En route, they saw trucks, drills, camps from previous workers, and heard Cancer Boy quoting the Bible and talking about how this place used to be a sea. Marty peeked into the spirit world and saw those horrible locust things wall-to-wall...this was the hive. He shut off his Ephemeral Flesh. "Fuck that," he said.
Eventually, the characters came to a pit with a rung ladder leading down. They carried the half-formed down the ladder (except for Marty, who flew), and there found that the walls were painted with the ourobourous. In the floor, however, was another hole, something that the mining company had apparently uncovered. Huge gears, and multiple smaller gears below them, all made of some shining, golden metal. The God Machine.
Cancer Boy told them that the gears needed to be oiled, and they threw the half-formed creatures into the works. The wheels started turned, grinding the creatures to pulp, and then spinning faster. The hole started glowing with white light, and Jesus sensed Pyros - it was like looking into the ocean and checking for water. There was a burst of light, and then the Hand of the Principle stood before them.
Marty, recognizing a qashmal, sensed Flux to make sure this thing was like the Barmaid (that is, Lilithim). It wasn't, but it wasn't that it didn't contain Flux, but more that it was completely inscrutable. A new type of qashmal, one that Marty hadn't seen. In response to their questions, it told them that it was going to destroy the city in the Divine Fire, that the fire would make people sick, and finally, yes, that the fire in question was radiation.
Most of the characters were ready to accept this as inevitable, but Jesse asked if anything could be done to stop it. The Hand replied that "Azoth calls to Azoth," and stepped aside, indicating the spinning gears.
Marty, hovering above holding onto his stake, let go, dropping into the gears. He felt searing pain, worse than anything he'd felt, as the machinery shredded him, and then he was gone.
But the gears kept turning.
The Hand told them that one more sacrifice was needed. Jesse tensed himself to leap in, but Hank, enraged that his friend had sacrificed himself for Cancer Boy's insane desires, lunged forward and knocked Cancer Boy in, headfirst (he beat me on the Stealth roll, so the poor Zeky had no chance to react). The gears chewed him to pieces, and then stopped. The Hand vanished, its Mission complete.
Marty, meanwhile, "woke up" surrounded by white light. A voice asked what he wanted, and Marty replied, "To become human, so I can make my own mistakes instead of suffering for other people's." The voice (the Principle?) offered him the chance to stay here and joined the Divine Fire, but he wanted to go back. The voice told him that in order to become human, he needed to strip off his armor and become vulnerable. Marty admitted that he strove to remain in control, to avoid vulnerability.
Back in the tunnel, the characters were talking about how to prevent anyone else from coming down here and restarting the machine, when Marty crawled out of the hole. Spence noted that he'd seen dynamite up in the tunnel, and with Marty's help laced the area with explosives and blew it to hell. The Prometheans left as the power came back on in Detroit.
They drove back to the RV, and met Carla Two. She said that she'd found a book in Cancer Boy's lair that described the formation of the Botherud, how their original philosophies didn't talk so much about Pyros as a finite energy, but as something that needed to remain in balance lest it stagnate and turn to Flux. She said that she needed to leave, to continue her journey. Spence gave her his truck, but as she walked toward it, he turned to Hank with something like longing on his face. Hank, recognizing this, let him go, and in so doing fulfilled his last milestone. Jesse, too, left the throng and joined Spence and Carla, and away they rode into the night.
The four remaining Prometheans went to sleep, and three of them (all but Nathan) dreamed of Elpis.
Jesus dreamed he was walking through a cemetery and saw people laying wreaths on graves, but some graves went unnoticed, and the names were washed out by the rain. All that rain had to go somewhere, he thought.
Marty saw himself lying on a medical table, and willed the straps to tighten and the IV to withdraw Vitriol. Rusty Nail stood there dressed as a doctor, saying how much the recipient needed this donation. The bad started to overfill and straps to crush him, but Marty stopped it, and got up unscathed.
And Hank, in his first Elpis dream, saw himself at the bottom of the deep hole in which he become a Promethean. His body was broken and bloodied, and he realized he hadn't made it easy on himself, but he could crawl up that path to the sunlight if he wanted to.
Waking, Hank knew what he had to do. He wrote out his entire Ramble in a few notebooks, and then woke the others. He told him it was time, and he was going to try to remember what he'd been after the New Dawn. He walked out, and the player threw the dice...success. Hank was now a man. The Azoth roll to remember got a few modifiers, not least because of Thwarting the Waters of Lethe, and that succeeded, too. Hank remembered his Pilgrimage, the first character to do that. He turned around and went back to the RV to talk to the throng.
Marty, meanwhile, had burned all of his Pyros, Reagant and Willpower upon waking, trying to make himself as empty as possible in order to achieve vulnerability. So when Hank came back, Marty realized that, as a man, Hank would eventually succumb to Disquiet. At this, Marty wept, and in so doing fulfilled his last milestone - emotionally connect with a human. He immediately achieved the New Dawn, but did not remember his past.
He looked around at the three people in his RV, and asked, confused, if he'd given them a ride. "Yeah, you did. Thanks, man," said Nathan, and he and Jesus left.
"You kidding? Been riding with you for months," said Hank. "Oh, yeah," said Marty. The phone rang, and the EPA called Marty back to DC for a policies seminar.
Jesus and Nathan, meanwhile, walked to the Oculus Bookstore so that Jesus could talk to the cat-that-isn't-a-cat. It told him that it knew what he needed to do, but telling him was against "the rules" and if he told him, it was Jesus who assumed responsibility for that rules breach. Jesus agreed, and the cat told him that his creation had to be someone that no one would miss. Jesus thanked the cat, and he and Nathan left the city.
"Where do you want to go?" he asked Nathan. "Cleveland," he said. "Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."
And together, they started walking.