The Intrepids

From the casefiles of the Intrepids! The Case of the Silver Jaguar - Chap 1
The Silver Jaguar... Caper???

August 13th, 1934….New York City
Silver jaguar.jpg
Jack Incognito gets a collect phone call (to a “John Walker”) from a “cousin Tully” in Hoboken, suggesting he has committed a rather impressive crime.  He doesn’t remember doing anything, but before he can find out more info the caller has to run.  Jack then receives a telegram (addressed to “Jack Martin”) which distresses him.  He hustles to the newsstand to find out what he’s supposed to have done.  After dealing with a child’s pulp magazine needs, Ernie the news vendor gives him a copy of the Herald and he reads the article as he walks to his usual haunt: Maury’s Coffee Shop.

En route he is startled by Alex Petrenko, who taps him on the shoulder and teases him about being predictable.  She references the Herald article.  “Do I even have to ask if you did it?”  They continue to the coffee shop and sit down to talk about the implications of the article.  Apparently, the word around town is that he has managed a forgery of an artifact called the “Silver Jaguar,” and everyone is duly impressed. 

Meanwhile, in her penthouse headquarters at the Ritz-Carlton, Molly Mercury receives a phone call from Cortlandt Field Bishop, curator of the American Art Association-Anderson Galleries which will be arranging the auction of the “Silver Jaguar.”  In order to proceed, they’re requesting assistance with the authentication of the object.   She agrees to go to the gallery later that day to assist.  Before going, she decides to do some quick research on the Jaguar in order to orient herself.  She finds that :

“In 1715, five vessels, collectively known as the Flota de Nova Espana, were en route from South America to Spain laden with treasures of the New World.  On July 31, a hurricane struck the doomed fleet as it passed through the Caribbean, smashing the ships like wooden toys and sending millions of dollars worth of treasure to the bottom of the sea.   Some say that one vessel, the French merchant ship, Griffon, survived the storm.  Her captain, Antoine Dar, had been given permission to sail with the Spanish flotilla, and his ship had been loaded with hundreds of chests bursting with gold and silver coins.  Legends say that the centerpiece of this treasure was a statue of South American origin – specifically one of a silver jaguar, encrusted with gems, worshiped by the local tribes as a god.”


At this point, the remainder of The Intrepids arrive for breakfast and conversation.  The Silver Jaguar naturally tops the list of “interesting things that have happened this morning.”   Noting the coincidence of their respective morning phone calls, Jack asks if he can be a part of the authentication.  Molly agrees, though she wonders whether free access to a famous art gallery would be something of a temptation.  Jack is not amused at her continued lack of complete trust.  It’s agreed that the entire group should go.  After making a brief phone call, Jack announces that he’ll meet the rest at the auction house since he has to “see a guy about a thing.”

At the auction house, the receptionist indicates that Ms. Lorenz will be out shortly to take care of them.  Suddenly, Alex hears a familiar but unwelcome voice.  It’s Freddie Bisco of the Pinkerton Agency.  “We’ve already got this one,” he intones.  Another agent, Ron Livermore, stands behind him, being meaningfully silent and hulking.  Alex, remarkably, chooses to check her temper and not rise to Bisco’s professional baiting.  Before Bisco can say anything else, the group is escorted into the room with the artifact.

Once inside, they discover that they’re not the only ones there.  Besides the handful of security guards, two men are sitting in one corner of the room.  The older and rougher of the two is the source of the find: Pierre Leschende, a fisherman by trade.  He’s accompanied by Ethan Rosenwald, an attorney. 

The statue is presented, still in its “original” state.  Rex Tesla receives permission to take a small sample in order to run some scientific tests as part of the authentication process. 

Meanwhile, Clara Cross goes to talk with Leschende about the details of his find.  With Rosenwald acting as translator (the fisherman speaks only French), Clara picks up the basics of the story: Pierre was out fishing and while reeling in the net, found what he thought was a hunk of scrap metal  until one of the jewels in the eyes came loose and caught his attention.   The importance of the find appears to be lost on the fisherman, who had to be convinced to make the trip himself and who is currently concerned about losing so much time on his boat.  He hopes at the end of this, as the attorney says: “Mr. Leschende is looking forward to buying a new boat.”  Over the course of the conversation, Clara has become convinced that Rosenwald has obviously just been picked out of a phonebook by someone in the village and is essentially out for a buck.  This doesn’t sit well with her ‘fight-for-the-underdog’ spirit.

Back at the statue, after inquiring about the details of the current security system, Alex decides to touch the statue to get a psychic reading.  In a flash, she sees the statue in what is presumably its nighttime holding area, guarded by Bisco and his partner.  As she watches, both are killed by an unseen person “throwing unusual blades”. 220px kunai05 As the blood pools, the statue is snatched by a black-gloved hand.   Alex is thrust back into the present, just in time to hear a voice behind her ask about carrying a knife.  In her confusion, it takes her a moment to realize that it is Jack, disguised as a guard.  

Jack takes a closer look at the statue, and quickly indicates to Alex that she needs to distract Ms. Lorenz while he attempts to snatch her keys for later use.  Alex pulls Ms. Lorenz into conversation, suggesting the possibility of putting the statue in a safe instead of in a guarded room.  Ms. Lorenz shows the group the safe, which (much to Alex’s dismay) turns out to be the setting of the vision.  

They leave the premises with:

  • photos of the statue for Molly,
  • the scrapings of the statue for Rex,
  • the keys for Jack (who leaves at a different time),
  • a sense of righteous ire for Clara,
  • a dilemma for Alex.

As they depart, Alex notices two local fists-for-hire (Vincenzo Feretti and an unnamed associate) standing “innocently” across the street, smoking.  Alex recognizes at least one of them, but chooses not to approach them at the moment.  Later, when Jack finally leaves, he sees the same two toughs.  He waits long enough to overhear them talking about instructions from an unnamed “she” regarding an impending bit of violent criminal activity.  Vinnie clearly says, “It’s like she says, ‘No one ever died for wanting too much’ ya know?”  Jack decides to stay and interact with them before eventually going on to meet back up with Alex.

As the episode concludes…

…Rex heads back to his lab to perform scientific tests on the statue fragments

…Clara heads back to the Century Club to check into alternate legal representation for the fisherman

… Jack (eventually) heads back to the Century Club to check for a message from Tully and possibly to contact Abe

…Molly heads back to her library to research

…and Alex wanders off to wait for Jack and ponder her vision

Tune in next time for Chapter Two!

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The Case of the Silver Jaguar - Chap 2
Walking, talking and eating hot dogs...

Jack sends a street kid to the Century Club with a message for Alex – please come back to the American Art Association-Anderson Galleries.

Alvin the doorman at the Century Club tells Alex there are two messages: her office called to say there’s a client that will only speak to her, and a young lad dropped off a message from Jack who would like you to return to the gallery. Alex goes into the club and calls her office, where her secretary says a foreign gentleman called and wants to talk to her and will return later that afternoon. Alex tells her she’ll be back at some point, and heads back to the gallery.

Clara talks to Felix Erickson, the Century Club Counsel, and explains Monsieur Leschende’s situation, and that she feels he needs another attorney who won’t exploit his naivete. Erickson takes notes and goes off to make some calls. Mr. Erickson returns soon with the name of Jane M. Bolin. Clara calls to set up an appointment. When they meet in Bolin’s office on the edge of Harlem, Clara explains the situation, and Bolin agrees to meet with Leschende.

When Alex arrives back at the gallery, Jack points out the thugs, then he leaves to call Abe and asks why he thinks Jack was involved. Abe carefully explains that he heard that Jack had faked the whole thing. When Jack presses him he refuses to discuss details over the phone, but makes it clear that he assumed Jack was involved.

As Jack returns, Alex reports that the thugs have eaten a hot dog, and they split up soon after. Alex tails one of the men into the subway; he travels many stops and upon resurfacing, into the Happy Sunshine Bread Company warehouse. Alex climbs to the roof and watches through a skylight. The man she was following is meeting with several others. The men discuss the theft that night and pass out guns. Alex leaves the roof, though while climbing down the ladder she breaks a heel, nearly falling! She takes the subway back to the car, and then heads to her office.

