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 118: Hi ho, hi ho, it's off to work we go...

     We arrived back at the base shortly after midnight; we were exhausted, and just wanted to rest. We had done a lot today, and without a single casualty, which was a massive bonus! We had liberated five workers, including Joe, and had shown Gray and two other guards the error of their ways. We now knew that it was an entirely plausible possibility to attempt to recruit other guards we would come across, and reduce HoN Co.'s effectiveness. If they didn't consider us a major threat, they were in for a rude awakening after what we just accomplished! And with many more plans to destroy HoN Co. from the outside, it would be best for them to acknowledge us. We just had to be concerned about any plans they might throw our way now. Even if they did see us a major threat, they weren't going to sit back and take it, especially if we're able to convince their own employees to either leave them or work for us! We would have to be careful in the next few days, weeks, months to come... Climbing down the ladder from the hatch, we made our way to the lab, where we knew OROTHO and COLUS would be. When they saw us, COLUS seemed relieved and OROTHO barely seemed to acknowledge us coming in.

"Good news?"

"HoN Co. now no longer have the capability to mass produce portals! We followed the plan more or less to the letter, and, aside from the delays, everything went according to that plan. What once was their obsidian farm is now a smoking crater..."

"Excellent news! We've taken the first massive step towards toppling HoN Co. now! Although it also acts as a giant alarm bell to them. We're a serious threat! We're going to have to be careful from now on... Do you have any photos of the remnants?"

"Indeed we do. Syeonyx was most insistent we capture the first few moments of a great victory!"

I passed the image bundle I had stashed away to COLUS, who flicked through them excitedly. Meanwhile, OROTHO came over to congratulate as well, although I couldn't help feel it was done a little begrudgingly... I couldn't think why; a defeat on HoN Co.'s part was a success for us all, regardless of who was actually involved.

"Don't worry OROTHO. Just be happy in the knowledge that it was your plan that allowed this all to happen..."

"Well... I can't take all the credit..."

"So modest, OROTHO(!)"

"How did it go then? Tell us what you did!"

COLUS looked up from the images, and then behind us, as though he had lost something...

"What about the other guards... The workers... Where are they? Did you manage to get them out safely?"

"Better than that! We managed to convince the guards working their to give up working for HoN Co., and them and the workers went off to start a small hidden community..."

"I'm glad to see you resolved that issue without violence or complication..."

"Joe is the star of the whole thing! He went in on his own, and managed to convince a guard and all of the workers from the warehouse to work with us. Once we got inside, we were met with no resistance, and immediately found Joe and the others on the top floor of the warehouse. From there, we directed the remainder of the plan, and with a bit of a effort, showed the other two guards what they were really doing, and why it was wrong. They were playing them against each other; the guards didn't attack the workers because they had been told that they had volunteered, and the workers didn't speak out against them because they were informed the guards were authorised to use excessive force, where necessary..."

"It's a wonder how they kept the whole operation going to be honest. You can only keep two groups of people working together in the dark for so long before someone starts making connections..."

"After that, we rigged the main reservoir water feed with explosives left over from the initial hollowing out of the chamber, and blew the support. There's a photo of that actually..."

UOPETA showed COLUS the image I had taken before being rushed from the chamber. It showed the ceiling support totally absent, and gallons and gallons of water pouring down onto the lava below.

"Well, judging from the images of the large crater, it would be stupid to ask what happened next..."

OROTHO took the images from COLUS and flicked through them, one by one, and stopped on the image taken from the top looking down into the crater itself, and the remains of the chamber below.

"Odd... I wouldn't have thought there would be such a violent explosion from such a relatively small pocket of lava..."

"When the chamber blew, it ruptured the ground all around it and above it, causing massive damage to the surrounding landmass. That's why there's thousands of gallons of water pouring into the crater; a huge section of the landmass close to the sea was destroyed, allowing it access. Not to mention who knows how many underwater springs and other water sources..."

"Well, go and have some rest. We can debrief properly afterwards..."

Sweet music to my ears!

----

     Once we had rested, we went to the discussion room where everyone else was already waiting. We debriefed on the entire operation; how it went, problems we encountered, and any data or additional information we retrieved... We had passed the images around the table by this point, and it was rewarding to see the reaction on everyone's face when they saw the crater that we had caused...

"We are going to have to be so careful when moving around now. I wouldn't be surprised if HoN Co. are throwing high end security everywhere to protect the remainder of the their assets, especially the conducting tower..."

"Well, it's funny yo should say that, as myself, Amie and OROTHO have been talking about a solution to that... We know that moving around on the surface was dangerous enough before we destroyed their obsidian farm. It's only going to get worse. We are trying to work on an idea of tunnels. It seems a little simplistic, but think about it; we were all trained to be miners. And what do all miners do best? Dig? HoN Co. have essentially sealed their own fate by equipping us with the one skill that could defeat them! By constructing tunnels to all of the major areas we need to move between, we drastically increase the security of operations. However, we would need to have a secure series of tunnels, which is where OROTHO and Joe's area of expertise come in. OROTHO?"

"We have planned on a simple tunnel layout: two metres tall, and two metres wide, enough to fit two people side by side comfortably. The tunnels would run at least ten metres beneath the surface, and be reinforced with iron struts and supports and key areas. What we have in terms of security are doors. Well, iron shutters to be exact, which if implemented correctly, would look very similar to the surrounding iron supports, thus concealing it. It would be a delicate operation, and would cost us mass amounts of time and resources. Resources we don't yet have, but then again, like COLUS says; we're miners, it's what we do best!"

"As we have just halted a huge portion of progress that will take weeks for HoN Co. to compensate for, we can begin planning and constructing these tunnels. It's best if we only have one point of entry; the lab entrance that we had already built to connect to the portal we may need to make use of. But we could also connect it to the conducting tower, HoN Co. tower, Syeonyx's house and at a stretch, maybe even SERVERE's old house. We can't just think of useful and often visited destinations, we have to think of escape routes in case we become compromised. If this is successful, we could remove the front entrance entirely! It would make us a lot more secure, and provide only a single point of entry."

"So what's the first move then?"

"As odd as it sounds, resource collection! We need you to act like miners now, and harvest as much iron as you can! OROTHO and I will plan the layout of the tunnel system, including the dimensions, etc. whilst the rest of you work towards resource collection."

"Where should we start?"

"Well OROTHO has only guessed this, but he reckons the cliffs around us are rich in iron and coal. Start there. It's close by so it won't draw any attention. Let's get to work people!"

The work never stops!

Syeonyx signing off

Parting ways...

     We stood on the edge of the stairs... The entire chamber had been blown out, and little remained of what stood before. The warehouse was utterly demolished, and there was nothing left of the ceiling to the chamber, let alone the ceiling supports for the water feed pipe! Despite the vast amount of water pouring in from different areas, there was still a large amount of lava left, concentrated in smaller pockets surrounded by basalt and obsidian.

"Do you think is sufficient to put a stop to Project Ext?"

"I should hope so... No amount of resources thrown at what's left will turn this place around... The best HoN Co. can hope for is to find another lava pool, and that's highly unlikely..."

We stood on the edge for some time, just staring into the remnants of the chamber, completely in awe at the spectacle before us. It was beautiful, in an odd way; the chamber was now entirely exposed on the surface, allowing the moonlight to stream through, casting odd light and shadows along the harsh angles of the newly formed rock and stone. The lava provided more than enough of a light source to illuminate the area at the base of the chamber, and with small pockets of lava being plunged into darkness as the water got to it, it was almost magical, as the clouds of steam formed, rose high into the air and evaporated from sight...

"I think this should be our Christmas card to HoN Co. ... 'Wish you were here' type of thing..."

I couldn't help but laugh at that comment; we had dealt a massive blow to HoN Co. which we deemed irreparable, and we were already making fun of it. It was well earned though, and I looked across at the other three, to see broad smiles all round!

"Come on, let's get back to the boat. The others will be wondering what's happened to us..."

Turning around, we headed back up what was left of the stairs, and out of the exit, leaving the remnants of the obsidian farm for the last time...

     We approached the site of the boat, noticing that all of the workers and Gray were still there. Once they had seen us, they stood up, and Gray approached us.

"How did it go? We heard the explosions from here!"

"Project Ext is officially over! HoN Co. are never going to make use of that site again!"

"Now what...? We can hardly go back to HoN Co. now and tell them that we let you destroy it... Our affiliation with them is over..."

"The choice is yours. You can either come with us and take the fight to the heart of HoN Co., or you can disband from everyone and make it on your own... That goes for all of you..."

One of the workers approached us an spoke out, for what seemed like the majority of the group.

"If it's our choice, then I think I'm going to go out and make it on my own. Well, we all are... We're going to create a small community completely cut off from everyone... Anyone is welcome to join us, but once we leave here, we won't be in contact with anyone... We're not fighters... We can't help you with HoN Co. ... I'm sorry..."

"I respect your choice, and at the end of the day, it is yours to make. Does that apply to all of you?"

All of the workers and guards nodded, including Gray.

"Thanks for your help! We couldn't have done this without you. I wish you luck out there. Try to remain hidden from HoN Co., because if the find you, they won't be forgiving..."

