Centurion Chronicles #3: Village of the Damned
And the Story Continues…
Dr. Joseph Kenrick, Dr. Wyrd, Lady Laura Bancroft, Mokgosi Ramotswe, and Jeeves Cutler were able to get back to The Centurion Club‘s secret hideout in Cairo, Egypt. Dr. Kenrick and Dr. Wyrd wasted little time in pouring over Dr. Edward Radcliff’s research notes. During their reading, Dr. Kenrick recited some odd phrases, unsure of what they were. Dr. Wryd cried out in alarm upon hearing them, shouting something about The Unnamable before he, Dr. Kenrick, and the research notes disappeared in a cloud of dark smoke! As everyone else was paralyzed by surprise or fear, Mokgosi notice that Dr. Kenrick’s and Dr. Wyrd’s personal notes were left behind.
Upon review of their notes, the Centurions were able to learn that The Tombs of Aratakumba was near the village of Beni Suef and is a location that the dig team used to get supplies. The research also confirmed that the Heart of Hakkar is in the Tomb. While Doctors Kenrick and Wyrd questioned the validity of Dr. Radcliff’s research, it appears that the Tears of Anubai can cause the dead to rise and possess them with evil spirits. Their notes also make comment of a Dr. Adelaide Swann who specializes in ancient relics that involve blood sacrifice. Laura and Mokgosi decide that they have little choice but to travel Beni Suef. Henri Raoul Gaston notes that Special Agent Allen Irons has been keeping an eye out for the Areo Nautillus and that it is safer to go by road. He is able to provide them a vehicle for their journey tomorrow.
In the morning Mokgosi, Laura, and Jeeves begin to leave Cairo; however they are stopped by a check point manned by soldiers from the The British Consulate of Egypt. Laura plans on bribing them, but overhears the radio chatter from the soldiers that Agent Irons is ordering them to search every vehicle and failure to do so on the soldiers’ part will result in severe discipline. She realizes that she does not have enough money on hand to bribe them, when suddenly one of the soldiers hops into the back of the vehicle and waves them through the check point. He quickly reveals himself as Jack Scaper and that he was hired by Henry Smith to check on the complications occurring with the dig.
Towards dusk, the Centurions reach the town of Beni Suef. They, while Jack was napping in the back, quickly notice that something is amiss with the village when it looked as if it had been torn asunder, a military jeep was tipped on its side in the center of town, and a sturdier building was boarded up. The Centurions opt to split up and explore the area, with Laura going to the boarded up building, Jack checking out the bank, and Mokgosi exploring the area outside of Beni Suef.
Laura and Jeeves approach the boarded up building. They noticed that the boards appeared to have been clawed at by what looks like to be human hands. They are able to talk their way into the building and find that inside is the shopkeeper, Kafele Neferet armed with a rifle, and Dr. Swann, curled up in the corner crying. Kafele tells them to get in quickly and board up the building because the Dead come out when the sun falls and will kill them all!
Meanwhile on the outskirts of Beni Suef, Mokgosi is curious as to why there are no farmers about their chores on the land. He scouts around and notices the odd mounds of dirt. He checks it with his machete and determines that there is a dead body buried in the there. Mokgosi digs it up only to be surprised by an eerie moan that chills him to the bone. A zombie reaches up from the dirt and attacks Mokgosi. He is able to steel himself and fend off the zombie. When it reaches up for him and comes into contact with the sunlight, it dissolves into dust. Mokgosi quickly looks around and sees a vast number of mounds, but even more worrying the Sun is quickly disappearing beneath the horizon! Mokgosi quickly runs back to the village yelling to his companions that something is very wrong in Beni Suef.
During this time, Jack approaches the bank. Upon entering, he notices that the entire building has been ransacked. He sees two bloody piles on the floor with one of the corpses gripping a heavy duty machine gun that Jack quickly claims. He also notices that the vault door has been locked and that he can hear someone faintly crying inside. Jack finds the combination and quickly opens the vault, which is aged and under strain, breaking it but opening it up. He is quickly confronted by a distraught Sabah Neferet who screams, dropping her dying flashlight and running out into the street. Jack hears an odd moaning inside the vault and picks up the flashlight. He looks into it seeing a pack zombies, former bank employees, sealed by a weakening teller’s cage. They quickly break free and see Jack whereupon they charge him. Jack finds himself surrounded by zombies; swept up in his disguise as a British Officer, he quickly opens fire, mowing down the zombies who rushed him.
Mokgosi runs into town as night falls and heads to the bank to warn Jack that the dead are walking. Jack reloads his machine gun and says he knows and they both head back out onto the street to meet up with Laura. Meanwhile at the store, Laura hearing Kafele talking about the walking dead is able to find some supplies and make some Molotov Cocktails. Kafele begins to board the store back up when he yells in surprise and is greeted by his frantic wife, Sabah. The reunion is interrupted as a bone chilling moan pierces the night and a large group of zombies invade Beni Suef.