When Alex arrives Frannie tells her there is a ‘Senor Rojas’ waiting in her office (where he has been for almost an hour). Alex takes off her shoes and walks into her office. She sees a fastidious gentleman with a walking stick, gloves, and his cigarette in a holder. After making a quip about her tardiness, he explains that he is planning to bid on the Jaguar and wants her help to make sure it does come up for auction, and doesn’t get stolen before that can happen. While he is aware the Pinkertons have been retained by the Auction House, he says he does not trust them, “They are all brawn, no brains, no subtlety. They are therefore susceptible to surprise, cunning, and clever plans. I want someone with style… someone who can get inside the minds of those who would steal it away before I can bid on it. I believe you are the person I need, Senorita.”

Alex happily agrees, and asks where he heard that the object was in danger. Rojas makes some vague remarks about hearing things in his circle, amongst “collectors.”

Meanwhile, while Vinnie is eating a hot dog, Jack sneaks up and says “Do you know what they put in those things?” Vinnie drops his hot dog as he jumps in surprise. Jack continues, “So, you must have heard I’m looking to hire some guys.”

Jack fakes him out and convinces him that Jack hired the team to steal the jaguar. They talk and Vinnie says the woman who hired him is Mrs. Mustast (sounds like Vinnie is saying “mustache.”) Finally Vinnie, thoroughly confused, gives up and wanders off.

While he waits for Alex to come back, Jack calls Molly to ask if she knew what the name sounded like to her. She says it sounds Slavic, but would need to check.

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The Case of the Silver Jaguar - Chapter 3
Night of the Renzhe!

The Intrepids planned to meet for dinner at the Century Club. Jack, Alex and Clara all arrive and find a note from Molly explaining that she needs to check on something and will miss dinner. Rex arrives late and explains the gems in the silver jaguar are discolored by a combination of reef squid and sea minerals that are found near St. Lucia. The group discusses a plan for the evening before splitting up.

Jack plans to find Vinnie, disable him, and take his clothes and gun, then head to the meeting as Vinnie. The rest of the team will use the keys Jack “borrowed” earlier to sneak into the auction house and hide.

Things go according to plan. Alex, Clara, and Rex go in and hide behind a display of large African masks at the top of the stairwell that leads to the vault. As they settle in Jack (as Vinnie) arrives with his gang (six in number). One stays with the cars, while the rest walk up to the back door. A security guard opens the door and lets them in (after an envelope is passed to him). As they cross to the stairs Jack hears a noise and orders one of the thieves to follow him into the main atrium, where they see a hole in one of the skylights. He returns to his gang and they continue towards the vault.

Alex watches the thieves pass by, and then realizes there are only three gangsters in the group now, plus a new statue against the far wall. Clara notices two men dressed all in black, but wearing brightly-colored Chinese opera masks — Renzhe!* Mask1

Clara, Alex, and Rex wait for Jack’s thieves to pass by and then step out to follow them, Alex taking a spear from the exhibit she was hiding behind. At the top of the stairs Clara stumbles over a body of one of the thieves. As they carefully walk down the stairs they see a masked man about to attack one of the thieves, so Clara yells “Look out” and shoots.

Alex runs at the renzhe and hits him with her spear, but the renzhe is able to grab the spear and knock her into Jack, who turns, pulls his knife and stabs at the man.

The renzhe all turn and toss throwing knives at Alex, hitting her.

Clara shoots again, but misses in the dark.

Jack leaps forward, using the darkness to cover his actions and cuts several of the renzhe.

One renzhe runs forward and cuts Clara.

Rex steps forward and hits that same renzhe.

Alex stabs with her spear.

Clara shoots the renzhe that stabbed her.

Jack uses ventriloquism to distract the renzhe as he attacks them, then uses the darkness to vanish again.

The renzhe break into two groups, with one group running forward to attack the Pinkertons and stab Freddie, and the other group remaining to fight the team.

Clara shoots a renzhe as Alex throws her spear at the renzhe that stabbed Freddie. She can barely see in the darkness as the man seems to pop and vanish.

Jack’s thief shoots a renzhe. The final renzhe vanishes in a flash and puff of smoke.

Rex finds the lights and the Intrepids see piles of dust everywhere a renzhe was killed.

Clara moves past the Pinkertons to check the jaguar is still in the vault while Rex moves to cover the stairs. Jack and Alex search for the last renzhe.

* = literally “Ghosts of the Forest;” Chinese Ninja — GM And now you know!


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The Case of the Silver Jaguar - Chapter 4
The Chase and the Mystery

Alex heads into the vault and immediately sees the jaguar is gone!

There is a crash sound that everyone runs to the storeroom. They see one of the window’s bars have been cut, and a renzhe is handing the jaguar out the window. Jack throws a knife at the renzhe, who falls back. Clara shoots the man outside, but he grabs the jaguar and pulls back. Jack shouts to Rex to tie up the man, and check on the Pinkertons.

Alex climbs through the window, avoiding the acid that is still glistening on the bars, and follows the renzhe down the alley. Jack follows her out the window as the renzhe races to the street. They see a Ford Model A pull away with the renzhe standing on the running board, his right arms dripping blood where Clara’s bullet had wounded him.

Molly pulls up in a red convertible, looks at the chase, and slides into the passenger seat as everyone else jumps in. Clara hops into the driver seat and they take off.

As the Model A races off it jumps a sidewalk and scrapes on a building as the driver tries to take a corner too tightly. Clara follows in the Dusenberg, fishtailing as she compensates for the high-speed maneuver!

The Model A turns toward Chinatown via a wrong way on a one-way street, then swerves back on another street. Clara follows with ease and more than a little panache.

Just as the Model A seems to pull away and gain distance, Molly takes aim and shoots out the tire on the Model A, which causes the other driver to lose control and crash at full-speed into a mailbox. The front of the Model A crumples and steam starts shooting out of the radiator.

Clara brings the Duesenberg to a skidding halt. Jack and Alex leap out and race up to find the jaguar within and two piles of dust (one where the driver was, having gone through the windshield and a second against the wall just beyond the mailbox).

They examine the car and find it is registered to Soo Kwan Ha, at an address in Chinatown. Clara retrieves the masks that rest on or near the piles of dust.

Now with a moment to breathe, Molly explains the reason for her racing over (at what turned out to be an opportune moment). She translated the word Jack had asked her about… “Mustast” is an Estonian word," she explains looking grimly at Alex, "meaning Black Heart."

Realizing there was nothing more to be done at the accident scene, the Intrepids drive back to the auction house while Molly reports on her research into Olivier Levasseur – a pirate and privateer and his mysterious hidden fortune.

While she is talking, Alex picks up the jaguar and sees a series of visions of a stone cave, the jaguar being worshiped, a jungle, tall mast ships, fighting between natives and Europeans, a Spanish man stabbing an old native priest.

When the team arrives back at the auction house, Rex is waiting outside. He stabilized Freddie and has what’s left of the remaining renzhe (dust) in a bag, “for analysis.” They climb into the cars and head to Molly’s penthouse at the Ritz.

Molly explains the chest with the jaguar also contained several papers in Re’ French.

  • Jack decides it’s time to call his cousin Tully for help tracking down Aunt Veronica, an expert after a fashion on things mystical.
  • Rex has some more analysis to do.
  • Molly wants to look further into the connections between Levasseur, the Jaguar, and the Flota de Espana Nova.
  • Clara want to track down the Chinatown connection, to find out where and perhaps WHY the renzhe were after the Jaguar (if that was, in fact, their goal…)
  • Alex feels the chief concern is Blackheart and her interest in things, keeping her darker concerns to herself.

End of Act One

Join us next time for the next thrilling Chapter of The Case of the Silver Jaguar!

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Chapter 5:
Crouching Tiger, Falling Alex!

When she wakes up, Molly is given the following note by Rama:

My Dear Ladies (and Rex, of course) -

It seems that my old Aunt Veronica is laid up with a touch of the Gout and will be unable to travel to us in order to inspect the Jaguar, poor dear. Under the circumstances, and given our rather severe case of being “in the dark” and “under the gun”, I believe it would be best if I took the mountain to Mohammed, as it were. I know that you’ll be a bit skeptical, given my (however useful) checkered past, but I’ll thank you to recall that I have never betrayed the cause of the Century Club or the well-being of my friends and companions. I shall travel to Hoboken with great caution, preserving the item itself and preventing anyone from discerning its whereabouts.

Yours sincerely,

Jack Incognito

Before the ladies head to Chinatown, Alex makes the decision to get a reading from one of the masks. She sees a first person vision walking into a storeroom filled with other people in masks. There is a strong jasmine smell. She puts on the remaining mask sitting on a table, and then they all join hands around the table and speak in Chinese. The jade dragon on the table smokes and sparks; they say something else, take knives off the wall and leave.