"We know, and thanks... Thanks for liberating us; for showing us who we were really working for..."

Gray turned, and left with the other guards and workers, leaving me, THEROS, UOPETA and Joe...

"Right then, let's get back to base and report the good news!"

Climbing into the main seat of the boat, I grabbed the oars, and waited for the others to climb aboard. Once we were set, I began to row us back in the direction of home... We were exhausted, and just wanted to rest. For once, we could rest in piece, knowing that we had severely crippled HoN Co., and it was only going to get worse for them from now on. All we had to do now was deactivate the final few primary portals, and expose the master portals vulnerability. The idea of destroying the tower on to of the it that was stated before had actually struck with me for some reason, and I was wondering whether it was possible... That would be something to put to OROTHO when we got back...

Syeonyx signing off

Critical blow dealt!

     UOPETA climbed down from the iron water feed that piped water into the reservoir, dusting his hands of...

"Right, there's enough explosives in there to blow out the pipe, rip the ceiling brace out and rupture the reservoir itself. When it goes, it's going to go with a bang! We're going to need to clear this place pretty quickly once that feed pipe is down! Where's Joe?"

"He's making sure the saw for the final explosion is positioned correctly, so this place really does go with a bang. He's trying to find a more suitable material to place beneath the saw rather than obsidian. He says the saw is cutting through it too quickly, and the sparks die down..."

"Well we can't have that... And once all of the lava has been converted to obsidian, this chamber is going to be flooded with noxious, volatile gases... We won't have an option to come back down here once the reservoir is gone. We have to get it right first time... Has he tried altering the speed of the saw? Maybe reducing it could prolong the length of time sparks are given out before the obsidian is spliced through..."

Almost as though he had responded to his name, Joe appeared from the stairs, coming back from the warehouse, with a smile on his face.

"Fixed it! I had to slow the cutting speed of the saw down... It's not an ideal substitution, but it'll do. Are we all ready?"

"Yeah, almost. THEROS is taking one last look through the chests and files up top to see if there's anything of value there. Maybe we can deliver another blow to HoN Co. if we find some useful information we can use..."

"Might as well meet him there then. Syeonyx, Joe? Go upstairs and wait with him until this is done."

No way! I was staying down here to see the beginnings of a decisive blow thrown against HoN Co., and that meant watching the reservoir come down... I wanted a photo of that!

"Fine, but be ready to move out as soon as I do!"

I nodded, and Joe went up the stairs to meet with THEROS. I remained beside the iron railings, and watched as UOPETA moved off to the left, going down towards the reservoir switches. Just in sight, I could make out a wire connect to one of the switches. UOPETA placed one hand on the lever, and looked back at me. He then motioned a countdown with his fingers on his free hand. 3... 2... 1... He pulled the lever and ran! I stood and watched... And waited... Nothing happened. UOPETA had already reached me by this point, and I was beginning to wonder if he'd done it wrong. He was still smiling though, which suggested he knew something I didn't... Then, with an ear-splitting roar, and a flash of light that seemed impossibly bright, the TNT detonated! Instinctively, I covered my head and crouched behind the railings. UOPETA followed suit, and we sat there for a few moments, as debris pinged off the walls all around us!

"Told you it would go off with a bang!"

I barely heard the words, as the sounds of exploding were replaced with screeching metal and rock, as the iron piping slid from its support. With an almighty splash, it dropped into the lava, and promptly sank! Thousands of gallons of water followed quickly behind it, pouring out onto the surface of the lava, throwing up mass quantities of steam!

"Take your photo now; we are leaving!"

Holding me by the arm, UOPETA practically dragged me up the stairs, as I watched in awe at the spectacular show that was going on around me... THEROS and Joe saw UOPETA and me emerge from the stairs, and bolted for the exit! Passing through the motion sensor door, I snapped back into reality, took control of my body again, and ran after the others. They scaled the small hill that overlooked the main building, and stopped...

"Is this far enough away? If that place blows, there's going to be a big crater... The building could sink into it... Along with us!"

"I doubt it... The build-up of gases would probably only be sufficient enough to uproot a few trees. There won't be a crater... There will be a big bang though, bigger than the first. It would be so much more rewarding if that was the master portal chamber down there..."

"True, but we'd need to deactivate every primary portal first... Even if we could, we'd have a giant hole, a collapsed tower, and still intact master portal. I doubt HoN Co. would shrug and say 'oh well'... They'd recover that site very quickly, throwing mass resources at it."

THEROS was right. The master portal was HoN Co.'s keystone to the entire plan. Without it, their entire plan would crumble in a matter of days, but with it, they were stronger than any of us could handle. We would have to chip away at their resolve piece by piece. It was just a good thing the destruction of the obsidian farm was a pretty hefty piece!

     We had been waiting outside the entrance atop the hill for some time, and yet there had been no further explosions... We were beginning to wonder if something had gone wrong at the final stage. Was the air too humid for the sparks to take effect? Or maybe there wasn't a sufficient volume of gas released to create an explosion? Or maybe even the saw might have packed up... So many different outcomes may have already taken place without us knowing...

"Is it possible the quantity of gas was insufficient, but the explosion created only blew out a small amount...?"

"No way! The amount of lava down there, and the amount of water being released, more than enough gas was released to blow the entire place to smithereens! We would have felt and heard the explosion... Either it's slow to act, or nothing's going to happen..."

We remained silent for some time, with partially held breaths, hoping that there would be some activity... Then, without warning, a huge explosion ripped through the silence, knocking us all off our feet! Huddled on the ground, we protected our heads, as debris rained down from the sky! After a few moments, we peered out through the spaces in our arms, worried that there was more to come... The only sounds now were those of the remaining debris continuing to come down, rushing water, and burning! However, from where we were, we couldn't see much in terms of damage... Had anything even happened? Looking back towards the sound of the explosion, we saw many trees blown towards us, with vast quantities of foliage missing!

"This could be fun..."

     We headed in the opposite direction the surrounding trees had blown in, wondering how much damage had been done. Then we saw it... It. Was. MASSIVE! A huge crater lay before us that ran all the way down to the chamber - well, what was left of it - with thousands of gallons of water pouring in from the sea! All of the trees close by had either lost all of their leaves, been set on fire, or had been completely uprooted and thrown aside like twigs!

"Erm... Well... That worked... I guess..."

We were speechless... We didn't want to stand too close to the edge for fear it wasn't stable enough to hold our weight. Peering down as far as we could, we could see the lava still bubbling and boiling away at the bottom, in small pockets, whilst vast quantities of water poured in through hidden springs, and the sea...

"I wonder how much of the underground bit is left... We can't see if from here, bu judging from the hole, I doubt anything of the warehouse is left..."

"Shall we go and see?"

"Is it safe?"

"Only one way to find out..."

We headed back towards the entrance to the main building to see if we could see anything from within the chamber itself. Passing through the entrance, we could already see a change; there was a lot of dust around on the floor, and a lot of the fencing had been displaced, with much of the furniture thrown against the far wall. A little more hesitantly, we moved down the stairs and towards the chamber. The minecart tracks had been bent severely out of shape, and from the top of the final flight of stairs, we could see the beginning so the damage done...

"A very powerful blast, from the looks of things..."

Moving down the stairs, we were careful of the rubble lying around, and looked into the chamber... It was even more beautiful from below!

"Yes... Well... Okay..."

Syeonyx signing off

Top notch negotiator...

     We waited patiently for the allotted time, hoping that he would come out at some point, with a load of guards and workers following behind him... As he stepped into the building, I instantly felt like we had made a bad decision; I half expected to hear sounds of shouting, but there nothing audible coming from the building at all... Without being able to hear or see what was happening felt worse than being in the thick of it! It was the Schrödinger's cat theory where you didn't know, and couldn't guess the outcome of the situation until you went and found out yourself... For all we knew, Joe could be dead right now! It was a horrible thing to even consider, but it was a possibility. There was no way of gauging how the guards would react to Joe just randomly turning up, although even I thought that killing him then and there was too harsh for them... Even for HoN Co.! They would likely put him to work in whatever area he displayed skills in best. Hopefully he would try and make it so he was taken to work in the warehouse. That way he had very little to do in terms of infiltrating.

"How do think he'll do? Do you think he'll manage to rally the guards as well?"

"If he's got any sense, he'll convince as many workers as he can, and then wait for us. It'll be a lot easier to either take out or convince the guards if every worker and us three are there... Even with heightened security, I doubt the guards will be up to much. I think that they're only working under these conditions out of fear... They probably don't understand the true extent of what they're doing... I doubt any of them are..."

"How long has it been so far?"

"About half an hour or so... Why? Getting nervous?"

"A little... Mainly for Joe, though. I hope he can do some good in there... If he's still alive..."

"Don't worry. He's got his head screwed on the right way. He'll be fine."

We waited for half an hour longer; the time seemed to inch by so slowly... It was almost agonising. What was worse was we couldn't just let our minds wander and start daydreaming; we had to remain alert in case any guards patrolling nearby heard or saw us, and we had to react quickly. When the time was up, we all stood up slowly, and headed down towards the entrance to the obsidian farm.

