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Sunday, 3rd August, 2008, 01:22 PM #241
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 5 – Firewater
Sprague appeared on their cistrons.
“Last Friday a Baghdad liquor store was completely destroyed by a RPG attack. This makes three liquor stores on three Fridays.”
“So?” asked Caprice sullenly. He didn’t like Sprague much.
“Baghdad is one of the only Muslim countries that allow alcohol, much to the dismay of traditional Muslims who disdain the drinking of alcohol. Friday is a day when most Muslim businesses close and is intended for quiet contemplation of Allah, not unlike Sunday in the Western world. Friday is also the day those who want to have a little party on the weekend like to buy their hooch.”
“And someone is letting these local entrepreneurs know their capitalist spirit is not appreciated, huh?” asked Hammer.
Sprague nodded. “The results of these attacks are that more and more of these shops are indeed closing on Friday. However, the Agency thinks these attacks are an entrance onto the main stage by a new player in the global terror show. We need you to capture some of these attackers for interrogation.”
Sprague’s whitish-blonde head winked out and was replaced by a map of their current location. Data streamed afterward.
“This is the place.” Hammer looked the street up and down. They were all wearing traditional Iraqi garb.
“Doesn’t look like much,” said Archive.
“Why don’t you have a coffee over there.” Hammer pointed at the al-Jamoun coffee house across the street.
Archive wrinkled his nose. “Not fond of Iraq coffee.”
Hammer ignored him. “Hotpants, you take a sniper position up on the roof. If anybody’s going to hit this place, I’ll need you to be my eyes and ears when it goes down. I’ll get the civilians out of there--”
Caprice blinked. “Why? I thought our mission was to take these terrorists out. If we start trying to evacuate civilians we might warn them.”
“They wouldn’t stay open on a Friday anyway,” said Hammer.
Caprice shrugged. “Hey, I’m just trying to think about how to pull this off successfully after the last debacle.”
“And I’m just trying to be a human being,” said Hammer.
“And what are you going to do?” asked Archive.
Hammer jangled a pouch full of Dinars. “I’m going to buy me a liquor store.”
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Monday, 4th August, 2008, 11:55 AM #242
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 6 – Trojan Horse
Hammer entered the liquor store. The proprietor looked him up and down.
“We’re closing for the evening,” the man said in Arabic.
“You are not open on Fridays?”
The proprietor snorted. “No sane man would be these days.”
“I am not a sane man,” said Hammer. He clinked the pouch full of dinars on the counter. “I would like the shop to stay open.”
The man’s eyebrow shot up. “Oh?”
“I’m willing to pay you for it. Seven thousand dinars.”
The proprietor laughed. “You are an American, yes?”
Hammer was taken aback. “Why do you ask?”
The proprietor put up one hand. “It’s not your accent. Your Arabic is excellent. It’s your methods. You Americans think you can buy anything.”
Hammer started to pull the pouch back when the proprietor put his hand over it.
“But that does not mean I am not a reasonable man. For ten thousand dinars you can have the store.”
Hammer released his grip on the pouch. “You would give it up so easily?”
The proprietor shrugged. “Until Iraq becomes more stable, I’ve been looking for a new line of work that’s…less dangerous.” He quickly counted through the dinars. “This will do nicely.”
The proprietor concealed the pouch in his robes. “Be careful, my American friend,” he said at the doorway. “No matter how prepared you are, a cornered rat is still a rat.”
Hammer thought about that as he started prepping the shop for Friday.
Tuesday, 5th August, 2008, 11:46 AM #243
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 7 – Surveillance Team
Friday passed uneventfully until six o’clock, when a suspicious character walked into the store.
He looked around for a few minutes, then bought a bottle of cheap, homemade Iraqi Gin.
Hammer tapped his cistron. “You see him?”
“I saw him,” said Caprice, who was getting tired of sitting on a roof for nearly a day straight.
“I’m on it,” said Archive.
A half hour later, Caprice reported in. “There’s an incoming vehicle, driving by at a relatively low rate of speed every half hour.”
“You sure Hotpants?”
“I saw it too,” said Archive. ”I lost the guy I was tailing. But I just saw him again in the back of that car.”
Hammer tried to act casual, watching the entrance to the store. “Lay low,” he said. “That’s a surveillance team. They’re checking to see if it’s a trap.”
The waiting was interminable. Finally, Archive spoke up. “Think they saw us?”
“Don’t think so,” said Caprice. “They just shot off a red flare.”
“What does a red flare mean?” asked Archive.
There was a pause. “Judging by the three motorcycles riding towards us, I don’t think it matters.”
Wednesday, 6th August, 2008, 12:14 PM #244
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 8 – Hit Team
The hit team consisted of six men riding three motorcycles. The first two carried a driver and a gunner armed with an AK-47.
