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Playlist: Dancing in the Ruins - Blue Öyster Cult

SIME Offices, Cairo, Egypt, 13:30 25th June 1940

Keeper Note: SECURITY INTELLIGENCE MIDDLE EAST (SIME), SHARIA KASR EL AINI Lt. Col. Raymund Maunsell (or “RJ” to his staff and friends), runs SIME. SIME operates out of the Grey Pillars until 1942, when it moves to a building next door. SIME coordinates all security matters in the Middle East and liaises with the Indian Delhi Intelligence Bureau (DIB), as well as working closely with “A” Force. Maunsell’s network includes Egyptian policemen, concierges, Sephardic Jewish agents, rumourmongers, and underworld contacts. He has penetrated the Muslim Brotherhood and the Spanish Consulate, and monitors Japanese diplomatic communications, as well as maintaining contacts with the Turkish secret police. Most importantly, SIME controls the six wireless operators that the Abwehr manages to infiltrate into Cairo.
Keeper Note: Only Allan, Steve, Loz (and a special guest appearance by Jenni tonight, hurrah!) This left me having to move things along while leaving Marcus (at least) in the Cairo Museum. Relatively easy; but watch me squirm next week when I have two separate PC parties in radically different places!

While Marcus worked on the Black Stone of Sais, aided by Jimmy's photographic skills and with Birapeer there in case of trouble, Joe, Anné and Cyril returned to SIME to report in and to check on the planning for the re-excavation of Makren Jirma.

Things were well along, and the expedition was pretty much ready to leave. RJ ushered the agents into a meeting with the Royal Engineers tasked with digging out the collapsed area, where they discovered Lt Lethbridge-Stewart - still limping slightly, but ready to resume active service - was once more to command the military side of the operation. Also present was a tall, dapper Englishman with a noticeable London accent and a sharp, wily demeanour, who was introduced to them as 'Lucky' Jake Black, a fellow Section M agent codenamed Trader and assigned to this particular mission as an extra asset.

Lt James Lethbridge-Stewart

Over the course of an hour or so, the agents updated and corrected the maps the Engineers had prepared of the site, discussing and selecting the optimal place to dig to get them into the Portal Chamber - if it had survived - as directly as possible.

Rather to everyone's surprise, the ten-man squad left to guard the site had not gone abruptly and mysteriously silent, but had maintained radio contact. The only event they'd had to report was the tentative return of native workers, showing up again in the hopes of being hired. Joe suggested the squad start recruiting them ready.

This done, the agents wandered down to the REME compound, where they found bulldozers and an excavator being loaded onto low-loaders ready for the trip into the desert. Nearby, two lorries loaded with infantry were already warmed up and ready. Off to one side, the prototype desert car they'd been loaned last time was parked up waiting for them. Joe immediately went and retrieved one of the Bren guns from stores and mounted it on the pintles at the front with a big grin.

'Lucky' Jake Black

As they watched these preparations, it occurred to Lucky Jake that, among the usual gathering of curious natives outside the fence, two figures seemed especially attentive to the agents themselves. Leaning in what shade the nearby buildings had to offer, they were watching carefully as the Section M operatives loaded equipment into the car. Joe stopped two soldiers and assigned them to keep an eye on the two men while working, while Lucky worked his way carefully and unobtrusively around until he was level with them while inside the fence. Calling to them, he tried to strike up a conversation; but they seemed to dislike what he said rather intensely and slipped off between the buildings.

Returning to the building, Lucky located the Quartermaster's office and with a mixture of his Section M ID and his killer negotiation skills, managed to acquire a 12-bore shotgun and some cartridges. It was only a single-barrel model and not sawn-off like Birapeer's but he felt considerably better with it to hand.

Road east out of Cairo, Egypt, 15:00 25th June 1940

As the convoy rumbled along, Joe and Anné kept a sharp eye open to try and pick up any sign that it was being followed. This was more than a little hampered by the massive cloud of dust that ballooned out behind the convoy; but as far as they could tell, no vehicle was trailing them. Just to be sure, they pulled out of the convoy and off the road to wait for an hour, but nothing happened and they continued on to the site.

Makhren Jirma, East of Cairo, Egypt, 19:00 25th June 1940

Sunset in the Desert

As the early evening drew in, the REME unloaded their equipment and got the excavator set up. The native workers were hired on to shift the spoil away from the immediate vicinity, with a bulldozer to pile it up against one of the hillsides. The excavator was run up and tested, making a start on the hole, and then operations were closed down for the night.

