The Black Skull landship took a rather indirect route from the Jura mountains base, which took it through Austria and Slovenia. Outside of the Slovenian town of Tolmin, it got in a short firefight with a Slovenian army unit. It eventually withdrew, escaping out into the Adriatic Sea near Trieste. Our Promethean artifact detection system picked up readings in a small town outside Tolmin, but the disruptions caused by the destruction of the Black Skull weather control system prevented a more precise location of the artifact.
The Slovenian government seems to be willing to let us in to retrieve it, but they’re dragging their feet on actually giving us the official paperwork. Since time is usually of the essence, just teleporting in and running the mission covertly is probably the best option (SW: Once again we violate the borders of a sovereign nation in the name of Making The World A Safer Place. This is starting to get habit-forming…). Miss Midnight hands mission leadership off to me, since I’m the most familiar with the region. Since this is a covert operation, we’re limited to people that can walk around without causing a fuss (sorry Jade!). The mission team is Shockwave, The Pulse, Lady Lightning, and Autumn Breeze.
The battle site was south of Triglav National Park, near the town of Poljubinj. The electrical grid is a little sparse in western Slovenia, so we actually turn up in the town of Tolmin, a little way up the road. It’s not far, and the weather’s nice, so we walk the last distance instead of trying to arrange transportation in a small town. The walk to Poljubinj is along a narrow rural road, we only see one vehicle on the trip. We come across a goatherd moving his flock along the road, and farm workers picking hops. I mention that I did that job a couple of times, its hard work. It’s kind of early in the season though, maybe the weather controller’s effect? We pass the battle field on the way, there’s obvious signs of flamethrower damage from the Firebats, as well as generic blast craters.
As we get into town, Autumn does a quick check with the local wildlife about what’s being going on. The noise of the battle got a lot of attention, and the arrival of a “big bird” in town caused a disturbance as well. Just like a bad penny, the Eagle Corp. crew keeps turning up over and over again…
I quickly make up a cover story. I’m a journalist who was diverted up here to cover the battle with the landship, and Pulse and Lightning are my assistants (Ed.: Shockwave looks nothing like Spider Jerusalem, and neither Pulse nor Lightning would appreciate being referred to as “filthy assistants”). All we know is that there’s a Promethean artifact somewhere in the town, so we’ll have to canvas the locals to find out more. Autumn is heading out to talk with the local animals, while the rest of us play reporter.
Poljubinj is a fly-speck of a town, so small there’s nothing I can clearly identify as the local social gathering point for the townsfolk. There’s an old man sitting on the front steps of a tailor’s shop, so we approach him first. The battle was certainly impressive, and he saw the people that got off the aircraft go into the town’s general store a couple doors down. Autumn reports back that the local animals feel that there’s something “wrong” with the general store, and none of them will go near it.
Since I don’t actually speak Slovenian, Pulse and I switch roles so she can talk to the store owner. He says that the passengers went into the tailor’s shop, and never came into the store. He did get a photograph on his cell phone, so we can see who we’re up against. The photo’s pretty good, it shows Bright Feather, Voltage, Jack Frost and Wraith walking down the Lancer‘s cargo ramp. I immediately buy a copy of the photograph from him, this might be the first time we’ve ever seen Cassie on camera!
Once we leave the store, I take cover for a minute to convert my long-suffering smart phone into a tracking device for Promethean artifacts. The curio shop between the general store and the tailor’s shop is giving me incredibly high readings. We do a quick scout of the area first, there’s so much stuff in the store windows that we can’t actually see the interior. When we first approach the building the animals tell Autumn that the building is dangerous, and that we shouldn’t go near it. A loop around the building finds that the only way in is the front door.
The door of the curio shop doesn’t have a doorbell, but it does have a heavy brass door knocker. I try the knocker, but nobody answers. Fortunately, the door isn’t locked so we just walk in and close the door after us. As soon as we’re out of view of the town I trip the release mechanisms on the armour cases and slip into something more appropriate for a hard day’s work.
Inside, “junk shop” would be a better description. It’s crammed full of all sorts of old stuff, with all sorts of narrow passages between piles of stuff. Since the building’s only about 30×40 feet, we decide to split up to cover more ground quicker.
