Friday, September 23, 2022

Pulp Cthulhu - The Two Headed Serpent (New York Part #1 / North Borneo Part #1)


Oz the All Knowing (Mystic / Entertainer) 
Zeke Broda (Grease Monkey / Mechanic)
Ivy Guinness (Outsider / Nurse) 
Nigel Thorne, VC, DSC (Thrill Seeker / Explorer)

Over the course of the 5 day trip from Bolivia to New York City, the team discusses their experiences and what they should do when they arrived back at Caduceus headquarters. Decision is made to tell Caduceus everything, but to hold back a few of the artifacts. Specifically the 'Serpent Scepter' and the 'Pain Whip'. They feel the team as earned some 'reward' for their troubles, as well as some vague sense that they shouldn't give their employer everything. Over the course of the debate, Oz picks up the scepter to examine it clairvoyantly; and is immediately struck by horrific visons of snakes that shake him to his soul and instill a deep ophidian fear into his bones. 

Having telegraphed ahead from their last refueling stop, the party is met at the airport in New York and brought to the Meadham Building, centre of operations for the Caduceus Foundation. There the serpent person mummy Tyranissh is whisked away and the team is brought to the previously out of bounds 7th floor. There they turn in their expense reports to Philip Connors, the special operations quartermaster, and then meet with Quinten Shapiro, who debriefs them on the mission. The team also asks him a few things about what they observed, but he is unable to any specific information. He also turns down a request from Nigel to meet Mr. Meadham and offer him a gift of fine cigars and rum they picked up in Cuba on the way back. But Quinten does have Mr. Meadham's personal secretary, Deloras Parville, take the gift and bring them to her boss. 

When the debrief is complete, Quinten repeats what they were told over the radio while in  Bolivia. That the team now knows the true mission of Caduceus, and having been thrown into the deep end (successfully he adds) they have been granted Tier Two access to the organization. And leaves them each a portfolio of documents to review, telling them they will meet again in the morning to be briefed on a new mission. 

The documents lay out the history of the serpent people (much as Oz has already learned from the 'Annuals of Mu' scroll in the mummy temple) and learn the serpent people remain active on earth today. But they further learn of a split between the serpent person followers of Yig and the followers of Tsathoggua. Those of Yig seem content to let humanity be, knowing they cannot compete with humans or they risk annihilation. The followers of Tsathoggua on the other hand have the elimination of the human race as their goal, spearheaded by a group known as the Inner Night. These were likely the serpent people the team encounter in Bolivia. The documents explain that sometime around 1912, the head of Caduceus Joshua Meadham had a violent encounter with the followers of Tsathoggua, which lead him to sell off his successful pharmaceutical business and devote his fortune and money to protecting humanity from the serpent folk under the cover of the Caduceus Fountain and it's charitable medical works.  

Somewhat shaken on having their suspicions confirmed, the party scatters to various haunts through the evening before meeting Quinten back at the Meadham Building in the morning. Their handler is packed and ready, and he tells them they must leave immediately for North Borneo. Caduceus has received a request from the North Borneo Chartered Company for assistance in combating an outbreak of what the company believes is a virulent strain of infectious hepatitis. Caduceus however believes it to be the Yellow Death, a biological weapon created by the serpent people to depopulate areas of human habitation. The team, led by Quinten, are to go to North Borneo and investigate. Quinten will be their scientific lead and focus on identifying the infection and how to address it, while the rest of the team assists him and determines if there is a connection between the Inner Night and this outbreak. Asked about treatment for the Yellow Death, Quinten notes the advanced equipment he is bringing may be able to produce an antidote depending on the exact nature of the strain. 

Quinten takes his leave, and the party reports back to Phillip to draw equipment and supplies.  Nigel take advantage of the foundation's library to do some research on North Borneo. And in the process uncovers a pair of misplaced documents. One is a report from the chief of security about a break-in at Mr. Meadham's Connecticut estate.  In it are curious references to a temple (of Yig?) on the estate, and other comments pointing to possible serpent person activity there. The second document is from Dr. Victor Gonsalves, Caduceus Chief Researcher. It is in reference to the Cobra Crown, and notes it was once located at the Temple of the Dreamer along with the Serpent Scepter, but reports over the centuries seems to locate it in Asia and more recently in Calcutta. Mr. Meadham seems especially interested in the Crown, and is ready to fly to Calcutta at a moments notice if it is located there. There is also a curious reference to Mr. Meadham's  daughter and her possible connection with the Inner Night.  When Nigel passes these documents onto the rest of the team, Ivy heads back to the library to look for information on this daughter. It seems Rose Meadham had once been her fathers 'right hand woman', deeply involved in the operations of the Caduceus Foundation. But around 1920 all mention of her disappears, with no indication of what happened to her. 

The team collect Quinten and his pile of equipment, then head to the airport and thence on another globe spanning flight. Five days later they are approaching their destination, a British Indian Army camp and airstrip at the base of Mount Kinabalu. As Nigel focusses on keeping the plane under control in the buffeting winds blowing off the mountain, Zeke gazes out the window. And notes a pair of clouds moving against the wind very quickly and in their direction. He shouts a waning as two shadowy bat winged night gaunts (creatures of the Dreamlands) crash into the side of the plane. And rip it open, climbing inside and grabbing Ivy before once more leaping from the the plane. As the pair of gaunts prepare to drop Ivy to her death, Oz grabs a rope and leaps out of the plane in an attempt to reach Ivy before she plummets to her death. He misses, but Nigel is able successfully maneuver the plane under her and catch her in mid fall. The creatures fly off, and Nigel brings the plane more or less intact to the ground. 

Met there by a Capt. Lancaster and a half dozen turbaned soldiers, the team is invited to the officers mess for lunch once they've unloaded gear and made necessary repairs. When the Captain departs, Quinten calls the team over for urgent news. During the attack, wild flying, or Oz's bout of rage afterwards, much of their equipment was damaged. Most importantly, a wooden box Quinten had kept secret until now. He calls it the Haftorang Device, a specialized incendiary weapon designed to sterilize an area infected by the Yellow Death. It has been brought along as a last ditch defense if needed; but the damage has started the time bombs' countdown and they now have less than 24 hours to compete their mission ...


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