The Spores of Death
John M. Kahane
Seeing the shambling half-human, half-Dionae (drones) coming towards them, Edward Blake orders his people to shoot them down, as they can't allow them to harm any of the people outside. Weapons blazing, the Crash Team members bring the creatures down in a hail of gunfire (1). In the aftermath of the attack, Blake tells the stunned and horrified Hannah Wilerton that this is part of life in UNIT, and she'd better get used to it. They also notice that the two young women have disappeared.
Elsewhere, Kelasa Vostune turns at the sound of crunching leaves and detritus, and finds that a woman with the BotOrganics logo is standing behind her. She recognizes the woman from their meeting the first night at the village pub, and the woman tells her that she is Annabelle Tempest. She demands to know from Kelasa what she's found, and Kelasa doesn't see the small handgun that Tempest has behind her back. Kelasa shows her the two decomposing bodies, and Tempest feigns disgust, and says that perhaps she had better escort Kelasa back to the village, as she looks a bit ill. Kelasa protests, but Tempest decides to deal with matters here and now, and knocks Kelasa out with the gun. (2)
At the mill, Blake and Dr. Wilerton approach the bodies with a modicum of caution, and Wilerton is somewhat baffled at the transformation; she tells Blake that she specializes in *human* medicine, not botany, but he tells her that she's to determine whatever she can about the bodies. He goes over to Anderson to talk to him, and learns from Anderson and the two young women, Sandra and Edina, that the two obscene humanoid attackers are the miller and his wife! Sandra says that the miller also has a son, Edwin, but there is no sign of him. Edward Blake orders Thomas Magnuson and Gayle Tarrant to see if they can find the boy in the mill, but that they are to take no changes. The two head out.
Kelasa wakes to find that she is tied hand and foot to a small table in the "abandoned" hut that she had explored previously. Annabelle Tempest is present with one of her men, and she apologises for Kelasa's current circumstances, but she has to be absolutely sure that Kelasa and the other UNIT personnel do not represent a threat to the BotOrganics operation in Havendale. When asked, Annabelle explains to Kelasa that she and her agents are in Havendale to purchase the Manderley Gardens business from the Manderleys, as there is something in the gardens that they want, some "cultivated experiment" that BotOrganics very badly desires. Kelasa says that the UNIT people are there to find out the cause behind the disappearances of tourists and villagers alike, and they represent no threat to the BotOrganics operation. However, if she doesn't release her, Kelasa vows that the UNIT Crash Team will make it their business to find out what's going on. Tempest laughs, and says that even Kelasa must realize that she can't let her go now.
Gayle and Thomas go in search of the miller's son, but find no sign of him in the mill. Exiting the mill and following along the stream, they come across some odd foot prints. Thomas cannot identify the prints, but he tells Gayle that he doesn't think they are human. The two attempt to follow the prints some ways, despite Gayle's protests, but the two lose the trail about half a mile further on, although the trail appeared to be heading west, towards the Manderley Estate (and the Gardens). The two decide to return quickly to the mill and report what they have found.
Back at the mill, Blake and the others await the return of Gayle and Thomas. Blake is accosted by Fred Hawkins, the sheriff of Havendale, who demands to know what's going on, as he's got worried citizens who've just heard the sounds of gunfire coming from the mill. Blake tells Hawkins and his two deputies what occurred, and shows them the two bodies. Hawkins sees the two young women, Sandra and Edina, and is quite surprised to see them. He tells them they need to go home, and Blake and the others learn that these are the Manderley girls. Wilerton completes her assessment of the two bodies just as Blake is coming over, and tells him that they need to get the bodies back to the mobile UNIT lab. There's real trouble afoot. Blake radios Gayle and Thomas, and tells them to call off the search, and report back to the UNIT field HQ. They acknowledge this.
Back at the mill, Blake and the others await the return of Gayle and Thomas. Blake is accosted by Fred Hawkins, the sheriff of Havendale, who demands to know what's going on, as he's got worried citizens who've just heard the sounds of gunfire coming from the mill. Blake tells Hawkins and his two deputies what occurred, and shows them the two bodies. Wilerton completes her assessment of the two bodies just as Blake is coming over, and tells him that they need to get the bodies back to the mobile UNIT lab. There's real trouble afoot. Blake radios Gayle and Thomas, and tells them to call off the search, and report back to the UNIT field HQ. They acknowledge this.
