With the governor-general’s son located safely, the adventurers found themselves with a couple of days to wait before they were to be aerially transferred to Parhoon. At the Syrtis Major Army-Navy Club, Lieut. Battersby ran into an old comrade-in-arms from his days in the Sudan Campaign: Army Captain Seafort. After catching up, he was introduced to Battersby’s companions, and agreed to lend a military eye to the upcoming investigation of problems besetting the Great Northern Martian Railway. A steam aerial launch deposited them in Parhoon at the newly-minted railway station, where they were met by Edward Davies, representative of the G.N.M.R. As they boarded an express train for the end of the line, Davies explained the number of suspicious occurrences which had delayed the railway’s construction: workers were frequently ill with cramping and fever, crucial components were sabotaged, a boiler explosion on the rail-making machine had injured three and killed one, and just three days prior, the entire survey team had gone missing. After starting on the 20th of May, and after a first month of averaging some 8 miles of track laid per day, the line was now stalled in the Astusapes Highlands shy of 500 miles from Parhoon.
En route, the Professor spied the now-familiar shapes of approaching High Martians. The group quickly prepared to repel the group of savages coming up from the rear. The villainous band soon overtook the train and tried to enter the adventurers’ carriage, but they were soon met with a hail of gunfire. A few managed to make it inside the carriage, but within minutes, all of the High Martians lay dead or dying, or else had exercised the better part of valor. The train made it safely to Astusapes Station, near the end of the line of laid track.
They were met by George Cawley, the administrator overseeing construction of the G.N.M.R. He explained the various problems that had beset the Railway. Crates of rail joiners were missing, barrels of lubricating oil had developed leaks, there had been several problems with the rail-making machine, and now the entire survey crew was missing. The group pledged to help and set out to inspect the rail terminus and take a look for the survey team.