The guards were still talking, one in a raised voice. There was a lot more going for us than against us; the rain and the guard shouting was covering any slight noise we made, and there were no other guards on the bottom floor. We got to the bottom of the stairs... UOPETA and THEROS moved into the doorway of the basement and I lined myself up to join them... Then I froze... The guards leg was in the doorway... Was he coming out...? UOPETA beckoned me to follow him, but I couldn't move. The sight of that leg had paralysed me! I sat there, trying to move but for all my life I couldn't! Eventually UOPETA dragged me into the doorway and we descended into the basement. The talking stopped and we all froze! Then it resumed and UOPETA let out a sigh... We were clear! Provided there weren't any other guards down here we were home and dry... Sort of...

     Once we went down through the basement, down the stairwell to the mineshaft, we were almost free! We all knew there was no-one down here because they were changing guards. At the bottom of the stairs, I took the lead, showing the other two where to go. Creeping down the stairs, I saw that the barricade was still in place, and I moved forward to the bottom. UOPETA took point again, and one by one we moved through the small hole that still remained from the distraction with the minecart. A few feet more and we faced the wall I had blocked back up. I took the pickaxe in hand and began digging the tunnel out again, hoping most of it still remained. Eventually, I saw small amounts of light penetrating through the soil. It was still lit as well!

     UOPETA broke through the surface, and we were greeted by darkness and rain! We were through! We just had to make sure no-one in one of the turrets saw us, and it was a done! We all crept from the hole, one by and one, and then UOPETA covered the hole up again, plunging us into darkness once more. Light emanated from the wall, but hopefully the glare of that will mask our presence for any on the wall. We crept to the East, where I had headed when I was returning to Jonas' house, and we continued in the driving rain, up towards the coastline!

     For the first time all day, we've stopped to have a rest, and recharge our energy! We've eaten some of the supplies we took with us, and are preparing to move out again. The book: Codex Solis is safely tucked away in the bag, and we'll be giving that to OROTHO when we get back. THEROS tells me that AMPHIS can read Latin, so we'll be able to understand it fully! At the least, we now know how Creepers explode, and thanks to the book, we also know how this occurred... From this we hope OROTHO can determine how this was possible, and how it can be combated against. For now, we just have to concentrate on getting back to base. It's a long journey back, and I'm already exhausted beyond all comprehension! At least the rain has stopped...

Syeonyx signing off

That was... Unexpected...

     Myself and THEROS sat in darkness for some time... Not speaking... We were both trying to get over the shock of what had just happened... We had managed to destroy the portal, but at the cost of our own lives! The ceiling had begun to cave in, and me and THEROS had become separated from UOPETA... Unfortunately we have heard no sounds of contact from UOPETA, and to make matters worse, he was carrying all of the supplies... Including the food and pickaxe! The Solus stone sat on the floor between us, giving off a faint yellow hue...

"What now?"

I simply didn't know... Had this been a trap? Or had we simply made an error in judgement. I think we were all in a hurry to destroy the portal and get out of there that safety wasn't a high priority... I was regretting it now... I bet we both were... We had already tried to shift some of the fallen debris, but to no avail; without the pickaxe, we were stuck here... The problem was, even if we did have the pickaxe, we would still need to be careful in case we caused another cave-in... After some time of thinking, I decided to attempt to look for another way out. Sitting still wasn't getting us anywhere, and how much worse could it get? I picked up the Solus stone, and used it as a primitive torch to look around; the fallen cobblestone had fully blocked off the two sides of the room, leaving us encased on all sides... I peered into the inky blackness for some form of small passage or gap in the wall which we could exploit to get to the other side. Even if the other side was blocked as well, at least we were closer to finding out what had happened to UOPETA... I kept looking, even after scanning the wall for a good few minutes, I refused to give up!

     We'd been sitting in silence for what seemed like hours now... We had no idea how much time had elapsed... Eventually, after some time, THEROS broke the silence with an odd question:

"So... Why did you decide to join HoN Co.?"

The question really caught me off guard... I don't know why I had joined to be honest... My father had been a miner for HoN Co. and it just seemed to be the right thing to do. I enjoyed working alone in mysterious lands excavating rare and precious minerals, and I loved the whole idea of living self sufficiently...

"Not me... I wanted to see places... I wanted to go to new lands! I wanted to see sights never before seen by man! And I have. I've experienced more in the last few years than my entire lifetime... I was odd for a miner; instead of setting up a single base of operations and mining the hell out of a single area, I would make a temporary base, take the valuable ores I could, and then move on. I had itchy feet; I can't keep still for long... I suppose that's also why I love being a cartographer... You get to go to so many interesting and exciting uncharted areas!"

