The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep

The Post-Modern Masks of Nyarlathotep: Epilogue

Francis sets up his agency, along with Seamus and Stephen, who seem to be developing lycanthropism. Together with Isabelle, they fight the supernatural with monsters, and occasionally pop over to California to help out Jimmy. The United States Government to this day refuses to confirm or deny his involvement with the OSS during World War II, or the CIA in the years following.

If anything, Jimmy Wright does even better in Los Angeles. His normal practice runs well, and his discreetly provided supernatural services continue his good work. As the years go by, he helps many young investigators enter the private investigation trade; he keeps track of them all, Phil, Sam, J. J., that guy whatshisname who quit after only a little while to join the Continental Agency.

Freddie starts Earl Pictures, specializing in horror and drawing room farce. He does stupidly well, of course, before getting out of the industry in the early 1960s. He sells some of his equipment to a young director-wanna-be named Roger Corman. He helps Vanessa raise Mirabelle…until she’s old enough to be on her own.

Before he dies, Freddie pens a memoir called It All Really Happened! that he hoped would be a dire warning to humanity. The book was ignored before being revived by the Deconstructionists in the 1990s; one calls it “A Confederacy of Dunces as written by P. G. Wodehouse.”

Jax quits the reporting business during the Depression. Freddie gives her some bit parts in his movies, and in time she becomes a respected stage actress. Her revival of The Dollhouse is well-reviewed in New York. Supposedly Stephen Sondheim wanted to offer her a part in A Little Night Music, but she dies before auditions begin.

Vanessa moves to California, and soon becomes one of Venice Beach’s most beloved eccentrics. In the 1960s, the hippies and stoners hang out at her old Victorian, where she dotes on them like a psychedelic den mother.

Bradley Grey gives up the DA’s job to move to California with his wife, Erica. After a hiatus, he goes into politics, eventually winning Richard Nixon’s old seat in Congress.

Mina Murray vanishes from the British Museum in 1946. Her MI-6 file merely says, “Missing, presumed immortal.”

But the story’s not quite over yet.

Even a King’s word only lasts as long as his life, so in 1936 Freddie returns to England for the funeral of King George V. He is forced, thanks to his rank, to attend interminable dinners that even King Edward’s notorious manners can’t liven up.

During one of them, however, he runs into Wallis—Simpson, now, she tells him. They pick up where they left off in Shanghai.

“You know, Freddie,” she tells him out on a terrace in the bracing winter air, “I really thought you would have recognized me in Shanghai.”

Freddie stares. “Oh, God.”

“Not exactly, you know. Dark Lord didn’t give me that much power. But I had enough to not let a falling building kill me, even if I had to take over a socialite to do so.”

“Oh, God.”

“Am I not so recognizable? Anyway, I like it here now. I’m going to be Queen of England.”

“Like that will ever happen, Hypatia.”

“You never know. Besides, I like David—King Edward, I guess I should say. He’s an idiot, but he’s my idiot, and does what I tell him. Really hates you, though—he was behind the citizenship thing, you know.”

“That was him?”

“Well he was in the cult, you know.”

“That explains that, then. And the car.”

“Did you really call him Teddy?”

“Unfortunately. Have you checked in on your girls? Some of them lived.”

“I let Mina play with her toys. By the way, Freddie, message from the Boss: Game’s not over yet.”

“I never wanted to play in the first place!”

“You don’t get a choice, there, Freddie. But you’ll probably be left alone. For a while. By the way, whatever happened to your friend Chuckles?”

“I haven’t the faintest idea.”

Charleston awakes with a start. He looks around. Grey walls, definitely a prison.

Something scurries in the corner. He picks up the Rev and puts him on top of his head. He glances around looking for a window.

“Underground.” He shakes his head, and then steps through the wall. Several minutes later he is staring out at the skyline of Berlin from the top of a building.

“You know, Rev, this dagger is just the start. We’re going to be hunted wherever we go. I think it’s time to go on the offensive. I’ll learn some German, find some of those guys who do what I say, and start my own little faction. We’ll gather all the artifacts of the world in one place, because I’ll need them to defend me. Do you eat?”

“I think I live on thoughtwaves,” says the Rev in his head.

“Then I don’t need to take care of you much. Noor! I see you there! Come on, you didn’t think I could pull it off!”

“No, I am impressed. It was good. Better if you really cared about humanity, but still, you saved Charleston. Or whatever’s under all the crazy.”

“Come on, baby. You know this is all Charleston.”

“Ah, I was mislead. I lived such a terrible short life.”

“You wanna come back?”

“No, I’ve seen how that works. I could never survive the diet.”

“You know, I was going to go through the portal, until I saw you come to say goodbye, it reminded me—I owe that bastard! So, are we even?”

“You know, that’s almost sweet. All right.”

“What do you do when you’re dead?”

“I used to haunt Jimmy, but that’s done. I guess I could haunt you.”

“Come on, for old times sake.”

“I like the Rev. He’s cute. You know, we should probably never let anyone else read your book. That’s our knowledge.”

