Gutboy the Cleric (6), his henchpeople Trezgar the Elf (3) and Bunny the Thief (3), and his blink dog Rufus II
Pai Mei the Wu-Jen (4), and his henchmen "The Doctor" the Time Lord (2) and Father Conan O'Brien the Barbarian Cleric (2)
Simon the Halfling (3), and his henchmen the Unnamed Mariner (2) and Roger the Halfling Guardian (2)
Too many henchmen failed abysmally at living during the last expedition to the Anomalous Subsurface Environment, so the recruiting began anew. Fortunately, there are plenty of veterans of the Great Zombie War now looking for profitable and violent employment. The interview process went something like this:
Various "Oriental Adventures" type classes from Dragon Magazine: "Never mind, we withdraw our application, we're too complicated too run"
Father Conan O'Brien: "Ever hear of a Barbarian Cleric? You have now! Look, sword! Let's do some prayin' and killin'!"
Roger the Halfling Guardian: "Why, cousin Simon, I never thought to meet you here! Of course I'll guard you as you crawl through a stinking hole of death! It's my job!"
Then, plans were made - silver bullets and weapons were acquired in abundance to deal with the Werewolf Frat Party, and a canoe was also purchased, for subterranean paddling. And off to the dungeon, and through the still-friendly Lair of the Cod People.
Cod-Man: "What's that thing you're carrying?"
Pai Mei: "It's a boat, so we can cross that lake"
Cod-Man: "Why don't you just swim?"
Pai Mei (pointing at neck): "No gills"
Cod-Man: "HAHAHA! Well, try not to DROWN in your BOAT! HAHAHA!"
Cod-Man #2: "Good luck breathing, Mr. I-Need-Air!"
The cod-man chief exhorted them once again to murder the Hinge-Headed - empty promises were made, and the party headed back to the Tomb of Elvis. They passed the last of the Toothmen, and gave him the promised mushroom pie - "THIS IS AWESOME! I love you guys! Seriously!" - and down they went to the tomb.
They reconnoitered the area, and found that the door that Pai Mei had wizard locked had a hole clawed through it - and beyond was an unconscious, presumably inebriated, presumably werewolfian, naked man. Father Conan was sent in to slit his throat with a silver sword - and the werewolf gurgled his last.
The group then turned their attention to the Tomb of Elvis. They arranged themselves carefully to deal maximum damage to the smoke chimps, and prodded the canopic jars with a 20' long pole. The smoke chimps arose, and were slaughtered, controlled by Bunny through the use of the Sword of Unlife, and repelled by Gutboy's nihilistic non-faith. Once the area was clear, Father Conan slid the lid off the sarcophagus, revealing a mummified corpse with a brittle pompadour atop its head, a gold amulet around its neck, and dog-headed golden staff clutched in its hands. All three were absconded with, and the triumphant party headed back to town ("Oh, cod-men, yeah, we need a second canoe. THEN we'll get those hinge-headed. You can totally trust us.") The party briefly engaged with a 20' tall giant grub that reared up from the corn-fields around Chelmsfordshire, and slew it without breaking a sweat.
Once in town, Trezgar studied his ancient magics of identification, and probed the mysteries of the tomb-loot. The pompadour ripped from the mummy's head gave its wearer the power to charm an onlooker with a sneer and thrust of the hip. Striking an opponent with the dog-headed staff would both damage with its magical puissance, and likely turn the victim into nothin' but a hound dog, barkin' all the time. The amulet was just an expensive bit of jewelry, promptly sold off.
All thoughts of canoes were then discarded - Gutboy was hot to take control of the BAGGER 288 with the remote control device he had installed. He first approach his patron Davrik Lerdingfast about assisting them:
Gutboy: "It's time to take control of the BAGGER 288, but we need a little assistance. He who controls this will control... well... everything! I believe agreed on one million gold for delivering it to you."
Davrik: "Yes... I had and do agree... but I'm coming with you. Meet me on the Street of Lesser Men tomorrow morning, west side of the city. I'll have my men prepare the expedition immediately."
The morning arrived, and Davrik had not skimped on his preparations. He had a dozen outriders mounted on horses, two iguanadons loaded with supplies and a half-dozen wranglers to lead them, and he himself sat behind the wheel of an ancient convertible Lincoln, with bull's horns mounted to the grill. Another half-dozen manservants and butlers, and Professor Smithen from the Academy, were also in the retinue.