Alex tries to repeat the phrase to Molly, who guesses it is a phrase to invoke the spirit of the jade dragon.

The girls head to Chinatown to follow up on the address from the car registration. They find Soo’s Dry Cleaners fairly easily, and find Mr. Soo. His car was stolen, and he is hoping they have found it. Molly speaks to him in Chinese and explains the car was in an accident. He tells her the car was stolen yesterday, and he doesn’t know who took it. He says he doesn’t recognize the mask they show him, but is reluctant to touch it. He recommends some shops that might sell similar masks.

The shops have inferior quality masks, and the team passes quickly from shop to shop. One recommends the theatre supply company.

They head to the theatre supply shop, and it seems empty. They walk to the back, and Alex recognizes the bamboo curtain, and goes through it to see if the storeroom is the one from her vision. It’s the same room, table and jasmine smell. A small set of curtains hang down over the wall where the knives were, so she walks over and pulls the curtains back. As she looks at the wall of knives she hears a gear clank, and the floor drops open. A trapdoor has sprung! Alex is just able to grab the edge of the door as it drops, and hangs on for dear life.

A woman appears behind Clara, who pulls out the mask and asks if the shop sold it. The woman takes the mask for a moment, flips it over in her hands, studies it, then hands it back saying, “No, I don’t believe we sold this one…” Suddenly a gun has appeared in her hand!

Clara punches the woman as she shoots, winging Clara. while Molly draws her gun and shoots the woman. The woman jumps up and kicks something off a nearby shelf, which crashes down and billows smoke as the woman dives into another isle.

Alex pulls one of the captured kunai knives out of her purse, spins it around, stabs the door and starts to pull herself up to safety.

Tune in next time for more thrilling danger!


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Chapter 6
The lady, the tiger, the jaguar, the psychic, etc.

Meanwhile, in Hoboken…

Jack goes to visit Aunt Veronica, who reads palms, tarot cards, tea leaves, and such in a storefront in a residential part of town.  He brings the actual Silver Jaguar with him in a carpet bag.  Cousin Tully meets him in order to go over with him and assure that he gets something out of the transaction. 

He enters the residential part of the house, which smells of the foul-smelling cheap cigarillos which she obsessively smokes.  He allows for the offer of coffee/whiskey, chats a bit about the family, her ailments, and other assorted niceties.  She always has time for her favorite nephew, though…who seems to be doing so well given his appearance.  The satchel is settled on her table (next to the various cards, crystal ball, and chicken bones), and the jaguar is revealed.  Also, the vial of dust (all that remains of one of the renzhe) gets brought out and put on a side table.

He’s given no additional information about the jaguar, so she really only knows what the rest of the criminal community knows.  She studies the statue with a magnifying glass (and possibly a jeweler’s loupe).  Candles are lit, she purifies everything with a willow branch – the effect is half process and half showmanship.  She glances at Tully (who has a bit of ‘sight’ as well) and imperceptibly he responds with a head movement.  She cackles – then coughs disturbingly – and continues to puff on her cheroot. 

“This is a big hunk of metal.”

Jack isn’t entirely surprised.  “Why is that so funny?”

“Because you brought it all the way out here.”

Jack is willing to go with this.  If nothing else, it brings the price down.  She gets up to refresh the whiskey/coffee.

“Do you mind seeing what you can get off of this…um…former assailant?”

“You setting people on fire now – or he was just a very short guy?”

“Let’s just say he lost the fight and…this was what happened afterwards.”

Crickets chirp.  Tully and Veronica exchange glances.

“When he died, his body immediately turned into this…substance.”  Most of the rest of the story comes out.

She reaches for the vial, and before she can grasp it she suddenly drops the mug, goes into a trance, and begins to speak several octaves deeper in a completely unfamiliar language.  If only there were a linguist present!  Alas…

Meanwhile, back at the warehouse…of DOOM!

Molly heads in the direction the Dragon Lady went, and sees a definite female form…JUST BEFORE THE LIGHTS GO OUT!  Off to the right in another aisle there’s a brief hissing sound and then a sudden hail of explosions.  Gun shots?  Firecrackers?  Hard to tell in the dark.  In the flashes that accompany the explosions, it’s apparent that the Dragon Lady has once more disappeared.

At the same moment that the light goes out, Clara grabs her lighter and one of the candles which was conveniently lying nearby on the shelf.  With a light flickering in her hand, she then pulls her gun and begins to follow Molly.

Alex, ever more highly motivated by the encroaching “chuffing” sound below, attempts by sheer grit and will to climb further.  This is unsuccessful, so she gathers her strength to try again.

Clara comes around the corner with her light, giving just enough illumination.  Among the aisles, the sound of footfalls can be heard.  Molly takes a chance and shoots in their direction.  The footfalls stop momentarily.  An echoing whisper which seems to come from both sides of the room is suddenly heard: “Why are you here?”

Honesty being the best policy, Clara answers: “We’re tracking down the masks worn by the men we fought last night.  Why are you attacking us?”

A sound very like bells, but actually peals of laughter echoes.

“And having tracked those men, why are you here?”

Crickets chirp as the women look at each other.

“What do you want?”

“We want to understand why you want the jaguar.”

“Enlightenment is a slow process.  Why do you want the jaguar?”

“I don’t want it – but I don’t want it to be stolen from those who have claim to it, either.”

“Ownership is a relative state.  It is in your possession now, no?”

“I know where it is.”

“And the men sent for it are dead, no?”

“Along with quite a few others.”

“And so your business here is completed, no?”

“But why do you want it?”

“I cannot give you the answers you seek.  Or rather, I won’t give you the answers you seek, round-eyed barbarian.”

“Fine.  Where’s our companion?”

“Your companion is in the back room, no?”

“She’s been awful quiet to just be in the back room.”

“We’ll call this meeting a draw…you may retrieve what’s left of… – uh, your companion.  And I suggest you leave Chinatown.  This offer shall expire in ten minutes time.”

A door opens along a back wall and a shaft of light can be seen.  Clara and Molly back slowly the way the came, being alert to possible attack.

Back dangling over the pit, Alex pulls from reserves of strength she didn’t know that she had.  Just as Molly and Clara arrive, Alex’s hand emerges from the pit and an impressive tiger roar emerges from below.  Clara and Molly leap forward and each grab a hand, dragging Alex up just as the sound of wood splintering under tiger claws is heard.  The tiger roars again, sadly.

The three head out the front door, intending to go for the car.  Clara: “I’m driving.”  Molly: “Shotgun.”  In their alertness, they realize they’re being followed by three people – each wearing identical pins on their lapels which glint in the sunlight.

Meanwhile, in Veronica’s psychic parlor…

Jack to Tully.  “Do you know what she’s saying?”

>Shrug<  “But I’m pretty sure I can repeat it.”

With a final sweeping hand gesture, the show is over and she hangs cruciform for a few moments while she comes back to herself.

“Aww…my coffee…I’m going to sit down now.”

“Do you remember what happened?”

She remembers everything up to the trance, and Jack goes to refill her coffee.  When he returns, she is more together, but still a little shaky.  She ‘gratefully’ takes the proffered mug and takes a full pulls, Jack lights her a new cheroot and she takes the vial again. 

“Oh, did Tully tell you about the telegram?”

“No.”

Cousin Kristoff in Berlin had sent a troubling telegram.  Some younger members of the family got into an altercation which they…lost…rather spectacularly.  Jack agrees to make some inquiries.

“This used to be a person.”

Crickets.

“But it isn’t now.  It’s like kind of what’s left of a shadow.  If a shadow were a piece of paper and then set it on fire…and you gathered it up.  That’s what this would be.”

“That’s the most disturbingly prosaic thing I’ve heard all day.”

She blows smoke in his face.

“Thanks for clarifying.  I should get back into town – do you need me to do anything while I’m here?”

She directs him to some small task, and as he does, he leaves the ridiculous sum of $40 under a hideously twee vase in the corner. 

Jack asks Tully to come with him (with plenty of time to get back to get a racing form for Aunt Veronica),  planning to buy him lunch and pay his train fare.  As Jack reaches to pick up the jaguar he notices that it is slightly off kilter from where it had been placed originally.  His suspicions are aroused. 

“Tully…did you move this?”

“Me?  Nooo….”

Jack notices the direction in which its pointing and looks for landmarks it might be indicating.  As he’s putting the jaguar in the bag he realizes that the weight doesn’t entirely feel the same as it had been before he took it out. 

