Crosstime

The Mystery of the Tunguska Demon -- The Gates of Peril

After landing on the Eastern coast of Siberia, Willoughby and Dermot get on a train heading towards the Kruschev Work Camp. When the train track veers off away from the camp, the two friends hop aboard a passing truck. And then a coach. And then a goat cart.

Eventually, Dermot and Willoughby, exhausted but no worse for the wear, arrive at the Kruschev Work Camp.

A large, thick wire fence topped with barbed wire surrounds a small group of cramped-looking buildings. Outside the camp proper, prisoners chop down trees with fearsome-looking Soviet guards watching them carefully. At the gate to the camp, two large Russians stand, rifles in hand and suspicious looks on their faces as the two Europeans approach.

Willoughby and Dermot hope that their Russian hasn’t atrophied since the time they last had to use it.

[And Todd, does Dermot carry a gun? I assume Willoughby doesn’t]

smilesriles
How do you imagine we get in there? We could try and sneak in under the cover of darkness, but I have a feeling that contains a high probability of getting shot, and I am allergic to bullets. Perhaps we could enter through some sort of ruse? We could claim to be doctors that were sent here by the government. Nobody questions things like that here, right? In Russia, the doctors hurt you. Nobody would mess with us too much.” Willoughby glances up at the foreboding fences. “Deathly allergic.” He mutters under his breath.

hydingjekyll
Dermot thinks for a moment, considering Alexander’s idea—it isn’t half bad—then grins. “No one messes with doctors, perhaps, but why set our sights so low?” He sets his goggles to telescopic sight for dramatic effect, looking directly into Willoughby’s corneas (despite knowing that Willoughby can’t tell). “I feel rather sure that these humble folk wold be even less likely to mess with this ‘Bear’ chap we learned of back on that ship. I propose that one of us enquire at the gate whether he has arrived here yet. If he has, we must make our way to Kulik with a red shift; if not, the other of us shall assume his identity and demand to be shown to our hapless friend Kulik, with a eye to freeing him. How does that sound?

smilesriles
Not a bad idea. So who gets to be ‘the bear’? I would suggest you, as I would be more likely to be able to move unhindered if we need to separate.” What sort of man was this “Bear”, Willoughby thought. A Soviet hitman? An official government agent? Would it matter that both Dermot and I have foreign accents?

hydingjekyll
Yes, agreed. You are better at hiding your talents than I am,” Dermot grins; he hopes Willoughby knows it’s just a friendly jest. “Please be on hand, though, in case they twig me. A distraction could be in order, while I create a bigger distraction.

GM
Willoughby straightens his tie as he approaches the guard shack. A large Russian, rifle slung across his shoulder, steps out and stares at the approaching Englishman.

<halt>*

Willoughby clears his throat and asks, in his best Russian, “<excusing><no>

Willoughby swallows hard as he realizes that he had not actually come up with a reason for a strange Englishman to inquire as to the Bear’s status.

His mind races…

*translated from the Russian

smilesriles
<“When we stopped at the last town, we encountered not one but two imposters. They had to be dealt with, most severely, for holding up the business of Rasputin. I am here to present the one true ‘Bear’.” Willoughby gestures with a stage florish to his companion.
You are to see us both inside to the commander as swiftly as possible.” Willoughby says.

GM
The guard, looking skeptical, eyes Dermot “The Bear” McDanneher up and down.

<Do you have any proof you are who you say your are?>” he asks Dermot.

smilesriles
I have had enough of this!” Willoughby’s voice cuts sharp and clear across the cold, “One more outrage like this and I will have you reported. Do have any idea what ‘The Bear’ does for People’s government? Hmmm?” Willoughby lets the threat hang there for a moment before softening his tone, “Look, I understand your suspicion. But remember the People’s Government uses all the weapons at their disposals. Even former capitalists from the British Empire.” [Empathy and Intimidation are both Fair so whichever one is appropriate]

GM
For a moment, the guard merely glares at Willoughby [Intimidation Poor (-1)], but Willoughby slips further into his character of an angry bureaucrat, and steps close to the guard, staring the larger man straight in the eye [invokes All the World’s a Stage for a reroll, spends 1 Fate Point]. The guard steps back and comes to attention, avoiding eye contact with either Willoughby or “The Bear” [Intimidation Fair ( +2) vs. Resolve Poor (-1); succeeds with 3 shifts, gains spin.]

