The Next target
The group was assembled together on June 20, 1880 by Renette Villefort for assignment to the next mission concerning the acquisition of the Zodiac Medallions. As was usual, Renette explained that the Pythia had provided some details of the next acquisition. In this case, it was believed to be the Cancer Zodia, because of the timing. Per the Pythia’s instruction, they had to board a train in Vienna. Austria-Hungary and travel to Moscow, Russia. The Pythia indicated that the first signs of the issue would present themselves while they were aboard the train. This rule out traveling to Moscow with the help of either Cyprus Archer or Amelia Archer.
But there was one slight hiccup in starting the investigation; the Pythia had also indicated that John Tidewater needed to be present as well and that his presence and assistance would be crucial to the group. John, however had indicated to Renette that he would not be available, as he was going on a speaking engagement to Copenhagen, Denmark which could not be cancelled. He had also indicated that he was considering leaving the Society, as he felt his time was better served elsewhere.
His unavailability would place the success of the mission at risk, and so Renette requested Aphrodite to intervene and convince John to attend the mission. Aphrodite agreed, but wanted to use Amelia to take her to Copenhagen. Her plan was to reschedule the speaking event and preferably arrange a better one later in the month in it’s place. Renette agreed, and Amelia was asked to conduct Aphrodite and Eve to Copenhagen.
The Copenhagen Connection
Amelia transported the two to Copenhagen, near the primary loading docks for the city. As the trio had no information concerning the schedule nor location for the supposed speaking engagement, they needed to figure out where they should go to undertake this portion of their plan. Eve suggested that they head to the local Trade and Tariffs office for assistance, and the trio hired a cab driver to take them where they needed to be.
Once they managed to get into the cab, they suddenly realized that they did not have any krone, and would be unable to pay the driver. They weer able to convince him to take him to the bank, first, however, where they made a monetary exchange. They then continued on their way.
Upon their arrival at the Trade and Tariffs Office, they paid the cab driver to wait for them, and then went inside. There, they questioned one of the clerks who was working to assist them in locating Tidewater’s speaking engagement. The group was surprised to find that he was not speaking at the university nor any of the museums in the city. They learned instead that he was conducting a speaking engagement and a book signing for a less-than-reputable book seller. Armed with the book seller’s address, and the information for the University Anthropology department, The tree set off to see what sort of deal they could arrange with the book seller, to best free up Tidewater’s schedule for the mission, without impacting his reputation or finances.
The Book Seller
Upon arriving they discovered that the Book Seller’s shop was located beyond a line in the street. This line was the extent to which the police would venture, basically making this location dangerous. Once inside they discovered that Tidewater was selling erotica to the book seller, and had agreed to sign some copies as well.
The pair, mostly Aphrodite managed to reschedule the event and negotiate a better deal for John at the same time. But they were not merely pleased with this arrangement, the duo agreed to head to the university to arrange a more prestigious speaking engagement for John.
Copenhagen Royal University
The ladies arrived at the university and made their way up to the Anthropology department, where they secured a meeting with the chair of the department. There they convinced the chair of the department to arrange a lecture for Tidewater in exchange for Eve to illustrate his book concerning evolution. this required a great deal of work, as the professor was no fan of John’s and required significant convincing before he would agree. in the end however, they were successful.
With Amelia’s help the ladies returned to Athens, where they made their way to the Hotel where Tidewater was staying, only to discover that he had already left for the docks. The ladies hurried there to discover that John was having his personal effects loaded aboard a long boat to be rowed out to an anchored ship off-shore. He had already sent Kofi and Aslef ahead to Copenhagen.
Aphrodite and Eve convinced him to stay for the mission, detailing their efforts to reschedule his book signing and to arrange not one, but two additional events to take its place, securing better rates for the engagements. These details however were not the main reason that John decided to stay, but he was persuaded by the more direct candid conversation that he and Aphrodite had. As a result of this, John decided to stay for the mission to Moscow.
While the ladies had been arranging for John to join the mission, the others were making preparations. Scrooge MacLeod designed and built a life-sized articulated modular Pegasus, which was placed into a number of bags for the trip.
