Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED) - Page 32




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    Silicon Dreams: Part 4—Desperate Measures

    Jim-Bean sat up from the hospital bed. “Can I go now doc?”

    The Samson Hospital doctor on call shook his head. “I wouldn’t believe it if I didn’t see it with my own eyes. Not a scratch on you.”

    “Well I wouldn’t say not a scratch…”

    The doctor indicated Guppy, who was groggily stirring. “Fortunately for you whoever was trying to kill you fled the scene when the police arrived. Your friends weren’t quite as lucky. Mr. Gupta suffered second degree burns. We’ve given him something to handle the pain but he really shouldn’t be moved…”

    “Can he stand?”

    “Yes, but with the medication we gave him—“

    “He’ll be fine. What about Ham—I mean Grange?”

    “After you, he’s in better shape. Mr. Grange must have been at the perimeter of the blast.”

    Jim-Bean looked around. “Where’s Fontaine?”

    The doctor’s expression became grim. “Mr. Fontaine is in emergency surgery. We’re removing debris from his…”

    Jim-Bean hopped off the cot. “Sew him up.”

    “What?” The doctor shook his head. “You can’t just—“

    “I said sew him up,” said Jim-Bean. “Guppy, can you move?”

    Guppy groaned and slowly propped himself up on one elbow. “I…I think so.”

    “Now look here,” said the doctor, “I don’t know who you are but these men are in no condition to—“

    “We’re federal agents.” Jim-Bean moved to fish out his badge from his pockets, then realized he was in a hospital gown. “Where’s my things?”

    “We have them in a safe. We also notified the police, since you were carrying firearms.”

    Jim-Bean rolled his eyes. “With my gun is a badge. And that badge represents CIFA. And if you don’t release us right now I will have you all brought up on federal charges for obstructing an investigation. Now WHERE are my THINGS?”

    The doctor backed up and barked a command at a nurse. A few minutes later Jim-Bean had his clothes, his gun, and his badge back.

    Hammer joined him in the waiting room, followed by a limping Guppy.

    “CCS is going to be wrapping up their operations,” said Hammer. “If they’re bold enough to attack us in broad daylight, they’re not above wiping their offices clean by whatever means necessary. We have to move tonight before they remove all the evidence.”

    “But Archive’s still in surgery!” said Guppy, his eyes swimming a bit from the painkillers. “We can’t—“

    “Sure we can. He’s into that mystical healing mumbo-jumbo, right?” Jim-Bean stalked towards the door marked RESTRICTED PERSONNEL ONLY. “He can just heal himself.”

    “Hey!” shouted a security guard. “You can’t just go in there.”

    Jim-Bean held up his CIFA badge and pointed his pistol at the security guard. “Try and stop me.”

    He backed his way into the operating room. Archive was splayed out on a table, an IV drip connected to one arm. A staff of surgeons were busy extracting debris from his flesh. The lead surgeon whirled.

    “What the hell? Get this man out of here!”

    The nurses started tugging at his arm. “You can’t be in here!”

    “I’m getting him out,” said Jim-Bean. “Sew him up.”

    “He could die!” shouted the surgeon, unruffled by the fact that a pistol was pointed at his head.

    “So could you if you don’t do what I say,” said Jim-Bean. “Now. Sew. Him. Up.”

    Ten minutes later, two walking-, one drugged-, and one half-dead agent limped out of Samson Hospital.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 5a—Starting Fires

    It was 3 a.m. when Hammer finished snipping a man-sized opening in the CCS perimeter fence. Thanks to Guppy’s hacking, he had found a hole in their surveillance cameras. They padded over to a side door near the office connected to a warehouse.

    “Our target is that warehouse,” whispered Guppy. “We just need to get inside there.”

    “Yeah, sure, piece of cake.” Jim-Bean looked over his shoulder at Archive. “How you doing buddy?”

    Archive, despite the serious of his wounds, had fresh scars that had already healed. “The spell’s taking effect.” He winced. “But it still hurts.”

