After their encounter with the chupacabras, the party made their way back to the Alice safehouse where they filed their report. A Ranger courier met them and brought them notice that Captain Hill, their collective mentor, had been found at the King Ranch and was calling for them. They made the ride to the ranch the next morning and were led to a bunkhouse where they found Capt. Hill, and someone they did not expect to meet – Howard Hughes!
Capt. Hill explained that he’d also been on the trail of Lloyd Gage, but the chupacabras had been too much. He’d managed to get away but was recuperating from his wounds, which included two broken legs.
Hughes asked the party if they recovered the case Gage was delivering. Claudette passed it to him, and he unlocked and opened it. The good news was that the experimental gear that had been sent to his Houston facility was all still there. The bad news is an ancient artifact – a large stone fragment called the Eye of Camazotz – was missing.
Capt. Hill noted that Camazotz was an ancient Mayan god of bats, darkness, and death. Hughes had recently acquired the artifact and was transporting it to his Houston facility for analysis and tests. Its disappearance, especially in an area that was now confirmed to have vampires, was very concerning. As Capt. Hill was going to be recovering for a while, he asked the party to conduct the investigation for the Eye.
Hughes then stated that he could offer some assistance. The gear in the case was being transported to Houston so field trials could begin. He offered the gear to the party so they could use the items in the field and report back on how they worked. The gear included 2 Marconi guns, 3 Crotaline droppers, 1 Kinetic Dampener Field, 1 Poison Blade, and 1 Sinew Weave Treatment.
Captain Hill told the party that a Rangers Incident Site Team had gone over the chupacabra lair and found a possible lead – a receipt for room 101 in the Motel 23 located in San Diego … the very heart of Duval County.
The party made their way to the Motel 23 and checked in just before nightfall. They managed to get room 101 and immediately began checking it for clues. They found that one of the mattresses had been flipped over to hide a huge bloodstain. They also noted that something was off about the back wall.
Rex and Doug pulled down a door-sized section of the back wall to find a secret passage that ran down the north half of the building – someone in the passage could spy on any room on the north half. About that time, though, someone from housekeeping announced herself and asked to enter.
After some misgivings, Doug let her in. Her name was Connie Lopez, and she was good and scared. She told the party that if they were in 101, they must have been looking for Gage. She told them she saw what happened, but if she told them she would be in danger. After further discussion, she told them that she couldn’t endanger he family by talking to them further, but that Father Gonzales at St. Francis De Paula Catholic Church could tell them what happened to Gage. They thanked her, and she went on her way.
Rex continued to inspect the hidden passage and saw a door that led into an area just north of the office. He quietly opened the door and looked around, to see what looked like a bedroom, but with an odd musky smell.
The source of the odor soon became apparent, when a hulking, 7 foot tall werewolf exploded into the room!
After a furious combat (in which the Marconi guns performed admirably), the party finally managed to drop the lycanthrope and only took a few scratches. After recovering a bit, they checked the remainder of the motel. They didn’t find anything of note, and decided to sleep there that night and head for the church the next day.
A short time later that night, the party learned a very important lesson the hard way – it is very difficult to make werewolves STAY dead. The werewolf regenerated and burst into the room while they were sleeping. Luckily, Doug was on watch and managed to hold the beast off while the rest of the party woke up and charged into the fray. After a hurried combat, the werewolf was down again.
The party then decided that they should make their way to the church immediately, so they set out. However, to attempt to discourage the werewolf from coming after them a third time, they severed his head, doused the body in gasoline, and set it on fire.
It was very dark by the church. They found that there was a sturdy, wrought iron fence around the grounds, and that the cemetery was very well maintained. Two men who appeared to be in their late 60s stood behind the locked gate. The party could tell by their clerical collars they were a priest and a deacon, and they looked exhausted.
Father George Gonzales explained that the church had been under siege almost every night and begged for help. Before he could explain who or what was besieging them, shapes began to shamble forward out of the darkness – four skeletons marched like macabre marionettes toward the church.
The party made short work of them, thanks in part to a timely lobbed flask of holy water the clerics had provided them. The party had just enough time to assess their situation and gather a few more flasks of holy water when a chorus of raspy voices in the darkness began to hiss a single word …
Three zombies slowly staggered toward the gate. While Isabella had been hesitant to use her Marconi gun on the skeletons, she found it was quite effective against the necrotized flesh of zombies!
The party had a brief respite, when they heard something else charging toward the church. They saw three shadowy figures in the darkness – a hunched woman in robes kept her distance, while two upright figures sprinted toward the party.
The two creatures looked at first glance like zombies, except they were faster and had a much more intelligent bearing about them. One of them struck Rex, and Rex’s sudden inability to move told them there was something worse going on. Claudette recognized the creatures for what they were … ghouls!
Rex managed to shake off the paralysis effect, and in short order the party had sent the two ghouls back to the grave.
However, that gave the hunched woman time to plan her strategy. With a savage smile, the witch uttered an incantation and threw her open hand toward the party. A cone of pale grey mist rolled out, engulfing Claudette, Doug, and Isabella. Doug managed to shake off the effect and was only lightly hurt. Claudette and Isabella, on the other hand, were wracked with pain as their very flesh began to wither!
Watching the witch fling hexes with abandon – one of which seemed to have healed her completely! – Rex had a desperate idea. He injected himself with an effort enhancement formula [a cypher they’d found earlier] … suddenly, it was like every single thing he could see was moving in slow motion and had vector lines indicating where they were going, how fast, and what they'd do next. He picked up the empty injector and filled it from a flask of holy water.
Then, while Isabella, Doug, and Claudette kept the witch distracted, Rex sprinted over to her, ducked under her wildly arcing knife, and injected the holy water directly into her heart!
The witch's eyes sprung open in surprise, then pain. She reached out toward Rex, possibly to grasp at him or to attempt to blast him with a suitably horrid hex.
However, it was not to be. She staggered, gurgled something incoherent, and fell over into a smoldering heap.
The party looked but didn't see any further attackers, so they gathered their gear and followed the priest and deacon into the church.