“Do you have a moment to talk about our Lord and Saviour? You look unwell, sir. If you have any troubles weighing you down, please tell me. I’m from the United States—Reverend James Warren Jones. Most people call me Brother.”
“Where do you come from?”
“A little town called Shanghai, West Virginia. I can tell from your accent that you’re American too! Let’s shake. Now, I know, it’s a bit irregular, a white man shaking hands with a black man, but I’m hoping that here, on the other side of the world, we can put racial differences aside.”
[I was cracking up the whole time—OP’s expression was priceless. I pondered calling for a Stability check, but decided that just meeting someone who was head-wound crazy wasn’t enough to trigger one. JP also showed up just at this time.]
Jimmy opens the door. “Francis! They searched our hotel! They arrested Freddie, again!”
“Jimmy, take a breath. Let me introduce you to my Negro friend here, the Reverend Jones.”
“James Warren Jones, reverend by trade, but most people call me Brother Jones. Put ’em there, Jimmy.”
“I…wish I had been arrested.”
“Well, you weren’t, praise Jesus.”
“Praise Jesus indeed,” says Noah Cross, entering. “I see the Reverend has met you.”
“I don’t think we’ve had the pleasure,” says Francis. “This is my associate, James Wright. I believe we all have a mutual acquaintance—Charleston Chiu.”
“Will he be joining us tonight?” asks Brother Jones.
“We can only hope!” says Cross. “I seem to recall meeting him in Zanzibar. Fine fellow, bit misguided. To be frank, I don’t think the elevator ran all the way to the top with him. But I’m sure he’s fine now—he just needed to find himself.”
“He just needed to find Jesus,” says Jones.
“I’m sure you’re right, Reverend. Why, before you found Jesus, you were probably a completely different man.”
Cross takes them into his office. He offers them a drink, which Jimmy laps up quickly. “I was just asking Brother Jones to come out to our excavation in the desert, to preach to our workers.”
“An ancient city, perhaps?” says Francis. “I’m sorry, subterfuge bores me sometimes. Ancient bat gods and such?”
“Mr. O’Donnell, you sound like you want to visit yourself.”
“I have an archaeologist with me.”
“Ah, Dr. Dodge. Well, we must insist on secrecy, but I’d be delighted to have you all. What we’ve found in the desert will change not just the future of archaeology, but of all mankind.”
“Are you shipping things to Paris?”
“To Paris? No. But unscrupulous men on the edges of the dig may be stealing items. My security forces can’t be everywhere.”
“Can we leave tonight?”
“That would be fine.”
“Let’s say ten.”
“Oh, your friend Count Orlok? I can make the charges go away, if you like. Be happy and delighted to have him with us.”
Jimmy is tasked with gathering explosives and meeting Francis later. He stops for a cup of tea.
As he finishes the tea, he sees his name spelled out in tea leaves at the bottom.
“Another cup of tea, sir?”
He wanders out to find a flophouse, since their hotel got burned. “We rent by the hour, sir. Can I get you a sheila?”
“All right. Oh, here’s your complementary cup of tea.”
Jimmy stretches out on the bed and takes a nap. When he wakes up, the tea cup has steamed up the window.
Written on the window is YOU ARE IN DANGER.
“Are you a benevolent tea leaf spirit? Do you know what I’m in danger from?”
“Jimmy, you’re talking to a window,” says Francis, walking into the room.
“It said I was in danger.”
“If the window is talking to you, I wouldn’t believe it. Trust in you. Make sure that when windows try to talk to you, you don’t listen.”
[This ended up being enough to trigger a Psychoanalysis roll from Francis, which helped Jimmy—he didn’t have his Solace, so his Stability hadn’t refreshed. Too bad he failed the roll.]
They plan to meet after sunset at the warehouse. Francis arranges to have a room ready so that they can take a shower after burning down the warehouse, so as to wash off the soot and smell of accelerant.
That night Francis and Jimmy sneak into the warehouse, evading the shore patrol. As they hop through the window, Francis suddenly realizes they’re not alone. “Duck, Jimmy!” he shouts, rolling away from someone swinging a club at him.
OP: He lied to me?
Me: Yup! Normally the oppressed people are on your side in my game, but this time they’re not!]
Four Kooris move in towards them. Francis whips out his boot gun and the sawed-off. Two tremendous booms later, two Kooris drop the the ground, but the remaining two smack Francis hard with a club.
Jimmy pulls out his pistol. “I do not have time for this,” he says, glowering at them.
The two Kooris turn and scamper away.
[Intimidation spend by JP.]
“Set the charges fast,” says Francis. “We need to be out of here in less than a minute.”
As Jimmy hurries down an aisle, a crate suddenly tumbles in front of him and splits open. Inside is a strange machine, unlike anything he’s ever seen.