    “Yeah, spells,” whispered Jim-Bean. “Whatever that crap you do, if it makes you feel better, go with it.”

    “You’re one to talk,” whispered Hammer pointedly.

    “Can we please focus on the mission?” Guppy fiddled with the lock and it popped open. A map appeared on all their cistrons. “There’s one guard station and no way around it.”

    “If they have half the firepower they threw at us in the street before, it’s going to be impossible to get inside,” said Hammer.

    “Just get me to a computer terminal,” said Guppy. “I’ll take care of the rest.”

    They snuck up to the flickering light of a bay of monitors.

    Hammer snuck a peek around the corner. A guard loudly slurped his coffee.

    “…now we’ve got the government involved,” said one of the guards. “They really effed it up this time.”

    Hammer turned back to his companions and held up for fingers.

    Jim-Bean nodded. Hammer counted down from his four fingers.

    Three. Two. One.

    Hammer fired his Glocks and Jim-Bean sprayed the room with his G-36 assault rifle. The guard screamed and shouted, diving for their weapons.

    Guppy and Archive followed up with pistol fire. Three guards were down. The last one leaped for a red button.

    Gunfire raked his back, but his palm hit the alarm as he went down. Klaxons went off.

    “Damn it!” shouted Jim-Bean.

    Guppy shoved the guard’s corpse off the seat and began furiously typing. “I think I can stop it.”

    “Even if you could,” said Hammer, “it won’t stop them. They’re not stupid. They’re on high alert. This place will be swarming with guards.”

    Guppy shook his head, eyes glued to the monitor, fingers dancing across the keyboard. “I’m not going to shut it off. I’m just going to redirect it. We’re in Zone One.” A schematic of the complex appeared on one of the screens. “So there’s about to be a fire in Zone Four.” Zone One stopped flashing and Zone Four began pulsing.

    “Can you find their computer system?”

    Guppy tapped some more keys. “Mother Trucker! It’s a closed system.”

    “What?” asked Archive.

    “It’s not on a network. The only way I can get past the security in the warehouse is to be at a terminal there.”

    Jim-Bean had been uncharacteristically silent. When they all looked at him, he was in his underwear, shrugging on one of the guard’s uniforms.

    “What are…what are you doing?” asked Guppy.

    Jim-Bean zipped up the pants. “It’s time for me to do a little hacking of my own.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 5b— Starting Fires

    A guard jogged up to the two men at the security station in front of the warehouse.

    “Hey! What are you guys doing?” he shouted. “There’s a fire in Zone Four!”

    “We’re not supposed to leave our post,” replied one of the other guards.

    “Yeah, yeah I know, but we think it’s a prelude to an attack. The government raid is going down – but if you want to let Mr. Morrow know that you guys didn’t follow orders…”

    The two guards looked at each other and then jogged off in the direction of Zone Four.

    Jim-Bean pretended to jog behind them, but just ran in place.

    “I can’t believe that worked,” said Archive.

    Guppy ran over to the security console. “Retinal scan,” he snorted. He tapped a few keys on his cistron and held it up to the scanner.

    An eyeball appeared on screen. The retinal scanner flashed a green beam onto the cistron. Several bolts unlocked and something twisted and groaned inside the foot-thick reinforced steel door. Then it whisked open.

    There was a large plastic curtain between the entryway and the rest of the warehouse. Shouts came from behind them. The guards were coming back.

    Guppy tapped a button on the other side of the door. The noises the door made when it open became clear as bolts locked and swiveled, locking the door into place.

    “Hope we can find another way out of here,” said Archive.

    Hammer shoved aside the curtain and then stopped short.

    “Now I know why Guppy was mission leader,” he said quietly.

    Before them was a thirty-foot diameter saucer, twelve feet from top to bottom. The entire exterior was made of a dull-like material that looked like lead. Three curved triangular windows protruded from the front of the craft.

