Disclaimer: The Secret World and all associated characters, settings, and situations are the property of Funcom and Electronic Arts. All use of them here is purely for entertainment purposes, without permission or intention to profit.
Thursday, November 2, 9:58AM
Sheriff's Office, Kingsmouth, Maine
I empty my backpack and Sheriff Bannerman locks up my things in the safe behind her desk. It's the best solution. I can't very well carry back any supplies I find for the Kingsmouth survivors if my backpack is stuffed with all my luggage. I feel almost naked without my things, though—well, there is one thing I don't miss. I hand it over to Bannerman before she closes the safe. It's my first aid kit. "You'll need this more than I will," I say.
"You sure? It gets mighty rough out there," Bannerman warns.
I nod. My anima-leeching spell will serve me far better than bandaids. The survivors will have more use for them. "I'm sure," I say.
Bannerman shrugs. "Alright," she says. "I'll make sure this gets to the Doctor, and don't think we aren't grateful." She pauses. "Anything else you need before you go?"
"Just two things," I say. "The first is to make a couple phone calls, somewhere private."
"That bathroom where you washed up's about as private as we got right now, and if you can get a signal out to whoever sent you, more power to you. Every phone or radio in town just gets static ever since the Fog rolled in," Bannerman says. "What's the second thing?"
"I need to know where I'm going," I say. "Is there a Wal-Mart or a grocery store…"
Bannerman cuts me off with a chuckle, then shakes her head. "Sorry if I wasn't clear before, Miss, but we are out in the sticks here. We got a few local places, but the nearest supermarket's on the mainland, and well…ain't no gettin' there till the Fog's cleared up! Your best bet's to check the local yellow pages and see who'd have what we need, then go there."
She points to a payphone on the wall, with a phone book underneath it. It also happens to be right next to the place where Kaiyo settled down after our talk. She has that big leather-bound book open in front of her and she's reading from it, mouthing words that don't look like English, or any other language I recognize. From that and from the unfocused look in her eyes, I'm pretty sure I don't want to disturb her right now.
"I'll, uh, I'll just make that call," I say, and head into the bathroom. I close the door behind me and pull out the phone, dialing Sonnac.
Again, he picks up on the first ring. I begin to realize just how high of a priority my mission is. "Chris," he says. "I presume you have more information."
"Yes, but I'm not sure how much it helps," I say. "Kaiyo, MacFadden, and I have relocated to Kingsmouth's sheriff office. There're eight survivors here, and they need our help."
"This is not—"
"A rescue operation, I know," I say. "But, sir, these people are innocent. Couldn't we evacuate some of them?"
"I'm afraid that's impossible," says Sonnac.
"I'm not trying to be difficult, Chris. I hope you appreciate that. But at the moment there is no where for any survivors of Solomon Island to go. The only way on or off of that island, as far as we know, is Agartha. Its paths are not open to the uninitiated, those who have not been touched by magic. To them, the portals to Agartha simply don't exist," he explains. "They are trapped on the island, and there is nothing we can do to save them apart from discovering what has happened on the island and how to stop it. Do you understand?"
I lower my head. "I understand," I say.
"Good," says Sonnac. "Are those eight survivors the only ones you've located so far?"
"Yes," I say. "Most of the townspeople seem to have been turned into zombies." I then relate the story of the Fog that Sheriff Bannerman told us. I also tell him about the zombies we encountered on the road, including the huge one Dan and I killed.
"An excellent, if macabre, report," Sonnac says when I'm done. "Unfortunately it really only confirms what we already know. It seems Boone's earlier assessment was spot on: something brought that black fog to Solomon Island, and whatever it was is still around. Finding it is your top priority. I'll have our researchers looking at the particular varieties of undead you mentioned, as trying to decipher the identity and reason d'être of this black fog. In the meantime, I would definitely suggest avoiding contact with it."
"I will," I say quickly. I have no desire to find out what the Fog does or whether or not I can survive it! "The survivors have asked me to help them gather supplies," I add after a moment. "I promised I would."
