Late at night, Boots encounters someone entering the doll factory via the roof entrance. It turns out to be Gregor, the last remaining employee of the Cinder Street Doll Company.
A little about Gregor (nicknamed Gears): Once upon a time, he had been employed as an inventor and mechanic, maintaining the machinery for the assembly lines in the doll factory. When the company went out of business, he stuck around and made the factory his own private workshop. After all the doors and windows on the ground floor were bricked up, he devised ways of getting in and out of the building via the roof (that the crew have since been using). Eventually, he was hauled off Strathmill Asylum, supposedly for conducting “unnatural experiments” (he claims the charges were falsified). After five years, he’s been released, and has decided to come home.
Boots’ efforts to eliminate the intruder are thwarted by Valter, who takes an immediate liking to Gears (he’s familiar, because even after five years, his scent is all over the building). Gears meets with the rest of the crew. Shade takes an immediate dislike to him, which will only increase with familiarity (they’re competing for workshop space, and have wildly differing views on the nature of science, the supernatural, and the inner workings of the world). However, Constance sees potential in having a Leech around, and Kamali tests his skills with a broken pocketwatch (which he fixes with little effort) and a large padlock (which he opens with even less), so he is welcomed into the crew in a probationary capacity.
[Gears is being played by the same player as Shade.]
The Bell & Birch Job:
Shade sneaks into Tocker’s flat while she’s out and steals her stash of leviathan blood, leaving a note detailing where to meet to get it back. From a window in the building across the street he observes her coming home and proceeding to tear her bedroom apart in rage when she realizes what’s happened. Shade borrows a Spiritbane charm from Constance and meets up with Nyryx, currently possessing Skannon, the bartender from the Leaky Bucket, in case some muscle is needed.
Tocker, not thinking straight, shows up for the meeting with Shade, demanding he return her property with all the conviction of a junkie. But she hasn’t realized that Shade has led her into a blind alley with no escape. Nyryx grabs her and immobilizes her with a powerful armlock. The Spiritbane charm around Shade’s neck interferes with Tocker’s ability to de-possess the woman and escape. Shade brings out his spirit hook, a device I ruled works like one of those poles with a loop on the end that Animal Control uses for rabid animals, except here the loop is not physical material, but electroplasm. Shade manages to get the loop around Tocker’s neck despite her attempts to break free of Nyryx’s grasp. With a sharp yank, Shade pulls Tocker’s spirit out of the young woman’s body, which immediately goes limp. Shade then wrestles the protesting ghost into the spirit bottle that he had resting open on the ground, and clamps it shut once the ghost is inside. Shade asks if the woman will remember what’s happened, Nyryx says it’s likely, explaining that while some ghosts develop the ability to block their hosts’ memories while possessing them, most don’t bother. Nyryx takes possession of the bottle, and bids Shade good night. They go their separate ways, leaving the woman unconscious in the alley, but free of the ghost.
Later that night, Kamali and Boots make their way into the Bell & Birch via the side entrance into the kitchen. With Tocker out of the way, the only security (besides the vault door) are a trio of thugs named Grine, Coil, and Vale. Grine is helping himself to some whiskey at the bar when no one’s looking, while the other two are upstairs. This allows Kamali, all but invisible with her fine shadow cloak, to sneak up on Grine and knock him out cold. However, she doesn’t have time to hide him before Coil comes downstairs looking for him. Coil sees the body and draws his knife, and Boots engages him hand to hand. It doesn’t go well for Boots, and he narrowly avoids a nasty cut (Harm reduced to Minor). Kamali is able to deal with Grine in the same manner as his buddy. By now the scuffle downstairs has attracted the attention of Vale, the third guard. He comes thundering downstairs, but Boots manages to get the drop on him, but not before Vale is able to break Boots’ nose with a well-timed elbow. Boots yanks Vale’s jacket over his head, and uses the opportunity to knock him out, but not before Vale has some choice words for his attackers.
Kamali opens the safe with the combination, and narrowly avoids a spring-loaded spike trap, triggered by a pressure plate inside the door. After disabling it, she and Boots grab all the cash they can carry and get the hell out of there. It’s quite a lot, but as they will soon discover, it can disappear just as quickly as expenses start to pile up.
It’s a completely random coincidence that the dice happened to reinforce the idea that Boots’ forte is ranged combat, and that he is just not built for close quarters.# dontmesswiththedolls