Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

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Ginger
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Ginger » Sat Feb 03, 2018 1:44 am UTC

Yablo wrote:It's ultimately my story. I could blame the cats for waking me up at 3:30 the past couple mornings and not letting me get back to sleep, or I could blame having to stop and start frequently since I generally do the writing at work, but whatever.

The two cheerleaders are intended to be foreshadowing as well as give off a creepy vibe by being normal and yet still almost caricatures. When I pitched the Operation to my players I told them I was going for Enemy of the State meets Stepford Wives.

Also, Atwood is too paranoid to leave his motel room, and the others are too paranoid to meet up with him.

Well, I don't blame you for a dry story, I just got to be fair on a writer I enjoy sometimes. Silly kitties ha-ha. The writing process is a craft and sometimes you got to stop and start again and again. Cheerleaders in fiction are usually either creepy or fetishes materials I have notice? Ha-ha. And I love senses of building paranoia. When people start experiencing mental health symptoms in Cthulhu's Mythos games then... fun and funny who knew?
Amy Lee wrote:Just what we all need... more lies about a world that never was and never will be.


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Yablo
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Sat Feb 03, 2018 5:16 am UTC

As long as you're being fair and the criticism is intended to be constructive, by all means, be as harsh as you need to. When I write the Operations, my target audience is my group of players, but when I write up the game sessions in this format, my target audience is different. Each requires a different style.

If my players tell me, "we need more research montages where we stare at chalkboards and do math," I need to find a way to give them that experience in the game. When I go to write up the lack of action, I have to find a way to make math and chalk dust interesting.

Incidentally, while I do a lot of planning in advance, I do welcome requests and suggestions from the people who read these write ups. If readers tell me, "we need more research montages where the character stare at chalkboards and do math," I might try to work that into the game at some point.

Ultimately, I have one story and two audiences, so I have the challenge of presenting the same story two ways.
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Ginger
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Ginger » Sat Feb 03, 2018 12:11 pm UTC

I wanna see more eats your face off, otherworldly aliens/demons/tentacles monsters pleasey-pleasey Yablo? <3
Amy Lee wrote:Just what we all need... more lies about a world that never was and never will be.


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Yablo
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Sun Feb 04, 2018 12:39 am UTC

Ginger wrote:I wanna see more eats your face off, otherworldly aliens/demons/tentacles monsters pleasey-pleasey Yablo? <3

That, I can most definitely do. All the secrecy and paranoia is just a set up for all the horror and terror these agents can handle. They should get to that point next week. Unless they chicken out.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Tue Feb 27, 2018 5:40 am UTC

Update, because playing every other week makes for a long break if you miss two games. We didn't play last time because one player went musk ox hunting for a week, and the rest of us were sick. We didn't play tonight for a few reasons. First, winter in Alaska can make the roads pretty dangerous, and one player lives in the middle of nowhere where roads aren't as well maintained or lit. Second, the player who went hunting caught pneumonia (or a brain parasite), and blood was using his nose as a convenient pathway for sneaking out of his head. Even still, we were planning to play, but the third player failed to return calls or texts over the eight hours I attempted to reach him. All things in total, I decided to pass for another session. Next session should be fine though.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Dauric » Thu Mar 22, 2018 6:56 pm UTC

... Apparently the brain parasite spread it's larvae around and they ate the players...
We're in the traffic-chopper over the XKCD boards where there's been a thread-derailment. A Liquified Godwin spill has evacuated threads in a fourty-post radius of the accident, Lolcats and TVTropes have broken free of their containers. It is believed that the Point has perished.

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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Wed Mar 28, 2018 12:28 am UTC

Dauric wrote:... Apparently the brain parasite spread it's larvae around and they ate the players...

Something like that. The universe has been conspiring against the game for a couple months (including a particularly sad family situation I posted about in the SB section), but my players and I aren't letting the universe win. As schedules and venues are chaotic at the moment, we've discussed the possibility of moving the game to the Roll20 online tabletop.That would also open the slim possibility of finding players outside of town, though given that we're in the Alaska timezone (at least until my wife and I move back down south), who knows?

Apologies on the delay, but rest assured, we plan to continue, and this thread helps a lot with remembering where things were left off. The important thing is that we've been making efforts to play, and we haven't been dissuaded by life obstacles.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Tue Apr 24, 2018 11:00 pm UTC

The Bedford Project – Session 3

The shower didn’t do much to calm his nerves, and so Atwood maintained a careful watch out the window through a crack between the curtains. Every so often, he shot a disapproving frown toward the phone. It was about 7:30 PM when he saw the large black man, Kellan Dunn, leave his room and head down to his car. Atwood took a deep breath. He wasn’t crazy about the idea of leaving his room before the rest of his team made contact, but he needed to know what was so important about Bedford, Iowa that DARPA would send the Assistant Director. As Dunn backed his cherry red Lexus out of the parking space and began to drive away, Atwood quickly slipped down to his rental car to tail him.

Dunn was in no hurry, and there were few other vehicles on the street, so Atwood maintained what he hoped was a safe distance. He watched as the Lexus pulled into the parking lot of the HelpLink building and parked next to the white Honda Civic which happened to be the only other car in the lot. No surprise there. That building was the only one in town with a satellite dish, and those industrial air conditioning units on the roof were just big enough to make him suspicious.

He continued past the HelpLink building and was about to turn around when he noticed the red and blue lights in the rearview mirror. His heart skipped a beat, but that was okay because his lungs forgot to take a breath or two anyway. Should he make a run for it? That didn’t work out well for Badagian. He was near the center of town in a rental car anyway. No way was he getting away by running. Any other time, all the camera coverage would make him feel much safer.

Atwood took a deep breath and pulled over across from the diner. He kept his hands on the wheel and watched his driver’s side mirror. The deputy stopped near the back of the rental car and leaned like he was getting a better look at the license plate. Atwood heard the plastic of his taillight smash, and that seemed to confirm his fear. There was nothing routine about this stop. He rolled down the window as the deputy approached and shined a flashlight inside. The name on the deputy’s uniform identified him as L. Funderburk.

“Know why I pulled you over?”

“I have a few guesses.”

Atwood did his best to keep the snarl and fear out of his voice, but he wasn’t sure it worked. After handing over his rental agreement and driver’s license – his real identification since he didn’t have anything else – he waited patiently as Deputy Funderburk returned to his cruiser to run his checks. So that was it. They knew he was an FBI agent. That put him on the list. Now, the only question was whether they were going to try to kill him now or start calling him from random numbers until he killed himself.

That question was answered when the deputy came back with his license and a $150 ticket for a broken taillight. Phone tag, it was, then. Well, screw this town. They might get his money, but they’d never get the satisfaction of his death. He threw the car into drive and headed cautiously back to the motel. His heart and breath may have skipped earlier, but they were making up for lost time now. After locking the door to his room and barricading it with the dresser, Atwood decided he needed another shower and some very light sleep.

Porter was pretty light on sleep as well, and he’d gotten up around 4:00 AM, made some coffee, and started researching. By the time he got his first refill, he had a few relevant items of interest. The Capitol Gazette in Annapolis, Maryland had run an obituary for Captain Rush and a single paragraph a few days ago with the title “Body Found in Bay Believed to be Marine Recruiter.” The Kansas City Star had run only an obituary for Shelley Emmett with no surviving family members listed. The Ames Tribune had run a front-page story following Heathcliff’s arrest. It was light on details, but it promised more information as it came available. It seemed to sensationalize the story, but that was the only story the paper ever ran on it. It made national news, but even those stories seemed to die out after a few days, and nothing substantial was ever reported other than the obvious "tenured professor fired after arrest."

Then there was the Bedford Times-Press. It had a website, but only the day’s brief headlines were available. For a subscription fee of only $32 and an email address, however, he could have access to previous editions and receive an electronic copy of future editions for an entire year. The NSA spook was already connected to the internet through an encrypted chain of proxy servers which changed every five minutes. He also had a refillable gift card for just such an occasion. Now, all he needed was a new fake email address.

A couple of minutes later, Porter was browsing back issues of the Bedford Times. The website was clear and reasonably laid out, but it still had the feel of an amateur website. There were no ads or pop-ups, but there were also no flashy banners proclaiming headlines, and the pictures were all thumbnail size until clicked. Still, it served its purpose. The paper was published on a weekly basis, and the issues were relatively short. They dealt only in items of local interest - mostly bake sales and high school sports - and the articles were rarely more than a paragraph long. It had the feel of a school newspaper.

The most recent edition had a paragraph about the "tragic car accident" on IA-2 east of town, but it spelled Badagian's name wrong - Badaggian. It stated the time of the accident as approximately 9:35 PM. According to police, he was speeding and likely swerved to avoid oncoming headlights.

There were no articles on the other three deaths, but two other articles from past issues did pop out. Merle Vaughn, pastor of the Bedford Evangelical Church of God, hung himself in the church office in 2008. The paper speculated that it had something to do with the fact that he was recently outed as gay. The other article mentioned the fatal electrocution of Steve Gibbs, an Ameritech telephone repairman who was helping bring the town’s phone system back up after the 2010 flood. That could potentially raise the body count to six. Maybe seven if Atwood wasn’t careful. Porter decided that should probably be the first line of business for the day; finding Atwood and regrouping.

Dempsey agreed. Of course, he had just woken up and hadn’t had his coffee yet, so he reserved the right to change his mind before lunchtime. It was Sunday morning. Hopefully, they could get everything resolved today and get out of Iowa before the homecoming game and the Corn Queen Pageant.

Porter and Dempsey resisted the urge to grab breakfast a safe distance from Bedford, and they arrived in town about 7:00 AM. Atwood’s last communication had been the text reporting he was staying at the Skylark Motel. That was just before Dempsey’s burner phone became a literal burner phone. A quick scan of the Skylark on their first pass revealed Atwood’s rental car and a cherry red Lexus a few spots down from it. As they were in the other car provided by FEMA, Porter was okay with pulling up next to Atwood’s car.

Dempsey was about to get out and run up to Atwood’s room, but he didn’t need to. Atwood had apparently been watching. The FBI agent came quickly down the stairs and hopped into the backseat. The agents had no trouble on the way out of town, and while it was highly unlikely anyone could hear them, none of the agents spoke until they were a few miles clear of Bedford. Something about that town hit all the triggers for paranoia.

The first stop was to switch vehicles for the one Porter had rented on his own. Then it was off to the Denny’s in Hopkins. Each agent filled the others in on what he’d found, and then they discussed the situation to put everything in perspective. Porter didn’t like the thought of the Assistant Director of DARPA in Bedford. It didn’t help that he apparently had business to conduct at that HelpLink place. That’s where the answers were going to be. Whatever reasons were behind all the security, surveillance, and secrecy, they were in that building and Assistant Director Dunn’s head.

