After collecting all the parts Dr. Horniege requested in the Industrial Zone, Mr. H’s Five were ready to return to their new HQ. However, Malifaux proved to be a fickle mistress, as a heavy snow in the middle of the summer’s day began to fall. Since they had taken the best part of the day to collect all of Horniege’s parts, the Party thought it best to camp out on the colonized-side of the QZ wall before attempting a return (especially if Ave’s illusion will be ruined in the snow-covered streets). A quick search yielded a few prospects of workers’ hostels and hired rooms where they could weather the storm, but the team committed to the Gear and Sprocket.
After negotiating a reasonable fee and a decent collateral with the bartender downstairs, the Party rented two rooms for the night. While most used this time to rest, Ave and Mirra’s room had a knock at the middle of the night, which they didn’t answer.
The following morning, the Party found a note in front of the Ave/Mirra door, which appeared to be in Harvey’s hasty handwriting, warning them of a mutual danger and pleading them to come back. Suspicious of the legitimacy of the note, and anxious to return to Horniege, the team still felt it important to check in with Harvey. To protect Horniege’s project and parts, the steam trunk was left in the Gear and Sprocket while they investigate the situation.
While the snow had slowed since the night before, deep drifts ranging from one to a couple feet carpeted all of Malifaux. Making slow time to the Howling Syndicate hideout, the Party found the place undisturbed with not footprints since the snow, albeit Mirra noted the strange snow banks purged from the roof of the building, which shouldn’t happen for such a bland, blocky building top.
Inside proved to be unsettling. Completely dark and lifeless, the Five began to explore the inside after turning the gas lamps on. Finding evidence of multiple struggles and smashed smuggling goods, the Party began to conclude Harvey’s hideout was raided by someone no longer here. In the debris, Cho’ko and James recovered a strange Neverborn stone totem, while Ave and Mirra were unsettled to see all of Drew’s accounting notes defiled by red markings, all of which seemed to point specifically to the movements and dealings of the Five with Harvey.
From the shadows above, drops of shadows began to fall to the floor noiselessly onto the floor. Afraid of attack, the Five grouped up, hands on weapons. The shadows materialized and revealed a circle of eight black-and-orange clothed Three Kingdom ninjas, most of which brandishing wicked-looking weapons of the Orient.
One of these warriors, though unarmed, stepped forward and introduced himself as Chikyu. Apparently, he and his faction has been the true power behind Harvey’s ascension, but when he failed to deliver them the Emerald Tome, Chikyu took a hostile takeover of Harvey’s Syndicate and has tortured him for leads on the Tome. Assuring that Harvey is still alive, Chikyu has used Drew’s notes to conclude confident that the Party has the Tome still, and now demands its return, threatening with earthen hands that glow with Soulstone light.
James did his best parlay with Chikyu, but it became obvious that since they would have to retrieve the Tome from the Gear and Sprocket and reveal Horniege’s work to an outsider, no compromise seemed to be reached for the handoff. In desperation, Cho’ko attempted to cast Sleep, however the failed spell only forced the ninjas’ hands to reciprocate. One of the other unarmed individuals, who removed his mask to reveal the grotesque face of the double-agent Bill, crushed the Party into the ground with a manipulation of gravity, paralyzed and completely helpless to Chikyu.
Before Chikyu and his ninjas could descend on incapacitated Party, a distracting, drunken singing began to emanate from the above duct-work of the warehouse. In a loud crash, a pile of gremlins in similar robes landed between Chikyu, Bill, and the Five. Slowly recovering from the surprise of their arrival, the drunken leader began shouting at Chikyu for not completing their transaction for Tome for distillery parts. When Chikyu didn’t give a satisfactory response (namely, he didn’t have a full distillery in his pocket right that second), the gremlin martial artists all lunged at the encircled Ten Thunder agents. Seeing an opening, Ave Shrugged Off Bill’s influence and invisibly retreated from the fighting, while the others did the same retreat when a particularly high-jumping gremlin grappled with Bill’s face. Since Mirra chose to retreat with the others instead of “shattering the stone” of either the Totem or Chikyu’s hands, she denied her second Destiny step.
To cover their tracks, James threw in one of Ave’s sticks of dynamite and detonated it with his pistol as they made their way out into the cold summer air once more, sprinting away from the whooping chaos of the blurred fighting inside.
An unedited recording of this session can be found here.
Photo taken from System-X.info.