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Tau Sealed

Page history last edited by Michael 1 year, 8 months ago

back to the Index, or to the list of R36 reports, or to Team R36


report covers 22 January 2141 to 3 February 2141


Sunday, 22 January 2141


weather: scattered clouds this day. The high temperature this day is 54° F and the low is 34° F. Winds of 15 kph from the west-southwest.


     Deep underground within Mammoth Cave, several member of team R36 -- Benefiel, Begay, Turner, and Doc Aquino -- were gazing down into a very heavy-duty elevator (similar in construction to the aircraft lifts on aircraft carriers) -- the entrance to some unknown bunker.

     The air smelled slightly industrial and filtered, with an undertone of petrochemicals. Faint noises from air conditioning fans, doors, and footsteps echoed up from below.


notice the human figure for scale


a perspective cutaway view of the Redoubt bunker


     After some whispered discussion, the team pushed the "elevator call" button and took up positions ... Doc in the hallway, Begay at the hallway entrance, Turner prone on the floor at one side, and Benefiel standing in front of the big roll-up door.

     A loud electronic "braaat" horn sounded down below, but the elevator didn't begin to rise ... apparently it was manually-operated. Some people came out and peered up the elevator shaft, and eventually three of them stood on the elevator platform and operated the controls -- it began to quickly rise.

     Two of the men on the elevator were out-of-shape sorts, in their thirties, in outdoors clothing -- blue jeans, flannel shirts, hiking boots, with baseball caps (bearing the tau symbol) and holstered P.38 pistols (technically post-WW2 P-1 pistols). The third was wearing a black kevlar vest, and holding an assault rifle; he looked like a man with combat experience.


the rifle carried by one of the Tau Project men


     The elevator stopped level with the top, and the three men stared at Benefiel -- they were clearly not entirely expecting anyone to be there. The two "suburban dads" didn't even have their guns drawn.

     On the side of the Tau Project, all of the talking was done by the rifle-armed man, named Nichols. Nichols and the other men were members of the Capsheaf Church, "patriots and Christians"; they were obviously from before the Atomic War, although they didn't come out with a lot of information. The leader of this congregation (that is, within this specific bunker) was Pastor Thomas Marshall; the senior pastor of the church was Pastor James Rabnell. Nichols got on the telephone with Pastor Marshall for instructions.

     Through inspiration and research, Rabnell had realized that the End Times were nigh; he had produced radio broadcasts and cable television programs warning the American public, and eventually a somewhat-famous book:  "The End of Planet Earth" (it predicted the apocalypse would happen in 1989). His church had built several "redoubts"-- this was the Stronghold Redoubt, and the inhabitants had been here since 1986. Chief Pastor Rabnell was in a different redoubt.

     Benefiel accused the Capsheaf Church of stealing cryoberth technology from the Morrow Project; Nichols and his men were startled -- they clearly knew the term "Morrow Project". They denied any theft, and said Rabnell had arranged for their "sleep chambers" to be built; the Capsheaf Church had rich and powerful benefactors and donors, it was implied.

     Nichols asked a few questions, including one directed at Begay, "Where are you from?" The answer, "The Navajo Nation" may have been taken by the Capsheaf men to indicate the team's affiliation (they didn't seem to particularly notice the patches on the Resistweave coveralls, but the light was bad).

     The Morrow team made a huddle in the entrance passage, and then came back out -- the Tau men asked if the team wanted to go down in the elevator to speak with Pastor Marshall, and Benefiel said "no". Nichols and the two other Tau men went down in the elevator, to bring up the pastor.

     Benefiel decided that letting the residents of this bunker escape was not a risk he could accept. 50 meters below, a dozen men were gathering on the elevator; at least eight of them had long arms. Turner dropped a grenade down the elevator shaft, to where the twelve Christian men had gathered -- the grenade went off just as it reached the elevator platform.

     The surviving Tau members dragged their casualties out of sight. The Morrow team plastered 8 kilograms of plastic explosives on one of the elevator sheaves, and Benefiel fired a 40mm grenade into the mass of explosives. Blam! Several hundred meters of stainless steel cable, and chunks of elevator hoisting machinery, fell onto the elevator platform.

