(Spoilers for “Deadly Seven” by Panik).
Our heroes decide to stalk the Wilson Wellness Clinic, the common factor between the two now-exorcised Gu’rath demons.
It’s in a squat two-story office building in a business park in Croydon.
As their cover, they decide to be nearby buskers. Elli plays, Katrina dances, Patty tries to clap along. Elli’s very good – they’re so popular that a disheveled guitarist even tries to muscle in on the small crowd by claiming they stole his brilliant spot.
But weekday morning busking still doesn’t pay very well, and when they follow a couple of people going for a coffee, their takings won’t even cover the coffee. Plus the two people were a waste of time – they turn out to be from dot com who have the floor above the clinic.
Their second time round is a bit more useful – they trail therapist Donna Ernst and the office admin Clarice Morton. They overhear them talking about the ‘advanced project’ that their colleagues are working on in a disparaging tone, as if Donna in particular is well out of it.
So they decided to get an appointment to infiltrate, and Katrina gets an appointment with Donna Ernst the following Wednesday.
Katrina insists on bringing her friends to therapy with her. The receptionist (Clarice) says this is most irregular, but after calling through Donna agrees it. So they head to the waiting room.
Katrina, under cover of going to the loo, has a snoop around. She hears the eponymous Dr Wilson muttering darkly to himself in one office, before absent-mindedly walking into another much smaller one.
The therapy itself is excruciating, as Donna tries to probe the reasons for Katrina’s aimlessness, the presence of her friends, and her unhappiness with her (tactfully unmentioned) new job.
Elli excused herself for a snoop around, investigating Wilson’s tiny office, and noticed that her Totenpass necklace was being pulled downwards. She followed the direction of its pull, through the now-deserted reception, picking the lock to the door of the basement, and going downstairs.
The totenpass is something Pythagoreans carry to remind them how to navigate the afterlife when they die, so she assumed it was being pulled by a mystical force. It carried her down a corridor, to a room where she could see a woman in a hoodie watching a medical procedure through a big window – a patient in a very old, worn, MRI scanner.
She sneaks out, realising that it the pull was far less mystical – it was the magnetic field of the MRI scanner.
Han Restaurant, South-West London
Later that evening.
The three gather in an east Asian restaurant that Patty recommended to discuss tactics, and examine options, along with their old friend Fergus.
Fergus is able to break into their computer network and gather a range of patient data, floor plans, and schedules – including when the next “advanced treatment” is due. Just not what it is.
He even finds out that, as one amongst a large list of grant providers, is Terralith Eco.
So they decide (minus Fergus) to surveil on Saturday.
Wilson Wellness Clinic, Croydon
3am Saturday Morning (16th)
The trio invaded the Wilson Wellness Clinic at 3am in the morning. Prewarned by Fergus’ hacking, Elli telekinetically distracted the security cameras and picked the front door lock. When the burglar alarm beeped its countdown, Patty sent a message to Fergus to shut it off remotely. And when one of the cameras swung towards them, Patty & Katrina somersaulted behind the reception desk.
And thus did they sneak downstairs.
In the MRI control office, and the room next to it, they discovered dozens of computers networked together into – Elli guessed – a distributed computer. She picked a hard drive, and booted up a hacking USB stick that Fergus had given her.
Meanwhile, at the other end of the basement, Patty spent the best part of an hour borrowing Elli’s lockpicking tools to try to pick a lock, before finally succeeding and discovering a store cupboard with some as-expected psychiatric drugs.
So they hunker down in the lavatory and try to sleep. Until an alarm goes off to tell Elli that some files have been decrypted. Amongst the documents (text, ODF, and PDF) and source files for the open-source mathematically modelling package “R”, there are some images intended for the MRI scanner that make Elli almost drop her laptop.
She sees images with seeds sprouting into twisting fractal shapes, including the head of a goat. Katrina is also creeped out – by the location and the MRI machine as much as the images – but only Elli can sense the sinister patterns in the images.
She surmises that the MRI isn’t just being used to scan, it’s being used to project, in this case some kind of summoning ritual.
So they try to get some sleep before any staff arrive.
Sarah Thacker arrives early, and the trio continue to hide – until she discovers the USB stick in the hard drive and crushes it. Elli realises her laptop has lost the Bluetooth connection, and everyone releases that Thacker is stomping around looking for them.
So the trio confront her. She reacts calmly by grabbing her phone, filming them, and threatening to call the police. Katrina kicks her phone out of her hands, grabs her, and they attempt an exorcism.
And it bothers her, prompting her to break out into a demonic voice that praises the “dark mother” – just as Dr Wilson arrives and quietly watches through the big internal window from the MRI room.
But the exorcism doesn’t exorcise. Although she certainly sounds like a Gurath demon, she isn’t.
Wilson demands to know what’s going on, and dismisses our hero’s allegations as strange and fanciful. Thacker claims that the strange voice he heard was them playing with a loudspeaker. But, at least, when they insist on him not going ahead with today’s special therapy, he confesses that he can’t anyway – now they’ve tampered with the system, it wouldn’t be safe for him to go forward without a thorough check.
And so the trio leave after the standoff. They still have Thacker’s phone, and a copy of some hard disk files, but Wilson (and Thacker) have Katrina’s contact information.
So they stake out Thacker…
The game is now virtual. If you’d told me that I’d be playing a fantasy role-playing game set in 2017, I’d never have guessed that the fantasy was moving freely around London.