This was the fourth episode in the SINS playtest game I ran. It was talked in a previous blog post as well.
This episode was played on Memorial Day, and so like a TV show, featured an appropriate theme for the holiday. It also features a slight twist the established two case setup, with only one investigation and trial instead of two cases.
Previously on SINS…
We see a series of flashbacks from previous episodes:
Tohbi: “Someone broke in and stole the cremated remains of an old man?”
Collins’ Neighbor: “There was a strange delivery truck in the area…”
Lagneux: “You killed my dog?!”
John Harris: “Ok, I might know where the ashes ended up…”
Lagneux: “The de Pauger family is old money. They own like half the town”
Carlson: “The signet rings are how they transform into werewolves.”
The whole team guns blazing vs werewolves in the bayou.
He walks into a large study with a book-lined walls and roaring fire. A skinny man leans over a large map of the city spread across the table, his back turned to the camera so he can not be seen clearly.
“Hello Great Grandfather” says the not apparently younger man who just walked in.
“Gustave, do come in. How as the funeral?”
“Suitably Somber. I’m sorry you were unable to attend.”
“I’ve buried enough grandchildren Gustave, although I must admit I had a certain sentimental attachment to young Constance. “
“She did have her own… ruthless charm didn’t she.”
“Hmm. Now tell me Gustave, why have we not wreaked vengeance upon her killers yet?”
“They are police officers great grandfather.”
“In my day Gustave, such things would not hinder vengeance.”
“Don’t worry great grandfather, I have already have plans in motion.”
“More subtle than young Constance’s methods, I assume?”
“And Gustave… Don not disappoint me.”
Cue Opening Credits
The episode opens with Assistant Distract Attorney Jacobsen visiting the office, to help get detective Tohbi ready for here court appearance the next day. She will be testifying against John Harris, the Speed-E-Flower delivery man and thief form the Pilot Episode. ADA Jacobsen is concerned about how the trial is going. For some reason Harris has a high-powered legal firm, one apparently owned by the DePaugers, doing pro bono work him. Worse, the defense attorney some how has the jury eating out of his hand. Jacobsen worries that he’s going to lose what should be an open and shut case.
Captain Decoudreau notes that detective Caine has requested a few days off for “personal reasons.” After the last few weeks, most of the SI office is unsurprised that the Doubting Thomas Detective Caine needs some “personal time” off. The Captain also notes that Detective Carlson has called out for the day, quoting something about a plumbing problem with his hot water heater.
The camera briefly cuts to a shot of Detective Carlson, knee-deep in water inside his apartment with a hot water heater spewing water all over the place.
As ADA Jacobsen leaves the office, the captain hands Lagneux and Tohbi their case for the night. A probable murder:
Case 1: Homicide
Lead Detective Lagneux
When detectives Lagnuex and Tohbi arrive on the crime scene, they find an old man, dead, at the bottom of a set of public stairs on a hill at the top of a public park. His wallet is still on him, and his ID gives the name Rory DeCamp. After briefly rebuffing Lagnuex’s flirting, Doc, the Medical Examiner, notes that he shows signs of recent injuries, as if he fell or was pushed down the stairs, but he was killed by a gunshot. It’s also noted that he had probably drawn an old combat knife from a sheath he was wearing, not that it helped in much against his gun wielding assailant. Based on the angle of the gunshot wound, it’s estimated that his assailant was at the top of the stairs.
The detectives research the old man, looking though his apartment and intrigued by the old combat knife, they quickly discover he was a World War 2 Vet, and that another member of his old unit died a week earlier from an “accident” involving a flight of stairs in his house. In fact of the 82nd Airborne, 5 members of the same unit lived in New Orleans, but as of Mr. DeCamp’s death, only two were left alive: Wendell Perry and Samual Kostka.
After interviewing both old men, it becomes apparent to the detectives that the two are hiding something. Digging further, the men admit to being part of a Tontine over the contents of a box brought back Europe after D-Day. Neither man will admit to the contents or whereabouts of the box, but they both blame the other as the killer of Rory DeCamp.
The detectives eventually figure out the box is hidden in the tomb of Sgt. Greg Mitchland, the first member of the unit to die. They are able to locate the box, and discover that it had clasps for 5 pad locks, but only 3 are left. On a hunch, the detectives stake the graveyard out and eventually catch both Wendell Perry and Samual Kostka sneaking to the grave site separately. As the detectives observe the old war vets, they both draws weapons on each other, forcing the detectives to intervene.
Searching both men, they find Rory DeCamp’s missing key on Wendell Parry, eventually getting him to confess tot he killings of both Rory DeCamp and Dan “Tex” Rach. Securing the remaining keys, the detectives open the box to discover it contains a photo a beautiful french woman with all 5 of the men, and a love note written by the woman but without signing it to a specific man. The players award the contents of the box to Samual Kostka, but give a photocopy of the picture and note to Wendell Parry as they arrest him. Samual Kostka explains the history of the unit after D-Day, and how the young woman had saved their lives by hiding them from a Nazi patrol after they parachuted into Normandy. Apparently all 5 of the men, then very young, had fallen in love with the beautiful french woman.
Detective Tohbi Testifying
Upon arriving at the court-house, Detective Tohbi gets a sudden vibe, letting her know that the oldest portion of the court-house is probably one of the city’s remaining Wards. She imagines that it’s calming negative energy disrupting abilities probably help keep things calm in the court-house more than people realize.
