Dark*Matter #8-London Calling

    1. 2016 May 14
      1. PCs: Markov, Lester, Maverick, Angus
    2. Date: 2012 Dec 17
      1. While in London, an Inspector Lestrade from Scotland Yard – a friend of the Knights is seeking the Millenium Knights help in investigating a pair of murders that are have suspicious ritual cultic activity. Supervisor Gordon-Yancy asks the agents for help in investigating the two suspicious murders as she notes that they have previous experience with ritual cultic serial murders, and that the Knight’s local expert on cult activity was killed the week before during a burglary at his antique store.
      2. The two victims in the past few days have no known connection:
        1. Kendra Myers: DOB 22 Dec 1991
          1. An engineering student at the University of London.
          2. Slain at approximately 9 P.M. on Saturday, December 15 in her flat on Bedford Way in Bloomsbury (a district of London near the University of London).
          3. Body found at 9:40 P.M. by classmate Jeremy Burnham, arriving to study for upcoming engineering tests.
          4. Neighbors interviewed reported hearing no unusual noises or visitors around the time of death.
          5. Probable cause of death: massive bleeding caused by amputation of hands and removal of heart from chest cavity.
          6. Victim also had bruises on biceps, suggesting that she was gripped strongly by a powerful individual standing behind her. However, no defensive wounds or other signs of a struggle were found.
        2. Michael Grosvenor: DOB 22 Dec 1981
          1. A library assistant working in the British Library.
          2. Slain between 9:45 P.M. and 10:30 P.M. on Monday, December 17 in a reading room at the British Library.
          3. Body found at 8:20 A.M. on Tuesday the 18th by another library worker.
          4. Probable cause of death: massive bleeding caused by amputation of hands and removal of heart from chest cavity.
          5. Victim also had bruises on biceps, suggesting that he was gripped strongly by a powerful individual standing behind him. However, no defensive wounds or other signs of a struggle were found.
          6. Partial bloodstained footprint found near body; print resembles that of a great ape, but the species is as yet unidentified.
      3. The agents also request the details of the death of the local cult expert. There likewise is no connection with the two deaths, and the method of death was vastly different.
        1. Paramijt Singh: DOB 16 Jul 1953
          1. Antique dealer who operated a shop in east London.
          2. Time of death: approximately 8:45 P.M. on Friday, December 14 at his shop. Body found at approximately 9:30 A.M. on Monday the 17th by a customer.
          3. Probable cause of death: massive bleeding from multiple slash wounds across the abdomen.
          4. Current hypothesis: The victim interrupted a robbery in progress (as suggested by toppled shelves and ransacked storage). It is yet unknown what (if anything) might have been taken by the assailants.
          5. Analysis of the body found no defensive wounds or other signs of struggle.
          6. Fiber analysis revealed several reddish-brown animal hairs on the premises. Preliminary analysis indicates that they most likely belong to a primate, perhaps a baboon or orangutan.
          7. No signs of forced entry were found, suggesting that either the assailant had a key or was known by the victim.
    3. Determined to get the investigation started early, they decide to head to Singh’s Antiques in east London. In the midst of the Asian district, there is still a fair amount of activity in the evening time as customers made their way into 2nd hand electronics stores, book shoppes, shoemakers and such. The agents weave through the small crowds gathered around food stalls on the way from the tube exit to Singh’s Antique. Sitting in the midst of the many stores, it stands out with the yellow police tape over the door.
  1. Markov proves adept at making quick work of the lock as they gain entrance; he notes that the lock is intact with no signs of being forced. Inside, the small store is littered with toppled shelves and scattered items. The only other door leads to a small back room.
  2. Picking through the evidence, they notice no bloody tracks, suggesting the killer was careful to avoid the large bloodstain on the floor. They find Singh’s locked cashbox tucked under the counter with over 500 pounds inside, as well as several clearly valuable artifacts, such as those made of engraved silver or gold jewelry with inlaid semi-precious stones.
  3. Sitting on the floor in the back room is an opened wooden crate that appeared overly large for the two items still carefully packed inside: a bronze vase inscribed with skulls and leaves, and a triangular iron spear tip decorated with a flame motif. Next to the crate is a page that appears to have been torn from a Sotheby’s catalog.
  4. They agents retire to their hotel rooms for the night.
      1. 2012 Dec 18:
        1. Scotland Yard: The next morning, the agents meet with Inspector Lestrade who provides access to the medical examiner as well as accompanies them to the murder sites.