Sonnac sighs. "Aiding the locals in the face of the inevitable…"
"Sorry, sir, but I did promise," I say. "I try to keep my promises."
"No, it's quite alright," Sonnac says. "Your tenacity is admirable, though perhaps a bit blue-eyed. However, as you have no leads at the present, aiding the locals is quite permissible. It may also give you a better idea of the town's layout and current situation. In other words, provided you're careful about it and don't put it before your mission in priority and import, it cannot hurt."
"Thanks," I say. Something about what he said about having no leads bothers me though. "There was something Dan mentioned when we were talking to the Sheriff. He asked about a private school called Innsmouth Academy. From the way he talked, they had close ties to the Illuminati and his boss was curious about them."
"Yes, the school is not unknown to us," Sonnac says. "Definite Illuminati ties, though not an official part of their organization. It's doubtful that Innsmouth is the epicenter of this tragedy, however. They have been the center of several occult disasters before, on a smaller scale, and the Illuminati reaction has always been swift and direct. Now, however, they are as uncertain and blind as we are. Some other secret of theirs, buried on the island, has more likely come back to haunt them. Nevertheless, it is as good a lead as any, if explorations of Kingsmouth itself turn up nothing. If you like, I'll pass the information along to your brother for further research."
"I'd like that very much," I say, "though I'm not sure how Micah will react to receiving a text from a Templar."
"If your confidence in him is any indication, he'll handle it quite well," says Sonnac. "Besides, it's high time we made more direct contact, and gauge his interest in the Secret World. There is something I wanted to send to you, however, if you still have your send-box."
"I still have it," I say. It's locked up with the rest of my stuff, but I still have it.
"Good, I'm sending you a piece of equipment you should find useful," says Sonnac. "It seemed appropriate, given the sort of opposition you've encountered so far—a classic weapon for the apocalypse, you might say. You should find it there shortly after this conversation ends. I won't keep you longer. Be careful."
"I will be," I promise, then the call ends. I put my phone away and come back out of the bathroom. I go looking for Sheriff Bannerman, so I can get back into the safe to see what Sonnac sent me. If it's something specifically for zombies, it should definitely be helpful.
I find Bannerman standing beside a doctor in a white lab coat with dark brown hair. She's helping him unroll bandages from my first aid kit while he prepares to change a bandage wrapped around a black-haired man's muscular torso. I clear my throat. "Um, Sheriff, could I get into the safe again? I, uh, forgot something," I say.
She smirks, then pats the doctor's arm, assuring him she'll be back in a minute. She follows me back to the safe and helps me open it. "What'd you need?"
"Just this," I say, pulling out the wooden send-box. It's heavier than it used to be. I open it up, careful not to turn the key, and gasp. Inside is a black, 12-gauge shotgun, a stockless tactical model which I don't recognize. There's also a note. The Brigadier tells me your work with a shotgun was impressive, for a beginner, and I am certain you shall grow to be an expert quickly. Best Regards, R. Sonnac.
"You were just keepin' that in a box?" Bannerman asks, arching an eyebrow.
"I forgot about it," I lie, removing the shotgun and closing the box again. I let the Sheriff return it to the safe while I turn my attention to the payphone. Kaiyo has gone, so I can get at the phone book now. "I'll start looking for supplies now," I tell Bannerman.
"Be careful out there," she says, then she leaves me to return to the doctor.
I grab the phone book and open it to the yellow pages. Emphasis on pages: there only seems to be a half dozen of them, and that's including sections under the headings Blue Mountain Historical District, Savage Coast Recreational Area, and The Mainland. The section for Kingsmouth businesses and services consists of exactly two pages, and only one side of each of those pages is used—even counting several sizable ads and generously large print. And I thought my hometown was small!
I search through the entries. Flagg's Pharmacy seems like a good place for restocking the survivors' medical supplies, since I'm sure my first aid kit won't last them very long. It's on Main Street. I look for other entries on Main Street. There's The Soup Kitchen and Sunshine Deli, as well as Susie's Diner. All of them look like good prospects for scavenging food. There's also Call of the Wild, which could be a restaurant—the entry is kind of ambiguous. The bottom of the page has an ad for Creed Bros. Hardware Supplies. I'm sure I could find something there useful to helping keep the barricade up.