     The explosion at the top of the elevator shaft had destroyed the overhead light, the closing machinery for the vehicle door, and the telephone box. The Morrow team jogged back and forth the 400 meters to the "big concrete slab" entrance, and brought back the other 11 shaped charges, and some demolitions equipment from their vehicle. Begay placed shaped charges on the half-dozen "natural" entrances to the Tau cavern, and on the sides of the "truck-sized" tunnel back to the entrance. The demolition kit aboard the V-150 armored recovery vehicle was:


V150 demolition kit





plastic case with twelve M112 C-4 demolition blocks; case includes storage warning label



M1 mechanical demolition timer/detonators



M2A1 demolition igniter/time fuse/detonators



roll primercord, 152 meters



15 meter coils of M700 time fuse (burns at 1 second per centimeter)



plastic box of twenty M7 blasting caps



M60 fuse igniters, in a sealed foil package



bronze cap crimping tool



canvas bag for everything except the cased demolition blocks





     Since the cavern was about 50 meters across, more than half of the team's primercord was used, along with eleven of the M7 blasting caps, and 5 meters (a bit more than 8 minutes) of M700 time fuse. Everyone else went above ground, Begay lit the time fuse, and ran 400 meters as fast as he could (certainly less than 2 minutes). The team drove off another 100 meters in their armored vehicle, and waited.

     A heavy thud was heard, and a few seconds later a blast of gas and dust blew out of the laser-cut hole in the concrete "cap". Interestingly enough, after a few more seconds another cloud of gas was seen rising over the hills.

     The team investigated the other gas cloud, and found a small, natural hole in a hillside a half-kilometer or so from the Tau bunker. Some foot prints, a week or so old, were found coming and going from that hole -- the Tau people had been using that exit.

     Driving off a few kilometers, the team camped for the night, and contacted Booth via radio. They decided to travel to Memphis.


Monday-Tuesday, 23-24 January 2141


weather:   overcast. The high temperature these two days is 55° F and the low is 31° F. Winds of 20-25 kph from the south-southwest.


     Traveling to the west, through Kentucky and into Tennessee. At the small town of Clarksville they were able to pay a ferry crew to bring their V150 over the swollen Cumberland River ($5).


Note that this wasn't described at the table, but added afterwards looking at the map.


Tuesday, 24 January 2141


weather:   overcast; high temperature 55° F and the low is 31° F. Winds of 20-25 kph from the south-southwest.


     The morning was spent carefully crossing the Tennessee River amphibiously; but at the end of the day the team was at the outskirts of Memphis. They paid $5 to ride a ferryboat across the Mississippi River to the currently-inhabited community. The Delancey clan were happy again to see the Monrovia Police (as the group was known), now with a different vehicle.


I notice that the team earned $400, almost none in gold or silver, by opening safes when they visited Memphis back in August.


     The team took a set of rooms at the Cattlemen's Club hotel, ordered baths, laundry service and nice meals ...


4 people, two nights, plus basic meals ... about $10.  

Or you could stay for free at the Delancey clan's freight house; or some combination.


Wednesday, 25 January 2141


weather:  scattered clouds, high temperature 46° F and the low is 19 ° F. Winds around 25 kph from the west.


     A day spent in Memphis, gathering information, buying a few items, etc. Price and availability can be found here. 12 volt flashlights in working order cost $10 each (without batteries) ... of which most of the expense is the bulbs. Flashlight hulls without bulbs cost only $2; batteries are $0.50 each (though the Morrow team doesn't need a bunch of crudely-made zinc-carbon "dry" batteries).

     Another radio call was made to Booth, at Mount Sterling.


Thursday-Saturday, 26-28 January 2141


weather:  high temperature 43° F, low 31° F. Winds from the north to northeast, and a mix of rain, snow and fog during the trip.


     A Delancey clan steamboat, the Tennessee Hawk, set out from Memphis, bound for Louisville at the Falls of the Ohio, with the "Monrovia Police" aboard. The trip took three days, including a stop for firewood; given the weather, team R-36 was just as happy to be passengers. The distance was 1020 kilometers, and cost the Morrow team $75 (including a 50% discount for "family and friends").

