Space 1889 When Worlds Collide

Act 1, Epilogue: A pause for reflection
A bittersweet victory gives our heroes time to reflect upon their next mission

Though victorious in their efforts to prevent the dastardly schemes of the New Trinity Church, our heroes’ jubilation is somewhat diluted by the death of Felice at Crossness, not to mention Reverend Humbert’s escape upon the Esmeralda.

Nonetheless, the foiling of Humbert’s scheme to poison London’s water supply with the horrific green ichor is a triumph. Reading the newspapers it becomes clear that despite Humbert’s obvious involvement in the plan, the authorities will likely pin the majority of the blame on his subordinate, Cutter. After all, the scandal is already the talk of London…imagine the questions that would be asked were such a luminary of London society as Edward Humbert be implicated in the crimes?

Despite the efforts of Inspector Frume of Scotland Yard to apportion some blame for the destruction of New Trinity Mission upon our heroes, there is very little beyond circumstantial evidence to implicate them. This lack of evidence, coupled with a quiet word in the right ears from a certain Mr Ingram ensures no further action is taken. However, the Admiral does make it clear that an expedition to Cairo might be a prudent plan at this juncture; even if just to allow the scandal in London to die down somewhat.

At least Barnabus Rutherford can consider the case of Miss Clarke’s letters satisfactorily resolved. With the incriminating communiques now returned to their rightful (and thoroughly chastened) owner, there is one less scandal able to rock London society. The successful conclusion of the case is almost payment enough, though the banker’s draft for fifteen pounds that arrives a few days later proves more substantial a payment.

Reflecting upon what they have learned during the investigation into Sir Malcolm Wells’ death, so many questions still remain unanswered. Why would the New Trinity Church plan such an attack against London? Were they in league with England’s enemies? Why was Cutter so interested in the Royal Navy’s English Channel defence plans? Could the murderous villain have added treason to his list of crimes? With political tensions high in Europe, the loss of such plans to Britain’s enemies could have been disastrous.

As pointed out by Doctor Ellerson, the Reverend Kipps had recently returned from Central Africa. The dastardly Germans are increasingly active in that region. Could they be behind the scheme in London? Could it be part of a larger attack? After all, the German fleet has been sighted leaving the Baltic Sea as tensions continue to rise over the activation of the two orbital cannons on Princess Alice Station.

Regarding the creatures dubbed ‘goo ninjas’. How did the New Trinity Church gain the knowledge to create such horrors? The notes discovered the Mission indicated a connection between the creatures and a strange fungus native to the northern Martian ice cap. And who is Kamallah? He evidently provided the substance, but who does he work for? Is he man or Martian and who is he in league with? Only investigation in Cairo will shed light upon that.

What of the tablet? Obviously, the New Trinity Church was seeking to secure it for itself, but to what end? What are the strange markings on the tablet, and what language are they written in? Perhaps Professor McGuinness in Cairo can shed some more light on them. What is the connection between the tablet and the strange symbol carved into the window sill of Sir Malcolm’s office? The symbol is obviously formed from the same language, but what does it represent and who would still use such an ancient and obscure glyph in this day and age? Again perhaps Professor McGuinness can provide some answers.

Perhaps these mysteries will be unravelled as our heroes face further tests of their courage in…

Peril in the Desert!!!

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Act 1, Scene 9: Terror at Crossness
Can our heroes stop Reverend Cutter poisoning London’s water supply?

Sparing little time, the team return to the Explorers’ Society, and despite their continued surprise that Rosewood House doesn’t operate a twenty-four hour service, make plans for their confrontation with Reverend Cutter. Taking an opportunity to compose himself, Chief McGee helps himself to the Society’s scotch while perhaps Rutherford strayed too close to the Admiral’s laudanum – but more on that later.

Over the sound of sterner weaponry being checked and cleaned, our heroes debate the best course of action, and though they know the location of Cutter’s vessel – The Esmeralda – they choose to head directly to Crossness in the hope of preventing the evil priest discharging his vile poisons into London’s water supply. Armed with crudely-constructed incendiary devices, they make haste in the hansom cab they obtained previously.

Reaching the surrounds of the water works an hour before dawn, they approach through the trees and scrub. Usher Hall, finally in his element, disappears into the inky night to observe more closely (‘like some sort of Italian’ in the words of Chief McGee, disapproving of sneaking as a concept) and quickly returns to confirm that something is afoot around the pump rooms with many of Cutter’s men patrolling outside.

At this point into the proceedings, discord strikes the discussion regarding the plan of attack. While McGee proposes a frontal assault, Ellerson opposes the decision and even Felice suggests stealth. Rutherford meanwhile, obviously overcome in a laudanum fit begins to hallucinate and is stunned into confusion. Eventually, after some frank and open exchanges of views, Hall and Felice sneak forward to deal with the first sharpshooter, overpowering him in a flash and dragging him back into the undergrowth.

Restraining the man, Felice opens her medical case and showing the man its contents demands answers from him. Impressed and alarmed by the contents, the man quickly spills all he knows, identifying Cutter’s location and his intentions though refusing to believe that the priest plans to turn London into a city of the dead.

Chief McGee grabs the man’s stovepipe hat and quickly mans his post, just in time for his colleague to return on his round. The man sees nothing amiss and returns on his route; only to be duped by the engineer into coming over and knocked unconscious with a single powerful blow.

With the approach to the main pump house being clear, Hall sneaks across the open ground and spies Cutter along with several of his henchmen inside, no doubt preparing to commit their terrible crime. As the soldier returns, Rutherford – despite being utterly delusional – picks out the faint sound of a steam boat approaching over the birdsong as dawn breaks. Realising that time is now of the essence, Walters is sent to create an incendiary diversion but in a moment of enthusiasm, he sets the device off too early leaving his comrades to run to the pump house against a backdrop of quickly spreading flames; a task made even more difficult by their various wounds.

Just as they reach the door, a patrolling lackey with a dog spots them and combined with the fire quickly raises the alarm. Despite early difficulties, they force their way into the pump room to see Cutter’s crates lying nearby and the villainous priest making a dash for them. McGee charges forward but is beaten back by a sudden counterattack from Cutter which narrowly misses his jugular. Only Ellerson’s quick thinking saves the Chief, who is pulled back at the last minute by the archaeologist with a shout of ‘get up you dipshit’.

Rutherford, still under a strange influence, manages to bar the doors preventing more reinforcements arriving but is unable to hold them off for long, falling back hollering ‘All I can see are eyebrows’. Outside, Walters has considerable luck in his sniping position, striking down several men as they run towards the melee at the pump house.

As men pour into the room, Felice, Hall and McGee attempt to engage Cutter, while Ellerson trades volleys with his men. McGee attempts to keep Cutter at range, using his rifle and bayonet, but demonstrates his true strength in pugilism, failing to strike his opponent. Felice strikes at the priest, but he is ready for the attack and lunging past her guard buries his rapier in her stomach. With a groan she falls to the floor clutching her wounds. With the battle in danger of turning against them, our heroes falter for a moment – Ruthford wailing ‘we’re all tables now!’ as Cutter’s men surround the Frank and the detective.

Finally, Hall catches Cutter with a sabre blow, and at the same moment one of Cutter’s men misjudges his aim and buries a rifle bullet in the priest’s back. The man throws his rifle down in horror and flees into the night. Pressing the attack, Hall rains down blows against Cutter forcing him back and finally strikes a grievous blow that forces him to flee.

Finally, Rutherford’s fugue lifts and he discovers himself in the midst of a furious battle. Surveying the situation he cries ‘Oh my god!’ but furiously continues to fight.

Suddenly Ellerson crumples to the floor bleeding from a bullet in the guts, fired from across the room by another sharpshooter. Now desperate and outnumbered, McGee raises his rifle and with a crack Cutter is slammed against the pumps, a spray of blood flying from his mouth as he falls dead.

The half-forgotten steamboat pulls up to the docks, but from the safety of the boat the Reverend Humbert sees that the situation is likely lost and chooses to make good his escape. The boat disappears back into the morning mist and is gone.

