The Empress of India
TEoI 6 - Targets
Session 6 followed three storylines which branched off from the common thread in the previous session: England House.
Something floating in the sky
Devasheesh woke on the morning of the 21st of February 1867 with in mind a trip to Meerut. There, he anticipated to meet with the mysterious people willing to purchase English hostages. According to plan, he should have been one of the hostages. However, the kidnappers were today lying in litters where they nursed nasty gunshots wounds. He prepared a message for his friend Gubdan, a fellow former officer in the Punjabi army, and most trusted friends. He begged Gubdan to meet with him ASAP in Meerut for an affair of utmost importance.
In Meerut, Dev cautiously walked the main roads in search of any illicit activities. He noticed a nervous man peeking from the window of the Swan Hotel every now and then. His radar for troubled had been tripped. He attempted to rent a room but was turned down. The whole hotel was booked by an apparently "nice man”. Dev managed to let the owner reach the second floor to knock at the door of the room of the suspicious man. The man, named Mahaser Kirmani, mistook Devsheesh for one of the kidnapper and inquired about the hostages. Devasheesh entered the room and explained that he was looking for Salim Akbar. Devasheesh explained that he wanted to meet with Akbar on serious business. Convincing that his barging into a delicate job was nothing to be alarmed was a hard task, but Devasheesh’s profound honesty and persuasion delivered. Mahaser told him that he couldn’t take him into the hills to meet with Akbar, but that he would inform Akbar of his presence in town.
When Mahaser left to meet with Akbar, Dev shadowed him into the hills to the north. He was into crinkly terrain, in the middle of a silent-crispy night. He managed to follow him until he met with someone. Dev guessed the other man to be Akbar. They talked, then eventually Mahasser returned while Akbar headed up a steep slope to the right. Devasheesh had many near misses but followed without detection. On the other side of the cliff’s crest, there was something unexpected.
An airship was floating over the treeline. A rifleman in European garb was circling around a walkway over the balloon section. Akbar met a small group of men underneath the airship in a clearing. Dev couldn’t hear at this distance, and knew that if he moved, he could be detected by the rifleman. He very cautiously returned on the far side of the crest, left wondering about Akbar’s business with the russians.
He looked for Mahaser, but the hotel was empty. He spent the night, hoping to meet with Akbar, but no one came. In the morning, after prayer and his morning routines, A tired Devasheesh* wrote a letter to Akbar and entrusted it to the hotel owner. The letter was reaching out to Akbar. In all honesty, Devsheesh was left questioning his loyalty to the Company and on the cusp of switching side. Maybe India needed a revolution after all.
*Due to this campaign’s rules on religion and because Dev is a devout Sikh, he must wake 3 hours before sun up or suffer Will-2 until purified.
The most interesting man in the world
The ambassador was most supportive of Maritje’s plans to meet with the former Mughal minister Amjampur Khan Amrj. Maritje wanted to determine if the man had indeed framed her sister as a russian spy. Reiko, showed interest in Maritje’s plight and managed to get the Duch journalist to confide her intentions and plans. Reiko smiled as she was herself tasked to find and assassinate Amrj by her own spymaster. Sojiro was very sore of the gunshot wound from last night, but insisted in accompanying the pair to Amrj’s home outside of town. They rented a carriage and headed there.
When they arrived in the village, Reiko and Sojiro noticed a group of innocuous loiterers paying attention to them. Maritje walked down to the pavement while the two other assessed the situation as volatile. Sojiro tried to impress on the five pedestrians that they were not to be meddled with, but in the process slipped from the carriage and landed in his wounded leg: sending him into horrible pain. Reiko played dumb and, using her cutest voice and mannerism convinced the thugs to help her find a physician for her brother.
