They are met at the dock by a throng of people. “Free the Reverend!” some shout. “Sifu! The bullets did not harm him! Bless us! We believe in your church of machine gun violence?”
One quick trip to the jail later, Jimmy is put into infirmary, Freddie into his own cell, and Charleston to the [racial slur] tank with the other Chinese prisoners.
The Rev spends some time checking the welfare of his cellmates.
[First Aid use by CP.]
“Are you the one they call the machine gun priest?” says one.
“I don’t like that title,” says the Rev. He opens his coat and a snake hisses at them all.
He begins to read from his “bibble.”
As it turns out, there is another African in the cell. “You should all listen to him. He is impervious. And reading from that book makes him very persuasive! I would bet you could convert an entire village just by talking to them. Just pray to God, in the right way.”
“I only know the way I preach.”
“There are many ways to preach.”
“But those are the wrong ways.”
“Ah, yes, many wrong ways. But then there are the right ways, the secret ways, only taught to his prophets.”
“Is that an eye infection you have there?”
“It is nothing. My irises grow large in the dim light. I like your philosophy. It makes me…chuckle.”
“I feel I’ve met you before.”
“Really? Perhaps in Africa—one can find almost anything in the wide-open vistas there. Have you been to the desert? It is the anvil of God, and the sun is the hammer. It will anneal your faith, burn away your impurities. May I see your snakes?”
“Do you have the faith?”
“I think I do.”
“This one is called Noor. I don’t know why I call her that.”
“The name means ‘Shining’. Her eyes shine! You should listen to this snake. The snake will tell you the right way to pray to God.”
“I just came from a garden. You want to know the lesson about listening to snakes in a garden? Then read the Good Book—you’ll find out it’s not the right thing to do.”
“I know that story. They have always gotten that wrong. Adam and Eve ate the fruit, because that is their natural condition. This story is always misinterpreted. The serpent was not evil, he was teaching them the right way to speak to God. The serpent told them the way to avoid all these indignities. You would never grow old, never die, but you would never learn. So pain? Yes. Suffering? Yes. Sacrifice? Yes. But—they became as God said, and were like gods.”
“God told them, you have what you want, just don’t eat of that tree. But that damn dirty snake—sorry, guys—fooled them.”
“God made Adam, and Adam could not resist this temptation, because it is the nature of thinking things to want more knowledge. When they realize they cannot see everything in front of them, then they learn. And when they learn, they become like gods.”
“See, that’s where I’m different. I don’t want to know anything about the universe.”
“That is because you already know too much, my friend. There will come a time when you will have to talk to God. When that time comes, you will lose all your illusions, and be as simple as a child, but as knowledgeable as a god.”
“I talk to God every day, and he gives me solace and comfort and later, salvation.”
“You know what I like to read? Comic books. They are morality plays. All these detectives, and cowboys. The morality is so simple! I like them because morality is never so easy. But I think it would be nice if we could all be in the comics one day.”
“Then you must be some kind of moron.”
The man laughs. “I have been called many things, but never that! If anyone was to call me that, though, it would be you, Charleston.”
“I understand, I understand. Do not worry, I will not shatter your illusions today, it is not what I came here for.”
“You came here because you were arrested.”
“Was I arrested?”
The Rev turns to the other prisoners. “This guy, did he come in with you?”
“Who are you pointing to, preacher?” says one.
“Then who have I been talking to all this time?”
“It confused us, but we thought you were preaching. Then you changed to a strange language we didn’t recognize.”
“I must have switched to Latin.”
“I have heard Latin. I do not think it was Latin.”
Jack Seward comes around to visit Freddie. “Bit of a spot you’re in,” he says.
“I keep forgetting that our opponents have the resources of an empire behind them.”
“So, there are two ways I could help you. One relies on deception, the other on whatever remaining influence I might have. Which would you prefer?”
“Direct, I suppose. I’d rather not get you in trouble.”
“You know, she told me you’d say that.”
“Mina still owes me one or two things. She’s very fond of you, old man. She just shows it in a very…Wilhelmina fashion. Now, take these pills as soon as I leave. And Freddie…it was a great pleasure and honor. And…I think Arthur would be proud of you.”
At 9 pm Freddie takes the pills.
At midnight, he dies.
Jimmy wakes up with a start. Interns are wheeling Freddie into the room. “Cardiac arrest!” shouts one.
A doctor gives Freddie CPR. “Come on, damn you, live!”
Jimmy watches as a Chinese attendant slips up behind the doctor, and inject him with something.
The doctor collapses.
Down in the holding tanks, a guard walks along, raking his rattan cane against the bars. He quietly asks in Cantonese where the preacher is.
Charleston gets up and say his goodbyes to his cellmates. The guard takes him out into the corridor. “You’re going to get one, right behind the neck,” he says.
“Well, it will be quick.”
“Shut up, crazybags,” says Brady, uncuffing Charleston. “Come on, we gotta go pick up Freddie.”
“Careful! You’ll wake up the snakes.”
The door to the infirmary bursts open. “I’ve been bitten by a snake!” shouts Brady in Cantonese.
The Rev’s snakes hiss threateningly. The Chinese attendants scatter, except for two who bar the door behind the rest of them.
“Well, I’ll say this for crazypants, he made a good distraction,” says Brady.
At that moment Freddie sits up with a gasp.
“Up for a climb?” asks Brady.
“Down, I hope.”
One of Brady’s Chinese allies throws a rope out the window. Freddie, Jimmy, the Rev, and Brady slide down to the ground. Seward is waiting for them in a car.
Freddie glances around. “Where’s Bertie?”
“Mr. Gilbert?” says Seward. “I’m sorry, Freddie, but we couldn’t get there to protect him in time…I’m afraid he’s dead.”
[Don’t dangle your Sources in front of a GM; I’ve telegraphed repeatedly that when PCs aren’t around, then bad stuff is going to happen, since they weren’t around to deal with the threat.]
At the waterfront, a grumpy Captain Hardekker meets them and they board his yacht. Brady and Seward have managed to find out the destroyer’s destination.
[And thus closed the main campaign, and we started on the final resolution, which sees me get the Mountain of the Black Wind scenes in (what, you think I ditched them just because the mountain wasn’t in Africa?), and a final assault on Penhew’s base that got high marks for coolness from the players.
And then CP won the campaign.]