Starkweather-Moore Expedition: Beyond the Mountains of Madness
The story so far
The investigators first hears about the expedition and contact Starkweather and Moore. They offer to sponsor the expedition with large sums of money for a chance to participate. One of them is an experienced pilot and thus becomes a part of the expedition.
The investigators spend their time preparing for the journey. They take cues from the legendary polar explorer Amundsen and spend a month with the Innuits to learn how they deal with the extreme wheather conditions that are in store for them.
Final expedition intervies in NY. investigators attend. The rest of the spots for the expedition are filled. The investigators track down two members of the fatefull Miskatonic University expedition and inquire about what happen on the ice.
September 1, 1933
The investigators arraive in New York and move into the 4th floor of the Amherst Hotel. Fittings for artic clothing begins, any clothes and gears the investigators have brought are taken aboard the ship. A group photo of the expedition members is taken. Departure is set for the 14th of September.
September 2, 1933
The day begins with a large kick off meeting at breakfast. The PC who is friends with Starkweather is pulled aside by the man and asked to take care of the renowed Sea-Captain J.B. Douglas when he arrives the following evening.
September 3, 1933
The three aeroplanes that are to be used on the expediton arrivesin New Jersey, and all pilots and mechanics/technicians will travel daily to Trenton over the next three days to check them out, test fly them and prepare them for shipping to the docks and loading.
The press is informed that Captain Douglas will be joining the expedition.
One of the investigators awaits the renowed Captain Douglas at the trainstation and drives him directly to the hotel he is to stay at, a different one than the rest of the expedition; the Westbury Hotel.
As to be expected with such a large expedition little misshaps happen, wrong stores are delievered and some equipement needs changing/modificaton.
September 4, 1933
The investigators awake to a ruccus in the hallway of their hotel. They can hear Starkweather, his voice filled with anger, banging on the door and shouting for Moore to open:
“Moore!” he shouts. “Blast you, man, I want you awake! Moore!” Moore opens. “It’s her, Moore! All the time it was her! I should have known! Who else could it have been? The conniving witch! I should have suspected her hand in things from the beginning! Blast it, Moore, listen to me! How else could she stop me? Who else would have switched those cans of fish with oil? Who else has the money to spy on us? To throw things in our way?To bribe, to steal, to throw barricades before us, for her own spiteful little reasons! “I won’t allow it, Moore! Not this time! She won’t get the upper hand this time! I’ll prove to everyone that she’s nothing more than a—” he stops short and leaves the room with the following tirade: “Advance the schedule, Moore! We’re leaving on the 9th. The 9th, Moore! See to it! And Moore . . . get me a woman!”
Moore confides in the investigators: It appears a socalite named Acacia Lexington has disclosed that she not only intends to be the first woman to set foot on the South Pole, but that she will be setting sails for antartica on the 10th… Moore trusts one of the investigators to find a suitable woman for their expedition, to appease Starkweather. Luckily one investigator know a brilliant scientist and socialite, and immediately flies to Boston to recruite her. He is successfull and Miss Charlene Whitston joins the expedition.
This investigator character is then chosen to present her at a press conference, where Starkweather is present, and from now on this investigator is often given the task of giving short tid bits to the reporters. The news is released to the press in time for the evening papers.
(See newspaper clippings for more information)
September 5, 1933
The day begins with one of the investigator characters receving a crackpot letter (see A threatening note).
The investigators are still being haressed by the press. The pilot character is finishing up with the testing of the airplanes.
September 6, 1933
Opening their paper at breakfeast they learn the shocking news that Captain Douglas has been found dead (see Famed Sea Captained Murdered). Starkweather and Moore cannot be found. The press is worse then ever before.
The investigators are interviewed by the lead detective, detective Hansen, who is most interested in the one that drove him to the hotel. He learns nothing usefull from them, from him they learn that the Captain still had his money when hauled from the water, so robery appears not to have been the motive. A vague description of a large framed man, probably strong, in a hat and overcoat running from the scene is all they have. Douglas’ brother has been notified.