As they enter the compound, the guard stares after the terrifying Bear, afraid of the “roar” he might hear from the silent, imposing man—and immediately radios his compatriots across the camp [Dermot gains the temporary Aspect “The Bear’s Roar,” +1 to Intimidation checks on all guards until Dermot speaks—unless he can live up to the reputation].

Looking around the work camp, Willoughby and Dermot ponder where to go to find Leonid Kulik—and before the real Bear arrives!

smilesriles
Willoughby continues past the cantina. At the first passing guard, he pulls them aside and in a low whisper, You there. ‘The Bear’ needs to find the prisoner ‘Leonard Kulik’. Where is he quartered?

hydingjekyll
Dermot crosses his arms at the guard and looks at him sternly as if waiting with little patience for an answer, letting his eloquent companion do the talking for now; he isn’t sure how good his Russian is, let alone his accent. He adjusts the lenses on his goggles, making sure the guard is fully aware that “The Bear” is looking him over; although he tries to pass it off as sizing up the guard’s competence and how delicious the guard’s flesh would taste with a strong shot of vodka, Dermot actually studies the guard’s equipment and how it is carried. [attempt at Intimidation, Investigation]

GM
Dermot’s eyes are watchful rather than imposing, and his intimidation fails utterly, even with the title of “the Bear” in the guard’s head [Intimidation Poor (-1), +1 (The Bear’s Roar) = Mediocre ( +0) vs. Resolve Mediocre ( +0), fails). However, his watchful eyes catch upon the guard’s equipment [Investigation Great ( +4) vs. Deceit Average ( +1), succeeds by 3 shifts, gains spin]. He sees the Mosin-Nagant bolt-action rifle (5 rounds, 7.62mm), the Nagant M1895 revolver (7 rounds, 7.62mm), the combat knife on the hip, and the small ammunition pouch. He even sees the telltale green of American currency sticking out of the guard’s hip pocket.

As Dermot’s eyes are busy, the guard responds to Willoughby’s question with a sneer. "%{color:orange}<Perhaps you mean “LeoNID” Kulik? He is working in the machine shop, making forks and knives.>%"

Willoughby nods to the guard and leads “the Bear” towards the machine shop. Inside the tattered shack, a dozen Russians in thin prison uniforms work, either at one of the two rusted machines or at tables, hammering out silverware from scrap metal.

<Leonard Kulik?>” Willoughby calls across the shop. This man looks up:

Peering through his coke-bottle lenses, the starved mineralogist approaches Willoughby and Dermot. “What are the two of you doing here?” he asks in barely-accented English.

hydingjekyll
Dermot stays silent for the moment, trying to think if he’s had any contact with Kulik, or if Kulik might have any way to recognize him or Willoughby.

[What is spin?]

smilesriles
<Step outside and don’t ask any questions if you know what is good for you. ‘The Bear’ wishes to see you.>” Willoughby announces in loud russian before adding in softly spoken English, “You have nothing to fear. Please.

GM
[Short OOC: Sorry it took me 24/36 hours to respond to your posts, but my internet went out yesterday afternoon and just came back up now. And Todd, “spin” is a facet of the SotC levels of success system of dice-rolling. For each “shift” (Mediocre—>Average=1 shift, Mediocre—>Fair=2 shifts, etc) earned on a successful roll, it succeeds "better"—more damage, study faster, notice more, etc. One or two shifts is minor, but 3 shifts means “spin,” and means a significant success that allows something small but notable in regards to the roll. When possible, I’ll ask you what your spin result is—Riley chose to give Dermot “Bear’s Roar” by getting spin on his Intimidation roll, because he was on gchat when I was posting that. When you’re not around, I’ll make up something myself—in this case, noting the American currency that the guard is carrying because of the Investigation spin. Hope that’s enough info, and not too much.]