But how the hell were they going to get in there? It was a good bet there were at least half a dozen traffic cameras with a view of that place, not to mention the electronic eye on the front door and the keycard locks on the side doors. Stealth wasn’t an option. Maybe just walk in the front door during business hours and have a look around? Badges might get them access, but they’d almost certainly get them on the murder list.

Dempsey pointed out Atwood was already on that list, and Atwood pointed out that Dempsey could take this fork and shove it straight up … Porter slapped the table which spilled some coffee but seemed to diffuse the already overly-tense situation.

They all agreed no one was going anywhere alone in Bedford for the time being. Atwood was already on someone’s radar, and to be safe, they were going to assume his calls and internet use were monitored if not traced. The plan, then, was to head back to the safe house and put Gomez and his team to work digging up any and all information on Assistant Director Kellan Dunn and why he might be in Bedford. Anything he could get on HelpLink would be a plus as well.

The waiting was tough, but it was preferable to the paranoia of that damned town. It was after noon before Gomez got back to them with a brief email.

My sources can confirm Dunn had close association with MJ-6, Project PLUTO though details are hard to come by. No connection to Delta Green or any of our operations. I've got feelers out on his Project PLUTO connection. Will let you know what I find tomorrow afternoon. Recommend caution. If you disappear him, he'll be missed.

Porter growled. The other two had a bad feeling, but they were too new to realize the implications. MJ-6, Project PLUTO.

“I don’t know what the hell Project PLUTO is, but MJ-6 is bad news. It’s … It was a section of Majestic-12. But those bastards were infiltrated and dismantled, and their assets were reallocated. They were Above Top Secret U.S. black budget just like us. DARPA and Majestic … son-of-a-bitch. This ain’t good, gentlemen. Whatever he’s doing there, and whatever is in that building, you can be sure nothing good is going to come from it. Gomez is getting us more information tomorrow, so I say we hit up a liquor store and drink to the dead tonight. We’ll probably be seeing ‘em soon.”

Atwood nodded solemnly, but the Irishman wasn’t convinced. In fact, the way Dempsey saw it, that whole town, HelpLink, DARPA, and whatever the hell PLUTO was could all go screw themselves somewhere very uncomfortable. There was no reason for any of them to die tomorrow. Except maybe Atwood. He was on the list, after all.

No. Porter was finishing the job. So was Atwood. Dempsey sighed and declared none of his team was dying in that hellhole tomorrow without him. On one condition, of course: The Irishman does the liquor shopping. None of this Budweiser swill those Americans like to drink. It was going to be Bushmills 21-Year-Old. Straight. There was a nod of agreement from Porter. Atwood wrinkled his nose, but he agreed as well. He’d much rather have the Budweiser.

With nothing more to do but wait until tomorrow, the agents shared the Bushmills and old war stories while they played poker for pretzels. Morning came early.

Delta Green work aside, Porter’s life had become rather comfortable in recent decades. Whereas he had been somewhat of a risk-taker as a young field operative, his promotion to case officer capped off his gradual conservative slide. With that promotion came the comfort of a nice house, two cars, and a couple of ex-wives. He slept well any other time, but never on a Delta Green Op. When the Program activated him, he knew he was in for light and broken sleep for the duration. He was always the one to make the coffee because he was always the one awake at 4:00 AM.

Dempsey was up in time for breakfast, but the Bushmills had done a number on Atwood. The FBI agent was dead to the world, and it looked like he might be in that condition until noon or so. Porter and Dempsey decided to head out for breakfast, and when Atwood still hadn’t rolled off the couch several hours later, they headed out for lunch, too. The Irishman decided if they survived and worked together again, he and Porter would split the good stuff, and Atwood could have all the Budweiser he liked.

True to his word, Gomez sent an encrypted email just before 3:00 PM. It contained some useful information that Porter immediately wished it didn’t.

MJ-6 PLUTO evaluated all scientific and technological information received from Extraterrestrial Biological Entities. It had a host of sub-projects.

ARC DREAM was a sub-project of MJ-6 PLUTO which handled biotechnology transfers from an alien intelligence known as the Greys. ARC DREAM primarily served a management and bureaucratic function for its own sub-projects.

Sub-Project BOUNCE was designed to develop Super-Soldiers based on alien DNA and anatomy. The goal was to make "clean" soldiers who were immune to CBR/NBC warfare.

Sub-Project CATALYST handled the main body of ARC DREAM research and had become more of a production house which occasionally spun off further sub-projects. Catalyst had perfected the accelerated growth of human embryos and fetuses to adulthood in a period of several weeks. However, the more growth factor used to accelerate development, the greater the risk of biological failure.

Sub-Project CORE had the greatest potential for drastic, world-altering effects. If each experiment is taken separately, CORE simply altered microbes, animals, and biochemistry. Viewed as a whole, CORE provided the advent of a new global ecology; an ecology based on genetic engineering and alien science.

Sub-Project RECOIL had been producing physiologically altered NRO DELTA and MJ-5 BLUE FLY personnel since 1993. The test subjects had been given enhanced strength through the use of advanced steroids and specially designed adrenaline-producing organs. The musculature had to be nanotechnologically enhanced in order to prevent injury from the increased biochemical strength. One RECOIL test subject had even been given a musculature which had been wholly replaced by extra-dimensional myomers. The skeletal structure had also been regrown and gradually converted into a diamond matrix by nanotechnology in order to bear the great weights and stresses imposed by enhanced strength. All this caused great agony in RECOIL subjects which was partially cured by neurosurgery and painkillers.

An ARC DREAM researcher, one Dr. Brian Cherry, is confirmed to have a daughter, Allison, in Bedford, Iowa. He went underground after reappropriation of Majestic assets. Fortunately, ARC DREAM has been shut down, and Dr. Cherry has not resurfaced. Dr. Cherry may have sought out his daughter. If your group finds evidence of ARC DREAM activity, eliminate it covertly. There are elements in governments worldwide which would love to get their hands on Dr. Cherry's research.

As Porter read the email aloud, Atwood opened his bleary eyes and tried to focus on the ceiling. The FBI man swung his feet around and stood up.

“So, we’re talking aliens and genetic engineering? Okay. Let’s forget for a moment that Gomez is suggesting aliens are real, and our government has supposedly been dealing with them like Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. Whatever the source of the genetic engineering, that’s got to be why DARPA is there. That Assistant Director Dunn guy is in charge of some messed up stuff. I mean, neural implants on soldiers, using plants nuclear threats, remote-controlled insects … Aliens or not, that’s some mad science.”

Porter agreed. He confirmed that aliens were, in fact, real. And genetic engineering for super soldiers was not something he was going to let happen. ARC DREAM was shut down for a reason, and if this Dr. Cherry was continuing his research in Bedford, it was going to stop.

“If we find evidence of ARC DREAM activity … Atwood, you said there was something off about those cheerleaders you got the tickets from, yeah?”

Atwood nodded.

“If you call color-shifting eyes and bee summoning ‘something off,’ then yeah. But I’m not eliminating cheerleaders, covertly or otherwise.”

Dempsey had no such moral dilemma. The Irishman announced he’d be happy to off a couple unnatural athletic supporters as long as it turned out they really were unnatural. But first and foremost, the mad science needed to stop. And to that end, some not-so-mad science might help. He suggested rigging the Brewster Holdings dirty bomb to take out the HelpLink building, but Porter didn’t think it would be enough. The air conditioning units on the roof screamed multiple sub-basements, and what they were after was most likely at the very bottom.

Okay, then. How were they going to get down there? The sheriff had said the police investigation would be on hold until Tuesday if it didn’t wrap up by Sunday night. He’d suggested the whole town would be at the game. If that was even close to accurate, the HelpLink building might be empty, or lightly guarded at worst. Sure, the traffic cameras would probably pick them up entering the building, but as long as no alarms were tripped, they might make it in and out and be long gone before anyone even thought to check the tapes. And if they were really cautious, there might be no reason for anyone to check the tapes at all.

Atwood was on their radar – whoever the hell they were – and he was expected to be at the game. Then again, he’d bought three tickets and said he had a couple friends in town with him. Score another one for Atwood. Dempsey grumbled.

Well, they couldn’t all go to the game. In fact, Porter said, all three of them would be needed for the HelpLink raid. But what if someone noticed they weren’t there? The tickets had RFID chips. That was it, then. Porter suggested they all attend the game long enough to ditch their tickets at the stadium. They might even do a little recon while they were there. Then they could leave the game and head to HelpLink. Anyone tracking their tickets would think they were still at the game.

Kickoff was at 6:30 PM, but Atwood said the cheerleaders would be getting the crowd pumped up by 6:00. Just in case things went pear-shaped, the agents decided to each take a different car. Porter would drive the car he rented, and Dempsey would drop Atwood off at the motel to pick up the other car. Then they’d caravan to the game, ditch their tickets, and caravan to HelpLink.

The agents headed out a little before 6:00. It was breezy, and storm clouds from the southwest followed them all the way to Bedford. The wind steadily picked up the closer they got, and by the time they arrived, all of Bedford was blanketed in the dark clouds.

The streets seemed deserted. Local businesses were closed, and the few vehicles to be seen were parked in private driveways with two exceptions: a cherry red Lexus RC coupe with Maryland plates and a white Honda Civic were parked next to each other in an otherwise-empty HelpLink parking lot. That was something. Assistant Director Dunn and … probably Dr. Cherry were there, but the building looked deserted. The raid might go smoothly after all.

As the bright lights over the Bedford High School football field come into view, the reason for the empty town was confirmed. Nearly every available parking space for a half-mile around the school was taken. It would seem the entire county had shown up for this game and the Corn Queen Pageant to follow it. Kickoff wasn't for another 20 minutes yet, but true to their word, the cheerleaders could be heard leading the crowd in various chants.

Despite the distractions created by the lights, music, and chanting, the agents were quick to notice the Taylor County school bus with the Taylor County Cornhuskers logo emblazoned on the side. A stocky man leaned against the large front tire next to the door. His face was shrouded by the bill of his trucker hat, but the orange dot of a cigarette shined out from the shadow. On the bus and near the back seats, another man seemed to be yelling angrily into a cellphone and pacing very tight circles in the aisle. The only available parking space within a half-mile happened to be right next to the bus.

Dempsey pulled into that spot while the other two circled the lot and headed off to find somewhere else to park. The smoking man put out his cigarette and approached Dempsey’s car waving his hands in a shooing motion, but the man on the bus calls to him from a window.

"Don't worry about it, Jim. Let him park there. Coach Anderson's not gonna make it anyway. Neither is Cody."