In order to protect the expedition and seen as a matter of honor, the investigators decide to look into the Captains death. After all they were responsible for looking after the man.
At the Westbury Hotel they find that the deceased Captains room is under lock and key, guarded by a policeofficer. It has not yet been searched. The clerk at the hotel, for a small compensation gives them the following information:
Douglas checked in three days ago. He has had no visitors, nor has anyone asked for him at the desk. He spent most of his time here in his room.
He made several telephone calls. The clerk does not know to whom, but did overhear one conversation where the name «Lexington» was mentioned.
Checking the hotel register they notice that a man named Mr. Anthony Sothcott checked into the hotel the day after Douglas. According to the clerk the man asked for the roomnumber 21 specificly, claiming it was his lucky number. The man was very well dressed, powerfully build and spoke with a German accent. Sothcott checked out today, before the clerk came to work.
The clerk leaves little doubt that they can see room nr. 21 if they, hmm, pay another small fee…
They find nothing at all in room 21 of interest, just a bed, bedding, a chair and table, a pitcher and basin, and a cracked mirror. However there is a door leading into room 23. Sneaking into the room, they quietly search it. The fist thing that strikes them is that it has already been searched. Douglas possessions is strewn about, his luggage opened and the bed linen torn from the mattress. The floor is covered with scraps and shards of items that have been carelessly smashed. The room has been thoroughly, and none to gently, searched. They find the following items in the room:
- Two framed photos, with glass broken. One shows the ships Arkham and Miskatonic at Hobart Harbour, dated 1930. The other depicts Douglas in uniform with another man, clearly a relative. A brother perhaps?
- Papers, letters and personal effects. Packets of letters from Douglas’ brother are here, as well as seaman’s certificates, personal papers, and a scrap book of his travels on the Miskatonic Expedition to Antarctica. These have been gone through and scattered around the room.
- Several small bound journals. These date from 1920 through 1933. The entries are terse, infrequent, and contain mostly technical # shipboard information. (Miles traveled, crew discipline, shipboard repairs, etc.) The volumes covering the period between September 1930 and March 1931 are missing; the time of the Miskatonic expedition.
- Several crumpled sheets of paper hold potential clues, as follows:
- Starkweather, Amherst Hotel. WH-5040; 10:00 A.M.
- Gerald Brackman GR-7738
- Philip—10:40, 12:55, 3:10, 8:45 (overnight)
- Wykes, Grimes, Brewer—Purple Cup
- A. Lexington QB-0505 [several check marks next to the phone number]
A partially written letter from Douglas to Philip, found among the scattered papers on the floor. (see wiki for the letter)
This is all they find before the cops are, and they must sneak out.
Information about the clues:
1. The Purple Cup is a bar down by the docks, close to where the body of Douglas was found floating.
2. Gerald Brackman: A lawyer, offices at the 4th floor of 8th avenue and 91st street Manhattan. Brackman has little of substance to tell them. He confirms that he met with Douglas on September 5th at 2 p.m. The reason for the meeting and what was discussed between them is confidential, especially in view of the fact of Douglas’ death. Douglas left no papers or documents in Brackman’s care, nor did he discuss anything about the expeditions or his other reasons for being in New York. The relationship between the two men was purely professional.
3. Acacia Lexington: They are unable to reach her by phone, even after several attempts. A ploy is conceived in order to arrange a party and invite Lexington.
September 7, 1933
Security around the expedition, the hotel and docks increase. The investigators are now asked to sign in and out. Final fittings for all clohtes aboard the ship.
Contacting an old navy friend, one of the investigator characters finds a suitable replacement for Douglas and Michael Vredenburgh is brought aboard as sailing master.
September 8, 1933
Douglas’ funeral. The investigators talk to his brother (see Philip’s statement).
