God Machine Chronicle – So what is it with these cats?

“Smokey” Thomson stood on the threshold of the Specto Vale apartment block, the winter storm lashing down outside and coating the world beyond the block with white, contemplating the events of the day before he lit a cigar; at least that fruitloop Shepherd had promised them some answers today. Meanwhile Brian Best had just woken up in his room where he’d fallen asleep re-watching his extensive collection of Star Trek DVDs, there was a faint meowing outside the door of the apartment  he opened it to see a single feline watching him. At first Brian attempted to feed the cat some milk but it didn’t seem very interested in it, remaining watching him, so eventually he gave and went back inside.
There was a banging on the door of Maggy Pike’s apartment, she opened it to find Sue-Linn the 16 year old daughter of Mr Lung standing there, frantically trying to explain something in chinese (much to the bewilderment of Maggy who didn’t speak chinese), the young girl thrust a pile of money at Maggy and eventually communicated that she wanted Maggy to follow her. Following Sue-Linn down the hallway, her loud talking lead to Brian sticking his head out of his appartment and investigating; through his mangled knowledge of the chinese language Brian was able to establish that the man who had left a bag in their freezer had paid them £500 to look after another parcel because he thought “people were after [him].”
Making their way across the ‘lobby’ of the apartment block the small party spotted Joe smoking his cigar and beckoned him over; travelling to Lungs Chinese takeaway Sue-Linn fetched her older sister who spoke english, she confirmed that, whilst she had been in the back room caring for her father, Mr Shepherd had turned up and paid her sister £500 to hide some papers. Looking in the freezer Brian discovered the blueprints that had decorated Shepherd’s flat walls, with the red dots showing where cats congregated in the block, red lines joining these points to a 13th floor flat and a line joining that flat to one on the top floor; since the last time they had seen the blueprints, three large asterisks had been drawn on it, two in 13th floor flats (one being the flat with the red lines travelling to it), one in a 1st floor flat and the other in a bus stop just outside the apartment block.
Deciding that it was about time they got some answers from Shepherd, the group visited his apartment, finding it oddly clean and with a much saner, apologetic Shepherd in attendance; Shepherd apologised and claimed that he suffered from psychotic episodes and had been off his meds, he claimed to have little memory of his paranoid ramblings. Brian noticed that the apartment seemed to have been freshly painted but that there was no smell of paint, his continual attempt to quiz Shepherd about this resulted in nothing other than a confused silence from the man, although Maggy noticed that every time he paused to consider his answer, there was a strange metallic whirring sound (like an old pocket watch her father had once possessed) from somewhere in the room. Joe had begun to suspect there was something not right about Shepherd and shook his hand, applying as much pressure as possible, but it was like trying to squeeze a breeze-block, Shepherd didn’t even seem to notice.
“That isn’t Shepherd” – Joe “Smokey” Thomson
After leaving Shepherd’s apartment, Brian speculates that perhaps the people who were after him actually managed to get hold of Shepherd and that they had somehow brainwashed him, whereas Joe doubts that the person in the apartment is infact Shepherd. Brian wants to visit the places marked with asterisks on the map, so him and Joe had to the first floor whilst Maggy plans to visit the bus stop just outside the apartment.
Arriving at Flat 113 on the first floor they find it seemingly empty, Brian begins to attempt picking the lock when Joe, tired of waiting, kicks the door with such force that it is smashed off its hinges, the noise of the destruction echoing down the corridor. Moving inside they find a dusty, abandoned apartment with sparse furniture covered by dust sheets, at one end of the room is a large oval mirror also covered by a sheet; unveiling it the two men notice that, although the room is reflected, they do not seem to have reflections in the mirror.
Outside Maggy has waded through the waste high snow and is shocked to find that at the Route 13 bus stop and for about a metre around it there is no snow (despite flurries still falling from the sky) and the temperature is far more mild than elsewhere. Snapping some photographs on her smartphone, Maggy retraces her steps to the apartment block and goes in search of Joe and Brian, following the sound of a door smashing she eventually locates them in flat 113.
