The Mandarin calls the ship and suggests that the ship launch its shuttle to the surface and the Hyperion to retreat to a safe distance. The captain announces that everyone going to the planet to get ready to go in ten minutes and meet her down by the shuttle. Apparently the pilot of the day: Lady Catherine. Sir Alex goes down to the Medbay to help jury-rig an oxygen set up for the penitent.
Everyone is loaded and ready to go and the flight is mostly a smooth ride until atmosphere is entered, meaning normal. The shuttle lands on the agreed upon coordinates. Lavinia, Graeme, and a Guardsman go to find the guide that was said to be provided. Alex and others stay to unpack the Pilgrim and supplies for the trek. All those who went out to secure the site and look for the guide see a humanoid with horny protuberances, fur, black and white stripes, wearing a skirt, padded fur vest, and belt with a sword across its back. Seath names it a Manshogo, a race that inhabits this planet. There is a high probability it is the guide.
As this Manshogo approaches, he seems to be 7 feet tall and clawed. He stops in front with his arms at his sides and palms toward Lavinia. She reciprocates. He speaks and sheath translates. He is Samir Asam. He states that it is a long walk and that he had to open the caverns since they have frozen shut. Everyone boards and flies for a few minutes to the location of the caverns. Everyone is getting ready to go into the cold.
Outside is a yurt with a cavern that has had ice chunks hacked out of it. The entrance will be a vertical one down with some obstacles. When Sorami looks around and asks for Archer, some silence meets her. Finally, Lavinia informs her that he has been MIA since the attack and that search was underway when the group left the Hyperion. The group rigs rappelling ropes and make their way down with no major problems, including the jumping Pilgrim. The first chamber is huge, with many tunnels branching off. When told what is being sought, he points the direction and will accompany them as long as he can, any farther is forbidden to him by curses.
As the group gets deeper into the cavern, a strange eerie moaning echoes through the tunnels. The next entrance is a bit small for the Pilgrim so he will need to go in first to break open the necessary space. Four disembodied faces and torsos begins to come toward the pilgrim. One passes through the body of Alex, while Lavinia turns to Sorami and asks her to armor herself and the others with the Pancreator. The last three pass through the Pilgrim on their way to the party. Once hangs out in the missile launcher and strange symbols begin to show on the monitors. Corbin begins to hear voices telling him to run away, because HE is coming. Something begins to approach from behind.
Slightly smaller than Vorox, five eyeless, four-legged monstrosities with teeth and claws come into the cavern. The come in for a vicious attack, one grabbing Graeme in its jaws and running up the wall, others scratching and biting the group. Graeme begins to hack at the monster, while Sorami, Foss, and Corbin manage to hit their targets with guns. Foss’ next shot goes off mark and hits Graeme, while Lavinia manages to slice at her target this time. As the creatures move in and past the front line, they overtake and kill the Manshogo. Another attacks Alain, causing Corbin and Sorami to turn on it. The Pilgrim manages to turn itself around and Alex takes aim at the monstrosity on Graeme and the one Seath filled full of holes. The one drops Graeme while the other is a fine red mist. Alex and Corbin both draw the attention of these creatures, while the other two go after Lavinia and Sorami. Graeme unloads his gun into the one attacking Lavinia.
In the midst of attack, one of the critters begins to attack the one on Lavinia, causing a fight amongst the monsters, apparently a side effect of Alain’s abilities. The pilgrim toasts another, two are fighting, and all are injured. Eventually the group manages to kill the rest of the creatures, leaving Alain and Graeme seriously injured. Corbin rushes to Alain’s side to inject her with elixir while Sorami works on Graeme. Finally, Lavinia injects her husband with elixir at bring him out of serious danger.
The group moves on, sans guide, keeping an eye out for more creatures and ghosts. The Pilgrim and Corbin see worked stone, telling everyone that we may have passed into a structure. Lavinia agrees that some time should be taken to uncover the iced-over wall. It seems to be a gateway with strange symbols etched in the stone. At the top is a humanish face, much like the ones seen on a jumpgate. Software in Corbin’s second brain alerts him to the fact that the symbols are Annunki in origin. The tunnel has a lot of ice runoff, and will give way to the sounds of a river and the sight of dim light. In the room beyond is a room filled with ice and ruined statuary. There is also a small river running through it and the light is coming from a mounted celestial sun.