“I was going to publish it! But maybe you’re right. That’s what I need you for. Practical stuff. You know, Mwimbe was traitorous, but she was right that these books aren’t for everybody. I think we should gather them together, so only I can see them.”

“Sure, for safety.”

“Now, here’s a thing. The hearing, the eyes, actually an improvement. Probably limit my dating, but then I can’t trust anyone. So, I’m going to summon a hunting horror, cut off its wings, and graft them to my shoulders. That way I’ll always have the mobility!”

“Why not? Sounds like a weekend.”

“We’ll need to fund this operation. You know what we should do? Start a candy company. That’s how we’ll fund it. We can learn how to do it here in Germany.”

One day, in the 1930s, Charleston walks into a cabaret in Berlin. He glances at the bartender.

“Hello, Shakti,” he says. “With the eyes, I can tell.”

“Oh for goodness sake,” moans Shakhti. “I understand you’re in candy. Maybe you can use my club’s name?”

“Kit Kat? I don’t know. Did you hear what I did?”

“Yeah, he told me. Said he’d have done the same in your place. But it will probably be good if you don’t see each other for a while.”

“As long as he doesn’t hold grudges!” They both laugh, and Shakhti hands Charleston a drink from the private stock.

“I’d like to make an investment in your company,” says Shakhti. “I still seem to own several hundred acres of cotton. Nice pet, by the way.”

Charleston puts the Rev on the bar. “He’s not so much a pet as a…parasite.”

“Like most of humanity.”

“Tell me about it!” They clink glasses.

“Til the next time we try to rule the world,” says Shakhti. “Now that you’re on our side, I’m sure we’ll do it right.”

“You never know,” says Charleston. “Depending on what I learn, maybe next time you’ll be trying to stop…me.”

In the background, a young American woman begins to sing:

All the odds are in my favor

Something’s bound to begin

It’s got to happen, happen sometime

Maybe this time I’ll win

Maybe this time…

Maybe this time…he’ll stay


Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 19)

Tuesday, 16 February 1926

And exactly one year after Jax returned to New York, Freddie Blakely drags himself up two flights of stairs to the offices of the Golden Sentinel. He pushes on the door, but it is locked. Cursing, he tries to fit a key into the door, but it doesn’t fit.

He looks up. The sign on the door has changed. Now it reads:


A Journal of the Worker’s Party

The door flies open and he finds himself staring at Marion Goodhue. “Oh, Freddie! Hi! I bought the paper from your aunt. She says she’s going to stick to the ladies’ magazines.”

“You must have me mistaken for someone else,” he says. “Freddie Blakely is a horrible terrorist.”

“Well, I don’t believe in nobility. Anyway, your friend Jackson said that she wants to meet you in front of the Hotel New Yorker. I think your friends are down there already.”


“Yeah, something about where it all started.”

“I see. Well, good luck.”

“Great! By 1950, we’ll be burying the West!”

Freddie finds Jimmy, Francis, and Jax standing in front of the Hotel. Jax is standing very straight. “I have one more thing to do,” she says in an odd tone of voice.

They ride up the elevator. Freddie notices that she doesn’t even flinch as they pass the seventeenth floor. They ride a few floors higher, get off, and walk down the hall to a room. Jax knocks, then opens the door with a key she must have lifted from an attendant.

“Mr. Tesla,” she says, “I think we need to have a few words.”

A decrepit, filthy old man is sitting in the bed. Pigeons are flying in and out through an open window, fluttering around the room.

“It would have worked!” says the man. “It still could! If we can just open the gate!”

He stares at Freddie. His face takes on an odd look. “Blakely, it’s me, Aubrey! I don’t know how I got in here—No! My name is Nicola, I was born in…in…there was…another. He is gone, gone, and now I am empty…”

Jackson opens a bag and takes out some extremely unusual looking electronics. Jimmy looks at them, and then at her for a long moment. “Katakatak?” he says.

Jax/Katakatak nods. “Too late. The Renegade must have transferred to Penhew before he went through the Gate. He was always the best of us at transfer, and time travel. Who knows what he will do now that he has gone through a Gate like that. He could have become…well, a powerful extradimensional entity.”

“With a bad sense of humor?” says Freddie.

“Probably. Jimmy, Francis, why don’t you do the honors? Strap these electrodes on either side of his head. It will kill the Penhew part and leave the Tesla.”

While the two private eyes shock the old man, Jax/Katakatak shakes her head. “Poor child. The Renegade came to him when he was only six. All those long years, sharing the same mind, seeing all those things the Renegade knew…no wonder he’s mad.”

Jimmy hands back the equipment to her. Everyone stares for a second.

“Right, you probably want Jax back,” says Katakatak. “Don’t worry, we worked this all out on the Island. Come with me.”

They drive in Jimmy’s car for several hours, until they reach Providence, Rhode Island. “Pull in here,” says Katakatak as they reach a gloomy old Colonial house.

“That name on the mailbox,” says Jimmy, as they get out of the car. “Wasn’t that the same one Vanessa—”

Katakatak bounds up the stairs and pulls the bell. A rather dour, long-faced man opens the door. His face breaks into a rather ghoulish grin when he sees Katakatak.