The little old Indian lady who opened the door recognized Maritje as related to Ms. Levenstein and immediately invited all of them in, instructing the thugs to help Sojiro into the mansion. A servant tried to rebandage the wound but made a mess of things, which sent Sojiro retching on the floor: at the edge of consiousness. A tall and handsome man entered the kitchen and introduced himself as Minister Amrj. Her immediately inferred that Maritje was Kate’s sister. He also got enthralled by Reiko. He offered a room for Sojiro and invited the two for tea in the garden while Sojiro rested [Reiko’s beauty and Martije uncanny resemblance to her sister lead to reaction rolls of 16 and 17].
In the garden, Maritje managed to get the chance to go for a private walk with Amjr. She capitalized on her resemblance to her sister to engage in a flirtatious covert interrogation* where she discovered that indeed Amrj was feeling guilty of what he had done to Kate (whatever that was). Maritje started to chain facts together and concluded that Amrj probably framed her sister with a letter from a russian agent. This probably implicated him as a spy as well. Later on, Reiko got Maritje to confide on her findings, and also on her plans for retribution. Reiko also concluded that Amrj was also as spy, although probably on “her side” if her intuition that she was herself working for the russians was correct. She decided to postpone his assassination until she had made sense of the enigmatic host.
Amrj offered hospitality to the three for as long as they wanted to stay in Delhi. What an interesting twist in the tale for the man that they both want dead/suffer turned out to be an elegant, sophisticated and most helpful host. Meanwhile, Sojiro seemed to have developed signs of an infection. The phycician called in blundered and prescribed some local medicine that made him even more ill.
Reiko and Maritje left the reception given in her honor to spend long hours by Sojiro’s bedside.
- In this campaign, woman with the perk “you can’t deny a lady” can always attempt to use Sex Appeal as a proxy for another influence check.
The day after
Embassador Genevieve Bell-Hudson was most displeased to dispense with her butler the day after the riot: much had to be done and she didn’t trust the local servants for bringing back England house up to standards. Her superintendent and butler, Jerome, was to deliver an important message to an associate of Devasheesh. Her husband convinced her of the necessity of such irregularity.
As the staff was hurrying to sweep broken china from the floor on the ground level, the messenger sent down the river came back with news that a unit from the Bengal Lancers had arrived in town. Genevieve authorized their entrance into Delhi, despite the sketchy diplomatic ground for such transgression. Lt. Wessenmoor arrived at the lead of a group of 14 Indian cavalerymen. Wessenmoor was a youthful go-getter unfortunately plagued with a slight stutter that made him sound slow. Gene ordered the cavalry to evaluate the defense of England House and come up with a plan to reinforce it.
The work of the Lancers was interrupted by an incoming platoon of Mughal infantrymen. They arrayed themselves across the main road and the crowd dispersed. Gene handled the situation in person, and entrusted the Mughal officer to pass along a well crafted document arguing the legal grounds for the Company to prevail themselves of a military guard (Diplomacy, supported by Nathan’s law and Gene’s politics). The Shah’s agreed to a period of 3 weeks where Company soldiers would be tolerated within the city walls. The Shah also apologized and offered to pay for all repairs to England house.
Lt. Wessenmoor proposed an ambitious and somewhat disallowed plan to turn England house into a fortified position. Gene reveled in the idea that the Shah would be paying for this renovation. Gene authorized the stocking of rifles and other equipment in the cellar, but overturned the idea of smuggling a gatling gun inside a piano. The Company flag will be flying over England House and she was resolved to hold English soil at all cost.
Gene contacted Rafi, but the Kingpin was busy hunting down his own troublemakers and ignored her invitation for a meeting. She busied herself to contact the English and European diaspora in Delhi to tighten her circle of information gathering. As most of the European in Delhi were influential merchants, she hoped that this move would refine her “radar” in case of the renewal of trouble.
And trouble there should be. A letter from Calcutta arrived a few days later. It came from the Governor’s office again, reiterating the importance of the Delhi mission. She was to hold fast and not bend to the Shah. Alarmingly, the letter concluded to be prepared for an imminent mutiny from within. Gene walked to the window to inspect the Lancers. Her own guard was made of Sepoys, or native troops.
She felt alone. She was alone.