Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 20




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  1. #191
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    Hot Air: Part 2 – Someone Set Us Up the Bomb!

    After rifling through an endless pile of luggage filled with cameras, underwear, and cosmetics, Guppy suddenly froze.

    Hammer looked up. “Did you find it?”

    A large green container sat ominously in one corner. It is most conspicuous because of its lack of markings or identification.

    “I think that’s it.”

    Guppy slid his toolkit over to the container. He snapped a pair of magnifying goggles down over his eyes and began examining it.

    Hammer watched impatiently. “So?”

    “It’s a bomb all right,” said Guppy.

    “Can you disarm it?”

    “I think so.”

    “Good,” said Hammer. “You do that and I’ll take care of—“

    “I didn’t say it was THE bomb. I said it’s A bomb.”

    “You mean there’s more than one?”

    “More than one triggering mechanism, at least.” He pointed with tweezers at a small black sphere floating in liquid. “This is a gyroscope. It’s pressure sensitive. If there’s a loss of cabin pressure, it explodes. If the plane goes below a certain altitude, it explodes.”

    “What’s the good news?” asked Hammer.

    “I think I can disarm it.”

    “Okay, get to it.” Hammer pulled the remote control connected to several camera snakes. “I’ll go play Find-the-Terrorist.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Hot Air: Part 3 – Al-Hazzan

    Hammer’s investigation indicated that there were up to nine terrorists on the plane, but he couldn’t determine which one was Khalil because there was no file on the man. No agent had ever seen him and lived.

    There were at least three dead passengers. It looked as if they didn’t give up the plane without a fight. From what Hammer could tell, the terrorists were also flying the plane. Since he didn’t see any pilots in the passenger section, he assumed they were dead.

    Hammer retracted the cameras and made his way to Guppy. The Indian’s face was drenched with sweat.

    “Any luck?”

    Guppy nodded. “I disabled the gyroscope. You?”

    “There are nine of them. They’ve all got assault rifles.”

    “Nine…” said Guppy, crestfallen.

    “They’re all grouped in clusters at the front, middle, and back of the plane.”

    “The only way they could have gotten a bomb of this size on board is through a confederate involved in the plane’s security.”

    “An inside job?”

    Guppy nodded. “There was another detonator. A remote one.”

    “Did you disable it?”

    Guppy wiped the sweat off of his brow. “I think so.”

    “You THINK so? Guppy, you have to be really, REALLY sure about this.”

    “I said I think so, all right?” growled Guppy. “But there’s a failsafe. A manual detonator”

    “A failsafe? How many detonators on this damn thing?”

    “Three,” said Guppy. “And I can’t disarm that one. Not without setting it off.”

    “So they can still set it off manually.”

    Guppy nodded. “This is supersarin. One drop can kill a man. If it was dispersed over a populated city, the death tolls would be in the millions…”

    The roar of supersonic jet engines rattled the interior of the jumbo jet. The cistron link was filled with chatter in different languages.

    “Jet fighters,” said Hammer. “What the hell are they doing out there?”

    Sprague’s voice crackled through the cistron link. “Gentlemen,” he said calmly, “we’ve got no less than fighters from four different nations tailing you, including England, Germany, Poland and France. They’re threatening to blow each other up if the other takes down Indianational 270. If you don’t resolve this situation in the next few minutes the rest of Europe is going to do it for you!”
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    Hot Air: Part 4 – High, High, High

    Hammer crammed himself into the service elevator between the cargo level and the upper level. The Indianational was based on the McDonnell Douglas MD-12 design. It was the only reason a mid-air boarding was even possible. Hammer held his silenced Glocks tightly crossed against his chest. Every step he took next had to be absolutely flawless.

    The pilot door, normally closed when the pilot’s were flying, was wide open so the terrorists could communicate with each other across the aisles.

    The terrorists didn’t see or hear him. A man who looked like the leader of the plane was in front, instructing two other men who were piloting the plane but clearly not pilots.

    One of the men, the leader, spoke in Arabic. “The Karotechia will be pleased.”

    It was odd, hearing an exotic word like “Karotechia” in amongst the other Arabic words. But Hammer didn’t have time to ponder its meaning.

    Hammer uncoiled himself from the service elevator and sent it back down. He crouched next to the entrance to the pilot’s compartment.

