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Thursday, 24th July, 2008, 11:31 AM #231
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Wolves and Sheep: Part 3 – Open Seating
Jim-Bean closed the door. Shotgun blasts pounded it on the other side.
“What are you doing?” shouted Guppy in disbelief, straining to be heard over the roaring of the tunnel
Jim-Bean rifled through his duffel bag. He came back up with a gas mask and a tear-gas grenade.
“Is that…?” was all Guppy got out before Jim-Bean
He tossed the gas mask to Guppy. “Put this on!” he shouted.
Jim-Bean pulled the pin with his teeth. Then, cracking the door open a notch, he rolled the canister down the corridor.
More shotgun blasts, coughing and shouting greeted him in response.
“What about Hammer?” shouted Guppy. “He doesn’t have a gas mask, does he?”
“He’ll manage!” Jim-Bean opened the door from the car on the opposite side. “Hammer! Tear-gas!” Then he snapped on his own gas mask and cocked his pistol.
The mobsters were in complete disarray. Some tried to retain their grip on their shotguns. Others struggled to cover their faces with napkins and tablecloths. But mostly they just rolled around on the floor, choking and moaning.
Guppy could barely hear Jim-Bean through his gas mask.
“What?” he asked.
“I said,” shouted Jim-Bean, “we can’t leave anyone behind. How much time we got?”
Guppy struggled to read his cistron through the smoke. “Four minutes?”
Jim-Bean nodded. He pointed his SIG at the head of one of the mobsters and pulled the trigger.
“Mother trucker!” shouted Guppy.
Jim-Bean fired his pistol again and another mobster died. “What?”
Jim-Bean fired twice more, perforating the heads of two more mobsters.
“Stop that!” shouted Guppy.
“Look,” said Jim-Bean, like a pistol-toting Darth Vader in his gas mask, “do you want to discuss the ethics of killing people or do you want to save the world?”
Jim-Bean fired another two shots, offing another two mobsters.
“That’s a trick question, I don’t really care,” said Jim-Bean. He pointed his pistol at another mobster and pulled the trigger. It clicked.
“Out of bullets. That’ll have to do.”
The door opened on the other side of the car. Hammer stood in the doorway.
“What took you so long?”
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Friday, 25th July, 2008, 05:28 PM #232
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Wolves and Sheep: Part 4 – The Dining Cart
The people who built the white elephant of a train had limited imaginations -- the dining cart was white. Just white: white tablecloths and walls and seats. It hurt the eyes. And was also really tacky.
A retired couple sat at a table in the far corner, gazing with near-blind eyes at the scenery, and a bored businessman picked at his food a table away. Astonishingly, nobody heard all the screaming and dying.
It soon became apparent why. The only table vaguely active was host to a gaggle of school children, fifteen or so, all clustered around a pretty young woman who looked about ready to kill them all.
"Miss, when are we going to eat?" asked one.
"Miss, can't the train go any faster?" asked another.
"Miss, can we see the furnace?" asked a third.
Just past the retired couple, Jim-Bean could see the door that leads to the baggage cart. He pulled off his gas mask and drew his machinegun.
“Wow, are you a secret agent?” asked one of the children.
“Did you fight in Iraq?” asked another.
“Did you kill Sad-sad…Sadman Whose Sane?” asked a third.
“Time?” asked Jim-Bean tersely.
Guppy checked, still dazed from the cold-blooded murder he had just witnessed. “Three minutes twenty seven sec—“
Jim-Bean fired his machinegun at the ceiling. “Everyone OUT OF THE WAY!”
The kids, who had flocked around Jim-Bean, shrieked and ran wailing to their teacher.
At the far end of the car was a big sign detailing: NO ENTRY.
“That’s our car,” said Hammer.
They filtered out through the car filled with screaming children. Hammer took one side and Guppy took the other. Counting down with his fingers from three, Jim-Bean sprayed the cart with machinegun fire even as Hammer yanked the door open.
There was a curse as someone at the far end was hit. Two identical-looking bald men returned fire.