          1. When asked about why the Inspector contacted Gordon-Yancy at the Millenium Knights, he informed them that he has found them knowledgeable and helpful with the “strange ones. We used to have a chap who handled that kind of thing – Richard? Randall? Or something like that, but left the force six, or maybe eight years ago. Odd chap, to be sure.”
            1. They ask Emma at Personnel to track down Reginald Falsworth.
          2. A quick inspection of the two bodies did not reveal any new information, and they are notified the bloodwork analysis is still pending.
        2. British Library:
        1. Accompanied by Inspector Lestrade, they have no trouble accessing the cordoned reading room – a comfortable chamber with several overstuffed chairs and a fireplace. The cozy room is marred by the enormous bloodstain soaked into the large rug in the center of the room.
          1. Markov notes that there is less blood splattered around that might be expected for such a gruesome killing.
          2. Lester points out a partial bloody footprint just inside the door.
          3. They also make note that while the fireplace is empty of tinder or ashes, the hearth bears a scorch mark. Curiously, in the center of the scorch mark is a round, unmarred area about 8 inches across.
        1. Kendra Myer’s flat:
        1. Located near the University of London, the building sits among rows of other student houses. Students bustle to- and fro- to meet with friends, head to class, or participate in some collegiate activity.
        2. The hallway leading to Myer’s flat is like the thousands of similar ones throughout the city, with only the bright yellow police tape marking the room as anything but usual. There are no signs of forced entry through the door, and likewise for the single window in the living room. The toilet window only opens a few inches, and there are no signs it has been tampered with.
          1. The sparse, but comfortable space is tidy, and the accoutrements of student life decorate the small room – books on engineering, photos of mum and sisters, class catalogs, etc. For whatever diabolical reason, her murder cut short the life of a promising young woman.
          2. Like the Grosvenor murder scene, there is less blood splattered around than might be expected for such a gruesome killing, again suggestive of a victim that did not struggle much.
          3. They agents notice however, that the edges of the bathroom sink are slightly charred, as if they had been exposed to direct flame. There is also a small soot stain on the ceiling directly above the sink.
        1. Around tea time, they return to Scotland Yard where Markov calls the Sotheby’s Auction House in New York upon their opening.
          1. He confirms that Singh had previously purchased several items from southeast Asia – an Indian brass bowl, a Nepalese bronze ritual ewer, a Tibetan iron spear point, and an Indian copper dagger and sheath.
        2. Maverick meanwhile begins his research on the unique methods of death and is rewarded with information that suggests the practice of removing a heart and a hand was linked to a particularly sadistic worship of the Indian god Kali.
          1. Indian Mythology, AL. Trivedi, Ph.D.; © 1988 Panjabi Publishing “Kali is an emanation or aspect of Devi, one of the Asuras, whose name means “black.” She was often called “Kali Ma.” Meaning the black mother. She has a dark complexion; long, loose hair; a blood-smeared, tusked face; and three eyes. She has four arms: one handling a sword; another holding the severed head of a giant; and with the other two, she encourages worshippers. She is naked except for a belt made of rows of severed hands and a garland around her neck made of human skulls and of snakes. She is usually shown standing over her husband, Siva.
          2. “Her first deed was her battle with Raktavira. Unfortunately, each drop of blood Raktavira shed gave birth to a thousand giants as powerful as himself. She finally overcame him by holding him up, piercing him with her spear and drinking all his blood (which is why she is often shown with her tongue lolling out and dripping with blood.)
          3. “After the fight, Kali danced a victory dance that shook the entire earth. Siva begged her to stop, but Kali did not see him and he was trampled underfoot. From that time on, the gods would bribe or beg her to slay their foes. She gladly did this to satisfy her lust for blood.
          4. “Kali is waited upon by a great number of shapeshifting demons called Rakshasas, who feed upon flesh and are also known as Asra-pas or blood drinkers. Her worship includes orgiastic rites and human sacrifices, during which the victims’ hands are severed and eaten while their hearts are cut-out and burned in a consecrated brass bowl. According to Indian calculations, the world will soon enter the fourth age of the cosmos. This age is called Kali Yuga or Kali’s Age: the Age of Destruction. Most texts place the start of this age as December 22, 2012.”
        3. The medical examiner confirms the two bodies contain elevated levels of copper in the blood, and at the site of the wounds
        4. Emma also is able to get a picture of Reginal Falsworth from the personnel files. He is a young man with black hair, and she tells them that he would be 46 years at that time. But she cautions them that the picture and information is almost 10 years old.
          1. Maverick once again takes to the computers and is able to find a match in the conspiracy theory forums for a man who claimed to be a part of Scotland Yard. He even finds that the handle “SpookyMan” was active even as of just a few hours previous. Further sleuthing reveals the man’s IP address’ physical location in Hyde Park!