I did think this was odd. Everyone I knew who had taken up mining had done what I'd done; set up a single place, and lived off the land. Then again, I was one of the majority who didn't like change... If things stayed more or less the same, I was content. It was why I was having trouble adjusting to so many new things; losing my house, understanding the betrayal of HoN Co., joining the Lone 7... It was all too much... THEROS stood up for the first time in quite a while, and began pacing back and forth, wringing his hands together. I could tell from his actions he was uncomfortable, and it was getting worse...

"I'm having a hard time with this situation... I've been calm up until now, but the walls... They're creeping up on me... They're closing in on me, crushing me, suffocating me! I can't take. I WANT OUT!"

He violently punched the dividing wall with his fist, standing there a moment longer, his hand still in contact with the cobblestone. His laboured breathing slowed, and he eventually removed his hand from the wall and sat back down. A few moments later, I heard a bang... I stood bolt upright, straining my ears... I looked at the ceiling, expecting it to come crashing down once more... But it held fast. Instead, another knock... After a few moments, and a few more knocks, I realised the sound was originating from the dividing wall... What the...? Was that UOPETA? I banged as hard as I could on the wall and waited... Another knock... I banged twice in quick succession and waited... Two bangs followed, and then silence...

"It's UOPETA! It has to be..."

I backed off from the wall, as bang after bang emanated from the wall... What was he doing? Was he signalling us? After a few moments, the purpose of the banging became clear, as light streaked in through a small hole that now appeared in the wall...


We both called back, THEROS in absolute hysterics about getting out! UOPETA continued knocking out the wall, the hole growing larger and larger with each strike. Eventually, the hole was big enough to pass through, and on the wall, stood UOPETA, diamond pickaxe in hand...

     We moved through to the other side of the wall, THEROS, a little more hurriedly than me.

"What happened to you? We though you had died?"

"I thought the same of you two! I got knocked unconscious a little after the main wall came down, and I've been trying to get through to you guys for the past hour! This cobblestone is incredibly dense, so I had to keep chipping away at it before I could ensure you could hear me knocking! At one point I thought I was going to have to knock through the entire wall to find out what had happened to you! Before I lost consciousness, I saw a lot of debris falling on your side... I thought you were dead... But that doesn't matter now. We're together, and we need to get out! I've already managed to break through the dense cobblestone on one side of the wall, and the stone behind it is very easy to chip through. Instead of of digging our way back through to the entrance, I say we find our own way out! If this was a trap, the last thing they'd expect is for us to come out another way!"

I sort of agreed with UOPETA; if we dug out the entrance and went back up the passageway to the entrance, there could be guards waiting for us... Tunneling in a separate direction would be the next logical step of getting out. UOPETA showed us over to the small hole: he had already placed a few torches inside, and he had made a few metres progress already! If we tunneled upwards, we would eventually make it back outside, and we could find our way back to the base, no matter how long it took. UOPETA stepped forward and continued digging upwards. He had given me the pack, and I was told to place the torches sparingly. He needed enough light to see by, but not so much to catch the attention of anyone looking when we emerged. It was going to be a long couple of hours until we broke the surface... But at least we knew we were safe!

     As UOPETA continued digging up, we talked of the next steps. We would need to head straight back to base and inform the others. UOPETA had already told us that the radio had been crushed in the collapse, but even if it hadn't we would have needed to make it back to the surface to send out a message. We were too deep, and the rock and stone was probably laced with heavy metals which would trap the signal. We stopped every now and again, to listen to any external noises. But nothing. We knew we had a way to go, but after only half an hour or so had passed, we heard rain. We all looked at each other quizzically... I looked back down the tunnel, and realised we hadn't made near enough progress to be near the surface yet! After a few more feet of digging, the stone began to turn to mud and dirt, and small trickles of water pooled through. A few more feet, and UOPETA broke through the surface. I instantly killed the nearest torch, and we waited as UOPETA stepped out through the hole... From where I was, I could see a small amount of light coming into the hole from the left and right, and it looked like the hole faced a small grassy hill... Where were we? UOPETA signaled us to emerge. I was the last... When I got out and peered around, I couldn't believe it... This wasn't right... Surely?

Syeonyx signing off


     We ventured into the hole! UOPETA had taken a small supply of torches with him, and was setting them up along the path down deeper. He was careful however to only place them once we were within the hole, and not right at the entrance. This would have compromised our position greatly! We continued down the hole, being careful not to go to quickly in case we stumbled across a trap, or a Creeper! It was uneven throughout, and with each step I get the impression that this wasn't a natural occurrence, despite the randomness of the stone. If someone had dug this out, they had been very brutal and inaccurate with the mining, and performed an inadequate job. We continued on for some time, all the while heading deeper and deeper into the land. We didn't know what we were going to find, but with each newly placed torch, I got the impression we were getting closer to something very sinister indeed!

"How deep do you reckon this goes?"