Tully: “Time to go, right?”

Jack: “Auntie…could I have the jaguar back.”

Smiling around the cheroot, she lifts the tablecloth on her table, revealing the REAL jaguar.  Jack carefully examines THIS jaguar, drops an extra $5 on top of the chicken bones and takes BOTH jaguars with him. 

Before getting on the train with a slightly downcast Tully, he triangulates the compass directions associated with the landmarks he’d noted earlier.

Together, they head to New York.  Jack notices that they’re being followed by a man with a pin on his lapel… As they’re heading to the mode of transport, Jack moves closer and bumps into Tully:

“Are you trying to steal my wallet man?  Again?”

“Wha-no!  You bumped me…”  Jack winks, Tully takes the hint.

As they patter back and forth, Jack studies the man: he is about a block back, dressed in grey-very much not ready for the heat, and is nonchalantly looking at a mailbox.  In the midst of this, just for the heck of it, Jack also steals Tully’s wallet.

Jack grabs Tully’s lapel and calls out to the man: “Hey, buddy-c’mere!  Can you help me out-this guy, my cousin, just tried to steal my wallet and I need a witness.”

“Uh…”

“Did you see what happened?”

“Uh…”

Jack takes the opportunity to check out the lapel pin as the man in grey stammers.  There is a chalice with an iron cross and flames, a downward facing dove and an Egyptian symbol inside a triangle.

“Well, thanks anyway.”

The man in grey flees across the street and makes a phone call as quickly as he can.  Jack and Tully continue to the station.

Meanwhile, back at the car…

The women head for the edge of Chinatown, in the direction (eventually) of Molly’s, with Clara at the wheel. 

Clara: “Wheee!”

Others:  “Aaaah!!”

Alex, looking discreetly through her compact out the back window: “Wasn’t the idea to have them follow us?”

They make a few turns in an attempt to enact a cunning plan, but eventually realize that they’ve inadvertently lost the men in grey.  She makes a few more turns while Alex keeps a keen lookout to try to flush out any possible super secret tails, but there don’t appear to be any.

They decide to head back to Molly’s.

Meanwhile, in the station…

Jack calls Molly’s, but gets Rufus, the butler who must sadly inform him that Molly is not at home.  In fact, she’s never at home.  He often wonders why she even has a home.  Or a butler for that matter.  And he never knows when she’ll be back.  Ever.  Jack asks him to detain her if she does actually come back.  The butler makes no promises but will try his best.  He then asks if Jack has made contact with Rex yet.  Apparently Rex has something impressive in his workshop.

Jack decides to call Rex’s workshop.

The line picks up, but there’s a deafening buzzing sound and a rhythmic pounding in the background.

Rex: (Shouting) “Hello?  Jack?  Do you know if the ladies are back from their trip?”

Jack: “Not to my knowledge.”

Rex: “I have something to show you – I’m working out the details.  Do you know when they’ll be back?”

Jack: “No.  When can you join us?”

They agree to a late lunch at two.

Rex: “Did Mick Totem ever get in touch with you?  No?  He was bending my ear about our bag of…guy?  He had some theories.”

Jack calls Molly’s, warning the butler that lunch will need to be served around two.  The butler assures him that…something…satisfactory…will be available, and he waits upon Jack’s command.

Jack calls Mick and finds out that the man is giving a lecture/having lunch at the American Museum of Natural History.  He and Tully head over to the museum to find him.

Over at the museum…

Mick Totem, rugged manly explorer, greets them and Jack summarizes the ninja dust story.

“I think you might be dealing with Shadow-khan!”

“Can you tell me more?”

Totem describes what little is known about the ritual (since nobody Occidental has ever seen it…and lived), and mentions how it always involves a focal point.  The word around town is that it is likely the Jade Dragon.

“Can you tell me more about this Dragon Society?”

While from the Orient, they have their claws in many of the areas of Chinatown.  If the Tongs are scared of something, it probably has something to do with Jade Dragon Society.  Totem offers to assist if he can, since he’s got many contacts.  Jack describes the lapel pin to Totem, who says it sounds modern (post-Renaissance) though the symbols themselves are older.  The dove strikes him as curious, since it would seem to indicate a connection to Crowley’s order.  He can’t say much more, but offers to contact Jack if he thinks of anything else.

As Jack heads back to Molly’s it looks as though there might be another cab tailing them, but it is hard to say.  Jack isn’t too concerned, but errs on the side of caution and has the taxi drop them off early in order to wander a bit through the park, pick up a bottle of Rufus’ favorite liquor.  All of which (and more) is being paid for out of Tully’s pilfered wallet.

Meanwhile, back at the Ritz…

The ladies have arrived.  Rufus elaborates reluctantly on the wide variety of calls which Molly has received, including one from the art gallery hoping that she had the missing jaguar.  There was also a message for Clara from a Miss Bolin regarding her ‘fisherman client.’  Also, Ms. Petrenko’s office has called several times about…a missing jaguar.

“Did anyone call while I was out?”

“Not yet, madam.”

>Knock, knock, knock<

“I stand corrected.”

Rex, Jack and Tully arrive at the same time.  Rex is carrying a huge wooden crate.  Jack slips the bottle into Rufus’ pocket.

Jack introduces his cousin, with the qualifier “You’ll want to keep an eye on him – he is my cousin after all.”  Clara and Alex keep all four eyes on him while Jack and Molly go to the safe to return the jaguar…and discover there are in fact two jaguars.  Both go in the safe.  When they return, they find Rufus with an empty platter and Tully with full pockets.

Jack summarizes his day and then has Tully repeat what Aunt Veronica said in her trance.  As Molly listens, she transcribes.  She believes it might be a dialect of ancient Mayan:  “Great Jaguar god, please grant us the blessings of gentle rains bright sun and kind winds with… uh… Hunahpu’s mystic staff we do your will that the people might prosper.”   After he finishes, Tully is quickly escorted from the apartment, given a fiver from his own wallet, given his wallet, and given the boot. Jack is cheered to see Tully mouth hang agape just before the door slams shut.

Upon his return, the ladies summarized their own day, which shows some of the connections between the Jade Dragon ritual and what the professor had described.

Jack then shares the Ordo Templii Orientiis image and Alex confirms that that is what it is. 

“A man wearing this was attempting to follow us.”

“We were also followed…but we lost them.”

“They tried to follow us from the museum as well.”

Oooh…intrigue…!

Jack asks Rufus to bring the phonebook in order to look up the Order and see if they have a listed storefront.  They do!

Rex has had an interesting morning.

“Does anyone know Aldous Griffin?  He’s a big guy at the club?  Long story short….”  He opens the crate and pulls out copper ‘bracelets’ with dials and antenna attached.   He passes one around to be looked at.  “Note the logo on the underside – a Tesla International Product.”  It’s not Rex’s logo.  There’d been an accident with the temporal vortex manipulator and a mop bucket and these showed up a few days later.  Concerned about transdimensional artifacts getting into the wrong hands, they Club has opted to give them to Rex.  “They seem to be some sort of communication device.  If you turn one dial to indicate a different bracelet, it seems to be able to send messages via Morse Code.”

Jack: “So, does it ACTUALLY do that?”

Rex: “Well, I haven’t tested its range…”

Jack: “You science people….  So, does everyone know Morse Code?”

All: “Yes.”

Jack: “All right, then.”

Dr. Bishop calls once more to confirm the jaguar’s continued safety, and Molly reassures him that yes, it is secret and it is safe.

Many phone calls need to be returned…


View
Chapter 7:
Who DOESN'T want this dingus? And why?

Many phone calls ensue.

Alex calls the office and Frannie picks up.  She is soooo thrilled to hear Alex’s voice since soooo many folk have been calling about the dead bodies at the auction house.  “Bloody Massacre at Auction House” is a headline they’re actively trying to avoid.  Alex considers telling them that ‘it could be worse,’ but refrains.  Instead, she assures them that the ‘item in question’ is both secret and safe, and that she’s continuing the investigation. 

“Be a dear-just reassure him for me.”  The auction is on Saturday, so time is starting to run short and tensions in the office are running high.  Frannie wishes her luck and reminds her to call again if there’s anything the office can do to help.

Alex passes the phone to Clara.  “You gotta call a lawyer about a fisherman, right?”

Rex continues to fiddle with his transmitters: “Look!  It runs off of the body’s own electromagnetic field-we’ll never need batteries!”  Jack begins wondering whether the science guy might consider inventing something even more useful-like a sheep-blasting raygun.