"Let's do this..."

     We peered through the iron bars, and strangely enough found no guards there at all! Either security was much more lax than we had anticipated, or Joe was better than we thought... There was a chest behind the desk off t the right, which UOPETA went to check for explosives... Finding nothing, we continued down the stairs, being careful in case there were any patrolling guards. We all clutched the blowpipes tightly, but UOPETA had made it clear that an option of talking our way out of it would be the higher priority. If we got nowhere with it, we were to use the blowpipes and drag their unconscious forms outside. We made it down as far as the main chamber; the main outlet for the reservoir had been shut, and a large portion of the obsidian there previously had gone, presumably already harvested. The warehouse off to the right remained unchanged from the outside, so we maintained our level of alertness. Heading down the stairs, we moved through the door, to find the bottom floor totally void of life... Had Joe done it? Moving towards the stairs, we heard a person making a shushing noise, and turning around, we found Joe, standing there, facing us, with three workers around him!

"Thank god it's you! I was beginning to wonder if you'd given up and gone home on me! Have any trouble getting here?"

"None... There weren't any guards on the way down here at all..."

"I'm not surprised, he's here..."

From behind Joe, a guard emerged, looking a little sheepish...

"Looks like I'm a pretty good orator..."

"Great work, Joe! Have you checked the rest of the area?"

"Unfortunately not, just the warehouse..."

The guard spoke up now:

"There are other guards and workers here... The workers stay down here, and us guards usually remain in the upper building, keeping the entrance and exit secure. No way out for the workers that way... There are two more guards back near the exit, and one or two more workers near the reservoir."

"Thanks! He's what we're going to do: Joe? You and the rest of the workers go towards the reservoir and convince the remaining workers to come with us. Inform them of our plan, and tell them we have a guard on our side. Meanwhile, the rest of us will head up to the exit and try to convince the other two guards... We'll also look for any explosives there might be lying around."

"If you're looking for TNT, there's still some left over upstairs from when we were excavating the chamber. Joe's informed me what you want to use it for, and I'm certain there's a sufficient amount to pull it off..."

"Thanks. How do you feel about us? Do you understand our cause? Do you even understand HoN Co.'s?"

"To be honest, I know very little about what HoN Co.'s plans are. I just thought I was hired to keep these workers mining obsidian. After all, they are miners; it's what they were trained to do, I thought there was nothing else to it... As for you... Well, now that Joe's told me the full story, I'm not sure I can continue my employment within HoN Co. ..."

"That's great to hear. Now everyone, let's get going. We need this place put out of action for good!"

We all went down the stairs individually, and climbed the back to the top where the path split left and right. I went with UOPETA, THEROS and the guard, who's name was Gray, and ascended the stairs to the exit of the main building. Meanwhile, Joe and the newly recruited workers hopped over the iron railings and went towards the reservoir to convince the remaining workers.

     We knew we had a large enough team to overcome the two guards that were upstairs, regardless of the outcome. Hopefully we could reach a peaceful negotiation, or even recruit them to our side... We have Gray with us which should dramatically help our cause. I was certain that Joe and the other workers would be successful. If Joe could rally a guard, then two more workers would be too easy. We reached the top of the stairs, and the two guards were standing there talking, with their backs to us. One turned as though to move away, saw us and drew his sword. The other quickly turned to see what the other had seen and followed suit.

"Who are you? How did you get in?"

"Who we are is not important, nor how we got in. We're here to save you."

The guards looked incredibly puzzled, but maintained their aggressive stance, until Gray emerged from the top of the stairs and stood before them.

"Gray? What are you doing?"

"Hear them out... You'll understand afterwards..."

"You're in danger. You work for HoN Co., but they're not what they seem... Why were you stationed here?"

"To ensure the workers did their jobs... It's what they're paid to do... It's what we're paid to do.."

"So HoN Co. are keeping you in the dark too then...? HoN Co. hasn't employed these workers... They're enslaved miners! They were sent here to find portals, and once they had done, they were imprisoned and forced to work for their nefarious needs..."

"You're lying... Why would they do that? They train the miners... Gray?"

"It's true. I've been speaking with the workers, and they were all once miners who actually worked for HoN Co. ... Once they found a portal, they were sent to Minecraftia, not to dig up and harvest minerals and ores, but to find portals. Once they found a portal, HoN Co. came in, took over and imprisoned the miners indefinitely..."

The guards stood dumbfounded for some time, as though trying to convince themselves otherwise... As if look would have it, Joe came up behind us, accompanied with every worker in the chamber!

"You see...? The workers are being forced against their will to work for HoN Co. ... They want to do something that would risk the entirety of life on this planet!"

"But... If this is true, why didn't the workers try and tell us? Surely they would voice their anger!"

"Joe has told me that they were informed that guards were encouraged to 'discipline' any outspoken workers... Forcefully..."

"We weren't ever told that..."

"You see? HoN Co. is playing everyone who works for them against each other! Subtle hints and small amounts of well placed information is all that is required to keep everyone in line. We were told that these workers were here willingly, and yet the workers were told we would punish them if they spoke out against us or HoN Co. ... Who knows what else they're keeping secret from each other..."

The guards' resolve was beginning to weaken; they lowered their swords to the ground, faces screwed up in absolute confusion...

"So... So, what now? Are you going to... Kill us?"

"Definitely not! It's your choice: you can either side with us and help to take HoN Co. down, or you can leave and find your own way back. It would be a lot more beneficial, for everyone, if you were cooperative and sided with us... We could use you."

The guards nodded...

"We're with you... What do you want us to do?"

"Leave... Leave this building and get as far back as possible..."

"They're going to blow this place up. If HoN Co. find this place void of life, they'e likely to start it up again with a fresh lot of guards and workers. They have a plan to put a stop to that, once and for all... I'll fill you in on the way..."

"Gray? Take everyone, guards and workers, to the North, following the coast along your left. You should find a boat. Stay there until we get back. Joe? You stay with us..."

Gray nodded, and moved towards the exit, beckoning the guards and workers to follow him. When everyone was out, Gray looked back at us, and nodded his appreciation, before leaving for good.

"That was impressive... Now, let's find the TNT! We've got a job to finish!"

----

     We were ready... UOPETA had a bit of a difficult time getting the TNT in place, but with it now almost ready, he prepared the wiring that would hopefully do the job. Joe, meanwhile, had found a saw that was used in the warehouse to chop obsidian blocks into smaller chunks, and had set it working; the blade ran continuously, striking the edge of an obsidian block, throwing sparks everywhere! If OROTHO was right, all we needed was for one spark to reach the volatile gases given out, and we could say goodbye to this place for good!

"Is everything set UOPETA?"

"Almost... Just need to run the wiring through..."

This place was going to go up with a bang!

Syeonyx signing off

Putting the plan into action!

     It had started to rain as we emerged from the hatch; slightly odd as it hadn't been before we had returned less than an hour ago... Nonetheless, it was unlikely to hamper our progress. If anything, it would actually prove beneficial to us in providing our passage with cover. We knew that HoN Co. had increased security recently, since learning of our missions to destroy the portal chambers, and we were expecting to see many a guard at the obsidian farm itself. We had already concocted a plan to get everyone out safely before we even rounded the edge of the cliff and reached the boat!

"They won't be expecting me... I'm just a worker, so I could just lie and say I left for a break. I might be punished for it, but it would get me inside. From there, I could try and convince as many of the workers as possible, and then rally them to at least attempt to persuade the guards... It's worth a try, and a lot safer than blundering in with blowpipes and darts!"

"He has a point... We need to find a safe and quiet way inside without causing any unwanted attention..."

It was odd; Joe had known us for barely a day, and yet he was already willing to put himself in the line of fire to help us. Either he was very brave and wanted to prove he could be useful, or he had an ulterior motive...

"If you let me go in first, I'll be able to scout out the way ahead. An hour should be sufficient. After which you'll either see a load of workers and guards leaving, or nothing. If the latter - which is more likely - use the blowpipes and come and find me. Hopefully by then I should have convinced one or two workers to go with us..."

"Where would we meet you? You don't even know the layout of that place..."

"Where would be best then?"

"Well, as you enter, there's a set of stairs leading down to the left. By the time you get to the bottom, you should see two sets of minecart tracks, both leading down. Follow the est of tracks on the right side down into the main chamber, and continue following the path off to the right. You should see a large building. That's the warehouse where they store the obsidian before it is needed. Meet us on the upper floor, along with anyone you've managed to rally by that point. Fill them in and we'll find you."

"A warehouse? That should provide us with decent cover from any guards until we can establish a plan. Although, I have a feeling it'll pan out as 'sedate all guards, recruit workers, blow up obsidian farm'..."

"It might, it might not. We're willing to allow the guards to come with us, but it's down to them at the end of the day whether they choose to follow us, or attack us..."

"Well, we'll find out, won't we?"

----

     As we arrived where we had moored the boat before, the rain had eased off, and it was beginning to get dark. We were going to have to cross over land for an hour or so to get to the actual site, as we had before. Hopefully we wouldn't stumble across any guards, but if we did, we could always sedate them and ensure they didn't attempt to return to the obsidian farm.