Gutboy: "Oh... hey.... can we borrow some horses?"
Davrik (disgusted): "Seriously? You don't have horses? Very well, I'll send my man for some. But really."
Another hour delay, and more horses were brought for the party. The expedition rode west for several days, past Mt. Rendon and the megadungeon beneath, until they came close to the blast-zone where the globe-shaped alien ship had been destroyed. Davrik directed: "We'll head southwest through the woods until we hit the remains of the green moon. We should be able to pick up the tracks of the machine there." The car was left with a few riflemen to guard it, and a howdah erected atop one of the iguanadons for Davrik to ride in.
As the expedition headed closer to the blast zone, the vegetation began to take on a sickly green glow. As they struck camp, Davrik headed off with half his outriders to do some hunting, while the party twiddled their thumbs with the servants. As they waited for Davrik's return, five mutant deer burst into the camp, glowing bright green, and bearing razor-sharp antlers, fangs, and curved claws instead of hooves. The party handily took down the deer that charged them, and then assisted the outriders with the remainder.
Davrik soon returned, bearing several mutant deer carcasses of his own.
Davrik (to manservant): "You! Skin these things! We're going to eat well tonight!"
Gutboy: "I don't think that's wise. These are radioactive! It's poisonous!"
Davrik (revealing amulet making rapid clicking noise beneath his shirt): "Yeah I know, this amulet from the Scientists tells me the same! Don't worry, it'll protect us!"
Gutboy: "I don't think that's how it works. That's poison. But you could perhaps make trophies and give them to your enemies."
Davrik: "Fine. You there! Cut the heads off these things and wrap them up!"
The reached the blast zone without further danger - although the squirrels chasing along in the trees were also glowing bright green with nasty little fangs. The blast zone was a two-mile-wide crater of glowing green glass. Across the crater they could see a quarter mile trail where the BAGGER 288 had cut its way through the forest, heading north. Gutboy insisted on riding around the edge of the crater instead of crossing it - passing, as they did so, an intact fragment of the alien spaceship, with a closed hatch, which was resoundingly ignored - and followed the trail into the plains north of the forest. The trail cut across the road again, and led to the smoking stump of a wizard's tower. Clearly, the BAGGER 288 had not been idle.
A day later, they saw smoke in the distance, and the bulk of the BAGGER 288. Davrik pulled out his binoculars, glanced through, and handed them to Gutboy and the rest of the party. Looking through, they saw the BAGGER 288, and horrifyingly, at least 100 skeletal-looking robots carrying lasers. The BAGGER and robot army were approaching a windowless tower of black basalt, the concentrated laser fire barely scarring its surface.
Gutboy hatched a plan. He put the remote control device in Rufus' mouth, tied his ring of invisibility to Rufus' tail, and then slid it over the end of the dog's wagging tail. The invisible Rufus then blinked forward towards the BAGGER 288 and bit down on the remote control - but nothing happened.
Gutboy yelled at Smithen - "Why didn't that work?" Smithen took a look through the binoculars - the antenna they had left on the exterior of the BAGGER 288 was gone. Gutboy surmised that the antenna had been destroyed in the nuclear blast when the alien ship exploded.
Gutboy watched more through the binoculars as the BAGGER 288 closed on the tower. Its giant cutting wheel easily sliced through the base of the black tower, and the edifice collapsed in a heap. Black shadows oozed from the rubble and rushed along the ground towards the robots, but laser fire from the ground troops eliminated the shadow-things before they struck a single blow. Gutboy then started in alarm, as he saw a score or so of the robots turn and begin marching towards him and the rest of the expedition. "Time to go!" he shouted, and they turned south. The robots quickly gave up pursuit, and the expedition, after a further week's travel, finally returned to Denethix.
Davrik: "Well, that was an unmitigated disaster. I could've been hunting on the Ceratopsian. Absolute waste of time."
Gutboy: "Well, you got those deer heads..."
Davrik: "Fat lot of good! Look at them!"
Davrik opened the trunk of his car, revealing a pile of rotting, glowing deer heads. They were clearly unsalvageable and completely unsuitable for display. He had his men dump the radioactive remains in the middle of the street, and angrily drove off, leaving a crowd of beggars fighting over the poisonous, meaty head-scraps.
Gains: Was-Hound Staff, 2500 gp gold amulet, Wig of Lordship
Kills: One werewolf, four canopic apes, one ankheg, five radioactive deer
Losses: Shockingly, none