    The door is open, Hammer thought to himself. The door is open. That’s all I need.

    He counted to three, breathing deeply to steady himself. Then the world slowed down.

    In one perfect move, Hammer rolled on his shoulder, barely touching the floor. His right foot slapped down first, his left crossed behind him. He barely made a sound.

    The leader turned, eyes wide. It was Khalil, Hammer was sure of it.

    Hammer sprung upright and pointed both Glocks at the two terrorists’ heads. He squeezed both triggers and the cockpit glass was spattered with red and gray

    Khalil shouted a warning, but it was too late. He raised his machinegun…

    Hammer hooked the door with his foot. Previous terrorist attacks had ensured that Indianational’s pilot door was bulletproof. It slammed shut behind him just as a hail of bullets peppered it like thousands of angry mosquitoes.

    Hammer fired both pistols into Khalil’s chest at point-blank range. He slumped to the ground, never firing a shot.

    Hammer turned and locked the door. “Cockpit secure!” he shouted into the cistron.

    There was the sound of a thud against the door, then another. The men shouted to one another. Hammer overheard their plan.

    “Guppy, bad news.” He took control of the plane, unsure as to exactly what he was supposed to do next. “They’re coming after the bomb.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Hot Air: Part 5 – Bombs Away!

    Guppy was still struggling to figure out how to deactivate the manual bomb when the booby trap he rigged at the entrance went off.

    The luggage was a gold mine of devices he could use to his advantage. Guppy tied his stun gun to a fishing pole and tied it with fishing line to the door’s handle. It was a crude device, but its value was proven as the first terrorist to open the door got a jolt to the throat.

    Guppy looked around. Both agents had parachutes, but to fit into the service elevator Hammer had left his behind.

    “Guppy,” said Hammer, his voice taking on a carefully modulated tone, “I can’t let them get into the cargo bay.”

    The door shuddered. Heavy luggage was piled in front of it. Guppy tried to give himself every advantage he could.

    “I know,” said Guppy.

    “Then you know what we have to do.”

    The Indianational planes were specially built to be both cargo and passenger planes, which made them not particularly good at either.

    “Yes.” Guppy dropped what he was doing and shrugged his parachute on. He tapped a few keys on his cistron, enabling the override of the main cargo bay door.

    Yellow warning lights flicked on and a klaxon roared as the huge door began to open. Guppy pulled his breathing mask over his face.

    The terrorists redoubled their efforts to shoulder through the luggage.

    Guppy snapped the second parachute that he attached to the supersarin bomb to himself. The bomb and Guppy were sandwiched between the two parachutes.

    The wind roared as the door opened wide, flinging cameras and ladies underthings into the void. Guppy looked back just in time to see the terrorists burst through the doorway.

    Then they were drew back from him, becoming smaller and smaller, firing at him with their tiny toy guns, shouting in a language who couldn’t hear from the shrieking of the wind all around him.

    It got quieter. He was falling.

    Guppy prayed. Then he pulled his parachute.

    He was immediately yanked upward. To his amazement, the supersarin held. Guppy comforted himself with the knowledge that if he died, it would be instantaneous.

    Jets roared past him. Polish jets. Poland has recently enacted a law that allowed the shooting of hijacked planes.

    But where was he falling?

    Guppy looked down. It was beautiful. Dusk was settling in. Whatever city it was, it had old spires. He knew he couldn’t have been in Russia, but it had that old world Eastern European feel.

    His parachute jerked and pulled. Two other men, screaming prayers, sailed past him.

    There was a tearing sound. Guppy looked up.

    The terrorists had jumped out of the plane. They knew that all it took was one of them to bring him down. And the death of millions.

    Guppy released the chute. The terrorist’s scream was taken by the screaming winds.

    Something slammed into him, hard. Another terrorist, his eyes crusted over from the freezing cold, had grabbed onto his waist. He fumbled for his knife. All it would take was one puncture of the container…

    Guppy pushed one hand out, but the descent made it difficult for him to control his movements. He struggled to push the man away.

    The knife was out. He caught a glimpse of it flickering in the decaying sunlight through his mask.

    Guppy struggled to stop the man. The terrorist was chanting something, but Guppy couldn’t hear him. He headbutted the man, but still he hung on. The knife shuddered closer…

    Guppy pulled the second parachute on the bomb itself. The force of the sudden deceleration was all he needed. The terrorist lost his grip and went screaming upwards, flailing as he went.

