So with news that the Doctor was stable, our three heroes head home to sleep. In the morning, a full-scale investigation is scheduled of his computer. Not much is found, except for some map co-ordinates revealing the location of a small village about thirty miles outside of London called Greensville. Known for being quite pretty and near a set of caves that was a tourist destination until some people died there about thirty years ago. Surely this bared investigation!
Meanwhile, scientists work on the serum that they found, identifying all of the key components but one, which refuses to be identified under any scientific tests. Doctor Johns, meanwhile, lies comatose in a bed in the discrete lab of Parasol Corp.
Hopping into various cars, they sped towards Greensville as fast as they could, arriving in time for a pub lunch in the Fox and Goose. However, raised voices with angry locals, and repeated insistance that they will go into the caves eventually forces them to flee to a friendlier pub, the Green Dragon Inn, so named for an old folk legend. Here they find out that the other pub is a haven for members of a group called the Julian Society, a supposedly benevolent organisation dedicated to the improvement of the village.
After lunch, they head off to the caves, spending a little time looking around the tourist section. They get a little bit of information. The first cavern is open to the public, and while they can't be prohibited from entering the rest of the caves, it is not advisable, they will need breathing apparatus, and the management can not be held responsible blah blah blah. Breathing apparatus is summarily requested from London, and soon it arrives. Time to enter the caves.
The walls are dripping with water and covered in fungi and moss. Samples of all are taken. Progressing through the cave reveals something odd, there is a door set into one of the walls, with the sound of screaming from behind it. It is quietly opened, and a man is calling for help, chained against the far wall, behind what looks like an altar that would neatly sluice blood into a small basin. He screams at them to unchain him, and some fiddling around with lockpicks gets him out. He thanks the heroes. Meanwhile, exploring one of the pools of water, Thrace finds a secret tunnel which leads into a small bedroom, not the sort of thing you'd expect in a cave. He steals the small battery lamp that's there.
When he gets back, sounds are heard of people approaching. The heroes hide, but the intruders notice that their captive is missing and run over. Throwing a rock into a nearby pool, Thrace distracts them for a critical few seconds, enabling them to get the jump on their opponents, using his own time to capture one of them and use them as a bullet shield. Their new friend, William Kursus, goes first, running at one of the thugs before his knife can be drawn and delivering a sucker punch to the gut. Fisher moves in to combat another...before pepper-spraying him to the face. Thrace notices a gun on the hip of one of the men, and fires, his fine-tuned military reflexes serving him well as he hits the man in the gut. The various thugs, shocked from this initial offensive, scatter and attack various groups. The one who had been shot is woozy, but still manages to score a glancing hit, shooting Fisher in the shoulder. One of them struggles with Kursus, and another attacks Thrace with his knife, but misses and slices his own friend's shoulder open. Finally, Burns, hiding behind the altar due to his lack of weapons, calls out that the men should surrender.
Kursus scores a devastating hit, flipping the thug over his shoulder and leaving him unconcious on the ground. Thrace shoots the man with the knife, hitting him in the arm and causing him to drop his knife. Fisher runs over to the woozy man with the gun and similarly manages to score an excellent hit, kicking the man backwards. His head hits the wall, and he slumps down, either unconcious or dead. The man in Thrace's grasp rips free and runs for the gun that his companion dropped, but the other man with the knife attacks. However, Thrace steps to the side and the knife cuts nothing but air. Burns agains repeats the offer of surrender, but the thugs refuse, shouting out that their sacred spot has been defiled and there can be no mercy.
Kursus captures the thug running for the gun, pinning him from behind, allowing Fisher to deliver several punches to the stomach. Meanwhile, Thrace plays a game of cat and mouse with the knife-man, moving from cover to cover firing off shots. This game ends when he steps out and delivers one final shot to the head, killing the man instantly. The last man is swiftly knocked unconcious. The man who had been pepper-sprayed is subjected to a brief interrogation in which he reveals that he is part of the Julian Society.
Making good their escape, the heroes head out of the cave and take their samples back to London. The doctor has woken, and an interview with him reveals that he manufactured the serum for an unknown paymaster, and that he himself was doing it in a purely disinterested pursuit of knowledge. The missing ingredient definitely comes from the caves, and shows up on all of the samples they brought with them. Clearly the connection between the serum, the cave and the Julian Society bore further investigation...
TO BE CONTINUED...