     The steamboat arrived at Louisville late in the day on the 28th, and drove to Mount Sterling.


Sunday, 29 January 2141


weather:  high temperature 39° F, low 33° F. Fog or light rain most of the day, with moderate winds from the northwest or north.


     The team spent this day recovering and resting at Mount Sterling. Booth told them of the various radio transmission's he'd picked up. Lots of Spanish language stuff from the south, a few odd "Asian" bits from the west, and some interesting "African" transmissions, including one partially in English! This was a shortwave radio broadcast at about 7 p.m. "Bluegrass Country" local time -- it's at 6080 kHz (about 49 meters wavelength), coming from the southeast. Keep in mind that Booth hasn't been getting a clear signal all of the time, and has other signals to listen for, other duties, etc. -- he didn't want to stay up past 10 p.m. every night, for one thing!


Voice of America - English language broadcasts

     They began their broadcast day at 3 a.m. GMT -- about 10 p.m. in Mount Sterling, Kentucky. The time and schedule was announced at least once an hour:


  • 3:00 a.m.:  Music America. A combination of "swah" music, and band music (sort of a mix of marching bands and steel drums). One favorite group is the Cape Palmas Military Band.

  • 5:00 a.m.:  Learning English. Intended for people whose native language is Hausa or Kiswah.

  • 5:55 a.m.:  Weather Report. Covers the west coast of Africa.

  • 6:00 a.m.:  Daybreak Africa:  headline news and providing in-depth interviews, reports from VOA correspondents, sports news as well as listener comments. See below for some content.


     Frustratingly, reception faded out during the "Daybreak Africa" segment, as the sun rose on the transmitter near Monrovia. Some programs coming up "later in the morning" were mentioned, though Booth wasn't able to actually hear them:

  • 6:30 a.m.:  Weather Report

  • 6:35 a.m.:  Science World

  • 7:00 a.m.:  Newscast

  • 7:05 a.m.:  Voice of America:  Highlife Hour (on weekends, this is the American Breakfast program, an informal discussion of American culture)

  • 8:00 a.m.:  Newscast

  • 8:05 a.m.:  Health Chat

  • 8:30 a.m.:  Economy Issues

  • 8:45 a.m.:  Sports Report

  • 8:55 a.m.:  Weather Report

  • 9:00 a.m.:  Newscast

  • 9:05 a.m.:  Music Mix


     They also mentioned their sister stations:  4960 kHz, in Hausa, from 4 a.m. GMT; and 7325 kHz, in Kiswah, beginning at 4 a.m. GMT also. 

     The English dialect being spoken resembled the languages spoken in Jamaica or Trinidad -- at least to the non-linguist crew of R-36.


     Some notes about VOA content after catching a few broadcasts:

  • Locations mentioned:

    • The four American states are Adams (the former Guinea-Bissau), Jefferson (the former Sierra Leone), Monroe (former Liberia), and Paine (former Guinea); the capital is New Washington (formerly Monrovia, in Liberia). Another location, apparently not a state, is named Franklin; reports of military casualties and quarantine measures come from there. 

    • Zuid-Africaansche Republiek, aka the ZAR. The former South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Angola and Mozambique.

    • Nigeria, technically the Republic of Greater Nigeria -- Nigeria, Niger, Benin, Togo, Ghana and Ivory Coast. Fought a war with the United States in 2129; after losing some territory to the U.S., a short civil war took place, and the Ojukwu Republic split off. Often involved in low-level conflicts.

    • Kingdom of Morocco, including the Spanish Sahara and parts of the former states of Algeria, Mali and Mauritania.

    • The Caliphate of the Deserts -- it's very likely that this name is not used by the actual inhabitants of the region, which apparently covers much of the Sahara. It's primarily a Tuareg / Berber culture, definitely Islamic. Raiders from here are often troubling the United States (and other central African nations).

    • Ojukwu Republic:  capital at Diobu (formerly Port Harcourt in Nigeria). A recently-formed nation, separated from Nigeria ten years ago, and still engaged in a low-level conflict. The population are mostly Ibo.

    • the British Overseas Territories have a representative at New Washington.