    And slowly, Guppy floated to the ground. His left arm felt numb. It was probably dislocated.

    Guppy struggled to guide the parachute. He wasn’t going to be able to hang on for much longer.

    He looked down. Guppy’s jumpsuit was stained. He’d been stabbed. Great.

    He caught sight of a large spire jabbing upwards into the heavens. He changed course and head for it.

    Guppy was not an experienced parachutist. He overestimated the distance and was rewarded with a tearing sound as his parachute was snagged by the top of the spire.

    And there he hung, with a bomb strapped to his chest.

    Guppy tore of his mask. He was drenched in sweat.

    A crowd was down below him, staring and pointing. If they only knew what he had strapped to his chest…

    “Bomb secure,” rasped Guppy into his comm. link. “Repeat, bomb secure.”

    “Great!” said Hammer. “Now can someone tell me how to land this thing?”
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    Hot Air: Conclusion

    An image flickered on all the screens of the Global News Network’s control room in the Axelrod Building. A pretty brunette reporter spoke seriously in front of the image of a dark-skinned man with something strapped to his chest, dangling from the spire of an old tower. All across the screens, different reporters of various ethnicities reported the same thing in different languages.

    “Polish authorities apprehended a man who was originally thought to be a terrorist wearing a bomb vest, dangling from the Palace of Culture and Science in Warsaw. The identity of the man, believed to be an Indian, is unknown at this time. However, preliminary reports indicate that he was not, in fact, a terrorist but a government agent possibly in the employ of American or British authorities. Whatever his identity, one fact is clear: he was responsible for stopping the hijacking of Indianational 270.”

    An image of the Indianational jetliner appeared.

    “Indianational left London today carrying four hundred passengers en route to Bangalore. It was taken over mid-flight by a terrorist group known as Al-Hazzan, believed to have links to Al-Qaeda. How the agents managed to board the plane or retrieve the bomb is still a mystery. We'll stick with this story and bring you updates as…”

    Ian Goodrich swallowed hard. It was good, but there were not enough answers. An Indian agent working for Americans? There was only one person that could be.

    “Mr. Goodrich,” came the intercom call. “Call for you on line one. It’s the Chairman.”

    Goodrich’s stomach knotted up. That was the call he was dreading. He picked up the nearest phone. The other techs gave him room.

    “Sir? Yes sir. Yes, we’ll find him. Yes sir. Yes, I think we know who he is. Right away sir. Will do.”

    After he hung with the chairman, Goodrich tapped a few keys on the intercom.

    “Scramble the Color Bars,” said Goodrich. “We’re going to catch us a Majestic-12 agent.”
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    Chapter 13: Grey Matter - Introduction

    This scenario, “Grey Matter,” is a from the Conspiracy X sourcebook, Nemesis. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Game Master: Michael Tresca
    • Jim "Jim-Bean" Baxter (Charismatic Hero) played by Jeremy Ortiz
    • Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
    Sometimes my players throw me a curveball. In this case, I found out that one of the players couldn’t make it the night before the session. With only three PCs in total, this could have been a disaster. Fortunately, I had been planning to commit one of the agents to insane asylum, so this fit right in with the rest of the plan to make Guppy disappear.

    The mission the two agents participated in turned out to be perfectly suited for their talents. Jim-Bean’s smooth-talking disguise (if you can call it that) and Hammer’s fast guns were precisely what was needed. The original scenario assumes the agents will basically sneak into the place, but once I saw how that the team was going to go through the front door, I decided their rivals would do the same. Overall, it was a fun if a little odd scenario.

    I used footage from the real alien autopsy online to kick off the mission. Then I realized that, since Hammer had actually seen the aliens close-up, he was in a unique position to confirm the authenticity of the body. I also got the chance to introduce rival Majestic-12 agents into the mix and let the team know that even though they’re supposedly all on the same side, they can be wiped out at any time.

    This is another one of those scenarios that, although it provides a means for the agents to walk through the front door by acting as one of the so-called experts, blithely assumes they will break into the place. It’s surprisingly light on details, such as where guards are placed, how security responds, etc. In fact, it’s much more focused on what the various NPCs will do rather than the response to a breach in security. Since there’s no map (a problem neatly remedied by Critical Locations), the scenario becomes even more confusing.

