The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 10)

“Jimmy,” says Francis, “You’re done.”

“What?”

“You’re going home.”

“If there’s anyone who should go home, it’s you.”

“Well, I have work to do.”

“If I hadn’t knocked you out, you’d be dead!”

“Well, I saved your life.”

“So we’re even!”

“Hi,” says Katakatak/Guard. “Katakatak. Nice to meet you.”

“Francis.”

“Yeah, I know your name, you’re the son-of-a-bitch who shot me.” He clutches his head. “This mind is so cluttered! Why would you want to do that to a naked female? And what is the purpose of the peanut butter and jelly?”

“Humans have many base vices…” says the Rev.

“You are a very strange man. I see…as if there are two of you standing there.”

“Getting back to the peanut butter…there are many base vices…”

Katakatak snaps his fingers. The Rev freezes. “Charleston Chiu, you are in great danger on your current path. The Dark Lord has not forgotten you, disguise yourself as you will.” He snaps his fingers again.

“…which can be overcome with the power of Jesus!” finishes the Rev.

“Is this this the 20th or 21st Century?” asks Katakatak, as they circle around to the main entrance to go after Dr. Dodge and Ewa.

“Twentieth,” says Francis.

“Oh, yuck,” says Katakatak. “As I was saying, we came to this planet about a half a million years ago. Things were really different back then. Have you met the Elder Race? They’re still around here somewhere, under the ice. Great guys. Didn’t care for us much, but we were mostly extinct by then. Now, it was the Xothians that you really had to watch out for…now, how much do you care about human life?”

“Nothing is more important,” says the Rev.

“A great deal,” says Jimmy.

“We’re getting our people,” says Francis.

“Hrm. So much for collapsing the tunnels…I have an idea. I’ll have to handcuff the three of you…”

“I’m taking these three to detention,” says Katakatak to the guard at Huston’s clapboard house.

“Thank our Lord you got them! Have you seen the Doc? The programmers are all freaking out! It’s crazy down here!”

As the guard turns away, Katakatak shoots him. They go upstairs and rescue Ewa, Dodge, and the other prisoners. Jimmy searches Huston’s office.

He finds a large book called “Manual of Programming: Project Lovelace.” He also finds a handwritten journal Huston had been keeping. Rifling through it, he finds a timeline, showing how they arrived a few years ago, built a “mainframe”, and began working on a project.

At the end, he sees a date.

“14 January 1926: The Gate Opens.”


Sunday, 25 October 1926

After an uneventful truck drive across the desert, they return to Port Hedland. Jimmy heads to the docks to see about getting transport to Shanghai. He runs into Captain Hardekker, late of the River of Stars.

It seems that the acting first mate, Desmond Motombo, had found some gold on the derelict freighter. With the proceeds of this, Hardekker and he have bought a trim little diesel-powered yacht. Out of guilt—either conscience, or fear that Jimmy would testify in front of an Admiralty board—he offers to charter them to Shanghai.

“Shanghai? No, you’re going to Paris,” says Francis.

“What?”

“You’re done,” says Francis.

“We’re done,” says the Rev. “It’s over.”

“I tell you this. I go home to my sister? I have two months? I’m going to be fretting and worrying about what’s going to happen.”

“Jimmy. I was going to make a deal to save you. I was going to make a deal. I was going to give up everything to save you.”

[Me: You guys should totally take a Bond!]

“Francis. I’m sorry I hit you.”

“Anyway, we can’t trust Charleston.”

“I don’t know who this Charleston is,” says the Rev, “but he is bad, bad news.”

“We can’t face up to N,” continues Francis relentlessly. “He’ll show up to stop us. Like he did today.”

[OP was doing a hell of a job playing his shattered pillar.]

“All lives are temporary,” says the Rev. “It’s about what we do.”

“And if we lose our souls?” says Francis. “And lose our souls trying to save a life?”

Outside, Melissa Ford begins to sing. She has a wonderful voice.

She is singing the song that was the last song Francis’s wife recorded before dying.

“I’ll…I’ll save the world for you, Jimmy,” says Francis.

Guy bursts in just at that moment. “Hey, I found some pretty good wine!” He looks around. “What, did somebodydie or something?”

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 9)

The Reverend James Jones squints in the darkness. Behind the statues are hideous bat-like things. They seem dormant.

At that moment, Huston and his party enter. “Ah, Doctor Jones. Or should I say, Charleston Chiu.”

The Rev flings one of the human femurs behind the statues. The bat things shriek and awake, spreading misshapen, spiked wings.

Francis falls to his knees.

[So: Francis had a pillar shattered, then failed a Mythos Stability test when he saw Jimmy/Katakatak. This brought him below 0, so he lost another point of Sanity. Then he failed the Stability test when he saw the bat-things; this dropped him to -11 Stability, and another point of Sanity, so a total of 5 for the session.]

The creatures spring forward. “Ah, my pets, my pretties,” says Huston.

Jimmy/Katakatak glides forward and slaps Katakatak/Jimmy in the face. He turns off the translation box and yells, “Wake up! We need your help!”

“Your…diction…is terrible…” mutters the reviving K/J. "It’s like…listening to someone punch a box of broken glass. "

“Bats! How do we make them friends?”

“The statues are a magic reservoir…you could try that. Or you could make a deal with Huston before he tells them to kill everyone, which he’s going to do in a moment. Or you could kill Huston. These are all viable options. I would have tried a few earlier, but your friend ELECTROCUTED me!”