Meanwhile, Annabelle Tempest has decided to take Kelasa Vostune back to the BO greenhouse. Under armed supervision from the agent accompanying her, Tempest leads Kelasa to the greenhouse. When Kelasa asks her about the shape that was moving about inside earlier, Tempest dismisses it as one of the plant projects, but Kelasa isn't convinced. As they enter past the security guards, Kelasa attempts to commit to memory all of the keycodes she sees Tempest entering. (3) Entering the vast greenhouse, Kelasa sees that they are growing a lot fo plants that seem...odd. Tempest says that this is correct, though she hadn't taken Kelasa for a botanist. Kelasa says she's not, but even she recognises when plants are "wrong". Tempest escorts her to the offices and small laboratory inside the greenhouse complex, and introduces her to one of her co-conspirators, Eric Talman. They take Kelasa and chain her to a large post, where she can observe some of them work. Tempest assigns one of the agents to keep an eye on her.
Back at the UNIT field HQ, Blake, Gayle, and David find that Kelasa has not returned to the house, and are concerned. Blake dispatches David and Gayle, along with a pair of UNIT troopers, to go and find her. They start off into town, and learn the general direction in which she went. Arriving at what they presume is Mad Hal's hovel, they find Kelasa's walkie-talkie and her gun, discarded. There are no real signs of a struggle, but David radios back to Blake what they have found to this point. He tells them to do a bit of recon, and then to report back. David and Gayle head out into the surrounding countryside, and eventually follow several trails and come upon the BotOrganics greenhouse complex. They quickly head back for Mad Hal's hovel, in order to report back to Blake at the temporary UNIT HQ.
Blake puts together a group of four soldiers, led by himself and Thomas Magnuson, and they set out for the area near Mad Hal's hovel. The group arrive at the "abandoned" hut to find that Gayle and David just returning from their recon. They describe the layout of the greenhouse area, and the fact that it has guards. Blake decides that the BO greenhouse people can't be as well armed as the UNIT personnel, and the group heads for the BotOrganics greenhouse, David and Gayle leading the way. Blake intends to recover Kelasa at all costs.
At the BO greenhouse, Kelasa talks with Eric Talman, and learns that while Annabelle Tempest isn't evil or anything like that, "it's just a business deal", he does feel that there's something else going on in the area of Havendale and the Manderley Gardens. Kelasa tells him that UNIT is trying to help the villagers find out what is going on and who or what is responsible for the disappearances, and then is able to convince him to release her. (4) Eric does so, stating that Tempest will have his head for this, but that he has to do what's right. Kelasa starts to make her way towards the building's main exit, but Eric tells her that it's safer if he takes her out through one of the greenhouse entrances. No guards that way.
Blake, Thomas, Gayle, and David arrive at the BotOrganics greenhouse, and are met by several guards. He tells them that he's there to see Annabelle Tempest, and that he wants her to release Kelasa Vostune, or he's coming in to get her. Tempest tells him that they don't have Kelasa there, but Blake says he knows that she's lying. They appear to reach an impasse, but Tempest points out that the BO greenhouse is a corporate owned facility and that he will need to get a warrant to come in and search. Blake says that he will do just that.
Kelasa makes her way through the BO greenhouse, led by Eric Talman. The area is relatively bright, and Talman comments that there is something strange about the facility, as it seems...messy...somehow, as if someone has disrupted the greenhouse in some fashion. The two arrive at one of the maintenance doors to the greenhouse none too soon. However, as Talman leads her the last fifty feet or so, a hideous plant-like creature shambles out of the nearby growth, and menaces the two of them, its Venus flytrap like protrusions snapping hungrily open and shut and open and shut...
TO BE CONTINUED
(1) And a few Story Points spent here and there.
(2) I had Tempest spend a couple of Story Points to manipulate the scene here, but it wasn't enough. Joanne, playing Kelasa decided she like the idea of this, and contributed another Story Point to make the deed happen.
(3) She actually spent a Story Point here and there, three times, to get the codes committed to memory.
(4) Kelasa used her Presence of 3 and Convince of 2, with a bonus of +2 for the Attractive Trait, and threw in a couple of Story Points for good measure. I didn't want her to get free, but I thought it was a good ploy on her part, and the roleplaying element clinched it for me. So I let it stand.
The gaming group had a terrific time, although the gamers felt pretty worn out because of the bug going around. Doesn't stop them from gaming unless it's really serious, but it did stop them from watching any episodes of Doctor Who after we finished that night. Anyway, on to the GM Notes.