Jim just shrugged and headed back to the front of the bus as the other man stepped out into the parking lot. The Irishman thanked Jim in a tone that was smart-assed even for him, but Jim just narrowed his eyes, spit, and lit another cigarette. The man who had been on the phone continued talking to the smoking man.

"Damnit, Jim. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Kickoff is in twenty minutes. Somebody knifes Cody's tires and keys his car, so he catches a ride with Coach Anderson. Then the coach ties his car around a tree. Now I gotta go out there and coach this team on my own without a damned quarterback? Fuck! I hate this town."

Jim just listened along and made small grunts of agreement. It sounded to Dempsey like the smart money was on the Bulldogs, and maybe someone had made a point of ensuring that. Once Porter and Atwood walked up, the Irishman joined them, and the three headed toward the stadium entrance.

The stands on both sides of the field were packed with supporters of each team. A quarter-mile track of asphalt divided into six lanes encircled the chain link fence containing the football field. The teams were warming up at opposite sides of the field, and each school's cheerleaders were bouncing, swishing, kicking, and cartwheeling on the track in front of their respective team's stands.

A cheerful young man with thick glasses and a Bedford High School Academic Team sweater passed their tickets below a scanner which beeped happily. Just on their left as they entered was a concession stand selling hamburgers, hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, and sodas of all sizes. Atwood took the tickets and dumped them in a trash can, and after Dempsey finished buying a pretzel and a Dr. Pepper, the agents walked back out to the parking lot. The kid in the glasses and sweater called after them as they exited.

"Make sure you have your tickets with you so you can get back in!"

While the parking lot was full of vehicles, it seemed to be devoid of life. It was an odd realization, but it was one that couldn’t be denied. There were no people or animals anywhere around, the trees had all long since lost their leaves, and the agents were alone in the middle of it all. Everyone in town seemed to be packed into the stadium.

The wind picked up even more in a sort of escort as they made their way back to their vehicles. It looked like storm clouds were still rolling in at a frantic pace, packing them more and more densely together. They were churning and swirling directly over the HelpLink building. In fact, as they pulled their respective vehicles into the HelpLink parking lot, they could see a vortex directly above the building. The only electrical activity in the sky was around the vortex, and it caused the dark clouds to light up periodically. Between those times, the agents could make out a clear, starry sky in the eye of the maelstrom of roiling clouds.

As the agents got out of their vehicles, the lightning flashed around the vortex again, and all three agents had their eyes drawn to the sky. As the clouds lit up, they could make out the contrast of something – a ball, a meteor, a van … Something big and dark streaked from the stars directly through the hole in the clouds and into the HelpLink roof. They didn’t have time to comprehend what they’d seen much less take action before it hit.

The sheer force of the impact knocked them flat on their backs from 50 yards away, and it shattered the glass doors and windows of the building. It took a minute or two before the agents could regain their senses and stand up. By that time, everything was quiet again. All that could be heard was the wind and a football game in the distance.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

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Yablo
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:37 pm UTC

It's the end of the fiscal year here in Alaska, and that means as a governmental accountant, it's by far the busiest time of the year for me. Add to that the fact that my step-kids are visiting for the summer, and it adds up to almost no free time for me. That alone should be enough of an excuse for taking so long to post the finale to the Opera, but wait! There's more! The write-up is about twice as long as my standard session write-up, so I'm going to split it into two parts.

Unfortunately, this represents the last installment until we manage to get schedules worked out again, and that may be after summer. Still, we do plan to continue.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:47 pm UTC

The Bedford Project – Session 4, Part 1

As the agents regained their senses and rose to their feet, it was Atwood who broke the silence.

“The hell was that? A meteor?”

Dempsey was staring wide-eyed with a grin. At times like this, when he was truly and entirely enthralled, his accent could become heavy and thick.

“Oi don't nu, but if i'd 'av 'ad wan, oi might not 'av 'ad ter leave Éire.”
Atwood blinked at the Irishman for a moment, and his blank expression gradually became one of contempt. When he replied, he lingered on the initial ‘W’ and dragged it out.
“What?”
Dempsey had either not heard the FBI profiler, or he was ignoring him. Porter clarified the Irishman’s words for Atwood as he started covering the ground to the building.

“He said he doesn’t know, but if he’d had one, he might not have had to leave Éire – Ireland. For the record, I have no idea what the hell that was either, but I don’t hear alarms or sirens.”

No alarms or sirens. Porter saw it as an opportunity. Dempsey saw it as an invitation. Atwood was sure it was a trap. Regardless, they were all sure there were answers somewhere in that building, and now there was an easy way in. The Irishman jogged to catch up with Porter, and Atwood followed but lagged behind. All three agents drew their guns.

The three stepped through the shattered glass doors. The building was eerily quiet. They could hear dripping water and a dull wind near the center of the large room, but the only light came from the light posts in the parking lot and the sliver of moonlight filtering through a large crack in the ceiling.

All three agents lit their flashlights, and each had a different way of holding it with his gun. Porter held his with his thumb closest to the lens and just below the grip of his pistol. Atwood held his with his pinky closest to the lens and to the side of his pistol with his wrists touching. Dempsey held his out to one side and pointed his gun in the other direction.

Beyond the reception area with brochures, newspapers, magazines, and teal couches, the room was essentially just a large secretarial pool. Ceiling tiles in the center of the room had either fallen or were hanging precariously. The crack in the roof had to have been almost 100 feet long, and the satellite dish was hanging inward on a sagging section of roof.

A door on the far wall was labeled ‘Training Evaluation Office,’ and not far from that was the steel door of an elevator. Closer to the agents, another door was labeled ‘Stair Access to Roof and Basement.’ Dempsey and Atwood were about to head up to the roof when Porter stopped them. He said they needed to clear the ground floor first before heading off. Besides, there was something off about that Training Office. For all the security in this town, why did this one door have a standard mechanical lock and no electronics?

Porter led the way, and the other two followed. The NSA spook was the only one trained in this sort of thing, and whatever fell from the sky would probably still be on the roof when they cleared this floor. The door was unlocked, and Porter stood to one side and pushed it open. When nothing exploded, screamed, or shot at them, he whipped around and pointed his gun at the room in general.

Power seemed to be out to the rest of the building, but this room had three computer workstations running at full power. It was difficult to tell at a glance just what the computers were doing, but it was obviously not “training evaluation.” Each computer had three monitors, and each monitor displayed continuously updating graphs, charts, and lists. One monitor also had an open window cycling through live-streaming video from traffic cameras in Bedford. Each workstation had thick cables running through holes in the floor, and Porter said they were likely connected to a mainframe on a lower level.

The three workstations had various personal touches of the workers who manned them; pictures of family members, Bedford Bulldogs Football bobblehead, birthday cards, Bedford High School desk calendar with "Homecoming game and pageant!!" written in red ink on today's date, etc ... The room looked like the typical IT office, just with overly-expensive computer equipment. There was nothing to imply an evacuation any more hurried than your usual end-of-the-workday exodus, but Atwood still didn’t like the feeling he was getting.

Other than the door through which the agents entered, there were two other exits; a concrete-walled stairway in the opposite wall leading up and down and a door to their left with a mechanical lock and a plaque identifying it as the office of a Dr. Clark.

The door to Dr. Clark’s office was unlocked and opened easily to reveal a small, windowless office containing a desk, computer with a single monitor, and a modular shelving unit. Several computer printouts were stacked neatly on the desk, and Dempsey flipped through them. They contained a wide variety of charts, graphs, and lists ranging from a complete traffic-flow map of Bedford to the likelihood of Bedford residents to call phone-sex lines broken down by demographic subcategories. Porter and Atwood would have found all of that quite interesting and important, but the Irishman just yawned and failed to mention it.

Atwood checked the drawers of the desk. In one, he found two brown folders. One was packed with what appeared to be blackmail evidence on Sheriff Taylor; pictures of him and various official-looking people exchanging briefcases and folders for thick envelopes, two years of his bank statements showing countless large cash deposits, and an envelope with a lock of brown hair and a small glass jar of what was probably blood. The second folder contained several printouts of emails between Dr. Clark and people from various .gov addresses and a company called Brewster Holdings. One email from Kellan Dunn marked Top Secret mentioned DARPA projects called Mind's Eye (to develop visual intelligence in machines) and CTS - Combat Zones That See (to "track everything that moves" in a city by linking up a massive network of surveillance cameras to a centralized computer system). Another email mentioned a late-September visit to inspect progress and to meet with someone named Dr. Cherry regarding his research.

Before the agents could discuss the implications, the relative silence was broken by the sound of twisting or snapping steel from somewhere down below and off in the direction of the elevator followed immediately by a crash. Porter spoke in a hushed growl.

“Put it all back. We need to move, and we can come back for it later if we need it.”

The sound came from below, and that’s where Porter wanted to go, but Atwood and Dempsey wanted to check the roof first. Atwood thought it would be good to clear the building systematically from top to bottom; he also didn’t want anything to do with the sound of ripping steel. Dempsey just wanted to see what hit the roof and find out if he could make one. It was two against one, and none of the agents wanted to be the one to go off alone, so the roof it was.

The concrete-walled stairwell from the Training Evaluation Office led up to a heavy steel door. Porter tested the handle and found that it was unlocked on the inside, but pushing it open, he saw that it would lock behind them with an RFID keycard lock if they let it close. Dempsey propped the door open with his flashlight, and the agents stepped out to examine the roof. The wind was starting to settle, and the vortex of clouds directly above the building seemed to be dissipating.

There was a three-foot wall around the perimeter of the roof to prevent accidental falls, and while the HelpLink building was only one story above ground, the entire town of Bedford could be seen from their vantage. The town was dark as far as the eye could see - everywhere except the Bedford High School football field. It appeared for all the world that literally the entire town was there. The wind carried the faint sounds of a marching band which seemed to indicate halftime.

The industrial air conditioning unit was even more imposing up close. It was most definitely too large for a building the size of the HelpLink Training Facility. The satellite dish hung at a precarious angle as it dipped down into the building through the long gash in the roof. Something large hit at an angle very close to the dish and came to a skidding and bouncing halt after almost 100 feet. Whatever it was, it likely weighed at least 500 pounds, and it was probably closer to 1,000. It was also probably a little smaller than a Volkswagen Beetle. A meteor that size would have devastated the town, and besides, it hadn't been glowing; it had been black against the electric glow of the storm.

Following the path of the object's landing led the agents' eyes to the other hole. There had been a second roof-access door near the front of the building where the other stairwell was, but the twisted sheet of steel and electronics which had once served as that door now laid discarded several feet away. Dempsey's assessment was the object had to have come to a stop at least 50 feet away from the stairwell so the impact couldn't have destroyed the door, never mind that it had been ripped outward rather than pushed inward. Either the door had already been in this condition, or something had demolished it. A shiver went down their spines at that assessment. Porter frowned.

