Unnatural History

Unnatural History
mr mitchell, i presume?

Blackwell has been conducting a thorough exploration and analysis of the voltaic cell with the assistance of Maxwell and the other researchers at the lodge. He has discovered that the cell has an organic component – there is an actual living organism attached to it and it operates as a regulator!

Blackwell concludes that he could use some insight into the organism from an expert in the field of rare and extinct creatures and is reminded of the upcoming fundraiser at the museum of natural history. Creeley agrees that Dr Richard Mitchell, principal in the new palaeontology display, would make an excellent candidate to join the rippers cause.

On Saturday evening, Blackwell, Fannie, and Emerald attend the event and speak with Dr Mitchell. Heinrich, Maxwell, Creeley and other rippers are on their way, but haven’t arrived yet when Mitchell invites Blackwell and Fannie to his office at the end of the entomology hall.

They are mid-conversation and Mitchell seems quite willing to believe, when the building shakes as if struck by an earthquake, and then a wave of black energy sweeps through the museum. The source is within the Kensington cemetery, which the museum overlooks. There is a figure among the headstones in ritual garb with black energy wafting from him like smoke.

Fannie jumps to action. The closest path to the cemetery takes her through the entomology exhibit, where one of the cases has smashed, releasing now-animated and ravenous insects to swarm over her as she runs through the swarm. Blackwell is less willing to face the swarm directly and pulls loose a nearby gas lamp with the intent of lighting it on fire to burn the insects. Emerald is triggered by this unnatural sequence of events and screams as Mancala helps Blackwell quickly retreat to Mitchell’s office. He does not see Emerald’s scream manifest itself in a gout of flame which roasts the insect swarm. Emerald is able to dive back into the office as Mancala quickly closes the thick door before the secondary flames ignite the escaping gas.

Meanwhile, Heinrich has arrived at the event and has also witnessed the tremor and the wave of black energy. He was in the fossils exhibit as the skeleton of the giant t-rex came to life and began crashing about and attacking the attendees. Most of the event-goers have escaped but some are trapped within an anteroom at the far end of the hall as the creature crashes against the doorway to get at them. He is about to take action against the giant skeleton when bug-bitten Fannie runs by, recognizes him and stops briefly to explain the situation. They beeline toward the rear, cemetery-side entrance of the museum.

At the rear door, Alexandrios the cultist is just making his way inside, curious about what has happened within. Heinrich and Fannie challenge him. He looks at them and blinks before turning tail and running away. Heinrich will have none of it, and he throws his harpoon (another story) and catches the cultist through the knee, pinning his leg to the ground. With almost unnatural strength of will, Alexandrios wrenches the harpoon from the cold earth and tries again to escape, but does not account for Heinrich at the other end of the harpoon’s chain, reeling him in. He turns and summons a blast of hellfire that burns away layers of Fannie’s clothing and blisters Heinrich’s skin.

As the hellfire envelops Heinrich, he flashes back to a scene of an explosion many years before; he looks very different – younger and darker skinned – as he is likewise enveloped by flames and concussive force. The scene cuts to a rocky beach on which there are other burned and battered bodies, ostensibly victims of the explosion. Heinrich’s hand is blistered and outstretched, as a tiny hermit crab climbs onto it and begins making its way toward the shoulder.

Heinrich bellows and rushes the sorcerer, takes him to the ground, pummels him to unconsciousness and binds him with the chain. Fannies calls out, “We have to help with the monster inside!” but Heinrich is not interested. She runs back inside and as the door closes behind her there is the sound of a gunshot and shattering glass along the north edge of the museum. It is the window of Dr Mitchell’s office. Blackwell has used his pistol to help effect their escape from the encroaching conflagration. Emerald and Mancala climb out and then assist the crotchety Blackwell.

It is dark inside the museum now, and as Fannie makes her way toward the t-rex, she hears familiar voice. It is her mother. She stops and listens. Her mother tells her that she knows what she must do. Fannie turns and slowly walks toward the exit, reaching down and drawing the knife from the sheath tied around her leg. With cold purpose, she walks up to the sorcerer, kneels at his side, and with a single clean motion, ends his life.

The sounds of crashing and ruckus inside the museum come to an end.

The camera pulls back and then up into birds-eye view:
- Fannie, kneeling at the side of Alexandrios;
- Heinrich, looking about him with narrowed eyes and singed clothes, assessing the scene;
- Blackwell, Emerald, and Mancala making their way toward them from the broken window;
The camera continues to pull up further as the thin fog begins to obscure the scene.
- Smoke can be seen escaping from the west wing where the gas exploded.
- The street in front of the museum is full of anguished and confused people.
- Creeley, Maxwell, and the other rippers exit from a cab that has just arrived.
- There is the jangling of bells calling for the fire brigade.
Finally the camera rises until there is only distant voices, yells and the fire bell.

