Game this week saw the party in a race against the Ahnenerbe goons under Oberstrumbahnfuhrer Werner to get to Jyekundo in western China and find a tulku named Chudak. The monk was a confidant of the late 13th Dalai Lama and is on his mission to find the reincarnation. This is taking him to meet the 9th Panchen Lama, a “guest” of the Republic of China in that far-away city. The reason? Chudak may know the location of the Eye of Shambala, the mystical gate that once allowed access to the Hollow Earth, and which they assume will allow transport to the Second Earth, Atlantia (or the “Ghost World” as people in China are calling it.”

The group took off in Rudy, the Douglas RD-3 Dolphin the Sky Rats operate, but they are up against the superior Boeing 247D of one of the local cargo haulers the Nazis contracted. The Boeing is faster — with a cruise speed equal to Rudy‘s top speed of 150mph, and with another 70-80 miles in range. The plus for the Dolphin is she’s a seaplane — the chances of landing and finding fuel are better it they take a course along the Yangtse…something the Boeing can’t do.

There was some character building — Pin-Li, the martial artist and stunt man, taking care of his friend Cointreau, showing the compassion under the brazen arrogance of the fighter. Both these men had never flown, and the experience of launching and flying over Shanghai, then seeing the stars without the light pollution of the city, really gets to Pin-Li. While the Boeing pushes hard to get to Xi’an, the first real airport past Nanking, “Irish” O’Bannon is able to firewall the old seaplane for Wuhan, then Chunking. The Nazis will not be able to get to Xi’an until midnight-ish; the airfield will be closed and they won’t be able to get fuel until 0600 or so, O’Bannon knows. For the characters, they get to Wuhan by 2100, and just manage to get fuel before the port master locks the pumps. They are back in the air shortly afterward and land in Changdu (at the suggestion of the port master in Wuhan) — trimming 100 miles off their trip — by just after midnight. The tiny airfield is closed and dark, but Cointreau picks the padlock on the fuel pumps, which have to be cranked manually, and they arrive at their destination just after sunrise. They have the choice of a landing on the shallow river or the fields in the valley surrounding the monastery.

monastery.jpeg

They are met by a force of KMT soldiers under Senior Subaltern (a captain) Ma Wushan and a platoon of men on horseback, and after some difficulty in communicating — the soldiers are speaking Szechuan dialect, and the characters all have Mandarin. Finally, however, the Sky Rats’ official standing with the ROC air force allows them to settle the concerns of the local garrison of soldiers and they try to poison the well, so to speak, against the arrival of the Nazis, claiming they are interested in harming the Panchen Lama. However, the Germans are big supporters of the Chinese army, both in training and weapons, so they are unsuccessful there.

They get an audience with the lama, inform him of the German intent to find the tulku, but the monk thinks it is unlikely the Germans will kidnap the man on Chinese soil. However, the Kampu tribesmen of the area might be a danger; they were in open revolt against Lhasa a few years ago. During their meeting and discussing the Eye of Shambala, a junior monk (very tall and pale) opines that perhaps moving the Eye was a good idea and it should stay hidden…to keep both worlds safe. Look at what happened a few years ago — the expeditions to the interior world turned it inside out and make a new planet!

It turns out this monk is a Vril — a simple ship captain whose vessel was twisted by the passage of the Interior World/Atlantia through the Earth. He was dropped on the steppes nearby and rescued by the monks. He has spent three years enduring nights — he misses the every-burning sun. Maybe the Eye should remain hidden.

The Nazis show up and Werner plays his usual, “why don’t we cooperate?” schtick he used to good effect in the last campaign. The party slips away to check on the availability of fuel for the plane, which is low on juice and can barely make Chengdu in the south. The Germans are probably in the same boat, and the characters considered stealing gas from the other plane or sabotaging it, but the owner is a Chinese aviator, and the Sky Rats’ mission is the protection of Chinese air traffic…they convince the pilot to “have engine trouble” should the Nazis find the tulku first in exchange for some protection on a future smuggling run into Manchuria. There’s no extra gas — the soldiers have to crank their radios just to power them to call the main force of the 2nd Army.

The characters wound up buying Riwoche ponies to take out onto the steppes, to try and find the tulku. Zelansky has TOTAL RECALL as a trait, so he remembers the itinerary of the monk’s party. How hard could it be to find a dozen monks on the Tibetan Plateaus in “spring”..? We ended with the party heading out into the wide, barren grasslands of the China/Tibet border, with the Nazis (it is assumed) right behind them.

Riwoche_Pinterest-1024x676.jpgRiwoche ponies — the official transport of bumf**k China.

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