RM8. THE LAND OF THE WITCH QUEEN
23 March. 1937.
Some where deep below London, twelve men sit in a comfortable room, around a round table, listening to one of their number.
”There are three new and significant centres of military industrial production in the world today, that is to say, new to us. The first, and smallest, is at Limpopo where, for the last decade or so, a tribe of Africans have secretly been building weaponry, for which to wage rebellion against Belgian colonial rule. As far as we can ascertain, the Limpopo complex was began in 1928, when the current tribal leader came to power. Her name is Tanta Muzuzu, and prior to ascending the throne of her tribe, the Nonons, she was educated in Europe, both here and in France. She studied medicine and philosophy, and proved to be a highly intelligent student. Upon her return to Africa, she set about recruiting people from all over the world.”
One of the men, a well dressed gentleman wearing an old fashioned, double breasted suit, leans forward and clears his throat.
”Does this woman present any threat to the British Empire?”
”Currently, no, but should she succeed in over throwing the Belgians, then she may, eventually become our concern.”
”Over thow the Belgians?” another man asks with a raised eye brow. ”Is that likely?”
The speaker turns to the man on his right.
”It is possible” Sir Hugh Sinclair replies. ”Tanta Muzuzu has gone to some considerable lengths to strengthen her tribe. She has recruited quite a few engineers, including several experts in weapon manufacture. One man in particular has given the Nonons a unique advantage over the Belgian colonial authorities. Jean Pierre Morbier is, or rather was, a French tank designer who worked for Renault during the Great War. Later he helped design some of the more ambitious French tanks, but he was fired in 1929, partly because of the economic climate, and partly because he had married a Senegalese woman, a negress, and had made himself unpopular by calling for an end to French colonial rule. Tanta Muzuzu seems to have recruited Morbier that same year for he left France along with his wife and children, within weeks, and set about converting an old railway yard into a tank factory.”
A portly, florid faced gentleman with large ginger, mutton-chop sideburns interupts Sir Hugh at this point with an exclamation of amazement.
”Are you saying that an African tribe has been building French tanks?”
”As far as we can make out, Morbier has only built one tank, but even one tank in central Congo tips the balance of power against the Belgians who have nothing but Askari infantry to meet such a challenge. I don’t think I need to explain how ineffective Askaris would be against a tank do I?”
There is a general mutter about the table and after having looked around the assembled faces, Sir Hugh continues.
”Our latest intercepts from the Congo reveal desperation from the regional government, and the Belgians are sending some heavy guns to try to counter Morbier’s tank since Belgium itself doesn’t even have any tanks as big as the one Morbier has built.”
”Just how big is it?” the gentleman in the old fashioned suit asks.
”We don’t know with any certainty, but the Belgians themselves are talking of a vehicle in excess of forty tons.”
”Forty tons!” The florid faced man exclaims. ”Great Scott, but thats even heavier than anything we have!”
”How heavy is our heaviest tank?” another man asks.
”The new Vickers weighs about thirty five tons I believe” Sir Hugh replies. ”Gentlemen, I know it sounds incredible, but there is reason to believe the estimate is accurate. The Belgians have already suffered defeat in several skirmishes with this tank which the locals have taken to calling la bête noir”.
”How could an African tribe build something like this? Even with the help of a French designer, it sounds absurd!”
Sir Hugh shakes his head.
”Morbier didn’t build this tank. He only designed it. The construction seems to have been carried out by a team of American engineers over the course of several years. I mentioned earlier that Tanta Muzuzu had recruited experts from abroad. A sizable portion of her recruits were experienced negro engineers from the United States. Using an abanoned foundry in the old railway yard at Limpopo, these man were able to realise Morbier’s design. They used recycled iron from an old train and a v12 Liberty engine acquired from the black market in the the United States. Their tank may be crude by European standards, but they built bigger to compensate, and with so little competion from the Belgians, their tank remains undefeated...”
The original speaker stands and holds up a hand.
”Gentlmen, as curious as this is, I fear we are straying from the topic. Pray let us return to the matter at hand...”
The men nod and return to their agenda, but several exchange worried glances and after the meeting, the florid faced man approaches Sir Hugh.
”This tank, la bête noir, shouldn’t we send some one to examine it?”
”What for?” Sir Hugh replies. ”It poses no threat to the Empire.”
”Thankfully, no” the other man replies, ”but what if they start building more of them?”
”I don’t think thats likely. For all her efforts, Tanta Muzuzu’s work force is very small and she simply doesn’t have the sort of industrial facilities mass production requires. Furthermore, I’ve seen some of Morbier’s design work and its mostly out dated by modern standards. La bête noir, is hardly more than an up-scaled Renault 17. I’m fairly certain that once the Belgians bring in some heavier weapons, they’ll make short work of it.”
Paris. The Goutte d'Or district, also known as ’Little Africa’. 24 March. 1937.
”They tell me you are the best” the African says.
”I am” the man with the thin moustache replies as he lights a cigarette. ”I can guarantee delivery within forty eight hours.”
”That sounds satisfactory, but there is a condition.”
The man blows out his match and stares at the dark features of his two visitors. His name is Jean Paul Chevrotin but in the Parisian under-world, he is known as ’Le Comté’, and his reputation as a master theif is well deserved. Sitting in the room with him are his two trusted comrades, Marcel ’The Blade’ Pélardon and Andre ’Mule’ Valençay.
”What is the condition?”
The African, who has been introduced to Le Comte as Marcel, smiles, revealing two gold canine teeth.
