Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 31
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    Last Rites: Part 3b – The Smith Home

    Guppy and Archive peeked around the corner of the Smith house. There was no one there. The savage wind whipped the trees and bushes.

    Then a monstrous mottled form lurched into view. It was a walking corpse, bloated from its time in the water. It had no face, the eyes and nose long since rotted away to form a death mask. A chainsaw was gripped in both hands. With a sharp jerk, it buzzed to life.

    "What the hell?" sputtered Guppy. "Why does it have a chainsaw?"

    Ettringer ran past him screaming, stopping short at the sight of the hulking behemoth before him. His mouth clamped shut and he ran back towards Guppy and Archive.

    "Keep it away from me!"

    Guppy drew his pistol and fired twice. The bullets made little "puft" sounds as they penetrated the walking corpse. The only response was that water streamed out of the holes. It kept coming, holding the buzzing chainsaw over its head.

    Archive drew his own Glock and took aim. They gave up ground one step at a time, firing as they went, keeping the plodding corpse at a few feet distant.

    "What makes you think that's going to work?" asked Guppy.

    "Magic," said Archive with a smirk. He took careful aim with the enchanted Glock and aimed at the thing's forehead. Archive pulled the trigger.

    The chainsaw-wielding zombie's head snapped back. Then it slowly looked turned to look at Archive, murderous hate in its eyes.

    Ettringer fell to the ground, gibbering in terror. Guppy was torn between keeping his distance from the thing and abandoning Ettringer.

    “Shoot the chainsaw!” shouted Guppy. He took careful aim and fired his Beretta. It ricocheted off the spinning blade.

    The chainsaw swung sideways, badly gashing Guppy's arm and slamming him into the side of the house. He fell to the ground, unconscious.

    Archive held up the amulet of the Elder Sign that he wore around his throat. "I invoke the power of the Elder—"

    The chainsaw struck a glancing blow on Archive's shoulder. He screamed and dropped the Elder Sign, tripping over Ettringer. Ettringer crawled over him.

    The corpse that was formerly Henry loomed over Archive with chainsaw held high.

    It was interrupted by the sputtering fire of two Glocks on full auto. Hammer smashed through the second story window, flipping through the air as he fired. He landed on his feet, still firing.

    The bullets ravaged Henry’s corpse, but it didn’t slow him down. He simply turned and, revving the chainsaw, advanced on Hammer.

    Hammer stood his ground. He kept firing, bullet after bullet, until click-click-click was all that came out of his Glocks. He was out of ammunition and time.

    Once again, the corpse raised up the chainsaw. Hammer didn’t flinch.

    SPTANG! Gas spilled from the tank of the chainsaw as a bullet perforated it. The chainsaw sputtered and died.

    Henry looked for the source. Above him, Jim-Bean was leaning out the window with his G36C extended.

    Shaking the chainsaw in confusion, the zombie dropped it in front of Hammer. Hammer coolly reloaded his Glocks.

    Henry’s corpse reached over its shoulder…and pulled a wicked-looking machete out of a sheath on its back.

    “He carries backup weapons?” asked Jim-Bean in surprise. “Does this thing have a Home Depot card or what?”

    Ettringer screamed, and Henry’s corpse turned to stump its way towards the doctor. On his hands and knees, Ettringer crawled around the corner.

    Hammer emptied another two clips into the thing’s back as it walked. “I can’t stop it!”

    “I don’t think anyone can.” Jim-Bean climbed down out of the window.

    Ettringer and Henry’s corpse turned the corner of the house. There was another scream.

    “Ettringer!” shouted Hammer, jogging up to the side of the house.

    Ettringer’s head rolled around the corner. Of Henry’s corpse there was no sign.

    “Now what?” asked Hammer.

    “Where else?” said Jim-Bean, helping Guppy to his feet. “The Springer place.”
    Last edited by talien; Thursday, 2nd December, 2010 at 07:18 PM.

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    Last Rites: Part 4 – The Showdown

    “Federal agents! Open up!” came Hammer’s voice from the other side of the partially ajar door to the Springer household. It was a massive place, a mansion, with sweeping steps that curved up both sides.