"How did you find the obsidian farm then? I can't see why you'd come out this far by chance..."

"We've been destroying portals activated or protected by HoN Co. for some time. We found a tower, that we visited earlier today, which holds information about the portals. After some time, we learnt of the portal chambers, and OROTHO deduced that HoN Co. were getting the obsidian from somewhere. We then learnt of Project Ext..."

"Project Ext?"

"It's Hon Co.'s extension of the portal replication project they perfected. They found a way to replicate portals and place them anywhere they need them, and the obsidian farm was a way of mass producing them. We're here to put a stop to Project Ext from the source... Well, as close to the source as we can reach..."

It continued to grow darker as we continued onwards. We reached the same beached area we had before, only this time there wasn't any sign of a guard anywhere... This wasn't necessarily a good thing. It could mean that all of the guards were inside the building itself, which would mean infiltrating would be a lot harder. I had visions of sedating guards, and dragging them around to the other side of the building, and going out of the exit. We can't determine the size of the explosion, so it would be stupid to leave the unconscious guards within the main building. We moved along the cliff, with the water meeting the land on our right, until we could see a small amount of light emanating from up ahead. A few moments later, we were standing on a a hill just above the entrance.

"Right, let's go through this once more! Joe, you will enter through into the farm, and pose as a worker. Go down into the main area and scout out the area. Try to talk to the workers, and convince them to side with us. If you gain enough support, it might be an idea to try and rally the guards. I doubt they can do anything if you all stop working... If you can achieve this, try and leave in under an hour. If we've seen no change in an hour, we'll go in, and find you in the warehouse with anyone you've managed to rally. Got that?"

"I've got it!"

"Great! Good luck!"

Joe climbed down from where we were crouching, and headed towards the entrance. And so, it begins...

Syeonyx signing off

"Noxious" plans of "volatility"

     We left the tower shortly after going through the nearby drawers for any information on reports. THEROS had suggested we go through the information stored in the portal data room, but me and UOPETA had concluded that it was unlikely there would be anything there to help us.

"If there were any more possible sites for more portal chambers, I would have thought they would have been in the report we took initially. After all, the last chamber we got to wasn't even complete! HoN Co. are probably just stocking up on obsidian for the next lot of portal chambers. Hopefully, COLUS and OROTHO come up with an idea to put a stop to the obsidian production once and for all!"

Moving quickly and quietly from the entrance to the base, we moved two of the guards back around to either side. When they awoke, they wouldn't remember a thing, and it would reduce the chances of the other guards spotting their unconscious forms... We headed back to base, not meeting anyone or seeing anything along the way that was cause for suspicion. As usual, the journey back was totally uneventful. Despite this thought, it felt good to be back into the swing of things, proceeding with a more regulated routine. The long days and nights without sleep had started taking their toll, and that twenty four plus hours I slept really helped me to recharge... Let's hope there wasn't a need to do that again too soon... We made it back to the base in what could possibly record time, and passed through the hatching, lowering the walkway as we climbed down.

     As we continued towards the lab, we were surprised to find everyone there, doing something or other to help. COLUS and Amie were talking about portal technology, and how it had been working for HoN Co. as a lead scientist, AMPHIS and THEXIS were digging out more of the tunnel for OROTHO to install more security barricades, and Joe and OROTHO were talking excitedly about "security installations"... Needless to say, I probably would have understood more of what was being said had I walked into a room full of people all speaking in Greek!

"Ah, you're back! Good! How is the primary portal situation thus far?"

"Good news; the active primary portals along the left-side wall have now all become inactive! Only a few remain on the far right wall! We're so close to destroying this threat once and for all!"

"Well then, that means there's two lots of good news! OROTHO, Amie and I believe we have come up with a way to destroy the obsidian farm for good! OROTHO, Ami? Would you mind filling them in?"

Amie and OROTHO approached us from their original positions, and stood just in front of us. Instantly, OROTHO jumped into a lecture about lava...

"Obsidian, as we all know, is the bi-product of the process by which lava is cooled rapidly, either by cooled air, or water. Although the obsidian is in fact glass-like in state, it acts more like a dense rock. When lava is cooled rapidly, the noxious and volatile gases are violently forced outwards, along with steam, either from the water vapour in the air, or from the direct contact of water itself. As lava is hot, it possesses a lot of geothermal energy, which becomes trapped in the dense layers of obsidian during this process. Amie?"

"This mixture of expelled gases possess a volatile property which, when exposed to a spark or naked flame, can ignite quite forcefully and explosively."

"So what you're saying is... We rapidly cool the lava blow introducing a vast quantity of water to it, and there's a chance that the expelled gases will destroy the remaining structures?"

"It's definitely possible..."

"Hang on then... How come this doesn't happen every time they harvest more obsidian then? The process remains the same, but only the scale changes... Why aren't they blowing themselves up every time they rapidly cool a portion of lava?"

"We don't know... This is purely theoretical, I should mention, but it's possible the atmosphere inside that chamber might be dampened... If it's full of water vapour, it's likely that's what's preventing the explosions..."

OROTHO could be right... When we were in there, I had felt incredibly hot and sticky. Not something I would usually associate with close proximity to lava... I would have thought it would be hot and dry, like a desert... But it was as though the air was moist as well as hot...

"Well if HoN Co. are humidifying the air, how would the gases help then?"

"The humidifying effects would likely only work on a small scale. But if we were to cool the entire surface of the lava at once, it's possible the volume of volatile gases released would be sufficient to be ignited..."

"So we're talking about a huge volume of water... I don't think the reservoir holds enough to do the job... Then again... If we destroyed the piping along the ceiling that feeds the reservoir, it should create a constant downpour of water... that would be enough! We would just need to get to it."

"That's definitely a much easier option than drowning it with the water from the sea... I'll leave it up to you."

OROTHO went back to talk with Joe, whilst COLUS took his place beside Amie.

"In light of what we have learned from Joe, it's not a necessary condition to remove the guards and workers from the site before you do anything. You can achieve this in any way you like, but make sure everyone is out of there before you do anything. If it's going to explode, it's also a good idea to get well back after the initial detonation..."

Joe cut in at this point, with an excellent idea that never would have occurred to us, mainly due to our lack of knowledge about the location.

"If that place deals with large amounts of obsidian, it's possible there could be a circular saw in there... If you manage to wedge a chunk of obsidian beneath it, and set it spinning, the sparks created could ignite the gases after you evacuate..."

"Brilliant! I think it might be best if Joe went with you. Normally I wouldn't advise it, but he might prove useful in convincing some of the other workers to follow you. Maybe even get the guards to leave the location of their own free will..."

"I'll try anything to help... When do we start?"

"When OROTHO has created a large enough cache of explosive to destroy the piping..."

"No need... I can guarantee there will be explosives already there. They would have needed to use some to get to the chamber itself. They'll be lying around somewhere on the surface, away from the lava..."

"Alright then, if you three are happy with that, you can go off and start now... But be extremely careful! Evacuate when the gases are released, and be sure to thoroughly check everyone else has left the site first... We don't need any deaths on our hands. Yours, or anyone else's..."

Making sure we had everything we would need, we set of towards the boat, with Joe accompanying us. In less than twelve hours times, HoN Co. could receive a crippling blow to their progress, as we march forward ever stronger, to bring HoN Co. to it's knees, and reveal to the world their true face!

Syeonyx signing off

Portal Chamber Payoff

     We set off to the conducting tower, towards the North. We had considered bringing Joe along, but firstly, COLUS wouldn't let him, - he might pose more of a risk to us, jeopardising the entire operation - and additionally, he seems too wrapped up in helping OROTHO with the tunnel security. That was all fair enough. UOPETA was in agreement with COLUS; taking three people across into a high security area was hard enough, without adding more to the mix! It felt good to be back in the old method of doing things. I'd almost began to miss the sight of the conducting tower... It seemed like an eternity since last checking on the status of the primary portals, and yet in reality it was likely to have been just over a week! Then again, a lot had happened since then. We had found an obsidian farm, "procured" a report from HoN Co. tower leading us to four different portal chambers, visited each one and destroyed every portal within, nearly been caught by HoN Co. guards right outside my house, and recruited someone to our team who could prove invaluable, in more ways than was initially obvious...

"It seems Joe could prove to be quite helpful around the base. If he knows a little about wiring, then no wonder OROTHO's taken a shine to him! It just makes me wonder why HoN Co. would throw away a talent like that by putting him to work on the portal chambers..."

"Maybe they didn't know..."
Maybe they didn't care. From the looks of things, HoN Co. weren't looking for sophisticated traps and security doors. They just needed a large room to store portals, and a few guards to ensure no-one go in... Obviously it seems they would have gained a lot more if they had put Joe to more effective use.

     As we neared the conducting tower, we could tell that security had been stepped up a notch. A few notches even! As we approached the Northern side, we could see a few guards on duty patrolling the sides and rear, and then the usual guards posted outside the front came into view. Unlike before though, they weren't talking to each other, and they didn't seem distracted. They seemed actually alert and ready for anything! This was odd considering, but maybe someone had informed them about our presence, and what had been happening to other guards. I did notice that all of the guards were now wearing leather sheaths around their necks for protection. UOPETA had caught onto this as well!