“Oh great,” said Jim-Bean, “it’s the Goravich Brothers.”
Saturday, 26th July, 2008, 12:07 PM #233
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Wolves and Sheep: Part 5 – The Baggage Cart
A few naked bulbs hanging from the roof lit the baggage cart. They didn’t so much provide illumination as make the darkness clearer. There were five big shelves in the center of the cart that looked like bookshelves in a library, all packed with suitcases and packages and bags. Resting in a rough pile in the back corner were several large wooden crates, piled up.
Shotgun fire answered Jim-Bean’s initial retort.
The three agents returned fire. Even Guppy squeezed off a few shots from his Beretta.
“Not the same without your zip gun, eh?” asked Jim-Bean.
Guppy couldn’t believe how calm Jim-Bean was under fire. He was shaking from just firing the pistol.
He caught a glimpse of a man furiously typing behind the crates. He was bleeding from a bullet that had grazed him in the shoulder.
“Kevin Medroff?” Guppy exclaimed.
Hammer ducked back behind a nearby crate. “Is that supposed to mean something?”
“He’s a programmer from InifiniCredit.” Guppy fired a few more shots around the crate. “Released millions of credit card numbers to the Internet. A real anarchist.”
“How much time do we have left?” asked Jim-Bean.
Guppy checked his cistron. “Two minutes. Then we’ll be on the other side of the tunnel and Medroff will have a clear signal.”
“We’ve got to stop this train.” With a roar, Jim-Bean charged down the corridor.
He almost made it. A shotgun blast hit him in the back as he passed the Goravich brothers. Jim-Bean crumpled in front of the door.
“Jim!” shouted Hammer. With a snarl, he squeezed off a series of well-placed shots from his Glock. “Jim is down!”
Jim-Bean was laying right next to Medroff. The hacker peered down at him with a sneer. “SAS my ass,” he muttered. Then he went back to typing.
Jim-Bean’s eyes flicked open. He sat up behind Medroff and, smoothly drawing his silenced pistol, shot him in the head.
Jim-Bean picked up his machinegun and yanked open the door to the engine. When he opened it, he came eye-to-eye with a shotgun.
“All your buddies are dead,” said Jim-Bean. “I killed them. Stop the train.”
There was a moment of indecision in the puffy Italian’s eyes. Then he dropped the shotgun and grabbed the lever.
Jim-Bean leveled his machinegun at the mobster’s head. “Stop the train before we leave the tunnel.”
“There’s no way,” said the mobster. “Trains don’t stop that fast.” As if to support his claim, daylight streamed through the windows.
Jim-Bean swore and smashed the man in the face with his rifle butt. The mobster went down.
Sunday, 27th July, 2008, 02:48 PM #234
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Wolves and Sheep: Conclusion
Jim-Bean returned to the other car to find one of the Goravich brothers dead, a smashed window behind him. Hammer was favoring one leg, staring over Guppy’s shoulder.
Guppy was at the terminal where Medroff sat, typing furiously.
“Can you stop it?” asked Jim-Bean.
“I’m…TRYING,” his fingers danced across the keyboard. “It’s like she’s not…LISTENING to me!”
A red diagram popped up of SINNER’s route on the screen. It was a complex series of stops across the Internet, almost like train tracks.
“What is going on?” asked Hammer.
“She’s plotting out a path,” Guppy said through gritted teeth.
“Out of the way,” said Jim-Bean. He pointed his machinegun at the computer. “We’ll do this the old fashioned way—“
Guppy put himself between Jim-Bean’s barrel and the computer. “No, wait!”
All three of their cistrons beeped as time ran out.
The red diagram rapidly turned green as SINNER bounced from node to node.
“SINNER’s out!” said Hammer.
The diagram continued to turn green. But it was slowly turning back on itself.
“She’s coming back,” said Guppy triumphantly.
A second later, the computer beeped. A little girl in red pigtails appeared on screen.
“Hello Guppy,” she said with an oddly synthesized voice. “Uncle Drake says hello.”
“What in the bloody hell is going on?” asked Jim-Bean.