    When there was no answer, Hammer kicked open the door, both pistols at the ready.

    Hammer crept into the room. The other agents filed in behind him.

    The place looked as if it had been hit by an earthquake. A marble pillar was collapsed on one side of the room, and cracked statuary was everywhere. A rumpled red carpet was splayed out the length of the hallway into the room. Oil lamps flickered up and down the length of the upper level.

    “Something very bad went down here,” said Jim-Bean. “And I don’t think it was Henry.”

    “You’re right,” said a young woman’s voice from atop the balcony. “It was me.”

    Lucy Ennis, her long dark hair covering much of her face, leaned over the banister.

    “Lucy?” asked Jim-Bean. “Lucy Ennis?”

    The door slammed shut behind them. Then the multiple deadlocks and bolts locked the door, seemingly of their own volition.

    “He won’t stop,” whispered Lucy. “I can’t stop him. No one can.”

    “Who?” asked Jim-Bean. He started making his way up the steps along the left side of the stairwell. “Henry? Your father?”

    She slowly nodded.

    “What happened to Bernadette Springer?” asked Hammer. “This is her place…”

    Lucy pointed up at the ceiling.

    An old woman hung from the chandelier, a cord tied around her throat. Her tongue stuck out from her mouth, her face purple.

    “She killed herself?” asked Guppy.

    Lucy shook her head. There was no way the woman could have hung herself from that height without assistance; the chandelier was over twenty feet off the floor.

    “Lucy,” said Jim-Bean, almost close enough to touch her. “I understand your pain. I’ve been there. I was a patient of Dr. Ettringer’s—“

    WHAM! The door shuddered off its hinges.

    “He’s here,” said Lucy.

    WHAM! The door buckled as hinges shrieked under the unstoppable force.

    “Positions!” shouted Hammer, directing Archive and Hammer to either side of the door.

    WHAM! The door blew through the hallway, smashing into the far wall. Plaster and dust filled the room.

    Father and daughter were united. Henry Ennis stood, the machete in one hand, gore dripping from the blade.

    “Fire!” shouted Hammer.

    Hammer, Archive, and Guppy unleashed their pistols at the thing. Henry barely jerked from the multiple impact.

    “You knew about the orphanage!” shouted Lucy. “You knew about the cult all along!”

    “He moves slowly,” said Hammer, shouting over his shoulder at Guppy. “So keep backing up and—“

    “Hammer, look out!’ shouted Archive.

    Henry was right in front of him, somehow closing the distance without making a sound. The machete lifted up.

    “Duck!” shouted Jim-Bean.

    Hammer ducked just as the marble pillar whistled through the air. It smashed into Henry across his upper torso, slamming him into the side of the right stairwell.

    Hammer looked up at Jim-Bean in disbelief. “Did you do that?”

    Jim-Bean shook his head and pointed at Lucy. The power that Lucy was exercising was far beyond what he’d ever witnessed at the Psychic Research Association. He’d seen spoon-bending, maybe shifting a box of matches around on a table. But this…this was off the charts.

    The rubble at the stairwell shifted.

    “Archive, get down!” shouted Hammer.

    But it was too late. Henry hurled the pillar off of him and it struck a glancing blow, clipping Archive’s shoulder. He spun and fell.

    “You sold poor Sophie to that bastard at the orphanage,” shouted Lucy, “in exchange for his silence!”

    One of the marble statues whistled through the air, smashing into Henry’s head. The zombie paid it no mind as it turned and began to advance up the steps towards Guppy.

    “Uh...guys?” squeaked Guppy.

    “Jason’s potion really did its job,” shouted Lucy. “Too well. I should have left your dead body at the bottom of the lake when I drowned you the first time!”

    “The first time?” asked Jim-Bean with an arched eyebrow. He slowly drew his SIG Sauer.

    “It’s got to have a weakness!” Guppy stumbled backwards as Henry climbed the steps. “Maybe fire!” He grabbed one of the oil lamps off the wall and hurled it at the zombie.

    It was a perfect shot, the oil lamp smashing over the corpse of Henry’s head. The head burst into flames.