Anné, Lucky and Joe took a hike up the hills at the rear of the valley, just to check what was on the other side; and though the answer was 'more hills', the view was worth it. They stayed up for a while, watching the sun set over the low hills, and then descended again before it became too dark to be safe. Below, in the camp, oil lamps were twinkling to life and guard posts were visible at regular intervals.

It all seemed so safe and tranquil.

Makhren Jirma, East of Cairo, Egypt, 20:10 25th June 1940

SPA-AS37 Lorry

During the evening, the agents spent some time talking to some of the local workers. Some of them Joe had recognized as inhabitants of the village at El Kaira, where Birapeer's gift pistol had won them the friendship of the locals. These two - Yousla and Salnan - were very willing to answer questions, especially after their not-especially-subtle hints had produced the universal baksheesh - but their memories seemed geniunely to be faulty. Over more than an hour of questioning various workers who had been here during the Mi-Go's operation, it gradually emerged that, though many had memories of loading the refined pitchblende product into the lorries, and of the lorries being empty, none remembered the lorries ever actually going anywhere, or not being there at any given time.

Given the rate at which the stuff had been produced, it struck them, if the lorries had been going in and out all that time then the 'hidden' track to the site would have stuck out like a Glaswegian Sapper at a garden party. The conclusion was inescapable; the lorries were a decoy. The product must have been shipped out via the portal.

Makhren Jirma, East of Cairo, Egypt, 22:30 25th June 1940

Much later on, Anné was sitting nursing a tin mug of coffee over a low camp fire when Joe - dressed in only his KD shorts and socks - quite suddenly strode out of his tent, passed her without a word and marched off into the night. She blinked for a moment, then called after him. There was no response, and she rattled the other tents to wake the rest before heading off in pursuit. It was quite obvious that something was wrong; the tanker had not been carrying a single weapon of any description. With Cyril and Lucky hard on her heels, the French sniper headed out after Joe.

His experiences with the supernatural making him suspicious, Cyril paused just long enough to glance inside Joe's tent, in case the real thing was asleep inside and the marching one a fake; but except for his weapons - all of them - it was empty.

Lightning Bolt

Catching up to Joe, Anné put her hand on his shoulder, shaking him slightly and trying to stop him walking, but he shook it off. Lucky ran up and slightly past him, spun, and launched a punch at his jaw, seeking to stop him in his tracks. This was a moment when training was actually a disadvantage, because the punch was aimed as it should have been to hit someone who would make natural evasive movements. Joe didn't stir his head at all, and it was thus in the wrong place when the punch came in. Lucky nearly fell over from the miss. Anné considered this oblivious state, then stuck out a long leg and simply tripped the big soldier. Joe toppled like a felled tree, making no effort to break his fall or protect his face, and crunched to the ground. Anné winced. "Je suis désolé," she muttered quietly. Swearing, followed by "What the Hell is going on?!" answered her as Cyril jogged up. Lucky glanced around, looking to see if he could see the cause of this, and frowned as his sharp eyes caught a peculiar shimmer, a discontinuity in the air. He'd never seen anything quite like it before. He was just opening his mouth to speak when an eye-blinding bolt of pure blue-white lightning erupted from that point and tore across the intervening distance, missing Anné by inches and leaving her with all her hair standing on end. Another one came from behind him, striking Cyril glancingly and hurling him to the floor, where he lay, twitching and gasping uncontrollably. Joe, feeling incredibly naked with no weapon at all, stayed prone where he was. A second later, an armoured Mi-Go shimmered out of nowhere at the point of origin of each bolt and began to stalk towards the two prostrate humans.

Augmented Mi-Go

Lucky and Anné simply took to their heels and ran - onwards rather than back towards the camp - heading for a cluster of boulders about a hundred yards away. After a moment, however, Lucky changed his angle and veered back towards the monster on the left, planning to come up behind it. Anné continued to run and dived into the rocks, feeling safer immediately she was in the more familiar environment of a sniper nest. Unfortunately, le Etranger was a quarter of a mile away back in her tent.

