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Yes, I know I've been horribly remiss in my postings of the Friday night game sessions and all. This will be fixed in the next little while, as I've got several sessions written up that I'm going to add here, but will start with the first session that followed immediately on from "Ghosts in the Machine". You can read the last journal entry at the link.

Here's the session from February 5th...


The Spores of Death

by

John M. Kahane

Episode One


Prologue - May 1st, 2000
In Manderley Gardens, located near the village of Havendale in Devon, a gardener, Hal Daniels, is working away at one of the plots of gorgeous fuschias. There is a shuffling sound in the background, and when he looks around he sees nothing unusual. The gardener continues his work, and a shadow falls over him. Looking up, he sees something horrible and screams. A cloud of pollen seems to hover in the air momentarily after he falls to the ground...

June 4th, 2002 AD
It has been roughly a week and a half since the player characters dealt with with the business at Nordstrom Security, and it has been an eventful week as the characters have received their basic indoctrination into their work as a UNIT Crash Team (Crash Team 5, to be specific).

Gayle Tarrant goes to pay a visit to her mentor, Professor Chronotis. He is somewhat short and abrupt with her, telling her that time is in flux, and that the perturbations signify something happening in the temporal fields. She doesn't really understand his meaning, but leaves with a sense of dread. Lt. Edward Blake, newly promoted and heading up Crash Team 5, is discovering one of the less mentioned joys of Crash Team and team leader duties - paperwork. He decides that the team requires a medical type, and manages to acquire the services of Dr. Hannah Wilerton. On their first meeting, Wilerton and Blake do not get along, but she agrees to give it a go. David Anderson III encounters some resistance from his blueblood family about his assignment to one of the Crash Teams, but his sister, Winifred, says that it will be good for him. Callously, she says that she hopes the danger that he finds himself in as part of his new duties will temper his curiosity. Either that, or he'll be dead, and she'll inherit the family estate when mama and papa finally expire. Thomas Magnuson, the Boer soldier out of time, decides that it is time that he did some research into the outcome of certain events from his own time, and much to his surprise, learns that he has several descendants living in the UK. He is hesitant about seeing them, but desires to do so given that they are his family. Kelasa Vostune is approached by several of the UNIT higher ups, who tell her that they are worried about her. Her aloofness is straining her UNIT relationships, and she seems to have several psychological problems. Kelasa rebutts these claims, and explains that part of this has to do with her amnesia concerning her last moments on the 26th Century space station. She says that she feels she has no real connection to 21st Century Earth, and they can see that she is quite upset about this at the moment.

Edward Blake gets in touch with his Crash Team personnel, and tells them that they have received their first assignment as a CT. There are some strange goings-on down at the Manderley Estates, near a small burgh called Havendale in Devon. Blake introduces the team to their newest "member", Dr. Hannah Wilerton. She is fascinated by both Thomas Magnuson and Kelasa Vostune, but Blake says that this will have to wait. They are to gather their gear and any other items they feel they might need, and prepare for the trip down to Devon. Before leaving UNIT HQ, Kelasa does a bit of computer research about Havendale and Manderley Gardens, and learns a bit about the odd events that occurred there back in 1923.

The members of Crash Team 5 arrive in the small village of Havendale in the middle of the evening, and immediately throw the town into something akin to turmoil. Edward Blake and his UNIT superiors have arranged to commandeer a small house that once belonged to a David Whiler, Whiler having sold the property back in 1979 to the city for reasons that remain unclear, and the UNIT team settles into their new digs for the next while. The player characters go to the local pub, The Cock and Crow, for their evening meal, leaving a small contingent of UNIT men at the house to settle into their bivouac. The pub landlord, Aaron Hales, is pleased to see the Crash Team personnel, as he says that perhaps now the problems plaguing the village" will be dealt with. Hales refuses to say more to them, and the group of characters sit down for their evening meal in peace. One of the pretty barmaids, Maggie (call her "Megs"), takes a shine to Thomas Magnuson, much to the irritation of David Anderson III.

The group of Crash Team 5 members discuss the assignment they are on, and Kelasa tells Edward and the others what she has learned about the village of Havendale, Manderley Gardens, and the happenings of 1923. Edward asks one of the serving girls, Andie, about the village and what happened in 1923, but she says that she knows nought. Gayle tells him the girl is lying, and that she seems afraid. Meanwhile, Thomas notices a group of people at one of the tables, dressed casually but radiating an aura of authority and urbane nature, and learns from Aaron Hales that they are a group of representatives and scientists from a company of some sort interested in botanical aspects. He learns more about the current situation in Havendale from Megs, and some of the strange happenings (6 disappearances in three months, the fact that Jeffrey Manderley has not been seen of or heard from in some time and that his wife, Emily, has taken over the Manderley Gardens business, and other "little" things); Megs says that the villagers are afraid, but much of that stems from losing the tourist business here if it continues to get out of hand.