Dermot wracks his brain, but soon realizes that he has only encountered Kulik in a textbook, identifying him as a mineralogist convicted of sedition [as seen in the Introduction, reply #5]. He thinks it might be possible for Kulik to have heard of Dermot in academic circles, but as invention and mineralogy seldom intersect, he doubts it highly—and it is even less likely that he has encountered the occultist Willoughby.

Kulik puts on a puzzled look in response to Willoughby’s remark. "%{color:purple}Of course I have nothing to fear from you, Alexander. Why would you say so? And who or what is “the Bear,” and why is Dermot pretending to be it?%"

Apparently oblivious of the confusion Kulik has inflicted upon Willoughby and Dermot, the wizened man begins heading for the door. “But if you’d rather speak outside, I’m perfectly fine with that.

hydingjekyll
‘The Bear’ is an assassin who’s coming to snuff you, and I’m pretending to be him so we can get you out of here before he actually arrives,” Dermot grumps. “Now kindly act scared of us so that the guards don’t start shooting, and explain how in God’s name you know who we are.

GM
Kulik, apparently understanding the danger of the guards if not the rest of the situation at hand, puts on an only slightly over-the-top look of fright and follows Dermot and Willoughby outside and around the corner.

Once they are out of sight, Kulik relaxes and throws his arms around Willoughby. “It is so good to see you, my dear Alexander. I had thought, after the terrible events at Tunguska, that you would never recover. But you look wonderful.

Willoughby shoves Kulik back, both irritated and frightened. “We do not know you, Doctor Kulik. And we have never been to Tunguska.

In fact, we’re headed there now,” Dermot adds.

Of course you have been to Tunguska. It is where we met, last year. June 30th, 1928. You rescued me from the Kruschev work camp, then—” Kulik’s face creases in confusion, and he looks around at the camp’s drab buildings. “But wait, I am here at the work camp now. You did not rescue me. And yet, I know… it has all been so confusing since Tunguska. The first time, I mean.

Dermot and Willoughby are intensely puzzled by Kulik’s talk of June 30th, nearly a week in the future, as a past event. Visions! thinks Willoughby. A temporal paradox! goes through Dermot’s head. As they continue to conduct their interrogation, a strange story takes shape…

hydingjekyll
First things first, and that means practicality (until Dermot finds some interesting device). “What do you remember of this rescue? It could come in handy for when we actually do it.

GM
June 30, 1927. Sunset.

Doctor Leonid Kulik and his assistant Masha approached the Tunguska site, squinting at dead, twisted trees in the encroaching darkness. Kulik fingered one of the tree branches, eying its bent frame. “<it>

<yes>” Masha said, uninterested.

<pass>” Kulik reached out a hand, looking closely at the tree’s roots, hidden under the near-frozen ground.

A moment passed. A sickly green light flared. Kulik looked up—and went mad.

The light penetrated his mind, throwing images of different times and places up on his internal projector-screen. Two men pull him screaming from an infernal abyss, one in shadows, the other’s eyes blocked by goggles out of a Republic serial. A thickly-bearded man with steely eyes, the “mad monk” Rasputin, bathes in green light as the trees around him fall like dominoes. A sinuous dragon wraps itself around Rasputin’s torso, holding him, crushing him. The ground splits, and then the sky. Fire. Ice.