Seeing their boss killed breaks the morale of Cutter’s lackeys and they quickly bolt into the dawn, eager to put as much distance between them and this massacre as possible. Though her friends make every effort to attend her wounds, Felice’s wounds prove to have been fatal and they gently remove her body from the scene to be buried with full honours by the Explorers’ Society. Though Ellerson’s wounds were serious, the archaeologist survives and after receiving hospital treatment will return fighting fit another day.

Improving on their initial plan – burning down the pump house, thus depriving London of water for several weeks – the survivors drag the crates of ichor outside the building and torch them all. Before making their withdrawal, Rutherford checks through Cutter’s jacket and discovers the letters stolen from Miss Clarke in a document pouch tucked inside the man’s steel breastplate. Rutherford pockets the letters with satisfaction as his case can finally be closed, while Chief McGee unbuckles the breastplate and takes it for his own.

Though their victory is tempered by with sorrow at the loss of Felice, our heroes leave Crossness and return to Rosewood House to prepare for their next adventure.

God Save The Queen!

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Act 1, Scene 8: It's only wrong when they're dead
The true horror of New Trinity Church becomes apparent

Despite their wounds and the imminent arrival of more of Humbert’s lackeys, our heroes waste little time barricading both entrances to the chapel. While Usher Hall, obviously confused by his recent injuries makes a brief exit through the shattered church window (only to promptly return inside again moments later), Chief McGee and Ellerson block the main doors with pews, while Rutherford directs similar efforts in the south (taking a moment to place the unconscious body of one of their foes on top of the pile).

With the New Trinity lackeys now attempting to force entry on two fronts, Rutherford calls numerous threats through the doors, though evidently the men have some trouble hearing the exact nature of these threats (after all, surely they would have fled in terror if they had heard).

Chief McGee and Ellerson are first to break the deadlock; pulling the pews suddenly from the north doors, spilling the lackeys beyond in a pile onto the floor. Our heroes dispatch two of the men with ease, rendering them senseless even as their companion flees into the night. Replacing the barricade, the two men head south to help deal with the second front.

Plumbing new depths of dubious moral conduct (or possibly returning to a previously visited level) Rutherford takes the still unconscious lackey (identified as the unfortunate ‘Bob’) and deploys the man as a human shield. The justification ‘it’s only wrong if they’re dead’ is cited, though this author cannot positively attribute this statement to Rutherford himself.

While his comrades prepare to deal with the attack in the south, McGee enquires whether or not he should begin setting the building alight and appears genuinely confused by the lack of consistency in their overall arson strategy.

With a crash, the men in the south finally break through the barricade only to be shocked into disarray by the site of poor ‘Bob’ being used as fleshy armour by Rutherford. Fortunately, they have little time to register their dismay at this unsporting gesture as Chief McGee leaps over the pews with a roar before pile driving the first man into the ground. Ever the socialite, the engineer turns to the man’s companion and greets him with a cheery ‘hello’.

Ellerson meanwhile steps in to protect the wounded Felice from harm, though there is little to fear as the Chief’s wild assault deals with the remaining enemies.

With the immediate threat dealt with our heroes take pause to attend to their wounds, and are astounded at the uncanny abilities of Chief McGee’s healing hands. Even more miraculously, upon checking the lifeless body of Walters they discover him to be merely unconscious and he is quickly brought to with the help of one of the Chief’s foul-smelling cigarillos.

Exploring the upper floor of the Mission, our heroes are presented with many doors that appear to give Usher Hall severe difficulty and raise several questions regarding the overall quality of the British Army these days. In the words of Chief McGee ‘In the Royal Navy we have flying ships, they have shoes’.

Overcoming Hall’s issue with doors, they discover the offices and quarters above have been evacuated in a hurry. Paperwork and books relating to New Trinity’s publicly known mission are strewn around the rooms, but there is no sign of their quarry. Hall, now overconfident in his treatment of doors, bursts into the private bathroom of the Reverend Humbert only to be confronted by another of the leather clad monstrosities (later named by popular agreement ‘Goo Ninjas.’)

The British officer is able to quickly deal with the creature, allowing his companions to search the rooms for possible clues to the whereabouts of Cutter and Humbert. Among the paperwork on the desk they discover notes describing a peculiar fungus discovered by human explorers in the northern polar region of Mars with some unusual properties. Appended to the note are the words ‘Ahmed Kamallah, Cairo to provide a sample.’

Further investigation reveals several notes in the same hand; one on a map of London’s sewers with the Crossness Treatment Works circled, the other written on the back of a hand bill simply stating ‘Esmeralda, St. Katherine’s Dock’. A great dread begins to fill our heroes hearts as Rutherford recalls that Crossness supplies the water for much of London’s population. Whatever nefarious plans Humbert and Cutter have, they must centre around the site.

Satisfied that the upper floors are secure, our heroes head down into the basements leaving the still shaken Walters – now armed with a goo ninja’s crossbow – to guard the rear.

Down below, they quickly discover the true horror of the New Trinity Church’s mission; evidently the Church has been responsible for the string of disappearances among London’s homeless population, and is using the strange alien ichor to turn these hapless wretches into more of the nightmarish creatures.

With Chief McGee in the lead, our protagonists quickly discover the terrible nature of the experimentation. Bursting into a laboratory, they encounter two more reanimated cadavers along with an even greater horror; a creature infused with even greater quantities of the slime and instilled with an animalistic ferocity. The horrors launch themselves at McGee, who quickly finds himself surrounded. However, McGee’s fists, combined with some expert application of the alien repulsors by Felice, make short work of the creatures.

Discovering three large tanks of the green ichor, our heroes debate taking more of the slime for analysis, but it is eventually agreed to destroy the materials. However, Felice takes three vials of the substance for her own purposes. Further investigation of the rooms reveals a notebook containing a detailed account of the process used to turn the hapless vagrants bodies into the goo ninjas. This work of an obviously unhinged mind, while revolting, does provide some unique insights into biology and chemistry. Had it not bee focused on such a grizzly and inhuman subject, the material would surely be of sufficient strength to be presented to the Royal Society.

Exploring further, they discover and save three vagrants; men fated to otherwise join the ranks of Humbert’s nightmarish creatures. More worryingly, they find evidence that the basement had previously been used to store a large number of crates containing further flasks of the green ichor. Alas the crates are now gone, suggesting Humbert’s intention to use them for some terrible scheme in London. In the words of Ellerson, ‘Now would be a good time to head to Egypt’.

Under constant threat of ambush from the goo ninjas, which are using the air vents in the ceilings to outflank our heroes, they discover the basement has been converted into a temporary morgue and is filled with the reanimated devils. Though they are ambushed several times, and must face a steady wave of the creatures, they prevail and finally dispatch the last of the horrors.

Finally returning the last reanimated to the grave, they discover two large metal tanks each with a small glass aperture in its door, revealing more of the green goo. Ellerson approaches the tanks and taps on the glass in one, only to recoil in horror as something once human slams against the glass. With this terrible sight still in his mind, even Ellerson is finally convinced and cries ‘Burn it all’.

With smoke and flames now billowing up into the night sky and the sound of the fire brigade’s bells getting louder by the minute, our heroes flee the scene, while Chief McGee shouts in a cod-German accent ‘Back to Germany. Acthung! Schnell!’

Now, can our heroes find Humbert and Cutter before they can put their terrible plan into action?

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Act 1, Scene 7: Unholy orders
Delving into the diabolical plans of the New Trinity Church

Despite Reverend Cutter’s narrow escape at Isalyavich’s Imperial Moscow Circus, our heroes return to the Explorer’s Society with renewed resolve and plan their investigation of the New Trinity Church. Corporal Karanbahadur Thapa seems particularly invigorated by the adventurous life his new employer appears to lead. Although Rutherford puts in a spirited encouragement to stay, Pickles and his lads bid farewell citing their obligations to the Royal Mail (and Pickles’ wife’s disdain for his occasional adventures) leaving our heroes to reflect.

With Miss Clarke safely in the care of Rosewood House, the pursuit of the sinister Reverend Cutter is discussed, as is the likely implication of the venerated Reverend Edward Humbert in Cutter’s evil schemes. A frank and honest exchange of views takes place over the best method for investigating the church; masquerade as tourists (despite the infancy of mobile camera technology at this stage), book a wedding, pretend to offer a donation, even burst in and kill everybody (which appears to receive several votes at one point).

