The Ripper Conspiracy – Episode 2

18 August, 1888

The group of unlikely investigators picked themselves up in the aftermath of the battle in a warehouse in Chelsea’s wharf, on the Thames waterfront.

Lord Havershire, outraged at having his person harmed by someone other than himself, demanded to be escorted to a hospital without delay.

Inspector Gauss, ignoring Havershire’s persistent complaints and threats to his career, examined the fallen skinny man. He had clearly been fatally wounded and died before Gauss could get any information out of him. He then checked on Mr. Morris who, despite having been steam-punched in the head, regained consciousness and immediately attempted to pursue the escaped shooter. Despite his best intentions, Mr. Morris made it only to the back door of the warehouse before his fatigue and injuries got the better of him.

While Mr. Stuart searched the warehouse for clues about the fate of Mr. Pepperton, he discovered the man’s bowler hat. It was damaged, as though it had been stepped on. The damage led Mr. Stuart to discover a false “bottom” in the hat, concealing a letter addressed to Mr. Pepperton. The letter, signed by one M.V., conveyed knowledge of a murder and described its connection to the activities of a secret society to which Edward, Prince of Wales belonged. The murdered woman, the author claimed, was carrying the unborn child of the Prince, which the owner of the mansion wanted to cover up. The letter included the address of Mr. Forester’s mansion.

WIthout warning, a man walked into the warehouse, calling out in an American accent. Inspector Gauss, Mr. Morris and Lord Havershire went to meet him. The man, dressed in American Western style and carrying a pair of Colt 45s, introduced himself as Clancy Sinclair. Lord Havershire immediately professed himself a fan of the man’s dime-novels and gushed praise for his work. Sinclair explained that he was seeking Gauss in order to have him speak with his colleagues to arrange the release of Mr. Hawk, Sinclair’s Native American associate. Gauss agreed to do so once the warehouse had been secured.

Showing a knack for investigation, Mr. Stuart continued his search through the warehouse and discovered sleeping rolls, clothes, and personal items seeming to imply that the trio of men they had fought had been camping out in the warehouse for some time. He also discovered scalpels and other surgical equipment, as well as some unusual candles. Joining him, Sinclair displayed his surprising knowledge of the occult by identifying the markings on the candles as demonic symbols.

After sharing their discoveries with Gauss, the Inspector pointed to a symbol embossed on the tank of the steam machine. It was the crest of one of Mr. Stuart’s factories. Mr. Stuart explained that the crest was simply embossed on all sheets of metal sold by his factory and denied any possible connection to the device itself. After failing to convince Gauss to allow him to bring the machine back to his factory, Stuart joined Havershire in threatening to end Gauss’ career due to his “gross incompetence”.

Gauss left to gather any nearby policemen. Taking advantage of Gauss’ absence, Mr. Morris left the warehouse and investigated a nearby crane which appeared suspiciously inactive. He discovered the body of a Chelsea’s Wharf dock worker, whose head had been wrenched around 180 degrees. Mr. Morris’ keen eyes and exceptional alertness led him to notice a small piece of fabric flapping in the wind on top of the crane. He boldly climbed to the top and discovered a man whose height, build and hair resembled Lord Havershire. Both men acted with lightning quick reflexes, Morris throwing a knife into the man and the villain firing a shot into Morris’ leg. Morris managed to maintain his balance atop the shaky beam, despite his injury, and cleverly pulled a rope, entangling his assailant’s foot and causing him to drop his pistol. The man quickly disentangled himself, turned and performed an impossible leap off the crane and into the Thames.

Lord Havershire, Mr. Stuart and Sinclair, alerted by Morris’ shout and his assailant’s gunfire, looked up in time to see the suspect perform his incredible jump. The sheer impossibility of it was enough to shake Havershire’s already perturbed mind, but the others managed to remain stoic.

Meanwhile, Gauss returned with four policemen. He quickly assigned one of the patrolmen to escort the two well-to-do gentlemen to the hospital. The rest of the bobbies set about collecting the items from the warehouse as evidence. Gauss left them to their work and returned to the constabulary where had temporarily stationed himself. Sinclair followed him closely. Despite his close friend being unfairly imprisoned, Sinclair proved himself to be a disarming and jovial conversationalist. Gauss found himself unintentionally liking the eccentric American. Upon reaching their destination, Gauss wasted no time in pulling some strings on Sinclair’s behalf. Less than an hour later, Mr. Hawk had been released with apologies and was on his way out of the precinct with Sinclair.

