Terror From the Skies
The Homesian Method
The pilots are motioned to sit in a loose semi-circle as the famous author joins them.
Sir Conan Doyle sits down before the assembled fliers and pours you all a tot of rich smelling brandy. He eases back into the camp chair, unbuckles his tunic and eyes you all carefully.
"Now then, you've all seen things unexplainable, weird and strange. I read your report to command and had it suppressed. Wouldn't do to tarnish your reputation or scare the johnnies back home. I represent a particular branch of the government, newly formed. Our unofficial designation is MI-13. As of now, you chaps all work for me. There are strange things afoot out there, under the pall of this war, things that cannot be explained. That's where we come in. It's our job to stop this, I hesitate to use the words, supernatural phenomena. As far as we can discern, these strange occurrences are appearing piecemeal here and there over the entire theatre of this worldwide war. We've had reports of strangeness from the western front to the colonies."
He pours you all another drink.
"You gentlemen, are unique. You survived. This makes you very valuable to the war effort, we need men of sterling character and steel backbones. I've read the dispatches and interviewed Captain Herbert, I believe you can fight and fight back against this menace. As agents of MI-13 you will have access to specialised weapons and resources, intelligence and contacts. I have the utmost confidence in you all. For the moment, I want you to carry on following your duties here at Vert Galant. One of our agents, a Mr Parkhurst will shortly be joining you. He is ostensibly a correspondent for the Times, and will be your chief liaison to me. He is a most resourceful man, and will be in direct contact with my office in London.
In the meantime, I have a small surprise for you all. As you are no doubt aware, the press are labelling the prevalence of the Eindecker, 'the Fokker scourge'. You men encountered and bested a flight of them I believe. I have taken measures to ensure the odds remain squarely in our favour. A small contingent of Airco de Havilland aircraft await you at the RFC depot at Candas. Captain Herbert has arranged for you gentlemen and mechanics to travel to that place tomorrow, at dawn."
One Good Deed
Candas is 5 miles to the West of Vert Gallant, and is sited to be the main supply depot for the airfield. Currently, there are Royal Engineers and a small contingent of sappers constructing the site, work is scheduled to be completed in December. Up to this point in the war, the depot has consisted of only temporary sheds and a number of Bessonneau hangars. However, contracts were raised through the RE Works Directorate for the construction of workshops and repair sheds, including a dope shop and carpenters’, fitters’ and sail makers’ shops as well as four small fuselage sheds.
The following day after breakfast, Captain Herbert true to his word has an Albion truck waiting for the pilots with two of the base mechanics already on board and waiting to depart.
After an uneventful half hour journey across the battle scarred French countryside, the pilots eventually reach the site of depot 2. Engineers are hard at work already in the cold autumn morning, assembling the prefabricated building and stores. Before the furthermost Bessonneau hangar, a line of brand new Airco DH 2s sit neatly. The experimental pusher aircraft are unpainted and have crates next to them with Lewis guns packed in grease, with drums of ammo in boxes. With a repair roll by either the pilots or mechanics, the ordinance can be simply attached to the cockpit mounting and loaded ready for action. As the pilots mill around the aircraft, a Royal engineer officer approaches and salutes.
Tall, crisp and clean shaven, Captain Baxter carries a clipboard under his arm.
"Morning chaps, lovely morning for it, what? Name's Baxter, 3rd Lancashire, care to put your moniker on here?"
He hands each of the pilot's his clipboard and has them sign for the aircraft.
"Thank'ee gents, hope you can get these things in the air sharpish, what? heard you chaps had a spot of bother last night."
With a smarts roll, or Knowledge (battle), the player realises that there were no operations last night, certainly not from Vert Galant.
If questioned further, Baxter can reveal more details.
"Some of the lads heard explosion and machine gun fire from about 20 miles or so north of here, we assumed you chaps had been in a scrap, Thompson over there swears he heard a plane circling before the fighting."
If anyone thinks to look on a map, Baxter can provide a detailed ordinance map inside the staff office, with a navigation roll, it can be determined that the explosions and sounds of combat came from near the village of Frévent, about 17 miles to the north.
There is a polite knocking at the door, and a young engineer enters and salutes.
"Begging your pardon Sir, Sergeant Armstrong asked me to speak to you. We completely forgot Sir, Yesterday, those ambulances heading for Calais, they was heading towards Free-vent."
Baxter cringes as he remembers,
"Good God, that's right! from the field hospital at Doullens, four, no, five ambulances, taking casualties from the Northumberland's casualty clearing station. They would have passed right through that area. Gentlemen, we're not a fighting unit, our men are engineers not front line soldiers. D'ye think you chaps could take a look into this? perhaps, reconnoitre?"