Cyril, who had remained conscious, and after his last experience being shot by a Mi-Go was rather surprised to be alive, dragged his Browning out of a pocket and let drive at the walker on the right, swearing as his round glanced off the armoured shell of the thing. His nerves jangling, he sprang up and sprinted back towards the camp, from which shouts and moving lights were now emerging as the soldiers realized something was up. Joe swarmed away - in a different direction! - trying to get into the darkness away from sight. Hearing the soldiers ahead, he drew a deep breath and bellowed "Open fire!" in his parade-ground voice. A volley of rifle fire ripped the night, with several sounds of impact as bullets struck the mechanized monsters. Cyril staggered as one of them winged him, cursing Joe as he stumbled onwards.

Keeper Note: Jenni's first attack in the game, and it's a Special, an Impale (I suppose with a shotgun it should be a Blast!) - double damage. Nice one Spiv!

The fire from the camp appeared to have distracted the attention of whatever senses the Mi-Go used, allowing Lucky to run right up behind his objective. With feverish haste he rammed the shotgun's barrel into the back of the monster, as much between joints of the armour as he could, and pulled the trigger. A blast of buckshot ripped into the creature, sending bits of armour and leperous flesh in all directions. His grin faltered as he realized that he now had an empty gun and had made himself noticable. A .303 bullet whipped past his head and he screamed "Stop shooting!" to no effect. He threw himself prone instead.

British Soldiers at Night

The concerted attack of the soldiers had attracted more attention, it seemed, and the walkers started to stomp towards the line of khaki-clad men now frantically working their rifle bolts. If not for Lethbridge-Stewart, calmly standing ahead of their line pistol in hand and giving orders, they would already have run away. A shout of "Don't shoot me!" prevented a disaster as Joe came running out of the night and up to their line. "Get behind me, sir!" called one urgently. From a little further along came a voice, "'ere, do we 'ave to salute 'im?" followed by "Naw, 'e ain't wearin' 'is 'at!" Joe hurried through the line and turned. "Someone give me a fk'n gun!" he raged, to no effect.

Lethbridge-Stewart noted his men had finished working their bolts. He waved his pistol at the walker Lucky had damaged. "Fire!" he shouted, and all six rifles cracked. Lucky was just preparing for his end when the walker stumbled, toppled and crashed to the ground, twitching and sparking. Pulling his knife, the trader leaped onto the wreckage, hacking at one of the linbs where flesh showed above the lightning gun.

The other walker had built up speed, and reached the line of soldiers. Reaching out with the huge mechanized claw it bore as one of its limbs, it grabbed at a soldier who dove desperately out of the way. The monster did not slow, but stamped on past the line, shimmering back into invisibility as it did so. A few rifle shots followed it until Lethbridge-Stewart bawled "Stop shooting, you idiots! The camp's that way!"

Another Special Success. Double grenade damage, ouch!

Twisting sideways, Joe reached out and plucked a grenade off a startled soldier's webbing. Flicking the pin out, he hurled it after the departed Mi-Go, tracking it by the still-audible sound of its heavy footsteps. His instincts were good; the grenade actually struck the carapace before exploding. Mixed with the terrific explosion was a clattering and crashing as the walker ploughed into the ground. Joe pulled a second grenade off a different soldier. "Use these instead!" he called to the men.

Anné ran up to the first downed walker and went to cover behind its considerable bulk. There, she was surprised to find Lucky hacking bits of alien flesh out of the now-detached lightning gun and trying to get it working. The black marketeer was covered in black ichor and bits of fungoid mess. Anné was about to comment when she noticed another shimmer off to her left. She lifted her pistol and fired that way, yelling "Another one over there!" as she did so. She didn't expect to affect it, but there was a meaty sound of impact rather than a metallic ricochet.

Mighty Sock

With no visible targets, Joe and Lethbridge-Stewart were gazing around trying to identify what Anné had seen when, with no warning at all, one of the soldiers calmly turned his rifle sideways and shot Joe in the arm. Another loosed a shot at Anné, which went wide. The other soldiers opened fire in the direction Anné had indicated. With a furious cry, Joe sprinted along the line and launched a ferocious kick at the man who'd shot him. Despite his lack of boots, his mighty Army sock crunched into the unfortunate man's head, sending him sprawling on the ground, his head lolling on a broken neck. Behind him, other squaddies jumped on the other mind-controlled soldier, bearing him to the ground and disarming him.

Cyril, Lucky and Anné joined them a few moments later, and the whole group waited tensely for the next attack. Nothing happened, and they finally withdrew back to the camp.

Session Date: 12th June 2018