  • Government:

    • the United States of America is a democratic representative government, at least in form; a presidential election was held in November of 2140. The current President is Sumoiwuo Jitau, a medical doctor. There is a Congress, composed of a small Senate and a larger House of Representatives; a State Department, Justice Department, Defense Department ...

    • The Navy and Marine Corps are mentioned; the Army is mentioned only once, in a way that suggests it's primarily a militia or reservist outfit. There's no mention of the Air Force at all, although landing fields and aircraft are mentioned.

  • Society:

    • the most popular sport was football (soccer, that is). There's no mention of television or movies.

    • at least in the broadcasts heard so far, the "black market" in drugs and narcotics was a topic of concern.

    • a new flu vaccine was recently developed at the Monrovia Medical School; other educational institutions mentioned are the Military Institute and the Granny Amos School.

    • currency is the dollar, divided into 100 cents. There is a stock exchange.


     The team prepared for their trip to East Broad Top.


Monday, 30 January 2141


weather:  high temperature 50° F, low 25° F. Fog before dawn, scattered clouds rest of the day.


     News came from Louisville that the Queen of the Ohio, the only steamboat large enough to carry a V150 above the Falls of the Ohio, would be heading upriver the next day.


Tuesday, 31 January 2141


weather:  high temperature 57° F, low 28° F. Clear skies.


     Just after dawn, the Morrow team's armored car was loaded onto the Queen of the Ohio, and the steamboat set sail. Again, Booth was left behind to monitor radio traffic and manage the team's "Bluegrass Country" affairs.

     From Louisville to Pittsburgh was 994 kilometers; the steamboat could make 20 kph "over the ground" against the current ... so the trip would take 2 days, including a stop at Marietta for firewood. Cost, $100 (the Queen of the Ohio was not part of the Delancey clan).


Thursday, 2 February 2141


weather:  high temperature 55° F, low 37° F. Light rain or drizzle through the day; light winds from the south or southwest.


     Early in the morning, the Queen of the Ohio cautiously approached Pittsburgh. Debris in the river, hostile locals with "anti-ship" traps, and strong currents all made the captain a bit nervous.

     A trading post was located along the river bank. It consisted of a short dock, a sturdy wooden blockhouse, a couple of animal sheds, a big pile of firewood, and a wall-and-fence (lots of barbed wire and railway rails) surrounding everything else. The trader, Bolek Johnson, and his family came out, heavily armed, to greet the steamboat (which only came up to Pittsburgh once a month or so). It was pretty clear that a major customer for the Johnsons was the MVA.

     The Morrow Project vehicle was unloaded, with some care and effort, along with various trade goods and freight. Firewood and goods being sent downriver were loaded onto the steamboat.

     According to the trader, conditions around Pittsburgh were rather hostile. The Project members bought a 400 meter roll of barbed wire (30 kg, $2) and an old Pittsburgh Pirates baseball hat ($2).



     A rough dirt trade trail led southeast, towards the borders of the "Great State of Huntingdon" (as Broad Top was formally called). The team set out, bumping slowly through the muddy ruts -- the road was really a pack animal track, and led around a lot of substantial ruins.

     That night, while camped, a couple of men in moccasins and buckskin clothing attempted to sneak up onto the Morrow team. Turner was on watch; he killed one with a silenced gunshot, and intimidated the other into surrender. The captive was tied up and left for the morning.


Friday, 3 February 2141


weather:  high temperature 46° F, low 32° F. Fog most of the day, with light drizzle after lunch and in the late evening.


     The captive, Eric Vell, was released in the morning.

     Driving through the forested ruins of the towns around Pittsburgh, there was no clear "border", but eventually the team came upon a recently-cleared field, still filled with tree stumps.


brown terrain is mountainous


     A kilometer or so away, a farm was visible; the team approached slowly. A sturdy two-story house, a barn, and some fenced animal pens were the main structures. A tire swing, wagon, windmill and water tank, sheep and horses, etc. added to the rural atmosphere.

     Dismounting from their vehicle, the team met with Fred Waverly and his family. They were somewhat used to traveling merchants coming from Pittsburgh -- and also used to raiding tribesmen. The family had been living at this farm for a few years. They recommended the team proceed to Johnstown, 25 kilometers to the east, to board a train for one of the cities.

