Diego had found them beds at La Casa de la Libertad, a communal residence that wasn’t a squat, as the person who opened the door for them took great pains to explain. “We sort of rotate jobs around whoever’s here, man,” she said. “You’re on dishwashing duty.”
“Geronimo,” whispered Ruby, “how do you wash dishes?”
“Soap and water.”
“Soap from the bathroom?”
“No, the kitchen.”
“There’s kitchen soap?”
“Come on, this will be your chance to experience the life of the locals.”
“I don’t want to experience the life of the locals,” whined Ruby. “They’re poor.”
The next day they swung down by Brooks’ apartment building, driving by it a couple of times before casing it from the street. It was a modern seven-story apartment building, the kind that had floor-through apartments that opened directly on the elevator.
Dr. Orange shrugged into some overalls. “I’ll go see if I can get access to the building,” he said. He grabbed a toolbox and sauntered up to the lobby.
“I’m here to see the meter,” he said to the concierge. At least, he hoped that’s what he had said; Geronimo had tried to coach him.
“Tienes un permiso de trabajador?” said the concierge.
“Yes, I speak English. You are an electrician?”
“Yes, this is the kind of work I can get. It’s not the university work I’m used to…”
“Well, if you can’t do an honest day’s work, your honor…”
“Look, they just sent me over to look at the meter, they said something’s wrong.”
“I’ll unlock the door to the basement. If you steal anything, I’ll call the cops.”
[We had JP make a disguise roll retroactively for the Doc to make sure his coveralls looked correct.]
Once he was in the basement, Dr. Orange went to the service entrance in the back of the room and jammed the lock. The elevator ran all the way down into the basement, but the door for it was locked. Have to find a way to distract the concierge, he thought to himself, he’ll be able to see it head to the basement.
“A distraction,” said Jimmy when Dr. Orange returned to the car and explained what he had done in the basement. “Let’s pay some kids to kick a soccer ball into the lobby.”
“That’s it?” said Ruby, incredulously.
“I just figured…there would be explosives or something in there.”
“Nevermind, I’ll go bribe some children. I’ve really headed down a bad road,” she muttered to herself.
A few minutes later they crept down the service entrance and waited for the sound of the concierge screaming at the children Ruby had paid off. The elevator wasn’t locked in any serious way, and soon they were running up to the seventh floor.
[I charged a couple of points of Stealth to handle sneaking down the alley.]
A little attention from Jimmy’s prybar let them step into Brooks’ penthouse. The first thing they saw was an enormous Socialist Realist painting of Brooks, Lenin, and Marx.
“Classy,” muttered Jimmy.
The painting was on the far wall of a tastefully appointed and very modern living room with a sunken floor space for a seating area. Dr. Orange noticed that there was an excellent console radio with multiple turntables so that music could be played continuously.
The carpet had several orange stains that Ruby immediately recognized as Nectar.
“Place seems deserted,” said Geronimo.
From the kitchen, Dr. Orange was able to estimate that nobody had been around for about two weeks, based on the mold growth on an old loaf of bread he found.
[Biology use by OP.]
In the bathroom, Ruby found a clear liquid that based on prior experience she realized was probably some kind of knockout drug.
Out on the patio, Jimmy found some bird coops. “Don’t feed the birds,” he called out, as he looked closer at them. A large feed bag had the tell-tale scent of Nectar lingering over it.
Outside the bird coop, Jimmy found some human finger bones.
“Herr doktor,” he called out. “What kind of bird are these feathers from?”
“How strange,” said Dr. Orange. “This one is from a common grackle. But this is from a songbird, the redfooted blackbird.”
[1-pt. Biology spend by OP.]
“And someone has tried putting some kind of magic symbols on the coops,” said Jimmy. “Classy.” He shook his head and walked to the corner of the patio.
“Kind of strange that there’s a blank wall over here,” he said. “Looks like someone bricked up a window. And…wait, are those hinges?”
[Architecture use by JP.]
Jimmy started to push against the wall. He felt it move slightly. “Doc, get over here. It’s some kind of secret door.”
Dr. Orange studied the wall for a moment. “Amateurs,” he said. “The Nazis would find the latch in thirty seconds.” He took a penknife out of his pocket and fiddled at one edge of the wall. There was a snapping sound, and an entire section of the wall swung inward on hinges.