Yao replenished his stock of Fetishes for the trip, while George created 6 applications of concentrated Healing salve. Nadya Simza collected her components for her rituals to complete out the preparations. To round out the group Scrooge would take Harvey Smith and Carter Wesson along for the trip.
With the preparations all set, the group were transported by Amelia to Vienna, where they found a room at the Waldorf Hotel there for the night. The train would leave the following day.
One Wild Night
To pass the time, John arranged for the group to have access to the bar, where he entertained his teammates for the evening. The group played a terrible prank on him, which he was unaware of in the morning. The following morning, they ate a hearty breakfast before catching their train to Moscow.
The group traveled for two days on the train, moving southeast to Stevastopol before turning north towards Moscow. however, their trip was interrupted in the moderate sized Russian city of Dmitrov. There, the tracks were blocked by a mass of people, forcing the train to stop more rapidly than planned.
We’re being boarded!
As the train rolled to a stop a massive number of people, moving in seeming unison, stormed the train. As they burst into the cars, the group evacuated the train to the best of their ability, as the sheer numbers prevented any other choices. Scrooge crawled out of one of the windows, escaping the mass of people for the moment. Yao ripped out one of the windows in the sleeping car and grabbing Wesson managed to escape out the now gaping hole onto the tracks. Eve, Aphrodite, John and Aeric escaped the train when John pounded a hole in the ceiling of the dining car and boosted the others on to the roof of the train. Nadya and Smith were separated from the group during the confusion and their escape from the train was unconfirmed.
Yao and Wesson caught up to Scrooge and the three decided t make their way towards the possible sanctuary of a nearby Russian Orthodox Church, St Joachim of Rila. Meanwhile, The group trapped on the roof of the train jumped to the roof of the depot and made their way rapidly above the crowd and jumped into the street below.
There Aeric directed his companions to run, as he stepped forward to create a powerful barrier of energy to stop the horde from following the group as they attempted to escape. John followed a short distance and prepared to cover Aeric’s escape.
As the group retreated from the train depot, Aeric’s barrier failed, and he was swarmed by the mob. John, taking action used his rifle to shoot out the supports holding up the massive water tower above the depot, causing it to collapse and knock down the mob with a massive rush of water. John then jumped into the ricketboard of a nearby carriage, but finding no reins for the team, transferred to the lead horse and used his skill to guide the racing carriage towards his teammates, trying to doge members of the thinner crowd. He picked up George, Aphrodite and Eve and headed towards the church.
Meanwhile, Yao tried to toss Wesson aboard the moving carriage but missed, causing the cowboy to be run over by the carriage. This not only badly injured the man, but it caused the carriage to flip, throwing George, Aphrodite and Eve from the carriage and injuring John in the fall.
Yao and scrooge, stopped to recover Wesson, placing him upon some of the broken portions of the carriage for stability and carried him towards the church. As the team approached the building, John destroyed the lock on the gate and shattered one of the windows in the door to facilitate entry into the building easier.
The group made the church, closed and barred the door and decided to assess their situation.
The first order of business was Wesson. It was determined that he was very dead, killed in the impact with the carriage. Working together, Eve reset his bones, while George began using his concentrated healing salve on the injuries. When Eve added an electrical shock to the mix, Wesson began to rapidly heal, his body becoming a prime example of the species, stronger, more agile and more virulent then he had been prior. This left George with only 1 application of the concentrated salve.
While the group was attending to Wesson, Aphrodite found a better vantage point to survey the area. She was able to spot Aeric sneaking away from the chaos of the mob. She returned downstairs in the church and recruited Wesson to help her locate and bring Aeric back to the church.
They found him in an empty home, not far from the tracks. His tattoos were missing and he seemed exhausted. They recovered him and the three returned to the church.
The group settled in hoping that Nadya and Smith might reappear and the group be reunited. As they waited they discussed the strange purple blotches found on the skin and the blood-red eyes of those in the mob, as well as the existence of thirteen columns of reddish smoke rising into the air over the town.
Separated but not Separate
Nadya and Smith had managed to escape the train and take refuge in a two story house not far from the train depot. The pair were forced to wait inside as the mob milled about looking for them in the streets outside. During this time, The pair made a few observations and preparations of their own.