Clara calls Jane Bolin and confirms that the lawyer has accepted the case and begun working on it.  She notes that Mr. Leschende is concerned primarily with getting home in time for the beginning of squid season, but she has managed to convince him to stay around long enough for the verification process and auction.  Clara is simply happy to find that he is being well taken care of, and finishes the conversation.

The group decides that since the OTO can’t seem to follow them worth a darn, that they’ll have to go to the OTO.  Clara offers to drive, but recommends that they take one of the hardtop cars-after all, it is a less-than-savory neighborhood in which the OTO has set up shop.

The sign on the building is distinctive, and the group enters.

Jack: >Knock, knock.<

An old man opens the door and greets them, seeming surprised to find five people at his door.  “May I help you?”

Jack: “Yes.  Several men wearing a pin similar to yours seemed to want to speak to us earlier today.  In fact, they seemed to be following us.  We wondered whether we could come in and – since you’re seekers of truth – perhaps help you with what you wanted to find out?”

Old Man: >glances briefly at lapel<  “One moment.”  >Closes the door<

Jack considers picking the lock if the old man doesn’t return quickly enough.

Old Man: “You need to speak with Brother Poole – follow me.”

The building obviously used to be an office, but not for a while.  A lot of old furniture has been pushed to the side and is gathering dust.  The Old Man leads them several rooms back to a nondescript room which is still in use-a desk and a few chairs are arranged, but the overall ambiance is a bit darker and more morbid than would be standard.  A younger version of the Old Man stands behind the desk.

Brother Poole: “Thank you, Brother Towson.  Please-have a seat.”

Jack: “I assume you’ve been told why we’re here.”

Poole: “You have questions.”

Jack: “Yes, and I’m not alone in that.  It seems everywhere we go we’re seeing doves and roses.”…

Alex: >mumbles< “And pelicans.”

Jack: >???<

Alex: “Lapel pins.”

Jack: “Honestly, you are just not very good at following people, so perhaps it would be easier if we just help you.”

Poole: (impassively) “I can think of no questions that I have for you. (pauses) You are in possession of the item, no?”

Jack: “Yes. Why are you following us?”

Poole: “We’re merely doing what we must in order to fulfill the wishes of our ascendant leader.”

Jack: “And your ascendant leader’s interest in the item is…?”

Poole: “He says it is important.  It is not my role to question.”

Clara: “What does he want with it?”

Poole: “We are simply to keep it in our sights.”

Clara: “Sights or hands?”

Poole: “Sight.”

Jack: “Who is this leader?”

Poole: >bewildered< “The Spaniard.  Senor Rojas.”

*DUN DUN DUNNNNNN!!!*

Alex gasps in recognition and turns to stare meaningfully at Jack.

Poole: “We must follow the will of the ascendant leader.”

Molly: “What happens if you don’t?”

Poole: “It is essential to the ascendant leader’s ascension.”

Clara: “So without the item, he won’t ascend.”

Poole: “I can’t say.”

Jack: “Brother Poole, we do have a connection to your ascendant leader.  If you’d like to have your order’s eyes a bit closer, we’d be willing to consider an arrangement.”

Poole: >raises an eyebrow< “I have other responsibilities.  But I can send someone to you.”

Clara: “Consider this to be an offer of…friendship…perhaps?”

The group returns to the car to confer about the tangled matrix of thugs, societies and leaders (ascendant and non).  They smile and wave at the surprised ‘brothers’ who are returning from yet another failed attempt at tailing the Intrepids.

Major points: Why would an Egyptian-based society be interested in a Mayan/Toltec icon as even a symbolic item? Is it possible that the statue is concealing something?  Regardless, it is time to call Senor Rojas.

“To the Club!”

Clara: VROOOOOOOOOM!!!

Tires: SQUEEEEEEEEEE!!!

Piet, the evening doorman, greets them.  At this point, Molly is certain that she sees one of the thugs from their initial foray along with a few gentlemen of similar style reading the paper across the street.  Jack notices the suspiciousness of their nature, and Clara is perfectly aware that they’re packing.  Piet confirms that they’ve been there since he came on duty.

Jack decides to sneak away and come at the thugs from a different angle while the rest of the team hovers around the car finding things to do. 

Jack: “Hey, any of you guys have the racing form. I was thinking – hey!  I know you – I know your friend Vinnie!”

Guy-in-Charge: “How do you know Vinnie?”

Jack: “We knock around – I try to keep in touch with my roots.”

GIC: “Like knock around the head?”

Thug-lings: (hands to weapons) meaningful grunt

Jack catches the eye of the group.

Jack: “Truthfully, I just wanted to know what you find so fascinating about our little club.”

GIC: “We were looking for you in fact.”

Jack: “Ah…hey-have you ever seen that?  A broad working on an engine!”

GIC: “Hunh?”

Thug-lings: “Hunh?”

Jack: >KA-POW!!!<

 GIC: >staggers back<

Thug-lings: >reach for weapons, pause< Uh…should we grease’em, Tony?"

GIC-nay-Tony: >bleeding from the mouth & nose< “No – we need to ask him some questions first.”"

Thug-lings: “Ok, boss. ” >reach for brass knuckles, grin<

As the carnage is about to commence, the rest of the group leaps into action!

Clara: LEAP!

Alex: LEAP!

Molly: LEAP!

Rex: LEAP!

Thug-lings: “Hunh?”

Molly’s gun: Ka-blam

Thug-ling #1: “OW!” >*falls*, still alive<

Clara: Ka-blam

Thug-ling #2: “OOF!” (falls, flails, hits Tony with brass knuckles, knocking him unconscious)

Alex and Rex: “Woo-hoo!”

Piet: “I’ll get the service entrance for you, shall I?”

The group drags the thugs into the Club in order to bandage them up and have a little sit down chat with them.  Luckily, the Club’s scheduled bingo night has been canceled, so there are enough sub-basement interrogation chambers to use.  Tony is handcuffed to the nearest radiator, and Alex and Jack begin the interrogation.

Jack: “So, Tony, you said you had some questions.”

Tony: >*silent contempt*<

Jack: “Is it like ‘where did I get this snappy suit?’”

Tony: “It was more, how did you know how to impersonate Vinnie so well.”

Jack: “I watch, I learn, you know?  We’re willing to have a civilized conversation here.  I see no reason to keep you in the dark….”

Tony: “You kind of got everyone killed.  Vinnie’s plan didn’t involve getting everyone killed!”

Jack: “If I hadn’t been there YOU wouldn’t have made it out.  And how were we to know it would go down like that?  So no, I didn’t get your friends killed – the other guys killed them.  And I kept you alive.  Any other questions?”

Tony: “What?  You want a thank you?”

Jack:  “I’m not the one that came to find you.  You want coffee, water?”

Tony: “Water.”

Jack goes off to get the water, leaving Alex to be ‘bad cop.’

Meanwhile, one interrogation room over…

Clara and Molly offer the thug-lings water, and ask why they’ve been following them.  Nic and Big Mike insist that they were only waiting for Jack because Tony told them to after Vinnie returned without his clothes.  Vinnie’s in trouble with the boss.  Unfortunately, as back-up foot soldiers, they’re not really in the know about anything.  They’re also a little confused about how they ended up in a sub-basement, chained to radiators, being interrogated by girls.  Clara and Molly decide that it’s futile to ask any further questions.

Back in the serious interrogation room (after being debriefed on the way back from getting water)…

Jack: “What can you tell us about this Baroness?”

Tony: “I can tell you she’s angry.”

Jack: “Have you ever seen her?”

Tony: “No.”

Jack: “I’ll assume Vinnie has.”

Tony: “No.”

Jack: “So, you just came to knock me around for Vinnie, or what?”

Tony: “No – we wanted to find out how you knew what was going on.”

Jack: “Point one – nobody reads the same page of the paper for five minutes.  Point two – If you sit outside a high end art gallery dressed exactly alike, and dressed like a thug, people will notice.  No magic involved.  Do you want me to teach you your job?”

Tony: “You Century Club people think you’re hot stuff, hunh?”  >smiles smugly<

Jack: “You know a lot of the Century Club?”

Tony: “Just you.  And I liked you up until the moment you got all condescending-like.”

The two continue the conversation until a key moment of revelation when Tony casually suggests that their presence has been a ruse to keep them busy while Molly’s apartment has been ransacked and the jaguar stolen.  After all, the boss was VERY angry. The Intrepids let the thugs go and rush to the Ritz.