“Thank God you got here,” he says. “This guy Howie has some very weird ideas about women.”

“The thing is,” says Howard/Katakaktak after the transfer is finished, “Some people are senstitives, like Tesla or our friend here. I just used his mind to stash Jax for a while, so I could confront Tesla after she located him for me. She wanted it to be her face that saw him, but I wouldn’t let her risk her mind.”

“And you’re going to stay there?” says Freddie.

“Oh, no. I’m headed back to the past, to be with my people. As soon as one of our agents brings the device, I’m leaving.”

“Will there be any long-term damage to Howard?”

“No. Maybe nightmares, the odd vision. Jax tells me he likes to write. Maybe he’ll get some story ideas.”

“Well, Freddie, what about us two?” says Jax.

“It seems I have a lot of money, provided I never go back to England, a title, and the responsibility to help raise a godling.”

“You can come with me,” says Jimmy.

“Hollywood, eh? You know, the movie business might be fun for a lark.”

“Why don’t I tag along?” says Jax. “I’ve been working on some new aliases. What do you think is better—Brenda Starr, or Lois Lane?”

“Little comic,” says Freddie.

“Ah, well, quelle dommage,” says Jax.

She pauses.

Attendez une moment! Je peut parler en francais!” she shrieks.

“And I can understand you!” says Freddie. He embraces her. They look at each other for a long moment.

“Right, so it’s over,” says Jax. “I’ll see you in Hollywood.”

“See you there. No hard feelings?”

“I’m just glad to have feelings, you know.”

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 18)

Monday, 25 January 1926

M is as good as her word, and the survivors are ferried back to Singapore on a ship with a rather large number of psychiatrists on board. Even the toughest of the team is shaken—Dr. Jones, Jr., managed to look at one of the Hunting Horrors just as the sun’s beams caught it after totality. The resulting explosion drove him into delirium.

“Snakes,” is all anyone can get from him. “Why snakes?”

Seward only stays in Singapore long enough to resign from St. Howard’s and St. Phillip’s. “Time I was going back to England,” he says. Dr. Watson has also finally retired and will make the trip with them to New York via the west coast of America.

Jimmy finds Vanessa in her room, her belongings already packed. “You’re Mr. Wright, yes? Dr. Seward says that you’re to take me home?”

“That’s right, ma’am.”


Jimmy shakes his head slightly.

Vanessa nods, and dabs her eyes with a handkerchief. “I…had a feeling he wasn’t coming back. But thank you. Thank you for helping him finally end all this.”

The trip across the Pacific is restful for all of them. Francis is soon up and about, walking on the deck of the liner with Isabelle. Dr. Seward has brought his best graduate students with him, and they unobtrusively make sure to listen to all the survivors, providing what therapy they can.

They lay over in Los Angeles for a few days before continuing on to New York. Jimmy takes Vanessa and Mirabelle down to the beach at Santa Monica. He watches the sun set into the Pacific Ocean, feeling the cool breezes blow around him. At night he drives into Hollywood and looks at the bright lights from the marquees.

A man could get used to this, he thinks.

Freddie is brought in front of King George. As he and M enter the audience room, an elderly man stands up from one of the chairs in the corner. Although old, his back is straight and his eyes glare with a fierce intelligence.

“Ah, you’re all here,” says the King. “I was just thanking our visitor for making the long journey up from Kent. And, if I might once again offer you, sir, the title you have so richly earned—”

The old man dismisses the King with an elegant wave of his hand. “My work has always been its own reward, your Majesty. I lack no means of support, and the knighthood you saw fit to bestow upon my dear old friend was reward enough. Shall we begin on the matter at hand?”

The King sighs and leans back in his chair. “If we must, although I can’t see how even you, my friend, can get young…Roland out of this.”

“It is an axiom of mine,” says the old man, “that once you have eliminated the impossible, what remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth.”

Freddie boggles. “My God,” he says. “Are you real?”

The man dismisses him with the same elegant gesture. “Clearly, based on the testimony and records presented by Sir John Seward, MD, there can be no doubt that this man is indeed the son of the late Arthur, Earl Godalming. And clearly, Roland Blakely was a terrorist. But you, sir, do not resemble this Blakely in the slightest.”

Freddie looks in the mirror. He is fitter than he has ever been; he couldn’t fit into his old dinner jacket. His hair has been graying ever since the encounter with Shakhti under the Sphinx, and his skin is taut and malarial. His eyes, too, have a haunted look about him. Damned if I don’t recognize me, he thinks.

“I therefore think that the easiest thing is to quietly confirm Mr. Lockwood as Fifth Earl and let him live—”

“Anywhere but England,” interjects the King. “I’m afraid I’m going to stipulate that. Just stay out of England!”

“But Uncle George!”

“I’m sorry. Maybe when my worthless son becomes King—”

“But Teddy’s wonderful!”

“David. And he doesn’t like you.”

“Hrm, must be about that car…”

Tuesday, 9 February 1926

Jimmy, Francis, and Vanessa make the long drive out to Long Island to the Carlisle Mansion. The butler takes them into a sitting room where they wait a long time for Erica Carlisle.

