A Shadow of Doubt

Ahrensburg Flats

The two cars rolled through traffic, slipping among the crowded streets on their way to the French Quarter. Williams drove the first, slamming on the breaks like a madwoman to shriek at Melnikov through the smoke-filled interior. Smoke from the cigarette seeped out the Mercedes’ cracked rear window throughout. Helen Brown tried in vain to tune out their bickering, peering out the window at the streetside lurching by.

At one stop, they were passed by the second car. Lars skillfully maneuvered the newer Volkswagen around them, flicking the turn signal on briefly as he slipped past. Christiane and Kaito looked into the other car briefly as they passed, noting the chaos inside the Mercedes.

As he approached the Apartment Block, Lars eased off the gas. The hairs on his neck stood up, and a familiar sinking feeling settled in his stomach as the car lurched a bit and started to accelerate, completely out of his control. In a panic, he swerved up the hill on the corner, while a confused Christiane and Kaito braced themselves for a crash they didn’t understand. Slamming on the brakes had no effect on the car, so Lars eased into the curb and pulled the parking break, bringing it to an impromptu, screeching halt on the hill.

Muttering about ghosts, the trio exited the vehicle and entered the building, where they met up with the rest of the group. The six investigators were there to find Hans Kaufmann, Zarkov’s former neighbor and friend, to ask him personally what had seen of the missing doctor.

They met Hans, who seemed fairly cooperative, despite their intrusive and threatening demeanor. Disaster hit when the power surged, and chaos exploded in the small apartment. Somebody screamed, and there was a loud crunch. When the lights flickered back on, Helen Brown stood over Hans’s unconscious body while Lars was rifling through the desk in his back room.

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Session 1

RPA HQ, Day 1

The six newest RPA employees sat down, one by one, around a long, narrow table. The slight draft in the room sent chills down their spines as they stared suspiciously around at their companions. Their somewhat pompous retainer, Colonel Myles Wright, introduced himself and offered them each a cup of tea and biscuits.

They made their introductions carefully at first, before Lennore Williams launched into her own story of how she came to join the RPA.

Years ago her husband was killed, and since his death, she has been searching for somebody able to commune with his spirit. In occupied France, she finally found Ezmeralda Holomek, an old gypsy fortune teller rumored to see beyond the veil and communicate with the spirit world.

In the midnight light of her house-boat docked in Cherbourg, she finally convinced the old woman to provide the service she requested. In the midst of their séance, they were interrupted by a knock, the ship rocking slightly as somebody stepped aboard from the dock. Cautiously stepping into the darkness by the door and drawing her revolver, Lennore let the old woman answer, and was shocked to see a Nazi soldier at the door, apparently investigating a tip for a hiding Gypsy.

After brilliantly convincing the young officer, through a combination of threats, promises, wits, and feminine wiles, to leave the old Gypsy alone, Lennore stumbled, squeezing off a round in the process. The bullet tore into the young man’s open eye, leaving a bloody mess on the wall behind him.

Ezmeralda was surprisingly calm about the event, and finished the ceremony, thanking Lennore for doubtless saving her life. Promising to take care of the body, she departed the coast in her small boat, leaving the RPA associate stunned, elated, and with a conflicted sense of power.

Conversation drifted around the table a bit, and before Arkady Melnikov spoke up. He regaled his own tale of his path to the RPA, starting with, and then ending with, the wife of his commanding officer.

The two of them, Arkady and Zoya, had been enjoying a night of each other’s carnal company when her husband came home early. Igor was a brute of a man, and enraged, he pulled Arkady off his wife, throwing him across the room and into a liquor cabinet. Bottles rained down on the pair of them, some smashing as they struck the hardwood floor.

Dazed, Arkady tried to put up a fight, while Zoya called to the servants for the police. A few solid kicks knocked the wind out of Arkady, while Igor reached for a broken bottle of vodka. “Not a bad way to die!” Arkady coughed, as Igor raised the bottle, prepared to bring the sharpened glass down on his unprotected neck.

Suddenly a shot rang out, and the bottle dropped from Igor’s stunned hands. Slowly the floor rose up to meet him as he looked to his wife, and the smoking service revolver in her hand.

“Now we can run away together!” she said, helping Arkady to his feet, “Its everything we ever wished for!” Sirens rang in the distance from approaching patrol cars, already on their way to investigate the call.

“It was written off as ‘self defense’”, he concluded, “but Russian military send me off on ‘special assignment’ in Berlin. Zoya never move on after Igor death. Always, she look for me. I cannot get away.” A haunted look passed across him as he finished, his face nearly as pale as Lars’ across the table.

Wright, waking from a short nap, quickly ran through the mission parameters. Professor Dmitri Zarkov, a Russian scientist who moved to Berlin, curiously enough, during Nazi occupation in the late 30’s, disappeared within weeks of his arrival. He had made no secret that he was a Jew, and so many had assumed that he, like many others, had disappeared into one of the many camps now known to have existed. In that time he made few friends, but his neighbor, Hans Kaufmann, recently saw him in the U-Bahn tunnels. Though Hans called out to him, Zarkov either didn’t notice, or didn’t care to respond.

If Zarkov is still alive, he may be able to shed light on the mystery behind his disappearance, and on why the Nazis didn’t kill him. The Russians have grudgingly told us that Zarkov’s experiments dealt with ‘fringe’ science. We need specifics, though, so it is imperative that you locate him as soon as possible.

After a bit of deliberation, the RPA group decided to meet with Hans Kaufmann and find out more about his connection with the missing scientist.

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