On her way up the court-house steps, Detective Tohbi is attacked by an oddly aggressive bee, but manages to swat it away before it can sting her. The detectives arrive in time to sit down in the court and watch the ongoing trial of the case. As they observe, ADA Jacobsen and then Ann Chapman, the defense attorney for John Harris, cross-examine Rosalyn Flambeau, witness for the prosecution, and the woman who had turned in John Harris in the pilot episode. Although Jacobsen makes a valid argument, Detectives Tohbi and Lagneux can easily see that the jury is paying a lot more attention to Ann Chapman’s arguments then to Jacobsen’s. They also observe that many, if not most, of the jury have obvious bee stings somewhere on their person. The judge Judith Brown calls a short recess before Tohbi, the next witness, can testify.
In the hallway, detective Lagneux spots Ann Chapman talking to someone and decides to help his partner out by flirting with the lawyer enough to knock her off her game. However when he walks up to introduce himself, the man she’s talking to turns out to be Gustave DePauger, (Tim Curry) her boss and head lawyer of the firm. Moreover, he turns out to already know exactly who Detective Lagneux is. Gustave DePauger denies that his firm has taken the pro bono legal case for John Harris as some sort of vengeance for his niece, although he does hint that if his family was looking for vengeance, it would likely involve some sort of supernatural connection, although he keeps the reference vague enough not to show his hand in front of Ann Chapman.
While Lagneux was meeting John Harris’s legal team, Detective Tohbi noticed John Harris’s hand was bandaged, and that he was looking pale.
A Day in Court
Detective Tohbi takes the stand after the short break. First ADA Jacobsen goes over the case and the evidence, and the detective lays out the events, more or less as they happened. The cross-examination, however, is more trouble. Defense Attorney Ann Chapman brings up the behavior of the two detectives while interviewing people at the Speed-E-Rose Delivery Service. In particular the “You killed my dog!” portion did not go over well with the jury, although thanks to well-timed flirtatious wink from detective Lagneux, Tohbi was able to get in a word edgewise.
ADA Jacobsen was not happy with the course of the trial thus far as Tohbi left the stand. He could clearly see the jury slipping away from him. In the hallway, Lagneux and Tohbi compare notes and decide that someone was clearly manipulating the jury. Among other things, they noted that the jury was all stung. The two detectives head outside and notice that there is a surprisingly large number of honey bees among the flower beds in front of the courthouse. They check the area and discover a section of parking lot is teaming with the humming bees, eventually discovering a truck with a covered bed with open windows, the bees clearly flying to and from it. Peering through the windows, a bee keeping hive is clearly strapped down inside the truck bed.
The players close the windows on the truck, and call in their animal control expert, Old Jeb, to come get the hive. While they await Old Jeb, they head to a store to buy the largest containers of bug spay they can find. They also start digging around into the owner of the truck, eventually discovering it belongs to John Harris’s coworker whom he’d borrowed it from. When Old Jeb shows up, he handles the hive, determining that it oddly lacks a queen. The players head into the court-house.
On their way back into the court-house, the players pass back through the court-house security check point. When they did so before, they had no trouble flashing their badges to bring their weapons into the court-house, but this time when the metal detectors went off, the very same security guards yelled an alarm, and drew their weapons. It was only then that the detectives noticed the bee stings on the guards. In the short confrontation that followed, the players were forced to disable the guards, who were clearly under magical compulsion to kill them. The detectives leave the guards knocked out and tied up.
They reach the court room just in time run into ADA Jacobsen, who has just delivered his closing arguments. The jury had gone in to deliberations, and Jacobsen was panicked over the how they would come down, considering their odd behavior thus far. The detectives interrupt his semi-panicked rant when they spot John Harris leaving the court room with his lawyer Ann Chapman. He takes one look at them, clearly noticing they aren’t dead, and runs. At first the players don’t worry too much, considering there are guards on every entrance & exit, but then they realize he’s running towards the exit when they just left the guards knocked out and tied up.
The Swarm’s New Queen
The players chase the sickly John Harris through the parking lot, across the street, and into the park… where they find a massive swarm of bees waiting. It comes pouring out of the bushes and plants into a massive cloud above them. The detectives spray away with bug spray, keeping the swarm at bay. Eventually detective Tohbi is able to close with John Harris, and notices he’s commanding the swarm with a
Bee Smoker in his bandaged hand. She tackles him, grappling for the smoker. She eventually pulls the smoker from his hand, but is unable control the bees. Then she gets a psychic flash from the artifact she’s grappling over: she needs to be stung. The poison from the queen bee trapped in the smoker needs to be in her veins in order to control the swarm.
Tohbi opens the lid and reaches her hand into smoker, allowing the queen to sting her. Immediately she can feel the buzzing from the bee drones and everyone they’ve stung, awaiting a command… and the queens poison in her veins. In fact the poison is stronger than a single sting should be, magically boosted as it acts as the link between her and the swarm. Detective Tohbi looks at John Harris, and sees the stings all over his hand, and the pale pallor of his face, and realizes the side effect of her new power.
She commands the swarm of bees to disperse, and then smashes the antique bee smoker. Immediately the sense of toxicity fades from her.
The Verdict is In
The players drag John Harris back to court-house, in hand cuffs, arrested for “assaulting the officers.” Of course Attorney Ann Chapman is immediately in their face for their treatment of her client: She claims . ADA Jacobsen interrupts the exchange: the jury is back with a verdict. Gathered into the court room, the jury, looking a bit healthier and slightly confused, renders a verdict of guilty. ADA Jacobsen, is thrilled, John Harris goes to prison, and Lagneux manages to get Ann Chapman’s phone number.