When she finally does appear, she points harshly at Vanessa. “Who is that?”

Jimmy sighs. “It’s a long story. I would like you to meet—”

“Vanessa?” Erica takes a step forward. Vanessa stands up. For a moment they stare at each other, tensely.

Then Erica wraps her arms around her sister. They both begin to cry.

Jimmy and Francis quietly leave the sitting room and close the doors behind them. Bradley Grey comes down the hallway towards them, making his way on crutches.

“Hello, Jimmy.”

“I heard about the shooting.”

“You know, it’s weird, but a couple of weeks ago my legs suddenly started to get better.”

“You don’t say?”

“Hey, Jimmy, you want a job in the DA’s office?”

“Thanks, but no. I’ve got my own little thing, and I have a partner now.”

“I’m semi-retired,” says Francis. “As long as I keep out of the British Empire, I should be fine. And I think my wife would like America. Probably settle in New Orleans.”

“I think I’m going to go to Los Angeles,” says Jimmy.

“Well, think about it,” says Bradley. “And if you ever need help, I know a guy in the DA’s department out there who probably will need a job. Good guy, but a little insubordinate. Name’s Marlowe, Pete or Phil or something like that.”

Freddie drops by the hospital right before he leaves London to check on Eloise and Sheila. Neither are in a particularly good mood—they have lost the will to live, since the failure of the Gate.

“Listen, I think you two might want to work for my Aunt. She has just the sort of organization that could use people like you.”

“I suppose I owe a debt of honor to you and Francis,” muses Eloise.

“What about you, Sheila?”

“I think…I’m going to go work for your Aunt?”

“She definitely needs some one as talented as you. Sorry about the hand.”

“It’s all right…I understand you’re not coming back to England. That’s probably a good idea. If I see you, I’m just going to start shooting and figure it’s self-defense.”

“Well, that’s the most original rejection of a proposal I’ve ever had,” huffs Freddie.

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 17)

Falling. Or am I flying? Floating?

The gravitational coefficient in the presence of an interdimensional gate of diameter N is…rho Z, I think.

Definitely falling.

I should learn how to fly. That would be a great idea! Noor, take a no—

Jimmy speaks the last syllable. There is a ringing, snapping sound, and the horrible green light suddenly fades away.

He turns around. “Katakatak! I think I did—”

The alien’s human body slumps forward, dead, the being animating him having fled. Jimmy looks around, at the dead or dying bodies of his friends and followers. Some are gibbering, minds damaged by the ritual.

With Dr. Seward’s help he begins taking them up into the courtyard.

The parts of the island not on the map begin to crumble into the sea almost immediately. Jimmy and Seward set up a triage center on the remaining beach, feeding the banked blood they took from the Germans before setting out into the bodies of those who survived the ritual. The ones they can’t save, or who didn’t survive, they start to bury in a long common grave.

The body of Jan Hardekker, who never woke up after the ceremony, falls next to that of Desmond Motombo. They lie side to side, their hands touching.

Jimmy starts dragging wood from the wreck of the Pagoda—most of it is washing into the Indian Ocean—to build a pyre for Jack Brady. As he stacks the wood, he sees something moving in the sky towards the island.

A large dirigible.

“Leutnant, es gibt hier ein Mann!”

The German crewman in the front of one of the Emden’s lifeboats points at a figure floating in the water.

The lieutenant stares into the now-dazzling water. “Der Amerikaner. Nimm ihn ins Boot.”

The crewman drags Charleston’s body into the lifeboat. “Er blutete aus … überall,” he says, staring at the blood leaking from countless wounds on his body. Charleston coughs up some salt water and groans faintly.

“Aber er lebt. Wir müssen ihn mit uns bringen, wenn wir unsere Zurückkehr nach Berlin machen.”

The dirigible lands near the shore. An ageless-looking woman in a prim white dress steps out.

Freddie groans from his stretcher. “Hello, Auntie Em. Are we going home now?”

“Yes, presently. We have an appointment with the King, and a man who can help you.” She turns to Francis, who is struggling into a standing position. “Mr. O’Donnell. I would offer you a position, but I fear my agency would not survive. You’re very efficient at your work.”

“This is my dear Auntie Em,” says Freddie. “She’s a very dangerous woman, and she helps run—what is it? The British Emp—”

“Museum,” says M with finality. “The British Museum. I am a docent.”

“Well. I have my wife back…”

“Yes—about that—” A stake suddenly appears in her hands.

“Auntie,” says Freddie, “I’d appreciate if you’d leave Mrs. O’Donnell alone and not—”

“—Stake that foul beast in the heart?” She looks at Freddie, then Francis. “Let’s call it a truce, Mr. O’Donnell. I’ll leave your wife alone, and you won’t interfere with me.”

“I’m happy to retire.”

“Mr. Wright.”

“Just doing my job. Mostly,” says Jimmy.

“I believe you have an appointment in New York with Miss Vanessa. Look to it, there’s a good chap. A Royal Navy hospital ship will be along presently and take you to Singapore. Now, come along, Freddie.”

“This man who can help,” says Freddie as he limps towards the dirigible, “What is he? A barrister? Some lord?”