Both UOPETA and myself shrugged... It was a good question... How far did it go? And did it even lead anywhere? We had been travelling for some time, and looking back, the entrance was barely even visible; the inky black sky, in conjunction with the rain clouds created the illusion of a blocked off entrance... I shuddered...

     The sound of rain pattering against the soil above us had ceased; I think we were quite deep by now... The small amounts of exposed soil grew more and more sparse as we continued, and we now faced dull walls of stone. Even with the torches, trying to find a safe way down short drops was dangerous because of the sheer monotony of our surroundings! Eventually, the hole leveled out, and we were left following a roughly carved out tunnel for a few hundreds yards. After what seemed like an hour - but was actually something more like a few minutes - the tunnel narrowed, and we were faced with a long, dark, thin passageway... We were forced to continue in single file, with me taking point with a few torches. I attached a torch to the beginning of the passageway entrance, and then began my way down, placing more and more torches at regular intervals. Minutes later, I came to an abrupt stop! I could see something... At the end of the tunnel... It wasn't a person or a creature... It was a structure... From quite a distance away, I could instantly recognise the distinct colour of a portal! There, at the end, was the notable purple shimmer I had come to detest!

"What's wrong? Have you seen something?"

UOPETA whispered to me. I told him that I could see a portal.

"I had a feeling when I first saw this hole..."

We continued towards the purple light and the end of the tunnel. Was this the only thing waiting for us though?

     As we got closer to the portal, I slowed down, just in case there was a guard or a Creeper hiding in the shadows... We were close enough to hear the portal now; the horrid echoing dripping noise... The dull light cast from the portal threw wild shadows across the room, as the rift convulsed and pulsed with energy. We entered into the room, one by one, all stunned by the presence of the portal, despite all of us seeing one before, me especially so. I was more creeped out by the room; it was vast, and the walls were composed of mossy cobblestone, like a few others I had encountered. Not only thing, but large chunks of cobblestone littered the floor, and hung precariously from the ceiling, as though some strange structure had crumbled over time...

"Right. Let's get this over with..."

UOPETA stepped forward, taking the Solus stone in his hand - it was glowing a brilliant yellow due to the proximity of the portal - and he placed it on the base of the portal.

     The Solus stone continued to glow a bright yellow for a little while, casting awkward shadows in opposition to the light cast by the portal. Eventually, the stone dimmed, and slowly drained of colour, whilst the rift began to change to the sickly green hue I had seen so many times before. The rift began to swirl inwards towards the centre of the portal, and the space around it distorted, creating a bent effect to the frame. Then, the obsidian began to crumble, and chip away, and was slowly pulled into the centre of the slowly rotating rift! Within a few moments, the entire portal was gone; the last remnants of the rift began to disparate, distorting the space around it slightly as it shrank within itself. Then it was gone. We were left in utter darkness. UOPETA took out a torch, and lit it, casting a new set of shadows around, allowing us to see around the chamber.

"It's done... Anything we need to do before we head..."

THEROS never managed to finish his sentence. There was a huge bang! The ceiling began to crumble, and me and THEROS leapt to the right, whilst UOPETA dived to the left. The ceiling continued to crumble, and there was nothing we could do except crouch in the corner, holding our hands above our heads! I could see UOPETA on the other side; the discarded torch illuminating him partly as he cowered from the falling debris! We were all cut off from the exit, and there was nothing we could do! We sat there, waiting for the inevitable chunk of stone to fall and land on us, but it never came. The ceiling continued to crumble, and the room filled with dust, and debris. After a few moments of crouching in absolute terror, pleading the grating sounds to stop, it all ceased... There was silence albeit for a few sounds made by falling dust... There was a cough... THEROS was still here with me, but there was no sign of UOPETA...


There was no reply...

     Me and THEROS have been sitting still in silence for some time, trying to allow our minds to catch up... What had happened? We had come into the hole, not seen any signs of people or Creepers... We found the portal and destroyed it... Then the ceiling had caved in, and we had been separated from UOPETA... What caused it? The Solus stone only affected materials that populated the Nether... Had there been a supporting beam resting on the portal? Had we inadvertently created out own tomb? It was pitch black until a few moments ago; the Solus stone has begun to regain its colour again, and is now casting the same amount of light as it usually does...

"What happened, Syeonyx? Did we cause this? What about UOPETA? Is he... Dead?"

I honestly didn't know... He was carrying the pack of equipment... Including the diamond pickaxe.... So if he was dead... We'd be joining him shortly... We had no food... No water... No way out... We were trapped...

Day 88: OROTHO cracked it!

     We were all woken early today by OROTHO! The first and only time I've seen him show any form of enthusiasm towards anything, but it was a little early for me... After we all woke up, he called us over to his lab and we watched as he performed his experiment he had been working on.