Thankfully, sanity prevails and a visit is made to the church’s headquarters on the edge of Regent’s Park; just in time to hear the sermon of the Reverend Bertum Kipps regarding society’s abandonment of the poor and homeless of London, and especially of the terrible disappearances that have been occurring. Quickly engaging the good Reverend at the end of his sermon, they discover him to be a delightful chap who is more than happy to talk about his important work. However, they discover that despite his eloquent delivery the sermon should have been given by the Reverend Humbert himself. Humbert and his right-hand man the Reverend Cutter were called away on urgent business this morning and have not been seen since. Kipps was called from his missionary work in Bethnel Green to conduct the service. Kipps eventually excuses himself suggesting they see the work being done in the soup kitchen while he graciously accepts a generous donation from Mr Smithson to the church fund.

Departing the church, Hall, Felice and Walters take up watch around the compound. At the soup kitchen, McGee informs the orderly that they have been sent to help in the kitchens for an hour – a statement which initially confuses the man. However, Rutherford quickly steps in and repeats the information, though with the gravitas one would expect from a gentleman. Given a tour of the kitchen, it is clear that the church is doing sterling work feeding these people.

Out of earshot of the vagrants though, the orderly confides that they are all terrified by the spate of disappearances – even more so now that two local men had joined the ranks of the missing. McGee befriends one of the slightly less deranged looking vagrants and while sharing a foul-smelling cigarillo the man talks of Young Jimmy (a slip of a lad at 56) and Old Tommy (age unspecified) and how only a few of their meagre belongings were found where they normally slept. In a moment of charity, McGee leaves the man all but one cigarillo from the pack and wishes him luck.

Rutherford quickly slips out of the door when the actual kitchen work begins; leaving Ellerson and McGee to work the kitchens, helping Trevor the cook concoct more of the grey stew. The Chief checks for tattoos or the like on the meat, but is eventually convinced that the meat is most likely mutton. Ellerson, while fetching potatoes, manages to ‘get himself lost’ in the main courtyard spying the stablemen at work and their unpleasant looking guard dog. Before he can explore further, he is sent back in the right direction by a stable hand and with that our heroes make their farewells and regroup with their friends.

Rutherford, having escaped the work duty, wastes little time attempting to gain entry to the private areas of the compound. As he surreptitiously tries the door to the sacristy, the detective is interrupted by an attendant. Announcing he wishes to see Reverend Kipps, Rutherford is surprised to learn that he too has left the building – apparently only moment before. Convinced even further of the New Trinity’s involvement in events, they return to the Explorer’s Society and prepare to infiltrate the mission that night.

Waiting for them is a message to visit Doctor Cooper at King’s College. The Doctor, barely able to contain his excitement, greets them at the entrance to the university with a barrage of questions. Despite only having had a day to examine the ichor so far, he has discovered many fascinating features of this unknown substance.

It appears to be some form of fungal organism, though like nothing he has ever seen or heard of (at least not on this world). Formed of millions of individual organisms, it feeds on the cells of mammals and absorbs them to increase its own mass.

In the laboratory, the relatively small sample has shown a very low level of intelligence as it attempted to retreat from fire. He speculates that its intelligence would likely increase at larger volumes of the substance. Having applied some of the ichor to a laboratory rat, he was horrified to see it attempt to absorb the animal’s body, reverting to a pool of green slime. It was postulated that giving the substance a form to fill it could maintain its shape. Cooper agrees and suggests he continues his research, using a rubber glove as a test for that theory. He promises to look into any possible connection with either Mars or Venus.

Meanwhile, serious thought is put into the best poison to use against a guard dog. The winning answer; strychnine, is procured alongside some cuts of beef. Aside from the Chief setting an ironmonger to securing him a set of sharp, spiked, brass knuckles the remainder of the day is spent preparing for tonight’s raid on the New Trinity Church Mission. Perhaps thanks to some uncanny premonition, Ellerson asks that Walters be left behind for the mission, but Rutherford seems eager for their new manservant to join them.

Returning that night to the now silent church our heroes gain entry through the soup kitchen. Felice, with Usher Hall watching her back, slips silently into the courtyard and perhaps sensing something in the shadows ahead, hurls one of the prepared steaks. Moments later, the curious guard dog pads towards the deadly snack and in two quick mouthfuls seals its own fate. Despite Rutherford’s great hopes for access to the basements through the coal chute, they dismiss this plan and are forced to sneak into the main building. Despite Rutherford’s suggestion that Walters could start a small fire in the stable to lure the guards away, Felice enters the building. McGee assuages Rutherford by suggesting they can still burn the place down on their way out, or boil some cats.

Felice quickly silences the nightwatchman and taking his keys, opens the main doors for the less stealthy members of the expedition. Finding much of the ground floor of little interest, our heroes make haste for the sacristy. As Felice’s hand grasps the door handle, four shadowy intruders leap from the rafters above and set upon the group.

In the ensuing melee, Usher Hall once again proves his credentials as a British Officer by ignoring tactical information and launching himself at one of the creatures. For his gallant efforts, he is hurled through the stained glass window behind him and lands in a bleeding heap on the cobbles outside. Despite his own spirited offensive, Rutherford is too shocked through the now broken window – narrowly missing Chief McGee. Despite expertly dispatching one of the creatures with a slash of his kife, poor Walters receives a fatal strike from one of the horrors and is hurled to his death in the aisle where his broken body narrowly avoids hitting Ellerson. The archaeologist suffers the same fate, though is more fortunate than Walters. Even Felice is hurled in a most unladylike manner, into a wall by an attack briefly knocking her unconscious.

Though the initial assault threatens to overwhelm our heroes, they eventually gain the upper hand. However, the sounds of footsteps and shouting can be heard from a number of directions. Ellerson sprints for the main doors and dragging a pew across them calls for help to repelling more enemies. Even as Felice pulls herself back up from the floor, one of the church’s lackeys bursts from the sacristy; though the sight of the final leathery assassin being run through by Chief McGee with his bayonet is enough to cause his immediate surrender. Rutherford quickly springs upon the man, demanding to know what lay beyond before rendering the hapless fool insensible with a rap on the skull.

Our heroes now find themselves; surrounded on all sides, already battered and bruised from the last assault, and now facing Lord knows what horrors to come. Will our heroes triumph over the secrets of the New Trinity Church? Will Chief McGee face an enemy without squishy innards? Will Usher Hall learn from his repeated encounters with the leathery menace? Is Rutherford showing an increasing number of mental conditions as the adventure unfolds? Should you take his matches away? Just asking… Find out in next week’s exciting instalment of THE LAST THIRTY MINUTES OF THIS SESSION WE COULDN’T QUITE SQUEEZE IN.

Bennies and XP

As we stopped before the end and didn’t do XP, I’ll note the Bennies you have left now and you can get those as XP. We’ll keep the number of bennies for the start of the session (anybody without any can have 1 – I’m not that mean, especially as you’re all wounded). Then we’ll reset bennies and continue as normal.

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Act 1, Scene 6: All the fun of the fair
The case of Miss Clarke's letters yields a new clue

Having survived the horror of the Necropolis Railway, our protagonists arrive in the still smoking train at Brookwood Cemetery to be met by officers of Surrey Constabulary and are swiftly hurried away to give statements. After hours sitting in the waiting room, by which time Rutherford’s temper was already fraying, a man introducing himself as ‘Mr Ingram’ enters holding copies of their statements.

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Ingram, sent to investigate the unusual goings on asks questions and refers to comments in their statements, musing briefly over Felice’s name more than her statement, but cheerfully admits that as the other passengers corroborate their statements he can see no reason for holding them and evading requests for a method for contacting him, bids them good day.

After some hastily arranged services for the twice departed our party make their way to carriages, but Rutherford is stopped by a young Nepalese man who salutes and introduces himself as Corporal Karanbahadur Thapa, or Frank, announcing that he received word of Wolseley’s death and was here to take over his duties, before promptly falling in behind the bemused Rutherford.