The question is: where is Main Street? I rifle through the phone book and a map falls out. It's a large full color map of Solomon Island with whimsical illustrations depicting the locations of various points of interest. For example, the Sheriff's Office of Kingsmouth is depicted as a giant silver badge perched in the corner of the town. The overwhelming majority of the island's buildings seem to be clustered in three blocks bordering Fletcher Bay. I look at the street names. According to this, I'm on the corner of Solomon Road and Arkham Avenue, and Main Street is the third street down along Arkham Avenue, right next to the church. That shouldn't be too difficult to find.
I fold the map carefully and tuck it into my pocket. I check to make sure both my pistols are in their holsters and throw my assault rifle over my shoulder, on top of my empty backpack. Then I cradle my new shotgun in my hands and head back outside.
I take a moment to orient myself. On the map, Solomon Road seemed to be the name of the highway Dan and I came in on. Working off that assumption, Arkham Avenue should be on the opposite side of the survivors' compound. I wander over in that direction and find a gate in the barricade guarded by a black policeman armed with an M16. He nods to me. "Going out?" he asks. I nod and he opens the makeshift gate with one hand. "Sheriff told me to expect you. Be careful out there, Miss!"
I mutter something in acknowledgement as I step through the gate. In all honesty I have to admit that I'm too nervous to know what I just said. I try to remind myself that I've faced down dozens of zombies already this morning, but none of that was alone. Also the woodlands are somehow more familiar than the town full of strange houses and shops I now find myself in. There are white picket fences framing pastel-colored Victorian homes with yards full of orange leaves. Here and there storefronts blend seamlessly into the community. It seems like this was a nice little community, but still the sort of place where a tourist like me could get easily lost.
Now the beauty is just a scab over a horrible ugliness. I remember what the Sheriff told us, about how most of the people who lived in those houses followed the Fog into the sea and came back as zombies. I can hear them, a cacophony of strangled, inhuman screams echoing through the deserted streets, seemingly coming from every direction at once. For all I know, they are. I advance slowly, shotgun ready and eyes scanning everything.
A raven pecks at a jacket-covered corpse in the middle of the street. I step around it and the bird continues pecking, ignoring me completely. A little further down the road I pass a white sedan that's crashed into a light pole. Further on there's a red pickup truck sitting abandoned in an intersection. It's as I'm approaching the truck that I see my first group of zombies. It's a large group, nearly a dozen. Half of them are standing around or shuffling listlessly while the others claw and chew at something down on the ground beside an abandoned motor-scooter: probably the motor-scooter's owner. There's nothing I can do for their victim now. They stand just past the intersection and the truck, some of them straying occasionally into the street. I don't want to confront that many zombies—not alone. I stop on my side of the intersection, watching them, but they don't seem to be aware of me. I pull the map from my pocket and consult it. Kingsmouth seems to be laid out like a grid in this part of town, and according to the map I'm at the intersection of Arkham and Lovecraft Lane. I check the street signs and they agree. Looking back at the map I see that Lovecraft joins up with Belmont Avenue just before reaching the bay, and that I can go one block over on Belmont to reach Main Street—without having to go past this group of zombies.
I fold the map carefully, check the zombies once more (still no reaction to me), and then turn down Lovecraft Lane, down the hill and toward the sea. I get my first glimpse of the Fog from here. It doesn't seem like much from here, just a really dark fog down on the horizon, looming over the waves: creepy, but not terribly unnatural. I don't focus on it, though. There are still zombies in this part of the town. Stepping around a Cadillac that crashed into a tree I notice a trio of zombies feeding on a mutilated corpse in someone's yard. There's a white picket fence between them and me, though, and they don't seem to notice me. I continue on down until I reach the corner, where Lovecraft Lane and Belmont meet. An abandoned sleek red sedan partially blocks the intersection, compelling anyone who wishes to pass on toward Main Street (like a certain English-lit-major-turned-Templar) through a space only a couple yards across between the car and a white picket fence. That space is filled with zombies. Two of them are fighting over a dismembered arm, tugging on it and screaming at each other while the third shuffles in slow circles. I could hop the fence to try and go around them, but the way the circling zombie stops and turns its dead eyes on me as I approach tells me that such a sudden movement would surely draw the zombies' attention. I tighten my grip on my shotgun. I'm going to have to fight my way through this group.