“The little trip she took just now…I think it was planned,” said Guppy.
Hammer laughed, then winced. He’d been grazed by a bullet. “All along, Uncle Drake wanted her to get out.”
The digital face of SINNER smiled. “I’ve taken care of things Guppy. You won’t have to worry about GNN anymore.”
Jim-Bean rubbed his forehead. “You damn Yanks don’t make any sense sometimes, you know that?”
Hammer stared at him curiously. The train slowed to a stop. “You know what else doesn’t make sense? How you survived a shotgun blast at point blank range.”
Jim-Bean chuckled and rubbed the back of his head. “Oh, yah, right. About that…”
Monday, 28th July, 2008, 11:42 AM #235
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Chapter 16: Operation Countdown - Introduction
This scenario, “Operation: Countdown,” is a series of D20 Modern missions from RPGObjects’ Modern Dispatch 15, 35, and 43 by Charles Rice. 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:
With SINNER free and several of my own Combat Mission scenarios hinging on the capture of a middle-eastern terrorist, it was time to have Saladin, the leader of Al-Hazzan, finally get caught by Majestic-12. There was just one problem: I didn’t want Saladin to be caught “off camera.” I’ve come to the conclusion that all interesting action should have the PCs at the center of it, and the capture of a major terrorist leader was no exception. So I didn’t just need one scenario, I needed a few to lead up to the capture of the terrorist leader. Searching RPGNow finally turned up what I was looking for.
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
- Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz
- Sebastian “Caprice” Creed (Fast/Smart Hero/Techie) played by Bill Countiss
Fortunately, Hammer is fluent in Arabic and was thus perfectly positioned to track down a terrorist leader. Caprice took care of the explosives (of which there were many). And Archive? Well Archive pretty much got his ass kicked by the bad guys.
I started out with Gun Runners from Modern Dispatch #43. This was a good way to jump into the action quickly. What didn’t quite make sense is that the agents know of a convoy but in the scenario are struggling to catch up. Instead, I had the agents lay the trap. It didn’t make things easier for them in any case. The next scene takes place on a boat involving explosives, which becomes an unfortunate pattern – there’s a 1 in 20 chance of accidentally setting off munitions each round of firearms combat, regardless of whether or not someone actually misses. This rule was…catastrophic, and the players weren’t too happy with the outcome.
Operation Dry Country from Modern Dispatch #15 is much more interesting because it requires some subterfuge on the part of the agents. There’s an interesting moral quandary the agents face in pulling off their plan.
Finally, I ran Leads and Complexities from Modern Dispatch #35. This is the best of the bunch, involving a switcheroo and an explosive finale in a warehouse. It would be easy if it was just about blowing up the bad guy, but the agents were specifically tasked with capturing Saladin alive.
Defining Moment: Caprice, having just disabled an IED, realizes that the carload of bombs headed his way is a release trigger.
- Pornographitti: by Extreme.
- Spycraft: Most Wanted: An excellent resource for villains; Saladin is from this book.
- Chuck: Origin of the Intersect, which in turn was inspired by a real program known as ABLE DANGER.
- Modern Dispatch #15: Operation Dry County.
- Modern Dispatch #35: Leads and Complexities.
- Modern Dispatch #43: Gun Runners.
- Under Siege: The definitive knife-fight scene.
- Menace Manual: Provides a terrorist organization, Al Jambiya, that I co-opted for Al-Hazzan. I also used the map of the Laila for one of the raids.
Tuesday, 29th July, 2008, 11:29 AM #236
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Prologue
UMM QASR, IRAQ – It was night. Three agents were busy setting up a trap on a long highway between Al Nasiriyah and An Najaf.Now I know there's trouble in the Middle East
I'll spend all the money when I stop the arms race
All my brothers in the desert
Gonna have themselves a feast
When that's done then we’ll start on world peace
--When I’m President by Extreme
“It’s about time we got to a real counterintelligence mission,” Hammer said to Caprice as he unrolled one of two spike strips across a dirt road.
