Friday, January 27, 2023

Pulp Cthulhu - The Two Headed Serpent (New York Part #3 / Belgian Congo Part #1)


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

Returning on the train from Oklahoma, the team discussed future plans. Although they were all starting to question exactly what Caduceus was up to, they decided they would at least report to headquarters for debriefing on this latest mission and see where that would lead. Arriving at Grand Central Station, Nigel stopped at a payphone to call the airport to check on his plane. He was disturbed to hear there had been a break-in at the hanger. Even though he was assured nothing was damaged or disturbed, his thoughts immediately turned to the Serpent Scepter hidden onboard. So the team decided first stop would be the airport to check it out. Just as he was hailing  a cab, Nigel felt someone grab his arm. A young man stopped him, saying in a thick Sicilian accent "No need for a cab. I have a car waiting for you" and led them to a nearby black sedan. Questioning reveled he (Lucio) represented some 'friends' who were doing the team a favor; closer hypnosis questioning by Oz confirm what they already suspected; their new friends were the Mafia. During the questioning, Ivy recognized the name of Lucio's bass, one Filemone Casale, a low level Mafioso soldier with the Bonanno crime family.  

Taking advantage of their 'friends' largess, the team headed for the airport. Where a check of the plane revealed subtle signs of careful searching; and that the Serpent Scepter was gone. With nothing else to be done, they had Lucio drive them to a hotel to freshen up before reporting to Caduceus HQ for debrief. Lucio dropped them off at Caduceus before finally disappearing into traffic. Inside the building, the team was lead to an eighth floor meeting room by a secretary. As she opened the door, however, they were surprised to see the room occupied. Inside sat the serpent mummy they'd recovered in Bolivia, very much alive and strapped tight to a chair as a scientist in a white lab coat injected something into her arm. Tyranissh turned to glare at the team as the secretary, realizing with a gasp she'd brought them to the wrong place, closed the door and lead the team into the adjacent room.     

There the team was joined by Dr. Gonzales for the debrief. This was shorter and more perfunctory than before, and while he congratulated the team on a job well done, there was the distinct impression that the missions' success was not key to whatever was going on at Caduceus.  Questioned further about the mutated people of Bingham, Dr. Gonzales waved off their concern saying simply 'such things will be dealt with'. He then took his leave of the party, telling them to stay in New York as there may be another mission for them in the near future.

As the team prepared to leave, they suddenly heard screaming and a great commotion next door. Rushing into the corridor, they ran into office staff shrieking and running away. And the door to Tyranissh's room lay smoking on the floor, while inside was a scene of destruction. The room was starting to burn, Tyranissh had broken free of the chair, and the two scientists had been brutally slain. And on the wall a strange swirling portal was forming.  Oz tried to talk tothe serpent sorcerous in Naacal; she turned to face him and yelled back “You are as bad as each other! I refuse to serve the Father of Snakes or the Mother of Darkness! May you all be struck down!” And with that, she stepped through the portal. And with just a moment of hesitation, Zeke pushed into the room and followed her, quickly trailed  by the rest of the team ....

... who found themselves in a sweltering hot jungle. Nigel recognized some of the vegetation and guessed they were somewhere in central Africa. And 10 feet away stood a rather hostile looking Tyranissh. But Oz was able to talk fast and convince her they meant no harm and wanted to talk, to learn more about what the heck was going on. The serpent sorcerous confirmed what they'd started to suspect; Caduceus was up to no good. The organization was a front for the serpent people followers of Yig, who'd replaced all the chief people (including Joshua Meadham) with serpent people. Their goal was not that different from the Inner Night. Whereas the followers of Tsathoggua wanted to eradicate humans, the followers of Yig planned to enslave humanity to fuel the rise of a third serpent person empire. Tyrannish came from a time before the split between Yig and Tsathoggua, and was a worshiper of Ghatanothoa, the Lord of the Volcano. She and her kind believed men and serpent people could live together and share the earth. And she intended to follow through and thwart the plans of both Caduceus and Inner Night. Both organizations sought the Cobra Crown, which would allow them to tap the lost power and technology of the Citadel oo the lost continent of Mu. She intend to beat them to the Crown. And finally making their break from Caduceus, the party offered to join Tyrannish and help by recovering the Serpent Scepter, to pair with the Crown. 

Alliance made, Tyrannish then prepared to gate to Calcutta, the party having told her of the rumors of the Cobra Crown being seen there. Asked how the team could get back to New York, the sorcerous waved vaguely to the north-east and said humans could be found to help them there. And then she disappeared into the jungle, while the team turned to and did then same. After a few hours they came to a road, which led them to a clearing the jungle in which stood an abandoned open pit mine. Over the gate hung a battered sign: Société Internationale Forestière et Minière du Congo - Lukenie Diamond Mine". Curiously, a new chain linked fence,  topped with barred wire, surrounded the facility.  Oz broke the lock on the gate, and the team moved carefully inside the compound. Getting closer to the open pit, they observed four relatively new lifts going done into the open mine. And then were shocked to see a large black pyramid filling most of the pit. A covered entrance could be seen, as well as a large number of people just shuffling zombie-like around the pyramid. When some experimentation showed the people (based on their clothing, from all parts of the globe and all walks of life) were harmless, the party descended into the pit and headed to the pyramid entrance. It was a simple metal door, with serpent person hand-shaped sensor plate to one side.  No one wanted to risk touching it, so Nigel and Oz scanned the crowd around them for signs of a suitable serpent person. They found none, but did spy one man who showed strange signs of scales where a previous injury had healed. So he was gently lead over to the door and his hand placed on the pad. And the door opened with  a click .... 

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