Back at the apartment…

The first thing they notice is the firetruck out front. 

Firemen: “We’re not sure.  We got a call about some localized fires.  We saw some evidence of it-piles of ashes…”

The group races upstairs.  The door is locked, and they enter to find Rufus and Rama cleaning up the ‘remains’ of the ‘fire.’ 

Rufus: “Madam…you’re safe…I’m so relieved.  You had a number of…callers.  I referred them to your secretary.” >gestures to Rama<

When questioned, it is revealed that three ninjas were successfully killed, several more escaped and when killed caused a neighbor to call the fire department.  Rama is aggrieved that he couldn’t perform his duties more effectively.

The jaguars, inexplicably, are still locked tight in the safe, and Jack confirms that the weights are the same so no switch has been made.  The group looks at each other and wonders…

NOW WHAT???

View
Chapter 8:
Mucho hablar

Alex calls Senor Rojas in order to arrange a meeting to discuss the ‘ascension’ and the OTO’s interest in the jaguar.  He agrees to meet for an early lunch the next day.  The entire group decides to go in order to maximize the usefulness of the experience.

People at the club and the detective agency have been employed to look into the veracity of the Monsieur Lenschende’s claims.  A photo of the pirate code will be dropped off to at least one of Molly or Jack’s cryptography contacts for further investigation.

The jaguars will remain in the safe with Rufus and Rama keeping watch.  Hopefully, their mad ninja-poofing skillz will be enough to thwart any additional attempts on the apartment. [Terribly anachronistic remark – GM]

At the Pierre Café in the Pierre Hotel, a short distance away…

The very crème de la crème of New York Society are busy lunching and being seen.  The maitre d, Msr. Andre greets the group as they arrive.  Alex asks if Senor Rojas has arrived yet.

Andre: “Mlle. Petranko…and friends?”

“Yes.”

Andre calls over a waiter and mutters something unintelligible.  “Follow me, please.”

The group is escorted over to a well-placed table, where Senor Rojas is waiting.

“Mlle. Petranko… and entourage.”

Senor Rojas, non-plussed: “We’ll need another…bottle of wine.”  A flurry of waiters reorganizes the area, much to the dismay of Andre, who is not getting paid enough for this.

“My apologies for any inconvenience.  I should perhaps have mentioned my associates…”

Senor Rojas smiles graciously.

“I’d introduce them, but I imagine the people you’ve had tailing us all this time have apprised you of their names.”

“Your fellow Century Club members are known to many people around the world.  Let me recommend the trout-it’s a specialty of the house.”

A tray of oysters Rockefeller is brought out, which Alex pointedly ignores.  “Interestingly, we tracked those people tailing us back to a place called the OTO, and they indicated that they were being employed by you and you were their ‘leader’.  Which is interesting since you also hired me.  Would you care to comment?”  

“Well, ‘leader’ is perhaps an exaggeration…”

Jack: “That’s not the sense we got from them.”

“They’re loyal.”

Jack: “They said you were their ascendant leader, and that the jaguar had a great deal to do with your ascending.  What exactly is your interest in the jaguar?”

“Just what I told Ms. Petrenko – I wish to own it.”

Jack: “No – that’s not an interest.  We cannot possibly keep this object safe any longer without more information from you.”

“You’ve kept it safe so far.”

Clara: “How do you know that?”

“I fail to see how this piece of information has any relevance.”

Jack: “Did you hire Ms. Petrenko for her skills and expertise?  Why would she request information which she didn’t absolutely need?  She is attempting to do her job, and we are attempting to help her.”

“You, sir, cannot be trusted.  And she does not need this information.  But perhaps Ms. Petrenko can explain exactly why she thinks this information would assist in her job.  Which, by the by, she’s been doing admirably so far.”

Alex is momentarily taken aback.  But she rallies quickly: “Knowing why you want it will help us understand why others may want it, which will help me keep it safe.”

“Your Oriental acquaintances likely want it only because somebody else wants it.  What other information did you need?”  Senor Rojas leans back and smiles diarmingly, still intent on giving nothing away.

Alex rises and extends her hand.  “We’re sorry to have troubled you.”  Senor Rojas does not rise, but accepts her hand in his gloved one. 

At that moment…

She swoons!  Jack, alertly catches her, noting that this is a worse reaction than usual for her.

“Oh dear, it seems as though Ms. Petranko is having an episode!”  Jack dabs at her brow with a cold cloth, and hauls her upright.  “We should leave.”  

They quickly head towards the door.  Molly distinctly notices Senor Rojas’ eyes flash, and that Alex is muttering in German (with a thick NY accent) a quote from Nietzsche: “Beware when you hunt monsters that ye become not a monster, and remember that when you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes also into you.”

Out on the street, Alex begins to recover and recounts her vision…

Somewhere in Europe…possibly Eastern Europe…

Based on context, it is sometime in the past-anywhere between 20 and 200 years in the past.  She sees a gypsy caravan paused along the side of the road.  There’s a road sign, not in Russian, which she cannot read.  Suddenly the scene changes and she realizes that she is now in the guise of a young man, late teens or early twenties, and he is entering what appears to be a library.  There are many impressive looking rare volumes along the shelves.  There is a man ahead in an ornate military uniform whom Alex is approaching.  Again the scene changes, and the caravan is now in the woods, circled up for the evening around the fire.  The gypsies are eating and enjoying the evening.  Yet again, the scene changes.  The caravans are on fire, people are screaming, and in and about soldiers can be seen and gunfire can be heard.  The last thing Alex sees amidst the chaos are her own hands going up as a flaming beam crashes down upon her.  At that moment, she returns to herself.

“Why is there a rag on my head?”

At Molly’s…

Rufus: “Oh madame, you brought…food.  What I believe they call…takeaway.  How…nice.  Dr. Bishop called.  Barring any new developments, a group of Pinkertons will be arriving tomorrow to assist you in transporting the jaguar back to the auction house for Saturday’s auction.  a ‘Detective Jeffries’ called to discuss a time to meet.”

“Thank you, Rufus.  Could you please fluff a chair and light a few candles for Ms. Petranko.”

Rufus: “Do you need a blanket, Madame?”

The one true jaguar is removed from the safe, and Alex prepares herself to touch it.  Jack tosses Alex the jaguar, and…

>>>VERTIGO<<<

The phone rings.

“I’ll get that Madame…”


Beyond the ringing, Alex realizes she is once again among a native population, gazing down from above at a group of people.  The fires in the dark are strictly for heat and light this time.  Initially the voices are incoherent and strange, but within a few moments Alex can understand the babble.  One of the old men around the fire seems vaguely familiar, perhaps from the first vision, and he has a staff leaning against his shoulder.  Their conversation seems to be about what to do about the invaders from the water and their giant war-rafts.  Trade is mentioned, as is war.  The old man interrupts the debate to say that the wisdom of Hunahpu will present itself by morning and they will follow the god’s will.  As he speaks the name, he grasps the staff for emphasis.  Then, speaking directly to the young man advocating full-scale attack, he announces that if the invaders think that they can be victorious they will know the power of Hunahpu.  This is met with cheers and general jumping about.  Alex awakens to the sound of Rufus saying:

“Madame, it’s for you.  Long distance.”

It is a person-to-person call from Nigel Smythe-Waite of the Shrewsbury Smythe-Waites.  Nigel is a journalist (and a former associate from her days at Room 39 during the War), and has heard that Molly is looking into the Levasseur papers.  He still has contacts from the old days and had heard something on the wire which he thought might interest her. 
A Mrs. Savy, the woman in possession of the papers, has had a break-in roughly 36 hours earlier and the papers were the only thing which went ‘missing.’  This in itself is odd, but odder still is that the entire front of the house (or at least sufficient to drive a double-decker bus through) had been dissolved as though by acid.  Luckily Mrs. Savy was out visiting relatives at the time. 

Molly wonders what could be on the real map which was not readily available via the photos.  Clara wonders whether folding the map might change something.

Back to the problem of the jaguar…

Jack recommends that the Pinkertons be called in order to arrange the meeting time to transport the jaguar.  He proposes going on ahead (in disguise) with the real jaguar, surprising Dr. Bishop and getting the real jaguar in the safe.  Meanwhile, Rex will embed a tracking device in the fake jaguar.  When Jack returns, he’ll help escort the ‘jaguar’ in the hopes that it will get stolen and the group will be able to track it. 
Rex sets to building a tracking device.  Molly contacts the Pinkertons about a meeting around noon on Friday. 