    “Oh no,” whispered Guppy. “Not again!”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    Silicon Dreams: Part 6—The Bucket

    As the agents approached the ship, a klaxon blared out.

    Warning, warning!” said a calm electronic voice. “Magnetometer readings rising.

    A single entry ramp opened from the bottom center of the craft. The craft rises slightly to allow the small steps to lower. Mist spilled out of the entrance, glowing with a yellow light.

    “Let me know what’s inside there,” said Guppy. “I’m not going in.”

    Hammer sighed. “Guppy, we could really use your help in there.”

    Guppy crossed his arms. “You remember what happened last time. I’m not going in.” He hesitated. “For your own safety.”

    Hammer frowned and stepped inside, with Jim-Bean and Archive close behind.

    Inside was a low-ceiling interior made of a soft red-brown adobe-like material. It was carefully and ergonomically shaped. The ceilings were gracefully arched and the corridors serpentine and smooth. The floors were made of a shiny black material which under close scrutiny was covered in tiny green and purple writing. Every square foot of the ceiling was covered in tiny sigils.

    “You seen one of these before?” asked Jim-Bean.

    “Yeah,” said Hammer. “It looked exactly like this. In fact, I’m starting to think this is the same one.”

    They passed through a peculiar tunnel with patterned walls. It was clear the ship was much larger on the outside than on the inside. Corridors wound more than thirty feet and opened into large rooms that were somehow all jammed with in the tiny craft.

    “How could you even tell?” asked Jim-Bean. “Maybe everything they make looks the same?”

    They made their way to what looked like an engine room. A row of inert boxes were about knee high. In the center of the room were strange symbols. A single platform flanked by flimsy bars acted as an elevator of sorts to the next level up.

    “Guppy!” shouted Hammer. “Get in here!”

    Guppy sounded very far away. A few seconds later he jogged in, his gaze intently focused on Hammer only. “They’re trying to blow the door.”

    “Concentrate on the ship for a moment,” said Hammer. “What does this look like?”

    Guppy hesitated, then started looking around at what passed for the ship’s engine. He ran his cistron over a few mechanisms. “This is an N-fusion drive,” he said. “It uses hydrogen as fuel, scooping it up as it goes along.”

    “So it’s safe to say humans didn’t build this?” asked Jim-Bean.

    “No humans I know,” said Guppy. “It normally takes one million degrees to power something like this.” He was starting to talk faster, overcoming his fear. “Plus, this craft isn’t capable of interstellar speed.”

    “So where did it come from?” asked Hammer.

    “A bigger ship,” said Guppy.

    They took the elevator up.

    There were panels on one wall lit by silhouettes of different creatures; some recognizable, others utterly alien in appearance. In one corner was a glass tube with what looks like a frozen armadillo. Another was a similarly shaped human-sized chamber, although it was not currently occupied.

    Guppy’s eyes turned to slits. “I remember that chamber.”

    “What’s it for—“ began Jim-Bean, but Hammer cut him off with a shake of his head. “Oh, right.”

    “What do you think of these symbols?” Hammer prodded, pointing at one octagonal wall.

    One table was covered in a forest of protruding crystals, while one octagonal wall had a series of odd symbols identifying a variety of buttons.

    “I recognize these symbols!” exclaimed Archive, who hadn’t felt particularly useful until that very moment. “The symbol matches the Nazca lines of an ancient astronaut, which are huge lines in Peru that can only be seen from the air.”

    “Can you translate them?” asked Hammer.

    Archive nodded. “The symbols are similar to a language known as Aklo, which has appeared in the ancient pyramid of Tepanapa in Cholula.” He tapped a few keys on his cistron. “I think I can…here we go.”

    Weird, winged cylinders with starfish like protrusions on the top and bottom floated through space towards a planet. Then they surged towards it like dolphins diving deeper into the water.