“He does things like that. Dumb things, sometimes. A lot of the times.”

“If you can get me close to one of the statues, I can probably do something.”

Hooting and burbling, J/K grabs K/J by the ankle and starts dragging him towards the statues. “Hey! He’s getting away!” shout the guards, and they lay down a withering cross-fire with their lightning guns. J/K rolls through the zone, shrugging off the shocks.

[I called for an Athletics test here; JP got a 10.]

He props K/J up against a stature. “I never thought I’d cast this spell,” mutters the alien. He begins to chant softly.

“My Lord,” says Huston, “It’s time for you to come out, and meet Francis and Charleston in your more natural form.”

One of the statues begins to move.

Jimmy/Katakatak notices this. He also realizes, with his knowledge of the Mythos, that Francis’ mind will never survive seeing a non-human form of Nyarlathotep. He slaps Francis in the head with one of his claws, hooting loudly. Francis keels over, mercifully unconscious.

“It’s like…you’re writing on a chalkboard with a cheese grater,” moans Katakatak/Jimmy.

“When this is all over we can have a cup of tea and talk diction.”

“Why would I want to drink…hot leaf juice? And why did you hit the male-human-with-small-thought-processes?”

“To save him.”

“You should probably do something about your bifurcated-personality friend over there.”

The Rev serpentines his way around the vast expanse of the dome. Bolts of lightning rain down around him. He stops short. Raises his “Bibble,” and his crucifix.

“Monsters! Demons! You hold no power over me! I think! Back, back…stop flying around…what’s happening.”

Omar is suddenly standing next to him. “Yes, that’s what I want to know.”

“You wouldn’t know, you’re bli—wait a minute. How did you get here?”

“Oh, I was always here. This is kind of my place. I like it here.”

The Rev grabs him and shakes him. “You fool! Don’t you know what’s going on here?”

“Oh, that is really rich, especially coming from you! You know, I think I like you better this way.” He laughs maliciously. “Oh, Charleston, Charleston, what are we going to do with you?”

“Listen, you crazy old coot! I’ve seen statues moving, I’ve seen bats the size of two men!”

“Hrm,” muses “Omar”, “I’ve never been in the same place twice at the same time….well, in this room at least.”

“This is pointless. Just leave your hand on my shoulder so you don’t get lost. The power of Jesus will stop them!”

“Those bat-things are made in my image, would you like to see them closer?”

[I realized JP should probably use the stats for a Great Race member if he was going to attack. While I did so, we had this exchange:
OP: There are non-evil aliens?
JP: I wouldn’t call them evil…exactly…
CP: Evil is all relative anyway.
Me: Well, they possess the bodies of other sentient beings to see if they want to colonize their time-period, but other than that they’re not particularly evil.
OP: So they’re white people.]

Jimmy/Katakatak lurches forward, heading directly at Huston. The guards blast at him with their lightning guns. Much to his pleasure, Jimmy/Katakatak discovers that his hide is surprisingly well-armored.

He swipes a claw at one of the guards.

It neatly snips his head off.

Jimmy hoots and screams. The other guards drop their guns and run.

“Now, Jimmy, don’t make me have to kill you,” says Huston.

J/K swings at him. The claw shoots sparks as it crashes into an invisible wall in front of Huston. The psychiatrist snarls and fires an evil beam of black light at Jimmy/Katakatak. Jimmy’s alien body writhes in pain.

The Rev looks up. Suddenly, a hole blossoms in one of the bat-things. As it crashes to the ground, he gets a glimpse of something…horrid, fluid and bulbous, some kind of…polyp-like thing. Flying around. And mostly invisible.

The air fills with the sound of a familiar whistling.

[So, Katakatak/Jimmy cast Summon Flying Polyp, as that was the nearest ass-kicking alien in the area.]

“That was my baby!” shouts Omar.

Behind Huston, Francis lurches up and fires a lightning gun at Huston. Plasma arcs around him, defining his shield.

“Good by, Mr. O’Donnell,” says Huston. He raises his hands…

Jimmy/Katakatak leaps in front of Huston. The beam drains him of vitality and he reels around.

Francis fishes in his pocket. He takes out a bag of cordite. And a blasting cap.

“Now wait just a moment…” says Huston.

Francis hurls it at him. There is a bang and a flash, and his shield collapses.

“You son of a—”

Jimmy/Katakatak swipes him with a claw.

Bleeding from a head wound, Huston staggers back. He shoots a look at Omar. “Lord? LORD!?”

“You humans, I have to do everything myself,” sighs the not-Koori.

“You don’t have to help him,” says Jimmy/Katakatak.

“Kinda I do. Oh and Jimmy? I’m gonna hit you so hard you’re going to end up back in that body of yours.”

He claps his hands, and the Yithian body is thrown violently twenty feet across the room, crashing into a wall.

[J/K was down to -9 Health at this point, after taking two Shriveling spells.]

“Come on, Bobby,” says Omar, grabbing Huston around the neck. “We’re going to Sirius, the long way around.”

“But L—”

They both vanish.

The other bat thing explodes. More whistling fills the dome. The huge, hideous statue continues to lurch into life. Francis rounds up the rest of the group.

“There’s an exit…nearby…that the polyps use to reach the surface,” says Katakatak/Jimmy.

“Polyps?”

