Episode 14: Bad Wolf
It's Halloween, and the Safe Streets Society is escorting trick-or-treaters in a three-block area of the old downtown. And the other hundred blocks are up to Juliet and her friends!
Fortunately, vampires tend to stay off the streets on Halloween. Moonstomp says it's because Halloween's so commercial, but it's also because there are dangerous spirits abroad that even vampires don't care to tangle with.
There are also reports of living electrical disturbances blowing out traffic lights, and sleepers who cannot awaken. None are good. Diligence goes online to contact Thessaly (several other chat room users, such as Darkness666 and StormQueenMaya, sign off as soon as Diligence signs on) and see what she knows. Indeed, she has seen a being carrying the souls of sleeping mortals, caught in a net of thorns, into the impenetrable Mihalli Jungles. He's clearly a werewolf, but looks even more ferocious and monstrous than most werewolves' spirit selves. She thinks his name is Morning Breeze.
Walker says that sounds like an Indian name -- the Red Talons are a werewolf tribe from out West who want to basically destroy American civilization, so it could be one of them. The Uktena are Southwestern Indians, but they're not all that cruel. Hardly more so than, say, the Apache.
And Excellence Caldwell, she who took over the world last season with a demon spider crown, has joined the Yearbook Club. You wouldn't think it was cool, she says, but Billy's in it, and he's cool, so maybe ... and she has a lifelong interest in photography. Well, being photographed, anyway. And Julie's kinda cool, with the saving people and all, and Diligence ... well, Julie's kinda cool. So why not?
Excellence sashays out and Diligence catches the eyes of his buddies.
"Quick poll," he says. "We hate her, right?"
Regardless of the omnious threats hovering in the background, there's also a student who is reported as dying of neck rupture, so someone has to go watch his grave to make sure he doesn't rise. For once, the whole gang goes as a group, except that Billy and Walker roam around outside the cemetery, sniffing for signs of the Bad Wolf. They spot him on top of a house and sneak over to flank him, but suddenly another figure rushes from the shadows. It's Juliet, and she's a vampire! She attacks Walker, who stands there and lets her hit him, defending himself but not attacking. He's clearly badly thrown by this nightmarish apparition.
Billy is attacked by a huge rat-man monster, a lot like the one that bit him in episode 2. He immediately concludes that our worst nightmares are coming true, which is true, but doesn't help him fight the rat-thing. Both our heroes are losing their fights.
But because they're not stupid, they yell for help, bringing Julie and Marcus on the run! Alex and Diligence decide to stay behind in the cemetery, so of course the dead guy picks this moment to spring out of the ground like he's on springs! Diligence tries out his new anti-vampire lamp, a sort of ultraviolet dealie, which blinds the new vampire long enough for someone to stake him. However, another vampire, this one a hideous bald Nosferatu, climbs out of the grave -- apparently the reason the first one came up so quick is that he had a boost! There are indeed several vampires under the ground, and one of them, Marty, grabs Diligence's ankles, pulls him down and bites his ankle. Then he spits it out and recoils, because apparently Diligence's blood tastes awful to vampires. Good to know ...
Outside the cemetery, Julie gets Walker's attention. Now that he knows he's not fighting the real thing, he rips the false Juliet's head off. The head and body immediately burst into flames, as does the rat-thing when it's clobbered. Marcus is pursued by a robot Nazi, who guns him down before anyone can stop him. However, he's not really dead; the robot Nazi didn't have real bullets, just very convincing imitations thereof. Diligence and Alex hurry to the rest of the group, and get attacked by a giant spider and by a zombie who doesn't respond to the usual zombie rules, which really freaks Diligence out.
But eventually all are whomped, and burn brightly until the fire department comes.
Billy phones Dr. Armitage, who is being beseiged in his office by Deliverance Dole, a sixteenth-century Puritan vampire. Diligence manages to put out the fire Dole set, and Juliet attacks Dole himself. Dole blocks her sword with his pistol barrel and swings a counter-stroke at her neck, but Juliet catches his sword between her palms and wrenches it from his grasp. Dole, amazed, runs for it, and Billy smashes the van into him, crushing him into a brick wall. Dole appears to have escaped using a vampire trick where he melts into the Earth, but at least we have his sword.
Dr. Armitage recognizes these creatures as Hezurri demons, who can take the shape of their victim's worst fear, sort of an anti-rakshasa. They subsist on phosphorus, which they eat to survive, but it makes them very flammable. They also have to eat every few hours. The only place around here with significant stocks of phosphates (chem labs have some, but not enough to feed six demons) is the Alcoa sheds at the train yard.