Among the observations was the children that seemed to be afflicted. They seemed to be acting like rapid scouts, racing through the city, looking for stragglers or potential targets. Their speed and small size could prove dangerous. Additionally, the pair realized that the mob was beginning to disperse in small increments, and that they seemed focused on ground level searches.
After noting these details, the pair made a few basic preparations. They located a couple of additional knives from the kitchen of the house they were hiding within. Smith made some smoke balls, that could be used for signaling or diversion. to make them he used pith resin, honey and bread flour. These ingredients burned readily when ignited and produced a thick gray smoke that smelled nasty and burned the eyes. The smoke was particularly thick as well offering concealment after extended burning.
While Smith was making these devices, Nadya cut out a pane of glass from an upstairs window and sent Jango, her Raven, to scout for the rest of the team. Jango returned not long afterwards and indicated that the group had taken refuge in a large building 6 blocks away. This was the church that the group had hidden within.
So, armed with four of these “bombs”, knowledge of the groups location and a plan. The pair set out to make their way to the church. Nadya attempted to use the roof tops, but found the path difficult and joined Smith on the ground. Slowly they made their way to the church, and entered through the back door of the building.
Reunited and It Feels so Good!
After being reunited the group conducted a thorough body inspection. It was determined that Aeric, Aphrodite and George were infected, as they were exhibiting the purple splotches that also afflicted the mob. This led the group to propose that the affliction may be passed by touch, as those afflicted had made direct skin-to-skin contact with the members of the mob.
The purple splotches seemed similar to Leprosy, yet could not be the same. Nadya remembered a story of the city of Aphek in the holy land being emptied of it’s inhabitants after a powerful Arab sorcerer, named Saphoas used red smoke to cause the inhabitants to throw themselves from the walls of the city, as if guided there against their will.
This made George question the possibility that thew group was dealing with some sort of Alchemical issue that was also being used by the Zodia.
The group decided that they needed to gather additional information, and so they broke into three groups to do so. The first group would be responsible for maintaining the church as a base of operations. This would consist of Scrooge, Nadya, Smith and Wesson. They would stand by to help anyone returning as needed.
The second group would head to the Barber Surgeon’s shoppe that had been spotted on the way to the church. This group would consist of Aeric, George and Eve. Their goal would be to gather some items to help George to make additional salve that may have an affect upon the disease.
The Third Group would be Aphrodite, Yao and John. They would select a random fire/smoke column and investigate discreetly. Their goal was to see if they could acquire a sample that George could test.
The Library Bonfire
The column of smoke that the group selected was the fire burning at the Dmitrov Public Library. The group arrived to find that the bonfire was located in a large open intersection adjacent to the library. The fire was actively under guard by perhaps 15 individuals. Another undetermined number were bringing fuel for the fire from the adjacent library. Prior to their departure, Aphrodite had created a small sample collector using a fine piece of cloth, water and a sealed jar. She hoped to get close enough to the fire to capture some smoke particles and return them to George for study. She left a similar sample container with Yao and attempted to infiltrate the library to gain access to the fire.
Aphrodite managed to sneak into the library, where she witness the systematic destruction of the furniture and books to convert them into fuel for the flames. She attempted to sneak towards the fire, hoping to avoid any direct contact for as long as possible but was thwarted when she encountered a pair of girls, obviously afflicted that were running around the perimeter of the room.
They accosted her, demanding that she give them her hands, quite literally, and demonstrating what was wanted by ordering another afflicted individual to do the same- who summarily cut off their hands with a hatchet. When Aphrodite refused, the alarm was raised and the afflicted workers rushed towards her.
Aphrodite managed to escape the library by body-checking some workers that appeared at the exit. However, she realized she could not easily escape and took refuge on a nearby rooftop. With the swarm throwing themselves from the Library roof or climbing up the side of the building to reach her, things began to look bleak for Aphrodite.
However, upon seeing a shift in attention, Yao seized the initiative and pushed a steam powered truck into the bonfire, scattering the guards, some of which purposefully stepped into the path in an attempt to stop the vehicle. When it reached the fire, the boiler exploded, killing or scattering many of the guards and damaging windows and members of the mob nearby. It also scattered the flames.