Around this time, Alex’s office calls to confirm that Leschende is in fact a fisherman from a long line of fishermen.  Though not well-educated, he appears to be what he claims to be given the needed turnaround time for the investigation.  Checking in with the contacts who were given the pirate’s code, they’re told that nothing yet has been discovered of cryptological significance.

Friday, before noon…

Jack disguises himself as a random guy in a suit (with a satchel) in order to leave the hotel, then does a quick change elsewhere into his delivery man disguise, and (reasonably assured that nobody is following him) sets off to deliver the jaguar to the museum.

“I got a package for Dr. Bishop here.”

“I’ll sign for it.”

“No ’s gotta be the man himself.  Specific instructions from the guy posting the package.”

Doris (the receptionist) calls into Dr. Bishop’s office.  “He’ll be out in a moment.”

Jack looks around idly, noticing what there is to notice.  Knowing that there are evil doers doing the evil he’d be likely to do (be do be do), Jack realizes that changes have been made to the security in the building.  In his professional estimation, these changes make the people making the changes feel better about the changes being made.  He also notices that Doris has a reasonably expensive arrangement of flowers on her desk.  Stealthily sneaking forward to see the attached card, he notices both the name of the florist, a trite message after a Spanish declaration of love and the name “Armando.” 

Armando.  As in Senor Armando Rojas?  Jack is intrigued.

As he considers this, Jack’s thoughts are interrupted by the arrival of Dr. Bishop.

Jack leads him away from the reception desk before revealing the standard delivery clipboard which has a note from Molly on it indicating that they need to return to the office.

“Oh.  Why. Don’t. You. Follow. Me.” Dr. Bishop says with full subtlety.

“Sir, don’t forget your appointment regarding the new catalog….”

In the office…

The ruse is explained in detail, and though Dr. Bishop is initially confused, he is ultimately quite impressed.  Jack reassures him that any future news of the jaguar’s ‘theft’ is to be ignored.  It is simply part of a greater, even more ingenious plan.

“By the way, what can you tell me about the buyers at the auction?”

Dr. Bishop explains what he knows of the potential buyers, which include several universities and an assortment of wealthy businessmen.  Jack waits to watch the jaguar be returned to the vault, and then as he leaves he is able to slip out with a copy of the mock-up of the auction catalog which has been left out on one of the tables.

Jack leaves, returns to Molly’s apartment to be a part of the escort of the ‘jaguar’ and reveals what he knows about the receptionist and Senor Rojas.

The clock strikes 12.

There’s a knock on the door.

Rufus: “Madame, the Pinkertons have arrived.”

To Be Continued…

View
Chapter 9*:
Going Once, Going Twice, Going... DEATH!
* = Regrettably, neither D&D nor porn stars were involved in the creation of this chapter.


It did, however, start with Alex’s final vision of the jaguar.

The Pinkertons have arrived, and it’s decided that the group will take three cars: one to carry the jaguar, one to ride ahead of it and one to ride behind.  Clara is designated as the driver of the jaguar car, after the others have exacted a promise from her to actually let them get caught this time.  For extra insurance, while nobody else is looking, Alex slips a brick underneath the gas pedal. 

The drive from the Ritz to the auction house is uncharacteristically sedate and pleasant.  In fact, it would best be described as entirely without incident.

Jack: “Crap.”

The “jaguar” is escorted into the auction house.  Again, without incident.

Jack: “Crap.”

Doris glances up from her desk to see a dozen, well-armed people approaching her desk.  She buzzes through to Dr. Bishop, who comes out surrounded by security guards.  He appears puzzled, but says nothing, and leads them downstairs to the vault.  The group is looking around alertly for potential ninja-hiding spots; but see nothing.  As they slip the “jaguar” into the vault, Jack stealthily ascertains that the real jaguar is still in the vault. 

The group decides to monitor the auction house overnight in shifts.  The plan for the next day’s auction is thus: Jack will be posing as the auctioneer, Clara will be spending time with Monsieur Leschende discussing the fine art of fishing, Alex will be in the audience being alert and vewwy vewwy still, and Molly will be looking to augment her collection of meso-American art.

The auction begins…

The ‘bargain-hunters’ arrive first, so the auction house is relatively quiet to begin with.  As time passes, more people arrive, and the items grow more valuable.  The auctioneer (Jack) is keeping the pacing comfortable, allowing people time to continue to examine the items from later in the catalog.  As Molly wanders among the items she notices a well-dressed Oriental woman arrive with an entourage of men who are completely not carrying concealed weapons.  They seat themselves on one side of the room.  Shortly thereafter, Brother Poole arrives with an assortment of men wearing matching lapel pins, who are also completely not carrying concealed weapons.  They seat themselves opposite the collection of belaying pins.  The auctioneer glances up and notices a person who may or may not be Tony, but who is most definitely thug-like, arrive and stand in the back surrounded by similarly thug-like people.  Alex, being vewwy vewwy still, notices the favorite friend of her favorite Pinkerton (Freddie Biscoe) arrive; yes, the laconic Ron Livermore is back on the proverbial case.  She considers breaking her decision to remain vewwy vewwy still, but  restrains herself.

Meanwhile, in a speeding automobile somewhere near the Empire State Building…

Clara “talks shop” with Leschende via the lawyer, and besides learning fifteen different ways to prepare squid eyes, she finds out that squid have a very short season, and in the time of his great-great-great grandrelatives there were virtually none at all to be squidded.  Asked about the number of shipwrecks near his home, he mentions that because there are only a few ways into the inlet because of the reefs and islands there have been a number of them.  He can’t give a specific number because it’s difficult even for them to get out to that area.  At this point they have returned to the auction house, and they are about four items away from…the Jaguar.  As they enter, a peal of summer thunder echoes in the distance, startling Clara.  Guiding Monsieur Leschende in, she also realizes that they are standing just behind Senor Rojas – dapper and be-gloved as always.

Auctioneer Jack: “Up now, a mortar and pestle – if you sniff carefully you can still smell the chocolate…and the blood…”

A few more Pinkertons subtly sidle into the room and stand about the aisles looking serious and utterly inconspicuous.

Auctioneer Jack: “Up next, Lot 333 then, a beautiful example of pre-Colombian art, a legendary piece thought to be both missing for hundreds of years.  Authenticated by the greatest minds of science and academia, we shall start the bidding at…ten. Thousand. Dollars.”

Senor Rojas <raises>: “Twelve.”

At this, Ms. Toy nods imperceptibly. 

Auctioneer Jack: “TWELVE thou-”

<poof> <poof> <poof>

A small flock of renzhe suddenly appear from the shadows.

Auctioneer Jack: "-sand "

A herd of pinstripe-suited men stampede in from the wings followed by serious looking Pinkertons shouting “Stop!”

Auctioneer Jack: “doll- oh heck!”

The men wearing the lapel pins leap up, and chanting the while, rush the stage.

Senor Rojas: “sigh

Clara: <sticks> “I believe they said ‘Stop?!’”

The first of the stampede hits the floor, scattering weapons everywhere.  The Pinkertons set upon him while Clara quietly scoops up some of the guns and secrets them on her person. 

Clara: <handing> “Here, dear.”

The OTO and the renzhe converge in front of the stage, and the OTO prove that faith is no real match for a throwing star.  The Pinkertons begin shooting at the pinstripes, who to their credit do not actually shoot back (immediately).  The civilians in the crowd have begun screaming, panicking and fleeing, as is their wont.

<<<Melee, melee, melee>>

Meanwhile, Auctioneer Jack scans the crowd, searching for people who appear too calm or too focused.  He discounts several people who simply appear to be in shock or who are slightly senile and confused.  Nobody appears to be suspiciously calm, though.  Madame Toy has stood up to better conduct her people, and Senor Rojas has resigned himself to the temporary pause in bidding and remains seated.

Auctioneer Jack: <to> “We’ll be returning to the bidding momentarily.  There is coffee in the lobby, if you feel the need.”

<<<Melee, melee, melee>>>

As Clara stands armed and alert in the wings a sound catches her ear.

Annnnnnd…the ceiling explodes!

A woman drops through the resulting hole, trailing an inky cloud of smoke behind her.  Clara immediately realizes that they are now face to face with Baroness (dun dun DUN!) Blackheart.  After Clara’s initial reaction of “Such a tragic, tragic figure – perhaps calamari would make her feel better and reanimate that cold, metallic heart…” she snaps out of it and begins to consider her actual options.