Still unable to reach Acacia Lexington by phone, the investigators decide to go and see her in person. As they drive up they notice a small car that has parked neatly just outside the gates. A man in his fifties exits the vechicle, expensively dressed in a dark suite and top hat. He’s carrying a briefcase and his manner is straightforward and buisnesslike. He follows the curve of the driveway, approaches the house and is lost to view. Before the investigators can exit their car however he returns, but not alone. He is still carrying the briefcase, but a younger man with a broad chest and atheltic build is accompanying him. They quickly walk to the street without talking and a car drives up, they get in and the car leaves. The old man seems tens and restrained, the younger man had one of his hands in his coat pocket the whole time. It becomes clear to the investigators that the old man has been kidnapped.
Acting quickly they decide to follow the car, which drives away at high speed. Fortunately it keeps a fairly straight route, and they mange not only to follow it, but remain undetected.
The black auto drives to the northern end of Manhattan, to a small rundown warehouse on West 210th Street, against the Harlem River Canal. The warehouse door is rolled open and the automobile drives in. The warehouse door closes. All is quiet on the street once more. The warehouse is a rectangular twostory building of concrete and iron sheeting on a quiet street by the river. There are small alleys on either side, and a decaying wooden pier extends into the river from the back. The windows are stained and grimy. There is no sign of life around the place.
Scared of what might happen if they do not act at once, the investigators take it upon themselves to find out what is going on and to come to the aid of the old men if need be.
The sneak into the warehouse on the ground floor. The warehouse is two stories high. There is a ground floor and an upper loft. The ground floor of the warehouse is made up of two rooms, a small square office area and a single large open space for storage. The office is a 10′ × 8′ room, now containing only a battered wooden desk and a dark green metal wastebasket. The drawers of the desk are empty save for a small box of metal screws and a dusty 1932 wall calendar. There is no chair. Two doors access this room, one leading to the street, the other to the interior of the building. Two small frosted windows face outside; a third window, clear but no larger than the others, looks into the front of the warehouse. The dusty room is clearly unused, and has a faint sad air of abandonment. The main warehouse floor is open and largely empty. The floor is stained concrete.
The ceiling, two stories above, is all but invisible. Faint light seeps in through begrimed windows high along the side walls and around the edges of the ceiling air vents, but this is scarcely enough to pierce the gloom. One electric light burns high up toward the back of the building, but much of the rest is in darkness. The black automobile is parked neatly by the front door. It is the only thing in the building that is clean or new.
The investigators hear sounds coming from the loft and sneek upstairs. The upper loft is sturdy and well-made despite its age and disuse. It runs along the south wall of the building, about ten feet wide, and is twenty feet deep along the west wall. The floor is made of thick planks on top of steel beams and is strong enough to hold heavy cargoes. It does not creak or sag when walked upon. The sounds come from northwest corner of the loft. Sneaking even closer they hear the following:
Q: Where is Herr Professor Dyer?
A: I cannot tell you. I do not know.
Q: Where is Herr Danforth?
A: I do not know who you mean.
Q: Who else knows about Pym’s
A: I do not know what you mean.
Why are you doing this?
Q: What was your business with
A: I was trying to persuade her not
to go to Antarctica.
A: As a favor to a friend.
A: William Dyer.
Q: You are not being helpful, Herr
Roerich (sounds of an impact).
The investigators spring into acion, two of them carrying pistols. Surprised the three abductors seem confused, but then one of them acts. He draws a pistol and things take a turn for the worse. A split second later the room rings out with gunfire. Bullets fly and two of the abductors go down. The third fights his way downstairs, before a bullet finds its target and he collapses. Gasping and coughing blood he expires before the investigators can question him. A sound of an engine pulls them away. Running out onto the dock they see a motorboat speeding away, a lone figure piloting it.
The old man is unconcious and bears sing of having been beaten up. The dead men have little in the way of clues on them:
1. Pistol, large knife, $80 in bills, German passport in name of Anthony Sothcott, cigar case containing six spare bullets for his gun.