    But it kept coming. A grinning skull, its eye sockets vacant and wreathed in fire took a swipe at Guppy as if he were an irritating gnat.

    The machete smacked Guppy sideways, hurling him down the steps. He lay still at the bottom.

    “I blame myself,” said Lucy. “I should have known you wouldn’t be able to stop killing.”

    Cracks appeared in the marble steps in front and behind of Henry. The zombie looked down…

    And then was plunged thirty feet below into the basement.

    Lucy didn’t notice Jim-Bean, her dirty hair clouding her vision and her brow furrowed in concentration as she glared down into the hole her telekinesis had created.

    One bullet in her head and Jim-Bean could end it. He was convinced that Henry’s rampage was somehow tied to her. But if he was wrong he’d have killed an innocent teenager for nothing.

    He kept her talking. “Lucy? What did you do to Henry?”

    “I squeezed him…” she didn’t look at Jim-Bean. “Then I squeezed the furnace.”

    The familiar sound of screws firing off of the boiler down below signaled what Lucy meant. She was superheating the furnace to critical mass.

    Hammer ran over and dragged Guppy off the steps as the masonry continued to crumble inwards.

    Jim-Bean’s finger tensed on the trigger.

    “Jim-Bean! Grab Archive!”

    Jim-Bean yanked back his pistol, swearing quietly to himself, and ran over to pick up Archive.

    “What about the girl?” asked Jim-Bean.

    Hammer had Guppy hoisted over his shoulders in a fireman’s carry. “Forget her! This place is going to blow!”

    They jogged out the back door, under the balcony, just as the boiler exploded.

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    Last Rites: Part 5 – Daddy’s Home

    Lucy calmly stepped out of the house as the roof collapsed. Debris seemed to avoid her, despite falling shingles, splinters, and beams.

    She took a few steps towards the docks and the agents and then fell to her knees. “It’s over! It’s finally over!”

    Jim-Bean put Archive down on the ground next to Guppy. Hammer ran to get the van.

    “Lucy, I know people who can help you.” He took her hand. “If you’ll come with me…”

    There was a groan from the flaming wreckage.

    “Oh no,” said Lucy quietly. “Oh no.”

    Jim-Bean looked up.

    A smoldering hand shoved a section of the roof aside.

    “You’ve got to be kidding me,” said Jim-Bean. “C’mon kid, let’s go, we’ve got a van…”

    Lucy shook her head. “We can’t stop it! We can’t stop it!” she pressed something into Jim-Bean’s hand, then shoved off of him. Lucy backed up towards the dock. “He’ll never stop! What the hell was in that vial?”

    “What vial?” asked Jim-Bean in vain. “Who’s Jason?”

    “It’s too late for that,” said Lucy. “It’s too late for everything.” She whirled to face the relentless corpse of Henry. “Come on dad! What are you waiting for?”

    Henry rose up out of the wreckage. With one shuddering step after another, it pounded towards her.

    “Lucy it doesn’t have to be this way,” said Jim-Bean. He drew his SIG. “If we can get enough firepower—“

    “There’s not enough firepower in the world to stop dear old dad. But I know how.” She glared from beneath her tangle of black hair at the undead figure. “I did it once and I can do it again.”

    She backed up onto the dock. Henry followed her until she reached the end. She stopped.

    The corpse stood, flesh crackling, its bright white skull grinning at her. Hands clenched and unclenched; if it was indecision or Henry was merely savoring his revenge, Jim-Bean couldn’t tell.

    “I’m sorry daddy,” whispered Lucy.

    Then the entire dock folded in on itself like a ruler cracked over God’s knee. Both ends smashed together and it sank nearly instantaneously into the depths of the ocean, leaving only red bubbles in its wake.

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    Last Rites: Conclusion

    “Any luck?” asked Hammer.

    “Found an email from Jason, but that’s it,” said Jim-Bean. "It’s vague – talks about a potion given to him by someone else, who he doesn’t identify. It was sent through an anonymous remailer and encrypted. The Redlight boys are working on it.”

    “And her psychic powers?” asked Archive.

