Causing Trouble in Cairo

Playlist: Rock the Casbah - The Clash

al-Assim House, Natara Street, Cairo, Egypt, 03:40 24th June 1940

As the others reloaded their weapons, Birapeer searched the ground floor rooms of the house more carefully. After a moment, he realized that the stamped earth floor looked disturbed in one corner. Turning the loose earth over, he found a solid object and pulled free a cheap, battered tin box. Opening it with extreme care, he found documents inside - sixteen either new or well-forged blank passports and ID documents; British, American, Egyptian and French.

As he was recovering the now empty box, Marcus and Joe were near the door preparing to leave. Marcus' ears picked up a sound from outside. It sounded like voices, and as he concentrated he realized it was agitated voices, speaking in Arabic. Joe peered out of the small, unglazed window, to see a crowd of locals gathered in the street outside, holding burning torches, clubs and knives and arguing in urgent voices accompanied by violent gestures towards the doorway to the al-Assim house. It appeared that automatic gunfire had not met with the approval of the locals. "Time to leave!" he said quietly.

Walking across to the back door, they opened it and cautiously peered out. Lights bobbed at the end of the alley to the right, but to the left all was dark. Slipping out and quietly walking down the alley, they made it through to a nearby street and slipped away into the night.


Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo, Egypt, 04:00 24th June 1940

Reassembled back at the hotel, the party compared notes and considered what to do next. Roughly, their options were as follows:

On the grounds that Zilka was likely to hide himself once he heard what had happened, they decided to go after the Fixer and find out what he knew. Extracting directions from al-Samael (still trussed up in the wardrobe), they set out.


Zoutar Cafe, Cairo, Egypt, 04:20 24th June 1940

Achmed came back around the block, having walked down the street past the front of the Cafe and looked it over. It appeared to be a typical coffee shop for this part of the Old City, dim and a bit grubby, filled with local men drinking coffee and smoking a variety of substances in a variety of pipes.

After some discussion, Anné slipped into one of the derelict buildings opposite and up to the first floor, establishing a sniper point. Joe lurked in the doorway of the same building, while Cyril, Marcus and Achmed appeoached it from the street and pushed through the bead curtain into the interior. Birapeer and Jimmy, meanwhile, had worked their way around to the back and located the back door. It was closed and looked to be bolted.

As Cyril, Marcus and Achmed walked in, the low buzz of conversation in the cafe vanished as if chopped off with a knife. Dark faces radiating hostility watched through the smoke as they walked to the counter, and the sensation of being unwelcome was unmistakable. Blithely, Marcus strolled up to the counter and asked, in English, for coffee. The man behind the counter scowled at him and shrugged, speaking in Arabic and making it clear through body language that he did not understand the ajnabi and wouldn't serve him if he did. Marcus turned to Achmed, who looked very nervous, and that worthy duly translated the request for qahua. With great reluctance, a battered copper tray with a noticably steamless jug of coffee and some mistatched cups was produced, and Marcus poured three cups. "I'm looking for Banitar Zilka," he announced loudly, eyeing the patrons to see if anyone twitched, or fled the cafe. Dark eyes regarded him in rather the same way patrons in a pub look at a shouty drunk who's making no sense.

Around the back, Birapeer flashed Jimmy a wide smile and reached out to knock on the back door. He kept doing this until sounds on the other side indicated someone had come to the door, and waited until he heard both bolts drawn and someone work the latch. Then he hurled his body against the door. It moved in a foot and then stopped, accompanied by a grunt of surprise from inside. Jimmy joined the Sikh for a second shove, and despite his wiry, unmuscular frame, this time it crashed open, hurling the man who'd opened it backwards into the room inside. Birapeer stepped in, looked around at the three men inside, and uttered a phrase they'd had Achmed teach them; "Tawaquf , 'ayuha almulaein , 'aw sanatluq alnnar!" - "Stop, you f-s, or we'll shoot!" One of them cried something in Arabic which Jimmy recognized as "We're being robbed!" Birapeer levelled his tulwar at them and they froze.

Inside the cafe itself, the shouting from the back room had disturbed the patrons, and many of them stood and started heading for the door. Cyril, standing in the doorway, drew his pistol and stepped in and to one side. Joe noticed this and swiftly crossed the street to take his place in the door, Thompson readied. Meanwhile, Marcus was still bawling the name of the fixer, although nobody seemed to be paying any attention to him.