Hammer and Archive flanked the motorcycles as they approached. Archive tossed a tear gas grenade at the first driver as Hammer fired both Glocks at the second driver.
People screamed and dove to the side as all hell broke loose. The AK-47s fired aimlessly into the smoke and dust. One of the motorcycles fell over. The other motorcyclist was incapacitated from Archive’s grenade.
“Hotpants!” shouted Hammer. “The third one’s got a Stinger!”
“Where?” shouted Caprice, scanning through the sight of his sniper rifle. “I don’t see it!”
The two motorcycles in the front were a screen for the two man team with a Stinger. The second man lifted the Stinger to his shoulder…
CRACK! The man’s head bobbed backwards in a spray of red as Caprice’s bullet found its mark.
The man lolled backwards, the Stinger still at his shoulder. In the terrorist’s death spasm his finger clutched the trigger…
FWOOSH! The Stinger rocketed into the air.
Hammer craned his neck at the sound. “Oh no…GET OUT OF THE WAY!” he shouted to the crowd in Arabic.
The remaining bystanders who hadn’t already fled scattered. Archive grabbed one of the men he had knocked unconscious and dragged him to safety.
Two of the terrorists, eyes watering, reloaded their AK-47s to spray anyone around them. The whistling of a rocket above caused them to look up.
The explosion engulfed most of the street, flattening stalls and setting inventory ablaze.
“So much for being a human being,” muttered Caprice.
Thursday, 7th August, 2008, 11:46 AM #245
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 9 – Roadside
The captured terrorist was dropped off at an abandoned warehouse. Hammer was snapping on his gloves when they got a call to defuse an IED. An alert patrol of U.S. Marines had spotted an abandoned car on the side of the road.
“Why us?” asked Archive.
“Sprague didn’t say,” said Hammer. He was aggravated about missing the opportunity to interrogate a terrorist.
“It’s not like we have expertise in defusing bombs…” began Archive.
Caprice cleared his throat. “Actually, I do.” He grabbed a pair of binoculars from Archive. “Looks like it’s on the front seat. The device is composed of a cell phone, which acts as the detonator.”
“Detonator for what?” asked Archive.
“Take your pick,” said Caprice. “It’s connected to a satchel filled with explosives. The back seat of the car is filled with metal gas cans and bags of nails.” He stood up from behind the concrete barricade. “I’m going in.”
“Are you serious?” Archive looked at Caprice in disbelief.
“I don’t see anyone else around here who knows how to do this,” said Caprice.
Hammer nodded. “Hotpants is right. My area of expertise was back at the warehouse.”
Caprice donned bomb-defusing gear and crept his way towards the abandoned car. Archive shook his head at the thought of disarming a bomb and went back to scanning the road with his binoculars.
Caprice reached the car and set to work disabling the cell phone.
“It should be a simple matter of disabling the cell phone—“ began Caprice over his mic.
“Uh oh,” said Archive.
“Uh oh?” asked Caprice. “This is really not a time when I want to hear those words.”
“Car, twelve o’clock!” shouted Archive.
A car careened down the road at high speed toward the road block and the IED.
“I’m on it,” said Hammer. He calmly climbed over the concrete barriers and took aim with his Glock.
“If he’s got the detonator…” said Archive.
“Not. HELPING,” hissed Caprice as he fiddled with the IED, a screwdriver in his teeth.
The Marines stationed with them unleashed a hail of fire on the vehicle, but it kept coming.
Hammer took careful aim and fired two shots.
“Wait!” shouted Caprice. He had just disabled the IED’s cell phone.
Hammer’s shots found their mark. The driver slumped over, his head hitting the horn as the car swerved to the left and crashed into a barrier. Its horn blared mournfully.
“It may be pressure release activated—“ was all Caprice got out before the explosion ripped through the barricade.
Friday, 8th August, 2008, 11:28 AM #246
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 10 – Crossfire
Thanks to the barricade, Archive and Hammer managed to survive but not without shrapnel wounds and severe burns. Caprice was far enough away that he escaped unscathed.
Sprague didn’t give them much time to recover. Ten days later they were in the middle of a convoy to Umm Qasr.
Hammer winced every time they hit a bump. “The terrorist we captured was a dockworker who was smuggling explosives into the country. We think Saladin may be there.”
“So SINNER’s plan is actually working?” Caprice shook his head in disbelief.
“I’ll believe it when I see it,” said Hammer.
There was the familiar sound of a shrieking rocket and the truck ahead of them exploded in a ball of flames.
“Ambush!’ shouted Archive. He swerved the truck to the side, momentarily forgetting his wounds.
A second later the truck behind them exploded. Gunfire pierced their truck.
Caprice was ready this time. He lifted a Stinger over one shoulder and propped it on the hood of a truck.