“No. A beekeeper.”

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 16)

Back on the Island, Francis lies bleeding into a trench carved in the floor, murmuring softly to himself. Freddie and his team make their way into the room.

Jimmy greets him. “I don’t think it’s working.”

Freddie sighs. “Damnit, Jimmy,” he says, taking off his shirt, “I thought you were supposed to be the big damn hero.”

“You cannot take the path of the Devil!” says the Rev. “Do not look up there.”

[2-point Stability spend. We made a spot rule that Investigative spends would give 2 points to spend on the contest.]

“Don’t you see, Rev? You and stupid Bibble? Think about the stories up there! It’s the sum of all knowledge! For us, not that stupid old guy who keeps butting in.”

“Hey,” says N, “I’m not old. Or a guy.”

“That the case, eh?” says the Rev. “Well…I’m holding my breath.”

[3 point Stability spend.]

“I didn’t need my eyes, I didn’t need my ears, I can replace my lungs as well,” hisses Charleston.

[2 point Intimidation spend.]

“All right,” says the Rev. He picks up the Tommy gun and pulls the trigger. Shots carom off the deck, but none strike home.

[Charleston, unlike the Rev, has 8 points of Athletics, so HT 4, and the Rev has no Firearms, so he missed.]

“You insufferable, short-sighted, self-centered, sanctimonious…” Charleston swings a roundhouse kick at the Rev.

[FP: You’re going to knock yourself out?

CP: I’m going to knock him out.]

N watches as Charleston spins around and cracks his head on the deck railing. He grabs a little flag. “Fricka frakka firecracker, sis boom ba! Charleston, Charleston, rah rah rah!” he cheers.

[Only one damage from the attack, which was applied to the Rev and Charleston.]

“This is all the reasons you are wrong in all the religions of the world!” shouts the Rev. He thinks furiously about all his theological training.

Nyarlathotep watches the flow of thoughts with amusement. “Wrong…never happened…wrong…I met that guy…”

Charleston staggers back. “And this is why everything you thought about those religions was never true to begin with!” He unleashes imagery from the Al-Azif on the brain of the Rev.

[Theology and Cthulhu Mythos spends, respectively. The CM spend staggered the Rev.]

“Art…there is goodness…in humanity…” the Rev concentrates on his favorite paintings.

“Come on, Chuckles, dig in. You can take this guy,” says N.

“Would you stop interrupting!”

“Fine, I’ll just sit here and stop time. Finish this so we can have ever so much fun together. I’ll show you the answers.”

Charleston looks at him suspiciously.

[Sense Trouble spend.]

“This man is lying to you,” says the Rev.

[Assess Honesty spend.]

“Howabout we just go up to it, and see what’s there? Then we can come back and be as miserable as you want!”

“That’s a good offer…but John 8:44 says, Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.”

[Bargain, then Theology. We decided the next roll would be opposed, for all the marbles, best total wins—I wanted to wind this up.]

Charleston starts to say something, and then shuts up.

“Every bone, every fiber, every hair on my head says this is a bad idea. For I sense trouble!” shouts the Rev.

[…and I spent 7 points and got a 13 total.]

Charleston sits down. “Perhaps it’s time for a surgical solution. You know Rev, on some level I can respect you, but I just don’t think we’ll ever see eye to eye.”

He opens the breach of his machine gun, and pops out a larva. He bites the casing off and pulls out one tentacle until it is very long and thin. Then he jams it up into his nose. The Reverend Jones makes a muffled shriek as the tentacle wriggles up his sinuses and punches through the blood-brain barrier with a crack.

Both of them shake with a seizure for a moment. Then the tentacle snakes back out, holding a piece of brain. Blood and ooze pour out of Charleston’s nose. The larva latches onto the brain, forming a tiny symbiotic sentient being known as the Reverend Jim Jones.

[“I have to walk this off for a second,” I said.]

“You want to keep this physical body?” asks N. “It’s a bit worse for wear.”

“I’m attached to it. Besides, we can always replace it.”

“You know, Chuckles, I never thought you’d come with me! But we’re going to have a great time together.”

In the gate chamber, Noor suddenly appears in front of Jimmy. “Hello, James. I think this is the last time I will ever see you.”


“Charleston is trying to go through the gate. You could prevent him if you want.”

Jimmy pauses. “I really don’t care,” he says. He slashes his own wrist, and speaks the final Line of the Saaamaaa Ritual.

“Big N, Big N, I’m ready!” says Charleston. “Take my hand and pull me through.”

“What? Fine, let’s do this the slow way.”

Hand in hand, they ascend over the Indian Ocean, higher and higher. The air grows thin, but neither of them need to worry about that. Stars appear—the normal stars of Earth’s sky, and the strange stars behind the portal.

As they near the threshold of the portal, Charleston says, “Big N! Big N! You should have assessed honesty!”

He pulls the Dagger of Thoth from his pocket and slashes it quickly across Nyarlathotep’s throat.

Nyarlathotep, or the form it is wearing, stares in shock and surprise at Charleston as ichor begins to leak from its throat. For a second, there is a look in its eyes of—sorrow. Loss.


