[D20 CoC] Beyond the Mountains of Madness Campaign - Prologue


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Job

First Post
Taokan said:
****Six PM the next evening at room 1450****
...
Tap tap. "Monsieur Starkweather? Monsieur?" Knocking slightly harder, the pilot rasised her voice, "Am I on time, Monsieur?"
Moments later the door opens and reveals a smiling James Starkweather, casually dressed in dark brown slacks, a beige collared shirt, and brown loafers. "Ah, the mysterious Miss Bardier. You do look a bit different this evening. Have you changed your hair? But, my manners! Please! Do come in!"

James leads Camille into a spacious suite of rooms that are literally crammed with printed information. Most of the surfaces in his sitting room are covered with newspapers, telegrams, and other bits of paper, while photographs in frames on cork boards lean against the walls. All of these feature the expedition, including one board with dozens of small photos of men; most of the information, however, appears to focus on Starkweather himself.

"Please excuse my stacks of research. I'm afraid that my preparations for the expedition don't leave me much time for putting it all out of sight." James transfers the piles of typed papers adorning the sitting room table and chairs to a nearby couch. "I hope that you don't mind, but I've taken the liberty of ordering us a bit of food. It should be here momentarily."

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Job (the tortured one).
 
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Taokan

First Post
Pasting her patented Prospective-Employer(tm) smile on her face, Camille refrained from any habitual urge for European greetings (they usually dismayed foreigners) "Ah, the mysterious Miss Bardier. You do look a bit different this evening. Have you changed your hair? But, my manners! Please! Do come in!"

Momentarily confused at the mention of her hair, Camille almost raised a hand to check to see if she still had hair, but stilled it before the appendage even twitched at the completion of that thought: she wasn't wearing the wig anymore. Shaking her head in the negative, the pilot hastily ad-libbed a half-truth. "No, no, Monsieur. It most likely looked different under the lighting." Well, the wig had looked different from her natural hair under the light.

Obedientally following the expedition leader into the suite, Camille curiously eyed the stacks of paper scattered about until Starkweather busied himself sweeping them onto the nearby sofa. "Please excuse my stacks of research. I'm afraid that my preparations for the expedition don't leave me much time for putting it all out of sight." "No, it is quite alright. I usually end up sleeping on the floor as my own bed is covered with research.

After completing rearaging the piles to the couch, Starkweather returns his attention to Camille, who hastily reapplied her polite smile. "I hope that you don't mind, but I've taken the liberty of ordering us a bit of food. It should be here momentarily." Absently shaking her head as she sat herself down on the edge of one of chairs, Camille responded, "Not at all. Whatever you ordered is fine. I didn't eat dinner yet anyway; I have a small appetite in the evenings and I didn't want to spoil it."

"So ah, Mon- Mr. Starkweather," Pausing momentarilly in mid sentence, Camille silently cursed the unwritten rules of engagement: Never mix business with pleasure; if you must, do it subtly. Why oh why, did Turiau demand she take a six week course on etiquette? So, raggedly picking up the sentence where she left it, Camille finished, "how is the preparation going for the expedition? I'm understandably interested."
 

Job

First Post
Taokan said:
"So ah, Mon- Mr. Starkweather," Pausing momentarilly in mid sentence, Camille silently cursed the unwritten rules of engagement: Never mix business with pleasure; if you must, do it subtly. Why oh why, did Turiau demand she take a six week course on etiquette? So, raggedly picking up the sentence where she left it, Camille finished, "how is the preparation going for the expedition? I'm understandably interested."
"Preparations are proceeding nicely, Miss Bardier,"" said James Starkweather. "Thank you for asking. Dr. Moore has been meticulously organizing the materials at the dock and most crates have arrived. We're on track for our departure on September 14th."

There is a knock at the door and James brightened, saying "Ah! That must be our food! Excuse me for a moment." He disappeared down his hallway and, moments later, a hotel waiter entered pushing in a cart laden with numerous covered dishes, a bottle of white wine resting in ice, wine glasses and a small box. An enticing aroma filled the room and made your mouth water. James tipped the waiter as he departed, then uncovered two plates of sizzling steaks, baked potatoes, and asparagus, carefully setting each plate on the table in front of a chair.

He pulled a chair from the table and said "For you, Madame," as motioned for you to be seated. He awaited you to move to your place, then gently pushed your chair in and circled around the table and sat down. "Bon appetite!" he said with a smile as he uncorked and poured the Chardonney. He then lifted his glass with a twinkle in his eye, and said "A toast! To the mysteries and challenges that lie ahead of us!"

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Job (the tortured one).
 