Mokgosi and Jack find themselves in a frantic battle in the middle of the street. They take cover by the tipped over armored jeep. Jack’s machine gun overheats and he is forced to discard it. Mokgosi and Laura open fire, gunning down a multitude of zombies. The Centurions then find themselves swarmed, the zombies clawing and biting at them. Jack is bitten deeply and uses his bloody wound to distract the zombies, allowing Mokgosi (using a machine gun that is low on ammo from the jeep) and Laura to gun down the remaining zombies.
Kafele reveals that only sunlight or completely destroying the bodies kills the zombies permanently. Laura uses the Molotov Cocktails to burn the corpses in town, destroying them, but also setting the rickety buildings of Beni Seuf on fire. Meanwhile Jack, Mokgosi, and Jeeves talk to Dr. Swann. She appears broken and deeply confused. She shares that Dr. Radcliff is at the dig, but hints that she might have killed him, that zombies might have killed him, or that he is fine. The fugue state she is in makes her very confused and quickly the Centurions feel that she is not telling the truth. Mokgosi is able to intimidate her into revealing that more of Dr. Radcliff’s research notes are hidden in the bank vault, but this revelation causes her to have a nervous breakdown. The Centurions and the survivors confer and agree to retrieve the research from the vault.
They travel to the vault as the town begins to burn about them. They are able to quickly secure the research notes, however they also see that a Tear of Anubai has been left with them. Dr. Swann begins to scream that the Tear will causes the zombies to come and Mokgosi smashes it to dust with his machete. A bright, white light surrounds the area and blinds everyone. They can hear the zombie hoards approaching when Laura remembers that zombies are reluctant to cross thresholds guarded by a holy symbol. Mokgosi notices that Kafele is carrying a copy of the Qur’an and covers him as he mounts it above the vault entrance. The threshold is guarded and believing themselves safe, the Centurions opt to wait until morning.
It doesn’t take them long to realize that the bank is on fire and their safe harbor is quickly becoming overwhelmed. Laura quickly cases the vault and realizes that someone once tunneled into the vault and left an exit. She quickly guides the rest of the group into the tunnel below the bank. Smoke begins to fill up the passageway and the Centurions find their blindness lifting, when suddenly zombies swarm from the passageway walls digging through soil and attack the Centurions. Laura quickly kills some in the front, clearing a small path, Mokgosi yells for everyone to run and that he will cover the retreat. He opens fire with his machine gun only to find it has run out of ammo! Kafele and Sabah abandon the group and run ahead. Jack turns, noticing a support beam and blasts it away collapsing the tunnel on the zombies behind them. Unfortunately, it opens a passage to the surface and more zombies tumble in. Laura and Mokgosi are able to quickly gun them down and the rest escape the tunnel to join up with Kafele and Sabah.
The Centurions return to their vehicle that they left parked outside of Beni Seuf, leaving the village burning behind them. Laura attempts to speed away only to have the jeep stall out and the zombies charge them from the village. Mokgosi, Jack, and Kafele open fire, slowing the charge and Laura is able to quickly peel off. They opt to travel to a military outpost that Kafele and Sabah know about.
The Centurions arrive and find the outpost abandon, the British troops have been turned into zombies and are wandering in the desert. They take refuge in the concrete bunker, locking the steel door behind them. Jack searches the bunker and finds some ammunition, a coded message, a Shadow Consortium code book, and a locked box. Jack secrets away the message and the code book. Mokgosi notes that Dr. Radcliff’s research simply confirms what they already know, but finds that this research has odd glyphs written in it. Jack offers to take a look at it and gets the research. Laura breaks into the lock box and discovers a second Tear of Anubai which she gives to Jeeves for safe keeping. Laura and Jeeves attempt to speak more with Dr. Swann, but her eyes roll in the back of her head and she collapses, appearing to be possessed.
The Centurions decide to rest for a while and decide to take turns during watch. While Jack is on watch, his mind is invaded by a dark presence urging him to kill his companions. He leaves the machine gun nest and goes into the base of the bunker to get help. He notices that Jeeves’s pocket is glowing and picks his pocket discovering the Tear. He awakens the rest of the Centurions and they too become assaulted by the dark presence. Laura realizes that the Tear is powered by natural light and takes it to machine gun nest. The Tear becomes powered by the starlight and pushes the darkness away. She then touches the Tear to Dr. Swann and removes the possession about her. The inky darkness she drives away is very similar to the one that took Doctor’s Kenrick and Wyrd.
Jack gets the opportunity to translate the glyphs in the book using the code book. He learns that it is the Heart of Hakkar that is bringing about the zombies and that the Tears of Anubai can be used to destroy them. He also learns that Dr. Radcliff has been obscuring his research because he is an agent of the Shadow Consortium! Jack reveals this to the party and reveals that Henry Smith had tasked him with finding a traitor with the dig and knowing now that it was Dr. Radcliff he feels safe revealing his true purpose to the other Centurions. He then decodes the note left on the officer’s desk and learns that as of yesterday the Shadow Consortium has ordered the death of Dr. Radcliff, revealing that perhaps he has turned traitor again!