Our heroes close in on the Alcoa warehouses and are spotted by a long-armed werewolf on the roof. They crash in through the back door, and immediately Walker, Julie and Marcus take off after Morning Breeze, while Alex lights the sprinklers using sorcery. The sudden blast of water draws a howl of protest from a second werewolf off to the right somewhere; Billy sneaks over that way, while Diligence starts up the forklift and drives over, beeping and whirring.
A group of Hezzuri demons confronts Diligence -- in their unchanged form they look like two-fingered squid-faced guys wearing black rags. They attack, and one gets run over by the Mighty Forklift, while Alex sets others ablaze from within using a simple fire spell. Billy finds a silver-furred werewolf bound by cables while clamps and pipes drain his blood into vessels next to equipment for making Herbal Energy Bars. Apparently, this is the source of the bars' active ingredient. Billy tries to untie him, but the cables are crawling with electricity, which rears up and hisses at him. It's one of the electrical elementals, a Furmling, that have previously only been seen in the spirit world. Billy douses them with a fire hose, then frees the werewolf, whose name is Moonfang.
Julie is surprised by Morning Breeze, who leaps out in full blood-freezing werewolf terror form and makes her attack maniacally. Walker can barely keep up. Marcus shoots Morning Breeze with a stake, but he's not a vampire, so that's not much help, although it does make him mad. The three combatants smack each other around, then knock over a stack of wooden crates, which bury Walker and Marcus. Morning Breeze leaps to the top of a tall stack of crates, aiming to escape through a roof hatch, but Julie pursues him and they face off high above the warehouse floor. She grabs his shoulder and he explodes like a snapping mousetrap, raking her with both arms and sending her plummeting to her doom. Or it would have been doom if Walker hadn't caught her. Morning Breeze escapes.
Moonfang, freed, is grateful to Billy and explains that he was planning to slay Morning Breeze to prevent a full-fledged tribal war between the Red Talons and the Glass Walkers. But he failed, so now he has to hunt again. But he'll do Billy a service first -- is there anyone Billy wants brutally torn apart, perhaps?
The newspaper below was provided to players at the start of this game:
The Arkham Advertiser
The Terrible Truth No Competing Publication Dares Reveal
SAFE STREETS SOCIETY EXPANDS ROUTE
ARKHAM – The Safe Streets Society has expanded its “safe haven” trick-or-treating area to three blocks this year, in which children can make their traditional treat-seeking rounds in closely supervised safety. The expansion was made possible by the acquisition of new orange baseball caps for the SSS volunteers and Police Chief Carl Braun’s donation of the entire 9-man Arkham police force to static patrol of the blocks in question.
This year’s blocks include the 500 and 600 blocks of Federal Street and the 600 block of Armitage. An alternative Halloween party is also being held at Arkham Public Library for youths aged 12-18. The idea is the brainchild of librarian Howard Porter, who thinks teens ought to have a pleasant alternative to drinking, drugs, inappropriate physical contact, and Christian influences.
Several streetlights have failed to function on the north side of town, because of a “roaming electrical disturbance”, according to city officials. The disturbance, which resembles a frog-shaped leaping ball of living lightning, is most active at night, and is also suspected in the disappearance of Morris Trent, a local retired man. Residents are cautioned to keep candles, but not flashlights, handy in case of blackouts.
An unusual form of sleeping sickness has struck three residents of the Christchurch area, who could not be awakened after going to sleep as usual the night before. Sarah Smith, Ronald Peregrine and Jacqueline Knight have all been asleep for two days, apparently after being attacked by some sort of wild animal. Professor Henry Armitage of M.U. has speculated some chemical in a wild dog’s saliva may be causing the comas.
Michael Potter, 62, bookkeeper, of heart failure
Robert Fine, 31, policeman, of consumption
Paul Cleveland, 47, machinist, of accident
Arnold Braniff, 24, student, of neck rupture
HERBAL BARS TAINTED AT FACTORY
The herbal energy bars sold by the local high school have been contaminated with animal blood, according to Police Chief Carl Braun. Residents are urged to turn in the remaining bars for a refund and not to consume any other product of “Deliverance Foods” of Kingsport.
Round about the close horizon, close the shadows gather, clustering in their greedy numbers like hyenas awaiting a lion’s kill. They bring with them the heavy reek of corruption, the hot breath of savagery, the taint of fear. Even now their howling pack descends, scenting their helpless prey and summoning each other for the feast. Clearing towards evening.