Rats and Labs

Playlist: Round and Round - Ratt

Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 5th 1941 15:18

South Corridor. Ignore people tokens at this point, they are "end of session" positions!
Keeper Note: Once again, I fear I didn't keep proper notes this game. At the table, if the players see the GM start to scribble, they know why he's gone quiet but on an audio call, silence means "maybe the link's gone pop again". Hence the logs are as close to accurate as I can make them without a reference.

8 After checking for injuries and reloading, the team dragged crates in front of each of the other doors in the corridor and considered the roller doors to the south. With the power out, the mechanisms were not going to operate, so Francoise, Joe and Cyril got hold of it and heaved. The roller door folded slowly upwards, amid a deafening rattling and squalling of tortured, frozen metal.

Their torches illuminated a similar passage to the one they were in, with a smaller heap of similar crates in the centre. There was some nervous glancing at these, but the heap was too small to conceal another zombie, and the team moved further in.

Three exits led off, marked "Officers", "Laboratory", and "South Annexe".

Officer Country and the Power Room

10 Blocking the south and west doors, they moved eastwards, opening the door marked Officers' Wardroom. Several plain desks were set against the walls, with papers scattered across them. Among them was a roster, for 12 soldiers and 4 officers. All were listed as Wehrmacht assigned to the base except the commander, Major Otto Martin, who was shown as Black Sun.

11 North of the wardroom were Major Martin’s luxurious quarters. A large double bed, cabinet, desk and private bathroom comprised the facilities. A very large number of bullet pocks almost obliterated the Black Sun flag above the bed and it and the bed were soaked in blood.

At the back of the cabinet was a petty cash box with an eyewatering number of Reichmarks and a more reasonable number of Rubles. The German money wasn't worth very much, around £50. It also contained a ring of keys, which Joe appropriated.

Anné and Birapeer headed westwards to explore the Laboratory, while the others headed east.

15 The door marked Officers' Mess opened into a room with a long dining table - able to hold more than the five places set on it - and some comfortable tables and settles. A gramophone horn gaped like some sinister, frozen maw at the far end. The north exit led to the Officers' Quarters and Joe and Francoise opened this to take a look as Marcus, perhaps remembering the gravy, examined the big table.

Zombie Rat

As the door opened, a hurrying rustle was clearly heard. Strongly resembling the noises in the Medical Stores, there were differences; it was louder, sounding like more creatures, and less defined somehow, as if the things moving were less coherent in their steps. Then a wave of dark, furry, bloodstained bodies erupted from behind the beds and washed towards the door - rats - but rats clearly bearing the same signs of preternatural rot and death as the corpse of Poliakov. Zombie rats!

Joe unloosed a burst of Bren fire, but there were so many squirming bodies that bullets were virtually a waste of time. He and Francoise backed frantically away, swiping with weapon butts, and each strike reduced a rat to a smear of partially-frozen blood and rotten entrails, but for each killed there seemed to be two more. Both picked up painful bites from the foul things. Marcus, steam weapon in hand, stood powerless by the table, unable to use if for fear of catching the other two in the blast.

Francoise stumbled, tried to retain her footing, failed and managed only to body-slam a rat into rotten ketchup as her not inconsiderable weight landed on it. Cyril and Jimmy crashed into the room, the latter hefting a chair he'd grabbed on the way through the wardroom, and stared at the scene. Jimmy hurled his chair but it crashed against the far wall to no effect. He picked up a rather elegant side table, holding the carafe and glasses to it with his other hand.

Francoise rolled free and Cyril unloaded both barrels of his shotgun into the mass. This made a significant difference; over half the remaining rats were smeared across the floor. He backed off again, hastily cramming two more shells into the breech. Jimmy rammed his table home, the breaking glass seeming to irritate the rats. On the other side, Joe was able to see individuals better and was mopping up the last rats as they gnawed at his boots; one got past him, however, and ran down the length of the table, scattering plates and glassware as it bore down on the horrified Marcus - unable to use his steam gun as Joe was in the cone. It was inches from his face when Francoise' rifle butt crushed it to pulp.

