The Hand of Doom

Episode 2: Planes, Mole Machines and Automobiles

Having spent a few days recovering from burns, bruises and bullet grazes after their adventure on the doomed Zeppelin RAS Sheffield, Digger Flinders, Kurt von Gerbering and Santino “Sonny” Marconi are ready to discover the truth behind the mysterious amulet that they took from the body of the terrorist leader. Their search begins in the History department of the Universite de Geneve, where they look up Clarence Early, an old mate of Digger’s.

Clarence is very excited by the amulet, but can’t quite put his finger on its secrets. He directs the Centurions to seek out Professor Henry Snell of London University.

Resigning themselves to a long day, they return to their hotel, and prepare to head to Geneva Airport. On their way out, they are almost buried under tjank-you cards and letters from the grateful population if Geneva, and Sonny is grabbed in a fierce bearhug. When Kurt sees Sonny’s assailant kiss him on both cheeks, tears in his eyes, he lets his sabre slide back into its scabbard.

Sonny recognizes Antonio Quinto, the man whose baby Digger rescued from the zeppelin just as it was plunging beneath the cold, dark waters of Lake Geneva. Antonio insists that the three adventurers come to his house for a home-cooked meal, a few glasses of wine, and a proper thank-you from him and his wife, “Little Maria”.

As tired as they are, dozing a little perhaps, it takes the three a while to realize that Tony does not exactly live locally. After the seconf border crossing, they finally come to realize that Tony lives in Milano, and will still not take ‘no’ for an answer.

The feast is all that Tony promised, and more. His 30 or so brothers, cousins, parents, and his eight bambinos all are all proud to have the Centurions in their home, and it is the wee hours of the morning before Kurt, Sonny and Diger find themslves on the sofa in Tony’s small but tidy living room, bellies stuffed and heads swimming from the wine.

Tony has clearly had a few too many glasses as well, and he begins to sob softly as he tells of how his boss, Mr. Sforza, finest stonemason in all Italia, is about to be driven out of business by local organized crime, whose extortions has driven Mancini to bankruptcy. Tony, his skilled supervisor, will soon find himself out of work, his eight bambinos homeless, and Little Maria with another on the way.

Knowing a shakedown when he hears one, and having a few skills in that area himself, Sonny agrees to have a little chat with the mobsters when they come to Sforza’s the next day. Unfortunately, the weasel with the briefcase does not see reason, and suddenly Sforza’s office is ringing with the sounds of gunfire and flashing blades. Soon enough, the weasel and his two goons are down for the count, and the Centurions are on their way to speak with Andrea Mancini, the local Boss.

Apparently, Mancini had been having problems with the weasel as well, because he cheerfully accepts Sonny’s compromise, and even offers to fly the Centurions to London in his private floatplane. Soon, they are winging their way westward, grabbing a few hours of much-needed sleep.

In London, they are met at the docks by Doctor “Dash” Darling, who they hope can help with the mystery. Together, the four go to visit Professor Snell. All seems peaceful, as they wait for the slightly scatter-brained professor to gather his books and get to the truth. Snell is down the hall in a colleague’s office, looking for just that right fragment of information that will let him link the amulet definitively to one of two ancient gods, one Egyptian, one Mesopotamian. Suddenly, the professor is clubbed on the head, his books set ablaze, and Kurt is just able to snap off a shot at the black-robed figure slipping out the third storey window of the office.

The professor is bandaged up, the fire is doused, and Sonny spies a large black sedan screeching away from the building. A wild pursuit ensues, with chestnut carts and bullets flying, and thanks to Dash’s driving the Centurions finally catch up to the sedan in front of a large warehouse in the dock district. They are tempted to relax after Sonny drops the last fleeing villain, but suddenly concealed flamethrowers near the building start gushing liquid death, as an unnaturally loud voice from inside the warehouse taunts the Centurions.Thinking quickly, Kurt manages to disable one of the flamethrowers, and the pressure buildup soon causes a massive explosion and fire in the building.

Watching flaming timbers splash in the Thames, Dash’s eye is drawn to a speedboat darting away from the warehouse, and heading across the river. With cries for help coming from the warehouse, the four decide to split up, Dash and Sonny pursuing the fleeing man in the dark suit, Digger and Kurt looking for survivors in the smoking rubble. They find one live minion, who is so glad to be alive that he tells them all that they wish to know.

By the time that Sonny and Dash return, after following the figure to Waterloo station, and not being certain which train he had been on, they discover that the fleeing villain was none other than Aleister Crowley-mystic, occultist, writer, mountaneer, poet, yogi, and possible spy. Sometimes called “the wickedest man in the world”, Crowley is a member of something called the Ordo Templi Orientis, but more than this, the prisoner cannot tell them. All he knows is that Crowley has another warehouse in Dover.

A few hours later, the Centurions debark from their train in Dover, and their investigations soon reveal a gigantic warehouse, from which large trucks leave every ten ninutes or so, even this late at night. As Dash diverts the attention of one of the drivers, Diggger scampers up the side of a truck, and return, puzzled. Dirt. the trucks are filled with ordinary dirt!

It is easy enough to locate the warehouse, and soon enough, the Centurions are inside, trying to peer through the coal dust to determine what is going on. A line of a dozen or so trucks awaits their payloads, which are being loaded up my tractor-like machines with large moveable buckets on the front. They take their dirt from a huge pile, being added to steadily by even larger “bucket tractors.” And these are emerging from a hole in the floor of the warehouse. Just then, there is the frightful sound of giant tracks, like those on the newfangles “tanks” that the men remember from the War, almost drowned out by the puffing of several enormous steam engines, and into view heaves the biggest machine they have ever seen. Easily 30 metres long, 8 metres wide, with a rotating face made up of hundreds of sharp projections, the behemoth ponderously moves toward the hole, angles downward, and majestically eases its way down what appears to be a tunnel.

As the Centurions begin to consider ways to sabotage what is clearly an attempt to dig a hole into the Channel and flood all of Dover, they notice a second, smaller tunnel, this one with a narrow-guage set of tracks leading out of it, and curving off into the gloom of the warehouse. Their eyes were drawn to the track by an approaching light, and soon enough they can make out Crowley, on a small pump cart, being operated by two black-robed figures. Crowley pauses long enough to shout a few orders, then his cart disappears into the tunnel.

And then the players and GM look at the clock, realize that it’s 3AM, and call it a night.

Stay tuned!

Comments

diplomacydave

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.