Back to the Explorer’s Society by carriage and our heroes discuss events with the Admiral who, prompted by their sighting of Reverend Humbert of the New Trinity Church at Waterloo prior to the attack, explains Humbert’s background. He was once a lowly Anglican vicar who claims to have experienced an epiphany while conducting missionary work in the Martian desert, and returned to Earth with a new message of brotherly love and unity between men and Martian. His church, considered by many to be deeply socialist in its activities, is a major campaigner for peace and works extensively with the homeless of London and other cities. When mention is raised of Humbert’s involvement in the attack, the Admiral warns of making any bold accusations as Humbert has many influential friends in government.

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Turning their attention to the flask of green ichor, the decision is made to hand it over to an expert. At the Admiral’s suggestion they send the sample to Dr. Maitland Cooper at Kings College; an expert in biology and botany for analysis. Higson arranges for the flask to the delivered to the Doctor, while giving both Ellerson and Rutherford notes left at the Society for them. Ellerson’s contains what little information Collins at the British Museum could find about the V’kan people, while Rutherford’s was an urgent message from Miss Clarke to contact her immediately.

While Felice and Ellerson retire to further investigate the strange hand devices Rutherford, accompanied by Frank and McGee who is strangely muted (perhaps a symptom of his recent scare in the train) pay Miss Clarke a visit in Bayswater. The young lady is in a state of deep upset and shows them an anonymous note slipped under the door last night saying that she would be paid a visit today. Rutherford, growing suspicious of why Miss Clarke’s letters are of such interest to the enemy, probes her relentlessly establishing that her father is in fact Admiral Ingatius Warrington Clarke, Commander of the Channel Fleet – McGee knows well of his reputation and stern manner. Under duress, she also reveals the name of her beau – the newly promoted Captain Harry Tregellan of the Royal Navy, and Commander of the aerial gunboat HMS Warspite; currently stationed in Egypt.

Suddenly there is a knock at the door and Miss Clarke almost leaps from her seat. Our heroes quickly withdraw to the parlour and watch through a crack in the door as a lanky villain saunters in and in a forward and crude manner hands Miss Clarke a key and tells her to bring a file from her father’s safe named ‘Vanguard’ to Isalyavich’s Circus at midnight tonight. She is to deliver the file to Mistress Melovera’s fortune telling stand in return for her letters. The man then casually exits, whistling and chuckling all the way.

Rutherford comes out of hiding and taking charge insists upon seeing the file in question. Despite her deep reservations Miss Clarke takes them to her father’s study and opens the safe. The file consists of thirty pages maps and rosters detailing the British Channel defences, obviously information of national importance.
Rutherford, determined to protect these secrets, takes charge of the file and returns with it to the Explorer’s Society, leaving Miss Clarke to worry with only Higson to defend her. Back at the Society, the detective engages the Admiral to create their own decoy file containing worthless naval information dating back years from the Admiral’s personal papers. A plan is hatched for Felice to pretend to be Miss Clarke and deliver the file which they then follow to lead them to the real blackmailers.

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Arriving at the circus in Victoria Park, our heroes are just able to catch the final acts of the night; The amazing Soluki, a Chinese magician, Kassa the Martian knifethrower and Baron Isalyavich himself taming the ferocious Martian Steppe Tighers. Soon after, the crowds disperse, the carnie folk go back to their tents and quiet descends upon the circus.

Stepping out of the shadows, the investigators stalk through the maze of tents and stalls towards where they believe the fortune teller’s stall to be. Felice, walking ahead with Ellerson as an escort quickly encounters a ruffian, no doubt in the enemy’s employ. The man rebukes her for not coming alone and points her towards the rendezvous while blocking Ellerson’s path.

Ellerson points out Felice’s confusion over her instructions to the man, who turns giving the archaeologist the chance to knock him around the head and quickly overpowering him. Rutherford, now in the guise of Tom Fink, blending effortlessly into the shadows, skulks along close to Felice while the rest of the party catch up behind. Entering a larger clearing in amidst the tents, they see the Reverend Cutter of the New Trinity Church surrounded by his men and obviously expecting ‘Miss Clarke’

He demands the file from Felice who asks for her letters as agreed, but the priest marches towards her and quickly snatches the file from her hands. Felice, in a show of great theatricality, bursts into tears and begins uselessly slapping the man in a tearful rage and when he turns to walk away hurls herself down and wraps herself around his legs to prevent him moving. The Chief’s, in characteristic style, announces his presence by hurling one of Cutter’s minions into a booth with a single punch and a short and particularly one-sided melee ensues as our heroes scythe through the ruffians.

Cutter, realising he has been double-crossed, attempts to attack Felice but she has been waiting for her moment and punches him in the chest only to discover he wears a steel chestplate beneath his clothes and only succeeds in stunning him. The Reverend quickly recovers and springing backwards makes for the maze of tents beyond while his men close ranks and attempt to stop their attackers.

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With all hell breaking loose, one of the men spots Rutherford, still hiding in the shadows and challenges him, club raised. However, in a brilliant piece of persuasion, this apparent vagrant convinces the man than he is just wandering through and the man turns his attention elsewhere.

With his lackeys falling in disarray, Cutter sprints away closely followed by Felice then Ellerson and despite their spirited pursuit he escapes into the darkness, though unbeknownst to him with the fake Vanguard file.
Despite losing their quarry, the investigators quickly turn their attention to the fallen men and with some gentle persuasion from Felice they are able to learn that the men were hired at the soup kitchens of the New Trinity Mission in return for food and a few shillings. The Mission stands on the eastern edge of Regent’s Park and is the centre of the Church’s activities in London.

Ellerson raised the possibility that the Church, with its work with the homeless, might be involved with the disappearances among the vagrant population recently. Realising the danger Miss Clarke could now be in, Rutherford sensibly made arrangements to move her to the Explorers’ Society. With her safely under protection they can now turn their attention to finding the Reverend Cutter and discovering what part the New Trinity Church has to play in these diabolical occurrences.

Meanwhile, the Referee will beat Roll20 with a stout piece of wood to try and get the dynamic lighting working right for another time, and is seriously concerned at the performance of his mooks throughout that session.

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Act 1, Scene 5: Last Train to Brookwood
When there’s no more room in Surrey, the dead shall walk the Earth

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Rallying after the successful rescue of Walters and recovery of the tablet, our heroes pause for a moment of remembrance as they prepare for the funeral of their dear, departed colleagues Lieutenant ‘Lieutenant’ Wolseley…and the other one. While the Admiral attends to Society business, the intrepid team make for Waterloo Station and the Necropolis Railway line to Brookwood Cemetery.

While walking through the Station they see the Reverend Edward Humbert, surrounded by his retinue returning from such a trip himself. They are interrupted by the security detail, led by Ex-Colour Sergeant Joseph Pickles along with his three burly retired infantrymen from the South Essex Regiment; Peebles, Mitchell and Rippon. Taking Rutherford’s advice, the Admiral had pulled a few strings with some old Army chums to provide an armed escort, all dressed in their Sunday best for the funeral. Quickly placing themselves under Captain Hall’s command, who complements them on the quality of their moustaches – surely a sensible method for determining the quality of troops in any army?

With that the train was ready to depart and take Wolseley, and that other woman, to the afterlife. Settling into the journey into leafy Surrey our heroes take a moment to reflect, enjoying cups of tea thoughtfully provided by Pickles’ wife Lizzy in thermos flasks. Suddenly, just as Ellerson raised his cup of tea to his lips, the train jolted forward throwing everyone around in their seats and covering the archaeologist in hot tea. At the same moment somebody unsuccessfully attempts to open the door to the compartment, and ever prepared for all types of door-related encounter Usher Hall leaps forward and opens the door…

…to be confronted by the pallid, lifeless face of Lieutenant Wolseley himself – a familiar green ichor dripping visibly from his nose and mouth. Behind him a veritable horde of recently departed can be seen, dragging themselves from their coffins and towards the rear of the train. Amidst these terrible creatures stands another of the sinister leather-clad creatures, emptying the last of a container of its green, slimy contents.
The sight of their former comrade almost proves too much for many of our heroes, and they begin the battle visibly unnerved, though Rutherford shows immense will in the face of deep personal pain and remains steadfast throughout. Despite their shock, the military contingent quickly form line and prepare for the unholy assault to begin.