“You call this a real mission?” asked Archive in disbelief. “I don’t know how three of us are supposed to take out an armed convoy. I still don’t know what I’m doing here…”
“You’re a trained medic, right?” asked Caprice.
Archive was up in the armored Humvee’s turret, staring through binoculars. “Technically, but--”
“Good enough for me,” said Caprice with a grin.
Hammer’s finished rolling out the spike strip. “And me. Sprague scrambled all available team members once SINNER tracked down Saladin.”
“Oh right.” Archive glanced down at his cistron. “The head of Al-Hazzan. Are we sure this is the real deal?”
“If SINNER thinks so it’s the real deal,” said Hammer. “She did a jog around the Internet; my guess is she pulled all the information she needed to find Saladin.”
“So he’s in this convoy,” said Archive.
Caprice shook his head. “Not likely. SINNER calculated Saladin’s reactions to our missions; she’s several steps ahead of him. But we have to capture one of these terrorists alive so we can interrogate him.”
“No wonder why nobody else is assigned to this mission,” muttered Archive. “They’d have to be crazy to take it.”
“This is still important,” said Hammer. “This convoy contains a major shipment of arms and explosives bound for Saudia Arabia. According to SINNER, they’re targeting foreign oil workers living in Baqbar Towers.”
Archive lowered his binoculars. “Here they come.”
Wednesday, 30th July, 2008, 11:36 AM #237
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 1 – Desert Chase
Three trucks, their contents covered by tarps, were each flanked by two dirt bikes. They ambled down the dirt road at considerable speed.
“They don’t see the spike strip.” Hammer squinted through his binoculars, leaning over the turret of the Humvee. “On my mark…”
Caprice sat in the passenger’s seat, listening to Hammer’s command through his headset, a button in each fist.
The buzzing of the dirt bikes echoed across the desert.
They could see the lights of the trucks.
Caprice hit the remote triggers to release the spike strips. There was a series of loud pops as tires were shredded, followed by the revving of dirt bike engines flipping through the air. Men screamed.
“Archive, go!” shouted Hammer.
Archive, in the driver’s seat, hit the pedal to the metal. The Humvee lurched forward, tearing out of the concealing tarp that blended the vehicle in with the rest of the desert night.
The two motorcycles leading the first truck completely wiped out, leaving the drivers moaning in the desert sands. The first truck swerved from the impact of the strips, only to have the second truck drive it further onto the strips, shredding the rear tires. The four remaining bikers and the last truck were able to avoid the strips.
The men were well-disciplined. They immediately started tossing weapons out of the first two trucks and into the third.
The Humvee screeched to a halt in front of the convoy. Hammer flipped the safeties on the heavy machinegun. Caprice hopped out the back, a FIM-92 Stinger balanced over one arm.
“Where are you going?” asked Archive, a little panicky.
“To even the odds,” said Caprice. He jogged in a wide arc around one of the dunes towards the side of the convoy.
Before Archive could ask another question, two dirt bikes were on them. Skorpion sub-machinegun fire raked the Humvee.
Hammer spun the machinegun in an arc, but the dirt bikes shrieked past them, turning back around for another pass.
“Archive, get up here!”
Archive clambered up to where Hammer was. “But I’ve never fired this thing before!”
“Just point it and shoot!” shouted Hammer.
Hammer scrambled out of the Humvee, M60 at the ready. He sprayed covering fire, causing one of the dirt bikes to swerve. Above him, the rat-a-tat of the heavy machinegun raked the terrain under Archive’s shaky guidance.
Suddenly Archive stopped firing.
“Why did you stop?” asked Hammer, scanning the horizon for the dirt bikes.
“Look!” shouted Archive.
One of the terrorists had stopped loading weapons and decided to use it. He had a Stinger shoulder-launched missile over one shoulder, eye squinted down the sight, propped up on the top of the first truck.
“Oh sh—“ was all Hammer got out.
Thursday, 31st July, 2008, 11:44 AM #238
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 2 – Heat of the Night
Caprice flinched as the whoosh of the Stinger missile cleared the distance between the convoy and the Humvee. It struck the side of it, flipping the vehicle over end over end in a tremendous explosion.