Then it doubles up in pain, writhes, and twists into a new, hideous tentacled form that is sucked with enormous speed through the portal. There is a bright flash, and the portal snaps shut. For a second the voice of Jimmy Wright fills the attenuated air.

Laughing maniacally and shouting “I did it! I did it!”, Charleston begins to fall back towards the Earth.

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 15)

When he gets back downstairs, Katakatak is waving his hands in the air and adjusting machinery. Okomu and Dr. Armitage are digging trenches around the machinery, and scribing strange symbols in the floor.

“All right,” says Katakatak. “I’ve created a hypnotic psychic pattern here…anyone you bring in and begin to drain their blood, their minds will be drawn into the pattern, helping to feed the spell.”

“Will it drain them all the way?” says Jimmy.

“Not…most of the time.”

Francis drags the Amazons down into the chamber and uses a scalpel to open up their veins. The trenches begin to feed with blood. The Amazons begin to murmur soft, sibilant syllables in no human language.

Jimmy, Okomu, and Dr. Armitage open their notes and begin to chant.

Freddie goes looking for Eloise. Unfortunately, he finds her.

A huge wolflike beast leaps on him as he strolls through the courtyard. She snarls, then groans.

Freddie rolls her unconscious body off of him. A hypodermic needle protrudes from her chest. The sound of wolfen snoring fill the air.

“Gents, a hand please,” says Freddie with aplomb.

[Massive Preparedness spend to have a tranq.]

Francis and Dr. Seward pull back people from the trenches as soon as they fear they are close to death, and push others forward to take their place. Three trenches are filled with blood, which is livid in the eerie light.

Jack Brady grabs Jimmy’s arm as he is being maneuvered into position. “I’m not planning to wake up,” he says. “Seen too much, stuff I can’t live with. Take my medallion, though. Hope it brings you better luck. Don’t forget about taking Vanessa home. And thanks. For letting me go out when it can matter.”

Francis looks at the blood that has flowed out, and at the people they have left. He looks at Armitage, who shakes his head.

Francis starts unrolling his shirt sleeve.

Back on the Emden, the tentacles of the Shoggoth slither off the boat.

A Deep One comes running up. Charleston notices he is wearing a golden circlet on his head.

Charleston’s eyes flash red. The Deep One stops. “Yes master.”

“Send your creature away. Then leave me.”

He turns around. There is a splashing noise behind him.

A man in a tuxedo is standing on the deck of the Emden, looking up in the sky, his skin glowing a horrid shade of green in the light from the sky.

“I really hate this moment. This is when it happens, that little rocket going up…and through,” says the man.

Charleston looks up. The green light has formed a ring around the sun. As the moon slides forward into totality, there is a green flash…and the shadow of the moon vanishes, replaced by black space and stars in constellations never seen by humans before.

With his fifth-dimensional sight, Charleston sees more. Sees the swirling Chaos beyond the gate, the source, the place where all the answers lie.

“Have you figured out what I am yet?” says the man softly. “I’m the Shortcut. The Exploit. The Source Code…well, you wouldn’t know what a source code hack is. I’m the Wiring Diagram. Whenever a species figures out that there’s more to the universe than what their sensoria report, sooner or later they’re going to invoke me. Hop onboard, and start using evolutionary seven-league boots. Just make sure your firewall is patched. I’ve been around forever, or probably since somebody did something stupid like shoot a rocket through a gate.”

Charleston looks up. “I want to go there…” he says softly.

The Rev looks down. “I refuse.”

[And here we began the Contest For Charleston’s Soul! I play the Rev throughout this exchange.]

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 14)

On the Emden, the Rev grabs the nurse. “My God…whatever your name is…”

“That doesn’t matter now. Just go and find someplace safe, dear. Oh, do you know anything about depth charges, torpedoes, or sorcery?”

“No…but I think if you ask one of the officers, they’ll know about at least two out of those three. Not always the same two, either.”

[It is a German ship…with several future Nazis on board…]

The Rev crawls up the heeled over deck. The snakes crawl up his sleeves as he moves. “What is going on here?” he yells at Dönitz, who is hanging from a rail.

“Something keeps hitting us from underwater!”

“Do you mean that big protoplasmic thing that is glowing and pulsing under the ship?”


“Right. Um, the exploding barrel thingies, have they been working well?”

“We don’t know where to put them! And if we set them off below the ship, we will sink!”

“We’ll sink anyway at this rate.”

“Good point.”

The pounding suddenly stops. The Rev and the German exchange glances.

Suddenly, the Ivory Wind, which had been following them, sinks beneath the water faster than anyone could think is possible—as if the bottom had been torn out from it.

The Rev finds the Warrant Officer he…inflicted…with his hyperdimensional sight. “Try putting some torpedoes there!”

The Rev spins around. “I don’t know what to do…Charleston, come back! You know this is ridiculous, there is no Rev and Charleston! You just tried to chop us in half and get rid of the parts you were ashamed and afraid of! Think how much we could accomplish together, hand in hand!”

And he has a vision. A vision of a steel door shutting in his face, and the dry voice of Charleston saying, “So long, Rev. I’m running the show now.”