The woman sitting at the table of urbane business types comes over to the UNIT personnel, and introduces herself as Annabelle Tempest. She asks what the UNIT personnel are doing in the village, and expresses concern over the disappearance of the Havendale people, but says that it is none of her concern. She is a botanist come to Havendale to visit Manderley ZGardens, but refuses to tell Edward Blake what she wants there. When she leaves, Gayle Tarrant says that she doesn't trust the woman...there's something rotten about her, and she's not talking plant decomposition.

The next morning, Edward Blake calls the Crash Team together, and maps out what he plans to have them do. Gayle Tarrant heads out into the village ostensibly to do a bit of shopping for the team, and meets and greets several of the villagers. Several of the villagers express concern over the fate of Jeffrey Manderley, and contend that the problems started when he decided to re-open Manderley Gardens after the "business in '23". The older villagers refuse too tell her what happened back then, citing a superstitious fear and dread. She also learns that someone representing a company called BotOrganics has been making a lot of inquiries in the village the last few weeks or so, and the description of the person she is given seems to match that of Annabelle Tempest. She also learns that one of the most favourite gardeners in the area, a Derek Walsh, hasn't been seen in months. A widower, he was, and presumed to have left to tend to his daughter's gardens and plants in Manchester.

David Anderson III goes to the quaint Havendale Tours offices, where he plans to make inquiries about the tours of Manderley Gardens and the disappearances of several of the tourists. Paul Gaunhey, the owner of the tour company, is not well disposed to the blueblood and dislikes the UNIT people, as they are only a "para-military organization". Despite this, David Anderson learns that the primary business of the tour company is offering tours of Manderley Gardens (*the* flora attraction in southern England), and that several of the disappearances of the tourists occurred in or near Manderley Gardens itself. They refuse to stop the tour service, as it provides their lifeblood during the spring through fall seasons.

Edward Blake informs the new doctor, Hannah Wilerton, that she will start her duties by accompanying him to Manderley Manor. The two take one of the UNIT jeeps, and depart. At Manderley Manor, the butler tells them that they cannot see Mrs. Manderley, as she talks to people through appointment only. Blake insists, and the butler checks with Mrs. Manderley and returns to tell him that she will see him presently. After a 45-minute wait during which time Blake and Hannah Wilerton become better acquainted, they are escorted to the office in he house. Emily Manderley tells them that she has taken on the business of the household, seeing as her husband has seemingly vanished. When he asks about the most recent disappearances, Emily tells him that she has no real concerns on the matter; gardeners are easily replaced, and tourists are...expendable. He is able to learn no more from her, but before they leave Dr. Wilerton notices a strange aroma in the room, sweet yet sour, that she cannot quite identify. The two head back for the UNIT base.

Thomas Magnuson goes down to the pub, and learns that Megs is on her day off. He goes to court and woo her, although he's also going to get her to take him on a recon of the village. Flattered by his attention, Megs heads off with him, taking him on a tour of the village. The two see a good deal of the village, and Thomas is able to learn much of what Gayle had learned. He is also told that the disappearances actually started some two years ago. A gardener by the name of Hal Daniels was the first to disappear. He learns of his employment at Manderley Gardens, and the fact that the older villagers keep hinting that it has something to do with the events of 1923.

Meanwhile, Kelasa Vostune is on a recon of the village, but is also exploring Havendale, as she has become quite enchanted with the place (given her extraterrestrial origins). She talks and speaks with several of the villagers, each of whom directs her to Mad Hal's hovel. Given directions to it, she goes to the northern end of the village and finds the small "shack", abandoned, but when she checks it out, she smells the reek of death and compost, and finds what appears to be organic detritus, almost like a compost heap. Heading behind the shack, she spots a trail and decides to follow it, first radioing Edward Blake with what she has found. Blake tells her to be cautious. As Kelasa follows the trail, she gets the feeling that she is being followed. Emerging at the edge of a small clearing near a stream, Kelasa is horrified to see a group of menacing, dirty looking haggard villagers approaching her, armed with hoes, axes, and small knives. They charge towards her...

TO BE CONTINUED



Needless to say, the players had an absolute blast playing the game, finding the new scenario to be intriguing as all heck. They decided afterwards that they wanted to watch some Doctor Who, so I showed them the first two episodes of Tom Baker's debut story, Robot. The group had a lot of fun watching that, commenting on some of Tom Baker's outlandish outfits that he tried on in the first episode, finally settling on the famous outfit with the scarf and hat.

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John Kahane

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