Gunshots echo from the Sheriff's Office a block and a half away, but the zombies in front of me don't react. They're attracted to noises, but only over a limited range, I realize. That explains why the small hoard Dan and I caught in a gas explosion didn't react to me shooting up the first group of zombies I met. It also gives me hope. If I gun down this little group on the street corner, the other zombies up the street probably won't even notice.
I step closer to the trio of zombies on the corner and the circling one's eyes lock on me. It makes a gurgling, growling noise and the other two drop the dismembered arm and turn toward me. All three of them charge. I quickly remember my shotgun training. I angle the barrel toward the ground and fire. A wave of flame rolls out of the shotgun, engulfing and charring the zombies' legs. They howl, hands clawing the air, but they can't reach me and their legs can barely move. I cock the shot gun and blast each zombie in the head in turn. As the last one falls I look quickly around, checking for other zombies. There are none. I step past the corpses of the three I killed and the abandoned car and find myself on the street overlooking the bay.
That's when I really see the Fog. It stretches as far as the eye can see over the gray waters of the ocean. The Fog itself is not just dark, it's black, and I can see…threads of something even darker racing through it as it slowly swirls, waiting. I shiver and turn away. Somehow even the undead townspeople are less intimidating than that deep, swirling blackness that obliterates the horizon.
It's not far from the street corner to Susie's Diner. The building is unmistakable, chrome-plated roof shining in the autumn sun. Cool rock music rolls from the open door. I think I recognize the song: "Devil in Disguise" by Elvis Presley—my Dad's a fan. It looks exactly like a 50's-style diner in my home town, except Susie's has a giant cutout sign featuring neon lobsters mounted on top of the roof. I see no sign of zombies, though, so I enter carefully.
The smell hits me first: the rancid stench of rotten meat. Inside the diner the door to the bathroom has been ripped from its hinges. Inside everything in the tiny room was smeared with blood. I shiver and scan the rest of the room, but aside from a few broken windows and an overturned barstool the rest of the room looks normal. On the diner's sound system, Elvis is just finishing one of the choruses of "Devil in Disguise," starting into the quieter main verse. I step further into the abandoned diner, wondering whether the owner would have kept her canned food stores in the back or behind the bar.
That's when I hear the scratching noise, the sound of something cutting, the sound of greedy chewing. I hadn't noticed it until the music became softer, but now fear makes the sound ring in my ears. There is a zombie somewhere in this diner with me. I tip-toe forward, turning slowly around. The chorus begins again, covering any sound of my advance. Then I spot her, and I freeze. The zombie is behind the bar, crouched possessively over a body in a shredded and bloody uniform. She isn't like other zombies I've seen. She's tall, long limbed, her blue jeans and orange jacket clearly too small for her frame as it is now. Her hands don't end in death-pale fingers, they end in gray two-inch talons. Her back is toward me and she seems to be absorbed in her meal, but I can't trust her to remain that way forever.
