Our heroes’ adventure begins “in media res”.
Bullets whine and buzz around our heroes’ ears as the gorillas lay down a barrage of suppressing fire. The whine of a belt fed machine gun is clearly audible ahead and to their left, but their opponent’s ammunition is running low and will, thankfully, soon run out. The heroes brace themselves for the inevitable charge and note with some satisfaction that, having caught up with the animals in the clearing, the Gorillas are unable to attack from above.
The clearing is very swampy on the far side where a machine gun nest can be seen. On the right hand near side of the clearing is a mud pool. In the center of the clearing on the left are some tall rocks while on the right a little closer to the far side stands a small grassy hill.
Beyond the clearing is a vine covered, old stone bridge over a deep chasm and towering behind it is a stone citadel, barred and gated, reminiscent of a stepped pyramid; the lost city of Zinj.
A pair of apes in a machine gun nest blast a hail of bullets at the heroes from the far side of the clearing as they enter. Two more apes are sniping at them from a pair of trees on the far left edge of the clearing and a group of chimps are charging into the clearing from the right, armed with wicked looking curved knives.
It has taken the team two weeks of tracking the apes and their prisoners through the dense Congolese jungle to reach this point. The apes are the last of the primate army that engaged in a failed raid on the capital in the middle of December. Most of the army deserted after the initial defeat but a handful remained loyal to their leader, Chakra Khan, and launched a daring raid on the Presidential Palace, kidnapping the President’s wife, teenage daughter, and five year old son. Chakra Khan intends to take the girl as his bride and sacrifice the boy on the altar of the Great Monkey God, Akanak. The president’s wife was left at the edge of the capital with her throat ripped out and a note written in her blood spelling out Khan’s intentions.
The air is still and thick with humidity. The scent of cordite and banana plants fills the nose and the group is suddenly aware of the wet earth from the recent tropical rain that has been oozing into their clothing as they lay prone beneath the hail of bullets.
With a roar from the lead chimp, the last few members of the once mighty primate army come charging through the undergrowth, their once proud uniforms torn, the fur matted, and their lips pulled back in fighting snarls that reveal their razor sharp incisors. As they close the last few meters they brandish curved knives and leap with simian strength and grace into battle.
Penelope immediately heads to the tall rocks for some cover and takes out one of the snipers with her pistol. Michael raises his rifle and puts the ape responsible for feeding the ammunition belt into the machine gun out of commission. This effectively neutralises the machine gun nest. Mercedes runs forward to join Penelope and fries a group of the attacking chimps with her disruptor gun. The rest reach the rocks as John tries to make his way around them to the trees in which the snipers were placed. Unfortunately he is now blocked from doing this. Penelope, in a masterful use of her martial arts, somersaults over and behind the chimps to gain an advantageous attack upon them from the rear, thinning their numbers further, while Michael places carefully aimed shots into the group from the treeline.
The remaining sniper peppers John and Mercedes with flesh wounds but the chimps, now surrounded on three sides, flail about ineffectually with their knives.
Mercedes burns the remaining sniper out of the tree with her disruptor gun while John injures the ape remaining at the machine gun nest. Penelope takes down some more of the chimpanzees and the remaining ape, no longer able to operate the machine gun in the nest, charges across the clearing at them in a frenzy. Michael drops the creature before it can close the distance. Only one chimp remains and cowers on the ground with its hands on its head in apparent surrender.
Mercedes looks beyond the clearing to the bridge and sees a pair of orangutans, the last of Chakra Khan’s chief lieutenants, guarding its entrance. On the other side of the gorge she can just make out Chakra Khan himself, the leader of the primate army, his fur matted from weeks in the jungle without the tender ministrations of his harem, nearly insane with frustration at the way his fortunes have been overturned, begging for aid from the Apes that now line the walls of the stepped citadel that stands barred against him. Gone is the tactician and strategist who very nearly brought the mighty Congolese army to its knees. All that remains is a fighting force of nature paired to the inhuman strength of the great ape. Nearby on the ground lie the trussed up bodies of the kidnapped children.
It does not appear to be going well for the mighty Chakra Khan and Mercy, sensing the opening, sets one of the Orangutans aflame with her disruptor gun and sends it screaming from the bridge into the chasm. She calls a warning to her friends that “reinforcments may be on their way” and turns her attention to the other Orangutan. It, however, has not been idle and launches itself into the clearing, an orange blur, reaching for Mercy’s throat. The creature chokes her, expertly rendering her unconscious.
Distracted by the noise of battle, Penelope looks around to see what is happening to Mercy and is stabbed in the leg by the chimp who previously appeared to be surrendering. Seizing the moment, the small creature leaps away towards the treeline and escape. Realising that time is short, Penelope does not give chase, but instead shoots the Orangutan in the head, preventing it from landing the killing blow it intended for Mercy. John immediately begins the work of reviving his unconscious comrade.
Meanwhile at the citadel, the apes have turned away from the mighty Chakra Kahn. His father, a great silver backed bull ape, turns his back on the wayward son who sought, against the Ape King’s will, to bring the world of men to its knees.
Inflamed with hate, Chakra Khan gallops into the clearing. For all his rage, he still wields his twin swords as expertly as before and roaring at the hated enemy before him he charges alone into combat.
Taking a rifle dropped by the Orangutan who fell screaming from the bridge he climbs onto the nearby hillock and fires into the group. Michael retaliates with his weapon and forces the Gorilla to retreat.