Please post your denouement/episode closing montage scenes in the comments below!

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors vi
January 29, 1892

He’d offered a sample o’ his blood and to pass along all the information he’d told me in exchange for sittin’ at th’bar while I worked th’afternoon.

Efferam’ll keep a sharp eye on ‘im if need be, but I’ve my doubts that he’ll wander very far away unless them toffs find their way back ’ere.

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors v
January 27, 1892

Walter thinks I’m getting too close.

I probably shouldn’t’ve snapped at he and the Dr. when they’d been discussin’ running tests on Freddie- but he’s so close to volunteerin’

Why force him down and lose a possible ally? I’ll not have ‘im on an operatin’ table.

‘Ve made up me mind to let him out o’these cells and up to the main floor. He’s close to harmless now anyway as far as I can tell.

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors iv
January 26, 1892

He told me today ‘bout a few o’the toffs that’d offered ‘im an ’opportunity’ to finally beat our Loyale. A Thomas Page and someone Anderson.

M’hoping Heinrich managed t’get his ‘ands on em- feedin’ him somethin’ close to poison just t’beat a man black and blue… I’ll never understand what drives a man to that (not that I’d mind our Dr. havin’ a go at them toffs for what they done to my Freddie).

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors iii
January 25, 1892

We spent today with his head on me lap, just talkin’ about nothin’ and e’rything and not thinkin’ about th’fact he were all locked up beneath me bar. I got Walter to give up a pair o’his boots for Freddie. Nice ones with a bit of shine still. He were well pleased.

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors ii
January 24, 1892

I went down to see ‘im again today – had I thought o’ it last night I’d of brought him a blanket down or somethin’ for ’im to rest his head on in that damp cell.

He’d seemed smaller today, less angry, more of that shy boy who used to stumble o’er his words when askin’ me for a bit of gin.

I know the boys upstairs wanna get their hands on ‘im for study but I talked Walter into just lettin’ me ask him some things first off. He still seems so taken with me. It’s hard to not want to just take care o’ ’im.

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From the Journal of Miss Fannie Lindfors i
January 23, 1892

I can’t get it outta me head the way he’d jumped in front o’me when that shot went off. Damn that Dr. for startlin’ him so. And myself as well, a little warnin’ would’ve been well received – I know that Walter thinks I can all but take care of meself but that were a bit of risk with Freddie bein’ so… outta his mind and such.

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Flight to the Speckled Crow
an outsider joins the chase

Heinrich and his allies rush from the river-side entrance in pursuit of the three gentlemen gamblers. As their steps sound off the wooden walk into the cold January afternoon fog, we see an onlooker take special notice: it is Oscar Garrison, late of Wyoming, USA.

“I just think it’s funny seeing three sailors chasing three guys with top hats through the fog. I gotta stick with this…”

Oscar joins the chase. Heinrich notices he is following and challenges him.
“Have you been hired to follow us?” Oscar says he has not, and Heinrich believes him when he says he is following only because of the novelty.

A short time later, Garrison offers to shoot them.
“Things work differently here, Yankee.”
“I can miss if you like.”
“We don’t want to scare the eel back into its hole. I want to see how it swims.”

They follow them to the Speckled Crow public house. After they see the toffs enter, Heinrich fears they will recognize him so he offers money to the American to go in and try to find out more about them.

Garrison accepts, enters the Speckled Crow, and promptly causes a stir unlike any the house has seen in recent history. He orders a drink on their tab, challenges the gentlemen glibly, rudely rikers over the chair, throws his feet upon the table and leans back. He makes demands and punctuates one by sticking a knife in the table.

They are aghast. In something like a panic they offer him silver to go away.

“You don’t want me to take that.”

They send for the police. Garrison loosens his shirt, takes the coins, and promptly vomits all of the table (and them). He then staggers drunkenly out the front doors, much to the relief of the patrons.

Their messenger is intercepted outside the house by Heinrich and his boys, but when they see Garrison exit, they release him and return to the Prospect with him.

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The Grudge Match
introducing Mr Maxwell

It is the day of the big fight between Loyale Candy and Freddy “three fingers” Boyle. Loyale is the house favourite and has handily bested Freddy on four previous occasions. This is a grudge match for Freddy and he is supported by three shady-looking gentlemen from the Speckled Crow.