2. Belt knife, passport in name of Harold Gruber.
3. Lock picks, multi-head screwdriver, needle-nose pliers, German passport in name of Michael Borland, small revolver.
When he wakes the old man introduces himself as Nicholas Rerich. He is 59 yrs old, speaks with a cultured russian accent and is most grateful for the rescue. He offers them a reward for their help, which they politely decline and the asks to be taken to hospital.
Roerich explains that he has come to New York on charitable business, to raise money for the relief of starving men and women around the world. Recently Roerich received a letter and a package from a friend, Professor William Dyer of Miskatonic fame, who has been living in the South Pacific for the past year or so.
The letter urged Roerich to go to New York on Dyer’s behalf, to beg Starkweather and Moore as strongly as possible to cancel their plans for the expedition. As a last resort, Dyer wrote, Roerich was to give them an enclosed sealed manuscript. “I was bound for Manhattan anyway,” he smiles, “so it was simple to agree.”
The manuscript, the letter continued, was Dyer’s written account of the facts and fate of
the 1929 Miskatonic Expedition to Antarctica.
Roerich has been in New York for only two days. His letter to Starkweather has not been answered, and his telephone messages have been ignored. So far he has been unable to arrange an appointment
with either of the expedition patrons. News of Acacia Lexington’s imminent departure came as a surprise to Roerich; he was unaware, before his arrival, that she too planned to sail south to the Ice. Roerich explains that he was once a good friend to her father, and knew Acacia as a young girl. Ignored by Starkweather and Moore, he decided to take Dyer’s plea to Miss Lexington in hopes of a more receptive audience.When Roerich went to the house, manuscript in hand, he was intercepted by the kidnapper before he could ring at the door. The other man showed him a gun, asked his cooperation and assured him that if he was helpful he would not be hurt. They got into the black car and drove to the warehouse.
The greatest tragedy of all, Roerich insists, is that the thieves who kidnapped him have made off with Dyer’s manuscript. Roerich himself knows few of the details and has not read the work—he cannot reconstruct it himself, and is unable to contact Dyer.
The remainder of the 8th is spent in final preparations for departure. Moore indicates that the investigators should have all equipment and personal items moved aboard the Gabrielle and be fully stowed by 3 p.m. on the 9 of september.
Tired after a long and tiresome day the investigators decide to move the rest of their belongings onto the ship and spend the night there. They arraive at eight and retire to their cabins, meeting an hour later to have a drink or two in the communual area of the Gabrielle.
However the long day is not over yet. Sometime after 10 pm they hear a commotion and a voice yells out «Fire! Fire!» Rushing up on deck they see smoke and flames coming from one of the expedition warehouses. Acting quickly they investigators hels prevent a major disaster. Not only do they aid in putting out the fire, they rescue three unconcious workers from the flame. Unfortunately a fourth is found later, dead.
Doing so they notice a suspicious persons sneaking away and give chace. Catching him as he attempts to climb a fence, they subdue him and wait for the police.
It becomes clear that this is the man who set the fire. His name is Jerry Polk, small time crook and now murderer. The investigators learn the following from him before giving him to the police:
Five days ago Polk was contacted by a red-headed man called Doyle. Doyle paid him $100 when Jerry agreed to set fire to the warehouses of the Starkweather-Moore and Lexington expeditions. For each successful fire he was to receive an additional $200, to be picked up the following noon beneath a bridge in Central Park.
Along with the police they set a trap for the mysterious Doyle the following day.
As the rest of the fire is put out they notice that the Tallahassee, the ship of the Lexington expedition has set sail and is leaving the port.
The Gabrielle is towed to an undamaged port further down the river.
Their quick thinking and heroic actions have certainly saved the expedition and both Starkweather and Moore is deeply thankful.
September 9, 1933
Along with the police, the invastigator set up a trap for the man that hired Polk to set fire to the ships of the expeditions. Polk waits for Doyle on a bridge in Central Park at noon. When the clock says 1400 they are certain that the man won’t show. Polk is taken back into custody.