Two weeks later, Kulik stumbled into a small Siberian village, babbling about the return of the mad monk—or possibly the Devil himself. He spoke of a dragon, encircling the globe. He spoke of a machine, the only thing that can stop Rasputin—or it did, or will, or might have… No one could fully understand the man, with his confused tales of past, present, and future. It was not long before the GULAG placed in him the Kruschev Work Camp, where his madness would no longer bother anyone. Especially since his assistant Masha never reappeared…

After telling as much of his tale as he can communicate coherently, Kulik sighs in relaxation. Then Dermot repeats his question: “What do you remember of this rescue?” Kulik wracks his brain for a moment, then squints up at the sun. “I am not certain. Perhaps I could remember more if I had time, but I do not. Because the one thing that I do recall is this: this is just about the time that the real Bear arrives.

Willoughby goes pale, then glances around the corner. Sure enough, a man built like a mountain stands at the guard post, screaming Russian profanities at the gate guard. Willoughby ducks back around, and looks at Dermot and Kulik in concern. “I think our act has been found out.

smilesriles
With a fresh urgency, Willoughby grabs Kulik.
Where do they keep the vehicles here?” While Kulik comes up with an answer, Willoughby turns to Dermot. “Get Kulik to a jeep or something. I’m going to do my best to start a riot and hopefully we can make a break for it in the ensuing chaos. If I don’t reconnect with you immediately after the you clear the gates, I will follow you from the skies and rejoin when I have the chance. Head for Tunguska.

hydingjekyll
Willoughby’s admonition, combined with the painful adrenaline rush of oncoming calamity, gets Dermot’s Irish up like Tim Finnegan. “You’re the stealth expert, Willoughby—you get him out of here. I’ll see you in Tunguska one way or another, sure enough, but not on your orders or anyone else’s, dear friend. We’ll just see what I can do about this bloody Bear wanker.” Dermot turns his back on Willoughby, then takes his Mid-Range Non-Fatal Electro-Discharge Device from his belt and sets it to maximum power. The crosshairs on his goggles come through as he takes cover and prepares to shoot. [Dislikes Authority, Odds and Ends (mostly odds)]

GM
Willoughby ignores Dermot’s suggestion of retreat, and goes with his original plan. His face and stance shift slightly, and THE WRAITH floats up off the ground, the jade at his belt glowing brightly.

With black cloak fully unfurled and flapping, THE WRAITH bursts into the workshed, flying low, just over the workers’ heads. He reaches the top of the ceiling, and bats pour out from his cloak, flittering around the room, in and out of the smoke that billows from him. Drawing on the power of the Daevas, THE WRAITH lets loose an inhuman scream.

[Intimidation Average ( +1), invokes “Glimpses of the Apocalypse” for reroll. Reroll is still Average ( +1). Worker 1: Resolve Mediocre ( +0), WRAITH succeeds. Worker 2: Resolve Mediocre ( +0), WRAITH succeeds. Worker 3: Resolve Good ( +3), WRAITH fails. ]

As two of the workers cower in fear, the third grabs a wrench and hurls it at the terrifying figure of THE WRAITH. THE WRAITH handily knocks the wrench out of the air with a swat of his hand.

[Worker 3: Weapons Average ( +1) vs. Fists Fair ( +2)]

At this terrifying event, both of the other workers shrieks in terror and run from the workshop, running right into a guard outside.

Dermot, distracted by the sounds of the frantic workers, fails to notice a guard approaching from behind. Before he can react, the guard has fired. The well-aimed shot lodges in Dermot’s hip, and he groans in pain [Guns Good ( +3) vs. Athletics Poor (-1), Dermot takes a 4-point Health damage].

In response, Dermot whips up his Mid-Range Non-Fatal Electro-Discharge Device and fires back. A bolt of arcing electricity whips across the square, striking the guard square in the chest. There is a sizzling noise and the smell of frying meat, and the guard falls to the ground, comatose [Guns Epic ( +7) vs. Athletics Good ( +3), guard takes 4-point Health damage, is taken out].

Kulik looks at the danger in alarm, and runs away from the fight, hiding behind the nearest barracks.