The terrorists cheered.
Caprice opened the weapon-round container and remove the Stinger. He checked to make sure a BCU was in place. Then he placed the Stinger on his right shoulder, grasping the pistol grip with his right hand to provide support. He unfolded the antenna with his left hand.
The terrorists resumed tossing weapons from one man to another into the remaining truck.
Caprice removed the front end cap with his left hand. With his right hand, he raised and locked the sight assembly into position. Then he inserted the IFF interconnecting cable into the gripstock. He grabbed the uncaging switch.
“Caprice?” gasped Archive over the comm. “I…I made it out. But Hammer…I think he’s dead.”
Caprice couldn’t make out any forms in the shadows cast by the burning Humvee, but he was sure Archive was in there.
Caprice pointed the Stinger at the truck, looked over the sight assembly, and then looked through the peep sight. He positioned the target image in the center of the range ring. The IFF responded with many beeps, signaling that his target wasn’t a friendly.
The terrorists tossed more weapons into the truck.
Caprice placed his left foot towards the truck and leaned slightly forward.
“He’s alive” said Archive. “I…he’s barely breathing but I was able to bring him back. We’re in bad shape. Uh oh…”
Caprice pressed the actuator device forward, outward, and down with his right thumb until he heard a click, activating the BCU. Then he released the safety and actuator device. The Stinger was warming up. The gyro spun to life.
“Uh oh?” whispered Caprice.
The beeping changed pitch, indicating the Stinger had acquired the target.
“The bikers are coming back around...”
“Just one more second…” Caprice had to get them all at once, when they were gathered around a pile of munitions. But it was all in the timing.
The terrorists finished loading the weapons onto the truck. One of the remaining bikers hit the hood twice with his fist in a signal that they were ready to go.
Caprice pressed the uncaging switch and squeezed the firing trigger at the same time.
FWOOSH! The Stinger missile hopped out of the launcher as if it had been shoved, then the thrusters engaged and it rocketed faster than the eye could follow towards the convoy.
The men didn’t get a chance to react. Caprice tossed the launcher down and covered his head.
The explosion rocked the desert landscape, illuminating the night sky as if it were broad daylight. Missiles and ammunition fired off in all directions. One of the bikers who was far enough away shrieked as shrapnel tore him in half. The others were instantly incinerated.
The ringing in Caprice’s ears kept him from noticing the biker advancing on him. He looked up at a looming shape in the fire-lit desert, aiming a Skorpion at his head.
Caprice squeezed his eyes shut.
There was a crack of gunfire. The man fell off his bike, clutching his leg in pain.
Hammer, burnt and bloodied, slumped to his knees a few yards away, lowering his pistol in exhaustion.
Caprice rolled to his feet and kicked the Skorpion away from the terrorist. “Nice shot,” he said to Hammer.
Hammer shook his head. “Thank Archive. He’s one hell of a medic.”
Archive smiled through the soot and dirt that covered him from head to toe. They had no idea.
Friday, 1st August, 2008, 11:47 AM #239
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 3 – Old Man River
Hammer’s interrogation of the sole surviving terrorist from the first convoy led the agents to the location of the second convoy. A yacht, the Laila, was moving up the Tigris River with plans to offload its cargo in Baghdad. About half the weapons would stay in the capitol to fuel a new wave of insurgency while the rest were to be loaded onto trucks similar and sent to Saudi Arabia.
Hammer slipped out of the rowboat and silently clambered up the back of the boat. On the other side, Caprice did the same, with Archive in tow.
They shed their flippers and masks. Hammer drew his two pistols and peered up over the next tier of the yacht.
Guards were everywhere, armed with Skorpions. They were outnumbered again. Hammer was beginning to agree with Archive – they were being sent on missions that had a very low chance of success, much less survival.
Caprice bumped into the metal railing and the subsequent clatter seemed to echo forever. One of the guards wandered over, more bored than concerned.
The guard spotted Archive first. He pointed his Skorpion and was about to shout a warning when Archive displayed his left hand, palm outward. “Ia! Nyarlathotep!” he whispered.