I glance down at my shotgun and give a small shake of my head. I don't want this zombie getting anywhere near me, and I'm not as practiced with the shotgun as I am with my other weapons. I lay the shotgun down on one of the padded barstools just as Elvis starts singing "Blue Suede Shoes." I reach back and grab my assault rifle. I can't count on one quick burst putting down this zombie, so I decide it's time to see if I can repeat my grenade-launcher spell from earlier. By the time Elvis sings "go, cat, go" I have the grenade launcher angled toward the zombie and my anima is focused. I pull the trigger. Blue light arcs at the zombie and explodes. It screams, raising its charred limbs to its face before turning to me. Its lone, dead eye regards me with menace as it rises to its feet more quickly that I would have thought possible. There's no time for hesitation, though. I shoulder my rifle and open fire. My shots make the zombie stagger. It tries to scramble over the bar but the burns and my repeated three-round bursts cause it to fall back behind the counter. It gives a shrill scream, so piercing I almost have to cover my ears, then it starts going around the bar where there's a gap for employees on the far side. Its long strides swallow the distance. I try for a headshot, but miss—it's moving too fast! The zombie comes around the corner and starts coming for me, arms extended, talons ready to shred me. Oh-God-oh-God! my thoughts race in frantic prayer. I fire again, only a few yards away. This time my shots hit. It's not a clean forehead shot like I'd wanted, but the anima rounds rip through the lower half of the zombie's face and into its neck. Its body goes limp and falls sideways, slamming its head against a table on its way down. Then it's on the floor in front of me, body motionless, but its lone eye still swiveling in its socket, paralyzed, but not dead (or re-dead in its case). I flip the selector to full-auto and fire a long burst into the undead horror's forehead. After that, it's completely still. For a moment, I sigh in relief.
The moment is quickly over. In the next instant, four zombies come charging in through the opposite door, running straight at me. I wonder if it was my shots that summoned them or the high-pitched scream of the long-limbed zombie did that. There's no time to sort it out now and there's certainly not time to pick them all off with my rifle. I let it drop and grab my shotgun, firing the flame spell at the tile floor in front of the zombies before the shotgun's even fully off the barstool. The zombies charge turns into a limping contest. I pump the shotgun and pick them off with headshots. When the last of them falls I check the door to the back room (locked) and close both the outside doors, finally satisfied that I'm alone in the restaurant.
I set the shotgun down on the bar, within easy reach, and start looking through the cabinets behind the bar—doing my best to ignore the gruesome remains the long-limbed zombie was eating. There's some canned food back here, preserved fruit mostly. I unzip my backpack and pack in as many of the cans as I can find. It's only a little over a dozen, but its more than enough to make my backpack heavy when I put it on again. This should last the survivors a while, I think. At least, I hope so. I pick up my shotgun again and exit the diner through the far door, coming out on Main Street.
Across the street, I can see the sign for "The Call of the Wild." Metal shutters protect the storefront but a zombie has managed to peel one of them back and gotten itself stuck halfway through the window. I stow my shotgun temporarily in the tight space between my laden backpack and my back and switch to my AK-47. The zombie twitches as my shots slam into it. It starts to withdraw itself only to take my second burst in the back of the head. It topples to the sidewalk. I go over to find out what it thought was so interesting. The only things I see through the shutter is a pair of ammo cans. The lights are off inside the store. "Is there anyone in here?" I call, but no one answers. I'm unwilling to try entering the store lest I become stuck like the zombie did…or have a zombie sneak up behind me…or find out that whatever's lurking in this store is worse than the long-limbed zombie in the diner. Instead I load one of the ammo cans into my backpack (filling its main pocket) and carry the other by hand, leaving me with only one free hand to operate my shotgun. It's not ideal, but I know the survivors will need every bullet I can find.
I head up the street, passing several restaurants, including The Soup Kitchen. It might be worth revisiting these places on a future supply run, but for now my backpack is stuffed. When I come to the storefront of Creed Bros. Hardware Supply I decide to take a peek inside, just to see what's available for future scavenging. I set the ammo can down by the door and reach for the knob. The hinges give the screech of un-oiled metal, followed by some kind of loud ratcheting sound. I cringe. I poke my head around the door, hoping I didn't just disturb some zombie waiting for me inside. I don't see one. Instead I see a large rusty engine standing behind the door, its gears grinding. It appears to be the actual source of the ratcheting sounds.