Over the following days, Lord Havershire returned to his home after being treated at the hospital and immediately summoned his father’s lawyer. He harangued the man, demanding Gauss be sacked and damages paid. When his portly lawyer explained the difficulty of the demand, Havershire countered that he intended to take up the law himself to achieve justice without help, immediately ordering an enormous quantity of books that he would ultimately never read.

Mr. Stuart went to one of his factories and was received as a feared God, all of the workers desperate to keep their low paying jobs. He interviewed the four skilled welders employed at that factory. After speaking with them individually, one of the welders revealed that the other three had been approached by a dark, sinister man who sent chills up his spine. The man had spoken with them at length and then abruptly left. The men were later seen working after hours on some secret project until the man returned and left with a large object concealed under a blanket. Stuart instructed his informant to contact him if the man should ever return.

Mr. Morris approached Inspector Gauss and asked to be of assistance in his investigation. Gauss entrusted him with one of the strange candles found in the warehouse, matching those seen at the mansion and asked him to discover its source. Morris recruited Sinclair and inadvertently, Lord Havershire, who happened to be calling on Sinclair to have his copies of Sinclair’s novels signed. After Havershire jealously monopolized Sinclair’s attention for some time, Morris managed to coax the group into action.

His penchant for the occult had led Sinclair to scout out a few occult shops while in London. He led the group to a shop run by an old gypsy woman who proved to be of no use. Their next stop was a shop run by an Irishwoman by the name of Mary. After some persuasion, she revealed that a man resembling Lord Havershire, by the name of Liam Doran, had come to her shop and purchased a large quantity of candles. She went on to explain that the candles, inscribed with demonic symbols, had only one purpose, to be used in rituals intended to summon demons. She warned her visitors not to investigate any further, as they were undoubtedly in great danger.

They returned home to discover a plain white envelope waiting for them. Inside was a card with a stylized D on one side and a short message on the other. The message contained only a time, the date of the following night and the words: “Tell no one.”

A black coach with no windows greeted Havershire, Sinclair, Stuart and Morris in turn the next night at the appointed time. Sinclair initially refused to enter the coach without his ally, Mr. Hawk. A group of armed men approached suddenly and persuaded him to reconsider. As the unwitting guests rode on, they discovered the coach had no handles on the inside of the doors, which could only be opened from the outside. They were brought to a luxurious mansion in the countryside outside London.

Upon entering the mansion, the players met a group of humorless old gentlemen sitting at a long table. A somewhat younger man at the head of the table introduced himself as Lord Charles Percival Knightley, President of the Order of Diogenes. He explained that they were a secret society dedicated to the abolishment of fanciful and blasphemous notions of magic and the supernatural. They had heard about the murder at Forester’s mansion and of its alleged association with a cult. They explained their aims and their intention of keeping any mention of the event from the papers.

“The lower classes are so easily riled up,” Knightley explained, “which greatly affects their productivity and our profits. Best not to plant foolish ideas of cults and witchcraft in their simple heads.”

The Order pressured their guests into discovering the culprits behind the murder, without speaking to members of the public. A large sum of money was also offered and the men were told that the resources of the Order would be put to use to help them. Mr. Stuart quite agreed with their aims and said so without reservation. Mr. Morris and Sinclair argued that something supernatural may actually be involved, which provoked something similar to laughter from the members of the Order. Lord Havershire blustered about being unwilling to cooperate but was finally appeased by being offered information about Inspector Gauss’ past, to aid him in his quest to have him sacked.

Without further ado, the unwitting investigators were returned to their homes. Over the next few days, they attempted to return to their lives, while trying to figure out how to proceed with their investigation. They each began to feel as though perhaps they were making headway toward figuring a way out of this mess, until the next morning.

1 September, 1888

The cover story of all the papers spoke of an atrocious murder of an unfortunate by the name of Mary-Ann Nichols. Her throat had been slashed and her abdomen cut open. Her body was discovered in the Whitechapel district, leading some of the papers to dub the killer “The Whitechapel Murderer”. Seeking to outsell its rival, another paper chose a more sensationalist moniker: “Jack the Ripper”.

Continue to The Ripper Conspiracy – Episode 3


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