The scene opens with a bout between two local dockhands, Toney and Hilliard. They frequently resolve their differences in the ring, and always exit as friends again. Today is no different.

Watching the contest is Reginald T Maxwell, returned to England just last year after spending five decades in New York. He is a seasoned gambler and an experienced medical doctor.

Also in the house today are Herr Schechter and Miss Fannie Lindfors.

When the fight begins, Maxwell puts his money on Freddy; he has keenly observed the situation and believes the fight is either fixed, or foregone due to some other circumstance known only to the three toffs.

The crowd is not surprised when Loyale puts Freddy to the floor, decisively. Maxwell knows that, medically speaking, Freddy should not be able to climb back to his feet before the count is done. But at the instant Freddy wipes blood and sand from his face, Fannie spots him actually downing a tincture of liquid… and before the count is up, Freddy appears to transform and springs to his feet with preternatural speed, tearing into Loyale with an animalistic rage.

In mere seconds Loyale is on the ground, but Freddy does not stop. He kicks and beats on his opponent mercilessly. Maxwell reaches for his pistol, grips it, and begins to pull it from his coat, ready to fire at the “monster,” but Heinrich and Fannie are quick to act: Heinrich, who has been conversing with Toney and Hilliard, suddenly spurs them to action with a quick “order” to pull Loyale from harm’s way. Fannie asks Emmet to assist, and he reaches for his chloroform. Fannie herself rushes to the ring; she hopes to persuade Freddy to desist. Maxwell still grips his gun but returns it out of sight. He watches closely.

Heinrich’s allies (and Emmet) succeed in separating the combatants, but it is Fannie’s words to Freddy Three Fingers that have a sudden and unexpected effect: Freddy seems hypnotized by them as he stops raging and stands dumbly, meeting Fannie’s gaze. Toney and Hilliard pull Loyale into a nearby room, out of Freddy’s sight. Maxwell follows, knowing that Loyale will need quick medical care. Fannie continues to calm Freddy, eventually leading him into the cellar, and once there, into a “secure room” with a thick, reinforced oaken door.

Meanwhile, the crowd is animated, telling one another of what they just saw. Heinrich spots the potion bottle in the sand, says a few words in german to no one in particular. What looks like a hermit crab crawls out from under his hat, skitters down his arm, retrieves the bottle, and returns it to Heinrich before it crawls back under his hat. No one else appears to notice.

Then Heinrich spots the three gentlemen making a quick departure out of The Prospect’s river-side exit. Strongly suspecting that they have something to do with the unnatural incident that just unfolded, he once again beckons to Toney and Hilliard, in a state of unquestioning excitement, and enlists them to help him give chase.

to be continued in Flight of the Speckled Crow

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A Serendipitous Confluence
wherein the mystery begins to ravel

From the cold and miserable fog of London in January 1892 step three characters into the warm and welcoming public house known as The Prospect of Whitby. These three are so different in aspect and history that one might reasonably conclude that some greater hand is at work, weaving their paths to intersect for some inscrutable purpose.

First, Dr. Allistair Blackwell, called by his former colleague Dr. Oakby of Cambridge to meet with Mr. Creeley on “some matter of great mutual interest.”

Next, Miss Emerald Glowry seeks answers- and perhaps to find some relief from the unbidden visions of strange and terrible acts of violence wracking her mind and threatening her sanity.

Third, Herr Heinrich Schechter seeks answers of his own, but to what end? He holds his aims close to his chest but it is clear he pursues them with an unwavering course.

Ah, but these three are not the only players in this unfolding tale: young Miss Fannie Lindfors greets all who enter this river-side public house, and does so with an uncommon grace that leaves most patrons spellbound. Few realize how much she sees and fewer suspect the secrets she keeps.

Dr. Blackwell meets with Mr. Walter Creeley and hears his proposal to aid in researching the biology of the strange creatures revealed in the lodge’s laboratory.

Miss Glowry sneaks to the library only to be discovered by Fannie and introduced to Mr. Creeley. She is apprehensive until their kind and reassuring words calm her.

Herr Schechter walks in and vouches for Miss Glowry based on an encounter they had with one another years before.

Mr. Creeley introduces Dr. Blackwell and Herr Schechter. They have some tense words before they are both compelled to investigate the mysterious voltaic cell that they find in the corner of the lab.

As the act closes, Dr. Blackwell addresses those assembled and says, “What exactly, Mr. Creeley, have you gotten us into?”

[put the memorable scenes that you recall from this Act in the comments below!]

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