On their day off, Cody, Mark, Sin, Rubbish, and Miryam decided to take it easy for once — but it was not meant to be. An explosion at the warehouse ended any chance for a break, setting events in motion that would take the five out of Nil. The annual Pinkertons were heading out, and had some special secret item that the Foreman was inspecting, but it wasn’t for the eyes of anyone else.
The five immediately headed to the source of the explosion; smoke was already pouring out of the building. The Foreman yelled that his young daughter, Jessica, was still inside; the plume of smoke rising from the building was sure to attract mechs and the destruction that follows them, adding to the potential ruin brought on by the explosion of the rest of the oil within. Cody and Miryam rushed in to find Jessica, if she was within, while Mark, Sin, and Rubbish took aim at the avian mechs already circling and broke the liquid fuses set to make nothing of more of Nil. As the ones outside finished off the birds, Cody and Miryam emerged, badly burned, with a barely-responsive Jessica. Elder Elijah and Chief Engineer Wilks shooed them away, but not before Jessica revealed that the fire had started because she was secretly smoking cigarettes . . . in Nil’s central gathering place for combustible petrochemicals.
Jessica pressured Cody to get the secret Pinkerton item — a diamond! — for her as a gift in exchange for future considerations; Chief Engineer Wilks pressured Miryam to get the diamond for her new photonic energy experiments to provide power to Nil. An old Pinkerton named Enrique offered Sin information on his background and an heirloom; Rubbish was roped in by the prospect of acquiring one of the shiniest rocks on the planet, while Mark was told that more chemical fuel could be derived from the giant ants nearby. All their paths converged on getting these ants.
The five set out almost immediately, in search of a carcass large enough to attract the ants, which could be followed back to their colony. The plan to use the cattle that roam near Nil was foiled by a monstrous beast that had killed the herd, and proceeded to attempt to kill the party, as bloodbirds dove and swooped and bloodied the group.
Victorious, the party dragged carcasses to a location upwind of the ant’s known territory . . . and attracted entirely the wrong sort of attention. Giant beetles and bloodbirds spoiled the party, and the formican guests of honor arrived late and hostile. The five barely survived the onslaught, and are no closer to trailing the ants back to their colony.