    The creatures from beyond came to Earth to live under the sea, at first for food and later for other purposes,” said a mechanical voice. “It was there that they first created earth life—using available substances according to long-known methods. The more elaborate experiments came after the annihilation of various cosmic enemies. They had done the same thing on other planets, having manufactured not only necessary foods, but certain multi-cellular protoplasmic masses capable of molding their tissues into all sorts of temporary organs under hypnotic influence and thereby forming ideal slaves to perform the heavy work of the community, known as shoggoths.

    Silhouettes appeared on the screen as the cistron and the ship’s computer interacted. Weird, pulpy forms made of eyes, mouths, and tentacles oozed onto the screen.

    When they had synthesized their simple food forms and bred a good supply of shoggoths, they allowed other cell groups to develop into other forms of animal and vegetable life for sundry purposes, extirpating any whose presence became troublesome. These vertebrates, as well as an infinity of other life forms—animal and vegetable, marine, terrestrial, and aerial—were the products of unguided evolution acting on life cells made by the Old Ones, but escaping beyond their radius of attention.

    Silhouettes of small rodent-like vermin skittered onto the screen. Evolution sped up as each version of the rodent was advanced by millennia, becoming more bipedal…

    They had been suffered to develop unchecked because they had not come in conflict with the dominant beings. Bothersome forms, of course, were mechanically exterminated.

    Some of the very last images depicted a shambling, primitive mammal, used sometimes for food and sometimes as an amusing buffoon, whose vaguely simian and human foreshadowing were unmistakable.

    “Wait…is that thing saying what I think it’s saying?” asked Jim-Bean.

    “That humanity is a mistake,” Guppy said tersely. “That’s all we are. An accident.”

    Sensing the tension in the room, Hammer urged them onwards to what looked like a bridge.

    It was strangely devoid of chairs of any sort. In the center of the room was a single console made of the same black stone-like material that the floor was composed of. It was covered in a complex array of sigils.

    “Let’s see what this does!” Jim-Bean tapped a sigil.

    A row of red beams fired out in a straight line from the ship, cutting through some equipment in the warehouse like butter.

    “Don’t touch that!” shouted Guppy. “You have no idea what it does!”

    Jim-Bean withdrew his hand from the sigils. “We could use this to escape! Now are you going to get us out of here oh mighty mission leader or what?”

    After a moment of indecision, Guppy pushed Jim-Bean aside and tapped a sigil.

    The ship began to power up, shuddering as it lifted a few feet above the ground.

    Guppy tapped another sigil.

    A symbol appeared on the screen. GNN footage played: war footage, a news broadcast, coverage of a gas shortage, and news about the upcoming election. It ended with the same symbol, which looked like a an odd boxy humanoid with a square for a head, two long triangles for arms, and two short triangles for feet. Three concentric circles were in its abdomen.

    “Is that supposed to be us?” asked Jim-Bean.

    Archive nodded. “Yes. That’s Aklo for human.”

    The screen flickered. Computer analysis of power plants and military complexes flashed by, all narrated in a buzzing language that was offensive to the ears.

    “What is that all about?” asked Jim-Bean.

    “Landing zones,” said Archive breathlessly. “I think—“

    The screen was interrupted. The buzzing voice rose and began repeating. A dot appeared on the screen, with concentric circles emanating from it. Another dot was moving towards the dot in the center.

    “What the hell is that?” asked Hammer.

    Guppy tapped more sigils. The view of the warehouse outside the saucer turned a transparent green. They were able to see beyond the doors.

    “What happened to the guards?” asked Hammer.

    “Maybe we scared them off?” theorized Archive.

    “No, it’s something else,” said Hammer. “They know something.”

    Guppy pointed at the screen. “Look!”

    The x-ray view of the warehouse blurred as the ship’s surveillance systems zoomed in on the image of a jetliner. Several boxes of something within the belly of the jetliner pinged along with the buzzing voice. It was heading right towards them.

    “Is that jet carrying…explosives?” asked Jim-Bean.