Brian hesitantly put his arm out towards the mirror; the surface of the mirror ripples like liquid and his hand passes through, Thomson grabs hold of him, worried that his driver might be pulled through. Brian puts his phone through and blindly snaps some photos, when he removes his arm and looks at the phones gallery he sees simply photographs of a reflected apartment room. Convinced there is no immediate danger Brian pokes his head through the mirror and sees a reflection of the apartment, however, something seems not right, but he can’t put his finger on what; using a fire hose as a life line and tying it around his waist Brian dives through the mirror whilst Maggy checks the refrigerator.
“Nope, no Zuul” – Maggy Pike
The sound of metallic wheels alerts Maggy to the approach of one of the apartment janitors, a surly eastern european man pushes a wheeled metal water container along with a mop. Meanwhile Brian explores the mirror world, finally realising what is wrong with everything, it all looks fake like a movie-set or cardboard cutouts of real things; he verifies this by picking up an almost weightless sofa, he tries to take it back through the mirror with him but it does not make the transition with him, falling on its side when he exits the mirror world. Maggy and Joe turn to talk to Brian and there is a loud crash from behind them, whirling round they see that the real world sofa is lying on its side.
Re-entering the mirror Brian moves over towards the window, he can see no snow outside but just a flat field of white with a round black giant object that resembles a colossal button floating in mid-air; exploring the reflection of the corridor outside the room, Brian sees the janitor shuffling away from him, although he can’t see the man’s face at all, the janitor is the first person he has seen since entering the mirror. Returning to the real world, Brian discusses what he has seen with the others, but they are interrupted by the janitor who keeps repeating that they should not be in the flat; spooked by what he has seen and unsure what is going on with the janitor Brian advises that the group leaves, they take his suggestion and follow him out of the flat.
Heading up to one of the 13th floor flats marked with an asterisk they meet the occupant, a polish man named Bartek Prusee, he has tattoos that Joe recognises as old school criminal gang markers; using the excuse of a potential drugs deal (brokered by Joe and supplied by Maggy) they are able to have a look around the flat. During his search Brian discovers that the underside of Bartek’s dining table is mirrored and he establishes that it seems to work like the other mirror he entered, however he is unable to test it further as Bartek concludes his deal with Joe (a very good deal for Joe, although as a sweetener he promises to supply some muscle if Bartek needs it in the near future).
Continuing to the other thirteenth floor flat (the one marked with red lines connected to it on the blueprint) they find the corridor outside full of numerous cats, all appearing to watch their approach; knocking on the door and pretending to be Resident’s Association members gains them access, the smell of cat urine and feces hitting them like a wall. The occupant appears to be an old woman with cataract clouded eyes who claims to care for the cats that the management bought in to deal with the vermin problem; searching the flat, Brian locates a round mirror on a dresser in the bedroom and finds himself able to pass through it into the reflected flat beyond. Poking around he finds that the cats are reflected here, although they look like small burlap sacks with fake cat masks tied around them (they remind Brian of some canopic jars he saw on a program about ancient Egypt , something wriggles inside the sacks, creating an unsettling undulating movement; Brian picks one up and is shocked when two metal, insect-like antenna tipped with sharp fangs emerge through the eyes of the cat mask and stab into his hand drawing blood. Dropping the thing onto the floor, he dives through the mirror back into the normal world as metallic legs begin emerging from the sacking.
In the normal world Brian sees that every single cat in the room is staring at him; he staggers back into the living room, showing the others his bloody hand, he gestures for them to leave. As they head out the voice of the crazy old cat lady follows them, “It was nice to have company, I do hope your friend is alright.”   