What The Pulse found
Pulse notices a doll lying on the floor, which she thought was in a slightly different position than it was the last time her eyes passed over it. It doesn’t move when she looks directly at it, so she moves on to the vintage books section. There’s a collection of old comic books from the 1970s, including one with the title “The Pulse versus Mesmero, Who Will Be Victorious?”. This is definitely weird, the comic is dated about 20 years before either of them were born.
From around a corner, Mesmero himself emerges, boldly declaiming “So you think you can stand before the awesome might of Mesmero?”. Pulse’s response is a “Aw, shut it!”, and a psychic knife to the face. He squeeks out “So there, hero!”, and topples sideways out of view. When she tries to follow him, he’s nowhere to be found.
What Pulse does find is a big Van der Graaf generator, which is running and spitting out small electrical bolts. When she backs up and lobs a small object from a shelf at it, it vaporizes it and kicks the electrical bolts into high gear. Pulse backs up until her back hits a shelf, trapping her in a dead-end corridor! A psychic knife topples the generator, causing it to blow up in a loud explosion.
With the way clear, she moves on and finds a large umbrella stand with a veritable forest of umbrellas. A moment later Autumn joins her, and tells her that she and Shockwave walked around opposite sides of a hat rack, but Shockwave never met her on the far side. They’re still deciding what to do next when Voltage comes around a corner, carrying Lightning in a fireman’s carry. Lightning’s got a huge kitchen knife buried beneath her collar bone, and both her and her brother are covered in blood. He orders Autumn to help Lightning, and once he lowers Lightning to the ground Autumn begins tending to her. A moment later, some of the umbrellas topple off the rack and Shockwave crawls out.
What Shockwave Found
The shelves full of junk look perfectly normal, until I find a display filled with old snow globes. As I get closer, the snow in the globes rises up and begins swirling on it’s own. There’s a shovel nearby, so I use it to poke at one of them to see what it does when it’s touched. Nothing happens, so I go up to the display and poke one of them with my finger. The snow is swirling madly, but nothing more impressive happens. When I look up, Autumn comes running around the corner, and asks where Voltage went. I haven’t seen anything living aside from ourselves, which seems to confuse her.
We decide that splitting up doesn’t seem like such a good idea anymore, so we head off together. There’s not enough space around a hat stand, so we’re forced to go around either side of it. I step onto a featureless grey plain, which turns into a broken desert “badlands” landscape a moment later. A quick look around finds no hat rack, no curio store, and no Autumn. From overhead, the cry of an eagle rings out.
As the eagle comes closer, it’s obviously of immense proportions. It lands close by, looks me over with a disturbingly intelligent gaze, and then pounces! Its not particularly fast, so I evade its initial pounce and pound it backwards with a Shock Pulse. The blast doesn’t seem to have done any real damage, but does knock it a few meters farther from me. It charges up, with lightning bolts coursing across its body towards its open beak. What emerges isn’t a bolt of lightning, but an unimaginably loud scream. Fortunately my helmet’s got decent ear protection, so it’s more annoying than anything else.
We settle down to warily circling each other, sizing each other up. It’s big enough to carry me off and drop me onto the desert floor from a couple kilometres up, so I don’t really want to get too close to it. Eventually, it rears up and disintegrates into golden-brown light, which then reforms into the body of Bright Feather.
He walks over, and offers his hand. We shake hands, and he says “They said you were fast. So how do you get out of here?”. I tell him I have no idea, I just walked past a hat rack and found myself here. This is apparently how he got here as well. My cell phone is displaying “No connection”, so using GPS to locate ourselves is useless. Bright Feather says that he knows some of his peoples secrets, picks up a small piece of flint from the ground, and starts drawing a complicated fractal diagram on a cliff face.
When he finishes, it begins glowing and he steps through the glow like the cliff face was not there. Seeing no other way back, I follow him and end up in a dark, confined space. I push myself free, and crawl out of a forest of umbrellas to find Pulse and Voltage standing over Lightning, with Autumn kneeling next to her. There’s a large, bloodstained knife on the floor and its pretty obvious that the blood is Lightning’s.
What Lady Lightning Found
Lightning heads off through the kitchenware section, and doesn’t see anything unusual. What she misses completely is the foot long knife that levitates off a shelf and follows her down the aisle. At the end of the aisle, she turns around and sees a brief glint of light on steel before the knife buries itself in her chest.