Mercy regains consciousness and, realising that Khan intends to kill the hostages in a last act of revenge, hits him with a blast from her disruptor gun. Smoking and singed, he stands above the children, ready to kill them, when a pair of spears whistle down from the defences of the citadel and transfix him, pinning him to the ground just as Mercy hits him with the final charge in her disruptor gun. The gorilla burns like a pyre howling out the last of his rage and disappointment. As the heroes watch, the monkeys and apes lining the citadel depart back inside. The great silverback ape, his face wet with tears of grief, raises an arm in salute and departs after his people.
So, after a furious battle, the ape who dreamed of ridding Africa of its human oppressors lies dead amongst the last of his compatriots. The children, dirty and fear streaked cling to one another whimpering.
The Princess, (before this a typically haughty and selfish teenager) has been reduced to a filthy, bruised and terrified creature, barely recognisable as the girl she was. Her once rich clothing has been reduced to dirty rags from the weeks of jungle travel and she has spent most of her time trussed up like a wild pig. Witnessing her mother’s murder at the hands of Chakra Khan has left her almost catatonic. The ropes used on her arms and legs have been tied cruelly and she will not be able to walk for some time.
The young Prince is in only marginally better condition than the girl. He is covered in bruises from the, none too gentle, handling of his captors. As an intended victim of sacrifice they did little beyond the minimum necessary to keep him alive until they reached their destination. As such he is extremely malnourished and in desperate need of water. He can speak, but the fear and grief of recent weeks breaks out like a dam bursting and he can only weep for his dead mother. The ropes have been equally cruel to the small boy and he will be unable to walk for some time.
After tending to their own wounds and determining how best to minister to the needs of the two terrified children a noise from the vicinity of a large Banyan tree nearby draws the heroes’ attention and a man they recognise steps out.
Wilson (no other name known) looks like the archetypical FBI agent, dressed in black from head to toe and not even breaking a sweat in the African heat. How he manages to show up at the end of a mission (wherever they happen to be in the world) emerging like a ghost from any particularly dense patch of shadow is a complete mystery. He is the errand boy for “The League of Adventure Seekers” and in particular, its current president, Miriam Ribbensberg.
Affecting an air of complete boredom at the sight of the dead gorillas that communicates volumes about how much he resents having to communicate with mere underlings like the heroes, Wilson sighs, steps forward and says, “you are needed in New York”. He passes an envelope to Dr. Waters, wrinkling his nose and handling it over as if it were a dead rat. It contains some private correspondence and some tickets of passage on the first plane leaving Kinshasa for the Coast and then boat passage back to New York.
As usual, his errand complete, he gives the group members a supercilious glance before stepping back into the shadows and vanishing from sight.
The letter is from Amanda Vartell a dear friend of Dr Waters’ who he had been able to assist in one of his many previous adventures. She is 28 years old, single, prim, proper, bespectacled, and every inch the living embodiment of an acid-tongued head librarian. Given to wearing rough tweed and favoring a rosehip perfume as her only concession to the use of cosmetics, she runs the Special Collections Archive of the New York City Library as her own mini-fiefdom. Smart, no-nonsense, and intolerant of those who are less gifted than herself, she could easily be resented by her colleagues, but a saving sense of humour and underlying generosity of spirit, coupled with her clear ability in the workplace, has won her their respect. She has few friends (but those she has are devoted to her) and she indulges in strange hobbies. When her unusually deep and melodious voice is not issuing peremptory orders in the library, she spends her free time researching a book she is writing on the Occult History of New York. Her manner is abrupt and to the point and she issues commands to those around her like an aristocrat who is accustomed to being obeyed rather than questioned. To those who do not know her well she can appear haughty and arrogant and her strong self-belief leads her to take risks at inappropriate times. She is also extremely impatient. Her most outstanding feature is that one of her eyes is green while the other is light blue.
The letter reads…
It has been too long since we last exchanged letters and I wish that circumstances were not pressing me to write briefly now. I believe I am in danger. For some days my every move has been shadowed.
I may have been a little indiscreet about some of the discoveries I have made while researching my book and someone appears to have taken an unsavoury interest in the results.
The essential focus of that interest appears to be the enclosed page from a book I found during my research in the Special Collection here at the New York City Library.
Please come to New York as soon as you can. I can’t explain it, but I feel sure my life is in danger. If you could present yourselves at my apartment at 10.00 am on February 5 I will do my best to make everything clear.
Your friend, Amanda Vartell”
The letter also contains a handwritten page torn from a book of indeterminate age, some travel tickets, and a booking at the Sheraton Heights boarding house. The book page is covered in odd hieroglyphs.
Safely returning the children to their grief stricken but grateful father in Kinshasa the heroes bid Africa fairwell and turn their attention to New York.
Surviving the adventure: 10 xp
Defeating the chimps: 5 xp
Defeating the lieutenants: 4 xp
Defeating Chakra Khan: 3 xp (partial)
Rescuing the kidnap victims: 5 xp
Use of terrain: 2 bonus xp for Penelope (using the rocks as cover and as a means to vault over the attacking monkeys)
Witnessing the interaction at the citadel: 2 bonus xp for Mercy
GMs bonus point: 1 bonus xp to John Waters’ for reviving a team-mate (Mercy)
Bonus xp: 1 point xp for commenting on this post for Penelope
EXPERIENCE BY CHARACTER
Penelope Goodhart : 30 xp
Mercy Jones: 29 xp
John Waters: 28 xp
Michael Schneider: 27 xp