"Looks like we need another strategy... Their hands are left exposed, but it's unlikely to be as fast acting..."



We concocted a plan to enable us to quickly dispatch the guards. It wasn't really that much different to the usual plan, only we had to aim for a considerably more inaccurate location. Not only was the target smaller, but it had a tendency to move a lot more than a neck ever did! We would have to get closer, and with them being alerted much easier, that was only going to make things harder! We crept slower from the treeline, and drew closer, flattening ourselves onto our bellies to drastically reduce the chances of us being seen. We would try to sedate the two guards on duty outside the entrance whilst the other guards were around the other side. Then we would open the entrance and take refuge inside. Leaving the guards there, we would wait until they found the unconscious forms of the sedated guards, and then we would simply stab them each in the hand. It would be hugely risky, but it was the best we could do without raising the alarm.

"Right. Syeonyx? When the one to the left looks off in the other direction, you fire a dart. Make sure the magazine is full, because I'm not sure one dart is going to be enough..."

Aiming carefully, I sighted the hand of the guard closest to me. He was carrying a sword, so it was unlikely that hand was going to move too much. UOPETA aimed for the guard further away. We fired the first darts simultaneously, but there was no reaction from any of the guards. It was likely we had missed, otherwise they'd likely be looking at their hands. Firing again, UOPETA's guard looked at his hand instantly, and pulled the dart out. The other guard had been drawn to this, and I fired again. I saw the dart embed itself harmlessly against the guard's armoured thigh, which drew his attention. At this point, the other guard dropped to the floor, which UOPETA used to his advantage and fired another dart. The remaining guard drew his hand quickly up to his face, as though receiving a burn, and studied the dart for a few moments, before collapsing to the floor. We ran forwards towards the entrance, and I removed the dart from the guard's hand. UOPETA stood up and flicked the lever to open the entrance, and we all went inside. UOPETA remained close to the entrance, and took the magazine from his blowpipe, and tapped out two darts. Putting the blowpipe away, he crouched in silence, waiting with a dart in each hand.

"What now...?"

UOPETA motioned for THEROS to be quiet, and the sound of footsteps on sand became louder and louder. Suddenly, there was the sound of panicked voices, and running. The two guards were outside the entrance, and UOPETA used this opportunity! Diving forwards, he lashed out with both darts, before retreating into the entrance again! The sounds of exclamations and profanities filled the air, and one guard approached the entrance, sword drawn. UOPETA readied his blowpipe, but the guard collapsed a few feet shy of UOPETA. The slumping sound outside indicated the other guard had fell unconscious too.

"Gets closer and closer every time!"

It had occurred to us a little late, but we quickly turned around to see if the commotion had drawn the attention of any guards inside, but as usual, there was no sign of any guards...

     We descended into the actual master portal chamber, to determine the status of the primary portals, and the master portal overall. I had assumed that there would be little change. If the portal chambers had been recently installed, that would only have added to the progress that HoN Co. had already made. Us destroying them would merely reset it back to what it was before. However, descending the final set of stairs - after determining that the coast was clear - we saw that the entire left side wall was totally void of any active portals!

"Last time we were here, there were two active primary portals on that wall... Now there are none.. Progress!!!"

We were all elated with the progress we had made! It was very little, and two primary portals were still active on the other wall, but any progress, no matter how little, was better than nothing!

After calming down, we set to work looking for any more information about portal locations. We knew that the obsidian farm was still a potential threat, but anything that would help us afterwards would be incredibly useful! Destroying the obsidian farm would only remove the threat of more portal chambers. But more portals could still be found and activated... It actually made me think. Who was activating these portals? Did they even know what they were doing, or why they were doing it? Was it possible to get them to side with us...?

Syeonyx signing off

Day 117: Deviation from master plan...

     I needed that! We had arrived back late yesterday. Well early... Well... I don't know. It was dark, but it was the morning of a new day, and we slept right through that new day, and straight through the night as well! Waking up and finding out it was morning was slightly disorientating; I thought we had only slept for a few hours, but we had slept for more than twenty four hours! It goes to show how tired we were then. We were practically running on fumes, but now we were up and alert, and ready to start the next stage of the plan! As far as the report indicates, we have destroyed all of the portal chamber sites, which means we are making excellent progress! After waking from my much-needed rest, I went straight to the lab, where I knew OROTHO and Amie would be. Oddly enough, COLUS wasn't there... When I enquired, Amie informed me that he was resting.

"He's been up longer than you three had without any rest, and he'd also stopped eating. We were getting worried about him, so we sent him to rest and have something to eat. He's been working flat out!"

That was COLUS... Ever vigilant... He had apparently continued to question Joe in the lab with OROTHO and Amie when we had left to rest, and then retired to his own room shortly after. As for Joe, he's not slept either, but he doesn't seem to want to. Oddly, OROTHO has taken a shine to him; it seems they both possess an uncanny understanding of electrics and wiring, and they've been working on innovative doors and locks for the new tunnel. Not only that, but Joe "insisted" he help mine out some of the tunnel! Continuing to talk to Amie, it seems he's hit it well with everyone so far.

"He just seems so enthusiastic. I think the real impact of what HoN Co. is trying to do has hit him, and he wants to feel like he's doing his part... I think him and OROTHO are talking at the moment in the tunnel. You should go and see them..."

Heading over to the new entrance, I passed through, and began to hear the sounds of excited voices. I couldn't make out what was being said, and even as I drew closer, I couldn't understand what they were saying... Eventually I drew close enough so that they could see me, and they stopped and looked my way.

"Morning Syeonyx. Have a nice rest?"

I did indeed, but now that was over, I was interested in what they were doing.

"I'm helping OROTHO plan out and install security locks and doors into this tunnel you have. Apparently it's going towards a portal? I thought you were destroying all of these portals...?"

I told him about the Solus stone, and how it was used to destroy the portal whilst active, but it was destroyed. We had to venture into the Nether to retrieve more of the same stone to continue our work, which meant utilising a portal... We noticed the time distortion effect that was created when in the Nether, and how it could be put to effective use. But it was risky having an open entrance to an active portal, so COLUS and OROTHO dreamt up this tunnel idea to connect the base to the portal itself. Once the tunnel was complete, we could destroy the open entrance, and have it to ourselves.

"I see... Was it a portal that had been found or constructed?"

"We don't know... The chamber it was found in was constructed from cobblestone, and the walls were lined with lichen..."

"HoN Co. didn't build that... We have... HAD strict guidelines to ensure the portals were secure... It seems they weren't secure enough..."

"So it would seem..."

Amie came down the steps, and right up to us.

"COLUS is awake by the way. He's looking for you, Syeonyx. It seems he's got something he wants to tell you."

Leaving Joe and OROTHO to it, I followed Amie back up the stairs, and out the entrance, where COLUS was waiting.

"Ah, Syeonyx. I've got something for you, THEROS and UOPETA to do..."

     THEROS and UOPETA were already assembled in the discussion room when we got there, and COLUS outlined the next stage. He informed us that a final plan had not be established concerning the obsidian farm. Mainly due in part to what Joe had told him. As the workers within the obsidian farm are not under the optional employ of HoN Co., he has deemed it a necessity that all workers are saved before anything is attempted. Additionally, as Joe also told us that the guards were mere pawns in HoN Co.'s plan, and ultimately knew little about what they were doing, they must also be removed from the location before we destroyed it. This meant either attempting to convince them to join us, or sedating them, and removing them manually... Either way was available, but the former was most preferable.

"After that, you will utilise a large quantity of explosives to blow a hole in the layer of stone and dirt above the farm allowing sea water to flood in, rapidly cooling the lava, and destroying the entire operation. The release of toxic gases would ensure that no-one could enter for some time. Although OROTHO still needs to study the effects of it. He believes a gaseous bi-product of the operation could be rather explosive... Which may, or may not work out to our advantage..."

"So, what do we do in the mean time?"

"We need you to go and check on the status of the master portal, and the other primary portals. With four massive portal chambers destroyed, it's likely we've made a decent amount of progress! You may leave as and when you are ready, but I would be careful. With all four portal chambers destroyed, it's likely there will be a heightened guard presence at the tower."

We set off from the base to the tower. It hadn't actually occurred to me that that might be the case... We had displaced a few guards from duty, and they were likely to be at or around the tower, rather confused. It was a definite that HoN Co. would have increased security by this stage. As far as they were concerned, we were a definite threat with no form. No expense would be spared to ensure the remainder of HoN Co. assets were secure. that would include the obsidian farm...

Syeonyx signing off

Lone 7 recruiting

     We remained in the chamber for a while longer, destroying the large chunks of obsidian into dust, and smashing the constructed portals to pieces. According to Joe, they would line the chamber walls and entrance with smooth stone brick to protect the chamber from natural intrusions such as springs and caverns. Then, they constructed each portal from scratch, based on the layout of the chamber before hand. After each one was in place, they introduced a source of thermal energy, usually a flare, to the portal, which generated the required energy for the rifts to form. They only did this after every portal had been constructed, rather than after each one. I don't know why, and Joe never elaborated, but I assume HoN Co. had their reasoning... Perhaps it was to prevent the workers and guards coming under attack from creatures that might pass through the Nether into Minecraftia.