    I had the script from Terminator 2 ready to use as a template for a rival team’s raid on the office building. But since the agents walked through the front door, I had to change tactics mid-stream. I decided the agents’ cover was so audacious it required a suitably ridiculous response. So instead of a stealth mission in the cover of darkness, the rival team was a covert op in the bright light of day. And I had a chance to test Jim-Bean’s capacity for fast talk. After all, why have a Charismatic Hero if he never gets to be Charismatic?

    Defining Moment: I’m a big fan of Mexican stand-offs. But you won’t often see one over an alien corpse!

    Relevant Media
    • American Idiot: by Green Day.
    • Conspiraxy X - Nemesis: This scenario wasn't hard to convert over to D20 Modern from the Conspiracy X system; what was hard was making it make any kind of sense. The scenario throws so many variables at the agents and the GM that it ends up being something of a soupy mess. Fortunately, I knew my players could handle it.
    • Alien Autopsy: I used the actual footage of this video as a prop for the introduction of the scenario.
    • Critical Locations: One of the best supplements for any modern game. This time I used a map of the television studio.
    • Terminator 2: I lifted the raid on the vault in Terminator 2 for the security procedures in this scenario.
    • The Hunt for Red October: The conversation between the two diplomats at the end of this movie was the inspiration for the conversation between the two department heads at the end of this scenario.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Grey Matter: Prologue

    Welcome to a new kind of tension.
    All across the alien nation.
    Where everything isn't meant to be okay.
    Television dreams of tomorrow.
    We're not the ones who're meant to follow.
    For that's enough to argue.

    --American Idiot by Green Day
    SAMSON, CA--For the last two weeks, GNN advertised a special episode of its nationally syndicated “science news” show, “Visions from Beyond,” hosted by Marina Sirtis. The ads proclaimed that an autopsy of an actual alien would be broadcast over the course of a two-part presentation. It all seemed like a joke…until they saw it.

    It opened with a shot of Earth. As the background music, Thus Spake Zarathustra, rose and then suddenly quieted, the camera panned across to Marina Sirtis, standing against a starscape background.

    “Since Man first lifted his eyes to the stars from the Great Rift Valley, he has wondered what is out there. With the coming millennium, our doubts and fears about our world and what lies beyond grow, as does our desire to know the answers. While some may deny the truth, or hide it under a veil of disinformation, tonight, we take our first look at what is known. You all, everyone watching, will have a…Vision from Beyond.”

    As the credits scrolled across the screen, the theme music surged and the starscape dissolved. A number of pictures, with date and location identified, began to flash into view one after another. The pictures showed alien beings with thin, spindly, gray bodies, bulbous heads, and slanted black eyes. They dated from the 1950s to the present, and listed places from China to Arizona to Norway and more. Marina Sirtis’ voice returned.

    “At first dozens and then hundreds of eyewitness reports emerged from the farthest corners of the Earth. The witnesses come from all faiths, all nations, all creeds and all occupations. How can a tribesman from Africa, a farmer from western China, and a utility worker from Texas all describe the same thing, independently and without any prior belief in such a thing? In truth, we have been visited, not once but many times, and now there is proof.”

    The majority of the first episode included a series of interviews with eyewitnesses. These were not the usual collection of rednecks and drunken frat boys, whoever. A nationally known economist, a city councilman, a neurosurgeon, and a housewife and mother of five calmly told their stories, neither speculating on what they saw nor denying the validity of the interviewer’s and their own doubts. The last portion of the program presented a brief overview of modern UFO theory, from the events at Roswell, Project BLUEBOOK and MUFON to the X-Files and conspiracy theory. Sirtis then delivered the final kicker:

    “Our most compelling evidence will be shown in one week’s time – the actual dissection and examination of one of these alien bodies, recovered from one of these bodies, recovered from the wreckage of a flying saucer near Platte Air Force Base. Please join us, so that you too many understand these…Visions from Beyond.”

    The opening promo shots revealed glimpses of an alien corpse in a cryogenic tube that was more than sufficient to prove that the show, unlike many others, was indeed real.

    “This is not a farce or a publicity hoax. To verify the amazing evidence we plan to present at eight p.m. on Friday next week, a team of renowned biologists, doctors, and zoologists are flying in from Miskatonic University to inspect the corpse and attest to its authenticity. None of these learned gentlemen have any prior contact with this station, this network, or GNN. You cannot afford to miss next week’s exciting…Visions from Beyond!”