Overcome with a deep terror of being inside the train, Chief McGee wastes no time in clambering onto the roof of the careering train, buffeted and blasted by wind and smoke, shortly followed by the intrepid Felice and the equally-brave though far less confident Walters.

While the soldiery manage to contain the first wave of the living dead, with admirable support from Rutherford and Ellerson, the train continues to build speed and initial progress on the roof is slow.McGee meanwhile is ambushed by the shadowy intruder which springs up onto the roof and punches the engineer almost off the train. Only at the last second, does McGee’s mighty fist grasp the edge of the roof and with one fluid swing flips over backwards and lands on his feet back on the roof.
Hall soon makes for the roof of the train after questions are raised regarding his orders to form line and open fire, despite firearms appearing to have little effect on the unliving – and more importantly at one point, his inability to form coherent words. Fortunately Rutherford is on hand to take command of the situation and with a well-placed blow by Ellerson clearing the doorway, manages to get the door closed and held shut by the soldiers. While the men hold back the undead horde, which have now spread out and are attacking other passengers, Rutherford grabs one of the oil lanterns illuminating the carriage and waits for the inevitable to happen.

Ellerson, perhaps unsettled by the lack of emergency cord, and more importantly the breakdown in procedure that would imply, withdraws from the fight at this point and joins the crawl across the roof. Ever-nimble, he quickly passes the unfortunate Walters who is now clinging to the roof for dear life, his eyes clenched tightly shut.

Up ahead, Felice shoots the intruder from the roof with her pistol as McGee struggles forward over the roof, followed by both Hall and Ellerson who quickly catches up. Beneath them, the horde continues to pound at the rear compartment door, fought every step by Rutherford and the soldiers. Pushing forward, another intruder is encountered but quickly dispatched and eventually Ellerson moves past the creatures below and back into the train, sprinting through the monsters as they feed on the hapless passengers.
McGee also climbs inside in a heroic attempt to save some of the passengers, but is too late to prevent their demises. Meanwhile, the horde at the rear finally overcome the defenders and the door collapses inwards under their weight. Having waited for his moment, Rutherford hurls the lantern into the carriage beyond and with incredible accuracy engulfs the reanimated in flames, incinerating many and forcing the rest away. Without missing a step, he orders the soldiers to tear down curtains and beat out the flames once he is satisfied that the monsters are no longer approaching. By this time, Walters has managed to inch his way back down into the train, but with the corridor outside full of the creatures he decides to wait out events where he is.

Almost at the engine, the still sprinting Ellerson surprises the third intruder though he barely breaks step choosing to run around the creature and disappearing into the engine car. The creature gives chase, scuttling over the coal store and letting rip with its hand crossbow – only narrowly missing several times. With McGee, Hall and Felice now firing upon the creature, Ellerson is at last able to rush forward and despite having no knowledge of railway operation successfully brings the train under control and just in the nick of time.
As the last of the intruders is killed, the undead begin to slow and finally collapse to the ground, evidently under some form of mental control by the creatures. Within minutes Brookwood Station comes into view down the track and our heroes must prepare to explain the uncanny events of the morning to the authorities and also to the families and friends of the recently redeparted; some of whom Rutherford is still attempting to burn as the train pulls up to the platform.

Who is controlling these sinister creatures and to what end? What is the strange ichor and where does it come from? What the hell did Usher Hall actually say? And what is the difference between good ol’ English trainaphobia and other apparently inferior foreign types? All this and more in next week’s confusing adventure.

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Act 1, Scene 4: Sneaking is for Foreigners
In which our heroes plumb the depths of London's underworld

With the docks secured and the remaining villains now under the watchful eye of Figgis, our heroes turn their attention to the sewers beyond and their inevitable encounter with Mickey Drabble and his croneys. Despite protestations from Chief McGee that ‘sneaking is for foreigners’ or ‘some type of Dago’, Usher Hall volunteers to venture into the darkness to scout ahead, even though he had previously proven that doors were his natural enemy. With the words of Chief McGee still ringing in his ears, Hall picked up a carbine lantern and climbed down into the filthy sewers.

The sewer waters, swollen by several days of rain, are a rushing torrent of effluent, washing over the pathways and rendering the bricks slimy and treacherous underfoot. Yet despite the perilous footing, hearing voices ahead, Hall extinguishes his lantern and edges forward along the path with surprising ease, even in the darkness of the sewers. Perhaps the ease with which he moves makes Hall overconfident, for as he approaches the source of the voices, the military man slips and plunges head first into the filthy waters. In danger of being swept away in the deluge, Hall desperately grasps at the ledge above and drawing upon all of his strength, drags his sodden and foul-smelling frame out of the sewage.

Squelching the last few yards, Hall spies three of Drabble’s ruffians guarding a doorway in the sewer wall before retracing his steps and informing his colleagues of his discovery, despite their efforts to place some distance between themselves and the stench that accompanies him. Even the stink of one of McGee’s foul-smelling cigarillos is not enough to hide the smell, though Figgis kindly offers a jug of water and some spare clothing to the unfortunate officer.

Our principals gather their thoughts and discuss their plan of attack. Chief McGee cuts to the heart of the matter with his approach of running in screaming then killing everyone, while Ellerson formulates the intriguing idea of bundling their captive villain into a barrel and letting him float past the ruffians in the hope they will give chase down the sewers to save their compatriot. The idea of building a bridge is proposed, though when it is mentioned that it only needs to cross one side McGee does point out that bridges tend to go from one side to the other. Engineering considerations aside though, the decision is taken to lash themselves together and sneak towards the men in the hope of catching them off-guard, so with Chief McGee leading they begin to edge towards their prey.

Despite Felice tripping upon her skirts at the last moment, our heroes are almost within striking distance of their quarry before being spotted. One of the ruffians fires his rifle at Felice, but only succeeds in tearing a whole in her favourite blouse which causes her to raise an eyebrow in his direction. Hall launches himself at the first man, efficiently gutting him with sabre and knife before the man can scream. Meanwhile, Felice snaps the neck of the rifleman with a well-aimed chop of her hand, sending his lifeless corpse tumbling into the water. The third man, overcome with fear at the sudden and ferocious attack flees through the door to raise the alarm, swiftly followed by Ellerson.

Our heroes come to another door, through which the ruffian evidently fled, and take position outside it ready for the villains to show their faces, but when they refuse to come forth, Usher Hall takes it upon himself to force the matter and with pistol and sabre in hand, kicks the door open only to be met with a flurry of cudgel blows and a rifle shot that tears through his thigh.

Felice quickly charges in behind Hall, once again killing a man with a vicious strike to the throat, and even Rutherford, perhaps bolstered by their success taunts another man – unsettling him with aspersions regarding the marital status of his parents, thus enabling the detective to place a well-aimed blow with his sword-cane that pierces the man’s heart and kills him on the spot. Hall, once again on the attack cleaves the final man in twain and once again our protagonists push forward.

Bursting into the pump room, our heroes are finally able to confront Mickey Drabble and his villainous crew. However, as they charge in, they discover that Drabble has the semi-conscious Walters tied to a pipe down in the reservoir below the pump room and upon seeing the team shouts for his men to activate the pumps and drown the man.

Our heroes make short work of Drabble’s gang, and in moments the criminal boss himself is fending off blow after lethal blow from Hall who narrowly avoids butchering the nefarious rogue. Felice takes over from Hall and beats Drabble back further, forcing him to flee from the relentless assault. Despite outnumbering our heroes, Drabble’s gang’s nerve quickly fails – compounded further by an unlucky shot from a sharpshooter than blows a hole clean through another rogue’s head. With his gang in disarray and himself close to collapse, Drabble drops to his knees and surrenders followed quickly by his surviving men.

With the path now clear, Ellerson sprints across the reservoir walkway and deactivates the pumps, saving Walters from a watery death. Rutherford and Hall rush to Walters aid and help him up from the reservoir. Meanwhile, McGee and Felice secure the wounded and obviously terrified Drabble to a chair, giving McGee the opportunity to test his theory that Drabble is in fact in disguise. However, he discounts this idea when Drabble’s hair and nose refuse to detach from his head.