"How long have you been doing this then, Joe?"

"A few months... I'd been worked as an official HoN Co. miner for a few years prior to being imprisoned... I found one of these things when excavating a large mass of iron in a cavern. I didn't know what it was to begin with, and it seemed resistant to the tools I had at the time... I called in HoN Co. who seemed to take direct control of the entire operation, forced me out of the way, and when they were done, they took me to a prison... I still don't really know why they imprisoned me. Did you three... I mean, were you three imprisoned?"

"Yes... All of us were. Although we managed to escape before being put to work... How many of you are there?"

"I honestly don't know... I only know of a few, but not by name."

"What about the ones working at the obsidian farm?"

"I've never been there myself. I only know of it because that's where the shipments of obsidian come from. If they've got more imprisoned workers there, we need to help them too!"

"Well that's why we needed to talk to you. We were unable to determine if the workers, like yourself, were under the optional employ of HoN Co., or, as in this case, an imprisoned worker. Now that we know, we can alter our plan..."

"How so?"

"Our initial plan was to flood the entire chamber, destroying the equipment, and essentially killing everyone inside. Now we know we have to evacuate that place before we do so. Our attack is aimed at HoN Co., not its workers. We do not want the loss of innocent lives on our hands!"

We continued talking about the whole plan, and informed Joe as to HoN Co'.s large plan to merge Minecraftia and the Nether, and he couldn't believe it. Admittedly it took me a few moments to try to comprehend what I had just been told at the time too. The conversation lasted some time; we left the chamber behind, and went back to the surface where we then destroyed the remaining obsidian. After that, we headed back towards the boat. We were done for the moment, and we were heading back to base.

----

     We've introduced Joe to the rest of the team, and as COLUS did with Amie, he's now acting cautious about him too. I can't say I blame him; essentially letting a total stranger into the base of a major target is a little worrying... He insisted on asking him the same sort of questions we asked him; who he was, what was the current situation concerning HoN Co., how many other guards are there, etc. etc. ... He answered them to the best of his abilities, but COLUS was still suspicious.

"So... You eight are all standing against HoN Co.?"

"That's right. We've learned that HoN Co. are utilising portals to open the master portal which will merge the Nether - a dimension full of energy-rich ores and minerals - and Minecraftia. We need to stop them. We've told you everything we know about HoN Co. in the hopes it is enough to get you to side with us, but judging on the alternative, I doubt you have much to think about... Will you join us?"

Joe didn't say anything for some time; he sat there, looking at his palms, and the turning his hands over. After a few moments silence...

"Alright. Alright I'm with you."

"Good... We've told you everything, so I think it's only fair you tell us everything that you know. It doesn't matter how little there is, a small amount of information is a lot better than nothing."

"I'll try..."

"Good. Follow us through to the lab. Syeonyx, THEROS, UOPETA? Take some rest. You may need it..."

Joe stood up, and left with COLUS and Amie towards the lab. I went with THEROS and UOPETA, off to our rooms. I was beat! Hopefully by tomorrow we would have everything settled. Joe would be fully informed, and we would know a bit more about HoN Co.'s operations. We might even be able to start on the obsidian farm, and put it out of action for good!

Day 116: New recruit

     We were careful in our approach, in case there were any guards close by guarding it, but the area seemed deserted... What was going on? Why was there a large pile of obsidian on the surface? Surely they can't still be constructing the chamber...? The map indicated this location as a site for a portal chamber...

"The coordinates never really stated anything, nor did the report... Just where the sites were. It's possible it's incomplete."

That's how it seemed. Looking into the chest though, we found only small chunks of obsidian, a few tools, but nothing more... That is how it would seem...Our attention was now drawn to the small amount of light that was emanating from a small set of smooth stone brick stairs. Peering down, and remaining silent, I could neither hear or see anyone, so I began to descend them. UOPETA and THEROS followed close behind. As with many places we had been in before, the stairway was long and narrow, winding around, back upon itself many times.

"What do you suppose we'll find when we get down there?"

"Who knows... It seems whenever there is a portal chamber, there is always smooth stone brick lining the walls, floor and ceiling. I would say they've got as far as constructing the chamber, and are in the process of installing the portals... We'll find out soon enough."

We continued down the stairs, wondering when they would end. They seemed to go on forever, boring into the centre of the very core!

     After some time, the staircase ended, and opened up into a slightly wider corridor, with a brightly lit room at the far end. We were nearly there.

Up ahead, we could hear the sounds of tools striking stone, and men talking, but no portal sounds. Maybe they had barely even started! We moved slowly down the corridor, worried about what we might find at the far end... The volume of the voices and tool striking hard stone increased as we drew closer. We froze at one point, when the talking stopped, and the sounds of working ceased. But they started up again once more, and positive that they weren't aware of our presence, we continued. As we drew closer, the voices became understandable, and it seemed one belonged to a guard, whilst the other to a worker...

"How many portals are to be installed in this one?"

"Fifteen..."

"Fifteen? Have we got enough obsidian for that number?"

"Should have... The brainiacs who gave the quantity for the order seemed to think it was sufficient."

We were practically at the entrance now, and as predicted, there stood a guard and a worker. The worker was breaking larger pieces of obsidian into smaller ones, and slotting them into place, whilst the guard stood on the opposite side of the chamber, beside a partially finished wall.

UOPETA moved beside me, and we crouched to reduce the chances of us being spotted. The guard was too busy watching what the worker was doing, and the worker was too busy working! Drawing his blowpipe, UOPETA cycled a dart into the pipe itself, and moved it to his lips. A sharp high-pitched whistle, and the guard fell clutching his neck. The worker stopped, and looked towards where the guard now lay. He dropped his pickaxe and rushed over to him, checking his pulse. Oddly, UOPETA put away his blowpipe and stepped into the room. The worker looked up, the look of fear upon his face.

"Who are you? What have you done to him?"

"Nothing, he is asleep, and will be for some time. I have some questions to ask of you..."

"Who are you?"

"We are the Lone 7. And we know who you are. You do not work for HoN Co. voluntarily... Do you?"

"No I don't... My name is Joe..."

"And you were a miner? Working for HoN Co.? You completed your seven years training, and were sent to work in your own quadrant? You then found a portal, called in HoN Co., and were captured, and imprisoned in a tower? Am I right?"

"Yes... But how did you..."

"You are looking at three of HoN Co.'s previous captives..."

"Three...?"

Me and THEROS stepped out from the entrance, into the main chamber...

"You... How... What... You three are the ones destroying the portals!"

"Oh, there are more of us. Five more in fact. We have been recruiting miners displaced by HoN Co. to expose them to the world, for what they truly are."

"There are more of us... Many more... Working in..."

"An obsidian farm? We know. We've scouted out that place and are working on a plan to destroy it for good. We know of the other workers there. We needed to establish whether they were working under the employ of HoN Co. before doing so..."

"Far from it... We're treated as slaves, although the guards are not as bad when there are no officials or scientists around..."

"How do you mean?"

"The guards... I get the feeling they don't understand what or why they're doing half the stuff they're doing, other than they've been told to... The scientists and officials are the ones that oversee the entire operation..."

"I see... Come with us. We could do with your help."

"Are you sure? How do you know I'm not a HoN Co. spy?"

"I'm an excellent judge of character..."

"Before we go... Hadn't we better destroy the obsidian?"

"Good point... Syeonyx, THEROS? Help Joe destroy the obsidian blocks... We shall leave after you are done..."

Syeonyx signing off

Hide 'n' seek

     I froze! We all froze! A sharp, high pitched blast of a whistle sounded from behind us, and the shout once more!

"INTRUDERS! INTRUDERS ON THE WESTERN WALL! INTRUDERS!"

Looking back towards the commotion, we saw the guard up in the South Western tower pointing and blowing the whistle. Then, from over the wall, we heard a huge amount of shouting from what sounded like at least twenty guards! My legs didn't need telling twice! I ran! I ran in the direction of the boat, with THEROS and UOPETA following close behind. There was no way they were going to capture me again!The sounds of men shouting eased off slightly, as we rounded another section of the wall. We had a good head start; they would need to pass through the front entrance gate, and then head around the wall, following our exact lead. We reached the end of the wall, with the tower jutting out from the corner. Luckily there were no guards posted here, and we continued running towards the small beach. A few moments later, the boat was in sight, an the sounds of the shouting guards had almost completely died away!

"Quickly! Get in the boat, I have an idea!"

Jumping into the water, I helped THEROS push the boat out into the deeper area, whilst UOPETA climbed in and took hold of the oars. Once the boat had enough forward momentum, me and THEROS climbed aboard, panting heavily from the running and exertion. Looking back towards the beach, we waited for the dreaded sight of many guards come storming towards us.

UOPETA began to steer the boat towards the right, causing us to head South West instead of South East, towards out intended direction.

"Erm... UOPETA? You're going the..."