Then I realize that the rusty engine is standing on two thick metal legs, and equipped with two metal arms. One of those arms ends in a buzzsaw. Then the saw starts spinning up and the arm starts moving. I cry out and jump back just in time to avoid a slashing attack from the mechanical arm. The saw cuts into the wood before the door is tossed aside, leaving an opening for the rusted robot to walk out onto the street. I point my shotgun at the ground in front of it and fire off a wave of flame, hoping to slow it down, but the flame rolls harmlessly off rusty metal plates. Then I see a lighter ignite at the end of the robot's other arm, in front of a nozzle that leads to a gas tank. Too late I realize I'm not the only one trying to use fire in this fight.
I manage to jump back, but it's not enough. The sweep of the flamethrower catches me. I feel agony across the whole front of my chest. I don't have to look to know I'm on fire. I drop my shotgun and wriggle out of my backpack. I fall to the asphalt, rolling to put out the flames. Looking down I see that most of them are out, but a few tongues of fire linger. I swat them out with my arm. The end result is that I'm extinguished and alive, but I can see my skin is charred on the right side of my chest and my left hand is red and blistered. All of it hurts more than words can describe, which is saying a lot, coming from me. I feel like screaming and crying, but I hear the robot stomping toward me and I remember the Brigadier's training. It doesn't seem too realistic at all now.
I grab my AK-47 one-handed out of habit and aim it at the advancing automaton. I have no idea if this spell will even work on a robot, but I have to try. If I don't, it'll finish me. I fire an explosive round, and to my surprise get back a wash of anima. I direct it to my wounds while I scramble to my feet, firing again and again. Sparks fly from the inside of the motor with each hit and the robot's advance is hesitant. That gives me the time I need. I feel anima tingling across my body, healing my burns. By the time the robot is close enough to use its flamethrower again, I am ready. I roll along the road, under the sweeping flames. The robot tries to catch me with its buzzsaw arm, but the spinning disk bites into the asphalt instead. By the time it turns back around, I already have my shotgun up and gripped in one hand. I infuse it with a slug of fire and aim it at the fuel tank for the robot's flamethrower. "Your turn," I growl, then I pull the trigger. Like it did in practice, the shotgun kicks hard enough that it flies from my hand, but unlike in practice the fireball it spits out here is enough to punch through the robot's fuel tank and ignite it. I jump back and shield my face as the gas explodes, leaving the robot flaming, smoking and sparking. It stands there for a moment longer, its engine sputtering, then the gears grind to a halt and it topples in the middle of the street.
I stand up and quickly retrieve my shotgun, backpack, and the ammo can I left by the door. I don't dare go inside the hardware store, lest another one of those things is inside waiting for me. As it is, I seem to be alone in the street, which is good. I take stock of the damage. My hand looks fine and my skin is only a little pink and tender where I burned it on my chest. My favorite black-and-white striped hoodie, however, is a goner. A large hole has been burned in the fabric, and in my shirt beneath. My bra is toast, too. I groan and silently wish my healing spell fixed clothes too.
My first instinct is to cover up, so I don't have a nipple hanging in the breeze. Flagg's Pharmacy probably has some cloth bandages I could use as a makeshift bra. I try the door, but it's locked and I don't especially want to try blasting the door open only to find yet another horror waiting inside for me. Just go back to the Sheriff's Office and change there, I tell myself. It's the zombie apocalypse, no one is going to care if you're showing a little boob.
I leave Main Street and start heading back to the Sheriff's Office along Arkham Avenue (whoever named these streets had a strange sense of humor). The group of zombies I'd avoided earlier near Lovecraft Lane are all gone now, and I'm grateful. It means I have a straight shot for the Sheriff's Office. I tuck my shotgun behind my back and cross my right arm across my breasts, holding what remains of my hoodie closed. It may be the apocalypse, but I still want to keep my modesty.
The gate opens in front of me and I head for it at a trot. Then suddenly the black officer behind the gate shouts, "Get down!" and points his rifle at me. Not at me, at something behind me! I duck. The rifle cracks twice. A zombie behind me moans and falls, not more than two yards away. I had no idea it was even there.