“Our ancient flying enemy on this world. They are…mostly invisible. The only thing they’re afraid of is electricity.”

“You sound bad,” says Jimmy/Katakatak.

“I’M A LITTLE BEAT UP. Also, I just watched my body get beat up. Which reminds me…grab one of the guards on our way out. One who’s not too hurt.”

Jimmy seizes a screaming, crying guard.

They follow a tunnel that slopes upward into the open desert.

“Let’s just sort this out,” says Katakatak/Jimmy.

He takes out the device. He stares at it….

And Jimmy suddenly finds himself staring at a strange, cone-shaped alien. His arms and hands feel…human again.

Then the pain hits him. He screams in agony—Francis really hit him hard with that lightning gun.

Katakatak seizes the captured guard in its lobster-like claws. The device whirs again…and the huge Yithian body shrieks and runs off into the desert.

“Well, that was weird,” says Katakatak/guard.

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 8)

Jimmy continues to howl. A guard finally arrives. “Shut up Kaktakatak.” He throws a switch. “Well, what is it you want?”

“You can understand me?”

“I threw the switch, didn’t I? Come on, we need that code for Project Babbage tonight. We have deadlines!”

“I have deadlines too. Caused by your deadlines. Now…what was Babbage again?”

The guard throws the switch in disgust and stalks out.

After a while, Huston walks in and throws the switch. “Mr…Wright, I presume?”

“No…”

“Don’t lie to me, James, it will go badly for you.”

“I was hoping to travel in time.”

“Well, you traveled in space instead. Congratulations. You accomplished the same thing you could have by walking. Now, we’re going to set a little surprise for your friends. But first, I’m afraid I’m going to have to hurt you, James. I’ve always wondered if this would work…I’m going to see if I can shock you enough that your other body will hurt.”

Huston pushes a button.

The floor to Jimmy’s cell turns out to be electrified.

Francis sees “Jimmy” stumble.

“I know where Huston is. He’s with your friend.”

“You mean your body.”

“Let’s not split hairs. It wasn’t my body originally. I am a member of the Yithian race. We travel in space and time. We came to your world long ago, and found bodies to inhabit. It is how I can do what I am doing now. Let’s go pay a visit to the doctor.”

Jones grips his “bibble” and crucifix and steps into the room. “Is there anything in this room other than me?”

There’s no reply. He makes some random whistling noises and approaches the dome. Now that he’s further in the room, he can see that some sand has leaked into the chamber over time.

In the sand is a human skull and femur. They both have been chewed on.

A three-foot high block is nearby. He can see dark stains on the block, and scorch marks—as if someone has been sacrificing people, and tossing them on a fire.

Behind the block, a 25-foot high statue looms, of a hideous, black, twisted bat thing. With tentacles.

There are other statues behind it; glistening spheres…with tentacles. A giant flame that is consuming, seeming to move. A creature of horns…hooves…tentacles. His mind reels.

Then he sees something behind the statues move…

Twelve guards with cattle prods and lightning guns, led by Huston, are moving down the corridor, surrounding Jimmy/Katakatak.

“Got to get you to the church on time,” says Huston.

From the darkness of a side corridor, Francis and Katakatak/Jimmy watch them heading in their direction.

“I better shoot the alien,” says Francis.

He turns and zaps Katakatak/Jimmy with his lightning gun. The possessed body slumps forward, unconscious.

“I assume this shows my intent,” says Francis, stepping forward.

“I feel like I still should kill you,” muses Huston. “I have your friend, and you’ve taken care of my enemy. I’m not playing with you like M’Weru does. I think we should have killed you in Paris. But…perhaps you should talk to my Lord.”

Two guards pick up Jimmy’s body. Francis falls in next to Jimmy/Katakatak.

“Why did you shoot my body?” says Jimmy, turning on the translation box.

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 7)

Reverend Jones flees through the corridors, looking desperately for an exit.

He hears some noises up ahead—mewling noises, like a kitten…or a baby.

He approaches a pit in the ground. At the bottom of the pit, some things move into the light.

He recoils violently. There is some kind of horrible, twisted, partly-human monstrosities moving below. Horrid quasi-human things.

He runs away, muttering a prayer for their souls.

“The checkpoint’s not manned,” says one of the guards escorting Francis and Noah Cross down a dimly lit hallway.

“What?” says Cross. “Where’s—”

From the shadows, a man steps out. Covered in blood. And holding a lightning gun. He walks with the contact at the end of the barrel dragging on the ground, spitting sparks with each step.

Francis raises his eyebrows in surprise. It’s Jimmy.

“For a long time I have relished the possibility of this moment, Dr. Huston,” says Jimmy in a monotone voice. He glances around. “Anyone who does not wish to die should probably lie down now.”

“Who the hell are—” Huston’s eyes widen. He turns and bolts up the hallway.

Jimmy shoots a bolt of lightning after him, but Huston is already out of range. He stares at the gun in his hands. “They always lacked enough range. Even when we invented them.” He begins to electrocute the guards lying on the ground.

He stops above Francis. “You are a prisoner,” he says flatly. “Human. Not very intelligent. The keys to your restraints are probably on one of the guards.” He pauses. “I think you know me, or at least this body.”

Francis fishes out a set of keys, and picks up the one lighting gun the guards had with them.

“We should move on,” says Jimmy. “The noise might have attracted the dwellers below.”

He looks at the gun Francis is holding. “This one—” he says, holding up his gun, “Is ancient. Made by us. That one is…new.”