"I know what I'm doing! They'll be looking for us, right? Well by rowing away in a straight line is going to get us spotted very quickly. Look behind us..."

Doing as instructed, both THEROS and me looked back, and saw a small island with a few trees positioned on it...

"An island? We'll be sitting ducks!"

"If the island were connected to the same land mass, yes... But we're going to sit behind those trees in total darkness. Take those torches off the boat and throw them in the water. We can't risk being spotted!"

We complied, and not for the first time that night, we were plunged into darkness! We remained silent, not daring to draw breath too harshly in fear it would be heard. Just as the guards came into view across the way, our line of sight was obstructed by a tree!

"Now stay quiet, and we'll get through this unscathed..."

We sat motionless, and in silence for a long time. The only light came from the moon, which barely illuminated the surroundings, let alone us, and the only sound was that of the boat brushing against the side of the island...

----

     After waiting for what seemed like a huge amount of time, we moved off, silently in the intended direction. Once again, we didn't talk, we barely even breathed! Even the sound of the oars hitting the water sounded like a trumpet indicating our position, causing me to wince with every stroke! We headed due East for some time, remaining in the centre of the river, to avoid detection from either side, all the way up to the island crossing. I doubted they knew where we were, but we had decided to remain silent the entire way, just in case. We reached the island crossing in good time, and we had to get out and push the boat through as usual. We swapped, with me taking over this time. Now it was more or less directly due South to the stone beach. The great thing about this next location, was that we didn't have to abandon the boat so far away. We could literally moor it a few metres away! As I was rowing, I let my mind wander, as rowing was tiring and boring, and concentrating on it made the time slow down... I started thinking about Jonas's house, and whether HoN Co. had taken control of that too... I really wanted to have a look, to see what state it was in, but I doubted UOPETA would allow it... Then again, I wouldn't know unless I asked. Going against the silence policy we had enforced, I asked UOPETA about it... It seems he had been thinking about it too, as he didn't attempt to silence me, nor did he seem surprised by the request...

"We'll see... Depending on how long this next chamber takes, and what the time is like, we shall see..."

That usually meant "no", but seeing as though UOPETA had never said that before, it was almost 100 per cent likely he would want to see it himself! If we did, I would have to warn him about the remains of Jonas, lying beneath his house, in the protected tunnel. It had begun to rain as we approached a small piece of land. THEROS stated that we were very close... But, where was the stone beach?

"It's not quite connected... There's a small crossing that isolates a pool of water beside the stone beach... Looks like we're walking it from here... It's not far though..."

That wasn't how I remembered it, but then again, it had been some time, and a lot had happened since then... Mooring the boat on the shore, we set off in the direction of the stone beach.

We were careful to not draw attention to ourselves to any guards lying in wait. From up ahead, we could see a small amount of light, so we were definitely close! But we also saw something else. Something very confusing. Something we hadn't expected. A large, purple mass... What was that? That was a chest placed up against it, and as we drew closer, we realised what the large mass was... It was obsidian! What was a large mass of obsidian doing outside?!?!

Syeonyx signing off

Not so stealthy...

     Two floors of portals?!?! I quickly made my way around the room, searching for more entrances or staircases leading down, but I couldn't find any... I went back to the base of the stairs, where THEROS and UOPETA waiting.

"How many are there? Does it go even further?"

I told them about the room possessing the same structure as the upper floor, minus another staircase leading down. There were no other entrances either, so it wasn't a complex series of caverns and chambers. We moved back upstairs, and resumed the destruction of the remaining portals. The glowing stones had become visible again after the first set of portals was destroyed, and we each placed them on the next set along. Slowly but surely, the light in the room began to fade, as the number of extinguished torches strewn across the floor increased, leaving us in the inky purple light of the remaining portals.

"How many portals were down there then, Syeonyx?"

I honestly didn't know, but at a guess, I would say roughly the same number as there were on this floor. As another stone faded from sight, blanketing me in a green glow, I began to think about what else HoN Co. may have done to my house and the surrounding area. If this was what they had done with the open-cast mine, god only knows what was being done to my house! I was actually still surprised it was standing at all, to be honest. I had imagined that they would have torn it down, and erected something a lot more sinister in its place. The desire to exact revenge on any an all that followed HoN Co. began to rise up within me once more... It took a lot of effort, and remembering what UOPETA and THEROS had said about everyone being in the same boat, to calm me down again... We finished up on the upper floor, and moved down the stairs, to the lower floor.

     I was beginning to wonder if staying in close proximity to a portal for prolonged periods of time could drive you insane... It felt like I had developed a variation of tinnitus, where I could hear the sound of a portal constantly! I didn't think it was possible, and we were in no capable position to test the theory either... Luckily, we had reached the last few portals, and whilst UOPETA and me destroyed them, THEROS went around collecting up the extinguished torches... We could always utilise them as and when we needed them. With the glowing stones activating on the last two portals, we stood back, closer towards the stairs, and watched as the portals collapsed.

"It's odd how a thing of such eerie beauty could pose so much danger to everyone in the world..."

The last remaining swirls of the rift shrank from view, and we were once again plunged into darkness. The only light visible came from above us where the entrance was, and we remained on the lower floor until we could retrieve the stones. Moving back up the stairs, we were careful not to attract any attention. We had successfully destroy two large portal chambers within the confines of my house and surrounding area, without alerting anyone! Moving out to the entrance, we looked up the stairs to check if we had drawn any further attention to ourselves, but no guards were visible... We made our way carefully, but quickly up the stairs, to avoid being caught, and we made it back to the cobblestone shack, where the unconscious form of the guard remained.

"Where to now then?"

THEROS took the map from his bag and began studying it, before stating that we needed to head South East, towards the stone beach close to Jonas's house...

"It's some distance... Is there any way we can use the boat...?"

"Erm... Yes... If we head back to the boat now, we can head North East, back the way we came, and then head towards that small island crossing... From there, it's pretty much due South right up to the actual stone beach itself! Then we can head back to the base, and establish the next step..."

"We better get going then. We want to be done before the end of the night."

We moved out from the entrance to the open-cast mine, and towards the surface entrance to the mineshaft beneath the house, hugging the wall the entire time. We remained hidden beneath the lip of the wall, with UOPETA determining the best time to move out towards the surface entrance. After a few moments of waiting, nervously, UOPETA motioned, and we shot out towards the other side. The entire time, I was thinking to myself "please don't see us" over and over again, and before I knew it, we were hidden in the entrance. From here, it was almost too easy! Moving in through the door, we went up the stairs, and then moved down again, back towards the broken through dirt tunnel. It was odd... There were barely any guards on duty at all... It was almost too easy... I didn't want to say it out loud for fear of jinxing it, but we could almost had strolled in and still got away with it!

"Not far left to go... After this, we can head to base and have a rest..."

Amen to that!

     We had decided the likelihood of us returning to this place was incredibly slim, so we decided to not hide the tunnel. We moved up to the top, and then covered up the surface end only. It was unlikely they would find it anyway, but it didn't matter too much if they did. We moved under the lip of the wall for the entire length, past the gate, and up to the corner. We then rounded it after ensuring it was safe, and continued along.We reached another section that ran parallel to the beach, and carefully moved across it... Or so we thought... From out of nowhere, we heard a man shout a single word that shook me to my core!

"INTRUDERS!"

Syeonyx signing off

Two floors of danger!

     A few minutes after we found the first portal chamber, all twelve had been destroyed, dropping us into almost total darkness... The only light emanated from the entrance, which we headed towards in silence, in case any guards had come down to investigate. There was now no noise of portals coming from below anymore, and there had been a drastic reduction in the light level, so it was unlikely that it would go unnoticed for long... We had to find a way to the open-cast mine quickly and quietly, but we had multiple options to take. It seems UOPETA already knew the layout of my house, and was listing the options.

"From here, we can either go back the way we came, through the tunnel, and hope to find a way through the back gate. It's dangerous, time consuming and is unlikely to get us anywhere, but it's safer. Or, we could head up the wooden stairs to the area beneath the basement, and head out towards the surface entrance an little further back. It would put is right outside the front entrance, within visual range of the towers, but it's faster. Or lastly, we could head all the way back up to the basement, and go through the house... That is probably the quickest route, but most dangerous... Syeonyx?"

Knowing the layout of my house and mineshafts well, I knew the best option was to head up the wooden staircase, and backtrack through the surface entrance and come out near the front... We'd have sufficient cover from the greenhouse, and provided we timed it right, we could rush to the wall and hide beneath the lip. As long as there were no guards patrolling beneath the wall, we would be fine. I voted for the second option...

"THEROS...?"

"I'm with Syeonyx. It makes more sense because we can always rely on the blowpipes if we get into a tricky spot..."

"Surface entrance it is then..."

Moving up the stairs one by one, we eventually came to the wooden barricade - which was still in place - and passed through the splintered entrance... There were no guards around here, and we made it to the surface entrance without detection.