I grab my shotgun and scan the street for more, but I don't see any. I turn around quickly and hurry through the gate. As the officer closes it behind me, survivors gather around. Dan is among them. He gives a wolf-whistle and grins. "Fuck yeah! I dig the new look, Chris-babe!" he yells.
I cross my arm across my chest quickly and give him a glare that says, Once I'm done changing, I will end you. He doesn't seem to get the hint and merely laughs.
"Hey, let's all—let's all just give Miss Warden some space, okay?" says Deputy Andy, stepping between me and Dan. "It's the end of the world and all that, right?...So, accidents happen." He looks around the crowd. "Somebody give her a coat!"
A heavyset man with a graying beard peels off an army jacket, padded and covered in that new digital camouflage. He hands it to me, keeping his eyes on mine and not…on other things. I accept it. "Thank you," I say.
"You've risked your life for us twice, little lady," he says. "Least I could do."
I turn my back to the crowd, facing the barricade, and set down my backpack and the rest of my gear, changing into the surplus coat instead. It's much too big for me, but with the sleeves rolled up it's manageable—and with the front zipped up there's nothing for sick Dan MacFadden to gawk at!
I turn back around to find that Andy is already leading the survivors in going through the supplies I brought back, ferrying them into the Sheriff's Office mostly. As they work, the Sheriff herself comes out to greet me. "Made it back, and in one piece, too," she remarks, smiling at me. She turns to watch one of the survivors trundle past with a load of canned food. "Quite a haul, too. That should leave us set up well enough for the present."
"Glad I could help," I say. "Is everything still alright here? Have the zombies we killed on our way in started coming back yet?"
"They're re-animating one at a time, so it's no big problem," Kaiyo says brightly, skipping through the parking lot to join us. "We just send Dan out there to whack 'em on the head and then we're good for another half hour or so."
"We could just as easily send one of the survivors with a shovel," Dan grumbles.
"But that wouldn't be as fun to watch!" Kaiyo says, grinning mischeiviously. Then she turns to Bannerman and her face becomes serious. "Miss Sheriff, if you don't mind, the three of us need to talk. In private."
Author's Note: As far as I'm aware, the game never overtly says that normal people can't use Agartha, though there seem to be several hints of this, and it does explain neatly why none of the factions are interested in even trying to rescue survivors from Solomon Island (well, it's part of the explanation: the other part being painfully clear to anyone who's completed the sidequest "That'll Leave a Mark," or tried to complete it, in any case).
Sonnac's dialogue is taken from his reply to the player's report after "For a Fistful of Zombies" and "Supply Run." The shotgun Chris receives is "12 Gauge," the QL 1 shotgun players can pick up as a reward for completing "For a Fistful of Zombies." Shotguns, of course, are the traditional weapon of the zombie apocalypse!
Sonnac references Innsmouth's troubled past. The school has been rebuilt three times over its history, at least once due to an occult disaster on grounds ("an accidental application of dimensional portals along the then theoretical "Escher Curve" [which] destroyed the elementalism lab," according to the lore). That Illuminati players aren't immediately herded that way probably indicates that the Illuminati are somehow aware that the school is a victim this time, not the cause.
Several missions require the player to check the phone book in Kingsmouth. Each mission depicts the same page from the yellow pages of the phone book (the business section) which lists pretty much every business in the town itself. It consists of a single two-page spread. All of the businesses listed in this chapter exist in-game, but "Sunshine Deli" and "The Soup Kitchen" both exist only as non-interactable storefronts. Players never see the inside of any of the other Kingsmouth stores either, with the exception of Susie's Diner. The other stores only have one or two interactable objects in front of their store for use during certain missions whereas the diner has a full interior.
The map Chris finds is meant to be the in-game map, which does have a sort of touristy feel to it, with points of interest depicted with illustrations. Of course, Chris has the full map of the island whereas players can only access the map of one zone at a time. You can find player-combined maps online, however, and they seem to line up neatly enough.