“It look like something landed on the roof, picked itself up, and demolished that big-assed steel door to anyone else?”

Atwood nodded slowly with a gulp. Dempsey just looked down at his pistol and sighed.

There were no scorch marks visible anywhere on the roof which lent further doubt to the meteor possibility. The concrete of the roof access appeared to have been toppled backward away from the door while the door itself was pulled in the other direction. Exactly how it happened might have been a mystery, but it would have taken something with the size and strength of a construction vehicle to yank the door free, and whatever did it had left patches of a sticky black residue like battery acid.

Looking down the stairwell illuminated by flashlights and emergency lighting, Atwood spotted a mangled security camera. Dempsey’s quick scan of the roof access through which they'd emerged revealed another well-hidden and intact camera. Given the lack of a door on the other stairwell, the Irishman decided it was safe to retrieve his flashlight.

With Atwood in the lead, the agents carefully descended the concrete stairs. The metal handrails had been severely corroded in many places, and so they were less than useless. They gave the impression that if someone were to put a little weight on them, collapse would be imminent.

The door to the HelpLink lobby from the ground floor stairwell landing was in bad shape as well. The handle, hinges, and other metal components were so severely corroded that they'd likely never work as intended again, though they'd been so weakened that a good kick would probably bring the door crashing down.

From this landing, Atwood could see a body slumped against the wall on the next flight down. The body was easily identifiable as private security by his body armor and other gear. Like the rails and door, everything metal on the guard's person seemed corroded and useless. The handgun in his hand, a Glock 36, looked like it might still be in working order. Once the agents made it down to the body, a closer look revealed brown and black streaks around his mouth. His skin had a slightly bluish tinge, the tongue was swollen and black, and he was covered in brownish-black vomit. The man’s skin was dry, tight, and flaky as if he’d experienced rapid dehydration. Porter was no doctor, but he was a chemist. He gave his diagnosis in a grim tone.

“Call me crazy, but this looks like the fatal side of sulfuric acid poisoning. That would explain the corrosion on all the metal, too.”

Well, yeah. It would explain the corrosion, but Atwood wanted to know just what the hell explained the sulfuric acid in the first place. There wasn’t an explanation for that unless they wanted to go with the “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang goes rogue” angle. Dempsey joked that Dick Van Dyke had some explaining to do, but he was met with glares from the other two, so he just shrugged.

Disney-based explanations aside, the evidence seemed to support Porter’s theory. Atwood suggested they all put on gloves just in case, but the other two held up their already-gloved hands. Well, Dempsey held up an already-gloved middle finger, but the message was the same; you don’t raid the enemy stronghold in an overly-secure town under cover of darkness without gloves. Then again, as Dempsey pointed out, it wasn’t like Atwood was going to get added to Sheriff Taylor’s kill list a second time, though he might move up a spot or two.

The initial shock and witty banter out of the way, Dempsey studied the landing. The body was slumped against the wall at the mid-floor landing. He had apparently been running up the stairs from the room below when he turned back toward the room and fired several rounds.

The air down at this level irritated the agents’ eyes and nasal passages. The heavy steel door at the bottom of the stairs had been ripped from its frame with the digital keypad lock still in place. The room beyond was well-lit and apparently running on generator power rather than emergency power like the ground floor and stairwells. There were white flashing lights near the ceiling at regular intervals which appeared to be some sort of silent alarm.

Only a few feet inside the doorway were six lumps of copper with a thick turquoise patina and a scattering of rust. So, whatever they were following could not only dehydrate a man and turn him blue, but it also worked fast enough to rust and corrode bullets. Fantastic.

Several racks of computer equipment lined the walls of the room. It appeared to be a server room with expensive equipment. None of it seemed to have been touched. The only other exits from the room were the other stairwell leading to the Training Evaluation Office and an open elevator shaft. The elevator doors had been removed and cast aside much like the other stairwell doors.

Dempsey questioned whether Bedford really deserved their help. After all, no one in this town had proven themselves to be worth helping. Plus, nothing good went down that open elevator shaft, so nothing good was likely to come back out. It’s not like there was a surprise party at the bottom with birthday hats, Guinness, and Pin the Beard on the Leprechaun. No. There was an evil, flying Disney car armed with acid and who-knows-what-else. Screw Bedford. Screw Iowa.

That last bit got no argument from the other two, but all the same, this was their job. This was small-town America. That alone meant Bedford deserved their help. Dempsey wasn’t so sure.

The Irishman inched up to the elevator shaft and slowly peeked down. The corroded ends of what used to be elevator cables hung in the shaft, and he could see the mangled remains of the elevator car about 30 feet down where the elevator doors to the sublevel had been ripped away. This seemed like the only way down to the sublevel, but no amount of button mashing or security badge scanning would bring that elevator car back up. There were iron ladder rungs driven into the walls of the shaft for maintenance and emergencies, and the ones Dempsey could see clearly looked only slightly corroded.

He sighed and started carefully descending the shaft. He was careful to test every rung before putting his full weight on it. Seeing the Irishman disappear into the depths, Porter followed, and Atwood brought up the rear. The FBI profiler grumbled something about being seriously pissed off if he died in Iowa.

Most of the rungs were still relatively safe, and after a minute or so, all three agents stepped over the landing and out of the shaft on the sublevel. Like the stairwell outside the room above, the air on the sublevel stung their eyes and nasal passages. Beyond the elevator shaft was a wide hallway extending about 200 feet. The concrete floor was littered with the same copper lumps with the same turquoise-patina as they’d found on the floor above, and it looked as if handfuls of rust had been scattered about.

A large steel door at the end of the hall was closed and fully intact. Two bodies were slumped below it. They seemed to have suffered the same fate as the man in the stairwell. A camera in the ceiling at the end of the hall was positioned to capture anything that occurred between the elevator and the door. There was also a panel and computer screen to each side of the door. Porter said they were designed for synchronized handprint and iris scans.

Dempsey gave the camera the same single-fingered salute he’d given Atwood earlier when he had a terrifying realization. Apparently, Porter had had the same realization, because the NSA man spoke barely above a whisper.

“Anything seem off about this door to you two?”

The Irishman nodded.

“You mean the fact that it’s still intact? Yeah. But how?”

Atwood gave voice to the suspicions the other two had already formed. Someone on the other side had let it through.

Dempsey shivered. He then glared at the camera before picking up one of the blue-skinned corpses.

“Right. I’ll get Brainy, here. Atwood, you get Jokey. Let’s muppet these bastards and get the door open. Then we can execute Papa Smurf and get the hell out of here.”

Atwood lifted the other corpse while Porter aimed his gun at the door. Sulfuric acid poisoning, or whatever, at least their hands and eyes still worked. The steel doors slid open. The room on the other side was an odd mix of chemistry lab and surgery room. In the center was a wooden podium with a scroll of some sort clipped to the flat surface and blood-covered pottery shards littering the base.

On the right-hand side of the room, a large black man – Kellan Dunn – lied face down on a steel operating table. His wrists and ankles were held by steel restraining cuffs, and he was naked from the waist up. The flesh of his back had been peeled open, and his spine was visible. He was conscious and not sedated, but he was handling the pain remarkably well. A middle-aged man in a white lab coat stood over Mr. Dunn, and he had just finished injecting something into the man's spine with a nasty-looking syringe.

The only other exit from the room was a single steel door to the left-hand side. It had been ripped from its frame in the same manner as the others, and the agents could see a long, dimly lit tunnel beyond.

Porter stepped into the room with his gun pointed directly at the doctor’s face. Dempsey followed next and aimed his weapon at the man on the table. Atwood stepped in last, dropped his gun, and turned to vomit.

The doctor dropped the syringe and raised his hands.

“Wait, wait! Don’t shoot! It’s not us you should be worried about.”

Kellan Dunn lifted his head enough to scan the room with glazed over eyes that didn't seem to focus before he dropped it back to the steel operating table. Porter growled. He wanted to shoot someone, but now he got to sit through the whole “villain giving away the evil plan because the heroes are too late” cliché instead. At least it would buy time for Atwood to recover. Dunn was strapped down with his spine showing, but they just might need all three guns for this.

“I’m guessing you’re Dr. Brian Cherry? Okay, doc. What should we be worried about instead?”

Dr. Cherry’s leisurely speaking pace contrasted sharply with the urgency of his words. He nodded his head toward the tunnel.

"What you should be worried about went that way. The tunnel lets out on the far side of the HelpLink parking lot."

“Yeah? And we should believe you … why? Tell me why you’re not blue, doc.”

“You’re down here, so you must have some idea why. My associate here needs me, so that thing he called – the thing you should be worried about – let me be.”

Atwood, who had recovered, felt Dr. Cherry's blasé demeanor despite the guns and the open-back surgery in progress indicated a psychological blockage, as though the doctor was suppressing recent trauma or stress by being overly-cold and logical. Much like Atwood himself was doing, actually. Doctor Cherry continued in his same calm tone and leisurely pace.

"You should take a look at the scroll on the podium. It's fascinating reading ... not that there's anything you can do to stop the thing now. It's discharged its duty, and now it collects payment."

Whatever that meant, it sounded bad. Porter was about to press for more details when Dempsey let loose a string of expletives in a heavy Irish brogue. The other two agents jumped at the sudden outburst, but Dr. Cherry hardly blinked.

The Irishman called attention to Dunn and the operating table. The surgical steel restraints and operating table were rusting. Surgical steel was extremely resistant to corrosion and rust, and yet they were rusting. The source seemed to be the man on the operating table, the man whose opened back and exposed spine were healing.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

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Yablo
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Location: Juneau, Alaska

Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Fri Jun 08, 2018 11:51 pm UTC

The Bedford Project – Session 4, Part 2

Dempsey fired two rounds, and almost immediately, half of the back of Dunn's head exploded like an egg with a spongy black yolk. The agents froze momentarily. Two rounds from Dempsey’s gun should have killed Dunn, but they shouldn’t have caused his head to explode. Ignoring that fact for the moment, Dunn’s brain should most definitely not have been a spongy black.

As the chunks of brain-mass spattered across Dr. Cherry's face, he hit the ground with a blood-curdling scream. The man frantically clawed at his face in a futile attempt to clear it. That wasn’t quite good enough for Porter. The NSA spook kept his gun trained on the fallen doctor.

Dunn's body went limp and motionless on the still-rusting table. His restraints were now little more than red dust. His wounds still seemed to be healing slowly, so Dempsey took the opportunity to toss one of his special explosive “Irish Coffee” devices into the opening in Dunn’s back before it healed completely. There’s no way that body should be healing like that, and he was sure there was no way it would heal completely … or so he told himself. All the same, it was far better to be safe.