    “Dr. Ettringer knew about them,” said Jim-Bean. He kept the latent memory that had surfaced to himself. “He convinced Lucy’s mother to have her committed to Arkham Asylum so he could keep conducting his field experiments. As a Majestic-12 friendly, he recruited psychic talent; sort of like an American version of the PRA.”

    “I want to know how Lucy found out about Sophie,” said Archive with a frown. “The only people who knew about that were me and Hammer.”

    Guppy tapped on his cistron. “It’s in your report.” He tapped a few more keys. “Looks like Ettringer was granted special access to review your file when he did a keyword search on ‘Ennis’.”

    “That son of a bitch,” snarled Jim-Bean. “So he KNEW what would happen! He was pushing her and that was the only way he could get Lucy to use her powers…”

    “Thus the ‘field trip’ to Runville. Don’t tell me,” Hammer addressed Guppy. “He read our file on Robert Monroe-Tyler too.”

    Guppy nodded. “Yep.”

    “So Ettringer has all the right ingredients,” said Jim-Bean. “He finds out about Sophie’s murder at the Labib Orphanage and learns the names of the cultists from your mission logs. Add one an angry latent psychic and stir to a boil.”

    “But he didn’t count on this Jason person and his magic potion,” said Hammer. “Or whatever the hell that vial is. Did we get anything off the corpse?”

    “Redlight confiscated it,” said Guppy. “We’ll be lucky if they tell us anything.”

    “Yeah, right,” said Jim-Bean.

    Jim-Bean patted the pocket where Lucy’s thumb drive was, the one she pressed into his palm just before her death. There was an entire book titled Flagitious Fragments. Written verbosely and containing long passages of unsettling descriptions, the book explained how to nurture latent psychic abilities.

    It was one piece of evidence Majestic-12 wasn’t going to learn about.
    Last edited by talien; Tuesday, 17th March, 2009 at 02:49 PM.

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    Chapter 22: Silicon Dreams - Introduction

    This scenario, “Silicon Dreams,” is a GURPS Black Ops scenario from Pyramid Magazine by Jonathan Souza. You can read more about Delta Green at Delta Green. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

    Our cast of characters includes:

    • Game Master: Michael Tresca
    • Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz
    • Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
    • Hank “Guppy” Gupta (Smart Hero/Field Scientist) played by [bJoseph Tresca[/b]
      (creepyportfolio.com)
    • Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster
    Silicon Dreams is another one of those scenarios that’s big on ideas but doesn’t have much advice on how to execute them. The plot revolves around the unfortunately named Morgana Lafayette. Her supposed connection to the Greys is what propels the rest of the scenario.

    In actual play, the agents had absolutely no interest in Morgana. While she was admittedly a key person, there were a lot of other key people to focus on, specifically the ones in power like the CEO. The agents put together their usual infiltration plan, led by Guppy and Jim-Bean, except that it didn’t work out as well as they hoped. Then I turned the tables on them. After nearly killing the agents, I pressed them for time to keep the plot moving along, which required some drastic measures on the part of the team.

    And then they did what they always planned to do: an out-and-out raid on the bad guys’ headquarters. Which was what I wanted all along, but it wasn’t entirely clear how the agents get from Point A (Morgana) to Point B (raid). Although there was quite a bit of explosions, I got the agents to that point anyway.

    When we came to the big finale, I was very pleased. I removed the open conflict with Greys (for obvious reasons, if you know Delta Green) and replaced it with the creepy ending to Hangar 18. Hangar 18’s aliens were pretty terrible, but the rest of the movie creeped me out for years after I saw it. I wanted to reproduce that bizarreness, as well as remind the agents that they are dealing with something far more sinister than UFOs.

    Defining Moment: Jim-Bean, realizing that Archive can heal himself, forces a surgeon in mid-surgery to release him.

    Relevant Media
    • Silicon Dreams: from Pyramid. If you play in any sort of modern game and need resources, you can't beat Pyramid.
    • Yours Truly, 2095: I heard this song on the radio as a little kid and it stuck with me forever -- the computerized voice in a song was new at the time.
    • Hangar 18: A really cool concept for a movie, marred by goofy looking aliens and some oddly light moments in the script.

