The Coppens Effect, Part 1
Another session of Victoriana.
I awake, and begin my usual morning routine. Servants bring me breakfast, and I glance at the periodicals waiting for me on the table. Two stories catch my eye, one about a gang of ruffians on the south end of London called the flats because of a distinctive tattoo on their hands.
The second happens to be much closer to my line of interest. Professor Adrian Coppens, a well known researcher into magic at Cambridge, has developed a machine that can read the magic energy generated by a magic users. Unfortunately, the machine fills an entire warehouse, and has been locked in his Summerset laboratory developing something new. There's gossip on what the scientist might be researching now, but only hints have been from his associate, Melissa Bosman.
As I sit reading, a servant alerts me that a visitor has arrived. He says that her name is Miss Melissa Bosman. I get dressed and go see what she wants.
Melissa is a skinny woman in her mid twenties, and has black hair kept in a bun. She's tan and wearing a dress.
I ask what brings her here, and she says Professor Coppens went missing three days ago, along with all his missing. He didn't get along well with the local police, due to the police chief being related to the local bishop, and the church not favorable to his research.
He was last seen at his lab. Melissa was there, but was knocked out and doesn't remember anything. She thinks she was knocked out by ether.
I send messengers to have our party grab at my flat. I also send a note to a colleague of mine, a Professor Linneaus. He sends a note back saying he doesn't know Coppens well, but is interested in anything interesting I might come across.
Edwin Ingram prepares to meet up. Freddie tells him that he will take care of tasks while sitting on dynamite.
Dynamite? Edwin is concerned, but Freddie tells him that it is no matter. The Russians are sending it, and Freddie is sending it along to the Brazilians. Oh yes, it's quite on the level, a Lord Brayburn is involved. The name Izaki is also mentioned.
We meet up, and I tell my brother I will be out for a few days.
We leave by train.
We get to Summerset. The cottage is two hours out of town, and very picturesque. We investigate the premises outside. There are several bootprints, probably around five. The lock shows notable marks as if someone had recently picked it.
Inside, the laboratory is ransacked with papers strewn about and some equipment missing. We search the house and find several brownish tufts as fur, some drops of blood, and some slick blond hair, and some foul smell cloth that looks torn. There are some notes remaining, but they're old and from already published papers.
I ask Melissa where she was knocked out, and she says in the hallway between the bedroom and the lab.
Sidney tries to use psychometry on the blood, but doesn't get anything out of it. She then looks around, and finds a daybook, which I examine. Most of the journal is uninteresting, until an entry about a month ago that says "ja TWO". Miss Bosman doesn't know what it might mean when I ask her about it, but she says that was around when she started talking to him much less.
Edwin Ingram and I ask around, and we find that there have been a few new people around. We check the local Inn, which is called The Wild Oak (same as the note).
Edwin goes to the train station, and asks around. Nobody remembers anything for two pennies, but they do for two shillings. Yes, five days ago there was some crates that came through, escorted by a middle aged man with short blond hair and claw marks on his face, and a beastman that looked vaguely foxlike. They were headed to London, and one of the boxes was very heavy, and the other was oddly coffin sized.
The innkeeper's daughter Rachel was holding the Inn about a month ago when the professor was talking to a large muscled blond man. The blond man also talked to Doctor Reed, who owns a very nice house, and is short and portly with a walrus mustache.
We go to visit Doctor Reed, but he is not cooperative to our questioning. We step out briefly, but Father Amorth has a plan.
He casts Vampire's Lust and then goes back and talks to Doctor Reed again. This time, Doctor Reed is all too cooperative.
Doctor Reed met with Jackson Archer (explaining the JA), and provided him with many medical supplies (about 10 pounds worth) that could be used to make one hell of a sedative.
We ask Melissa if she knows a Jackson Archer, but no she's never met anyone by that name.
We're back in London, at the station at Fifth and London Bridge.
As we disembark, Edwin Ingram overhears someone say "I can’t believe he blew up Mr. Izaki's house". He hurries off to his shop.
Sidney talks to some luggage handlers to see if any certain important crates came through. One of the handlers acknowledges that they saw the crates, and in fact a blond haired man yelled at them when they tried to move a coffin sized crate. He directs Sidney towards the docks district which is nearby, so she asks around there. She doesn't get much information, although she does find out about a fox beastman named Charles. Probably not our guy.
I go Professor Linneaus, and update him on events. He gives me access to the laboratory to test the evidence we found.
I test the smelly piece of cloth, and find traces of pine straw, salt, sodium bicarbonite, magnasium sulfate. It seems related to pigeon keeping, with the pine straw being used with nests, and the other components being used to keep the birds parasite free.
I also test the fur, and determine that it's probably not from a beastman native from the area, at least it's definitely not from a Fox, Wolf or Dog beastman.
