15: THIS IS NOT THE WAY
Pavel sits at Valia’s bar, looking at the bottom of a shot glass.
“I don’t suppose you know any ship captains?”
“Planning on skipping town?”
“Not necessarily. I just want to know where the exits are.”
Dr. Barrow walks to the end of the map, where the storm drains empty into the bay. He looks down at the drop to the water, considers whether he could do it.
Walking back, he sees a flicker of movement from a side tunnel.
“I know the sensible thing is not to explore the sewers by myself without telling anyone where I’m going. But what are the chances of luring any of my companions down here?”
He heads that way.
Charlotte curls up in the chair in Alvarez’s office as she looks at photofits of the vampires and human(?) who left Carson City before the attack, and taps one of them.
“This one. Lang. I saw him with the elder. I don’t think he was one of hers... I think he was Invictus.”
Leonetti looks at it, passes it to Alvarez.
Pavel shrugs. “Maybe Jones knew him.”
“Yes, where is Mr. Jones?” Alvarez asks.
Dr. Barrow sniffs the air. Disturbed earth. He advances into a maintenance tunnel, and finds a wall broken open. Tool marks around it.
A tunnel leading upwards. Exposed earth. Worms writhing in the dirt.
The foot of a corpse dangling down from a gap.
The smell of dust as well as earth and decay.
He emerges from the sewers as quickly as he can.
Looking around, he finds he’s near a cemetery close to Nob Hill, the city’s most expensive historic district.
When he arrives at Valia’s, he emerges from shadow in the back room.
“Earth. Dust. Worms. Bones.”
“Where were you?”
“Sewers. Under a cemetery. Someone was digging up to it. Worms everywhere.” He stops and stares at a container of straws, clenches his fists, pulls out a wad of napkins and starts folding them obsessively. “Sealed a long time. Partially collapsed. There was a claw. Not a claw, a foot. I don’t think it moved. But...”
Pavel calls in the others. “Please come to the bar as soon as you can. Dr. Barrow’s here, and pretty shaken up.”
“Does anyone want to go exploring?” Valia asks those who came. “Because I’m not going by myself.”
Leonetti folds out a map of the cemetery. “You were around here... there’s a mausoleum from the earthquake pretty close by. Not the easiest way to go tomb robbing, the door would be the best way in... I can make a call, get it declared unsafe ground because of... subsidence, I guess?”
“And maybe filled with cement...” Valia suggests. “Ideally as a city works job so I don’t have to pay for it.”
“After we’ve taken a look,” Pavel says.
“Get there before... whatever this is?” Valia asks.
“Stop them either way.”
Dr. Barrow looks up.
“Collapsing or concreting one of the brood tunnels won’t get on their good side. If they have one.”
In rough work clothes, carrying tools and flashlights. (And in Leonetti’s case a sawn-off shotgun in his tool bag.)
“This is where the foot was...”
Pavel, Arthur, Valia and Leonetti look at Dr. Barrow.
Arthur turns on his Maglite.
Pavel mutters “Okay, who wants to look up into the coffin?”
“You’re the curious one,” Valia says.
“Well, we have to be absolutely sure.”
“Of what?” Valia asks.
“Exactly. Could be... anything.”
Pavel hands Dr. Barrow a webcam to hide.
Arthur shines a light up as Pavel climbs the broken wall.
The coffin that was broken into is now empty.
He grimaces at the smell of decay. And dust.
Raising a crowbar, he breaks through the rotten wood of the lid, reaches around, and pulls out a name plate.
“Maybe who it was is important.”
They withdraw, shining lights down side tunnels.
Arthur stops at one.
A largely intact corpse, with cracks in the dried skin around joints suggesting it had moved.
Pavel adjusts his grip on the crowbar, moves to prod the body’s shoulder. No reaction.
“Why is it here?” Dr. Barrow asks. “How did it get here? Is something... calling to the dead?”
“Charlotte said these ‘strega’ could possess corpses as well.” Valia looks at it warily.
“If it’s playing dead... it has quite an advantage there.” Pavel prods it again.
Then he brings the crowbar down on its wrists.
Then, this done, Dr. Barrow kneecaps it.
“Feel better?” Arthur asks.
The doctor responds by taking a bone saw out of his bag.
Leonetti burns the now headless body as they leave, Dr. Barrow carrying a sample box.
Once out in the open, Valia retrieves her phone.
“Who are you going to call?” Pavel asks with a weak smile.
“Carrie, hi... have you ever seen an animated corpse that wasn’t one of us? ... I see. Ugh. Um. Thanks. Movie on your night off?”
Dr. Barrow places the head in a fume cupboard.
“Well. If you’re like us, you need blood. Of course, if you’re like us, decapitation kills you. But let’s... see... slightly nervous about using my own blood for this, did Arthur leave any of his... should probably ask him before doing that...”
Reluctantly, he draws some of his own vitae and injects it into an exposed tube which might be an artery.
The head opens its eyes and stares at him.
Dr. Barrow’s player specified he runs “like a chicken”. And “not going by what I previously thought of as the safe and secure sewer tunnels.”