[And at this point, I started to play the Rev.]

“This is an outrage! You can’t lock me up in your mind! I’m the real you! The you you wanted to be! Except for the snakes! What’s up with that.”

“And the blindness…”

“There was mission creep.”

“Anyway.” Charleston slicks back his hair. “Fire the torpedoes…thyear.”

The main guns also begin to fire. Charleston grabs his ears in pain. “You think I need these?” he says, pointing at his ears. He pulls out his straight razor and slices one of them off, and stuffs a larva from his gun inside.

“That’s better,” he says, once his extradimensional hearing kicks in.

“I like the look,” says a Voice.

“What, you? I’m busy

“Yeah, yeah, I can see. You know what works great on those? Electricity.”

[And so CP wondered if Jimmy or Francis had left a lightning gun. (Are you kidding?) Then he decided to see if a Preparedness roll would help.

Except Charleston doesn’t have Preparedness.

But the Rev does…]

“Um…esteemed Reverend? I could use your help…”

“What…why does everything sound like it’s under water?”

“Nevermind! We need a way to electrify the water.”

“Ah, like when Jesus fought Typhon. We should use…the charging station Katakakatak built for the lightning guns.”

[10 point Preparedness spend.]

Some horrible protoplasmic tentacles suddenly lance through the water and wrap around the deck, driving everyone except The Rev/Charleston incurably insane.

“All right, Charleston,” says the Rev, “for the briefest moment in time we have to coordinate our actions.” They’re already running to the back of the bridge, where the charging station has been lashed down.

“Is this thing code?” asks Charleston, dubiously, staring at the sparking collection of tubes and glass.

“Germans built it, so yes.”

[This was mostly CP, with me playing Charleston from time to time.]

“You should give those crew some pentathol to keep them calm,” says Charleston.

[1 point Pharmacy spend.]

Down the stairs races the Rev.

“Look up in the sky,” says a Voice.

“Wait, who are you? I’m the Reverend Jones.”

“Oh for chrisssakes, keep yourself straight!”

“Did you say for Christ’s sake?”

“I knew him once.”

He reaches the charging station. Below him the Shoggoth churns and moils.


“All right, all right, I’m driving again.” Using his martial arts, he kicks the charging station into the Shoggoth, which shrieks. He fires his submachine gun into it, filling the air with the hideous screech of a violin solo.

Back on the island, Jimmy leads Lucy up to the courtyard. “Sit here, and don’t look at anything,” he says. She glances nervously around at the bodies strewing the ground.

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 13)

Jimmy and Group A dash down the stairway into a large circular room filled with strange machines. In the center is a large black slab of surprisingly regular dimensions, bathed in an eerie green light.

“Ooooh,” thrills Katakatak, “They have one of those.”

[The dimensions of the slab are at a ratio of 1:4:9…]

Across from the entrance is a coffin-sized glass box. Inside the box is Jimmy’s sister, Lucy.

Above the box is a little cage containing two huge rats. As Jimmy stares at the setup, he realizes that the glass box is designed so that the rats may be released into sectioned off parts of it…to devour whatever part of Lucy is located there.

From the shadows emerge Drs. Henry Clive and Johannes Sprech. “So sorry, Mr. Wright,” says Clive. “But I think this is where it all comes to an end.”

“You let go of that button right now!”

“I’m afraid I have absolutely no impetus to do so.”

Sprech gives Jimmy a look as if to say, Clive’s gone a place I don’t want to follow.

[This an actual device from the Masks book.]

Jimmy looks at the box, then at Sprech. He looks down again, at the slab, and the eerie green light.

He looks back up again. His eyes glint with the same light. Katakatak tries to grab him: “No…what you’re thinking…”

Jimmy stares across the slab. He takes a step forward and bridges the space in between with his mind

Suddenly he is standing next to Dr. Clive.

[Cthulhu Mythos spend by JP; I charged 4 Stability because come on, that was metal.]

“Now…wait…” says Clive.

Jimmy shoots him.

Sprech drops to his knees. “This wasn’t my idea! Please don’t kill me, Jimmy!”

With a sigh, Jimmy pistol-whips him into unconsciousness.

Back in the courtyard, Francis tells his men to try and round up as many of the Amazons as possible. “Bring ‘em in, but don’t kill them. We need them alive for the ceremony.”

“On it,” says Dr. Jones. He races down a corridor. There is the sound of a whip cracking several times, the bark of a Webley revolver, and the sound of punching.

A few moments later he returns with an Amazon over his shoulder. “Got one,” he says, dropping her at Francis’ feet.

“Wimp,” says Jack Brady, dragging two unconscious women behind him.

Up in the tower, Freddie hears a popping noise. Two small fireballs zoom up toward the tower. The fireballs careen around, setting several of his team on fire.

Freddie whips around and backhands one of the fireballs with the Sword of Akmallah. It explodes into a shower of sparks.

A fireball races towards the back of his head.

“No!” screams Billy, leaping in the air and wrapping the fire vampire with his coat. “Not…this…time!” He rolls around with his coat, being burned terribly as the flame finally sputters out.