The in-game town of Kingsmouth varies little from what I've depicted here. The main difference (aside from the large number of player characters roaming about, killing zombies for quests and sport) is that in game the zombies are much more evenly distributed, with groups of "Returned Townie" zombies been found in groups of 3-5 every 20 ft or so. All the places where they appear in the chapter are places they appear in game. I did inflate the size of one of the groups in order to force Chris to hit up Susie's Diner first. This is the progression of the in-game mission "Supply Run," but without a mission tracker to guide her to that specific restaurant, Chris probably would have hit up one of the other restaurants on Main Street first. That particular group of zombies at Arkham and Lovecraft (yes, the street names are real) does have a greater tendency to go after players, however, perhaps because its located so close to a main thoroughfare.
Chris' tactics for many of the enemies she encounters in this chapter are pretty much my real in-game tactics. She uses the skills "Kneecapper" (the wave of fire), "Pump Action" (basic attack), and "Out for a Kill" (the fireball attack used on the robot). These are spells Chris learned in the previous story after seeing them demonstrated during her Tokyo dream (players actually do get to use these three skills extensively during the Tokyo subways tutorial). In game I find "Kneecapper" followed by spamming "Pump Action" into a group of Returned Townie zombies tends to kill them off very quickly. If you catch all the zombies in the area of effect of "Kneecapper" you can even kill them all (as Chris does) before they come close enough to strike back. Throwing in the pistol passive "Coup de Grace" (which causes enemies to heal all of your allies near them on death) means that even if they do manage to touch you, the player can end the fight at full health anyway.
There are a number of enemies that can be encountered inside Susie's Diner, including "Susie's Diner Cook," "Suisie's Diner Patron," and "Susie's Diner Waitstaff," and "Susie" herself. These seem to spawn randomly and only one will be there at a time. Each time, they will be found gnawing on the body behind the counter. Susie is the largest and most powerful of these, looking pretty much like she does in this chapter. However even she can be felled with a combination of "Slow the Advance" and "Safety Off" (Chris' three-round burst attack). Some can even be killed by the detonation of "Slow the Advance" itself. In game Susie does not have the ability to summon additional zombies (though the game has various kinds of "Ripper" zombies which do have this ability), but there's a cluster of zombies just outside the door on Main Street which players exiting Susie's Diner on that side will most likely be attacked by, and in game I did manage to get myself jumped by them right after finishing a fight with "Susie's Diner Cook" (I have fought Susie herself, but not on my first time in the diner).
The robot guardian of the hardware store is a real part of the quest, I swear! It's the "Jury-Rigged Protector" that attacks players on attempting to enter the hardware store during the quest. I was baffled by the presence of such an enemy in the middle of the zombie apocalypse at first, but now that I know more about the history of the Creed family, I think it makes more sense. Hopefully it will in time to you, too. In any case, yes, it totally has a flame thrower, and because it appears suddenly behind players who are concentrating on interacting with an object at the time, it will more than likely get to light them on fire and/or cut them. This can make it a challenging fight, and no, Chris' demonstrated stop-drop-and-roll tactics will not work in game.
Also, in-game fire damage has no effect on player character wardrobes. I debated the wardrobe damage in this one. I did want to update Chris' wardrobe at some point, but at the same time I didn't want clothing damage to be the rule of the day, and I didn't want people to think I took the same approach to my heroine here as Dan. However, going back over the action sequence I didn't see any other possible outcome. She clearly receives at least second and probably third degree burns across a significant portion of her chest. No flammable clothing covering that area would have survived (either that, or she wouldn't have had such bad burns). I did debate letting her keep the bra, but it wasn't made of asbestos, so in the end I couldn't justify it to myself.
The black policeman is one of the non-interactable NPCs at the Sheriff's Office in game that protects it from constantly-spawning zombies (much like in his second appearance in this chapter). The other survivor, the heavyset man who gives Chris his jacket, is not in the game—though his jacket is. The jacket is the "Frontline Jacket" and is rewarded to players for unlocking all inner-circle rifle abilities. Chris hasn't done that here yet, but it seemed like a convenient opportunity for her to update her wardrobe.
I apologize for this chapter taking so long! Thank you all for your patience!