“Will it work?”

“My weapon has survived for half a million revolutions of this planet. It works fine. I suspect yours will work nearly as well.”

“Very good.”

“Let me see that.”

Francis hands over the gun with a moment’s hesitation.

“Human-made,” says Jimmy. “But…not a copy of our design. An adaptation. The renegade made these.”

“I do know you…your body.”

“Your friend activated one of our devices. Fortunately, my companions in the past were on the alert for such an occurrence. They were able to shunt the transfer to this time. Your friend is quite safe. Imprisoned, but safe.”

“Do you wish to return to your body?”

“This body would have certain conveniences to my mission.”

“What is your mission? Perhaps I could help.”

“I was sent to find the renegade. Unfortunately, Dr. Huston trapped me.”

“Well, we go find Huston, kill him, and then kill this renegade.”

“The renegade may prove more difficult to find. He has our abilities, after all. He will look like one of you. However…are there any scientists of this era who have a particularly sharp knowledge of technology?”

“Many. Someone built this gun, after all.”

[JP: Is Tesla still alive at this time?
Me: As a matter of fact, he is very much alive.]

“I think I have a name, but he lives in…Slovakia, I think.”

“Interesting. I am not familiar with your nation-states. You are fortunate I even speak your language…but I have been here a long time. We should go. Keep your gun, in case the dwellers from below come. With hope the trapdoors will hold.”

“I don’t want to kill anything that is trapped,” says Francis.

“Human life is of low concern to me but I will try to honor that request.

James Jones comes to a gaping hole in the corridor. On the other side, there’s a kind of platform.

A platform the size of the hole, as a matter of fact.

Like, a giant trap door.

He sticks his head over the side. Absolute blackness. A stale, foul breeze blows up.

He drops a rock below. He listens for a long time, but he never hears it hit bottom. However, the wind begins to whistle.

Almost…like a tune.

He grabs his crucifix, takes a running start, and vaults over the pit.

He tries to lift the trapdoor, but it’s far too heavy.

[Requires a 15-point spend to close. It’s really not a one-man job. It might be a one alien job…]

The Rev runs down the hall. Behind him the whistling gets louder. A cold wind starts to blow down the hallway. Towards him.

He picks up speed.

[Fleeing check by CP.
OP: You know, Charleston’s Rincewind…]

After a while, Jones comes to a huge domed room. In the center is a gigantic purple stone, some five hundred feet in diameter. As he watches it, it pulsates in a disturbing fashion.

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 6)

In the morning they arrive at the camp. Francis notices that the terrain matches the photos Dr. Dodge showed him in Sydney. A shed has been built in the area, and the hum of a generator can be heard nearby. The entrance is guarded by some goons, and protected by sandbags.

Behind them, a long staircase leads into the ground. “The construction is new,” opines Dodge, “but the blocks…based on the weathering, I’d say…at least 10,000 years. Maybe older. Maybe a lot older. Cross really is onto something.”

“That could be pre-human,” says Francis.

“What do you mean? Some kind of…Martians?”

“The city was built by…terrestrial creatures, or at least their hands were,” says Cross. “There are many secrets to show you below.”

The generator powers a string of electric lights that run down the staircase. They descend at least 300 feet below the surface.

“One thing you have to watch,” says Cross, “is the bats. We try to get rid of them, but just avoid them if you can.”

“Have you found any trapdoors?” says Jimmy.

“That’s a very specific question.”

“I’m a private investigator.”

“Ha! Very droll! You a private investigator!” Cross laughs as he descends ahead of them.

At the bottom of the staircase they find a corridor of closely-fitted stones. Jimmy notices that the ceiling has been braced up with shoring and wooden planks; he quickly realizes that this corridor was not built underground, but instead buried through the natural action of sand drifting.

He does a quick calculation on how long that would take:

Five hundred thousand years.

[Archaeology use by JP.]

At the end of the corridor, a clapboard house has been built in a vaulted area.

“It was easiest to just get a prefab house and put it up here. The corridors around us were built by something far older. Now, what mysteries can I show you, gentlemen? Mr. O’Donnell…Mr. Wright…Mr. Chiu…”

“You forgot Dr. Dodge,” says Francis.

“Ah, yes. William, could you take care of Dr. Dodge.”

Two goons rush up and seize the hapless archaeologist.

“I’m so sorry, gentlemen, you seem to have blundered right into it.”

Francis jerks up his revolver and fires point-blank into Cross’s face. The bullet smashes to a stop two inches in front of Cross’ face.

“William, educate Mr. O’Donnell,” says Cross. One of the goons produces a strange, futuristic-looking firearm. Lightning bursts from the end of the gun, shocking Francis and knocking him to the floor. The lights dim while the gun is fired.

Francis drops his gun.

“Mr. Cross, this is most un-Christian of you,” says Jones.

“Mr. Chiu, would you come with me?”

“Of course!” Jones glances at Jimmy. Without a word, each one of them takes off in opposite directions, pursued by Cross’ goons.

Jimmy huffs his way down a long corridor lit by electric lights, goons hot on his tail. He veers down an unlit corridor and crouches in the darkness.

“Where’d he go,” says one goon.

“Down there. Did you bring a lightning gun?”

“No. I’m not going down there without one.”

“Wait here, I’ll fetch one.”

The remaining goon nervously peers into the darkness.

“Let me introduce myself,” says Cross. “My name is Dr. Robert Huston.”