“Sorry…Mr. Freddie…” he whispers before expiring.

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 12)

Down in the courtyard, Jimmy sees a stairway leading down below ground. “That’s gotta be the place,” he thinks. But the courtyard continues to be raked with automatic fire.

Faith looks at Jimmy, and then at the entrance. Her face grows hard. “Come on, you bastards! You don’t live forever!” she shouts, and rushes forward. A shot rings out and she drops to the courtyard floor, dead.

“Come on!” shouts Seamus. He and Stephen lay down cover fire as the rest of Group A heads en masse to the entrance. Jimmy shoos them in. Desmond Motombo gasps as a bullet hits his heart.

“No!” shouts Hardekker as he turns to run back. Jimmy pushes him back towards the entrance. “There’s no time—”

Suddenly he is shoved to the ground from behind. He rolls over in time to see his Australian friend Duggars shriek in pain, having taken the bullet meant for him.

“Finish…the job…me old mate,” he whispers before dying.

[Charged 3 Health boxes for running across the courtyard; Duggars was a “move” I made—“who takes the bullet for you?”]

On the Emden, the Rev races into the engine room to help as much as he can with the damage control. Suddenly he looks up—in the entrance of the room, he sees his nurse, Melissa, being held by a Deep One.

“What should I do?” he says to himself.

“Kill him,” says Charleston.

[This was CP’s idea—that we have a dialogue entirely between the two personalities sharing Charleston’s mind. In this one, I played Charleston and CP played the Rev.]

“But I know how that gun works! It will kill her too!”

“Good. She’s the one keeping me down.”

“That’s the best reason I can think of to not do it! Besides, she’s an innocent!”

“Listen, crazy, you’re just a cover personality for me. So pick up that gun, pull the trigger, and I’ll show you who’s in charge.”

“If you were in charge, you’d do that already. Who’s a cover personality now?”

Charleston reaches for the gun, but the Rev drags his hand back.

“You’re not stronger than me. I’m the original,” says Charleston.

“But I fight with God!” says the Rev.

“So do I.”

“It seems to me that you’ve spread your loyalty a little thin on that front, Mr. Chiu.”

“We’re all good. I handled that.”

“Says the man who can’t control his motor functions!”

“You wanna see control? Let’s see how long you last when I hold my breath.”

[We decided that this would be a Stability contest between the two halves of his personality.]

The Rev/Charleston stops breathing. His face contorts horribly with the strain of the inner struggle.

Finally he takes a deep breath.

“God has triumphed!” says the Reverend James Jones.

[I spent “Charleston” negative, because hey, you can only go so crazy! But the -1 penalty caused me to fail the last roll.]

The Deep One stares at him, finding the spectacle disturbing.

“Halt!” yells the Rev, and raises one arm. Snakes leap off of it ans race towards the Deep One, who releases Melissa and runs out of the engine room.

Just at that point, the entire ship shakes. A booming sound comes from the keel, as if some gigantic creature were striking it.

Episode XVII: A Bunch Of Lonesome Heroes (Part 11)

As Jimmy and Group A charge into the courtyard, Amazons open up from the side galleries with automatic fire, pinning them down. Suddenly there is a snarling shriek on their right—a huge half-wolf, half-woman has appeared and attacks Seamus and Stephen.

“My God!” they shout. “It’s the Wolf of Lesser Edale!”

Francis and Group C circle around to the south-east tower, looking for a way to ascend it and take out the sniper. Freddie, who had the same idea, runs into them just as three booms are heard from a rise behind the pagoda. They watch three rockets burn their way across the ocean.

“They’re headed for the Emden!” says Francis.

On the ship, the crew watches in fascinated fear as the rockets approach. They cheer as the first one sails overhead and impacts the water a half a kilometer behind them. They cheer again as the second rocket’s engine suddenly burns out and it crashes into the water a hundred meters short.

Then the rush to their damage control stations at the third rocket smashes into the bridge of the Emden and explodes.

Freddie charges up the tower stairs. As he rounds a bend, he sees Sheila standing there, blocking the way.

“Hello, Freddie,” she says, and shoots at him.

Freddie ducks back, clutching the Sword of Akmallah.

“Do you really want to kill me?” he shouts.


“Join the club, sister,” mutters Jackson Elias in the crowd behind Freddie.

“Sheila!” shouts Freddie.


“Is there any way I can convince you to marry me?”

Several shots ring out in answer.

“I’m just saying that you don’t have to die on this island.”

“I made my choice and you made yours. Now we see how this plays out.”

[FP wanted at this point to use the Sword to cut “Hypatia’s spell”—which I overruled because Sheila wasn’t under a spell—and then “her resentment”. Had this been, say, Dungeon World I would have loped around the room in happyjoy. But this is Cthulhu, and that ain’t gonna fly.]

Freddie sighs, and steps around the corner. Sheila shoots at him, grazing his shoulder as the Sword seems to move into place to block the shot.

Fredde swings the sword, aiming at her gun, and cuts her hand off at the wrist.

As he bandages her bleeding stump, the rest of his team rush the sniper in the tower, quickly taking care of her.


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