For a moment, there’s just a cold sensation as the world turns red and contracts. Then the pain hits. Lightning topples sideways against a shelf, staring in confusion at the huge knife which is still deeply embedded below her collarbone. “That looks really bad. I know it’s vitally important to either pull it out, or not pull it out, but I can’t remember which”. Her weak cries for help are apparently heard by nobody. She stumbles off down the aisle, leaving a bloody trail behind herself.
Someone’s hand lands on her shoulder. It’s her brother, and halfway through asking what’s wrong he sees the giant knife embedded in her chest. He lifts her into a fireman’s carry and heads off in search of help. Coming around a corner, he finds Pulse and Autumn next to a huge rack of umbrellas. He immediately orders Autumn to help Lightning. Some of the umbrellas topple off the rack, and Shockwave crawls out.
What Autumn Breeze found
As Autumn heads down one aisle, a figure steps out in front of her and yells “YOU!”. It’s Voltage, and he rips a lightning bolt down the aisle. No major damage is done, however, and Autumns’s return fire sends him scurrying for cover. She chases after him, but instead finds Shockwave inspecting a display full of old snow globes.
Despite the fact that there’s no alternative routes he could have taken, Shockwave never saw Voltage. Since the snow globes are unusual but otherwise harmless, we decide that sticking together is the way to go, and head off to try and find the others. There’s not enough space around a hat stand, so we’re forced to go around either side of it. When she reaches the other side of the hat stand, Shockwave is nowhere to be found.
Autumn circles the hat rack no less than three times, but can’t find anything out of the ordinary. There’s a 3rd aisle, so she takes it and finds Pulse near a large umbrella stand filled with umbrellas. Autumn tells her that she and Shockwave walked around opposite sides of a hat rack, but Shockwave never met her on the far side. They’re still deciding what to do next when Voltage comes around a corner, carrying Lightning in a fireman’s carry. Lightning’s got a huge kitchen knife buried beneath her collar bone, and both her and her brother are covered in blood. He orders Autumn to help Lightning, and once he lowers Lightning to the ground Autumn begins tending to her. Some of the umbrellas topple off the rack, and Shockwave crawls out.
The gang’s all together again
While Autumn tends to Lightning, Pulse asks Voltage what’s going on. “I don’t even know anymore. I’m getting out of here as soon as I can. Whatever’s doing this, you’re welcome to it.”. He give’s his sister’s hand a squeeze, then heads off in what might be a futile search for the door.
With Autumn’s assistance, Lightning’s quickly up and running again. Shockwave’s guess is that this could either be the effect of a Promethean artifact, or could actually be caused by another Promethean. The common element of all the store’s contents is that they’re old, and all have a faded price sticker on them. If the effects are being caused by an artifact, it may be something that looks new, or doesn’t have a price sticker on it.
After a little bit of blundering around, we eventually locate the front door again. When we open it, we’re looking out onto a busy city street, not a quiet town road. The license plates on the cars are from Massachusetts, and when Autumn sticks her smart phone out the door the GPS app says that it’s in Boston. The curio shop is now located between a pharmacy and an apartment building in a major U.S. city, instead of between a general store and a tailor’s shop in a small town in Slovenia.
Since we seem to be able to get reception, Autumn calls back to base for advice. Ivanka is entirely unfazed by Autumn’s description of the store, and she already seems to have an active file! Apparently the store has a habit of moving around in time and space, and is “Filled with crazy shit”. She’s got Miss Midnight on a second line, and she seems to be quite insistent that we not touch anything. I guess we just won’t tell her about the all the stuff we’ve trashed so far…
Apparently, the trick is to close the front door, go once around the store, and then re-open the door. At this point the door should open onto the same place where you originally entered. When we get back to the door again, Autumn notices the doll that Pulse saw when we first entered the store. When she picks it up for a closer look, it doesn’t have a price sticker on it. When we look back at the store, all of the damage is gone, and everything we moved is back in it’s place.
We leave the store in time to see the Eagle Lancer flying off into the distance. Just as we teleport out, the doll seems to squirm in Autumn’s hand, then goes inert. When we arrive in the Azores, Lightning is worried that putting something like this in the Vault might be a bad idea. If it re-activates, we could find that the door to the Vault now opens somewhere very unfortunate. I suggest that we could always break into Eagle’s Promethean research facility, and leave it for them. Of course, if they find it as disturbing as we do, they may send someone to break into the Vault and give it back to us.
Once we’re back in contact with base again, it turns out that we’ve been gone for about 3 1/2 hours, which is much more time than we thought.