    Then the plane hit.
    Last edited by talien; Tuesday, 17th March, 2009 at 02:55 PM.
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    Silicon Dreams: Conclusion

    Jim-Bean, his feet up on a table, flipped through the channels on a nearby television. A GNN newswoman narrated.

    “…a terrorist attack on CCS headquarters. It is believed that terrorists posing as Saudi billionaires attempted to purchase CCS’ computer technology, and when they refused, a suicide bomber rammed a jet full of explosives into the facility. All CCS staff are presumed dead. The death toll currently stands at forty five and counting. We’ll stay on this story as news develops—“

    He flicked the channel.

    “—UFO was spotted over North Platte Air Force Base. Officials aren’t talking and none of the staff were willing to speak with us on the record. But one person who spoke on condition of anonymity said that there were actually human-like alien hybrids on the UFO, and that this is further evidence that a race of genetically cross-bred mutants are being…“

    Jim-Bean lowered the volume.

    “We’re lucky Sprague doesn’t have our heads,” said Hammer. “And by that I mean, explode our heads.”

    Jim-Bean shrugged. “CCS wiped out? Check. Returned Sprague’s missing saucer? Check. Terrorists blamed for it all so the U.S. government can tighten its stranglehold on America? Check. Far as I’m concerned this mission was damned near perfect.”

    Archive winced, massaging his arm. His wounds still hadn’t fully healed. “Speak for yourself.”

    “Yeah, tell me about it,” said Jim-Bean. “I’m still cramped up from that little cross-country jaunt.” The television they were watching had a DVR connected to it. Jim-Bean paused the screen. “The next time we have to travel across country, no more SPIDER transport.” He jabbed a thumb at the screen. “We’re taking one of those babies!”

    Paused on the screen was the blurry image of the UFO flying over Platte Air Force Base.
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    Chapter 23: The Last Castle - Introduction

    This scenario, “The Last Castle,” is a Spycraft mission from Combat Missions by Yours Truly. 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
    I mentioned in previous scenarios that despite all the hard work that goes into some of these missions, sometimes the ones I don’t prepare for are the most entertaining. In this case, Combat Missions is chock full of action without a whole lot of setup, which suits my players just fine. Unfortunately, some scenarios utilize their talents more than others.

    In this case, the scenario required two agents to go undercover. More than that would be suspicious, which meant that the two non-combat types (Guppy and Archive) didn’t have a whole lot to do. Jim-Bean and Hammer, on the other hand, were having a blast. In the end it all came together with very little conflict, but it didn’t matter. The agents got what they wanted and achieved the mission.

    I felt it was all a bit of letdown because I wasn’t able to push for a climactic ending (the kind I routinely preach about that’s lacking from other scenarios). That’s not to demean the players; they did everything right. It just wasn’t quite as exciting as a scenario as I’d hoped.

    Defining Moment: A drug deal about to go south is saved by Archive and Hammer bleeding for their art…literally.

    Relevant Media
    • Combat Missions: for Spycraft.
    • Battle Flag: by Lo Fidelity Allstars. I heard this song on ER once and it stuck in my head ever since.
    • Burn Notice: The exact same plot as the scenario played out in a recent episode of Burn Notice. A con-man fakes an FBI raid to swindle his marks out of their money. Instead, Michael’s team ambushes the faux FBI agents and makes it appear that they’ve been murdered, turning the tables on the con man. So maybe this scenario wasn’t so bad after all.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Prologue

    Hey Mr. Policeman
    Is it time for getting away
    Is it time for driving down the mother f&#%in road
    And running from your @$$ today

    --Battle Flag by Lo Fidelity Allstars
    SAMSON, CA—“A corrupt division in the Samson Police Department, Tactical Anti-Drug Unit, has been framing innocents for drug possession charges in order to keep their own drug dealers in business,” said Sprague over their cistrons. “The situation has gotten so bad that the corrupt cops have resorted to stealing from police vaults. I’m sending you a security video of a raid of drugs from a police vault that we believe was perpetrated by TADU. You are to infiltrate TADU and get conclusive evidence of TADU corruption. Jim-Bean is mission leader.”