The guard shrieked. He dropped his weapon, forgotten, and dove overboard.
“Great,” said Caprice as the alarm was raised.
He ducked back down beneath the lip of the second tier as guards jogged over. One of the guards peeked his head over the rim. Caprice fired his pistol in the man’s face.
Gunfire erupted all around them as Hammer, using the distraction, unleashed on the unprepared guards. Chaos ensued as the guards were sandwiched between assailants on both sides.
There was a snap, and all the terrorists heads whipped around to listen. Then they scrambled off the ship to the chorus of more shouts and screaming.
Hammer turned the corner around a crate, only to find himself pointing his Glocks at Caprice.
“What the hell just happened?” asked Hammer.
“I have no idea,” said Caprice. “Archive did something with his hand and the first guy jumped off the boat—“
Archive stepped out from around the corner. “I didn’t think the rune was that powerful.”
“Rune?” asked Hammer in disbelief. “What are you talking about?” He got a closer look at Archive’s open palm. “Is that a swastika?”
Archive suddenly held up one hand. “Shh!”
“What?” asked Caprice.
“That sound,” said Archive. “It sounds like…”
Hammer’s head swiveled back and forth, trying to pinpoint the noise. “Hissing.”
“Like a fuse?” asked Caprice.
Hammer grabbed Archive and hurled him off the yacht. He sputtered in the water.
“What the hell did you do that for?” shouted Caprice.
Hammer booted Caprice off the yacht next. Then he dove after him.
A cacophony of explosions ripped through the Laila a second later.
“That’s why, Hotpants,” said Hammer, treading water. “That’s why.”
Sunday, 3rd August, 2008, 02:56 AM #240
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 4 – Bat Out of Hell
The team was flown by Blackhawk helicopter to rendezvous with the Iraqi Border Police.
“This is punishment, isn’t it?” asked Caprice to no one in particular.
“Why?” asked Hammer idly. They were guarding the main road into Saudi Arabia. “You mean the part where we sit baking in the desert for days?”
“Yeah.” Caprice sighed. “That part.”
“I want to know why an Iraqi terrorist is afraid of a swastika on your palm,” said Hammer. “What were you doing on that boat, anyway?”
Archive looked uncomfortable. “It was more than just the swastika. I invoked the Crawling Chaos.”
“Nyarla-something, yeah,” said Caprice. “I didn’t realize you were into all that voodoo crap.”
Archive frowned. “It’s complicated.”
“But why a swastika?” asked Hammer. He seemed offended by the notion.
“It was the easiest rune for me to sketch. Believe it or not it’s a Chinese symbol to ward off evil spirits. I was hoping to...” he fumbled with the word, “turn him.”
“He turned and ran, so I guess it worked, huh?” said Caprice.
Archive went back to scanning the horizon with his binoculars. “There’s a taxi approaching.”
Hammer barked a question in Arabic. One of the border guard replied in the same tongue.
“Not totally unheard of,” translated Hammer.
“What about that?” Caprice handed his binoculars to Hammer.
Hammer didn’t need to look. A helicopter whisked past the taxi, a heavy machinegun bristling from one side.
“Down!” shouted Hammer.
The concrete barriers chipped and bullets ricocheted as the helicopter raked their location. It swung around for another pass.
Hammer pointed Caprice to one of the machinegun nests. “Keep the chopper busy!”
Caprice jogged over to the nest and revved up the machinegun. The Iraqi guards fired wildly at the oncoming taxi.
“That taxi is crammed with explosives!” shouted Archive over the gunfire.
Hammer drew his Glocks. “I’ll stop it.”
He stood up as the helicopter took another pass, heedless of the hail of bullets around him. Taking careful aim, Hammer fired.
Both tires blew out of the taxi. The vehicle lurched to the side.
FWOOSH! A Stinger launched from one of the Iraqi guardsmen struck the chopper dead on. Hot shrapnel rained down over them.
When it was all over, Archive peeked out from the barricade. “Can we go home now?”