[End of Round 1. Beginning of Round 2.]

THE WRAITH, still hanging by the ceiling attempting to frighten the last worker, is surprised as a large mountain—check that, technically a man—leaps through the window of the workshop and attempts to swat THE WRAITH from the air. Realizing this must be the Bear, THE WRAITH flies this way and that, just barely avoiding the Bear’s fearsome claws—er, hands. [The Bear: Might Superb ( +5) vs. Mysteries Fantastic ( +6) = THE WRAITH wins by 1 shift.]

The initiative is now as follows:

THE WRAITH (Health 1 2 3 4 5 6)
3 Russian Guards
Brave Worker
Dermot (Health 1 2 3 X 5 6)
2 Russian Guards
2 Prisoners
Kulik
[Round 3]
The Bear

smilesriles
THE WRAITH quickly scans the workhouse for anything big-ish, heavy and metal. Swooping down, he grabs a toolbox the size of his torso, and then shoots up out of the Bear’s grasp. With a triumphant shout, THE WRAITH divebomb-hurls it at the Bear.

GM
THE WRAITH’s inexperience with toolbox-hurling shows, as the Bear easily swats the toolbox out of the air, and it smashes open on the floor, sending wrenches and screwdrivers clattering across the floor [Weapons Mediocre ( +0) vs. Might Fair ( +2)].

The last worker finally loses his nerve, and leaps out the window that the Bear had broken.

Outside, the guards take up positions and let loose a volley of gunfire. Dermot dodges quickly out of the way, but not soon enough to avoid all three gunshots, and one bullet grazes his arm [Guns Average ( +1) vs. Athletics Mediocre ( +0), 1-point Health damage.]

The initiative is now as follows:

Dermot (Health X 2 3 X 5 6)
2 Russian Guards
2 Prisoners
Kulik
[Round 3]
The Bear
THE WRAITH (Health 1 2 3 4 5)
3 Russian Guards
Brave Worker

hydingjekyll
Argh! Bloody wankers!” Outnumbered, Dermot can see that shooting the guards down one at a time isn’t going to cut it. He brings out the projectile grapnel gun that Vivanda made so famous, sinks its belt hooks into a projection in the wall next to him; aiming through the crosshairs on his goggles, he fires the grapnel at the stack of building materials directly behind the guards. [Guns; Fate Point to make the area Cluttered]

GM
Dermot’s aim is true, and he brings the loose stack of boards, concrete blocks, and girders down on the three guards. With a yelp, they are buried, out of this fight if not shuffled off the mortal coil. Dermot realizes that the pile of junk makes the perfect cover, and quickly darts behind it as he sees another trio of guards round the corner [Dermot Guns Fantastic ( +6), spends a Fate Point to tag Cluttered = Legendary ( +8) vs. Athletics Fair ( +2) = +6 shifts. Guards take 6-point Health damage, are taken out, Dermot gains massive spin. The area is now Cluttered, and Dermot can tag it for free one time, if he does it next turn.]

Dermot glances around and sees two more guards rounding the workshop, and handily ducks down behind the makeshift barricade just as they open fire [Guns Average ( +1) vs. Athletics Average ( +1), Dermot uses his free tag on Cluttered to get Good ( +3).

Kulik and the two prisoners from the workshop start running, quickly retreating from the fight and out of Dermot’s range of vision.