    The cistron winked out.

    Jim-Bean looked over at Guppy. “Can you scrub that video for anything out of the ordinary?”

    Guppy nodded, tapping away.

    In the video, six men wearing masks were armed with sub-machineguns. After breaking into the vault, they left with more than seven hundred thousand dollars of “blink” and joined their getaway driver in a white van.

    “Interesting,” said Guppy. “Look here.” He tapped a key and the screen focused on one of the burglar’s watches. “One of the suspects looks at his watch. It’s a police officer’s watch. Watches like that are only awarded after ten years of service in TADU.”

    “What about the van?” asked Hammer.

    “Stolen,” said Guppy. “From an airport the night before.”

    “Cross-check it with all the TADU cops. One of them has to fit the profile.”

    Guppy nodded. “Yep. One Terry Ridgefield’s been spending more on his credit cards than he could possibly afford on a policeman’s salary.”

    “What about phone records?” asked Hammer.

    Guppy tapped more keys. “He made more than a hundred phone calls the day of the burglary.”

    “And right after?”

    Guppy scanned through phone records on the tiny cistron screen. “Roxy Zanatelli,” said Guppy. “Must be a girlfriend.”

    “You two,” Jim-Bean indicated Guppy and Archive with a nod of his head, “go visit Roxy. Me and Hammer are going undercover as cops transferred to TADU.”

    Guppy swallowed hard. “How are we going to get there?”

    “You figure it out yourself,” said Jim-Bean. “But it ain’t gonna be SPIDER.”
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    The Last Castle: Part 1 – Roxy Road

    Guppy, in his best suit and dark sunglasses, pounded on Roxy’s door. Archive was similarly dressed and stood an appropriately menacing distance behind him.

    Roxy answered the door. She wore too much makeup, frizzy hair, and a leopard skirt over pink stockings. She wore a tight Led Zeppelin shirt. Judging from the way she blinked into the sunlight, it was clear she had just woken up.

    “Who are you?”

    Guppy mustered his sternest voice. “I’m Agent Gupta. This is Agent Fontaine.” He flashed his CIFA badge. “We’d like to chat with you for a minute.

    The neurons in Roxy’s brain finally fired. “I didn’t do nothing!” she shouted.

    Guppy put on a strained smile. “I’m sure you haven’t ma’am. But we need to clarify a few things.”

    “O-okay.” She pushed open the screen door. “Come in.”

    Inside was about what one would expect given Roxy’s appearance. Cheap plastic ashtrays, discarded cigarette butts, fashion magazines of all types, and paper plates that still held bits of fast food on them. A large flat screen television dominated the opposite side of the room in contrast to the ratty couch that faced it.

    “Can I get you something…” Roxy’s eyes looked around as she realized there were open bottles of alcohol everywhere.

    “We’re fine,” said Guppy, waving her off. He cleared some debris off the couch and sat down. Archive plumped himself down on the other side of the couch. Roxy perched herself delicately on the marble coffee table.

    “Miss…Zanatelli, is it?”

    Roxy nodded.

    “Do you know a Mr. Ridgefield?”

    Roxy frowned. “My boyfriend? What the hell did he do now?”

    Guppy smiled, pleased with the response. “When was the last time you saw him?”

    “A couple of days ago.” Roxy shrugged. “But I haven’t seen him since. Ever since he went on that bender.” She huffed. “He probably blew all his money in Vegas.”

    “Vegas?” asked Guppy.

    “Yeah, him and his two buddies—“

    Guppy checked the notes on his cistron. “Bentfeld, and Santini?”

    “Yeah, those jerks,” she continued. "They went on a weekend bender in Las Vegas. Just up and left, didn’t even bring me along!” Roxy lit a cigarette. “Mind if I smoke? You NSA guys make me nervous.”

