And so it was. This session can be summarised in the following manner:
- Quietly Approach
- Carefully Locate the Enemy
- Problem: Guards!
- Effectively and Carefully Dispatch Guards
- Stealthily Discover the Enemy Base
Things got off to an unexpected start when the player behind Harry Crum announced he was foregoing the use of Pulp Points. He explained that he felt it lessened the feeling of risk (and therefore fun) associated with the game. I told him that it was his choice and asked if anyone else wanted to do the same. Perhaps wisely they all declined.
"You guys can continue to use Pulp Points... if you wanna be pussies!" Harry supportively declared! It would turn out to be a fateful decision. With that the session commenced.
After weeks at sea the investigators were itching for the action to begin. After what seemed like days moored several hundred yards outside the outer reef, Jack Brady finally summoned them to the ship's galley, where they found the teams of New China members quietly and efficiently preparing for their assault.
Brady ran over the plan once more, stressing the need for stealth until one of the teams had located the enemy, at which point they would send up a flare and the others would converge on that location. Once all were ready they boarded their rubber and wooden dinghies and set off, using the outboard motors to take them to the outer reef.
Little could be heard over the sound of the rain and the rumble of thunder. Occasional flashes of lightning illuminated the tall rocks ahead, with the volcanic peak of Grey Dragon Island beyond. Once they had made it through the outer reef they cut the motor and took up oars. Isoge and Cassandra took the oars, and Hubert watched the island through his binoculars.
|Grey Dragon Island|
As they got closer to the island the investigators could make out plumes of orange smoke rising from several points on the volcanic slopes. Hubert looked again through his binoculars, scanning the beach, and (thanks to a successful Spot Hidden) spied two figures with a large dog patrolling it. They stopped rowing the boat until they figures had moved on, and saw that the other nearby team had done the same.
Soon after they landed on the beach close to the rocky cliffs of the volcano's peak. They did their best to conceal the dinghy behind some rocks then quickly moved inland to the sparse palm forest that covered the lower slopes of the island. Harry noticed the tracks they had left in the wet sand and did his best to cover them. Then the investigators decided to climb the volcano to get a better view of the island.
As they were quietly making their way through the palm forest, alert to danger, Cassandra suddenly noticed something move on one of the trees next to her shoulder. She turned, alarmed, to see a huge scaly claw reaching out for her! With a spider-like scuttle a massive, barnacled form heaved into view around the trunk of the tree.
Cass couldn't stifle a scream and attacked the beast, knocking it to the ground. She was about to try attacking it with her rapier when Taro, tutting loudly, calmly walked up and flipped the crab onto it's back. "Calm down, it's just a coconut crab," he muttered.
|Yep, they're real!|
"Team 6 - we've been spotted, under attack..."
"Team 5 - heading your way, stand firm. Firm Practice, Firm Action!"
There was no more, so they continued up, heading to the path and ever watchful for danger. They reached the path, for such it was, and after a while watching and seeing no sign of life, decided to climb it to the summit. Suddenly the radio crackled to life once more, and Taro translated again, pale of face.
"Team 6 is down. Repeat team 6 is down. Need reinforcements. Wait, what is that? What on earth is that? No! Arghhhhh!"
As the message descended into terrible screams Taro switched the radio off. Hubert scanned the island, looking north to where teams 5 and 6 should have been, but could make out nothing beyond the trees. Steeling themselves, the investigators continued.
After a good thirty minutes climbing up the path the group rounded a corner and saw that it lead into a tunnel in the side of the mountain. A sickly orange glow emanated from the cave opening, but the investigators were more concerned by the two robed figures that stood sentry at the entrance. Ducking back quickly behind the rocks the investigators waited, but it seemed they had not been spotted.
After a brief discussion it was decided that the direct approach was warranted. Taro told them he could take out one of the guards, but wouldn't be able to take out both before the alarm was raised. Willard nodded, and moved forwards, aiming his revolver at one of the sentries. BLAM! A direct hit! Cassandra shot the second, wounding him, but before the guard could shout out Taro managed to finish him off. It seemed they had managed to eliminate the sentries without attracting attention.