“From the Carlyle expedition,” says Francis. He notices that Huston appears much younger than he expected. “I had a dream last night. It was magical…”

“There are spells my colleagues knew in New York. You need a special bowl, which I do not have. Mr. O’Donnell, we both know that I cannot break you—torture will be useless.”

“Let’s negotiate, then.”

“I plan to remake the human race. I am going to reprogram it, to take a great leap forward.”

“I just want Jimmy to get back to his sister.”

“Clearly you don’t know how this game is played. You gave me so many loopholes—I could send him back in a coffin. I’m a therapist, I believe in fair play. Just as I was to Carlyle—Roger came to me a very sick man—but the perfect tool to bring me into the game. Sir Aubrey can sit on his little island making plans; I am going to save the human race.”

“I’ve faced a lot of things, but nothing has touched me so far. But I think my luck’s run out,” says Francis. “I’m faced with the inevitability of…”

“What are you saying?”

Some things cannot be overcome.”

[CRACK! was the sound of one of Francis’ pillars shattering—“Everything can be overcome.”]

“I think you might be very useful to me as an experiment. Why don’t we arrange an introduction to some…powers.”

“I think it’s time.”

Crouching in the corridor, Jimmy takes the device he found in the warehouse in Port Hedland out of his rucksack. He stares at it for a long time, tracing the strange geometries of the device. Cautiously he pushes some switches. Things begin to spin and whirr.

He picks up the device and peers through the “scope.”

Colors and flashes of light! His head whirls and he feels faint.

[Mythos spend to activate—4 Stability, 1 Sanity.]

He sees the reflection of his eye in a mirror. Then…something else. An archway. Flash. His eye. The archway. His eye. The archway. The archway. The archway…

He is standing in a room.

In front of him is an archway. Beyond it is a table littered with strange equipment. Some of it he almost recognizes…and somehow he knows that he can’t walk through the archway.

Walk. Something is wrong with his legs. And the angle…based on the height of the other corridors, he seems…taller.

He raises his hands.

They aren’t hands.

They are claws, pincers like lobster claws. He looks down. His body…is a ten foot high cone.

He screams. It makes a noise like horns and flutes. His mouth seems somewhere on the top of his head.

He keeps screaming.

[Our old friends, the Great Race of Yith! The device was one of their mind-switch machines. In the echt Masks, this would have sent Jimmy hurtling back to the distant past…but I thought, since there was already a member of the Great Race in the complex (summoned by Dr. Huston) that it would be more fun to just swap with that body.

But that means…something has possessed Jimmy Wright…]

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 5)

Wednesday, 21 October 1925

They spend two days crossing the desert. O’Donnell and company mostly are allowed out of the truck at night, in the fantastic stillness of the desert.

The night before they reach the dig site, Francis has a terrible dream. Isabelle is being tortured to death, over and over again, each time screaming “François! Pourqoui, pourquoi?”

His screams wake everyone up. The camp attendants, who are strangely heavily armed, demand that they quiet Francis before he attracts predators. In desperation, Melissa gives him a paralytic to shut him up.

“I sense the presence of the devil! Here, in this white boy!” intones Brother Jones. “What we need is an exorcism! Mr. Cross, I need a gallon of water to bless, a bibble, and some…blokes to help me.”

Cross’ goons have no problem pinning Francis. “Hey, he’s already paralyzed,” says Jimmy.

“We can’t trust that. He’s possessed by the devil, right?”

A Koori approaches Jones. “You are a good Christian man. I will help you, although infection has made me blind.”

And indeed, his eyes are completely black.

“Allow me to ask,” says the Koori. “You are an American black man?”

“I am. What do they call you?”

“Omar.”

“James Warren Jones.”

“James? Strange, I thought your name should be Chuck. Is that not short for James? I do not know your American idiom. I’ve known many American idiots.”

“If in return for your assistance, you want to call me Chuck, that’s fine.”

“Once, before I lost my sight, I saw a clown. Very amusing. His name was Chuckles. Can I call you that? Or is that insulting?”

“Let’s see how this exorcism goes. To tell the truth, this is my first exorcism, but nothing can stop the power of Jesus.”

“He stinks of evil. Also…cordite. And death. He stinks of death. I think someone died, who was very important to him. That happened to you too, didn’t it?”

“I don’t…think so…”

“Perhaps you owned a dog? In the past? Did you lose a dog recently?”

James just stares.

“We have many gods here,” says Omar. “The rainbow serpent. Do not insult our gods—you eat your god, after all. Some worship the Sand Bat, a being of great marvel and mystery, although some say it is evil.”

“Nought shall come of the worship of gods other than Jesus.”

“You should only worship gods who are worthy of worship, don’t you think?”

“You should only worship the only God who is a god, the one right here in the Bibble.”

“I couldn’t agree with you more, Mr….James. I hear more people than I thought.”

“That’s because you’re blind.”

“There is Mr. O’Donnell. And someone whispering.”

“That’s Jimmy.”

“Ah, another James! Should I call you Chuckles? When I could still see, I used to read the comics, you know…but now people have to read them to me, Jimmy. Ah, Mr. O’Donnell is waking up.”

“Time for your salvation, boy,” says Jones.

“I will go get some water,” says Omar. “Oh, and Jimmy? I will see you in the funny pages.”

“Jimmy, you find it odd that Mr. Cross would hire a blind man for manual labor?” says Jones after Omar leaves.