Birapeer was in the process of shepherding the three men from the back room towards the main room when things changed again. Marcus, annoyed at being ignored, pulled a hand grenade from his pocket and held it up over his head. Panic swept the patrons, and sharp shouts conveyed to those who couldn't immediately see that the foreign madman had a bomb. Patrons began rushing for the exits in both directions.

Cyril tried to stand his ground, but the weight of bodies pushed him sideways away from the door. He punched one down as he went, leaving him sprawled stunned on the dirty floor. Joe stepped swiftly back and to the side, Thompson raised ready to defend himself, but the fleeing Egyptians avoided him and hurried past out into the night. Some were clutching their traditional daggers, and Anné tracked them from her hidden position just in case.

Keeper Note: A critical strike and under Martial Arts, something around 40 points of damage. That's gotta smart.

At the back, the three men Birapeer had herded into the cafe came back out. The first in line saw the extended sword and stopped, but the crowd behind him couldn't see it and didn't. He was forced forwards onto the blade and it slid through him easily. He dropped bonelessly and Birapeer had to wrench frantically to recover the weapon. The next panicking Egyptian was pushing at him already, and he smashed a headbutt into the man's face as several others pushed past him. Behind, Jimmy whirled and slammed the door. Grabbing one of the bolts, he rammed it home, then reeled as a punch connected with the back of his head. Birapeer turned and stabbed at the man attacking the photographer, driving his sword completely through him and accidentally nicking Jimmy as well.

Egyptian Coffee (this is how it's meant to look!)

Blithely ignoring everything, Marcus leaned on the counter, grenade in one hand, calmly sipping coffee from a grubby cup. It was awful.

With all the remaining patrons herded back into the cafe, Joe quickly checked the rest of the building; unsurprisingly at 4am it was deserted.

Jimmy looked around at their prisoners and pointed one out; he'd overheard him in a conversation along the "We can't tell them where to find him, he'll kill us!" lines. Cyril and Birapeer put the pressure on him, trying to force Zilka's home address out of him, but he stood his ground; "We can't betray him. We'd be killed," he said.

Keeper Note: “And indeed they knew that the buyers of it (magic) would have no share in the Hereafter. And how bad indeed was that for which they sold their own selves, if they but knew.” (Quran 2:102).

Marcus decided to try a different tack. Making something of a production of it, he made the Voorish Sign at the man, wincing as the sudden urge to leap upon the locals and tear their throats out with his teeth rippled over him and was gone. The effect was out of all proportion; all the men backed away in horror, eyes wide, gibbering in absolute terror, muttering "Sahir! Sahir!" (Sorcerer!) For the followers of Islam, sorcery was one of the Seven Destructive Sins, and the sight of magic being used had terrified them.

Marcus advanced on them, hand raised, and the man Jimmy had identified practically fell over himself to give them Zilka's home address. Achmed - himself a little wide-eyed as he had not been around to witness any of the healing done at Makhren Jirma - noted that it was just around the corner. Marcus let the spell drop, pocketed his grenade, and the agents left the cafe.

Zilka's House, Qatanis Street, Cairo, Egypt, 04:50 24th June 1940

The house was, unusually for this part of town, detached, situated in its own compound. Carefully, the group scouted around it, and Anné's sharp eyes picked up the damage around the fastening of the back door. Leaving Marcus to watch the front door, Birapeer and Cyril placed themselves either side of the door and nudged it open. Nothing happened and they peered around - to see a foot sticking out from behind a kitchen table. They exchange glances, then cautiously entered. A man in the dress of a servant lay on the kitchen floor, a bullet hole in his head.

Empty 9mm cases

Joe climbed cautiously up the stairs, ripper at the ready, but all was quiet. A lamp burned in the well-appointed bedroom on one side of the upper floor, and here he found another body, one they were sinkingly sure was Banitar Zilka, with three 9mm bullets in him. Just to be sure, Jimmy produced his camera and took some photographs of the corpse. As he did so, a glint caught his eye, and he fished inside one of the slippers that sat neatly next to the bed, coming up with a 9mm parabellum cartridge case.

Cyril checked the body; it was still slightly warm. He'd been killed not long after the kidnap attempt had failed. Weisemann and G had cleared up their loose ends. Weisemann and G were good.

Marcus quietly took a blood sample, collecting it in one of his little bottles, while the others searched the rest of the house. After a while, they found a hidden safe, an ancient British model from the Victorian era. The keys were by Zilka's bed and opening it was straightforward; inside they found an account book. Among the entries was one of receipt of e£50 from Weisemann and G, for the capture of themselves - descriptions of everyone except Jimmy were attached - with e£200 for the completed job.