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    Silicon Dreams: Prologue

    I sent a message to another time
    But as the days unwind, this I just can’t believe
    I sent a note across another plane
    Maybe it’s all a game, but this I just can’t conceive.

    --Your Truly, 2095 by ELO
    BOSTON, MA--Sprague’s feathered haircut and piercing eyes filled the team’s cistrons.

    “A few days ago, Centurion Computing Systems released a new palmtop computer called the Centex. This computer is equal or better to the Cistron that we issue to Majestic-12 agents. In addition, we've been hearing reports from inside that they're going to release new technologies that are equal or better to our own. There's a suspicion of possible interference by extra-terrestrial influences. You're to discover if this is due to extraterrestrial influences or possible compromise by someone in Majestic-12. Guppy, you’re mission leader.”

    Sprague’s image winked out. The other agents looked at Guppy.

    “Wow, big time for you, huh?” asked Jim-Bean.

    Guppy jutted his chin out. “It makes sense. I am the technology guy!”

    “Sure, sure,” said Hammer. “So what’s the plan, Mission Leader?”

    “Give me a minute.” Guppy tapped away on his favorite keyboard within the team’s van. “Ah, okay. Here we go: Centurion Computing Systems started up in San Francisco. It has twenty-two employees. None of them are Majestic-12 front companies either.”

    “So we’re off to San Francisco?” asked Hammer. “That’s on the other side of the continent!”

    Guppy shook his head. “They recently moved into a new office complex in Samson.”

    “Still on the other side of the continent,” muttered Hammer.

    “Who’s the CEO?” asked Jim-Bean.

    “There are four top people: The head of CCS, Walter Morrow; his two best friends Nick Allyson and Wang-Li Gi; and the girl that gave them the garage to work in, Lisa Patterson. They’re the inventive and creative parts of CCS.”

    “A regular Apple,” smirked Hammer.

    “I’m going to put taps on all of them,” said Guppy. “But in the mean time, we have to get to Samson, CA as soon as possible.”

    Archive leaned back in his seat. “And how, exactly, are we going to get there? It’ll take forever to drive…”

    “The gas is too expensive,” said Guppy. “Sprague would never approve it. I’m going to call in SPIDER transport.”

    Jim-Bean cocked his head. “SPIDER transport? What the hell is that?”

    Hammer sighed. “You’ll see.”

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 1 — SPIDER Webs

    SAMSON, CA—“That was…horrible,” said Jim-Bean, cracking his neck.

    “We got here in twenty-four hours, didn’t we?” muttered Guppy.

    “Sure,” said Jim-Bean. “But a bus? And a cargo plane with chickens in it? I thought the cabin was going to depressurize there…”

    Archive looked a little green. “I could do without the HALO drop at the end.”

    “We’re here,” said Guppy, checking his cistron. “Nothing much on the taps. Just a mixture of work e-mail, bad jokes and stories, and some erotic commentary about the relationships in the office.”

    “Yeah, hilarious,” said Hammer. “Now what?”

    Guppy held up one hand. “Uh oh. Get a load of this.” He uploaded the GNN stream to their cistrons.

    “…CCS just announced a new computer system known as the Navi. According to reports, the Navi has unparalleled processing power and will be released later this month.”

    “That can’t be good,” said Archive.”

    Guppy shook his head. “We’re going to have to see this technology up close. We’ll need to get into their headquarters.”

    Jim-Bean grinned. “My specialty. I can whip up fake IDs for all of us. Who would you like to be today?”

    Hammer rolled his eyes. “Just make me your driver.”

    Archive cleared his throat. “Uhm…what do you mean, exactly?”

    Jim-Bean looked Archive up and down. “On second thought, you can be my bodyguard. Guppy, you’re my chief technologist. I’m multi-billionaire playboy Bean Jaxter. Can you spread some press releases about me to make it look convincing?”

    “Sure,” said Guppy hesitantly. “But that will all be recent…”

    Jim-Bean waved him off. “Ask SINNER to hack some GNN sites. Let’s go back three months at least. Too bad me dear old mum just kicked and left me this huge fortune.”