      The team accepted the offer of the Waverlys to have breakfast; the "coffee" had caffeine, but was otherwise kinda ... bad.

     Following dirt roads, then some oiled roads, the Morrow team crossed over heavily-forested ridges, into long valleys running parallel to the larger mountains to the east. Small villages gave way to larger towns; in one such town, a steam-powered road grader was seen at work. There were a few cricket pumps seen slowly nodding in the furthest-west fields (the Pennsylvania "oil patch" is mostly the flattish, northwestern part of the state).

     Eventually, they drove along a nicely-asphalted road above the banks of the Conemaugh River. The water was heavily polluted, and the scent of burnt coal and oil hung in the air. Around a bend they came into sight of Johnstown:  built deep into the "Y" where two rivers met between forested hills, dozens of tall smokestacks rose from a dense set of large brick buildings. Small steam locomotives pushed gondola cars around and into the buildings; heavy clanging noises, the chuff of steam engines, buzzing sawmills, rattling conveyor belts, rumbling crane winches, and blasts of steam and hot vapor all told of industry at work. Along the banks of the river, pipes belched thick, stained fluids into the water. Overhead electric or telephone lines were strung haphazardly between buildings; there was no sign of radio antennas.

     Faintly visible on the upper ends of some of the industrial buildings or tall water towers were the old painted words, "BETHLEHEM STEEL". A lot of the buildings dated from before World War One.



     There were a few stores, a couple of schools and churches, a ballpark, post office, police station, fire department, city hall, armory, etc. .... but Johnstown wasn't a "retail" town. The locals recommended that the team travel to Altoona for purchases. By highway or rail to Altoona was 75 kilometers, a trip of only a couple of hours on the good EBT roads.

    The roads were busier than any the team had used in the 22nd Century -- mostly people were riding horses, or driving horse-drawn freight wagons. However, the V-150 passed a steam-powered "road locomotive" slowly pulling a train of three sturdy trailers; and at least one gasoline-powered automobile. A couple of railway trains went by on the parallel railway tracks, hauling coal or manufactured steel items. The bridges were all in good condition; telephone or telegraph poles followed the road and railway.

     Altoona was another smoky, noisy "satanic mill" town, with many chimneys belching coal smoke (though not as bad as Johnstown), and various conveyors and pipes moving raw material about. Production and maintenance of railway equipment was the local specialty -- several roundhouses and rail yards were visible at the Altoona Works; some capstones and eaves bore the logo of the old Pennsylvania Railroad. The tracks ran right through the middle of town, with various overpasses to carry streets over the trains.

     After parking in the first actual, in-service parking lot the team had seen, they did some window shopping. Jeff was amazed by the stamped steel pistols for sale:

the frame is built from two stamped steel components, and the slide is another stamped part;

all of those are riveted and welded, with reinforcing "chunks" inside; the grip is just pressed from the frame sides ...


...  and this is a 1930s toy cap gun ...


     There were some crudely-painted or -printed signs and posters, some of which were solicitations for votes, such as:



FOR $2


     The locals were clearly impressed by the V-150 ARV:



    ... due to its obvious technical sophistication and quiet operation; they didn't seem to know or recognize Morrow Project patches (or the name).

     It was mid-afternoon, time to find lodgings. Examples of short-term lodgings available:


  • Penn Alto Hotel:  ten stories tall, including a penthouse. Concrete, brick and steel per-Atomic War construction. Flush toilets and bathing for every room, elevators, all-electric lighting, central heating. $3 per night per bed. Meals in the restaurant, $1.50 per day per person.

  • The Travelers' House:  three stories tall, brick construction. Baths and toilets are shared at ends of hallways. Twin size beds, kerosene lamps, coal fires in rooms. $2 per night per bed. Meals in the restaurant, $1 per day per person.

  • Mrs. Nowak's Boarding House:  two stories tall, wood construction. Toilet shared by all 12 guest rooms. Narrow cot beds, candles in rooms, no heating. $1 per night per bed. Skimpy breakfast and dinner provided for an additional $0.40 per day per person -- and you have to show up on time.


     What is the team planning? And you should count up your savings! Information on East Broad Top is available here; price lists are here.



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