In which our intrepid band of neophyte Rippers encounter a fiendish beast, a mysterious gypsy, and a surly constable.
Our heroes have been recruited into the Rippers organisation by Thomas Wakefield. And now, after completing their training, the time has come for them to be formally assigned to a lodge. Per Wakefield’s orders, they gather at the Marble Arch near Speakers’ Corner, where a carriage will pick them up at 8:00 pm.
Penny and Felicity are already well acquainted, having toured together for a year or so with Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show. Felicity and Xiao also know each other from San Francisco, but haven’t seen each other in years. Dmitri has only recently arrived in London and knows nobody.
Our band is approached by a constable, who demands to know why they’re loitering outside of Hyde Park. Dmitri, obviously struggling with the English language, tries to convince him that they’re there for a picnic, but the constable is not amused. He demands to see any money Xiao might have on his person, threatening to arrest him for vagrancy if he has none. Fortunately, Xiao is able to produce a handful of shillings. The constable informs the group, rather ominously, that he’ll be back around in an hour or so and it might be a good idea if they were gone by then.
A few minutes later, they hear slow footsteps approaching. An elderly woman, escorted by a young man, slowly makes her way along the walk. As she grows nearer, it becomes apparent that she is blind.
As the odd couple passes by, the old woman suddenly stops and turns to face the heroes. She stares with sightless eyes in their direction and calls out to the four of them. Recognizing her as Roma, Dmitri approaches and introduces himself. She extends a palm and asks the group to “cross it with silver.” Dmitri places a shilling in her hand. She bites it, slips it into the folds of her dress, then reaches up to touch her hand to Dmitiri’s face. She then whispers, “Beware the son of two fathers.”
Before our heroes can question the meaning of her cryptic warning, they hear hurried footsteps as a short, plain-looking man hurries down the cobbled street. He passes behind the gypsy woman, who suddenly whirls around and points at him. She utters something unintelligible. The man stops and glares at her, his face contorted with rage. He lets out a bestial growl and suddenly bolts forward. He runs past the group and into Hyde Park, where he is quickly obscured by the fog.
Dmitri, Penny, Xiao, and Felicity all take off in pursuit, leaving the young man to care for the old woman. They run through the fog, leaping over shrubs and weaving through trees, trying to head off the fleeing man. As they grow closer, they realize he has grown considerably larger than he was, and his clothing is torn. Penny suggests he might be a werewolf or a Hyde, although she is quick to point out she doesn’t really believe in such things.
The heroes catch up to the fleeing man and finally manage to bring him down after a fierce battle involving some epic kung fu (from Xiao) and a couple of blows from Felicity’s tomahawk. The brute dies, shrinking before their eyes to revert back to the short, plain-looking man he was before. Penny notices a folded note in the pocket of the corpse’s ripped jacket, and reads it to the rest of the group:
Omega arrives tomorrow. I am assured the biosphere will be finished on time. All is proceeding to plan. -J
At this point, the group hears their carriage pulling up at the Marble Arch, so they rush back to the entrance of the park, leaving the corpse behind.
They are met by Ned, who ushers them into the carriage. The windows of the carriage have been covered to keep the passengers from seeing where they’re going, but Penny cannot contain her curiosity. Using her tools, she unfastens the shade and lifts it up. The carriage passes through the City to the East End, and finally comes to a stop in Spitalfields. Ned admonishes them for vandalizing the carriage, but tells them he was under orders to deliver them to the Ten Bells Pub.
Across the street from the pub stands the majestic Christ’s Church. As the group makes their way to the pub, Dmitri and Penny notice a shadowy figure skulking around the church. They mention it to Felicity and Xiao, but the four decide to ignore it for the time being.
They step into the Ten Bells Pub, and the one-armed bartender Clive gestures to a private room off to the side. The heroes step inside and find Thomas Wakefield waiting for them. They tell him about their encounter in the park. He recognizes their description of the gypsy woman, whom he identifies as “Agnes Day.” She’s a difficult woman, he explains, but she has certain talents that the Rippers find useful.
They describe their battle with the hulking figure, and Wakefield confirms that it was most likely a Hide. He examines the note that Penny found, but is just as confused by it as they are. Penny surmises that a biosphere is probably something spherical that is either alive or has something alive inside of it.
Wakefield escorts them idown a flight of stairs to a small complex of sleeping quarters, storerooms, and a makeshift lab. And with that, he welcomes the new Rippers to the Spitalfields Lodge.
At this point, Xiao remembers the person they saw sneaking around Christ’s Church, and he mentions it to Wakefield. Wakefield asks the team to go out and investigate before they call it a night. And in the meantime, he says, he’ll send someone to take care of the body in Hyde Park.