Their explorations were interrupted by the sound of an approaching motor vehicle. Looking out of the window, Cyril caught a glimpse of a British Army jeep going past, four redcaps on board. With automatic gunfire reported from various locations of the Old City it wasn't a great leap of logic to deduce for whom they were probably looking. Taking the hint, the party slipped off into the night.

Shepheard's Hotel, Cairo, Egypt, 11:10 25th June 1940

The Egyptian Antiquities Museum is also known simply as the Cairo Museum. It can be found down by the river on Sharia Mariette Pasha, where its imposing orange-pink walls and massive white entrance portico tower over visitors. Large mauve flowers with golden centres float peacefully on the surface of the ornamental pool in front of the entryway, a tiny oasis of calm in the midst of the city centre

After catching some sleep, the party considered their next move. The idea was raised of sending their prisoner to try and locate whoever had killed Banitar Zilka - ie Weisemann and G. Most people were pretty sure he'd just run off, but Marcus turned the same trick with the Voorish Sign, getting Jimmy to tell the man that his brain would explode in two days if he did not return with the information. al-Samael, utterly terrified, left the hotel and the agents turned their attention to the Cairo Musem.

Museum of Antiquities, Cairo, Egypt, 12:44 25th June 1940

Although the museum was technically closed for the war, the agents had little difficulty entering the public areas - seperately rather than in a group. While the others wandered the displays looking for clues, Marcus approached a curator and had a message sent to his acquaintance, the curator Lucien Kutay. After a short wait, he was shown into a small office located in the back areas of the museum.

The room was small, and crowded with innumerable artifacts, some on desks, some in boxes with straw packaging, and littered with books and pieces of paper. Many of the artifacts had been matched up with small index cards, and a large card index cabinet sat against one wall. Two people were hard at work, an elegant-looking man of mixed Egyptian-European blood and a rather attractive young blonde woman.

Lucien Kutay

Kutay was as Marcus remembered him. His meticulous and exacting nature when cataloguing the Museum’s treasures reflected in his manner of dress. He was always smart, his pale suits freshly pressed and spotless, his dark hair elegantly swept back from his handsome, thoughtful face. He always claimed to suffer from a delicate constitution, which seriously limited the amount of field work he could undertake. A brilliant smile illuminated his face as Marcus walked in. "Ah, M'sieur Marcus, mon ami! How good it is to see you once again. Did you make it to the conference last year, before this so terrible war she start, eh? Micheline! Coffee, sil vous plait?"

Mlle. Micheline Descoteaux

This last was addressed to the woman, who immediately stood from her stool, smiled briefly at Marcus, and hurried out of the office. Blonde and bronzed by the ever-present sun, she gave the impression of someone who cannot afford to be stylish but she does her utmost to maintain her appearance, in part because she knows that, sadly, her looks will be just as important in ensuring her future career as her brains. Marcus noticed that her clothing had been carefully repaired several times and that the soles of her shoes were almost worn through.

As he sipped his coffee, Marcus happily slipped into "shop-talk" with his fellow archaeologist, discussing the latest happenings in their sphere, and feeling the tension of his current activities and the gathering darkness of his more occult studies recede a little. He warmly complimented Kutay on his cataloguing of the collection and the upcoming displays he would be able to build from them; it was quite clear that it was a scholarly and very thorough piece of work. He worked around to more current events, and enquired if any digs were going on at the moment - mentioning Makhren Jirma. Kutay knew nothing about anything happening at the latter place, subscribing to the usual point of view that it was a minor, unimportant site with nothing worth looking at. "Au juste, the Allemands were making the dig at Armarna," he said then, "the Deutsche Orientgesellschaft, if you please, people of no imagination that they are. But with the war now, surely they are now gone. I haven't been there in years."

The Index Card for the Black Stone

Marcus brought him around to the Black Stone, found at Sais by the same DOG. After thinking a while, Kutay brought it to mind, but waved his hand dismissively. "It is of the small account," he said, "the text does not translate and the third 'language' is just gibberish." Marcus tried to introduce the concept of Atlantis, but as he had rather expected, Kutay rather firmly suggested remaining within the real world. He had no objection, however, to allowing Marcus access to the Stone, and despatched Micheline to the card index to produce the relevant card. When Marcus suggested he might borrow the stone, Kutay's brow darkened; his distaste for those who 'plundered' relics was well-known; but he was perfectly happy to allow a fellow professional to conduct his research on the stone within the museum.

Session Date: 5th June 2018