Felice approaches the villain and showing him the contents of her medical bag, prepares him for interrogation, warning her companions that they should tell her what questions they wish asked as they may only get one opportunity to ask them. Evidently shaken by what he saw in the bag and Felice’s bedside manner, Drabble begs for his life and promises to tell all. Ellerson and Rutherford meanwhile, both spot a mark on the brickwork near the door, identical to that on Sir Malcolm’s office window frame.

He was hired by a mysterious figure to kidnap Walters and bring him to this place for interrogation. He only met the hooded figure once, in Regent’s Park, and received all further instructions either by anonymous note or through an agent who never gave his name, but bore a scar over his left eye and had the air of an undertaker about him. Drabble was to recover an artefact from Walters then await further instruction. Rutherford enquires after the lovely Miss Clarke’s letters, also held by Drabble, but is intrigued to discover that the shadowy figure also employed the rogue to procure them on his behalf.

Speaking with Walters, the team learn that he does indeed have the tablet, though realising he was being followed he buried it in his sister Edith’s garden before his abduction and despite Drabble’s efforts he refused to give up this information.

Satisfied that Drabble is a mere pawn in a larger game, our protagonists eventually decide to release the wretch, though with instruction to inform his employer that they now have the tablet and that they will be watching him should he attempt to double-cross them.

With Drabble now in their debt, our adventurers depart the sewers and return Walters to Courtney Court where they unearth the mysterious tablet that has so far caused so much death and destruction. Though unable to decode the mysterious writing etched into its surface, they take a rubbing of the inscription and return with it to Rosewood House to present it to Admiral Savage, along with the ever-thankful Walters who offers to join them as manservant and general batman out of both gratitude and sense of duty.

Their work in South London complete, our heroes return to the Explorer’s Society and prepare for more sombre duties; namely the funerals of their two companions, Doctor Verity Jones and Lieutenant Wolseley.

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Act 1, Scene 3: Doing the Lambeth Walk
In which our heroes lose their way but gain a new ally

Our heroes stagger from the cacophony and bloodshed of Battersea Park Pump House, carrying both the living and the fallen into the rain soaked park. With the Park’s attending Bobbies already approaching, alerted by a quick-thinking walker, McGee sprints back inside to dispose of the remains of the creatures, hurling them into the furnaces and quickly bringing them up to power again. Both Rutherford and Hall head the police off before they can enter the Pump House, and spinning a tale of dangerous machinery and sabotage, they placate the officers’ suspicions and are soon considered heroes for their actions. The incapacitated workers are revived and corroborate the story of masked intruders attacking them at first light.

While dealing with the authorities, our heroes see a young woman expertly cross the police line, the officers manning it oblivious to her passing. Approaching the party, she introduces herself simply as ‘Felice’ stating that the Admiral has heard of the incident at Battersea and requests they return immediately to report on the progress of their investigation. Despite intense suspicion from Rutherford regarding Felice and her claims to be on Explorers’ Society business, the heroes make their return.

The Admiral is beside himself with worry over the dark course the investigation appears to be taking – even more so over the deaths of Wolseley and Doctor Jones. Having heard a summary of what the heroes have discovered so far, he reaffirms the urgency in locating the missing Walters. While the party continue their investigation, he will see to the funeral arrangements for their fallen comrades arranging the ceremonies to take place in two days’ time at Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey. Considering the recent attempts on their lives, Rutherford proposes taking additional security precautions, a suggestion agreed upon by the Admiral, who excuses himself to write some telegrams and call in some favours.

Exhausted by the morning’s terrible events, the group refresh themselves at the Explorers’ Society. Rutherford briefly retires to write some private letters relating to the demise of Lieutenant Wolseley before departing to speak with Miss Clarke, the unfortunate young lady whose personal letters are now in the hands of the nefarious Mickey Drabble. Accompanied by Chief McGee, the detective travels to Bayswater and secures a description of Drabble from the terrified young lady. Perhaps this description will prove useful in tracking down the gutless blackmailer?

At this point, the investigators consider their next steps, postulating that perhaps attempting to ambush Drabble when he next contacts Miss Clarke would be their best course of action. Overlooking possible clues discovered previously at the pump house, the team instead choose to investigate the Beggar’s Luck public house on the Old Kent Road; allegedly the headquarters of Drabble’s villainous empire.

With Rutherford once again adopting the guise of Tom Fink, our heroes approach the pub intent upon finding Drabble. However, in a moment of surprising caution, the party choose to take up position around the pub to monitor comings and goings.

McGee casually saunters towards the entrance of the pub, but hearing sombre music from within enquires of a local as to the source of the music only to discover the pub is holding a wake for those men killed during the attack in Lambeth. Quickly realising that he would be likely to be recognised, particularly by the unfortunate cab driver, McGee retreats and Rutherford leaps into action.

Working the room while keeping a low profile, the nervous Rutherford learns that Drabble has not been seen at the pub since the day before and despite Felice monitoring the establishment for several hours later there is no sign of the villain. In the words of Usher Hall, ‘its best not to start trouble at a wake’ and the group choose to retreat rather than cause further confrontation.

Once regrouped at the Society, our protagonists spend many hours debating their next course of action. Finally, in the wee hours of the night Ellerson recalls the white dust observed outside the pump house and the team quickly depart for Rutherford’s laboratory where it is identified as clay dust – most likely from the Royal Doulton potteries down on the river at Lambeth.

While Rutherford examines the dust, Ellerson begins to experiment with the hand devices wielded by the sinister intruders and though he fails to crack the secret to their use, does postulate the theory that they are mentally activated and resolves to explore their use further. Felice, a keen martial artist, joins Ellerson in examining the devices and takes one with which to experiment later.

Arriving at the river in Lambeth, the group spare no time searching the approaches to the factory and discover further signs of recent activity near the bank of the river and following the stairs down to the mud below approach the pottery’s docks, usually employed to unload clay from river barges, but now being used for more sinister purposes.

Rutherford, Felice and Hall stealthily approach the only door into the docks, but when Rutherford tries the door he alerts one of Drabble’s men inside. The man opens the door, expecting another of the local street urchins but is shocked to be confronted by Felice, who in one swift strike renders him senseless.

Rutherford attempts to sneak into the docks, but clattering over an unseen pile of boxes, his movement alerts another guard. However, the guard has little time to confront the detective as Chief McGee charges towards him with a bellow, but misjudges the distance to his target and completely misses the guard. With a loud splash, McGee disappears into the filthy water beside the barge.

Clearly confused by this sudden and unusual attack, the guard moves to peer into the water, but is stunned by the ever-silent Felice with a strike to the back of his head. As the man is knocked towards the edge of the barge, Chief McGee springs from the water and wrapping his arms around the man’s chest attempts to drag him into the water. Felice once again assaults the man, and McGee quickly drags the now unconscious villain into the inky water.

Now alerted, the remaining guards draw weapons and ready their attack while McGee pulls himself from the water. Usher Hall breaks into a sprint with the intention of charging the nearby door down but misjudges the strength of the obstacle and is repulsed leaving the door to shake violently in its frame. Rolling his eyes, Rutherford steps past the stunned Hall and opens the door, only to be confronted by two further guards – alerted to the danger but Hall’s failed charge.

Meanwhile, Ellerson demonstrates his new-found speed and sprints effortlessly across the docks. Whipping out a pistol he confronts the nearest guard. Despite the pistol pointing at him, the guard closes the distance between the two and a melee ensues.

With Felice at his side, Rutherford begins a desperate fight with the two guards and despite receiving an accidental strike from his new colleague in the midst of battle, the two are eventually able to overcome their foes. Out in the main docks, Hall, in a moment of heroism, leaps across to Ellerson’s aid and raining punches down upon his opponent is eventually able to subdue the man, holding him for later questioning. While the Chief and another guard trade seemingly ineffectual blows with one another, Ellerson intercepts the last guard; a man armed with a deadly looking rifle and once again attempts to intimidate the man with his pistol. Though momentarily unsure, the man finally raises his weapon and fires a shot wide of the archaeologist who returns fire. The bullet passes clean through the band of the man’s top hat and after a moment of stunned surprise the man collapses to the ground as a stream of blood begins to pour from beneath his hat. Horrified at his own actions, Ellerson falls insensible for a moment before composing himself once more.