While the Irishman handled Dunn and Porter had Cherry covered, Atwood stepped forward to interrogate the doctor. First, he dropped a towel on Cherry’s head and set a gallon jug of distilled water next to him. It could be tough to get anything useful out of a man whose face was literally melting. Doctor Cherry furiously mopped the black brain-mass from his face and took slow deep breaths to calm himself. Though he’d never say it, Porter admired the man’s ability to withstand pain and remain in control.

Once his face was relatively clear of the acid, Dr. Cherry looked up from the floor and spoke between gasping breaths.

"Look ... I don't know who you are ... or what you want, but ... you just cost me one hell of a steady paycheck. You let me gather my research, and cover me while I get to my car, and I can promise you I'll make it worth your while. I have a few off-shore accounts. How does $5 million each sound? Just to walk away from this. I'll disappear again. Win-win, right?"

Despite the gravity of his situation, the doctor honestly seemed to believe he had the upper hand. Atwood laughed, but the other two agents appeared to consider the offer. Porter was close to retirement anyway; he had another year or two left with the NSA at most, and he wanted to be done with this sort of work for good. And Dempsey … hell, give the Irishman $5 million, and he might almost be willing to trade his Bushmills for Jack Daniels for life. Well, ten years. Actually, make that a year, minus special occasions like his birthday, his mother’s birthday, St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, and Christmas. Okay, never mind all that. Give him the $5 million, and he’d have a shot of Jack as long as no one was looking.

“You guys can’t seriously be considering …”

Atwood was in disbelief which was odd because he was a professionally trained psychologist. It must have been his young idealism or the fact that no one in the FBI had cause to throw him under the bus for purely selfish or political reasons yet. Either way, both men answered his unfinished question with shrugs. Atwood growled, and Porter rolled his eyes.

“Okay. Fine, kid, but you owe me $5 million. And him, too.”

The Irishman shrugged again and turned his gun on Dr. Cherry who snarled in disgust as he stood up slowly to keep his knees from shaking.

“If you're going after that thing Dunn called down, you can shoot me now. Whatever your plan is, you'll only piss it off. You'd need a bomb capable of leveling a building to have a chance. You might as well let it collect its payment and leave. The beast did its job, and Dunn offered it the town of Bedford; 1,500 souls. You'd be fools to step in the way of that."

He collected a black leather briefcase from a cabinet beneath one of the counters, carefully skirted the black foam on the floor, and headed toward the podium. Porter stopped him with a shout.

“You’d best stop, doc. If I’m not getting my $5 million, you’re not getting to keep that scroll or that briefcase. If you want out of here alive, tell me just what the hell you’re doing in this town.”

Cherry sighed and turned back to face the agents. His eyes darted toward the body on the rusting steel table and back, but if any of the agents noticed, they didn’t turn to look. His voice was still warm, proud, and even excited. He hardly even seemed to notice the deep burns on his face.

"My research has made great strides in recent years. I've been able to cause beneficial genetic mutations with a series of ten weekly injections. One young lady, I injected with a mutagen derived from various bee species, and the results were better than I could have hoped! She can influence and direct everyone in this town! It's exactly what Dunn wanted, and DARPA was paying handsomely for the process. Can you imagine the battlefield potential? Soldiers silently following wordless orders? Covert agents leaving invisible trails and messages? It's pure genius if I do say so myself!”

Porter made a hand gesture indicating the doctor should wrap it up. What he had to say was important, but at the moment, there was supposedly a creature from some deep ring of Hell heading out to catch the tail end of the Bulldogs’ homecoming game.

"Well, anyway ... Dunn wanted to test my research for himself, and he said he had access to a creature of unbelievable power and ability. The only catch was that he wouldn't be available for ten weekly injections; it had to come all at once. That meant the injection had to go directly into his spine, and it had to be pure. The thing he called was terrible, but it obeyed him. He got the material I needed, and he sent it to collect its payment while I prepared the injection."

Porter wanted to pull the trigger, but two things stopped him. First, Atwood stepped in the way and began handcuffing the doctor, and second, there was another string of expletives in Irish brogue which culminated in a single word: “Run!”

The Irishman fled down the hall toward the exit Dr. Cherry had mentioned, and when Porter saw why Dempsey had shouted, he fled, too. Atwood was a little preoccupied, and he was really tiring of Dempsey. It wasn’t until the shadow settled over him and Dr. Cherry laughed manically that Atwood knew it was too late. The table had utterly rusted, Dunn’s wounds had healed, and he was different. His eyes were a shiny black, and his skin was somehow even darker. Even worse, an irritating and acidic aura seemed to radiate from him.

Atwood’s eyes watered and his nasal passages burned. He wanted to run, but he was dizzy. Anything more than the slightest and slowest twitch might cause him to vomit or lose his balance. His knees were weakening, and Dr. Cherry’s coughing laughter sounded miles away. The FBI profiler was starting to lose consciousness. He fell to his knees and then slumped onto his side on the cold concrete. He wanted to run, but he couldn’t even crawl. He wanted to scream, but he couldn’t even whimper.

As Porter and Dempsey ran, the Irishman counted. After a ten-count, he pressed the little red button in his hand. Neither man broke stride, instead following the words of the angel to Lot as he fled Sodom: “Escape for thy life; look not behind thee.” They prayed Atwood had made it out.

Only, Atwood hadn’t made it out. The FBI profiler was struggling to stay awake while the Thing-That-Had-Been-Dunn towered over him. Without bending, it reached down to him. Its arm elongated impossibly, and just before it grabbed Atwood … eight … nine … ten!

Dempsey’s “Irish Coffee” bomb splattered the creature to all corners of the room. That was it. Even the shrapnel and acid weren’t enough to keep Atwood awake. In his final moment of consciousness, he could just barely hear Dr. Cherry laughing through the ringing in his ears, and he could taste metal.

The concrete tunnel was about 150 yards of acidic air and flickering florescent lighting. About halfway down the tunnel was another breached security checkpoint complete with unhinged and rusting doors, scattered rust and oxidized copper, and two blueish-skinned corpses. At the end of the tunnel were two more dead security guards with the usual signs of a failed gunfight. The bodies were slumped against the wall opposite a rusted mine shaft elevator. It was in rough shape, but it appeared operational.

Dempsey had a few reservations about using what was essentially just a rusted grate, corroded cables, and a pulley. Porter had even stronger reservations about heading back the way they came, so up they went. The elevator control was nothing more than three buttons on a box; one for each direction and one to stop.

The elevator creaked, and the gears ground, but it was apparent whoever had it installed wanted the best quality. Despite the sounds and a few stuttered jerks, the elevator ride was otherwise smooth. It came to a halt at the top to reveal an eight-foot square hole in the landing where a grated floor had rusted away. A steel door had been ripped from its hinges, and it bridged the gap. On the other side of the door-covered hole, the floor was concrete, and there were two more corpses who appeared to have been taken completely by surprise.

The air at the top was fresh, and the night sky could be seen through the open doorway. The storm clouds had dispersed. The small concrete building leading to the elevator was surrounded by a chain-link fence topped with razor wire, but a sizable hole had rusted away.

Porter and Dempsey paused for a moment and took deep breaths to clear their lungs and nasal passages. The Irishman looked back toward the elevator, but he didn’t have to speak. Porter was thinking the same thing. Atwood wasn’t going to make it. If they made it out of this town alive, they’d have a drink or two in his honor and then another drink or two for good measure.

The men could hear the sounds of whistles and cheering in the distance. That was a good sign, right? That meant the thing hadn’t collected its payment yet. All the same, Porter wasn’t confident, and his words implied as much.

“You know we can’t take that thing, right?”

“Aye. But we can’t just not try.”

“Maybe – and hear me out on this ‘cause I hate myself for thinking it – maybe we can just not try. Not saying those people don’t deserve to be saved, but there’s nothing we can do besides throwing ourselves at it.”

The Irishman frowned, but he nodded in agreement. Porter swallowed hard before he continued. Yeah, he didn’t like what he was thinking.

“It’ll probably all be over before we get there anyway. Maybe we just … you know, maybe we go the other way. We grab that chemical truck and ride it on the rims nice and slow. Not our fault we didn’t make it in time, right? Hell, we tried our best.”

Dempsey was quiet and solemn. He didn’t like the plan, but it made sense. And the NSA spook had an air of experience about him that lent strength to the idea. The agents headed around the HelpLink building to Porter’s rental car.

They sat in silence all the way out IA-2 until they reached the Brewster Pesticide truck. Both men knew the play, and neither felt particularly like discussing it until they had to. Dempsey would take the truck, and Porter would follow at a safe distance.

The pesticide truck’s engine fired right up, but rolling on six flat tires slowed things down. The Irishman didn’t particularly care about ruining the wheels or the road, but the last thing he wanted was a rollover in a 500-gallon chemical weapon. Still, if he had to go out, there were probably worse ways. Hell, for all he knew, this might be his origin story, and he could come out of the rollover with super powers.

The drive back to Bedford was tense for both agents. While saving an entire town would be great, neither man wanted to get to the game too early.

As they reached town and neared the school, signs of the creature’s passing became more evident. All along Taylor Street leading toward the school, the creature had left a trail of incidental destruction. Cars had partially rusted, and in some cases, this had resulted in tires rolling away like tumbleweeds and gasoline leaking into the gutter. The street was mostly dark; the only light was coming from the moon, the stadium lights of the football field in the distance, and a few fallen street lights which were still operational but shining at odd angles.

Though he was pale even for an Irishman, and he was driving slowly, Dempsey’s knuckles were whiter than usual as he gripped the steering wheel tighter than his last bottle of Bushmills. It was difficult enough to drive a truck with no tires and full of deadly chemicals in the direction of the last place he wanted to be. Now he had to drive it through an obstacle course.

As Dempsey carefully navigated the debris scattered across Taylor Street, the stadium lights were a beacon in the relative darkness of Bedford. Just across the street from the school, a jet of water was shooting into the air where a fire hydrant used to be. Whatever Dunn had called down, it had made it at least as far as the high school parking lot. Several light posts in the parking lot had fallen, and many cars had been heavily rusted.

The Taylor County Corn Huskers team bus suffered worse than the other vehicles in the parking lot. To initial observation, it appeared the middle of the bus rusted away leaving two halves. The rear half of the bus had tipped forward leaving the rear emergency exit up in the air. The front half of the bus had done the same thanks to the weight of the massive engine.

No loud sounds were coming from the stadium; no cheering, no collisions, no whistles, no announcer … no screaming. Maybe it was all over? But the scoreboard indicated the Bedford Bulldogs were leading the visiting team by a score of 77 – 3 with 3:13 still left to play in the 4th quarter.