“He creeped me out! Especially that bit about worshipping gods worthy of worship!”

“Jimmy, Jimmy, these people are ignorant heathens! They need to hear the word of God.”

“I miss the old Charleston,” mutters Jimmy. “Miss Ford, do you have something for Francis?”

“An antagonist? Yes…” says Melissa.

“What about my exorcism?” says Jones. He watches Francis come to—he mutters something, but sadly it seems he’s just drugged, not speaking in tongues.

“What, I missed it?” says Cross, coming up.

“Mr. Cross? Do you have a blind worker?”

“Why would I bring a blind worker into the desert?” says Cross.

[“Hey, everyone who just figured with Jimmy who that was—make a Stability check!” I said.]

Jimmy walks out into the desert. “Noor…I want to see my sister now…”

“Oh, sure, now you want to see me, just because I’m not the only ghost in the area.”

“There’s another ghost?”

“Yes, some man who got set on fire. He’s a bit sensitive about it, so try not to have any fire around him. So you want to see your sister?”

“I’m freaking out a bit.”

“OK! Take my hand…” she intones in a sepulchral voice.

“Could you turn down the creepy?”

“Sorry, I don’t have fine control on it yet…”

Jimmy feels like he is being torn in two while being buried alive, and cold, so cold…

He sees his sister, reading the last letter he sent her. “Poor Jimmy, I miss you.” She shivers. “Feels like a rabbit just walked over my grave.”

“I miss you too…” sighs Jimmy.

“Oh, this is making it worse!” says Noor. “Emotions don’t work like that for the living! I bask in this grief and sorrow.”

“Me, not so much…”

“But doesn’t it make you feel alive? Look on the positive side.”

“It almost feels like he’s here,” sighs Lucy.

Jimmy suddenly realizes that her mouth isn’t moving when she talks.

“We have to go now,” says Noor. “This is collect.”

“By the way, that thing with Francis screaming…”

“Oh, I don’t know who did that, but it was magic. Bye!”

[Since I’m using modified rules from Night’s Black Agents, this was good for a 4-pt Stability refresh.]

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 4)

“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.”

“Agreed.”

[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.

He trembles.

“Another cup of tea, sir?”

“I’m good.”

He wanders out to find a flophouse, since their hotel got burned. “We rent by the hour, sir. Can I get you a sheila?”

“No thanks.”

“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: Billy!
Me: Yup.
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.

“Gah!”

“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.”

“But you’re—”

“Dead? Yes, I know.”

“Why me?”

“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.]

“From what?”

“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?”

“Very cryptic.”

“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.”

“Stay…uh…”

“Dead? I will.”

She vanishes.

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?]

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 3)

Monday, 19 October 1925

Francis heads down to the waterfront to check out the Randolph Shipping Company. He finds are rather slovenly looking Aussie giving orders to some Kooris.

“Was wondering if you were doing any work for Noah Cross.”

“Noah Cross? Bleeding rich Yank.”

“Yeah. Well, we’ve been tracking some things…”

Francis notices a crate being carried by some Kooris. Painted on the side is “Fondation Aubrey Penhew, Paris.”

“…like that crate. Who’s that for?”

“I’ll have to check the manifest.”

Francis crosses his arm and smiles. He thinks its friendly, although most people would take it to be menacing.

After a while, Randolph gulps and searches his papers. “It says, ‘Artefact.’”

“That’s it? Well, I hope it’s not some kind of illegal transit.”

“What are you on about, Yank? What authority do you have here.”

“I’m from Paris, actually.”

“You’re French? Let me see some identification.”

Francis hands over his French PI license. Randolph shrugs, and calls over a Koori named Billy. They open the crate, and Francis sees a grotesque humanoid idol, obviously Koori made. It has tentacles for a mouth, small wings, and is covered in geometrical white lines.

[“You have Cthulhu Mythos?”
“Nope.”
“You’re fine then, but please make a Mythos shock Stability test.”]

“This is what you ship to Paris?”

“I just ship ’em. This goes to…Edouard Gavigan.”

“He’s no longer among the living.”

“Sorry for his widow. Go bring this up with Wycroft, he does all the supplying.” He shiftily looks back at his warehouse.

As Francis leaves, the Koori named Billy stops him. “Strange things going on here, boss. Strange cargo in the warehouse.”

“Who works here at nights?”

“Nobody, just Billy, boss.”

“Make sure nobody is here tonight.”

“I understand, boss. Nobody will be here, boss.”

Francis walks off whistling, and calculating the amount of dynamite necessary to destroy the warehouse.

Francis heads down to the Noah Cross house, since Jimmy has told him that Cross is in town. Sister Mary meets him at the door and he gives her a donation.

“Anonymous?”

“No, tell him it’s from Francis O’Donnell. Can you point me to his offices?”

The Reverend Jim sees the sister come back with a large pile of cash—American dollars, French francs, Greek drachmas, British and Colonial pounds.

“How generous!”

“Indeed. Were you planning to call on Mr. Cross today?”

“I was at that.” Jim sets out for the office.

Francis reaches the office first, however. Cross’ secretary, a young man who’s obviously served in the military, meets him. “You have an appointment?”

“No, but tell him that a friend of Charleston Chiu’s is here. He’ll know who it is.”

“Have a seat.”

They spend several minutes glaring at each other, clearly taking each other’s measure.