    Archive was aghast. “Do these plans actually succeed?”

    “Rarely.” Hammer checked both of his Glocks. “That’s why I carry these.”

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 2—The Bluff

    A black limousine pulled up to the non-descript headquarters for CCS. Hammer was in the driver’s seat dressed like a limo driver. Archive sat next to him dressed in a security uniform. In the back, Guppy and Jim-Bean wore tailored suits.

    Hammer lowered the driver’s side window. “Mr. Jaxter here to see a Mr. Morrow.”

    The security guard looked askance at the limo. Hammer noted that there were tired shredders in addition to the gate barring their entrance. CCS took its security seriously.

    “ID please?”

    Hammer handed him the forged papers. Majestic-12’s covers were usually impenetrable.

    The security guard picked up a phone. There was a lot of “uh huhs,” and “yeahs,” and then finally an “okay, I’ll tell them.” He turned back to Hammer. “Mr. Jaxter’s busy right now but he’s happy to make an appointment.”

    They expected this. Jim-Bean rolled down the window. “Who is this?” he shouted in his best eurotrash accent. “Who are these people? Why are they not letting us in?”

    “Sorry sir,” said Hammer, feigning discomfort. “I’m sure they’ll let us in.”

    “You!” Jim-Bean pointed at the security guard. “Who are you?”

    “Me, sir?” The guard stuttered. “I-I’m afraid I can’t let you in without an appointment.”

    “An appointment? Are you serious? Do you know who I am?” Jim-Bean threw up his hands. “Do you know who I have with me? I heard about this Navi system and I want in!”

    “You’re welcome to call Mr. Morrow’s office…”

    “No,” said Jim-Bean curtly. “I don’t not feel very welcome at all!” He whirled and pointed at Hammer from inside the limousine. “You! Get this insolent cur on the phone!”

    “Right away sir.” Hammer leaned over to the security guard. “If you could give me the phone number?”

    The guard nodded and handed a card to him. Hammer punched in the number and handed the cell phone. Before he could answer, Jim-Bean leaned forward and snatched it from him.

    “Hello? Who is this?”

    “This is Mr. Morrow’s secretary,” said a husky feminine voice. “How may I help you sir?”

    “This is Mr. Jaxter! Perhaps you’ve heard of me? The billionaire? I saw the GNN press release about the Navi system and I want to speak with Mr. Morrow right now!”

    “I’m sorry sir, but you’ll have to make an appointment.”

    “An appointment?” Jim-Bean barked out a laugh. “I have one of the world’s most renowned computer specialists with me and he wants an appointment? What kind of operation is this?”

    The woman’s voice never wavered. She dealt with rude snobs all the time. “Sir, I’m sure Mr. Morrow is very interested in what you have to say, but I’m afraid you’ll have to make an appointment.”

    “I don’t believe this!” He threw the cell phone down on the ground and shouted at it. “You tell Mr. Morrow that when he finds time, he can call me at this number! I’ll be at the Frederico Steak House for the next few hours!” He kicked Hammer’s seat. “Drive! Get me away from this junk factory!”

    Hammer glowered at him. “Yes, sir.” Then he threw the limo in reverse and forcefully hit the gas, jarring Jim-Bean and Guppy.

    As they pulled away, Jim-Bean sighed. “I know, I deserved that.”

    The team kept up the façade at Frederico’s, eating steaks and drinking wine. Or at least, Guppy and Jim-Bean did. Hammer and Archive at their meals at a separate table.

    Still no call.

    They headed back to a swanky hotel room, large enough for all four of them.

    “Remember,” said Jim-Bean. “Don’t let yourself be seen walking the halls or it’ll blow our cover.”

    “Do you think we can afford this?” asked Guppy nervously. The CIFA credit card had taken several large hits in the name of Jim-Bean’s façade.

    “Think of it this way,” said Jim-Bean, wrapped in a silk robe. “I’m spending the money you saved on SPIDER transport.”

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 3a—Lucky Brakes

    The next day passed with no phone call.

    Guppy looked at his cistron. “Nothing on the taps. Nothing at all,” he said glumly.

    “Now what?” asked Hammer.

