The Highbury Horror

Marsh pro­vokes a brawl; April gains a stalker.

Played

25th Feb­ru­ary 2010.

Dramatis Personae

Plot

It was three months after the case of the Tem­ple Vam­pire. Fol­low­ing a dress­ing-down over their pre­cip­i­tous con­clu­sion to the case, Pro­fes­sor Wyn­ter­mere and Doc­tor Crabb had tem­porar­i­ly with­drawn from active ser­vice, leav­ing Marsh and Lady Anto­nia to babysit a quar­tet of junior agents through a series of basic sur­veil­lance and infor­ma­tion-gath­er­ing tasks.

Their lat­est mis­sion took them out to High­bury, where there had been reports of a bru­tal indi­vid­ual of great stature ter­ror­is­ing the local inhab­i­tants. Sev­er­al women had gone miss­ing and the Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police, as usu­al, were at a loss to stop the attacks. The Min­istry was tak­ing an inter­est because the descrip­tions of the attack­er bore a great resem­blance to the per­pe­tra­tor of the Hyde Attacks a cou­ple of years before. The team were assigned to sur­vey the sit­u­a­tion, gath­er intel­li­gence on the attacks and, if pos­si­ble, iden­ti­fy the attack­er so that a task force could remove him from the pub­lic arena.

After briefly explor­ing the area, the team decid­ed to try ask­ing the locals what they knew. Spot­ting a pub­lic drink­ing estab­lish­ment on a near­by cor­ner, they divid­ed into two teams: Miss Sharp, Pren­tiss and Marsh would enter the bar, while Miss Spit and Cap­tain Cur­ruthers would ask ques­tions in the more gen­teel sur­round­ings of the lounge. Lady Anto­nia decid­ed this was not the place for an aris­to­crat and remained out­side, pre­pared for trou­ble. Things went well for half an hour or so: buy­ing the occa­sion­al drink, Cur­ruthers, Miss Sharpe and Pren­tiss spoke to a num­ber of the clien­tele, while Miss Spit rapid­ly found her­self at the cen­tre of a group of admir­ers. Marsh toyed with start­ing a game of chance, then decid­ed on a more direct approach, ask­ing if any large ugly types had been seen in the area: at this point, it all went down­hill, as he found him­self stand­ing next to a large ugly gentleman.

Lady Anto­nia was briefly shocked by the sound of break­ing glass, then realised that Marsh had joined her in the street. The rest of the team decid­ed dis­cre­tion was the greater part of val­our and they met up to com­pare notes. Four attacks had tak­en place in an area a quar­ter of a mile square, all but one fatal­ly; the lady in ques­tion was in shock and see­ing no-one, but had spo­ken of being grabbed by a large, well-dressed man with cal­loused hands. All attacks had tak­en place late at night and had involved indi­vid­u­als, except in one case where a cou­ple was murdered.

The team decid­ed to try to lure the attack­er out to see if they could iden­ti­fy him and divid­ed into three teams: Miss Spit and Cur­ruthers, Miss Sharpe and Pren­tiss and Lady Anto­nia and Marsh. In each case, the female mem­ber walked appar­ent­ly alone while her col­league fol­lowed at a dis­crete dis­tance. The plan worked: Miss Sharpe was prompt­ly grabbed from with­in a shad­owed alley by a huge fig­ure. She screamed for help and pulled out her pis­tol as Pren­tiss rushed to the res­cue; the oth­ers, all oper­at­ing on near­by streets, also raced to the scene. Miss Sharpe was find­ing that her pis­tol was hav­ing lit­tle effect, the bul­lets get­ting lost in her attack­er’s volu­mi­nous cloak, while Pren­tiss began try­ing to club him over the head. Marsh arrived and laid into him with his knives, before Cur­ruthers and Lady Anto­nia were able to take pot­shots with their own weapons.

The attack­er proved to be incred­i­bly tough, but even­tu­al­ly they brought him down through sheer per­sis­tence, drugged and cuffed him and then dragged him back to the Min­istry. By the time they had arrived, the attack­er had mys­te­ri­ous­ly shrunk and was now a scrawny young man. Pren­tiss remarked that he had seen some­thing sim­i­lar before and Mr Rooke con­firmed that there had been a small num­ber of sight­ings of crea­tures bear­ing sim­i­lar abil­i­ties and appear­ance to the mys­te­ri­ous Mr Hyde of sev­er­al years pre­vi­ous. The mon­ster was tak­en away for exam­i­na­tion and the team com­mend­ed for their suc­cess, before being asked to return the fol­low­ing morn­ing for their next briefing.

Note

This mis­sion was intend­ed to per­form the same role as the bat­tle with the rat-men at the begin­ning of the Tem­ple Vam­pire: shake-down the new char­ac­ters and give the new play­ers a chance to get used to the com­bat sys­tem. The inves­ti­ga­tion seemed to get a lit­tle involved as I was expect­ing the team to explore the streets first and just get attacked, but the final ver­sion allowed for anoth­er clas­sic Marsh foot-in-mouth inci­dent so was a def­i­nite improve­ment. The new char­ac­ters got a chance to show what they were made of and estab­lish their per­son­al­i­ties, but as usu­al, the fight went on slight­ly too long, part­ly because I for­got the mon­ster was an Extra, rather than a Wild Card, and gave it too many wounds.

I’m get­ting bet­ter at this, though!