“Jimmy, we don’t have time!” barks Francis, but Jimmy scoops the array of rods, wheels, mirrors and an eye tube. Given enough time Jimmy thinks he could figure out how to work it. Oddly enough, although the machine itself is clearly alien technology, the parts are all made by humans.
[And here we discovered that Jimmy didn’t actually have Explosives skill—it was Charleston that had that skill.]
Jimmy sets the charges. Suddenly he realizes that he has accidentally lit one of the fuses. He barrels out the door, followed by Francis.
The shockwave knocks both of them to the ground. They get up, mostly unharmed. Behind them the remains of the warehouse are burning.
Sparks and cinders blow in the air.
Too late, Francis realizes the danger of lighting a fire in an area surrounded by wooden houses, in a desert.
Soon several buildings are on fire. A woman buttonholes Francis. “Help me, my daughter is trapped in our house!”
Rushing over, Francis sees a little girl standing in a second story window. “Jump!” he barks, and the girl leaps neatly into his arms.
“My kitty—” she says. Francis hands her back to her mother.
“Oh thank you sir,” says the woman. “I’ll be sure to mention to the police how you helped us!”
Groaning, Francis hurries off into the night.
Jimmy, not bogged down by saving anyone’s life, gets back to the flophouse first and takes a long, mostly cold shower. He sits down on the cot.
Suddenly he realizes that someone is sitting next to him. “Why can’t you bother someone else,” he mutters, afraid to turn.
“Hello, James!” says Noor.
“Didn’t you get my messages? Oh, you found the thing. That’s good.”
“It was a window talking to me!”
“I know, I’m not very good at this yet.”
“Dead? Yes, I know.”
“Because you were always nice to me. And also Charleston seems to have taken a vacation.”
“You were with us…”
“Indeed, I got turned inside out by the Dark Lord. It was kind of ironic—the last thing I remember thinking was, yes, I know how to turn a dog inside out! Your sister is very worried about you, I check in on her from time to time. Would you like to see her?”
“I think it would be better if she didn’t see you.”
“Oh, we would not appear to her. I can only appear to you right now.”
“Why are you here?”
“To help you! Do you have Charleston’s books?”
“Dr. Mwimbe has them.”
“Oh, I guess she has all the books now. And all the artifacts! I suppose if you showed that device to her, she’d take that too. I’m not sure what it does, but I think it has to do with mind control and time travel. Oh, and you are also in terrible danger.”
[OP: I’ve just realized something terrible. Mwimbe has been playing us all along.
Me: She’s been quite helpful…
CP: I just figured that was the price of her getting what she wants.]
“It’s hard for me to think of time from a mortal perspective. But…trap doors are dangerous. And be afraid of the dark. Oh, and you may get unexpected help from an unexpected source. Wait. I’m supposed to be more cryptic. Was that cryptic enough?”
“Oh, good. I’m not used to this speaking from the dead business yet.”
“I’m not used to talking to the dead.”
“We’ll get used to it together! Jimmy, I like you. And you can see me! I don’t know, everyone else I tried to talk to couldn’t see me. It’s like you’re lucky! I have to go now.”
“Dead? I will.”
Jimmy crawls into the corner of his bunk and begins to play with the device. He thinks that he could figure it out, if he were to think about the eldritch principles a bit…
He decides to do that after he’s recovered from seeing a ghost.
[It’s a one-point Mythos spend to activate the device. JP was wise.
I couldn’t resist bringing Noor back, bad form I know—but she was one of my favorite NPCs to play. This way I figured I could harrass a PC into losing some Stability (it’s a 7-point Stability test to “talk with someone you know well who is dead.”) Plus, as we will see, Jimmy can use Noor’s spirit to see his sister, allowing him to refresh his Stability.
Episode XVI is where I’m coming for their Stability, I think.]
They gather outside Noah Cross’ office. “Mr. O’Donnell, are you all right? You look like you fell down,” says Cross.
“There was a problem at the docks. I was helping some lady with her daughter.”
“Aren’t you the good samaritan. Good to see you Brother Jones. I’ve always liked the night sky here—you can see my namesake hanging above us. Now, gentlemen, please step into the back of this truck.”
Melissa Ford, RN meets the Rev for the first time. “Oh, Mr. Chiu! You found him!”
“This is Reverend Jones,” says Francis.
“I’ve heard of this sort of thing,” says Melissa. “Mr. O’Donnell, you do know his condition has taken a serious turn for the worse. Has the Charleston personality returned at all?”
“Not that I know.”
“Maybe we should sedate him and take him to a hospital.”
“Where? Anyway, there’s a fire down by the docks. It’s probably burned down.”
[We joked that not only had Francis probably blown Freddie’s cover, but he was doing a heckuva job striking a blow for Imperialism. I wondered what his next career would be—troubleshooter for Standard Oil?]