The door bangs open. “Reverend James Jones to see Mr. Cross!”

Francis looks up, at the man clad all in black, wearing black gloves despite the heat. It’s the same preacher from the docks the day before, but this is the first time he’s had a chance to see him from the front.

His eyes narrow.

Standing in front of him is Charleston Chiu.

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 2)

Sunday, 18 October 1925

They finally make landfall at Port Hedland, Western Australia. The town is a railroad terminus on the edge of the Great Sandy Desert. It’s a dusty frontier village bustling with gold prospectors and miners.

A crowd of drovers, longshoremen, and overseers greets them as they get off the boat, in an angry mood. “It’s those bloody [racial slurs],” one tells Francis. “None of ‘em showed up for work today. Some new preacher showed up from the States, preachin’ the world of God to them. Probably a Papist, wears a big crucifix.”

Melissa approaches Francis. “I’m afraid that with Charleston gone, I’m a bit superfluous. Are you going to send me back to England?”

“I don’t have the means. Welcome to Australia. Mind the snakes.”

“This is a bit of a spot…I haven’t been in anything like this since the war. Did you fight in the war?”

“Do I look like a coward? I was in France and Russia, after.”

“Are you married, Mr. O’Donnell? You wear a ring but never talk about a wife.”

“She’s…passed on.”

“Oh. A bit like my young man, James. Died in the Somme. Before we could get married.”




They head out for one of the few hotels near the waterfront. They pass a large crowd of Koori and Indian workers. They can hear someone shouting, some kind of sermon.

Francis notices that a cordon of white men with a suspiciously large amount of axe handles and two by fours is slowly surrounding the crowd.

On top of a number of crates, his back to Francis and company, is a short man dressed all in black, with a black broad-brimmed hat. He is wearing black gloves, gesticulating wildly as he preaches a somewhat eccentric sermon about how Jesus Christ saw the suffering of the gods on Olympus. He climbed the mountain, slew Typhon, and carried his head down the mountain in one fist. As he descended, he gave pointers to the gods on how to live.

“And that was the Sermon on the Mount, brothers and sisters!” he proclaims.

Francis asks Jimmy to stay behind and watch what happens. By the time the rest of them reach the hotel, they can hear the sounds of rioting.

“Strike me down!” shouts the Reverend. “Jesus is our Savior! If that’s the kind of Christian you are!”

“Listen, Yank,” shouts back one of the white me. “You’re not even preaching from the real Bible! You’re using some American translation. Now tell them all to get back to work! This isn’t time for preaching! It’s Sunday morning!”

“Let me tell you what my…bibble?”

“Bible!”

“I don’t know how it’s pronounced in Australia. Anyway, it says that those who do not work, do not eat. So if you’re hungry, go back to work. Thanks folks, I’m doing three shows a day.”

[Reassurance spend by the Rev.]

The crowd begins to disperse. Another minister makes his way to Jones. “A brother of the cloth!” he shouts and crushes the newcomer in a bearhug.

“I’m afraid I’m a Methodist! We don’t do hugs!” sputters the man. “Reverend Smythe.”

“James Warren Jones. Call me Brother Jones. From West Virginia, in the U S of A.”

“I…wouldn’t have guessed that…sorry, pure parochialism on my part.”

“Never seen a black preacher before?”

“I…I’m rather confused. But I think it’s all to the best if we don’t have a repeat of this kind of incident. We have a little chapel for the Aborigines that we run on Saturdays. Perhaps we could meet beforehand…to discuss your sermon. Where are you staying?”

“Wherever the Lord takes me.”

“Well, one of the local magnates has established a house for the indigent. A wonderful American, full of Christian charity. Just go down and ask for the Noah Cross House.”

“That name seems somewhat familiar…well, thank you. I’ll be sure to do that.”




Francis goes out with Ewa to search for the crazy preacher he saw. He doesn’t worry that Jimmy didn’t come back; Jimmy can take care of himself, he reasons. He finds a bar named Holden’s, which seems popular with miners.

“You do take a girl to all the best places,” mutters Ewa.

“Come over here, I’ll show you me gold claim,” says a miner, grabbing her and throwing her onto the lap of a companion.

Francis kicks the man’s kneecap, crushing it with a sickening noise. The three other miners flip over the table and rush at Francis.

He ducks the first attack, but then is grabbed from behind and clocked in the jaw. Francis smacks him hard in the gut and he collapses. The other two look at their fallen companions and then quickly back out. The bartender motions to his Koori floor cleaners to cart out the mess.

“Have a beer,” says the publican. Ewa orders a whisky.

Francis asks about the preacher. “Oh, the [racial slur] who preaches to the [racial slurs]. Something seems a bit off about his sermons, but I never went to Sunday school.”




The Noah Cross Home is a nicely kept white clapboard house in a better neighborhood of Port Hedland. “Preacher man,” says the Koori groundskeeper. “Beware. The Sand Bat is returning!” He saunters away before Jones can ask him any questions. Shrugging, he knocks on the door to the house.

“Normally trade goes to the back entrance,” says a woman in a high-collared dress. “Oh. Sorry, you’re that preacher! We don’t allow any preaching, but if you are looking for a place to stay…Brother Smythe sent you? What a nice man. Methodist, but no accounting for taste.”

She takes him into a dormitory room—cots set up around the sides of the building. “Are you an American?”

“Indeed. You can tell from the accent, and the complexion I’m sure. A state called West Virginia.”