    “We’re actually with the CIFA.”

    “Whatever. All I know is you’re government types and you make me nervous. What’s he do, anyway?”

    Archive was sitting with his chin on his chest. It was impossible to tell what was going on behind his glasses.

    “Don’t mind him,” said Guppy. “He’s my backup in case you don’t cooperate.”

    Roxy took a puff. “Cooperate? I’m cooperating here, right? What else do you want?”

    “Why would Mr. Ridgefield call you?”

    Roxy waved one well-manicured hand. Smoke twirled around her fingers. “Oh you know, he calls when he wants to call.”

    Guppy glanced around the room. “That’s a new flat screen television. What do you do for a living, ma’am?”

    “Oh I’m a manicurist, why?”

    Guppy’s brow furrowed. “How can you afford that television?”

    Roxy sputtered. “Okay, so Ridge bought it for me after I lit into him. Arrived yesterday. Guys installed it and everything! Pretty nice huh?”

    “Yes, very nice.” Guppy cleared his throat. “Ma’am, did it ever occur to you that Mr. Ridgefield can’t afford this either?”

    Roxy blinked. “I figured he’s a bigwig with the police force so he was getting hazard pay or something—“

    “Uh huh.” Guppy rose to his feet. “We’re going to go now, but you are not to speak of this conversation with anyone, especially Mr. Ridgefield. Do you understand?”

    Roxy swallowed hard and nodded.

    “Good. Remember, we’re CIFA,” said Guppy ominously. “We’re always watching.”

    And with that he started towards the door.

    “Forgetting something?” asked Roxy.

    Guppy looked over his shoulder. Archive was still on the couch, now with his mouth open. A thundering snore rumbled from his throat.

    “Oh for the love of…” Guppy walked over and kicked Archive in the shin.

    “OW!” said Archive, sitting bolt upright. He looked around.

    “Archive!” snapped Guppy. “I mean Agent Fontaine! Ah forget it, let’s just go.” Guppy, arms at his sides, stalked out.

    Archive slowly got to his feet.

    “I don’t recommend you repeat this to anyone…” he said in nearly the same ominous voice as Guppy. “We’re CIFA. And we’ll be—“

    “Watching, I get it!” Roxy scratched her frizzy hair. “What, you guys read from the same script?”

    Archive walked out the door to the car. Guppy was waiting in the driver’s seat, fuming.

    “This sucks. I should have gone with Jim-Bean instead,” he muttered.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Part 2 – The Test

    Jim-Bean had just taken a shower after a long day at his new job. As he entered the locker room, several burly officers surrounded him.

    “So, you’re new, huh?” said one officer whose bald pate was buffed to a shine. “If you want to be part of TADU, you’re going to have to prove you have the stamina.”

    He nodded to a smaller, weaselly looking cop with bad skin. The smaller cop opened a locker and pulled out a taser. When he flicked it on, blue bolts of energy crackled and snapped between its tangs.

    Hammer finished toweling off and stood behind Jim-Bean. They were in deep cover, so no cistrons, no guns except what they were supplied with…nothing.

    The smaller man gestured at his bald companion with the taser. “Ridge can go forty seconds,” he grinned at Jim-Bean, “let’s see how you do, huh?”

    "Uh…" Jim-Bean looked at Hammer. He’d been practicing his American accent; looked like he was going to need it after all.

    "Don't look at him, he ain't gonna help you," sneered the smaller man.

    "I don't need this sh—" Jim-Bean threw a fast punch at the man's head, but a meaty fist caught it.

    Ridge's strength was enormous. Jim-Bean tried to come up with a sarcastic retort but the breath just hissed out between his gritted teeth instead as it felt like bricks were cracking his knuckles.

    "Give it to him," said Ridge.