Edwin Ingram goes back to his shop, and finds out that Freddie sold the dynamite to the Argentinians instead of the Brazilians.
Edwin asks about records, and Freddie gives him a book called "The Adventures of Tim Steel", which talks about adventures to Japan. Edwin flips to the end of the book, and it talks about an explosion, where a cannon exploded at Izaki's house. The listed author is Albert Binsteen, which is apparently Freddie's psuedonym...
Father Amorth looks up the name Archer, but it doesn't turn out to be anyone important.
Sidney, Edwin and Father Amorth go back to the docks. Edwin goes to talk to the Dock Master, asking about a delivery. The dock master knows Edwin by reputation, and is eager to assist. He checks his ledger, but doesn't have any useful information. Perhaps the two boxes are still in a warehouse in the area?
Before Edwin leaves, the dock master also mentions that the flat gang is active in the area. They even killed one of his guards by beating him to death with a belt buckle. He can't pay Edwin anything, but if Edwin can do anything, he'd be grateful.
Sidney asks homeless people in the area, and after being redirected several times, get a description of two people who were seen with Jackson Archer, one who was in his early twenties with neck long blond hair, and mid twenties tall bulky man with brown hair. She also gets directed towards two different warehouses they may have gone to.
Sidney investigates one of them. It's maintained, but dark inside. There are several entrances, including one up some stairs, so she goes up them checks the door. It's locked, so she picks it and enters. The door slams behind her, and she hears singing.
♫ my lady wind my lady wind went around about the house ♫
Sidney starts screaming and the door catches fire, and starts spreading.
Her original entrance blocked off, Sidney runs to the main door, and as she runs past boxes catching fire. Before she can reach the door, a figure appears in front of her.
Father Amorth had been hanging out nearby, and upon hearing Sidney's screams and seeing the door on fire, went to the front door. It's locked, so he shoots the lock off, and shoves the door open.
The figure in front of Father Amorth was familiar. It was how Father Amorth had first met Sidney, and her name was Miss Wicks. Being not just an inquisitor but an inquisitor with necromantic powers made him particularly well suited to putting the undead down. It looked like she was back.
So Father Amorth put her down again (although it took two tries this time).
Sidney didn't feel like visiting the other warehouse.
Freddie tells Edwin he needs to go the Amazon for a month. Edwin isn't so sure that's a good idea, but they agree on two weeks.
The newspaper the next day exclaimed "Flats gang burn down warehouse?".
We visit the other warehouse, the one that Sidney's spirit didn't burn down. The font gate appeared to be barred from the other side, so we went to the back. Sidney picklocks the door, we draw arms, and Edwin walks through.
In the center of the warehouse is a curtained off area. The rest of the warehouse has shelves and heavy boxes. A noise alerts Edwin to the presence of others. Jeff makes some strange finger motions.
Edwin dives under cover as a bullet nearly misses him. Father Amorth and I peer around the doorway.
A shootout erupts, with no one able to make any shots. Father Amorth gives up, and goes out the door around the building, and I sneak through the curtain. Sidney jumps into melee with the young blond haired man and the coyote beastman.
Inside the curtains I see most of Coppen's missing lab equipment, as well as the box that Coppen was apparently carried in, but it's empty now.
I pop out of the curtain to see two men with rifles shoot out me, so I pop back in the curtain to try to emerge in another area.
While I'm doing this, Sidney is shot but stabs her assailant, the young blond haired man, in the ribs. The other rifle man nearby shoots her and she passes out.
Father Amorth melts through the wall to reach the man with a shotgun. He uses his Vampire's Lust spell to mesmerize him, and then sends him to betray his companions.
I pop out of another area of curtain to see the shotgun man and the rifleman again. The rifleman shoots me and I sneak back under the curtain before passing out.
The man with the shotgun (Darby) shoots the rifleman (Hightower). The older blond hair man (Jackson), also wielding a rifle, shoots shotgun guy for his apparently betrayal.
Jackson yells for a truce. He has my unconscious body in his sights, and is willing to talk so long as his also unconscious son is not hurt more than he already has been.
Father Amorth and Jackson talk from cover, and admits that he took Coppen, but he was basically hired muscle and that he has no further interest in this business. He was hired by Jeremy and Marcus Pond, who are brothers who have dabbled in demonology. Why they want Coppen is unknown, but Melissa knows them.
Edwin gathers up the guns (a 1851 colt revolver, a double barreled shotgun, and a henry repeater with 7 shots left), and I am gathered up and Sidney is healed and then we leave.
Sidney asks Melissa about the Ponds, and Melissa admits that she knows Jeremy, although she doesn't know why we are asking about them. Father Amorth tells her that Jeremy has information for us, which isn't a lie. She gives us the address, which is in Essex.
We spend a day healing up, for our trip to Essex. Stay will be 3 shillings...