Taokan

First Post
Eyes sparkiling in delight, Camille raised her glass as well, completing the toast. She had not had a good chance opportunity to enjoy a good glass of Chardonnay since her last visit to the Burgundy region in France. Though it was a bit confusing how nice Starkweather was being. Perhaps he was only insufferable at long range. Though this had better not be an attempt to get her drunk and boot her out of the room. Camille had a good tolerance for alcohol and could, under the right conditions, drink a sailor under the table. Granted, the sailor had to be partially drunk already, but the metaphore still stands.

While passing part of the dinner in an approximation of idle conversation, Camille's mind whirred, trying to locate a diplomatic way to broach the topic of joining the expedition. Oh, to hades with etiquette.

Unconsiously leaning forward slightly, Camille launched into the topic with enthusiasm. "Monsieur, I imagine you've been waiting for me to broach this topic... I know you refused my application when I submitted it, but with all due respect, you could not have properly perused it. I am better qualified than many male pilots, and I have been to Antartica already, for months at a time; you can't argue that I don't properly grasp the situation. My being a woman isn't even part of the equation; I've never, barring present company, been treated as such, nor do I think of myself as one during trips."

Taking a sustaining sip of wine, Camille barreled on, "In all humility, I simply don't understand how you could reject me without weakening your team."
 

Job

First Post
Taokan said:
Unconsiously leaning forward slightly, Camille launched into the topic with enthusiasm. "Monsieur, I imagine you've been waiting for me to broach this topic... I know you refused my application when I submitted it, but with all due respect, you could not have properly perused it. I am better qualified than many male pilots, and I have been to Antartica already, for months at a time; you can't argue that I don't properly grasp the situation. My being a woman isn't even part of the equation; I've never, barring present company, been treated as such, nor do I think of myself as one during trips."

Taking a sustaining sip of wine, Camille barreled on, "In all humility, I simply don't understand how you could reject me without weakening your team."
James Starkweather quietly chewed his bite of food while watching Camille, letting the silence hang in the room. When he had finished swallowing, he slowly reached for his glass of wine, swirled the amber liquid and took a sip, then returned the glass to the table.

He finally gazed back at Camille and calmly said "Miss Bardier, I do believe that you've misinterpreted my response. Please allow me to clarify my position. An expedition to the Antarctic is a deadly serious undertaking. I go there not to satisfy my ego", he said with a perfect look of sincerity, "nor to prove the dominance of the male species, but rather to extend the knowledge of humankind. To answer the gauntlet thrown down by a harsh and unforgiving Mother Nature and to succeed where others have failed.

"As the originator and commander of this expedition, I have the full burden of responsibility for the lives of every individual who sets foot on that ship and who later dares tread the treacherous ice at the dark end of the earth. I take that responsibility very seriously indeed, Miss Bardier.

"My decision to reject your noteworthy application had as much to do with maintaining order amongst a crew of over fifty hardened men on a extended, cold journey as it did with the considerations of the toll that the elements and stresses would place upon a woman's biological and psychological makeup. I have journeyed alongside determined women in the past, Miss Bardier. You would not be the first. And while those expeditions ended in success, I'm afraid that they were always fraught with the tension that develops between the sexes.


James stared unflinchlingly into Camille's eyes and said "I'm afraid that I cannot introduce such risks on this adventure; an adventure to an admitted deathtrap. Too many men have already died on that godforsaken continent and I cannot willingly subject my crew to any additional uncontrollable forces or stresses. I hope you can appreciate my concerns, and my decision."

He then paused and waited for Camille's response.
 
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Taokan

First Post
Camille raised a dark eyebrow. “So you’re saying your entire argument against my going is because I might create some sort of… sexual tension? Like in those stuffy romantic novels ma Tante Aimee read?”

Camille resisted the urge to snicker. "My dear monsieur, you must be laboring under a false conclusion. With all due modesty, I am not a raving beauty comparable to Aphrodite, nor do I have any of the undoubtedly sterling qualities that generally attract the male species, whatever those may be.”

“I am not some sort of delicate, willing maid waiting for courting so I can breed a gaggle of subserviant children. I am caustic, pessimistic, cynical, and focused primarily on my job. I never have and never will encourage romantic relationships or the equivalent. I leave that sort of thing for vacations in the southern United States, not Antarctica."

“I may not know much about the male psychology, but what could possibly be the motivation for falling in lust with a woman who not only is at best moderately attractive, but could really care less about the contents of your trousers as long as you can work well? In the Arctic, no less?”

This time the corners of her mouth couldn’t resist crinkling in a smirk. “Besides… I am not above a swift kick to the groin to get my point across in such situations, Monsieur. I understand it is quite effective for dulling any amorous feelings.”
 

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