The Hand of Doom

Episode 1-Flaming Terror

Our intrepid heroes-Santino “Sonny” Marconi, Digger Flinders, and Colonel Kurt von Gerbering-awake with a start to the sounds of alarm claxons and gunfire. Sonny grabs his favorite 1911; Kurt unsheathes his sabre, and Digger grabs his knife. They meet in the hall amidst the panicking passengers, as they clear the sleep from their heads and remember that they are on RAS Sheffield, a luxury zeppelin travelling from London to Istanbul carrying bureaucrats, businessmen, and three representatives of the Century Club, who are on their way to welcome the new Turkish government of Kemal Ataturk to the family of modern Europe.

Dispatching a machine gun-wielding fanatic in the dining lounge, the three adventurers make their way to the bridge. There, they discover the dead bodies of the pilots, and a black clad, masked technician whose last act is to try pulling a pistol on Sonny. Despite Kurt’s basic understanding of engineering, and Sonny’s piloting skills, they can see no purpose to the elaborate and mysterious device that the killer had just finished installing.

With nothing urgent in the cockpit, and the Sheffield flying straight and level above the majestic mountains, the guys decide to investigate the sound of gunfire that is still coming intermittently from aft and above.

The men reassure the passengers as they make their way to the rear of the gondola, seeking a way up into the zeppelin’s structure. Kurt gets a chance to display his swordsmanship as a masked minion ambushes the passing team.

Passing several more dead crewmen, the Centurions make their way up into the vast interior of the zepplin, and Kurt advances forward along the lower gangway, while Sonny and Digger move up to a higher level. There they stumble across a group of intruders. Sonny gets the drop on the lookout, and after hearing a shot ring out, Kurt is startled by two black-robed bodies hitting the gangway in front of him.

Realizing that the action is above him, Kurt, in true Kavallerie Kommando style, marches to the sound of the guns, and dashes up the next ladder. Meanwhile, Sonny’s .45 and Digger’s knife wear down the intruders. Digger receives several wounds, but keeps pushing forward, and Kurt arrives in time to put his sword to work. In a last, defiant gesture, the enemy leader whirls his sword over his head, turns his back on the centurions and presses a red button atop what is obviously a bomb, which his men have welded to the very structure of the zeppelin itself.

Through sheer will and determination, Kurt decides to risk all, and snips the correct wire, deactivating the bomb.

The Centurions go back below, and reassure the other passengers, who spontaneously begin to celebrate, causing many casualties among the vessel’s champagne supply. Their joy is only spoiled by the half-dozen or so bodies that remain in the halls and in the dining room. Digger and Kurt haul the bodies, and stash them in the stateroom that from which one minion had emerged earlier. A quick search of the room and bodies reveals that the minions bear tattoos which match amulets worn by their two leaders, and the room contains ammunition, spare clothing, a few grenades, and three parachutes.

Sonny has calculated the zeppelin’s position, and knows that they are in Switzerland, nearing Lake Geneva. As the lake comes into view, the mysterious device in the cockpit hums to life, and Sonny loses control of the vessel, which veers sharply right and begins to dive and accelerate. In a flash of intuition, Kurt realizes that they are standing in a giant guided missile, heading for the League of Nations headquarters, and containing over seven million cubic feet of hydrogen.

The centurions leap into action, Digger calming the passengers, while Sonny and Kurt dash back up into the zeppelin and begin manually shutting down the eight massive engines. With the engines off, the vessel begins to slow, but as they re-enter the gondola it is apparent that the zeppelin will not stop before it is over Geneva itself.

Kurt and Digger begin tying tables to mooring lines and shoving them through windows, to drag in the water and act as anchors. Kurt once again hurries topside, and begins slashing at the hydrogen cells, in order to release the gas and bring the ship down to the surface of the lake, and cutting open the skin of the zeppelin, to destroy its aerodynamic qualities and increase drag. As he finishes opening a large hole in the nose, he hears behind him the distinctive sound of a flare pistol being cocked. Before he can charge the heretofore-undiscovered leader of the intruders, the villain grins maniacally, screams a curse in an unknown language, and fires a flare directly into a venting hydrogen cell immediately above his head. A fireball instantly begins racing toward Kurt, who is burnt, but not badly enough to disrupt his perfect swan-dive through the rent nose.

Luckily for Kurt, the airship has nearly settled on the surface of the lake, and as the flames begin to consume it, the passengers leap wildly through the shattered windows, and into the lake, where rescue vessels have been approaching. Sonny takes one last look and follows the last of the passengers, and Digger is about to follow, when he hears the distinctive sound of a baby crying. With a curse, he whirls about and spots a white bassinet on a nearby table. Fashioning a makeshift sling from the turban of one of the intruders, he snatches up the baby, and leaps out a window, as the rushing waters of Lake Geneva begin to rush into the remains of the gondola.

Miraculously, the Centurions and all the passengers are able to escape the flaming wreckage, and are picked up by the rescue craft.

A couple of days recuperating, and the Centurions are ready to begin looking into who was behind the attempted terrorist act. They bring one of the amulets to a young graduate student at the University of Geneva, whom Digger knows, and who is something of an expert in the field of cults and occult iconography. There is something familiar about the amulet, but he cannot recall it, and recommends that the Centurions consult Professor Snell, at London University’s Institute of Classical Studies. Hopefully, Professor Snell will be able to reveal the secrets that this amulet might contain.

Find out next month, as the adventure continues!

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