     After moving through the surface entrance, we all kept an eye on the guard still stationed in the South West tower... Thankfully he had his back to us most of the time, looking out facing the water... We were able to quickly move out towards the wall, whilst keeping our eyes open for more guards. There seemed to be a surprisingly small number of them, considering the size of the wall! I would have posted guards on every tower, and on every stretch of wall... But we'd only seen one so far... Luckily, that was working to our advantage, and we made it around the corner, and out of sight within minutes. Remaining quiet, we moved around until we could see the fence surrounding the open-cast mine. Then we stopped abruptly, and UOPETA motioned for us to get low! Pointing up ahead, he motioned to a guard that was walking around the outside of the fence, not paying attention at all...

"We'll see what he does, where he goes, before progressing. There could be more guards around the corner, and we don't want to alert them..."

Luckily there were no more guards in the towers at this end of the wall, but that didn't mean it was entirely safe...

Remaining still for a few moments, we watched the guard move around to the entrance of the mine, and then begin to descend the steps. UOPETA chose this time to make his move, and he approached the steps, with his blowpipe drawn. Once we got to the steps, we saw the guard move into the small cobblestone shack I had erected at the top of the mine that had a minecart track leading from it to the forge... UOPETA told us to remain near to the top, whilst he crept forwards. Leaning around the entrance, there was a sharp, high-pitched whistle, and UOPETA motioned us forwards. He entered the shack to remove the dart from the guard, and we continued onwards. As we passed the outside walls of the shack, the full extent of the open-cast mine hit me, and I couldn't believe it! It was cut out along the sides, incredibly deep!

"Did you do all of this, Syeonyx?"

I shook my head... There was no way I could have done all of this on my own... How long had it taken for HoN Co. to dug all of this out? And where was the waste? Had they done the same as me, and thrown it all into the lava pit...? It must have taken ages!

We slowly made our way down the cobble steps that I had put into place, with the advantage of being able to look over the side to see if there were any guards coming back up. Luckily there wasn't a guard in sight, but that didn't mean it wouldn't be dangerous... There could be Affinitas cages placed within the portal chamber itself, using the creatures from the Nether to protect the chamber... We hadn't spotted any yet... Nor ha we for some time... Maybe our luck was beginning to turn... Then I remembered that we hadn't been to the conducting tower in some time, and asked UOPETA when it was likely we would be checking out the master portal situation.

"We don't know. Obviously, COLUS is thinking that the obsidian farm is more of a threat at the moment, so it's best to concentrate on that element first. Provided they don't have a plan on the far just yet, we could probably check the status after we destroy the last portal chamber..."

I would prefer to do that, rather than wait longer. For all we know, we could be losing... They could be one primary portal away from activating the master portal! I doubt it, but without knowing the state... This was going all Schrödinger's cat theory... I decided to concentrate on the matter at hand. We neared the end of the stairs; we had wound around the outside, and were on the last straight section, when I saw something I had totally forgotten about... Another wooden barricade... I had explored this far and found a small chamber that lead into a passage where I had found a mossy chamber... After being attacked by the undead, I had sealed it up with a wooden barricade... But as I drew closer, I now noticed that the barricade had been broken down; splintered wood facing inwards suggested HoN Co. guards had investigated what was beyond...

"What was this?"

You don't want to know...

     Once we reached the bottom of the open-cast mine, I found the path to the right was still there from when I had found the buried portal, but now a large hole took its place, with stone brick walls leading down.

"I think we've found the right place..."

Moving down the steps, we began to hear the sounds of portals all around us, and the distinctive purple stone became visible close to the bottom of the stairs... At the bottom, we looked out upon a large chamber, with every wall lined with portals, and like the first, a small central column. That was a lot of portals...

"How many do you think there are?"

I don't know... Twenty or so... It's hard to tell..."

We took out the glowing stones, each of which was now giving out a brilliant yellow light. Placing them on the closest portals, I stepped back. THEROS moved into the central column and started on those. Within minutes, sickly green light was flooding the chamber, and after the first set of portals was down, we heard a shout from THEROS. Worried that something had happened to him, we moved to the centre of the column.

"What? What is it?"

"Erm... Stairs!"

THEROS was pointing to a set of stairs that led down from the central column. Nervously, I made my way down them, already knowing what I would find... At the bottom step, my prediction came to fruition, as I stepped down onto a whole new floor full of portals! Each of the walls was adorned with them, much like the upper floor... So many portals!!!

Syeonyx signing off

Stealthy infiltration...

     We couldn't see much from our vantage point, so we decided to move further along the cliff wall that stood parallel against my wall. We had to keep out of sight in case there was a guard patrolling nearby who might see us, but we couldn't see any from where we were. Crouch running, we made it to a small little hidden area which allowed us to look almost fully over the wall and into the area below...

"What the hell...?"

I had seen the exact same thing as THEROS; where my large open-cast mine had been, there was now a giant hole! Standing up fully, risking being seen, I peered over the top, and still I was unable to see the bottom of the hole... What had they done? Had they dug out the entire hole and filled it with portals? I suppose the good thing was that there were no portals visible along the entire walls facing into the mine. If there had been, we would have no way to destroy them as we wouldn't be able to get anywhere near them!

"If this is the size of the hole, who know how many portals are down there... OROTHO and COLUS need to come to a decision about what must be done about that obsidian farm..."

Glancing one last time over the wall, I scanned the area; the forest was still there, along with the cobble path and forge... I had expected the entire palce to have been levelled to make way for a huge pit of portals! Thankfully not!

We made our way towards the front of the wall, ensuring that we weren't spotted by any guards along the way. There was one posted in the far South Westerly tower facing the beach, and we had to be careful in case he turned to look in our direction. I was beginning to thank my own engineering, as the small lip that ran along the entire length of each wall provided us with the necessary protection from anyone looking down from above. However, we had to be quiet as well as remain out of sight, as we were walking on sand. It isn't the noisiest materials to walk upon, but when there is almost total silence around you, it's rather odd how noisy it can become! UOPETA motioned for us to hurry to the far side, regardless of the sound, and we quickly rushed to the wall that ran perpendicular to the beach side wall. Now we were hidden by the lip from the guard who was situated in the tower we were approaching. We couldn't get it wrong now, and we continued slowly and quietly. When we had almost reached the end, we neared the wooden planks that had become partially hidden by sand, and UOPETA stopped.

"Where does that go?"

He whispered as softly as he could, trying more to indicate his question by pointing. I pointed to the tower that was roughtly above us and he just nodded... Then he continued on along to the corner, and stopped once more. Peering around the edge, he began searching for any guards that might be lurking up ahead. There had been guards posted on the outside of the front gate before, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if there some more there now. But after a few moments, UOPETA motioned for us to follow him, and we inched around the corner, remaining beneath the lip.

Once past the tower, we moved slightly faster, and I pointed UOPETA in the direction of the tunnel that I had dug to gain access before.

"Are you sure it's here? There's no margin for error here..."

I was positive it was here. The way the earth was structured suggested that it had been disturbed previously. Whether by us, I couldn't say, but I was definitely sure it was here! Using the pickaxe, I began digging at the dirt, breaking it into manageable chunks, which UOPETA and THEROS moved aside. After a few minutes of digging, cringing at every noise we made, I began to suspect that either this was the wrong place, or HoN Co. had found it and filled it back up. But no sooner had I thought that, my pickaxe cleaved through a small section of dirt with ease, revealing the tunnel leading down! Bingo! Down here was the main mine that I had built which extended beneath my house. According to the map, one of the portal chambers was located around here beneath the main building somewhere... But where...? I remembered how cavernous it had been, and thinking that HoN Co. was likely to have made it worse by tunnelling everywhere to extend the portal chambers...

One by one, we moved down into the tunnel, approaching the blocked up section a the far side... Once we were all positioned near to the end of the tunnel, I put my finger to my lips, and listened. I wanted total silence to determine if any guards had positioned themselves outside or around where this tunnel came out. Not hearing anything did little to calm my nerves, so I risked it by poking a hole through the thin layer of dirt with the head of the pick. Light streamed through the hole, and peering through it, I was able to see the surrounding area outside of the tunnel... But no guards...

"What's the plan then? We can't just go in there, destroy a dozen portals and head back out unnoticed..."

"That depends on whether there are any guards out there... The sounds of the portals should cover up any noise we make, and we always have our darts to make use of, just in case..."

By this time, I was confident that no guards were lurking beyond my sight range of the hole, and with teeth clenched in a cringe, I smashed through the dirt wall! There was little noise despite my initial assumptions, and no guard came to investigate. I moved out of the tunnel, quickly followed by UOPETA and THEROS.

"Right, where do you want to start searching?"

I pointed out to UOPETA that there was on direction off to the right which split off into two separate tunnels, or we could head up the wooden staircase, and try searching the other mineshafts I had begun to dig out.

"Alternatively, we could just destroy these portals here..."

THEROS was standing at an opening, leaning forwards, and looking into the entrance... Moving around to his side, we actually saw a small set of steps leading down into a small chamber full of portals... Was this is?

Ensuring that no guards were present, we moved into the chamber, and instantly took out our glowing stones.

"Even less than before. This won't take as long... We can discuss what to do next, but I doubt we'll be leaving this place just yet..."

"Indeed... There's still a portal chamber located beneath or in Syeonyx's open-cast mine..."

"Oh goody..."

Syeonyx signing off