Finally, having sparred with his opponent for too long, McGee finally feints and breaching the man’s guard knocks him unconscious with a single punch and sends him hurtling into the water.

With their immediate foes subdued, our heroes discover the gagged and bound form of Figgis, the Night Watchman of the docks. Releasing the unfortunate Figgis, they discover that Drabble and his croneys have been using the sewers beyond the docks as a base of operations for the last few days, bringing with them a bound figure who they dragged into the sewers only yesterday. Thankful for rescue, Figgis offers to call the authorities while the team head further into the darkness on the trail of Drabble and Walters.

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Act 1, Scene 2: Death and the Maiden
Closing in on the missing man, but at what cost?

We find our intrepid investigators in peril, surrounded on all sides by the scum of Lambeth’s criminal fraternity. Chief McGee, wasting little time, leaps across the roof of the carriage to pile-drive the first assailant into the ground shouting menacingly with glee. The intrepid Lieutenant Wolseley leaps from the door of the carriage only for Barnabus Rutherford to close the door behind him, unsportingly jamming the scabbard of his sword cane through the door handle to hold it closed. Meanwhile, Usher Hall and Doctor Jones, both drawing their sidearms let lose through the opposite window at the approaching menaces.

Croaker, the hoodlum boss, remains at the rear for now, signalling for his other lackey to release the dogs, which bound snarling across the pavement towards Chief McGee at the rear of the carriage. Meanwhile, Wolseley finds himself surrounded by thugs though his deft swordsmanship wards of their attacks.

Still roaring and cursing, Chief McGee leaps across a pile of barrels and stamps another thug into the pavement, snapping his spine and killing him instantly, while terrifying the man standing beside him. While gunfire from Jones and Hall rips into the enemy on the far side of the carriage, the dogs reach first Wolseley then McGee. While Wolseley fights with one dog, its teeth snapping at his coat sleeve, McGee casually snaps the neck of the beast attacking him, throwing his body to the ground while winking at the remaining hoodlum.

Despite taking a crack on the temple from a cudgel, Jones is able to dispatch another assailant, as does Hall. McGee steps up to Wolseley who is still grappling the second dog, and smashes his fists into the creature’s head, crushing its skull and spraying both Wolseley and the rear of the carriage with brain and blood. Upon seeing this, the final assailants quickly surrender though their boss Croaker makes good his escape upon seeing the outcome of this meeting – no doubt to report back to his boss, Drabble.

The surviving thugs plead for their lives, particularly from the vengeful advances of Doctor Jones, who begins examining mattocks suited to her planned retribution. Thankfully her companions persuade her to hold her revenge – the men swear they were only paid to rough up our heroes, and nobody told them there would be shooters neither. They and their boss work for Mickey Drabble; a criminal boss said to have fingers in many of South London’s criminal pies.

With that, Chief McGee placed his hand on the bloody hull of the carriage calling out ‘mine’ and claiming the carriage as his own, leaving the insensible driver alongside the bodies of the other men. With that our heroes departed for Courtney Court.

Meanwhile…

Arriving at the offices of White, Ulrich and Hartson, Doctor Ellerson is shortly introduced to Mr Hartson, the young but ambitious junior partner in the firm. Having heard Ellerson’s enquiry regarding Sir Malcolm’s safe, Hartson explains that as the executors of his will, they were instructed to empty the safe and deal with matters accordingly. The safe contained personal items and correspondence from many years previous, but also a leather letter pouch containing a fragment of parchment, which he duly handed over to Doctor Ellerson as a representative of the British Museum.

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A cursory examination of the parchment revealed it to be early-First Dynasty, possibly pre-Pharoanic. Before heading to Courtney Court to locate his companions, Ellerson stopped at the British Museum to converse with the ever-enthusiastic Collins regarding the finds returned from the Egyptian dig. They included numerous primitive statuettes – some with insect-heads, arrowheads, pieces of pottery, grain spores and husks, jade and obsidian jewellery, some human bone fragments, a parchment fragment and a curved metal tablet bearing an inscription. The parchment and the metal tablet were recorded as being signed out to Sir Malcolm still.

Reuniting with Ellerson, our protagonists arrive at Courtney Court, and this time dressed in his normal clothes and accompanied by Doctor Jones in the hope that a woman’s presence might defuse tensions, approaches the guards. After recovering from the astonishment of the men not having heard of the great Barnabus Rutherford, the detective presented the leader of the men, Big Bill, with his card and requested he speak with Edith Walters.

Soon after, they are invited into Courtney Court, where Edith Walters still surrounded by the protective menfolk, hears them out regarding their enquiries about her brother Frank. Edith explains that Frank turned up four nights ago with news of Sir Malcolm’s death and that he had some business to take care off for him. Frank was very nervous and convinced he was being watched and insisted that his presence remain a secret. The next night, an intruder was seen on the roof of the terraces and fortunately scared away by the local men who have been keeping watch recently, what with the reports of vagrants going missing.

Frank became even more nervous, and Edith and Big Bill decided to hide him somewhere away from the Court, choosing Bill’s place of work, the pump house at Battersea Park. Bill took Frank up there and along with four of his men (two of whom would be working anyway maintaining the boilers) to look after him. Despite rumblings from the big man, Edith tells Bill to take our heroes to see Frank,, trusting of their intention to help her brother.

The rain begins shortly after, with a thin drizzle soaking Verity Jones who elects to drive the carriage to the Park. The Park is quiet, aside from one or two stubborn walkers and nannies with children. Bill quickly realises that something is amiss as the guard he ordered is nowhere to be seen, and as the group move inside it becomes clear that nobody is maintaining the boilers which sound dangerously unstable.

Reaching the boiler room, the machinery inside is running and maximum and throughout the room pieces of machinery and pipework are beginning to buckle, gouts of scalding steam hissing in the air. Bill’s four men lie incapacitated around the room and he shouts for our heroes to help his men while he runs for the control room to shut down the machines. Over the din he shouts for them to pull the release handles on the individual machines to relieve some of the pressure before the entire pump house explodes.

Usher Hall and Verity Jones rush north to release the valves on the machines, while checking on the state of the unconscious men. Barnabus Rutherford heads west to another lever and to the prostate worker, while Verity Jones and the brave Lieutenant Wolseley headed into the interior of the room. Chief McGee and Big Bill sprint across the catwalks and McGee reaches the door to the control room in impressive time, but opens it to be faced with another shadowy intruder pointing a two-stringed crossbow directly at him. Moving with unnerving speed, McGee throws himself at the creature and grapples its undulating form to the ground.

At that moment, the creature’s four companions drop down from the ceiling where they had been hiding and the trap is sprung. The first creature lands behind Big Bill and punching him flat-palmed employs the strange device on its hand to send the big man flying through the air to land several yards away, dazed but unhurt. Another strikes Rutherford, wounding him and hurling him back across the room. Wolseley avoids the attack against him as does Usher Hall, while Doctor Jones – deaf and oblivious to the chaos above continues to pull levers and tend to the wounded.

Big Bill, not being the brightest man, repeatedly charges his attacker before being thrown backwards again, finally collapsing under a terrible strike to his sternum killing him before he lands on the walkway in a crumpled heap. Usher Hall and Wolseley both withstand the onslaught of their assailants though Hall is knocked back several. Verity Jones, now under attack is wounded and is forced to retreat, though is quickly passed by the sprinting form of Rutherford; who having been wounded has chosen to run for his life. Wolseley though is not so fortunate and a strike from the creature’s hand weapon ruptures his heart killing him instantly.

Unfortunately for Jones, one of the creatures catches her on the stairs and blasts her backwards into the wall. Her leg smashed with the bone jutting from the wound, the intrepid Doctor Jones manages to remain conscious momentarily to see Usher Hall sprinting across the catwalks above to save her, before passing away silently against the wall.

Meanwhile, Chief McGee after endlessly wrestling with the hideous jellied creature grasps one of the hoses feeding into its mask and wrenches it loose, spraying green ooze across the walls but allowing him to leap for the control panel and bringing the machinery offline.

