Saturday, November 26, 2016

CoC #41: Masks of Nyarlathotep #21 The Long Train Home

July 16, 1925 - Leaving Tokyo Harbor
For the three investigators who survived Grey Dragon Island, Dr Bob Wintermute, Steven O'Hara, and David Kavida, their reunion inside a cabin aboard a steamship heading back the States was one of bittersweet confusion.  The Imperial Japanese Navy (and other agencies, possibly American) had spewed forth disinformation amongst them while the trio had been separated. 

A few rounds of Manhattan Juleps, and everyone was up to speed...  and dreading their questioning upon their return to the States.

July 27, 1925 - Honolulu, Hawaii
The ship arrived in Honolulu for an overnight stop before continuing on to San Francisco.  The voyage had been beneficial towards the health and knowledge of everyone.  Steven wasn't regaining his hair, but he was getting color and putting on some weight.  He spent many hours on the deck, fleshing out his physics papers that were overdue back at Columbia. 

Professor Wintermute had come upon an interesting discovery from his satchels.  The recreational reading of history books that the Japanese had given to him during his imprisonment had been tampered with at some point.  Instead of pedestrian texts, it covers had been rebound on a series of Japanese mythology.  The translation from the original Japanese stories was incredibly rough, but many of the stories were of Sakusan "Fish Men" who could bless or curse a village.

August 4, 1925 - San Francisco, California
The investigators were shocked with the speed of moving through customs.  No one questioned them about any of their activities.  They were able to purchase tickets for New York (via Chicago).  Steven purchased a typewriter to finish his papers aboard the train. 

Dr Bob immediately went to purchase guns, by any means necessary.   Welcome to America.

August 10, 1925, New York City
The cross-country trip was uneventful.  With some typing help by David, Steven was able to finish both papers. 
During a layover in Chicago, the latest issue of The New Yorker with David's story, arrived on the newsstands.  While David could pick out the areas that the Japanese government and editor tinkered with, it largely embellished the evil of the New China Army and the Triads, while painting the Japanese as the only civilized nation that noticed their actions. 

O'Hara and Kavida got off at Pennsylvania Station and said their goodbyes to the Professor. Wintermute refused to leave the train, so as to fulfill the promises made to certain individuals to not step foot in the city.  Kavida grabbed him a few newspapers and left for the The New Yorker, amid much fanfare.  Despite a deliberate pro-Japan bent, his was the only detailed first-person story of the tragedy in Shanghai.  A Pulitzer would not be entirely out of the question. 

O'Hara went back to his brownstone.  Despite not making any mortgage payments, he only needed to tear off a few shut-off notices to entered his home.  Nothing had changed inside, save a thicker layer of dust.  He travelled over to Columbia to drop off his papers, whose concepts surprised his colleagues as much as his disappearance grated them.  Within the week, his utilities were turned back on and he discovered additional funding within the physics department, some oddly dedicated directly to him, saved his home. 

August 10, 1925, Arkham, Massachusetts
The professor's train reached Boston, and he took the last train of the day to Arkham.  He arrived at dusk and walked to his house, lugging his luggage behind him.

Wintermute worked up the hill from the station to his home in the twilight, forced to fumble his keys as he ascended his steps in the dark.   All the damage to the home from the cultists six months ago had been repaired, save some scorching damage on the wood floor in the foyer.  His mailed being held by the University, professor had little to open up his house, although he did turn on all the lights and checked all the closets, just to ensure no unexpected guests were lurking within the shadows.  Satisfied for his own safety, he opened up a few windows, poured himself a drink and took a seat in his parlor.   

Breathing a sigh of relief, Bob glanced at something inserted between the New York Times and the latest issue of The New Yorker he had picked up while in NYC.   The insert was older pages of the Times, specifically the obituaries of August 1st.  Circled in red pencil was the expanded obituary of one Edgar Bancroft, US Ambassador to Japan, who had passed suddenly on July 27th.  His remains were to be transported to San Pedro, California via the Japanese cruiser Tama, under the command of Rear-Admiral Isoge Taro. 

Beneath the circled obit, was a short note in red...

"I took care of it for you.  You owe me."
- A.M.
In the week that followed at Arkham, Wintermute eased back into the sedentary lifestyle of academia.  As he perused his collected mail in his office, he came upon a fancy engraved letter from Columbia University.  Inside was an invitation to a gala to celebration a large endowment towards the university's physics department.   The invitation specified the genius of Steven O'Hara's research... and the name of the bestower of the endowment:

Ambrose Mogens,  New York billionaire philanthropist.

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