Porter pulled his rental car up next to the truck. The trail of rust and corrosion led straight to the stadium, and the turnstiles had rusted away, but there didn’t appear to be any bodies in the parking lot. Dempsey thought maybe that meant the thing had hit fast and taken everyone by surprise, but Porter pointed out the kid checking tickets at the gate and the people running the concession stand were gone. There didn’t appear to be anyone up in the announcer’s booth either.

The bee girl, then? Cherry had mentioned she could influence and direct everyone in town. Maybe she called everyone together and had them sit quietly while the thing ate? The thought sent shivers down their spines, but they agreed it was likely. Well, just as long as it was gone …

The parking lot side of the field was lined with a concrete structure for the home team’s fans. It was this structure which, until the turnstiles had rusted and corroded away, had guarded the entrance to the stadium. Metal bleachers for the visiting team’s fans lined the other side. Behind the west end zone was the field house with the announcer’s booth above it, and beyond that was the rest of the Bedford High School campus. Beyond the east end zone was a grass field and Madison Street. The entire stadium was enclosed by a chain-link fence.

Now came the tricky part. The truck had to get on the field. The only way that was going to happen was for Dempsey to take it around to Madison Street, and then drive it through the field and the fence. While he was getting into position, Porter would enter on foot. He didn’t want to be anywhere near the stadium, but someone had to be there in case the Irishman couldn’t finish the job.

Both men nodded respectfully at each other, and Dempsey threw the truck in gear. The wheels cried under the strain as he moved into position.

Porter crossed the parking lot quickly until he reached the turnstiles. No bodies, no sounds. As he moved slowly out of the tunnel and onto the track around the field, he became aware of a crunching sound under his feet. There were no cheerleaders in front of the stands, but right where they should have been were hundreds of dead bees; maybe even thousands. The NSA spook turned quickly on his heel - grinding a dozen or so bees to a pulp in the process - and aimed his gun up into the concrete structure. He didn’t bother to count the blue-skinned bodies littering the stands, but if it turned out to be the same number as the population the “Welcome to Bedford” sign boasted, he wouldn’t be surprised. It sure as hell looked like it could be 1,406.

Porter gave a beckoning wave, and Dempsey threw the truck in drive. He managed to gain enough momentum through the field to roll over the thin metal fence surrounding the stadium, and he was able to maintain it enough to get through the other fence around the field.

The Irishman let the truck come to a rest at midfield on the home team side. To his right, he could see a pile of blue-skinned athletes and referees, and beyond that, metal bleachers with more bodies draped about. To his left, he could see the bodies in the stands of the concrete structure and Porter waving. Between Porter and the stands, he could also make out what seemed to be a dense, roiling fog of pale yellowish-pink seeping out of the stands and staying low to the ground. He jumped out of the truck and shouted for Porter to run.

That was the last thought he could spare for the NSA man for now. He had a job to do. Running around to the back of the truck, Dempsey began disabling all the fail-safes and planting explosive charges. They couldn’t kill whatever that thing was, but if all went according to plan, they could at least make it look like domestic terrorism rather than cosmic horror.

Porter didn’t even bother to look. He just ran. He ran out onto the field toward the truck and met up with Dempsey. Then both men ran toward the visiting team’s bleachers. The idea was to keep the truck between them and the thing. Then, when the creature was close enough to the truck, Dempsey would hit the button on the remote detonator. The explosives would open the tank and release the chemicals which the agents hoped would at least make the thing think better of remaining in Bedford.

They made it to the visiting team’s sideline and turned to wait. They could see the fog rolling onto the field. They watched as it closed in on the truck. Dempsey hit the button.

Nothing. He hit the button again, and still nothing. He hit it frantically several more times and still nothing.

Porter closed his eyes and took a deep, slow breath. He knew what he had to do. He knew he had to be the one. Of the two remaining agents, he was the older man, and he was the American. He loved his country as much as he hated his job. There was only one way this ended.

He gave the Irishman a nod and a tired smile before running full speed back to the truck. Back to the thing that killed Bedford. Dempsey let him go. Porter was a good man. He’d be sure to drink twice as much in his memory as he would in Atwood’s.

Dunn’s creature roiled beneath the truck as it seemed to wait for the fresh soul. It was futile, he knew, but Porter instinctively took a deep breath and covered his face with his shirt as he reached the truck. The thick fog seeped out and engulfed his feet. He felt the burn, and even though he held his breath, Porter felt the sting in his eyes and nasal passages. He felt his throat tighten around his swelling tongue. Any moment now, his stomach would turn black and force its contents up that tightened throat, but there would be nowhere for it to go. He would choke as the stomach acid forced its way up and out anywhere it could – eyes, ears, nose, mouth; he could feel it happening already. It would come out with explosive force, so he had to move fast.

Through blurred and stinging vision, he found the detonator. His knees were giving out, and he thought briefly that he could feel his soul being drawn out through his pores. He wanted to give Dempsey one final salute, but his knees buckled. On his way down, he slapped desperately for the button. A series of small detonations told him he had succeeded. He never felt his blue-skinned head hit the grass.

Dempsey saw the truck blow, and then he ran. He wasn’t much for quantum physics, but he’d heard of a guy and his friend Catherine. If he never turned to look, he’d never have to know. As he ran north down Madison Street, he heard the horn from the stadium indicating time had expired. Only in America could the home team be outscored by more than 1,400 and still call it a win.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Mon Aug 13, 2018 8:04 am UTC

Update: The Roll20 group has been assembled! Actually, it's been cobbled together from the remnants of my Alaska and Kentucky tabletop groups. Still, the result is the same.

Character creation and schedule arrangement will get rolling soon, and the first Roll20 session is set for two weeks from now, Sunday, August 26th. That means updates to this AP will begin shortly thereafter.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Dauric » Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:36 pm UTC

We're in the traffic-chopper over the XKCD boards where there's been a thread-derailment. A Liquified Godwin spill has evacuated threads in a fourty-post radius of the accident, Lolcats and TVTropes have broken free of their containers. It is believed that the Point has perished.

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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Wed Aug 15, 2018 10:05 pm UTC

Yeah. That place looks far to clean to be legit. It's interesting, too, how that place is supposedly based in Denver, and the very first Opera in this AP ended with a quick stop at the Denver green box. That, and the end of Session 4 of Fuel of the Gods featured a second green box in the Denver area. I wouldn't recommend storing anything there.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:28 am UTC

Gotta love scheduling difficulties before the first game with new players. We managed to put a session together Sunday with two of the new players; one character started as Delta Green, and the other did not. Dempsey's player was on a fishing vacation, but he should be back next session.
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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:29 am UTC

Let’s Learn Aklo

According to numerous studies, speaking two languages fluently has a profoundly positive effect on cognitive skills and health. How much smarter and healthier, then, might someone be if he or she spoke several languages fluently? If Dolf de Jaager is any indication, the answer is simple: Very. The Dutch American linguist was a software engineer for the U.S. State Department who not only spoke several languages fluently but also designed translation software. He was also an extraordinarily brilliant man by all accounts. Even the other members of The Collar Club, a group of people who call themselves furries and wear anthropomorphic animal costumes, would unanimously agree, Dolf was by far the smartest of their number.

Dolf was intensely curious and inquisitive by nature. He was never one to let a mystery go unsolved, and the FedEx package he found on his doorstep one Saturday morning in December provided exactly such a mystery. The sender’s address indicated, in his own handwriting, that he had sent it from the Old First Ward Community Center in Buffalo, NY. That was plausible since he lived in Lewiston, about a half-hour drive north of Buffalo, but he had no recollection of having sent the package or ever going to the Community Center. Neither did Leah, his significant other.

As it was a weekend, and this was an unusual occurrence, to say the least, Dolf brought the package inside and took it upstairs to his home office. He opened the box with a pocket knife from a desk drawer. The contents only served to encourage his curiosity. He found five rewritable compact discs in jewel cases marked sequentially in Sharpie, and the numbers were just as he would write them.

Below the CDs, he found a steno pad with notes in his own handwriting; notes he had no memory of having taken. The written notes appeared to be the sort which a person learning a new language might take; an English phrase on one side and (presumably) the translation on the other side. The notes identified the language as Aklo, but he had never heard of it despite his many years of language studies. He was able to identify specific grammatical patterns, and he felt sure that, given enough time, he could learn to read and write Aklo. As for speaking it … well, maybe that’s what the CDs were for.

Dolf popped the first CD into the optical drive of his computer. The disc contained a single 74-minute .mp3 file which he played. As he suspected, the recording was done in the same format as the written notes; English phrase, translated phrase. It was his voice speaking the words, but he was no longer surprised. He may have had no memory of taking these notes, making these recordings, or mailing this package, but he had had a long night of drinking a few days ago, so … maybe? He didn’t sound drunk on the recording though.

There was an intense blue flash from the tree line outside his office window, but when he looked, he saw nothing. Dolf let the CD play as he retrieved binoculars and his shotgun from the far side of the office. The gun was loaded with birdshot, so it was unlikely to be of much use against anything so far away, but he still felt better with it nearby.

He scanned the trees again, this time with magnification. Still nothing. Whatever it was had gone. He leaned the shotgun against the wall next to the window and returned to his computer. He flipped through the steno pad again. There was a web address written on the last page. It was for a company he’d heard of but never thought much about. The Modern Languages School of America (MLSA) was a correspondence school which taught foreign languages by CD, textbook, and postal exam.

There was no mention of Aklo anywhere in their catalog, but less than an hour ago, someone had started a thread for it on the MLSA forum. The user, MightySkag, posed a question in his initial post: “Anybody else out there interested in learning Aklo?” In the signature portion of his post, MightySkag indicated he also went by the name Heir of Tarzan, and he claimed to have been raised by apes to be the new lord of the jungle. It also stated his location as Buffalo, New York. Dolf created an account and posted a response. He told MightySkag that he, too, was interested in learning Aklo.

Over the next several weeks, Dolf and MightySkag made frequent posts, and a few others joined the thread. They were a varied group, and the only common threads seemed to be that they all lived in or around Buffalo and had received a package from themselves. Only Dolf and MightySkag seemed concerned about that fact. The rest were far too excited about learning this exotic new language.

Dolf had asked a few of his colleagues to look into the identity and background of MightySkag, but it turned out to be unnecessary. One of his coworkers was a big wrestling fan, and he immediately recognized the name. Charlie Skaggs was a professional wrestler based in Buffalo who went by the stage name of the Heir of Tarzan, and he had a match against “Savage” Sammy Sutton coming up. Dolf decided to attend.

The fans were rabid in their excitement, but Dolf paid no attention to them. He was there for Charlie Skaggs. It was easy to see how Skaggs could use a ring name like the Heir of Tarzan. The man was big and built, he was of mixed white and African American descent, and when he climbed the turnbuckle, he could almost fly.