Joe, bitten in many places, stopped to apply some first aid to his wounds as the others, shaken, took a breath.

13 Moving back through the wardroom, the team entered the door marked as "Power Room". The outer area contained two large and very modern Krupp electric heating boilers. The inner room held two large diesel-powered electrical generators, designed for redundancy. Francoise swiftly worked out the controls, discovering that they were a promary-secondary setup. Generator Ein was selected, but was never going to work again due to the effects of a pair of jackbooted legs protruding from the works. Apparently, a zombified German soldier had somehow got into the machinery and, in being mashed to pulp from the waist up, managed to damage the generator terminally. This accounted for the power being down. Switching the selector to Zwei, she ran through the startup process and the diesel coughed into life. The lights flickered spastically and then (mostly) came on.

Dragging the zombie legs with them, the team returned to the wardroom, noticing as they passed them that the boilers were already feeling warmer.

The Laboratory

9 Meanwhile, Birapeeer and Anné had been investigating the Laboratory. Above and beyond the atompshere of the base overall - still creepy and disturbing despite the restoration of lighting - this room had a cold, dark, evil feel to it. When the others reached it, all those who had ever cast the Voorish Sign felt an extreme sense of mental oppression - and when Joe actually did cast it, the psychic shock nearly took him to his knees. Something truly horrible had happened here.

The description here summarizes everyone's discoveries in this area

On the lab bench was a human corpse, damaged and decayed in a very similar way to Poliakov’s ‘corpse’ but far less lively. It had been systematically dissected, but closer examination discerned that the blood stains on the table were smeared in a way that indicated that the person, corpse, body, whatever, was alive – or at least moving – at the time it was carved open. It was wearing the remains of a Soviet soldier’s undershirt and trousers.

This sight was too much for Jimmy, and he lapsed into a worrying, uncommunicative quiet with occasional twitches.

The cabinets and crates contained biological and surgical lab equipment, jars, pots, tins and boxes of very strange components.

A small fridge sat next to the door – no colder than the room, now, of course – and inside wa a severed human head. When Joe looked in, he could not shake the conviction that it was staring at him. It was not, however, anyone he recognized.

The cabinet on the west wall and the tables to the east bore an assortment of notes and notebooks. Anné and Marcus spent some time looking them over; they seemed to describe details of “procedures” on “subjects”  leading to “deployment” or “disposal”. They were clinical in the extreme which was horrifying given that these "subjects" appeared to have been human. Even more alarming were items of correspondence that referred to “Station A”, “Station B” and “Station C”, and suggested that the reader was standing in “Station D”.  There was also a book, also in German, which appeared to have several  sequences that were probably spells in it; Anné took this .  

Only being shaken by the close call with the rats can excuse a fumble of this magnitude!

Next to a rack of shelves at the north end was a broken jar, clearly dropped on the floor, with a frozen pool of green liquid that had spilled from it. Birapeer, Anné and Joe all demurred at approaching it. Marcus, flexing his new forensic skills, bent to study it more closely, but concluded that it was peppermint cordial...

Joe opened the crate at the south-east corner to discover a strange-looking weapon with an attached backpack tank, not a great deal dissimilar to the Blevins at a casual glance, though apparently lacking a steam generator. There were racks for three examples, but only one was present. His brow furrowed; he'd seen something like this before...

Memories of his Old Man's garden surfaced. He realized that it was actually a modified version of a weedkiller sprayer; but that didn’t explain the stencilled skull-and-crossbones and “extrem gefährlich” on both items. Musing, he closed the box.

In the middle of the north end of the room stood a strange pentagonal table, made of a pale and unfamiliar metal and with five intricate golden objects mounted on top. A casual glance was enough to deduce that something should have been sitting in the space between them, something that was gone. Birapeer heaved it over to smash on the floor as soon as he discovered it; cables and connections underneath ripped and shattered into a broken mess.

A duplicate of the peculiar gadget in the Radio Room stood by the western wall, next to a telephone.  