God Machine Chronicle – The Secret of Specto Vale – Session 1 Writeup

A huge snowstorm is howling outside the crumbling tower block of Specto Vale in the East Midlands, early 2013 has seen terrible winter weather hit a country ill-prepared to deal with such conditions; the result has been people confined to their homes and roads packed with snow and ice, becoming impassable to all but the sturdiest of vehicles. Several feet of snow have piled up around the base of Specto Vale, the ground floor holding a handful of shops, takeaways and a single public house the Red Lion, after a few weeks all contact with the outside world has been cut off by the constant flurry of white falling from the sky, people have emptied the shops of what little food they still contained and most of the businesses have closed their doors. Up on the 13th floor an old polish gentleman Mr Jakub Bodak makes his way along the dimly lit corridor outside his flat, the mans walking stick tapping its way along the concrete, barely carpeted floor of the building; the floor is quieter than the others, something of a local mythology has built up about the strange folk who make their home on the unluckiest floor of the building, and that’s just the way that Bodak likes it, keeps people out of his businesses. Today however, he has some business of his own with Samuel Carson the manager and owner of Specto Vale who lives (if rumours are to be believed as the sole occupant) of the buildings top floor.

Reaching the limit of the elevator, Mr Bodak is forced to walk up a small flight of stairs from the fourteenth to the fifteenth floor, he is greeted by the overweight, blustered figure of Mr Carson who ushers his tenant into his warm office and offers him a cup of coffee from a bag of fine columbian beans sat on the side; it would appear as though the scarcity afflicting the lower floors has not yet reached the lofty heights of the fifteenth. Jakub expresses his concern that he has heard rumours that numerous people have been ejected from the building due to a slight falling around on their rent, in order that immigrant families can be crammed in to make the management more money; tactful as ever Jakub phrases his concern without mentioning the money aspect but pointing out that such ‘re-allocations’ may damage the sense of community in the building. Still blustering Mr Carson says that he will look into what Mr Bodak has said (although his tone suggests anything but) and dismisses the elder gentleman, saying that he is sure they both have work to do; dissatisfied Bodak returns to his flat.
Joe “Smokey” Thomson is stood out the back of the flats in a covered over delivery area, smoking a cigarette when he hears a strangled cough from behind one of the snow covered skips; investigating he finds the badly beaten body of Mr Lung, owner of the local Chinese Takeaway (one of the many businesses that contributes to Thomson’s monetary income), slumped by the side of the skip. Picking up the injured man Thomson began to head back towards the inside of the building, clods of white powdery snow falling from the injured shop owner.
Brian “Bulldog” Best had finished emptying the cab of his lorry, it had been sat unused in the delivery bay since he had returned from his last job; Brian had been carefully extracting his portable DVD player and a selection of Star Trek DVDs, planning to bed down until the storm had passed. As he turned round a figure carrying what appeared to a be a sack or a bundle of sticks loomed out of the white sleet flurry, slowly resolving itself into the shape of “Smokey” Thomson carrying the injured body of Mr Lung over his shoulder; after some initial confusion Brian helped Thomson carried the injured chinese man to the door of the closed takeaway. Banging on the door and shouting lead to Mr Lungs two teenage daughters and mother-in-law opening the door and helping them bundle the injured Mr Lung inside. Having worked several times as a hospital emergency driver, Brian recognised that Mr Lung appeared to have been beaten several with some sort of implement and that he needed some immediate medical help; remembered that a hospital worker lived on the fourth floor he went off in search of Cathy Williams.
As he passed by the door of Maggy Pike, local hippy and well know purveyor of herbal relief, a familiar smell drifted out from under the door and Brian could hear the voices of Maggy and Cathy talking inside; thinking it a stroke of luck he knocked on the door and was soon explaining the situation to both of the women. Accompanying him to the takeaway Cathy was able to use her emergency medical supplies to stabilise Mr Lung and make him as comfortable as possible, although the elderly gentleman drifted off into unconsciousness. After leaving the herbs that Cathy had purchased for one of her patients behind Maggy left and began making her way back home, she passed by half a dozen young men wearing an assortment of hoodies, one of them carrying a crimson spattered bike lock, luckily none of them paid too much heed to the young Ms Pike, one of them even stopping to ask her about buying a ten-bag. 