The match didn’t last long. After a brief back and forth to work the crowd up, the Heir of Tarzan sent “Savage” Sammy Sutton running across the ring. As Sammy rebounded and ran back, the Heir of Tarzan had made his ascent. He dove at his opponent, and his shoulder made solid contact. Sammy’s head whipped back. The man was unconscious, but it took a moment for his legs to get the message. The Heir of Tarzan took a knee in a prelude to the pin.

Dolf shouted “Go, Charlie” in Aklo, and that got the wrestler’s attention. The Heir of Tarzan pointed straight at him with a grin and a wink before pinning the comatose Sammy. The next match was between a 700-pound giant named Girth and a much smaller man in a gimp mask known as King Pain. Dolf wasn’t interested, but he held his position.

Once Charlie had cleaned up, he made his way through the crowd to where Dolf was waiting. The two men discussed Aklo briefly, and Charlie admitted he had seen a blue flash as well. They exchanged phone numbers and addresses, and then Dolf squeezed through the crowd on his way out.

The next six weeks passed about the same as the previous five had. The Aklo group on the AMLA forum was up to eight members, and they were all quite active. What the group lacked in numbers, they made up for with enthusiasm.

Winter was coming to an end, and the early-March weather promised great things for the spring. For the Aklo group, these great things were also heralded by a call to meet. Group member Willie Adams, a widower who had retired from both the Air Force and his own small business, proposed the idea on the forum. He would reserve a conference room at the Old First Ward Community Center in Buffalo, NY, and they could practice speaking for a bit before recording themselves for their postal exam. The other members thought that sounded delightful. Only Charlie and Dolf seemed to notice that was the same community center from which they had mailed themselves the packages in the first place, but even they weren’t deterred. This new language was far too fascinating.

Dolf had shared very little new information with the group over the past eleven months; he instead pretended to participate by parroting ideas others had previously put forth. He had noticed language markers linking Aklo to many otherwise-unrelated languages, and he guessed it must be some sort of precursor; an ancient ancestor of most – if not all – other languages. If he was correct, Aklo could provide the U.S. with something similar to a universal communicator.

Of course, he had another theory: It was possibly a nearly-impenetrable code, and this was all a test being administered by the Illuminati. If that was the case, he wanted to be the one to crack it. He wanted to be the first kid to decipher the Ovaltine Message of the Week with his decoder ring. When the doors to the chocolate factory were opened, he wanted to be sure he had his golden ticket. No way in Heaven or Hell was someone going to learn this Aklo stuff before he did.

There was more Dolf hadn’t shared with the group. He had written a program to search the internet for any mention of Aklo. Despite the fact he routed his encrypted signal through several proxy servers around the world, this immediately tripped several red flags in Delta Green computers and put him on a watch list, but he had no way of knowing that.

The program also turned up just what he was looking for. One particular website dedicated to Asian pornography had several mentions of the language in a members-only VIP section, but they were all old enough to have been archived. No way was he putting membership on his credit card, so he bought a refillable gift card.

Once he had access, he found every instance of the word. In every case, it was associated with some combination of the same twelve actors and actresses. They were some type of Asian, he was sure, but just specific ethnicity, Dolf had no idea. From the context, Aklo seemed to be their language, or at least, one of them. One of the actors had an Aklo phrase tattooed on his upper arm. It said, “Go, Bulls!”

Dolf packed up his laptop and the package he’d mailed himself, and he set out for Buffalo. He wanted to arrive early so he could have time to get coffee somewhere in case none was provided. He was the first to arrive, but the room was already prepared. Several folding tables were arranged in a horseshoe shape, and Dolf chose a spot on one end with his back to the entrance. He would still be able to see the entire room thanks to a large mirror directly opposite his seat.

Charlie was the next to arrive, Dolf greeted him. As others began to file in, Dolf saw the blue flash again. This time, he got a good look. It was bright, but it was vaguely humanoid. It was on the roof of the office supply store across the street. Rather than call attention, he excused himself and made his way to the store. The employees were busy preparing to close, so they paid him little attention. No one seemed to notice as he slipped through the door to the stairwell at the back. He headed up the stairs and out onto the roof.

Nothing. Just an empty roof, a low wall around the perimeter, and an industrial air conditioning unit … which was just large enough for a person to use as cover. He readied his camera to capture video, snuck quietly toward the air conditioner, hit record, and whipped around. Dolf came face to (probably) face with what appeared to be a crouching man, except the man was made of bright, blue light.

In fact, he could see through the man if he tried, but it hurt his eyes to look directly at the man for too long. Not that the man gave him much chance. The blue figure was utterly motionless for a full ten seconds or so after Dolf popped around the corner, and then, in what seemed to be a much-delayed reaction, it ran for the wall. Tracers created a disorienting effect on Dolf, but he watched as the thing jumped from the roof to a tree much farther away than the software engineer would be comfortable jumping to.

Instead, he made his way back down the stairs, into the store, and then out of the store as quickly and inconspicuously as he could. Once outside, he was unable to locate the figure. He returned to the conference room to find the rest of the group enthusiastically making their recordings on their laptop computers.

Dolf took his seat and watched the video on his phone in slow motion. There were a few frames where the features of the blue figure were clear enough to make out. It bore a strong resemblance to one of the group members across from him; a former Navy SEAL named Anthony Hash. Dolf suppressed a shudder and emailed the video to his work address before deleting it from his phone. He then began his recordings for the postal exam.

It wasn’t long, however, before he saw the blue figure again. This time, he saw the reflection in the large mirror as the figure passed by the open doorway. The rest of the group was too engrossed in their work to notice anything else. The software engineer paused his recording and went to the lobby. There was no sign of the blue figure, but Dolf was sure it couldn’t have gone far.

As the software engineer nosed around the lobby and other two conference rooms, he heard a crash of glass followed by shouts coming from the direction of the Aklo group’s room. He rushed to see what the commotion was all about, and he was horrified to find out. Tables were overturned, laptops where smashed, and the big mirror on the far wall had shattered. Worse still, a few of the group members had retrieved particularly jagged shards of the mirror and appeared to be engaging in a rumble like something straight out of the West Side Story. Fortunately, there was a little less dancing.

Charlie Skaggs held his arms high over his head and roared at Lois, a 15-year-old Hmong girl who had been the last to join the group. Lois was frothing at the mouth and making threatening gestures with a shard of the mirror. The Heir of Tarzan grabbed another group member, Buffalo University Linguistics Professor Mabel Lively by the bun of her hair and yanked her back. He then lifted the woman effortlessly over his head and tossed her at the Hmong girl. Professor Lively was impaled on the mirror shard, and the girl was knocked unconscious. Another quick motion and Skaggs had snapped the girl’s neck.

Dolf fled outside and called the police. The local first-responders arrived a few minutes later, but by that time, there was no one left alive in the conference room. The only survivors were Dolf and a security guard who had put Charlie down. It also appeared the former Navy SEAL, Hash, had disappeared. Dolf gave his statement to the police, and they asked him not to leave the scene for the time being.

Only a few miles away, DEA Special Agent Carl Clark was enjoying a visit with his cousin. Clark was from Virginia, and he was on vacation. Of course, he was also Delta Green, which meant he was never truly on vacation. His cousin was in the kitchen ordering a pizza for dinner, so Clark had taken the opportunity to check his email. As he was clearing his spam folder, a window popped up on the screen of his laptop. Clark knew his way around computers, and he had taken every precaution necessary to block that sort of thing. This pop up could only mean one thing: an Opera.

The message was nothing more than a television channel and a phone number. His cousin didn’t have a television, so Clark brought up the station’s live feed on his laptop. There was a press conference in progress, and Police Captain James Kerr was relating the known facts. A language studies group had reserved a conference room at the Old First Ward Community Center. There were multiple deaths. He could not comment just yet on numbers, causes, identities, terrorism, or anything else until a proper investigation had commenced and next-of-kin were notified.

Great. Some nerds got together, and things went pear-shaped. It was possible the Program would only need him to cover the bases and make sure nothing supernatural needed to be covered up, but it was much more likely they had a good reason to believe a cover-up was necessary.

He called the number. The number wasn’t familiar, but the voice on the other end was. It was his handler, a man he knew only as Agent Voss. After confirming that he had seen the news, Clark asked what it had to do with him. He was on vacation. Voss told him an informant on the scene, a firefighter named Sam Misner, had reported a possibly paranormal event. Clark was the only person with Delta Green clearance in the area, and so it fell to him to investigate. He was to survey the crime scene and conceal or destroy any evidence of the paranormal.

There was one known survivor who had recently tripped red flags in Program databases, a State Department software engineer named Dolf de Jaager. So far, de Jaager was not considered a threat, but his interests were suspicious and merited monitoring. He may be a potential recruit, or he may need to be put down.

Clark told his cousin he was going on a beer run and would be back shortly. He then made his way to the community center. Once on scene, he flashed his DEA credentials to the officer guarding the entrance. The officer nodded and stepped aside with only a caution that Clark should not disturb the crime scene while the investigation was in progress.

The conference room was a bloody mess. The bodies had been removed, but there were masking tape outlines and numbered A-frame evidence markers to show where each had fallen. Clark looked around but didn’t see anything unnatural at first; not until he saw sunlight in a large mirror shard. He took a knee and picked up the shard. It was definitely from a mirror, but no matter which direction he turned it, the reflection never moved. It was well past 10:00 PM, and yet the piece of mirror seemed to reflect the room at a point during the day. That was strange, but whatever. He figured the less he knew, the better.

He couldn’t let the Buffalo Police collect any of the shards, though; at least not any which were big enough for anyone to realize they weren’t quite right. He also couldn’t let them catch him disposing of them, but at the moment, the only other person who could see him was the guy Delta Green has told him to watch. As casually as he could, Clark began to break mirror shards into smaller pieces.

He then interviewed de Jaager. The software engineer gave a faithful recounting of the past twelve weeks, omitting only the parts about the glowing blue man. Like Charlie and Dolf, Clark also thought the FedEx packages sounded unusual. Still, de Jaager seemed relatively harmless for the time being, so Clark wrapped up his interview and investigation.

He placed a call to his handler and gave his report. Evidence had been contained, and de Jaager didn’t appear to be a threat. Voss instructed Clark to maintain a watch on de Jaager over the next few weeks. If the software engineer kept quiet about the event and still seemed harmless, Clark should make a recruitment pitch. In most cases, someone in de Jaager’s position would be allowed to remain oblivious if he could stay quiet, and he would disappear or be discredited if not. In this case, de Jaager was the only survivor of a group which had studied Aklo, a language the Program knew to be supernatural. He would be a strong asset.