“This is Agent Archive,” he shouted into the cistron. “We are under attack. Requesting air support!”
Hammer sprayed the area with gunfire while Caprice locked and loaded the Stinger.
FWOOSH! The rocket struck a group of the ambushers, scattering them.
“Ha!” shouted Caprice. “Not so tough now are ya?”
Suddenly the hills to either side of them sprung up with dozens of terrorists armed with AK-47s and Stingers.
“You had to say that, didn’t you?” Hammer lowered his pistols. There was no point. They were outnumbered.
The thudding of a helicopter caused their attackers to look over their shoulders.
Rattling gunfire heralded the arrival of Archive’s backup. A Blackhawk helicopter armed with two M240H machineguns tore through the ranks of the terrorists.
One of the Marines in the chopper waved at them as they went past. Hammer waved back.
Archive tired to put the truck in drive, but the gears shrieked. “Too much shrapnel,” he said.
“Now what?” asked Caprice.
Hammer reloaded his pistols. “Gear up,” he said. “We’re going to catch ourselves a terrorist.”
Sunday, 10th August, 2008, 03:03 AM #247
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Part 11 – Warehouse Assault
Hammer and Archive came in from one side while Caprice snuck in from the other.
Terrorists were pacing the warehouse, stock full with munitions. Crates were everywhere with warning signs in every conceivable language. Caprice couldn’t read them all, but he knew they were bad news.
He stealthy padded from one large crate to another. Standing on one of the largest collection of crates was the terrorist known only as Saladin. He was a handsome, tall Arabic man in his early 50’s. He had a well-tanned complexion and distinguished and noble looking face, with sharp features and an immaculately kept beard.
Caprice came up behind the nearest terrorist toting an AK-47 and raised his knife…
Catching sight of Caprice’s attack out of the corner of his eye, the terrorist whirled and lifted his rifle, blocking the blow. Caprice hurled the assault weapon out of the man’s grip.
The terrorist drew his own knife. For a second the two attackers sized each other up. Holding the knife’s handle outwards with the blade flanking his forearm, Caprice blocked the first knife slash. The two opponents blocked and slashed, parrying each other’s knives as deftly as two fencers.
Caprice’s arm darted outwards and slashed the terrorist’s chest. The man groaned in pain.
Gunfire erupted on the other side of the warehouse. They had found Archive and Hammer.
Caprice made a quick stabbing motion and pierced the man’s clothing. The terrorist backed up, then pressed the offensive with a flurry of knife blows.
Caprice slashed the man’s wrist, but he kept coming. The terrorist kicked Caprice backwards. He windmilled and nearly lost his footing, but the terrorist continued his knife assault.
Caprice was forced to hop backwards. They were making their way slowly up a series of stacked crates. He sensed the edge of the crate at his heels.
With no other choice, Caprice grabbed the terrorist’s knife arm just as his assailant grabbed Caprice by the wrist. They struggled on the crate, knives inches away from faces.
The knife quivered near Caprice’s eye. It was so close…
Caprice bit down on the knife with his teeth. Releasing his hand from the terrorist’s arm, Caprice jabbed his thumb into his opponent’s eye. The man screamed.
Caprice stabbed him through the forehead. The terrorist’s body fell over the edge of the crate to the ground.
An explosion shattered one of the crates, spreading burning embers everywhere. On top of the main crate, Saladin and Hammer were engaged in their own duel to the death.
Only it couldn’t be to the death. They needed him alive.
Caprice grabbed the dead man’s AK-47 and took careful aim. He squeezed off a shot…
Saladin jerked as it struck home. Archive, down below the crates, grabbed Saladin by his heels and pulled. The man smashed into the crate and bounced off of it.
“Go go go!” shouted Hammer. He and Archive were limping out of the warehouse with Saladin in tow.
Another explosion tore through the warehouse as the embers found purchase. Caprice dove off the docks into the water just as the flames blasted over its surface.
Sunday, 10th August, 2008, 02:57 PM #248
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Operation Countdown: Conclusion
The Marines picked them up and transported Hammer, Archive, Caprice, and Saladin back to a nearby base.
“There’s one thing I want to ask you,” said Hammer in Arabic. The Marines exchanged glances but said nothing.
Saladin leaned forward, curious. “Yes?”
“Who is the Karotechia?”
Saladin’s features went blank. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He leaned back into his seat and refused to answer any questions after that.
When they reached the base, Saladin was packed into a truck in handcuffs. It drove out of sight.
Their cistrons beeped. Hammer picked it up.
“Mission accomplished,” he said.
“Trying to be funny?” asked Sprague. “I thought I told you to bring him back ALIVE.”
“It’s unfortunate that Saladin died in the explosion,” said Sprague with a straight face. “But then I shouldn’t expect much from a team that caused an international incident.” Sprague shook his head. “Fortunately, somebody above me likes you, so you won’t be disavowed. This time.”