The group checked the bodies, but found nothing of interest beyond the yellow and black robes. There was only one way forwards, so they headed into the cave tunnel. Before they did so however they sent up their signal flare to alert the other teams, assuming some of them were still alive. Harry decided the .30 calibre gun was too cumbersome to carry inside the narrow tunnel, and left it outside.
Inside the tunnel it was warm and dry, and the air had a sickly, sulphurous smell. The walls glowed orange thanks to a strange, oily lichen, and disturbing bangs and groans could be heard coming from deeper inside the mountain.
The tunnel crept down into the bowels of the mountain, eventually opening out into a huge cavern. The investigators took a collective gasp as they saw the strange and disturbing scenes within. The huge natural cavern, some 150 feet high, was a hive of activity. Robed cultists massed and worked around a large metallic, bullet-shaped construction some 75 feet high. It's alien metal gleamed with unknown colours, and it's fins were worked and shaped with art deco motifs.
Dozens of inch-thick pipes lead from the bottom of the object into a bubbling magma pit, and glowed white with the energies they contained. Workers in goggles and protective gear busied themselves around the strange construction, using the various scaffolds and ladders to access it.
|The Rocket Pit|
Beyond the magma pit lay an even more terrible site. A large statue constructed from an unknown green stone dominated the back of the cavern. It depicted a large female figure with tentacles in place of arms and more sprouting from rolls of fat. Below her eyes more tentacles waved over lumpy chins, each of which sported a mouth containing clusters of fangs. It was an image of the bloated woman herself.
As dreadful as the statue itself was, the investigators were dismayed to see the scores of severed human limbs dangling from the outstretched tentacles, in various states of decay.
It was time for Sanity Checks, and it was here that all the careful preparation and stealthy approach began to unravel.
Cassandra and Isoge were driven into a temporary state of lunacy by the site. Isoge was rooted to the spot, unable to move, and Cassandra was gripped by a form of echopraxia, able only to follow the instructions of others.
Harry was struck by a deep sense of paranoia. He knew in the depths of his heart that the universe was now conspiring against him. Willard fared worst of all and simply sank to his haunches and started to babble random nonsense as though it would somehow explain the horrors he had just witnessed.
Sebastian and Hubert were relatively unscathed by what they had uncovered, but worse was still to come.
Hubert, realising that things were looking grim, decided to take action, even it it would turn out to be futile. He raced over and crouched down behind some crates and rammed the backpack full of dynamite that he had taken from the New China warehouse into a barrel. Lighting the fuse, he rolled the barrel as hard as he could towards the gleaming metal construction above the magma pit.
Harry could not contain his paranoia. He strode over to Hubert, shouting at him, "What are you doing?! Why are you hiding from me? Don't leave me on my own!". Unfortunately his actions attracted the attentions of several cultists, who quickly raised the alarm, and within seconds several of them, along with the hulking fish men, were converging on our heroes!
Something else had been attracted by the commotion however. With a terrible moaning sound something emerged from the bubbling pool of water. Vast, bubbling and roiling of form, it rose from the pool. Eyes flared across it's surface, disappearing and reappearing in different places. Two black, oily tentacles sprouted from it's bulk and landed at the edge of the pool, and it heaved itself out.
Just then the barrel of dynamite exploded with tremendous force. All of the investigators were struck dumb and deafened, their vision swam from the shock. Bodies of cultists flew backwards, and several of the fish beasts were caught in the blast. Rocks and dust began to fall from the ceiling and one of the support scaffolds above the magma pit collapsed. Through the chaos and debris, Hubert saw the Shoggoth stagger and fall back.
He retained enough presence of mind to start gathering the other investigators together. He dragged Sebastian to his feet and pushed him towards the exit. Cassandra mimicked his actions, pulling Willard and Isoge back to the cave tunnel.
As the investigators fled, their plan in tatters, Hubert risked one last glance behind him. Through the smoke and dust he saw a door open on the far side of the cavern. Out strode a figure that Hubert had only previously seen from newspaper cuttings. Resplendent in Egyptian-style robes Sir Aubrey Penhew glared in anger at the scene of chaos. He espied the escaping investigators and with an angry snarl he raised his arms and began to chant...
With that we finished the session, the last one of this year. A merry Christmas to all my readers, and we'll see you for more Masks of Nyarlathotep action in the New Year!