Jack spins around at the sound of the explosion and sees the Baroness moving towards the jaguar in an unusual manner: seeming blurry as if she was skipping space to space rather than moving contiguously.  A Pinkerton attempts to block her progress and is hurled bodily into the audience.  Chairs scatter everywhere, thus confirming Alex’s suspicion that they weren’t attached to the floor.

Molly, seeing that she has a clear shot at the Baroness, pulls out her gun and aims.

Gun: BANG

Heart: Ka-SPANG (ha-ha!)

Clara, realizing that she’s being almost entirely ignored by the underlings around her, decides to shoot at the Baroness.  She pulls out her gun and aims.

Gun: BANG

Leather-Clad Hide: Scuff/Scrape! (ha-ha!)

Alex rushes forward to the pointy sticks that used to be chairs before they came in intimate contact with a Pinkerton.  Grabbing up the pointiest, Alex flings it like a spear.

Spear: Fwing!

Soft, Squishy Bit: Fwump (ow!)

The Baroness pauses, glances down at the pointy stick disdainfully, removes it with a squelching sound, and begins looking around for the source of the annoyance.

Auctioneer Jack:  (to the Baroness) “Baroness, the bidding is at twelve thousand.”

The Baroness turns to face him and Jack throws caution to the wind-and his knife as well.

Knife: Zing! annnnnd Miss!

Baroness: <raises>  “No.  The bidding is over.”

Rex, who has been waiting in the wings, takes the opportunity to shoot.

Gun: Bang annnnnd Miss!

A puff of renzhe drifts by on the breeze.

The Baroness lifts the jaguar gently from its podium and begins an interesting non-Euclidian ascent towards the hole in the ceiling. 

Molly shoots again, intending to knock the Jaguar from her arms.

Gun: Bang

Baroness: Bamf 

Result: Non-Euclidian Fail

Clara shoots from the wings.

Gun: Bang

Baroness’ Unspecified Squishy Bit: Ow!

Alex, feeling the deep-seated angst which is the result of a lifetime’s obsession with this nemesis, and sporting some new broken bits of chair, flings them at the retreating form of the Baroness.

Chair: Fwip, fwip, fwip

Baroness’ Retreating Legs: Owww—quit it!

Jack, in an astounding leap of both bravery and…well…leaping, manages to fling himself…onto a chair, up to the podium, into the air, after the Baroness’ hovering form…nothing…but…BLACKHEART!!!

<<<Woooooooooooooo!>>>

<<<And the crowd pauses in their fleeing and panicking to momentarily go wild>>>

As Jack dangles precariously, he notices Rex tapping at his wrist and looking distracted.  This worries him a little.  After all, even in the 1930s, one should text and shoot.

Clara, realizing that she’s gone almost an entire day without driving at dangerous speeds around town, bolts for the door and the lovely, lovely car (of Molly’s) beyond.

Molly and Rex exchange glances and follow.

Tune in Next Time for the Car Chase of the Flying Woman and a Shocking Turn of Events!

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Chapter 10:
And lo, there came a Baroness...

Clara races to the car, with the rest of the team (except Jack, who is not so much racing as rising) in hot pursuit.  “Follow that villainess!”

They leap in the car, Alex leaps on the running-board, and they peel away into the street.  As Clara drives, Alex, Molly, and Rex scan the skies, ready to shout directions.

As the Baroness picks up speed, Jack’s grip slips slightly and he drops to the level of her expensive, hand-crafted knee-high boots.  She glances down at Jack and asks disdainfully: “Why are you doing this?”

Auctioneer Jack: “I take my job very seriously.”

Baroness: “My quarrel is not with you.”

Auctioneer:  “I’m afraid I can’t allow you to take the jaguar, ma’am.  You did not have the high bid.”

Baroness: >after a pause< “But I have the jaguar already.”

Auctioneer: “Perhaps I should have clarified – I can’t let you keep it.”

Baroness: “Can you wait five minutes?  Then I can let you keep it.”

Auctioneer: >confused< “…ok.”

Jack notices an approaching water tower, and using the sheer strength of his abdominal muscles, heaves his legs up, just barely missing the top of the tower.

Heading Down Lexington…

The Baroness suddenly makes a sharp right turn.

Alex: “Go right! Go right!”

Car Tires: SCRRRREEEECH!!

Clara: Executes epic turn…straight into a hotel.  Manages to stop just in the nick of time, spins beautifully, allowing the doorman to actually open the driver’s side door as soon as the car has stopped.

Doorman:  “Madame.”

Alex and Rex race for the stairs, while Clara and Molly take to the fire escape.  Unfortunately, the fire escape is slippery from the rain, and the inside stairs are currently being dried by a horde of maids whose buckets need to be leapt over as they proceed upwards.

On the Roof of the Hotel…

The Baroness descends, and Jack drops nimbly to the roof in order to avoid getting trampled by the Baroness’ devastatingly glossy, hand-crafted knee-high black boots.  He immediately leaps to his feet in anticipation of the Baroness’ next move. 

The Baroness’ next move:  Reach into one of her many pockets and pull out a vial.

Jack: A vile what?? >rimshot<

Crickets: >chirp<

The Baroness pops the cap from the metal vial and despite Jack’s silver-tongued protestations, she pours the contents of the vial into the depression that’s on the jaguar.Silver jaguar.jpg

Jack: “What is that?”

Baroness: “The lymph of Matthew Hopkins.”

Jack: “Ew.  That’s disgusting.”

The Baroness begins muttering over the lymph-drenched-jaguar.  Jack approaches cautiously, asking a multitude of questions to distract her from her muttering.

Jack:   “I’m sorry…I’m sorry…did you say lymph?  As in lymph?…Because that is just gross…”

>What seems like a horribly, horribly long time later…< “I’m serious…you couldn’t go with black bile?…”

Clara: >very close to the top of the building< “This fire escape is definitely not up to code.  I’ll fix it later.”

Even as Jack continues his patter, he notices that her muttering appears to have brought about…nothing.  No fireworks, no bolts of lighting, no strange glow.  Only the barest hint of a shadow of a microsmile.

The Door from the Stairwell: >BURST!!!<

Alex & Rex: >huff puff huff puff huff puff< Yaaaa! >huff puff huff puff huff puff<

The Fire Escape: >CLANG<

Clara & Molly: >wheeze< Yaaaa! >wheeze<

Baroness: >notices the new arrivals<

Almost simultaneously…Clara decides to shoot the Baroness, and takes aim. Molly decides to shoot at the Jaguar, and takes aim.  Alex grabs a nearby wrench, and takes aim.  Rex decides to shoot the Baroness as well, and takes aim.  Jack continues his patter.

Various Guns: >Pew! Pew! Pew!<

Various Bullets: >Zing! Zing! Zing!<

Wrench: >Fwip! Fwip! Fwip!<

Result: *

The Baroness:  “Mr. Incognito…?”

Jack: “Yes?”

Baroness: “Catch!”

The jaguar (with a small dent in it now) arcs gracefully through the air.

Molly aims again, this time at the Baroness’ head. 

Bullet: “A hit!  A very palpable hit!”

Clara aims again, also at the Baroness’ head.

Bullet: A miss, but only a very slight miss.

Alex pulls some hatpins from her purse and aims.

Hatpins to Shoulder: “Helloooo!”

Baroness: >glaring at Alex< “Petrenko!”

In the time that all this has taken place, the Jaguar has completed its arc and Jack catches it.

Rex aims again as well, but the most that can be said is “Well, at least he didn’t hit Jack.”

The Baroness, having grown weary of being shot, wrenched, and hatpinned, opens the door on her black, black heart releasing a burst of red, red flame.

Molly and Clara duck down again behind the lip of the roof to avoid the blast.  Jack, still carrying the jaguar, exits stage right-right over the edge, that is!  And down, down, down to the happily placed awning below.  Alex, having seen the Baroness’ hand move, and knowing immediately what that entails, executes several flips to propel herself behind the stairwell housing, with only a slightly singed hem to show for her encounter.  Rex drops to the ground, his gun still trained on the Baroness, the flames passing harmlessly above his head.

The Baroness rotates slowly in the air, so she is actually facing the lightning bolt as it streaks from the sky and strikes.  Whether it strikes her, or simply nearby her is not immediately clear as the all the observers are suddenly more concerned with avoiding being either electrocuted or set on fire. 

When the smoke clears, there is a noticeable lack of Baroness. 

Surely, nobody could survive a direct lightning strike…

Tune in Next Time to Find Out!

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