The explosion gave Aphrodite a much needed avenue for escape, and she took it. John joined her and they headed back to the church to wait for Yao.
Meanwhile, Yoa charged down towards the fire in an attempt to collect the sample. He misjudged the extent of the damage however and was badly burned collecting the sample. He did, however succeed, and he also uncovered the source of the reddish-smoke, some sort of odd looking pottery known as a Sudno Dzhomon.
This resilient clay pot was filled with holes spewing out the red smoke, and was buried deep beneath the bonfire laying in a bed of coals. It remained undamaged despite the explosion caused by the overheated boiler.
Yao escaped and made his way back to the church.
Upon their arrival there, it was discovered that all three of the members of that group were now infected. Yao was worst afflicted, followed by Aphrodite and then John, showing that there may be a second, airborne vector to consider in the consideration of the disease.
The Barber of Creepyville
While the Library team was headed towards their target, the barbershop team had carefully made their way down the mob infested street to the barber shop that they had spotted earlier. They then slipped inside and prepared to locate the ingredients that George needed.
They were, however, accosted by the barber, Stas Smirnoy. He was armed with a hunting shotgun and was very concerned that the three were infected. This was confirmed, but the group managed to put the barber at ease. They learned that there was knowledge of the Zodia in the town. According to the barber, the Zodia had been the protectors of the city of Dmitrov for centuries. However, recently one of the Zodia, had become political and had failed in an attempt to kill Tsar Alexander I. He fled to Bulgaria, but in reprisal, the other three members of his family had been killed by the Tsar so that they would no longer pose a threat to the throne.
The group learned that a building bearing the mark of an Alchemist had been in town, but it had been destroyed on the first night of the events, which had begun about a week prior. This added credibility to George’s theory that the smoke was alchemical in nature. They learned that the Police, Firefighters and Home Guard had been among the first targets and that there was a chance that some of the plants George was looking for may be at the University.
In a more somber moment, they also learned that the barber had imprisoned 60 people in his basement, keeping them in cages meant for large dogs, as he had run a kennel prior, and that one of them was his own mother. Additionally he offered to imprison the members of the group for their own good and promised them a good christian burial when they died.
The group managed to also acquire some camphor and returned to the church, when they heard an explosion, which they later discovered had been the boiler in the vehicle that Yao had destroyed.
Returning to the Church
When they all returned back to the church they shared information, This prompted them to consider their next course of action. relocating to the University, where a fire was known to burn, and developing a means to extinguish the fires. The night stretched onward as the group deliberated, making it obvious that it would only be a matter of time before they were discovered and/or another train would arrive, providing the now confirmed Zodia with additional reinforcements.
After some additional discussion, the group decided that their next best move would be to attempt to locate the University in the hopes of locating additional supplies, knowledge and perhaps an opportunity to get a closer look at the fire generating the red smoke.
John had already identified a likely site for the University from the bell-tower, giving the group a rough direction of travel from the church. Many of the members of the group were beginning to feel the effects of the infection as it coursed through their bodies, and they hoped that they could find some additional information soon.
To make the trip easier, and to draw away any pursuers, The group tied a stack of books to the bell rope and then perched them on the edge of the tower. As John and Smith moved ahead of the group they would guide the team safely past any roving patrols. Once they had neared the intended site, John would use a low charge round to shoot the stack of books ringing the church bell wildly, drawing any rovers towards the Church the team had just abandoned.
They slowly made their way forward and once the team had reached the wall at the perimeter of the university, and were hidden from view, John “rang the bell”, drawing all but the thirteen guards away from the fire at the university.
Once the roamers had left the grounds at the university, the group scaled the short wall and entered the University grounds proper. They made their way to the closet building which turned out to be dedicated to botanical sciences. They discovered the first floor and a significant portion of the second floor stripped of flammables, but found the third floor and the roof top garden intact.
A few interesting things, that may prove useful later but had limited immediate value. The group moved back down stairs and decided to skirt the larger building to reach a second smaller building which they hoped may contain a chemistry lab.