      2. Falsworth’s flat:
        1. The agents accompanied Inspector Lestrade to Falsworth’s flat anticipating a conflict  with a delusional man. They are met there by Angus McGillicuty, and they show Falsworth’s picture to the landlady, who tells them his flat number.
        2. Breaking in, they find a surprised Falsworth – older and more disheveled than his decade-old photograph –  who turns out to be more relieved at finding a group open to believing his theories than upset at being confronted.
          1. He informs them that he believes that the murders are the work of a group aiming to summon the demon-god Kali. And further that he has identified the two other people that they will murder for the ritual to be complete – Vivian Brunswick, a nurse at St. Thomas Hospital, born 22.12.71 and James J. Sibley, a member of the House of Lords and Minister of Parliament,  born 22.12.61; both at 12:01 am.
          2. He is convinced that they will be targeted in the next few days, and that the Kali cultists have a Rakshasa servant. He emphasizes several times that they must do whatever it takes to prevent Kali from being summoned.
        3. Markov calls the Yard and threatens Sibley’s life in all manner of colourful ways to ensure enhancement of his security. Inspector Lestrade hurriedly speeds off to aid in the security.
        4. A second call to St. Thomas hospital reveals that Brunswick is still working her shift. They ask her to be detained by security until they arrive. It is an hour trip on the tube.
      3. Protecting (?) Brunswick:
        1. The agents, accompanied by Falsworth, meet with Brunswick, who becomes understandably concerned about her daughter’s welfare alone at home when told about the danger to her. She is anxious to return home, so they decide to follow her discreetly whilst she travels; perhaps the cultists can be lured out!
        2. Forming an invisible protective bubble, they board the District Line to Beacontree. They keep a close eye on her even as the light crowd pushes in onto the train.  A few minutes later, they realize that Brunswick is exiting on Plaistow; the agents quickly debark with Angus staying on to ensure there wasn’t any trickery going on. Markov quickly catches up and attempts to nonchalantly walk parallel to the widow, with Lester, then Markov and Falsworth following.
        3. Brunswick exits onto the surface streets where the crowds slowly disperses. After walking the streets a few minutes, she abruptly turns down into an alley. Markov quickly backtracks and enters the alley to see that 20 yards in front of her, a pair of men are slowly walking away. He rushes forward, attracting their attention – a young Asian man, and a large British man. As he pushes past Brunswick towards them, the Asian man simply tells Markov to “leave them“. The Russian agent stops in his tracks – the command tugging at his brain; but pushing through the sudden urge to leave, Markov simply turns away… draws his pistol, completes his turn, and puts a bullets square in the Asian man’s forehead.
        4. The distinctive crack of the firearm discharge spurs the other three toward the alley entrance where they see the other man striking Markov in the throat with powerful hands, dropping him. Not trusting to shoot past Brunswick, Lester runs up to her with his pistols appearing in his hands; a pair of shorts sees only one finding its home in the man’s shoulder. Maverick meanwhile tackles Brunswick to the ground as Falsworth fires his .38 into the Brit as well.
        5. Unbothered by the two wounds, the man rushes forward and swings at Maverick, gouging thin streaks of blood onto his upraised arms. More shots ring out into the man’s back, which seem only to enrage it further, who’s furious swings at Maverick come close to tearing his throat out.
        6. Falsworth suddenly calls out for Maverick to “sacrifice the woman!” as he aims his revolver at the woman cowering behind Maverick; Maverick hesitates, but unleashes his next bullet again at the Brit. Is the blood loss getting to him? It almost appears as if the man’s elongated fingers and thickly-haired arm are claws!
        7. In desperation, Lester charges in and fire Johnson and Johnson directly into the back of the man’s head, finally causing him to drop. Kicking at the body, Falsworth is satisfied the threat is gone before taking the gun off Brunswick.
      4. Epilogue:
        1. Quickly arousing Markov, the agents retrieve the dagger and bowl from the Asian man. They find no CCTVs in the dark alley and quickly leave the scene with Brunswick before the growing sirens arrive. A glance back at the Brit doesn’t show any strangeness to his appearance; it must have been the light and the adrenaline playing with their senses…
        2. The agents contact Lestrade, who doesn’t want to know any details. He is comforted by the fact that the woman is safe, and that there is no video evidence of the “Asian gang violence”.
        3. XP: 3
      5. GM:
        1. London Calling was originally a module released for the Alternity Dark*Matter game

by Andy Collins. It was originally published in Dungeon Magazine #83 (November/December 2000). It is available online at London Calling.

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