Upstairs on the thirteenth floor, Mr Bodak watched the unfolding events from his flat window; picking up his stick Bodak began making his way downstair, but his false leg and age slowed him down a lot.
The youths began to hammer on the door of the chinese takeaway, shouting for them to send out Mr Lung, they began to shout about Mr Lung being responsible for the local cats disappearing and that he was using them in his takeaways. Braced behind the door Cathy and Brian were holding their own when Thomson asked them to open the door; fronting up to the leader of the mob, Thomson warned him to leave and then, when he didn’t respond, smacked the youth in his jaw, the loud sound of a cracking jawbone echoed down the corridor, although Thomson took a crack on his arm as the youth wildly swung his bike lock. Seeing their leader go down so swiftly the other youths lost their courage and turned tail, Thomson carried the injured youth outside and dumped him face down in the snow.
By this time Bodak had made his way down the stairs, both being connected with the old-school criminal element, he and Thomson warily recognised each other and it was clear that Bodak both disapproved of the youths actions and approved of how it had been dealt with. Brian and Thomson picked up the youth with the broken jaw who, through painful clickings of bone, said that his name was Rob Smith and he really believed that the chinese were stealing the local cats; attempting to allay his fears the youth was taken to his flat (a dirty, messy affair), given some pain relief by Cathy and was then warned not to interfere again, Brian telling him that the youth had learnt a valuable lesson.
Returning to the takeaway Brian began to root through the chest freezer of the takeaway, finding it mostly empty aside from a few bags of frozen vegetables and a batter rucksack; with a sinking feeling Brian removed the rucksack and peered inside, a frozen feline with clouded green eyes stared back at him, unmoving from the bottom of the bag. Taking the bag into the main room Brian showed its contents to the others, which resulted in explosive vomiting from the squeamish Cathy, Brian was about to carry the bag away when he felt it twitch and, with a screech, the cat (now seemingly alive) leapt from the bag and quickly disappeared out of the door of the flat. Lung has regained consciousness and seemed entirely surprised when the cat was mentioned explaining, via his daughters interpreting, that the bad was not his, a man in a large duffel coat and a hat had paid him £50 to stash his bag in the freezer.
Following the cat outside Brian spotted a man with a thick coat and wide-brimmed leather hat, the man was carrying a burlap sack that he tried unconvincingly to tuck into his coat; Brian spoke to the man briefly, although when he mentioned cats a look of fear crossed the man’s face and he slugged Brian on the chin before taking off, dropping his sack in the progress. Brian, nursing his jaw, picked up the sack; although it was empty there were traces of what looked like animal fur clinging to the inside of the sack.
Later, whilst escorting Cathy back to her flat, Brian and Thomson spotted the strange animal-napper watching them from the top of the stairs, Brian gave chase and was in time to see the man dive into a flat on the 6th floor. Attempts to verbally convince the man to let him in didn’t succeed until Thomson arrived and made some (thinly) veiled threats, finally persuading the man to let them in. The man’s apartment appeared as though it was decked out for a survivalist apocalypse, tins of beans and dried food were stacked in orderly piles; a large blueprint of the flats covered one of the walls, it was studded with red pins and a long red line connected a flat on the 13th floor to the 15th floor diagram. Miles explained that he had been one of the pest control specialists who had recommended getting cats to control vermin problems in Specto Vale, since then he had fallen on hard times and had moved into the apartments  volunteering to keep an eye on the vermin problem as a favour to the management.
Miles outlined a fantastic tale that the cats in the block appeared to be behaving abnormally, they were watching people and congregating in certain areas; the most fantastic element of the tale was that apparently Miles had seen a number of cats be apparently killed and then emerge unharmed, he had stored one in the freezer of the chinese takeaway apparently planning to return and examine it later. Although initially believing the man to be crazy, Brian found himself thinking back to the supposedly frozen cat and how it had revived once the rucksack had been removed from the freezer; the two men left with Miles promising to show them proof if they returned tomorrow evening.