“Ah, they have a Virginia on the West Coast now? Commendable. We are non-denominational here, and do readings during dinner.”

“May I have some parchment? I am interested in working out some numbers.”

“Oh…well, I guess your people are mathematically inclined. You know, there’s a whole branch of numerology in the Book of Revelation.”

“Indeed…I think I remember someone saying that to me…wish I could remember who…”

Jones scribbles down some figures, and strange symbols, his eyes far away, as if divinely inspired…

Back at the saloon, Francis spends some of Freddie’s money to buy several rounds for everyone. He hears some stories about the Sand-Bat cult, and how bodies have been found in the desert, covered with little pucker wounds. He also hears that some “Yanks” have been digging up all the gold fields—or at least, digging up something—the Aborigines say something about a buried city, but that’s surely crazy.

Francis is neutrally non-committal, but he notices that one miner who has been paying attention to him all night slips out the door as soon as the rumors about the city start being floated.

[Sense Trouble roll by OP.]

“Ewa, go follow that guy,” says Francis. The young woman gamely goes blundering off after the miner, who easily manages to lose her—but Francis has been using her as a distraction, to try and fool his mark that he has thrown off pursuers.

He is closing on the miner when he hears Ewa’s muffled screams. Cursing, he takes off in that direction and finds two Kooris dragging Ewa down an alley.

Francis fires off a warning shot. The Kooris drop Ewa, but one draws a club and prepares to take a swipe at her. Francis drill him with his revolver, and the Koori drops the club and runs away.

“Kooris don’t usually act like that,” says Ewa.

“Kooris?”

“That’s the proper term. I’m not a racialist.”

The club, once they get back to their hotel and examine it, proves to be somewhat unusual—it has teeth embedded in it. Francis takes a closer look.

They are bat teeth. Except, of course, that they are far too large. Something else troubles him about the teeth, but he can’t put his finger on it.




“We have a special guest tonight, my brothers and sisters,” says the sister. “Our benefactor, Mr. Noah Cross, has come to visit us.”

A man in an ice-cream suit addresses the gathered itinerants at the Noah Cross House. “My friends, it is so wonderful to see you all tonight. Please listen to sister while she reads to you, and I will be happy to talk with any of you who wish to speak to me during dinner.” He regards the Reverend Jones somewhat strangely.

[Obviously, Noah Cross is played by John Huston. I tried my best to do a John Huston impression—it is not easy.]

During dinner, Jones sits down next to Mr. Cross. “Have we met?” says Cross.

“Jim Warren Jones. I’m visiting from Australia. I don’t think we’ve met, but thank you so much for giving me a place to rest my head—”

“Jones, is it? What an interesting turn of events. I met a man not dissimilar to you once…in his own way, he was an evangelist.”

“Oh? Do you meet many black men of the cloth?”

“Black man, you say? No, except for the Abo…the Kooris. Sister tells me you have an interest in preaching to the natives. Are you here with your friends?”

“All mankind is my friend, but I’ve not made the acquaintance of everyone yet, so I am afraid I am travelling alone.”

“Interesting—I thought I’d heard…well, no matter. Mr—uh, Reverend…”

“Please, brother will do just fine.”

“Brother, I would be very honored if you would come out to our work in the desert and spread your message of benevolence and love to my employees. Many are natives, but I think even the white men would benefit from your experience.”

“You are everything I could have hoped for and more.”

“You are quite a surprise as well. We are a mining concern, and we’ve found some interesting geological structures in the desert. You will not mind if we ask you not to reveal our location.”

“There is only one God, and we are guided by him.”

“I couldn’t agree more. Do you know anyone else who might be worthy of such an opportunity. I’ll see you at my office tomorrow. Something is happening, Mr. Jones, but I don’t know what it is. It will be a great deal of fun to find out though.”

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Episode XIV: A Brand New Me (Part 1)

Friday, 9 October 1925

[So, FP was out this session, but CP returned, with his new PC, the Reverend James Jones. And when I say new, I mean…well…you’ll find out. I have to say he hit upon the cleverest way to replace a crazy PC I’ve ever heard of.]

Melissa Ford finds Francis early in the morning. “Mr. O’Donnell? I understand you’re a private investigator…well, it seems Mr. Charleston has escaped. I don’t know how…he has been taking his drugs…but he must have slipped off when we were docked earlier.”

Francis searches Charleston’s cabin. It is a rather spartan room; the only interesting features are the restraints Miss Ford installed. Looking at them, Francis realizes they’ve been picked. “Some one let him go,” he says.

“Who would want to release him?” asks Miss Ford. “Not to be rude, but your friend’s chances of recovery are not good.”

They check in with Dr. Mwimbe. “Mr. O’Donnell, I’m afraid I’m quite busy,” she says through her door.

“Charleston’s loose.”

“I’ll come right out.”

His books, the doctor explains, have been secured in her cabin. She also opines that Charleston might have been able to pick the locks himself—as if he had some sort of supernatural assistance.

“Does he have any of his books?”

“No. I would know. I keep watch over all our most powerful artifacts. Although I am now finding my amusement being replaced by a supernatural dread. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the Dark Lord has long has his eye upon Charleston. This disappearance may be linked to that interest.”

Francis searches Charleston’s room again. He finds the violin case. Inside it is…a regular Thompson gun, disassembled. He asks the captain to place a radio call to have an all points bulletin out for Charleston.

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