    “Oh,” said Hammer, “this can’t be good.”

    Hammer glanced down as his cistron chirped. It was Sprague.
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    Grey Matter: Part 1 – The Broadcast

    “I still don’t know why Guppy wasn’t assigned to this mission,” said Hammer into his cistron.

    “You don’t know why?” Sprague snapped back at him on the other end of the cistron. “Where should I start? That he assaulted two Greys, unprovoked—“

    “Unprovoked? I was there, they attacked us first!”

    Sprague shouted over him. “Those little things couldn’t hurt a fly! Gupta endangered the Accord. You don’t just draw a weapon in the presence of an extraterrestrial biological entity—“

    “They were already dead,” said Hammer. “As I recall, it was Majestic-12 who brought in the SONNET device that brought down the Grey ship--”

    “That’s none of your concern,” snarled Sprague. “Your job is to get that Grey body out of the GNN office before they go live with the broadcast. We’ve got a leak somewhere in Majestic-12. I don’t know who it is, but I intend to find out.”

    “So where is Guppy?”

    “That’s none of your concern.”

    “Did you kill him? Did you detonate one of those bombs in his head?”

    “That’s NONE of your CONCERN,” emphasized Sprague. “Look…we didn’t kill him. He’s in deep cover. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll stop asking questions and do your damn job, just like I’m trying to do mine.”

    Hammer clamped his mouth shut. “Fine. So this is another suicide mission?”

    “I pulled another agent off of a very important mission to help you. He’s a specialist in social engineering.”

    “Oh yeah?” asked Hammer. “Who?”

    “Baxter.”

    “Baxter? You mean Agent Jim-Bean?”

    Sprague didn’t bother to confirm his identity. “We’re dropping him off via the SPIDER network.” SPIDER was a huge network of clandestine transport vessels based out of various Majestic-12 locations across the United States. “He’ll be there shortly. Good luck.”

    Hammer sighed. “Yep. A suicide mission.”
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    Grey Matter: Part 2a – The Axelrod Building

    Jim-Bean sat in the passenger’s seat, feet propped up on the dashboard. He took a long puff of his cigarette and blew the smoke out the side of his mouth towards the semi-open window of the van.

    “Okay, so here’s the plan…” began Jim-Bean.

    “Wait,” said Hammer. “Since when do you start telling me what the plan is?”

    “’Cause I’m mission leader,” said Jim-Bean with a grin. He took another puff. “I’ve got our credentials right here.” He tossed Hammer a wallet.

    Hammer flipped through the wallet. “You’ve got to be kidding me. I’m not even the right ethnicity for this cover!”

    “Oops, that’s mine.” Jim-Bean snatched the wallet out of his hand and replaced it with another one. “You’re security.”

    Hammer stared at him. “YOU’RE not the right ethnicity for that cover either.”

    “Don’t worry about it,” said Jim-Bean. “All you need to know is that I’m a world-renown plastic surgeon here to inspect the Grey corpse, and you’re my security. Keep your earpiece on and pretend someone’s talking into it every once in awhile.” Jim-Bean dug in his pockets and retrieved a pair of sunglasses. “Oh yeah, wear these.” He tossed the glasses to Hammer.

    Hammer caught the sunglasses. “You seriously think GNN’s security is going to fall for this?”

    “Of course they will. We’ve got Majestic-12 backing us. Our credentials are rock solid.”

    Hammer put on the sunglasses. “If you say so.”

    “All this fuss over a stupid movie prop. I don’t know why we’re bothering.”

    “MJ-12 wouldn’t go through all this over a movie prop.”

    Jim-Bean shrugged. “I suppose not. It’s not like we have something to compare the alien corpse to. I mean, I don’t believe in all this mumbo jumbo—“

    “I didn’t either,” said Hammer. “But I’ll know if it’s the real deal when I see it.”

    Jim-Bean put out his cigarette. “Oh yah? What makes you the expert?”

    “Because I was there when Guppy shot one in the head,” said Hammer.
    Last edited by talien; Saturday, 21st June, 2008 at 02:51 AM.
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    Grey Matter: Part 2b – The Axelrod Building

    They entered the spacious lobby. In addition to the comfortable couches and chairs that filled the lobby, numerous flat screen televisions played GNN newscasts from around the world. Two bored security guards sat at the front desk.