Clark agreed, but he wasn’t doing anything further tonight. Tonight, he was on vacation. Tonight was for pizza, beer, and family.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

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Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Thu Sep 13, 2018 12:31 am UTC

Reverberations – Session 1

Clark watched de Jaager for about a month before determining the software engineer would be a good fit for the Program. The experience at the community center had unnerved de Jaager, but he handled it well. He had refused interviews with local and national media outlets, and he said nothing of the incident to coworkers or his significant other, Leah. He also refused to forget what had happened. Instead, de Jaager had continued his study of Aklo and was making progress. Either that burning need for understanding would make him a fine asset for Delta Green, or it would be his downfall. Probably both.

Clark had never given the Delta Green sales pitch, but de Jaager made it easy. There was a Special Access Program with black budget funding and a mandate to defend the United States against just the sort of thing which had happened to him? Where did he sign? There was nowhere to sign. In fact, there was to be no written record of the Program at all. Special access, and all that.

Dolf felt that was all he needed to know. Well, that and the secret handshake. Clark knew there was no secret handshake, but that didn’t stop him from teaching one to de Jaager. It closely resembled a game of Patty Cake with a thumb wrestling element near the end. For his part, de Jaager was sure Clark was messing with him, but he wanted to see how far the DEA man would take it.

That handshake was the last contact the two men had for the next two months. It was early June when Dolf got his first call. He was to attend a briefing in Albany, New York the following day.

He arrived at the ordinary, three-story office building about a half-hour early and sat in his car to drink his coffee and watch the people. A steady stream of people in suits arrived for what appeared to be just another day at the office. He didn’t see Clark in the crowd, but one man did stand out.

Damn, did he stand out. While everyone else was dressed for office work in midsummer New York, this guy was wearing a wool jacket and cap. The man was almost pale enough to hurt Dolf’s eyes from across the street.

With no Clark in sight and briefing time approaching, de Jaager headed into the building and found the room. Everything about the building screamed generic office building, and the briefing room was no different. It was an internal room with no windows. There was plenty of seating, a podium, a whiteboard, and a table with coffee and hot water for tea. The pale man nodded and introduced himself as Cualin Dempsey, CIA.

The two men took their seats as another entered. The newcomer was tall and athletic with short hair. He wore a neatly-tailored blue suit.

“The name’s Voss. I’ll be your handler for this Operation. It’s just the two of you for now, but a third will be briefed separately and sent after as soon as he’s cleared. I’ll get straight to the point: Reverb. The DEA is investigating a network of otherwise unrelated gangs engaged in smuggling and drugs. DEA auditors reconstructed some of the network’s financial books from interviews and uncovered financial records. This audit found a disturbing pattern of mid-level ‘employees’ – dealers – vanishing without a trace. A common factor seems to be involvement with a hallucinogen called Reverb, but this drug doesn’t seem to be a part of the network’s activities. We don’t know if these dealers are all in hiding, or if the organization is cleaning house.”

Dolf was new to all this, so he sat quietly and listened. Not Dempsey. The Irishman interrupted the briefing several times to ask questions which Dolf was sure Voss would have gotten to in time. Did the Program care about some drug dealers in … Where were they going? Chicago, and no. The drug dealers themselves weren’t the focus; they were the catalyst and the lead. Then, the Program wanted them to get a hold of some of this Reverb for sampling? Yes, and no. Program chemists had no samples of the new Reverb for analysis, but they might be able to confirm if it bears any relation to the original.

Original? Dempsey was lost, but Voss assured him that if he’d only sit back, shut up, and listen, he would be fine. In the 1990s, Reverb was connected with Chicago Tcho-Tcho street gangs. The Tcho-Tchos, Dolf explained, were a people from somewhere in Southeast Asia. He didn’t know much other than what he had been able to piece together from his research on Aklo, but the impression he got was that they were bad news. Voss confirmed Dolf’s impression.

“The Tcho-Tchos are a corrupted people. Don’t trust them. As for Reverb, it didn’t just get people high. It exposed them to unnatural forces. Your assignment is to confirm whether this new Reverb has unnatural effects, find the source, and cut off the supply. DEA Spec Ops Agent Carl Clark is currently on assignment, but he is being pulled. He will meet up with you as soon as possible. Clark will be your contact with the DEA in general and the DEA auditor specifically. Mr. de Jaager, you are vital to this Operation due to your knowledge and understanding of the Tcho-Tcho language. Mr. Dempsey, you are being assigned for your … rather unique set of skills. The two of you and Agent Clark are being designated Task Force 138. You’ll likely be working closely with each other on future Operations.”

Voss slid a Visa card out toward the agents, and Dempsey quickly grabbed it. The card had a limit of $5,000.00. If more was needed, Voss might be able to get additional funding. Flight, rental car, and hotel reservations had already been made.

To no one’s surprise, Dempsey had a few questions. Voss had short answers.

“First class tickets?”

“No.”

“Are we getting a BMW?”

“No. A Jeep Cherokee. You will be moving around some of the shadier parts of Chicago, and you’ll be expected to keep your rental from being stolen or stripped.”

“Okay. That makes sense. Are we in the Ritz-Carlton or the Waldorf Astoria?”

“Neither. You have a single room with two beds and a foldout couch at a Motel 6.”

Dempsey glanced at the Visa and then looked over to de Jaager with a wink. Dolf shrugged.

With the briefing concluded, the two men headed for the airport. On the way, they discussed their qualifications and their strategy. Anything shady and drug-related, Dempsey would handle. If the Irishman didn’t get them all killed, Dolf would handle the Tcho-Tchos. It was foolproof!

So, where did they start? Dempsey said the best way to find a new drug on the street was to find a source of marijuana. Once they’d bought enough, the dealer would open up about other opportunities. What they didn’t use themselves, they could use to bribe the drug users they would need to interview.

Dolf was a little skeptical, but the Irishman seemed to think he knew what he was talking about. In that case, the question was still the same. Where did they start? The first combination tanning salon/laundromat they could find. All the best drugs came from tanning salon/laundromats.

Task Force 138 landed at Chicago O’Hare a little before noon. Dempsey took the opportunity to mention how nice it was to see an Irishman’s name attached to the busiest airport in the world, and de Jaager took the opportunity to point out that Butch O’Hare was from St. Louis, and O’Hare was closer to 5th or 6th busiest. Atlanta, Beijing, Dubai … probably Tokyo and Los Angeles, too, were all busier.

The Irishman shrugged and led the way to the rental car counter. Once they’d collected their gear and luggage, they loaded it all into the Jeep Cherokee and headed out. Dolf wanted to drop everything off at the Motel 6, but Dempsey was driving, and he wanted to get to work. They drove around for nearly an hour. They passed by several tanning salons and several more laundromats, each with someone out front who could easily have sold them something illegal. Dempsey was adamant they find a combination tanning salon/laundromat, however. Eventually, they found what they were after: Tan ‘N’ Wash.

It wasn’t the most inviting building, as the bullet-damaged fake brick façade could attest, but it did meet both of Dempsey’s criteria. And the scrawny white kid in the Jim Croce t-shirt out front was their guy. Dolf waited in the Jeep while Dempsey went to make the buy and get some information. The initial marijuana purchase was fast and effortless, and that opened the door for further talk. Dempsey wasted no time asking about Reverb, and that seemed to catch the kid a little off guard.

Dempsey seemed every bit the dumb tourist, so the kid figured he was harmless. He said he didn’t sell anything harder than what Dempsey just bought, but if anyone could point the Irishman in the right direction, it would be High Sally. High Sally didn’t use Reverb as far as the kid knew, but she knew everyone. She could usually be found behind the Salvation Army next to the Tan ‘N’ Wash over on Fulton Street. Dempsey thanked the kid and returned to the Jeep to fill in de Jaager. Another tanning salon/laundromat … Maybe the Irishman did know what he was talking about.
The kid’s directions were excellent. Once they’d found the Tan ‘N’ Wash, Dempsey had no trouble finding High Sally. As before, de Jaager stayed in the Jeep.

Dempsey confirmed that the pale and obviously high woman he was talking to was indeed High Sally, and then he told her the kid at the other Tan ‘N’ Wash had given him her name. He asked if she could point him in the direction of some Reverb, and High Sally said she wasn’t sure if she’d ever heard of that but maybe if she thought about it … or more to the point, maybe if she had a few portraits of U.S. presidents done up in a beautiful monochrome green …?

Dempsey gave her the last $60 in his wallet and the bag of marijuana he’d bought from the kid at the other place. That seemed to help a little. High Sally was now able to remember how Reverb dealers had been going missing lately. She was pretty sure there were a couple who were still around, but just what their names were or where they could be found … Dempsey told her to hold that thought, and he grumbled all the way to the nearest ATM. Then he grumbled all the way back.

When he returned, he gave High Sally another $60. That brought back the names. There was Roofie and Bad Luke. To her knowledge, they hadn’t disappeared. Roofie was Rufus LaRoyal Brown, and Bad Luke was Lucien Riggs. As for where Dempsey might find them … she was trying to remember. Dempsey narrowed his eyes and handed her the rest of the cash he’s pulled from the ATM; $140. Ah, there. That was better. High Sally paraphrased William Blake.

“There, now. It’s like the doors of perception have been cleansed.”

The reference went straight over Dempsey’s head. So, too, did the implication that a druggie in a Salvation Army lot in Chicago might be more widely-read than he was.

He didn’t care. Locations. Did she know where Roofie and Bad Luke were? She did. Roofie had been arrested earlier that morning on charges of heroin possession with intent to sell. Dempsey could look him up at the station down the street. The Irishman briefly contemplated hitting High Sally and taking his money back. Okay, and Bad Luke? Bad Luke was usually at the Tan ‘N’ Wash on Ashland Avenue.

Dempsey thanked High Sally for her time and returned to the Jeep. High Sally thanked Dempsey for his cash and returned to her Hunter S. Thompson novel.

Again, Dempsey related the information he’d learned, but he left out the bit about getting taken for $260. Dolf nodded as he considered the leads. His suggestion was to get lunch, head to the Motel 6, and see just when Agent Clark was going to arrive. If they were going to have a talk with Roofie, a DEA agent would make things a lot easier.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.

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Yablo
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Joined: Thu Feb 02, 2012 9:57 am UTC
Location: Juneau, Alaska

Re: Delta Green - All Part of the Job (Call of Cthulhu AP)

Postby Yablo » Tue Sep 18, 2018 12:08 am UTC

This was a short session, but we only had two players, so we got a fair bit done. Next week, we should have three, maybe four. Every time we start a new Operation, I wonder just how badly things will get away from them, and when it might happen. The way I see it, there are several possible pitfalls, and they're equally as likely to hit them or avoid them.
If you like Call of Cthulhu and modern government conspiracy, check out my Delta Green thread.
Please feel free to ask questions or leave comments.


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