"As you may know, I've been working on a way to isolate the particular chemical or element contained within lapis lazuli, a previously thought of inert stone. Now, as you may or may not know, the majority of the stone is composed of lazurite, a tectosilicate... However, it is another constituent of this which gives it a potent property: pyrite! Initially used as a form of ignition for early pistols, it other uses barely extend beyond manufacture of other various objects. However, the composition of Creeper blood is odd: instead of an iron core contained within the blood cells, it is an an unknown element I cannot figure out, possibly unknown to all of science. Anyway, when the Creeper is distressed, the body releases adrenaline into the bloodstream. This is detected by chemoreceptors and thus stimulates the secretion of pyrite as a programmed response to combat the adrenaline release. Instead of inhibiting the secretion of adrenaline, there is a violent reaction between the pyrite and the adrenaline, causing massive explosive damage."

At that point, OROTHO moved over to a table with two small glass tubes set up in a small glass enclosure. He poured the contents of one into the other and then stood back. What happened next was less violent than expected, but still a bit of surprise.

     The glass vial exploded behind the screen, and a large puff of smoke appeared and began to ascend towards the ceiling.

"This is only on a small scale, and I also believe that the size of the surrounding area has an effect: if the reaction is encased then the it is much more violent due to the rapid expansion. However in this case it was partially exposed through the top of the vial and had somewhere to vent, but there was still sufficient power to explode the vial itself! On a large scale, say with a Creeper, this is sized up considerably, causing massive damage to the surroundings. In short, don't get too close..."

"Well that was informative. Thanks OROTHO! I think that pretty much removes the need to retrieve the book from Syeonyx's house as we know understand how they explode. From the sounds of things, this was pretty much all the book said as well. The only remaining mystery is how Creepers gained the ability to secrete pyrite? But it is not important. OROTHO and I will work together to find a way to inhibit this secretion, or at least prevent a reaction if a Creeper is found. Meanwhile, UOPETA believes he found the location of another portal. UOPETA?" COLUS called UOPETA up to speak. He told us of a large yet concealed hole he found close to my wall which showed signs of excavation. He didn't adventure down into the hole, but any lead was better than no lead...

"If I go with THEROS and Syeonyx. We keep in contact with THEXIS via the radio, and AMPHIS helps OROTHO out with writing down the necessary information. It may be useful in the future. With your permission, may I take possession of the Solus stone?"

COLUS reached into a pocket in his armour and took out the stone. Passing it to UOPETA, he began speaking again:

"Right, we've all been given roles. Let's get to work! UOPETA? Keep THEXIS updated as to all actions you take, and everything suspicious you find. THEROS, ensure you note down any areas which may house a portal. Syeonyx, go with them. As the portal is around your area, you may have a good idea about how to move around there. Make use of the reports of the guard patrol routes if needed, but don't take any unnecessary precautions. Get in, search for the portal and get out. Take a pickaxe with you in case it isn't active. Good luck!"

We all bowed, and then I followed THEROS and UOPETA off to our rooms to gear up. Once again we were travelling light, taking only the essentials for quicker movement.

"This is going to be good!"

     We set off mid morning and headed South towards my walled area. UOPETA had made it in just over a day, but with me in tow, and with THEROS needing to note things down, it would take a little longer. Nonetheless we made excellent time! By midday we had already arrived at the start of the island crossing! We paused under a tree momentarily, allowing THEROS to scribble on the map.

"On which side of the wall is this hole located?"

"It is located to the East, so from where we are, after we cross to the other island, we stick to the Eastern coast. Then we head inland after an hour or so. I'll know more when we get to a landmark I remember..."

After a few more moments, we set off again, keeping as quiet as possible, but going faster than I would normally! Shortly after, it began to rain, but it didn't slow us down. Every now and again, UOPETA would pause to keep THEXIS updated via the radio, and we'd be off again. We didn't stop for any food until towards the end. It was getting dark, and we were all wet through by the time we got to the end of the Eastern coast...

"Right, from here on out, it's more or less West towards your wall. If we hug this large hill to our right, we'll find the hole. It's hard to miss, and it's the type of thing you can't ignore. When you see it, you'll understand..."

We began heading West inland, staying close to the large hill all the time. Eventually, the hill extended up and outwards and turned into a large cliff. After some time, UOPETA paused, making the "stay" sign with this fist. We stopped, and lowered ourselves close to the ground, and crept forwards. It had started to get dark, and it was still raining so it was difficult trying to see anything. We stopped again, and in the dim light, I was able to make out some rough ground. UOPETA gave the all clear signal, and we continued towards the rough ground. As we got closer, the rough ground extended into a large hole in the side of the cliff. It was definitely not natural; it extended quite some way down, with a gentle gradient leading down into darkness. I could tell something was up with this hole; no way was there not anything sinister down there!

"Looks like we're going down, gentlemen..."

Syeonyx signing off