The cistrons winked out.
“What the hell?” Caprice grumbled. “Did he have a stroke or something?”
Archive shook his head. “I think that was code for never-speak-of-this-again.”
Hammer nodded. “Far as we’re concerned, Saladin died in the explosion, just as he said. That’s what I’ll put in my report.”
“So we went through all that trouble to capture this guy, and now we’re going to pretend we never caught him?” Caprice kicked a nearby garbage can. “This job sucks, man.”
“Who knows?” Hammer shrugged. “Saladin may well wish he was dead by the time Majestic-12 is done with him. But I know one thing for sure – he knows more about this Karotechia group than he’s letting on.”
“Great,” said Archive. “Can we go home now?”
Monday, 11th August, 2008, 12:07 PM #249
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
The House on McKinley Boulevard: Introduction
This scenario, “The House on McKinley Boulevard,” is a Cthulhu Now scenario from Chaosium’s Last Rites. 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:
As is probably evident by now, I’m a fan of action horror. There’s a lot to be learned from horror movies in this regard, who have to cram in character development, dread, potential victims, an obstacle or monster to be overcome, and a resolution in just two hours. I’ve also discovered that movies that move the plot along quickly are less likely to strain credibility. The scenario states that, “as the danger in the house becomes more apparent, the investigators may try to get the squatters to leave, perhaps offering them money to do so, or attempting Fast Talk and Persuade rolls against each individual. Try to avoid this. The resident’s psychologies and quirks make convincing excuses…” This is exactly what the agents did, but since I accelerated the threat it was less of a problem.
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero) played by George Webster
- Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
I’ve stated before that haunted house scenarios really don’t work in role-playing games. At best, if the house is viewed as a threat, the PCs just leave and blow it up. At worst, if the PCs are trapped in the house, they smash their way through a wall and leave. So for a haunted house scenario to work, there must be 1) a reason to stay beyond physical barriers, and 2) events have to happen quickly before the National Guard is called in.
Using these two tenets, I introduced the various squatters as typical horror movie victims. Thus we have the Stoner, the Hysterical Girl, the Fearless Kid, and the Doubting Authority Figure (or in this case, anti-authority figure). These victims in turn gave the agents a reason to stick around as opposed to just calling for backup.
This scenario is essentially one of the “mini-monsters attack” movie plots. After rooting around on the Internet for awhile, I found The Gate, a bad 80s horror movie that suited my needs perfectly. It had everything from little demons attacking people to a summoning gone awry, to a giant monster at the end.
This scenario also worked best because it had only two agents in it, raising the stakes and reinforcing the terror. If one agent went down, they both went down.
Defining Moment: The hole to the temple goes from spitting things out to sucking things into it, and Hammer and Archive are trapped in tight confines, surrounded by little monsters in the dark.
Tuesday, 12th August, 2008, 12:52 PM #250
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
McKinley Boulevard: Prologue
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our…
Something tells you that you’ve got to get away from it
--Our House by MadnessThen there was a great cracking sound behind Archive and then he awoke in his bed.Archive approached an old Norman-Style Victorian home of three stories. Most of the windows and doors were boarded up. A few plywood panels seemed to have come loose and fallen away from second story and attic windows, or perhaps been kicked away to let in light.
He pressed on the thick oak and iron front door and it swung open. Inside, the rooms were extremely dark. A little light came in around the window boards, just enough to make out the general layout of the rooms.
As Archive glance into the dining room, he could make out a huge table. It was covered with recently eaten food and drink. He could hear laughing and talking in the distance.
But it was just a television. On the screen, a nude man sacrificed a dog, spilling its blood over a hole in the ground. He chanted “Ftaghn, N’kai, Zhothaqquah, Zhothaqquah, Zhothaqquah!”
The cultist repeated the process, this time with a screaming little girl dressed in a nightgown. He slit her throat, and as the blood leaked the shadow of something rose up, looming over the cultist.
“No…I summoned you!” shouted the cultist. He reached for a battle club.
“Get back!” he shouted as the shadow covered him completely. “Get back!”
Just then the movie paused for a commercial break.
Archive climbed the steps to another room, passing strange sigils carved into the walls.
He was in a child’s room. In it was a large white rocket labeled the Thunderbolt. Next to it was a box that reads, “SUR-LAUNCH. Compact launch system. Eliminates fuses. No false starts. Lift off today!”
The crying of a little girl reached his ears. It was coming from downstairs.
Intrigued, Archive clambered back down the steps. The crying was coming from the drawing room, specifically a large chair in one corner.
Archive leaned down to take a look. The sound was actually coming from a doll. The doll bleated pathetically for its mother over and over.
Archived picked it up. The doll’s eyes flicked open.
“He’s awake,” it whispered.