Upon reaching the far side of the building, the group discovered a group of about 20 children sleeping in a huddle near the building. Remembering the story about the wickedness of these children from Aphrodite’s encounter at the library. The team decided to use the Troll Dust that George had made to put all the children to sleep. While this would immobilize them, it would require someone to administer a dose to each child individually.
Nadya agreed to undertake this task. She spent a few moments composing herself and preparing for the task before her, before carefully sneaking in among the nest of children and dosing each with the troll dust, expending their reserve.She was able to do this without being detected and was was able to eliminate the threat the children posed without violence.
Upon reaching the third building the group decided to begin their investigation at the roof, which proved devoid of anything useful. However, in descending through the building, they were able to locate a microscopy lab, and a chemicals storeroom.
In the lab, Eva prepared slides from the water and fabric that Yao had used to collect smoke at the library. She then took thin samples of infected skin from Aeric and Yao, and prepared further slides. She and George were then able to view the samples, identifying small black objects and minuscule crustaceans in the samples. Eve was able to observe some of these crustaceans hatching from the smaller dark objects, which were now identifiable as eggs.
Armed with this new information the group began to consider their options. George began to rework his formula for his healing salve, ideally to include some formic acid, since it is known to be lethal to crustaceans of all types. However, they could only identify a gallon of Carbolic acid in the store room, so they decided to bring it along in case it was useful.
Meanwhile as the majority of the group was looking through the building, Nadya decided to leave the building and acquire one of the children that she had previously affected with the Troll Dust. She took the child to the roof, and drew several circles around her for her protection and then proceeded to use her as a Foci, in an attempt to isolate the location of the Zodia in the city.
Nadya was surprised to find such a strong connection present and as she began to trace the connection back towards the Zodia, The Zodia manifested inside the child. It threatened Nadya, who responded with a warning that the Zodia was within one of her binding circles.
The Zodia, seemed to have the ability to remain connected to it’s servants, as it immediately dispatched the townsfolk towards the University. The thirteen that had been guarding the fire, charged towards the building the group occupied, changing the situation significantly.
Still The Zodia seemed unconcerned about being within the circle and began to gnaw at the girl’s wrists, an act that would eventually kill her forcing the Zodia out of the binding circle. In order to save the girl, Nadya knocked her unconscious, rendering the Zodia out of the circle and back towards it’s own body. Nadya bandaged the girl.
Meanwhile, Eve spotted the oncoming thirteen Afflicted and gave warning to the others. She drew the mob into the lecture halls on the first floor to slow them, providing an opportunity for the others to escape the building.
As Nadya was still on the roof, and spotted the Aspect of Cancer closing in on the University. hoping to draw it away from the rest of her group, she leaped the 25-feet and one floor up between buildings to draw the creature away from the building the remainder of the team was within.
As the stairs were blocked, the group headed to the roof, with the exception of Eve, who made her way outside to the building that Nadya had landed upon, and Scrooge who had grabbed a short bookcase and charged down the stairs, sweeping the thirteen Afflicted aside.
During this time, the Aspect had managed to climb the building upon which Nadya had alighted, but he was unable to locate her, as she had decided to hang by her hands from the far edge of the building. In this way, the Aspect began to produce a great flood of the red smoke, which carried the contagion, infecting Nadya.
At around the time that Eve arrived on the roof, Aeric decided to throw the jar of acid across the gap between to the two buildings striking the Aspect squarely. The acid burned through the shell rapidly, as it began to react with the Calcium in the Aspects shell. This caused the Aspect to fall from the building, destroying it for a short while.
Eve rushed to save Nadya, whom she rescued from a potential fall.
Knowing they had little time remaining before the mob arrived, the group made their way to the courtyard. There they quickly located a nearby steam powered car, with a boiler full of water. Yao pushed the vehicle into the flames which exploded, scattering the flames.
They then recover the Sudno Dzhomon from the flames. They doused it in the fountain, which turned bright red. They were then able to open it to reveal the source of the disease. They decided to take the Sudno with them, to prevent the Zodia from recovering it.
They then decided to leave the university and take up shelter at an unusual colored house.
At the house, George collected stinging nettles and extracted the formic acid from their leaves. He then added it to a new batch of salve. The infected members of the group were treated and a rapid clearing of the infection followed, freeing the members of the group from their affliction.