    Jim-Bean identified the guards immediately. Wackenhut.

    “Cheers,” he said smiling at one of the guards. “My associate and I are here to see the…” he made air quotes, “alien corpse.”

    “One of the experts huh?”

    “Yes, that’s me. I’m a plastic surgeon, one of the best. I’m sure you’ve heard of me.” Jim-Bean nodded to Hammer, who silently procured a flyer they printed up just for the occasion. It had a picture of Jim-Bean smiling at the camera and a long list of the clients he performed plastic surgery on – all celebrities who wouldn’t be pleased to see their name on the flyer.

    The guard didn’t bother to look at the flyer. “Your name, sir?”

    “Chan.”

    “First name please?”

    “Jack.”

    The guard froze in the middle of typing his name in. “Jackie Chan?” He suppressed a smile. “You probably get that all the time.”

    Jim-Bean chuckled. “Oh, of course.” He carried a lunch bag in one hand and a heavy medical bag in the other.

    “You don’t look Chinese,” said the guard.

    “Right.” He winked at the guard. When the guard just stared at him, he added. “I’m a plastic SURGEON.”

    “Ohhhh, right.” The guard looked back at his screen. “We don’t have you on the list.”

    Jim-Bean rolled his eyes heavenward. “I knew this would happen. I knew it!” He turned back to the guard. “Look, this is all hush-hush. If my clients knew I was inspecting an alien corpse, which I’m SURE is some movie prop, it would be terrible for everyone involved. That’s why I brought my own security. All kinds of kooks, you know.”

    “Uh, well…” the guard’s brow furrowed. “I’m going to have to defer this to Mr. Goodrich.” He caught Jim-Bean’s gaze. “Standard security procedure, we have to vet everyone who comes in. Please, have a seat.”

    “Now what?” asked Hammer, sitting on the plush couch in the lobby.

    “Relax. Rock solid, remember?” said Jim-Bean. He sat next to him.

    The Axelrod building was furnished in late twentieth century lab-rat: dark gray carpeting, light gray walls and partitions, and fluorescent lighting.

    Goodrich arrived a few minutes later. He was a tall blonde-haired man with a pale, almost pinkish complexion. His features were raw-boned and his hands noticeably large. His were a light green, with a slight droop over both. Goodrich was dressed in a gray suit.

    He extended one hand as he approached. “Gentlemen. My name’s Goodrich, Ian Goodrich. I’m handling the alien autopsy production.”

    Jim-Bean stood up and pumped Goodrich’s hand. “Good to meet you. Look, if we could move this along…I’m a bit famished,” he lifted his lunch bag to reinforce the point.

    “Yes, of course. Your name again?”

    “Jackie Chan,” said Jim-Bean.

    The security guard guffawed. Goodrich didn’t laugh. He simply smiled a shark’s smile. “Do you have the—“

    “Appropriate forms? NDA and all that?” He nodded to Hammer. “My man has it all.”

    Without saying a word, Hammer drew the papers from inside his overcoat and handed them to Goodrich.

    Goodrich scanned the contents, eyebrows raised. Without looking up, he walked over to the security guard and spoke to him in hushed tones.

    Jim-Bean whistled to himself.

    After a few upward glances from Goodrich and more terse whispers, the blond man strode over to them. “Everything seems to be in order. If you’ll follow me please…”

    He handed Jim-Bean and Hammer two visitor passes.

    Goodrich swiped his badge and the red light over the door turned green. “Please swipe your badges.”

    Jim-Bean and Hammer followed him. Another security guard joined them as they walked through winding corridors.

    The offices and studios at the GNN headquarters were very clean and smelled of disinfectant. Most of the offices were at best cubicles, and TV and video equipment was piled in every direction. They passed a water cooler and a small kitchenette. It was very cold, due to the air conditioning, and there was a continual background hum of electronics faxes and printers.

    Goodrich led them through a green room, passed a television set, and to what looked like a large vault. They stood in front of a wide security door. A sign above read: AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.

    Goodrich nodded to the accompanying security guard. They both fished out keys from around their necks and inserted them in holes on either side of the door. “One, two, three,” counted Goodrich.

    On “three,” they turned the keys and the door whisked open.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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