At this point, Birapeer decided to check out the upper level, while the rest went to explore the south of the current level.

Upper Level, Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 5th 1941 16:09

Sergeant Olga Kuryakina

Birapeer carefully passed through the open door to the spiral stairs and started up, tulwar in hand and making no unnecessary noise. The stairs wound up, and as he climbed he realized he could hear similarly stealthy footfalls coming down. Slowing a little, he prepared himself, even as he realized that the steps he was hearing were regular, unlike what he'd expect from a zombie. As they neared, what came around the corner was not what he was expecting at all. It was the tip of a broadhead hunting arrow...

A face followed it and he found himself looking at a young woman, dressed in a mixture of a Soviet uniform, fresh and uncured furs and outdoor survival gear. She carried a recurved horsebow and wore a quiver of arrows.

The pair blinked at each other for a moment, before the woman asked a question in swift Russian. Birapeer continued to look at her, and she repeated herself in fair English; "Who are you, then?". Birapeer responded with his full name in Punjabi, and it was her turn to look blank before he continued in English and identified himself.

The name Olga Kuryakina was vaguely familiar from the roster of Soviet personnel with which the team had been provided during their briefing; she was the second squad sergeant. Cold and malnourished, she headed down into the base to get warm and look for something to eat, while Birapeer headed on up to explore the upper level.

Upper Level 21

21 At the top of the stairs, he found a long room containing the equipment for outdoor forays. A motorized skidoo sat by one wall, and drums of fuel for it were standing against the far walls. The crates contained cold-weather clothing, boots, and so on, some of it missing. One was marked ”Lebensmittelpakete”; ration packs – but was empty. Skis and ski poles lay against one wall, snowshoes at another. 

The door at the far end was a weather door, like the one to the dock, and was marked simply “Aus”.  It was locked like the other, and too thick to hear anything through. A hook next to it should have held a key, but it was missing. Probably with the Sergeant, thought Birapeer.

Lower Level, Black Sun Base, Intsy, Arkhangelsk Oblast, Northern USSR, December 5th 1941 16:09

14 The roll-door to the South Annexe proved far easier to open with the power on, a matter of pressing a button.

Containment Cells.
No, nobody's been in 17 yet, but with Olga showing up they don't have to go look to find out what it is...

With immense caution, the team approached the western door, marked "Containment Cells". Justly wary of what might need containing in a place like this, they entered with enormous care.

As the door opened, they recoilled slightly as a hideous stink of blood urine, and feces washed out. Glancing through, they saw the expected prison structure. The cells were enclosed by floor-to ceiling steel bars, and were utterly filthy as well as being covered in bloodstains. Everything was still frozen but the stench remained.

A faint sound of movement was perceptible from the far side, and after a few moments a faint sound of oddly obstructed breathing, moaning and crying. Francoise, fairly sure that zombies didn't make noises like that, crept down the gangway between the filthy cells towards the south-western corner whence the sounds seemed to come.

Finally reaching the last cell, she peered in. At the back was huddled a filthy figure in a scientist’s lab coat and – of all things – a gas mask. He was surrounded by a litter of blankets, empty tins with German labels, a battered tin opener and fork, and several empty water canteens. There’s no key in evidence, though there was a hook for it near the door.

Igor Kurchatov

Marcus was very unsure as to whether he should be released, suggesting that he might be dangerously unhinged. With the number of armed people around, however, this seemed a small consideration against the discovery of a survivor.

Joined by the others, she tried to coax him out, and initially he was utterly unresponsive. Eventually, after a while - and after Francoise had the bright idea of offering him food - he fumbled the key out of his pocket and emerged. Like the zombie, he wore a Soviet name badge, this one declaring him to be Igor Kurchatov, the Soviet Biologist.

Supporting him carefully, they helped the scientist out of the cells and into the corridor, heading for the kitchens with the intention of pouring some hot coffee into him.

As they passed through the roll doors into the north corridor, however, they were a little startled to meet a woman with a bow coming the other way....

Session Date: 19th May 2020 - in CyberSpace!