”We go with you.”
Le Comté shrugs expansively.
”So be it, but if things turn messy, then you must look after yourselves.”
The African’s smile broadens.
”That won’t be a problem.”
”Good” Chevrotin nods. ”Now, give me all the details...”
The African turns to his partner who has stood silently in the back ground.
”Aruba here will explain the job.”
Aruba is short, dark and bespectacled. He steps closer to the table and the naked light bulb forms dark shows under his brow.
”This is the building where the mask is being kept during the reception...”
Paris. Boulevard Maillot 26th March. 1937
Night draws on as guests arrive at Doctor Schlumberger’s institute with several high standing members of the anthropological and archeological world gathered, especially eager to see the evening’s centre of attention. The famed mask of the ancient Nonon Queens, and the man who discovered it and brought it to Paris.
”I say Percy” Daniel Mansfield’s breath fogs the glass of the exhibit as he examines the celebrated mask. ”How the Dickens did you come by this thing?”
Percy Worthington smiles broadly.
”Oh it was easy enough. I asked a local tribe if they knew where the ancient Nonon Queens were buried, and after a spot of digging, we came across a chamber where lay the blessed relic you see before you.”
”Was that really all there was to it?” Audrey Mansfield asks politely. ”I’m sure you make it sound far too easy. All, that digging in the African sun must have been frightful!”
”I’ll say” Daniel laughs. ”Percy never was one to break out a sweat, eh Perce?”
Percy laughs quietly and sips his drink as he regards his old friend.
”As you say Daniel.”
”Mister Worthington!” a portly old white haired old man in a curious mixture of western and eastern garb hails the English adventurer from across the room. ”Come and meet Professor Foing!”
”Excuse me” Percy murmurs. He makes his way across to the famous Doctor Schlumberger and extends a hand to his friend.
Audrey watches him closely. After a while she turns to Daniel who is trying to read a small plaque, written in French.
”What do you think of Percy?” she asks
”Percy?” Daniel answers with a vague shrug. ”He’s a good egg. A bit soft round the edges, but a good man in a tight corner I always say.”
”He strikes me as being somewhat nervous.” Audrey says. Daniel looks at her face with an inquiring eye.
”Really old girl? What makes you say that?”
”I suppose its just my female intuition, but theres something bothering him I think. Something isn’t quite right.”
Daniel looks back across the room to where Percy is speaking to the two old men with some animation and after a moment or two he catches a glimpse of some deep emotion that seems to momentarily surface through his friend’s jovility. He watches the conversation for a few minutes but sees nothing untoward so turning his attention to the the rest of the room he looks about for any other sign of something being amiss.
”Perhaps he’s just nervous because he is the centre of attention?” he turns to his wife, but Audrey is speaking to a tall French woman with a serious face.
”Mark my words” the woman is saying. ”There will be war in Germany before this decade is out!”
”War?” Daniel asks.
”Yes indeed!” the woman leans forward to emphasise her words. ”Now that horrible Herr Hitler is gone, the communists will rise once more, and not a moment too soon if you ask me!”
”Now, now Gertrude” Doctor Schlumberger interjects as he approaches with fresh drinks. ”These nice young English people didn’t ask you, so please lets not have any politics tonight.”
The tall woman glares at Daniel Mansfield, but her manners prevent her from further indiscretion. She withdraws to a corner and Schlumberger turns to Daniel and Audrey.
”How happy I am to see you both at my little soirée” Schlumberger smiles at Daniel in particular. ”Do you know, iin my youth, I knew your father?”
”Really?” Daniel replies in surprise.
”Yes indeed. We studied together at the Sorbonne and for a while we even shared an apartement in the Latin Quarter. Such fun times we had. He was a good, honest friend.”
”I had no idea..:” Daniel begins, but then a sudden commotion interupts the conversation and the two men turn to the door. ”What the...?”
Player One. Jean Paul ’Le Comte’ Chevrotin. Andre ’Mule’ Valençay. Wanda Jolivet. Marcel
Player Two. Marcel ’The Blade’ Pélardon. Pierre Boulez. Henri Gallois-Montbrun. Aruba.
Player Three. Daniel Mansfield. Audrey Mansfield. Marcel Messnier. Gabriel Messnier. 2 x Police officer. Random guests.
Player Four. Doctor Schlumberger. Anna Parrot. Professor Foing. Theophilus Dupuis. 2 x Police officer. Random guests.
Players one and two begin the game by planning the heist. In order to do this they are provided with a floor plan of the building, a map of the immediate surroundings and a time table of the evening. They do not receive floor plans of the two adjacent buildings however.
Players three and four start on the table in round one, the time of which is determind by players one and two. Each also receives a number of random guests, how many being determined by the time at which the heist takes place. The police officers will only be alerted if gun fire takes place. All four officers begin the game in the police workshop building.
All out door areas are good. Indoor areas which are not rooms (that is too say staircases, hall ways, corridors etc) are rough. All rooms are difficult (on account of furniture, etc). The tops of buildings and the fire escape are rough.
Players one and two win the game by three or more elements escaping with the mask. Players three and four win by defeating over five enemy elements.
During the game, neither side is obliged to reveal the identity of any element.
Rocketman has two hero points in this game.
Only two of the guests are carrying a weapon at the beginning of the game (Gabriel Messnier has a stilleto and Theophilus Dupuis has a night stick) but more weapons can be found in the Doctors study where there is a gun cabinet containing two hunting rifles, a shot gun and an 8mm ’Lebel’ revolver.