The first thing the light caught was a stone idol of a hideous creature like a winged toad, carved in an ancient Mesoamerican style. As Jimmy and the others walked inside, they quickly realized that this was some kind of combination office and shrine to the idol.
“Looks like he bricked up the study,” said Jimmy. “Brooks is definitely one of those guys. Amateur theatrics.”
He found a desk against one wall and began to turn through the papers on it. “Looks like there’s a partially burned letter to ‘SS’,” he said, and read some of it out loud:
We have different aims, you and I, but we both share that in common…we have new songs coming, do you want me to send you? Our newest is right up your…I have dispatched men…ancient site…
Jimmy turned over some other partially burned scraps, this one a letter to ‘T’, presumably Trammel:
I know you are unhappy with my performance. I hear nightly what it truly wants and it is not what YOU say! It is not the only Liar among us, and perhaps not the worst!…I’ll know for certain what it wants, this great Liar of yours…Echevarria knew more than he told us…does the name Golxumel mean anything to you?
Ruby took a look at the altar the idol was perched on. “Oh, I know this, it’s probably Mayan…although maybe not exactly Mayan. Some related culture.”
[Art History use by RP.]
“Those glyphs,” said Dr. Orange. I recognize those. ‘Mouth’, ‘Light’, ‘Song’, ‘Change’, ‘Transformation’, ‘Becoming’…Jimmy, did you say Golxumel before? I know that name. He was one of the “forbidden” gods of the Mayans…maybe one of the Lords of the Night. He had a cult in the Yucatan centered on a lost city called Chichen Xoxul."
Geronimo found a small piece of a letter in the corner. “You were right about Echevarria,” it read. “It all comes down to Mérida.”
“What’s Mérida?” said Ruby.
“A city in Extremadura, in Spain. A lot of the conquistadores came from there. They named several cities in the Spanish colonies after it. And sometimes it’s a woman’s name.”
“Let’s destroy that thing,” said Dr. Orange, pointing at the idol with a shudder. “The four of us can carry it to the edge of the building and toss it over. And it might make a good distraction.”
“Jimmy,” said Ruby, “You’ve been dealing with the strange and the macabre for a while. If we destroy the idol of a strange and forbidding god, what are the ramifications?”
“Depends on the god,” said Jimmy. “Some of them don’t really care, they have so many idols. This statue doesn’t seem to have an power per se. But I really only knew one of these gods, and he could swing either way—he might find it terribly amusing.”
[Jimmy still has Nyarlathotep’s “card” from the last campaign, so I pointed out that Jimmy could call him up to find out. JP demurred.]
From outside they could hear the sound of sirens. “Come on Ruby, help me out,” said Dr. Orange. Together the two of them lifted the idol up and groaning, walked it to the edge of the building.
“It takes a suprisingly long time for something like that to fall,” said Ruby as they dropped it over the edge.
[I know from experience, having once dropped an AC out of a third story window. (No one was hurt, fear not.)]
“What are you knuckleheads doing?” groaned Jimmy. Geronimo shook his head. “Let’s get out of here!”
They rode the elevator down to the lobby. As the doors open, they saw the concierge coming back in from the lot behind the building where the idol had landed. “Hey!” he shouted, as the four of them sprinted out the front of the building.
They hit the street just as a police car turned the corner. It pulled up in front of the building. A cop jumped out and turned to see the four of them vanishing around the corner just as the concierge pointed them out.
When they reached the car, Ruby tried to get in on the driver’s side but Geronimo shoved her aside. He floored it and wove in and out of traffic at a breakneck speed, managing to evade the second police car that pulled up to the building.
[So! Here’s a nice example of piggybacking. They used Fleeing to get out of the building, with Jimmy making the roll. Geronimo could piggyback on it, but Ruby didn’t have any and Dr. Orange was out of points to spend. So the TN was: 4 + 2/PC unable to piggyback=8. GP spent one point to piggyback, and one point to help JP, who spent 5 points; and so they needed a 2 and rolled a 4 to get away. Geronimo made a simple test using Driving—I could have made it a contest, but they basically had the momentum and I didn’t want this to be a major inflection point of the session.
Around here they all went to ground to refresh their daily pools, which led to this exchange:
JP: My Athletics is back to 10.
Me: Wait, you have high Athletics AND Disguise?
RP: And a teenaged ward. You’ve made Batman. Really, really polite Batman.]