    Jim-Bean didn't get a chance to see the taser coming, but he felt it. Every muscle felt as if it collapsed in on itself at once. Jim-Bean didn't feel himself fall, but when he came to he was on the cold floor of the locker room. He was still twitching, eyelids fluttering and muscles he didn't know he had skipping with a life of their own.

    "P)$$y," sneered Ridge. "Knew you weren't TADU material." He looked Hammer up and down. "What about you, hotshot?"

    Hammer stepped forward, bristling. He was in top shape and it showed. The numerous scars from gunshot wounds and explosions were also plainly evident on his body. Even without saying a word, the other cops knew they were in tough company.

    Ridge looked him up and down. "Do it."

    The taser connected. Hammer had a boxer's build, so striking him in the stomach was about as effective as striking a wall. And yet tasers didn't discriminate. Although it caused pain, it wasn't really an indication of his ability to resist pain. It was more muscle control, and thousands of volts of electricity weren't interested in the number of sit-ups he did or how many punches he had taken to the gut.

    But Hammer was still standing when they pulled the taser away. His vision was swimming, but he was still standing.

    "Damn!" muttered some of the men standing around him. "That was nearly a minute!"

    Hammer was drenched in sweat. Ridge stood in front of him, dumbfounded.

    Hammer punched him in the gut.

    Ridge laughed and then punched him back. The shot nearly knocked him flat, but Hammer stood his ground.

    Hammer stood in the man's face and roared. "Is that the BEST YOU GOT?!"

    "Easy, easy," said Ridge, laughing and holding up his hands. "That more than makes up for this piece of crap on the floor." He nudged Jim-Bean with his foot.

    And just like that, Hammer and Jim-Bean were in.
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

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    The Last Castle: Part 3 – Shakedown

    Life as a TADU officer wasn’t easy, even for the honest ones. Every day they put their lives on the line fighting thugs and gang members who considered cop killing a badge of honor.

    Hammer and Jim-Bean were given street clothes, an unmarked vehicle and a bulletproof vest.

    Hammer watched two rough-looking men exchange handshakes in broad daylight from the driver’s side of a beat-up gray sedan.

    “So Roxy doesn’t know anything?” asked Jim-Bean, staying in character with an American accent that sounded like he came from Boston.

    “Not according to Guppy and Archive,” said Hammer. “You ready?”

    “Let’s do this,” said Jim-Bean.

    Hammer couldn’t help but smile. “You sound more like an American every day.”

    Jim-Bean got out of the car and slammed the door. The drug dealers looked up.

    Hammer strode over to the drug dealer.

    “Hey man, what—“

    The drug dealer didn’t get anything more out. Customers scattered. Hammer shoved a pistol to the man’s ribs.

    “Hey yourself. This is a drug bust.”

    “I don’t see no badge,” muttered the man.

    Jim-Bean flashed the badge. “There. Happy?”

    “No,” said the drug dealer sullenly.

    “Today’s your lucky day,” said Hammer. “This isn’t your usual drug bust.” He patted the drug dealer down and found several wads of cash. “I’ll be taking this.”

    “What? You can’t do this—“

    “We could just arrest you,” said Jim-Bean.

    The drug dealer’s mouth clamped shut.

    “Relax.” Hammer patted him on the back. “We’re doing you a favor. You get to keep doing what you do, you give us a cut, and we keep Ridge off your back.”

    “He’s not gonna be happy man,” said the dealer, eyes darting to and fro. “You hornin’ in on his turf?”

    “We’re just working out way up the hierarchy,” said Jim-Bean. “You let us worry about Ridge.”

    They strode away to the old sedan, leaving the drug dealer to slink off the now unsafe corner.

    “Now we know Ridge is dirty for sure,” said Hammer.

    “And how do we get in with Ridge?” asked Jim-Bean.

    Hammer flashed the wad of cash between two fingers. “By paying him.”
    Mike "Talien" Tresca

    Want more? Subscribe to my column; follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and the web; buy my books: The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, The Well of Stars, and Awfully Familiar. Become an Examiner and get paid to write today!

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