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Prologue: In the Beginning
Early July, 1933
New York City was in the midst of a summer heat wave when the final interviews for the Starkweather-Moore Expedition began. They were held in a luxurious suite on the 5th floor of the Amherst Hotel on 44th Street in Manhattan. Despite the heat, the group of people waiting in the makeshift lobby were eager to meet with the expedition's organizers and leaders. Some had traveled a long way to get there in hopes that their initial letters and telegraphs had piqued the interest of both men, while others were there at their invite.

The Starkweather-Moore Expedition had an impressive venue for their interviews.


The first interview was with Dr. Nikifor Schevchenko, a brilliant biologist and psychologist from the Soviet Union. Professor Moore, familiar with the Russian's work, was certain that he would be a credit to the expedition's scientific endeavors. Starkweather, on the other hand, only cared about the headlines he could grab abroad with such an internationally renowned authority joining the expedition. With a hearty handshake and a slap on the back, Schevchenko was confirmed.

Unfortunately, the second interview did not go quite so smoothly. Evelyn Dubois was the next to step into the room, much to James Starkweather's consternation. While the libertine young socialite had made a name as a pilot, the head of the expedition was derisive at best. “Well, Miss,” he said with a scowl, “we won't have any niceties where we are going. Do you really fancy changing your linens in front of thirty unwashed men every day? What does your husband think of this? What can you offer the expedition? We will get back to you.” And with that, he escorted her to the door. But Moore stopped Evvy before she could leave.

“Let me speak with him for a moment. I am familiar with your father – oh, and thank you for the coffee, by the way – and a promise of funding may carry some weight with my partner.” After hearing quite the row behind the closed doors, Evvy was re-admitted. A somewhat chastened James Starkweather thanked her, albeit coldly, for her father's donation of $5000 and made sure she understood that her piloting skills would have to be checked out. With a sly smile, Evelyn thanked them both, enjoying Starkweather's fuming consternation as she left.

A mere formality, the next interview was with Stacy Meredith Whitehall III and his aide-de-camp, manservant, and gentleman's gentleman, Jeeves Weisenthal. Old schoolmates, the two Englishmen reminisced briefly about their time in the service, their travels, and how things had gone in recent years. Almost belatedly, the two were introduced to Professor Moore, who revealed that he and Starkweather had met during Miskatonic University's expedition to the Himalayas in 1925 and had been on a subsequent trip to Costa Rica. Jeeves realized that despite Starkweather's bluster, this was in truth the man's last shot at glory, and he would let nothing or no one stand in his way.

The next interview was with Dr. Buernon Thorson, a Norwegian biologist and climatologist who had spent most of the last two decades above the Arctic Circle. A blonde giant of a man, he moved with a stiff gait and was noticeably missing a few fingers. “Took a nasty fall once. Lay there for more than a day. Frostbite got the fingers. I assure you, no one knows more of the dangers of cold weather than I do.” Starkweather was impressed by the big Norwegian's tenacity, while Moore felt his credentials were impeccable. He was added to the team's roster without delay.

As the afternoon wore on, the next interview was a welcome relief for Professor Moore. Dr. William Scott Tyson, a colleague from Miskatonic University, had taken the train down from Massachusetts as a mere formality. Dr. Tyson was a polymath, a certified genius, with advanced degrees in anthropology, biology, geology, and medicine. He was a certified physician, and a pioneer in a field he called forensic anthropology – the study of human and pre-human life through the examination of remains. They and William Dyer had been referred to as the “Triple Bill” when they were seen in the halls of Miskatonic University's geology department together. After a warm greeting from Starkweather, Dr. Tyson was gladly added to the team.
The final interview was a bit of a switch. The interviewers became the interviewees as they met James O'Neil, of the New York Post. Thanks to his long-standing reputation as a journalist, starting with his foreign correspondence during the Great War and continuing through his career as an investigative reporter, O'Neil was more than welcome. “I want,” he told the two men, “to document this endeavor from beginning to end, I will put your name on every headline from here to the South Pole, Mr. Starkweather!” That was all James Starkweather needed. Based on Starkweather's reaction, one would have thought him royalty. Though the O'Neils of New York were old money, it was James O'Neil's books on the mining strikes in Appalachia, his interviews with then-president Wilson, his consistent place at the top of the Times' best-sellers list that made him a king among journalists. That alone earned him a place on the expedition.

With the final round of interviews over, the team was set. Although the Starkweather-Moore Expedition would not depart until September, there was already a lot of work to be done. Thanks to their long day in the waiting room of Starkweather's suite in the Amherst Hotel, the investigators had formed an immediate friendship and looked forward to working with each other.
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