    “We should try again,” said Guppy. “Maybe announce a rival technology or something.”

    Jim-Bean waved him off. “Relax. These things take time. We have to really sell it. I’m sure they’ll come around.”

    “I’m not so sure,” said Hammer. “These guys aren’t as stupid as GNN. They’re suspicious of anybody interested in their technology. If they’re the real deal, they might not even care about the money.”

    They clambered into the limousine again. “Sooner or later, everybody cares about money,” said Jim-Bean. “They’ve got an aggressive release schedule. They must be burning cash like mad.”

    Hammer shifted gears and they took off down the hilly streets of Samson.

    “So what’s your plan this time?” asked Guppy.

    “This time you get on the phone,” said Jim-Bean. “Talk some techno babble at them, really dazzle them. Tell them something about alien technology that only someone like you would know. That should—“

    The car lurched.

    “Jesus!” exclaimed Jim-Bean, leaning forward to address Hammer. “I know you were mad at me for kicking the car yesterday but could you take it easy on the hills?”

    Hammer’s gloved hands were curled into fists on the steering wheel. “I’m trying!” He stomped on the brake pedal a few times. “No brakes!”

    “What?” asked Archive. “What do you mean no brakes?”

    “Try the emergency brake!” shouted Guppy.

    Archive grabbed the emergency brake lever with both hands and pulled. Nothing happened.

    “Someone cut the brakes!” said Archive.

    Horns honked as Hammer tore through a four-way intersection, blowing a stoplight. “Not…” said Hammer through gritted teeth, swerving the limo to avoid pedestrians, “…HELPING.”

    “Seatbelts!” Jim-Bean struggled to buckle himself in.

    Hammer pulled the wheel hard just as they reached another intersection at the end of a hill. A green sedan had the right of way. The driver swerved at the same time, but Hammer couldn’t apply the brakes. Tires shrieked as the limo tipped sideways. It struck the other car, which propelled the limo up in the air.

    They tumbled in slow motion. Then the ceiling crunched as the limo landed upside-down.

    Hammer struggled out of the car. Archive crawled out the other side.

    “The others all right?”

    Jim-Bean and Guppy helped each other out of the limousine. The smell of gas was everywhere. Helpful bystanders shouted to them, but the smoke made them hesitate. Other cars further back honked in irritation, not understanding the dire nature of the situation.

    An unmarked black van came screeching to a halt a few hundred feet away.

    “Is that our backup?” asked Guppy.

    “It would be,” Hammer drew his Glocks. “If any of us called for backup. Get down!”

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 3b—Lucky Brakes

    Four men in full SWAT assault uniforms and machineguns piled out of the van and began peppering the limousine with gunfire. The other agents fired back.

    “There are too many civilians!” shouted Hammer. “We have to get out of here!”

    Jim-Bean squeezed off a few shots in the direction of the black van. “And go where?” he shouted back. “They’re not going to just politely move to a deserted park.”

    “This is going to attract attention,” said Guppy nervously. He fired his Beretta blindly through the smoke at the hit squad. “If the GNN cameras show up…”

    “That’s it!” said Jim-Bean. “Guppy you’re a genius!” He flipped his cistron and dialed 911. “Hello? There’s a firefight going on in downtown Samson. Yeah! Corner of…can you see the sign?”

    Archive strained to see through the smoke. “Fifth and Ninth!”

    “Corner of Fifth and Ninth! Hurry, the two gangs are heavily armed!” To demonstrate his point, he held the cistron next to his SIG and fired it in the direction of the van.

    “What the hell did you do that for?” asked Hammer.

    “Who do you think has the better cover?” asked Jim-Bean. “The guys with the CIFA badges or the guys in the unmarked van armed to the teeth wearing bulletproof vests?”

    “Good point,” said Hammer. Bullets ricocheted near his head, forcing him to duck behind the limo.

    “Uh, guys…?” asked Guppy. “I think I smell gas.”

    He looked down. Gas was pooling at their feet.

    “Run!” shouted Hammer. He shoved Guppy in front of him and broke into a sprint just a spark ignited the limousine in a fireball.

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