Down below Ellerson dispatches another creature with a well placed shot from his pistol and sprints off to help Jones, but reaching her lifeless body he momentarily freezes before his eyes fill with rage and he launches himself at the last creature which is attacking the desperately parrying coward Rutherford. Without blinking Ellerson steps up to the creature, places his pistol against its head and empties the revolver’s last three bullets into it, painting the wall and door beside it with green ichor.

As the final creature escaped through the window, and the machinery finally comes to rest, our heroes can mourn the loss of the intrepid (and disturbingly bloody thirsty) Doctor Verity Jones, and the brave but ultimately doomed Lieutenant Wolsely. Their names shall be added to the Roll of Honour of the Explorer’s Society.

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Act 1: Shadows Over Bloomsbury
In which our protagonists investigate the untimely demise of an esteemed colleague

We join our protagonists at the funeral of Sir Malcolm Wells; esteemed alumni of the Explorer’s Society and a great friend to all. Despite the chill of the May morning air, the great and good of London Society attends the funeral to pay their respects with such great men as John Milne and Sir George Stokes in attendance, not to mention the ubiquitous presence of the Reverend Edward Humbert of the New Trinity Church.

More intriguing to our protagonists is the mysterious veiled lady seen observing the funeral from a distance, though once spotted she is quick to retire from view. Who could she be?

Following the funeral of their great friend, our heroes are invited by Admiral Sir Oliver Savage (Retired), President of the Explorer’s Society, to a private luncheon at Rosewood House – the Society’s headquarters, in Piccadilly. There, over brandy and a fine selection of cold cuts from Rosewood House’s excellent kitchens, the Admiral details his belief that Sir Malcolm’s death was neither an accident nor a consequence of ill health, but something far more sinister. The Admiral produces a letter, written in Sir Malcolm’s hand and delivered to him by White, Ulric and Hartson, the late archaeologist’s solicitors:

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The contents of the letter and the failure of Sir Malcolm’s manservant, Walters have led the Admiral to believe that Sir Malcolm’s death was related to the mysterious tablet mentioned in the letter and requests that our heroes investigate further.

Confident that our heroes (and heroine) will act with discretion in investigating the mysterious death of Sir Malcolm, the Admiral places the resources of the Explorer’s Society at their disposal and bids them to begin their task without delay.

Our protagonists waste no time and head immediately to the British Museum to investigate Sir Malcolm’s office, where his lifeless body was discovered. Under the guidance of Barnabus Rutherford and Doctor Ellerson, a thorough search of the office is conducted which reveals a number of clues. Carved into the wooden window frame is an unusual mark – unfamiliar to all – and beneath it on the floor a smattering of red dust, which Rutherford quickly gathers into an evidence pouch for later analysis.

Doctor Ellerson notices a map of Sir Malcolm’s recent expedition to Egypt and remarks that the location of the site is far from the usual locations of Egyptian archaeological finds of recent years. Meanwhile, Rutherford scours Sir Malcolm’s desk and chances upon the traces of an address left on Sir Malcolm’s desk blotter which he intuitively holds up to a mirror to reveal the words ‘Edith, Courtney Court, Kennington’

With the office investigated to their satisfaction, our protagonists head north to Sir Malcolm’s residence in Marylebone to determine the whereabouts of Walters, though they approach carefully on foot in order to ensure the residence is not under surveillance. Seeing only young courting couples and the ever-present members of the New Trinity Church holding a service on the streets nearby they ring the doorbell and are invited into the house by Mrs O’Doole, Sir Malcolm’s housekeeper; obviously in a state of worry and distress.

Mrs O’Doole tells them that Walters has not been seen for four days now, having stated that he had some business to attend to for Sir Malcolm. She explains that there was an intruder in the garden only last night. She called the police who found nothing of note in the garden, but she is now at her wit’s end.

Suddenly the sound of breaking glass is heard coming from somewhere above in the house. Chief McGee, Doctor Jones and Doctor Ellerson leap up and head into the garden to investigate while Usher Hall, Rutherford and his assistant Wolseley charge up the stairs to the top floor from where the sound emanated.
Finding fragments of glass in the garden and spotting the bedroom window broken above, the party on the ground floor rush back inside.

Meanwhile, Usher Hall lights a gas lantern and charges into the bedroom, finding it empty. Fortunately, Rutherford hears movement from a side room and they move in to confront the intruder. Kicking the door open, they are confronted by a sinister figure, garbed all in black leather with its face hidden behind a strange mask and goggles. The figure immediately strikes a martial stance, one hand held back ready to strike with a strange device in its palm. The rest of the party arrive in the room and take position to prevent its escape.

Chief McGee, ever ready for action charges the figure, barging Hall and Ellerson aside and lands a powerful blow upon the intruder’s chest with his fist, but is astonished to discover his usually devastating strike has little effect as his fist sinks into the leather with little resistance from within. Doctor Jones, her pistol at the ready, expertly drops the figure with a bullet that passes clean through its body, though all are startled to see that as it falls, its body collapses into a heap of leather, from which a foul-smelling and unearthly green ichor oozes.

Instructing Mrs O’Doole to pack her bag and to stay with her sister, our heroes take samples of the foul substance for further analysis. While Ellerson and Jones begin a systematic search of the residence, Rutherford, McGee and Wolseley make haste to Kennington intent upon locating the missing Walters. Usher Hall stays with the scientists to guard the residence, should any further attempts be made to gain entry.

In Kennington, Rutherford and McGee locate Courtney Court; a ramshackle courtyard surrounded by lower class terraces not far from Bedlam hospital. There they see that the courtyard entrance is guarded by a dozen burly men who appear agitated and on edge.

Rutherford, having assumed the disguise of Tom Fink, street vagrant, approaches the men in an attempt to gain entrance, but seeing this beggar the men are quick to send him on his way. Chief McGee attempts a more direct approach, but is met with suspicion and threats of violence should he continue his questioning. Despite being confident that these men would present no problem for him to deal with, he returns to Rutherford. Rutherford proposes that Wolseley should attempt to bribe the men to permit them access to the street. However, McGee’s concern regarding this plan and Wolseley’s own alarm at the prospect forces a return to Rutherford’s offices, where they are joined by Ellerson.

Back at Rutherford’s offices, analysis of the red dust reveals that it is Martian in origin, while investigation of the intruder’s suit shows it to contain a sealed rubber membrane; no doubt created to contain the foul ichor that oozed from it when punctured. Those present do not have the knowledge or equipment to analyse the ichor itself, and it is set aside for later perusal.

Meanwhile at Sir Malcolm’s residence, the search of the property uncovers correspondence between Walters and his sister Edith, which identifies her as living at Courtney Court. Doctor Ellerson also uncovers notes made by Sir Malcolm in which he states his belief that the archaeological site in Luxor relates to the long-dead V’kan people; predecessors of the Egyptian Pharoanic tribes who originated in what is now Turkey and settled the Nile Valley centuries before the first Egyptian dynasties.

The next morning, our protagonists regroup and determine that their next course of action should be to gain entry to Courtney Court. Doctor Ellerson continues his investigation of Sir Malcolm’s finds at the Museum, before heading to the offices of White, Ulric and Hartson in order to gain access to Sir Malcolm’s private safe.

The rest of our party hail a conveniently present hansom carriage with the intention of visiting Courtney Court, but as they cross the river into South London, Rutherford realises that they are heading east into the slums of Lambeth. Chief McGee pokes his head out of the window to reprimand the driver, but the man only ignores him and increases speed, driving the carriage dangerously through the streets. McGee leaps out of the window and pulls himself up onto the roof of the carriage, intent upon discussing the driver’s error more intimately, but the man violently veers the carriage into a dead end alley with McGee clinging on through sheer strength.

As the carriage comes to screeching halt, the driver attempts to leap from the vehicle, but is caught on the chin by a powerful upper cut from McGee which sends the miscreant sprawling onto the filth-strewn cobbles below. With the carriage now at rest, our protagonists realise they are ambushed as burly thugs converge on them from all sides armed with clubs, while one man releases two vicious, snarling dogs from their leashes.

Who are these filthy scum and who is directing their assault on our heroes? Will Doctor Ellerson discover the contents of Sir Malcolm’s safe? Find out in our next gripping installment of Shadows Over Bloomsbury!!!

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