Once this was done, Aphrodite decided to search the house for any sort of lady’s skin cream that may be used as a substitute for the enhanced Healing salves, as a medium for carrying the formic acid to the infected. While doing so, she heard a suspicious “thump” from upstairs. Concerned that there may be an afflicted in the house, she grabbed Eve and the pair headed upstairs into the attic.
The Priest and his Charge.
The two women were surprised when a Russian Orthodox priest named Lyosha Popov leaped out from his hiding spot to strike Aphrodite on the head with his crosier. After some apologies and explanations, he realized they were not Afflicted as soon as Aphrodite cried out. He told the women he had been hiding with a young girl, named, Varya Egorov whom he claimed as his charge. Eve disarmed the priest and they led him down to the remainder of the group.
There, they learned more of what had befallen the city from the priest and the girl. The group realized they needed to recover their strength, so Eve and the priest went to a nearby creamery, where they entered the icehouse to recover some buttermilk and some water.
These would be used to supplement their hardtack biscuits and tinned pressed ham that John had brought along for the trip. The group treated Aphrodite’s injuries and then rested near a warm smokeless fire Yao built in the wood stove.
At about 9 pm the group rose from their rest and planned their foray into the city square to investigate the mechanical fire engine said to be near the burned down esoteric book store. To these ends, The group split into three teams.
The first team would consist of Nadya, Yao and Varya. The team’s goal would be to capture one of the Afflicted without being seen or detected and bring him to an underground location to use him to goad the Zodia, while the second team attempted the inspection and possible recovery of the Fire Engine. Varya knew of a place, that had once been the powder magazine for the garrison, but was now a shop for surveyors and miners. She led the team there, climbed down through the chimney and opened the heavy barred door for the others to allow them entry.
Once inside they made their way down into the basement, where Nadya chose her site and made preparations in anticipation of using her ritual magic to bind and vex the Zodia once he was summoned. Varya would keep watch upstairs while Yao went to acquire an unwilling subject from the nearby Dmitrov Home Guard Barracks.
The Second team consisted of Eve, John, Aeric, George, Aphrodite, Scrooge, Smith, Wesson and Father Popov. Their goal was to infiltrate into the town square, inspect the fire engine, right it if needed and remove it from the square for future use. If time permitted, they also wanted to search the remains of the Esoteric Bookstore in the hopes of finding Alchemical supplies, as the owner was a suspected Alchemist. When the team was ready, they would signal Nadya using one of the gray smoke bombs to begin her interrogation/goading of the Zodia. This was hoped would prevent him from manifesting the Aspect in the square or correctly directing his mob against those attempting to work with the fire engine.
Action is for the Brave
The group moved towards the square, carefully, but Scrooge tripped over some debris alerting some nearby Afflicted to their presence. They spotted George and gave chase. George decided to outrun them and double back to the site as the others waited.
Aeric had the other’s hold their position as he was certain that there was a second group of Afflicted nearby. As they waited, he had Aphrodite set off the gray smoke bomb to signal Nadya that it was time to initiate her portion of the plan.
While the team had been getting into place at the square, Yao had used his incredible stealth to sneak past the guards and into the Barracks, where he managed to isolate and successfully ambush one of the Afflicted without being seen. However, Yao noted that immediately upon rendering the captured Afflicted unconscious, the others nearby began a search pattern for the missing individual.
Yao therefore took the captured Afflicted to a random location to see if it was possible that the others were capable of tracking it. Satisfied that it was not the case, he returned to the Dmitrov Powdery, where Varya let him inside and barred the door behind him.
With the subject in palace, Nadya created several circles and waited for the signal. When Varya reported the column of gray smoke, she began her efforts to goad the Zodia. She summoned him, upon awakening the captured Afflicted and the two bantered threateningly until Nadya realized that the Zodia had identified their position and had sent a mob to kill them. As the mob began ramming the heavy door upstairs with a make-shift battering ram, She knocked out the Afflicted, and the three were forced to flee. Varya fled up the chimney and on to the rooftops, while Yao ripped up the grating in the floor that led down to the storm drains. He and Nadya escaped through there, replacing the grate afterwards. They headed down hill towards the river.