[Round 3]

The Bear, his massive size allowing him to reach nearly to the ceiling, reaches for THE WRAITH, grabbing him in his massive arms. Struggling, THE WRAITH mutters a Persian phrase, and the Orb of Daevas glows brightly, shooting THE WRAITH towards the ceiling in a burst of speed and slipping reluctantly from the Bear’s grasp [The Bear Might Good ( +3), The Bear invokes Size of the Bear to add +2 = Superb ( +5) vs. Mysteries Fair ( +2), THE WRAITH invokes Orb of the Daevas to reroll = Fantastic ( +6), THE WRAITH wins by 1 shift. Both spend 1 Fate Point]

The initiative is now as follows:

THE WRAITH (Health 1 2 3 4 5), Fate Points 5
3 Russian Guards 3
Brave Worker
Dermot (Health X 2 3 X 5 6), Fate Points 6
2 Russian Guards
3 Russian Guards 2
2 Prisoners
Kulik
[Round 4]
The Bear

[Note: since the guards are Minions, they act and can be attacked in small groups, as per Dermot taking out the trio this turn.]

smilesriles
Enough of this.THE WRAITH wraps his cloak around him and smashes through the window towards Kulik. He grabs him firmly in his arms and muttering a Persian incantation, launches himself and the startled prisoner into the sky.

GM
As he flies out of the workshop, THE WRAITH nimbly avoids the Bear’s massive grip, and several volleys of gunfire from the soldiers outside while scooping up Kulik [Might Fair ( +2) vs. Mysteries Great ( +4). Guns Average ( +1) vs. Mysteries Fair ( +2). Guns Great ( +4) vs. Mysteries Epic ( +7)].

From his vantage point a few dozen feet off the ground, THE WRAITH can see Dermot, in good cover but flanked by two groups of guards, as well as the Bear charging from the workshop, roaring Russian curses.

Another volley of gunfire comes from the guards, and THE WRAITH darts out of its way [Guns Average ( +1) vs. Mysteries Fantastic ( +6)].

The initiative is now as follows:

Dermot (Health X 2 3 X 5 6), Fate Points 6
2 Russian Guards
3 Russian Guards 2
2 Prisoners
Kulik
[Round 4]
The Bear
THE WRAITH (Health 1 2 3 4 5), Fate Points 5
3 Russian Guards 3
Brave Worker

hydingjekyll
Bloody hell, I’m surrounded,” mutters Dermot. “What am I doing? I’m not a soldier, I’m a scientist!” There’s an interesting thought. “Better start acting like one.” He holsters his Mid-Range Non-Fatal Electro-Discharge Device and brings out his Handheld Personnel Propeller, switching it on and letting it fly him over the prison camp walls after THE WRAITH, keeping in mind the angles of the soldiers’ firing positions and the physics of his own flight. [Invokes Odds and Ends (mostly odds).] As he’s lifted away, he looks over his bleeding shoulder and shouts, “And your vodka is a piss-poor substitute for good Irish whiskey!” As soon as he’s over the wall, he brings himself back to the ground to avoid further gunfire.

GM
As Dermot lands on the other side of the fence, he sees a small jeep parked and ready to go. He glances up at THE WRAITH and Kulik, and motions him down. Behind him, they can hear the Bear and the other Russians running for the exits.

Up in air, THE WRAITH realizes that he can’t keep up a flight speed as fast as a truck, nor hold up Kulik as far as Tunguska.

smilesriles
Descending with all speed and grace of a tumbling leaf, THE WRAITH drops Kulik and himself in the jeep. “Hey Kulik, do you remember if our escape had a chase scene?” He turns to Dermot, “Alright, lets go!THE WRAITH guns the engine and they are off.

hydingjekyll
[Does the machine need to be hotwired or anything? Is the key in the ignition?]

smilesriles
[I had the same question too but I wanted to keep the action going ]

GM
[In pulp, they just get in the car. It’s definitely better to keep the action going].

The trio heads out across the rocky wasteland surrounding the Kruschev work camp. Before long, they see two jeeps and a large truck following.

Just ahead, THE WRAITH sees a rocky field, filled with a maze of boulders. He realizes that the larger truck pursuing them might not be able to maneuver through it.

hydingjekyll
Willoughby, what makes an automobile mobile?” Dermot asks dryly. “Here, I’ll answer it for you: moving parts. I drive. Move over!

This topic is now closed. Please begin posting in The Road to Hell.

Comments

gremlin1384 gremlin1384

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.