In the meantime, the plan seemed to be working. Aeric gave the team the go ahead, and they moved towards the Fire Engine, only to have the Aspect of Cancer arrive at the square. Aphrodite and scrooge fled as the Cancer began flooding the square with his contagion, they choose a building with a Glockenspiel as a rally point. Meanwhile George had returned to the square, and Eve had rushed to the Fire Engine to see if she could right it.
In an attempt to buy his team more time, Aeric goaded the Aspect and fled the square, with the creature in pursuit. However, John using his rifle, created a tangle of messes that partially trapped the aspect, rendering it temporarily immobile.
The Priest seeing his opportunity charged forward, proclaiming his faith in an effort to strike down the creature. As he rushed forward, Aphrodite, perhaps intending to warn the priest off, used her telepathy to deliver a message. However, this had an unintended side-effect, the priest redoubled his efforts.
Meanwhile, Eve continued to work to right the steam engine, but it was proving too heavy. George had collected a massive block of stone from a nearby construction works and carried it to the roof of a building overlooking the Aspect. He then pushed the block over, slamming it into the Zodia’s shell. This coincided with the priest landing a powerful blow against the creature, which seemingly killed it.
The creature exploded into a mist of red ooze, seemingly destroyed for now.
Aphrodite reached the rally point with Scrooge close behind. Upon opening the door to the building the pair found themselves facing an old man with a rifle. He quickly realized they were not Afflicted and sent them upstairs to safety. Meanwhile, the Priest, seemingly unstoppable in his faith manged somehow to overturn the fire engine, where the team realized that the pump tank was badly damaged and unable to hold water.
The group retreated from the square before any other Afflicted could be summoned to their position and joined Aphrodite and Scrooge at the rally point.
The Dmitrov Partisan Movement
The group at the Rally point were introduced to the two members of the self-proclaimed Dmitrov Partisan Movement. They were Alexi Nimsk and Vlad Stolga. They were happy to see other survivors that were not infected, and were glad for the reinforcement. The pair indicated that they had another member of their group in the city and they would introduce them as soon as he returned.
The Volga River Docks
As Yao and Nadya continued towards the river, they eventually reach a position where the river was backed up into the pipe. As they were considering their options, a flood of River Crabs began to pour into the pipe. The Zodia seemed to finally figure out where they had gone.
They back tracked up the pipe a short distance, ripping out one of the street grates and emerging near the Dmitrov Volga River Docks. There, they encountered an individual named, Leninov “Lenni” Zayorkoff, who was a soldier. He was planning on destroying a nearby barge that was being repaired by the afflicted. It was his belief that they would be using it for moving the infected out of the city. He was the third member of the Dmitrov Partisan Movement. He set the explosive, and Yao snuck inside the boat and planted the charge.
Along the way, both Yao and Nadya noticed that the Afflicted seemed to be running on autopilot, as they did not react to them in any way. The three retreated back to the partisan headquarters, the rally point, picking up Varya along the way.
A New plan
Once the group reconvened and information as shared. The members of the Society discovered that another train was supposed to arrive in roughly two hours. A plan was discussed to destroy the tracks, but Lenni volunteered to ride down the rail line and stop the train well short of the city. The others agreed and he departed immediately.
They now had a map of the city and the locations of all the fires marked upon it. The group decided that they would conduct another plan, this one to limit the movement of the Afflicted and irritate the Zodia to no ends. The group would divide into two teams. One team would draw and deal with the Aspect, while the other would attack the train depot.
The second team’s goal would be to disable the train engines already at the deport, rendering them useless. Put out the fire at the depot, And acquire a large shipment of baking soda that had been part of the cargo of the overturned train.
While this was underway, the first team would draw the Zodia’s attention, deal with the aspect and draw the mob away from the train depot.
With the plan decided, the group would implement it at midnight to maximize fatigue and darkness.
To help by perhaps discovering some additional details, Aphrodite asked Aeric to assist her with meditation and focus to help her use her prescient dreaming prior to the launch of the attack. Aeric agreed and the pair retired to a quiet room with Eve to monitor Aphrodite, to apply special Tibetan wards and provide instruction for the meditation.