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Tuesday, 10th February, 2009, 11:27 AM #421
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Prince: Part 12 – Branching Out
“Stop,” said Jim-Bean a few days later, fully recovered. “This is the place.” He had dyed his hair to match its old color, but it looked vaguely unnatural to anyone who stared at him long enough. The doctors were unsure if his white hair was a permanent condition.
Hammer waited in the car for Caprice, who was up on a telephone pole with a lineman’s set. Hammer still had some broken ribs but insisted they get moving.
Caprice came down, a little out of breath, and nodded to Hammer. “We’re good.”
Hammer drove them over to the Enolsis branch in St. Louis as per Jim-Bean’s instructions.
“How do you know this is the place?” asked Hammer, increasingly suspicious of Jim-Bean.
“It’s my job to know,” said Jim-Bean.
“Great,” said Jim-Bean. “When we get inside, see if you can find Valiant in their system.”
Hammer parked the car and they got out. Jim-Bean pushed open the door to the branch.
It looked the same as it did months ago when Jim-Bean visited it, only this time there were two women in the booth. Diane was there, and so was Sarah.
“Hello!” chirped Diane. “Can I help you?”
“Yes,” said Jim-Bean. “I’m recruiting my friends into Enolsis and was wondering if you have more literature.”
“You’re a member?” she asked. “You look familiar.”
Jim-Bean coughed. “So what do you have …” He steered her away.
Hammer and Caprice stood near the front door, shuffling uncomfortably.
“Are you new to Enolsis?” asked Sarah.
“Yes,” said Hammer. “And I want to BELIEVE.” He said it with such startling emphasis that Caprice looked at him.
“Well, I’d be happy to help but I’m supposed to man the register. If you join Diane over there she can—“
“I’d really appreciate if you could show me around,” said Hammer with a smile. “I feel I’m so close to joining, but something is holding me back. I’d love to understand how your crystals work.”
“I don’t know …”
“I’ve just come into some money.”
Sarah’s eyes lit up. “Right this way.” She led Hammer over to a display cabinet full of crystals.
That was Caprice’s chance. He slipped behind the front desk.
The computer was password protected. Caprice hooked up his cistron through the serial port and the password decoder tore through it in seconds.
It had all the membership information for the branch, but no Valiant. But more importantly, it had an Internet connection to Enolsis HQ in Tulsa for ordering books and paraphernalia.
Caprice hacked his way upstream into the headquarters. “Working …” flashed the screen.
Catching sight of Caprice out of the corner of her eye, Sarah was about to turn around from the crystals when Hammer planted a kiss on her.
Sarah gasped and shoved Hammer away. “HEY!”
“I’m sorry,” muttered Hammer, looking embarrassed. “I was so overcome by emotion at the thought of joining Enolsis—“
It bought Caprice the time he needed.
Diane hustled over. “Everything all right?”
“This jerk just tried to kiss me!” shouted Sarah. “Get out before I call the police!”
They left in a hurry.
“So?” asked Jim-Bean once they were safely in the car and away from the branch.
“There was no sign of Valiant,” said Caprice. “But the St. Louis branch has forty-two more members than it has reported to Tulsa headquarters.”
“An accounting error?” asked Hammer.
Caprice shook his head. “I don’t think so. Not reporting members means not reporting membership dues. That’s about $4,200 in annual dues skimmed from the Enolsis coffers. Neither Daniels nor DiTorrio were on that list.”
“How’s Valiant pulling this off if he’s not a member?” asked Hammer. “He must be working under an alias.”
“Hold on.” Caprice put one finger to his ear. “Sarah’s calling all the members. Looks like the branch manager is calling a special emergency meeting for seven o’clock this evening to discuss the news that the city council wants to shut them down. He’s mapping out a strategy for resisting. They’re going to meet at a rented warehouse …”
Just then Jim-Bean’s phone began chirping it’s unique Invader Zim ring tone.
“Aren’t you going to pick that up?” asked Hammer.
Jim-Bean looked straight ahead. “I know who it is.”
“You should pick it up,” said Caprice.
With a sigh, Jim-Bean answered. “Hi Sarah …”
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Wednesday, 11th February, 2009, 01:46 PM #422
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Prince: Part 13 – The Meeting
With plenty of time to prepare for the meeting, Caprice planned ahead.
“At any time, we can shut the power to the place,” said Caprice. “I’ve got video surveillance hooked into our cistrons too, so if valiant shows up we can identify him.”
“That shouldn’t be hard,” said Jim-Bean. “I’ll see him when I’m inside. I’m going in.”
The guards at the front door were patting people down.
“And you are?” asked the guard.
“Jim,” said Jim-Bean. “Jim Baxter.”
The guard looked at his clipboard. “Hmm, you one of our regulars?”
“I’m on your list.” He took his coat off and held up his Realizer crystal. “I’m new.”
“Oh here you are.” The guard looked up. “I’ll have to pat you down.”
“Is that really necessary?” said Jim-Bean quickly, hustling past him. “Look, I’m the kind you can trust, and I think if you want new members you really should treat your noobs better …”
The guard blinked. “Hey, wait …” but another person was on line behind Jim-Bean pushing their way through.
New Age music and the cloying scent of incense filled the air. A makeshift platform was at the back of the warehouse, flanked by rows of plastic folding chairs. Jim-Bean counted six rows of ten chairs each.
“Ladies and gentleman!” announced Diane. “I’m pleased to introduce your Enolsis deacon, Doug Walters!”
The crowd clapped wildly. A man stepped out onto the platform.
“It’s Valiant,” whispered Jim-Bean.
“You’re sure?” asked Hammer.
“It’s him. He’s had some work done, but it’s him.”
As Doug Walters, Valiant appeared about ten years younger, with shoulder-length black hair, a square jaw, strong cheekbones, and a small, almost elegant nose, but he retained his deceptively soulful blue eyes, large steroidal forehead, and bodybuilder’s physique. He was dressed in a loose, floor0length robe. He pulled a torn envelope out of his robe and, holding it aloft, began his speech.
“This morning, a city courier delivered this letter to us. It’s a challenge to our not-for-profit status and a conflict with zoning ordinances for our neighborhood. I quote: ‘Perhaps this will encourage your sick group to find another home.’”
The crowd was filled with gasps and condemnations.
“Don’t hold hate in your hearts, brothers and sisters. We can change their minds. The biblical prophets had the faith to move mountains, and they were but single individuals. But we are a family. We are legion. We have the faith to move the stars! Because we have the power to change ourselves, and that is the only power that matters.”
The crowd cheered. Jim-Bean looked around in wonder. They were all nuts as far as he was concerned.
“Brothers and sisters, help me. Help us. Meditate with me and focus on your Realizer. Channel your hopes and your strength into a mighty power. A living power that will move the stars!”
Everyone bowed their heads, concentrating on their Realizers. Valiant wheeled a larger crystal onto the platform—the group’s Spiritual Reservoir.
Jim-Bean felt a low resonance at the edge of his hearing. The Spiritual Reservoir began to glow.
“I’m moving,” he whispered into his headset. Then he pulled a small gas mask from his coat and snapped it on. With their heads bowed, no one saw him.
Jim-Bean pulled the pin on his canister of tear gas. Before he could throw it, people in the front collapsed, hyperventilating and convulsing.
Jim-Bean looked around in confusion. The lights and music went out.
“Good job boys,” said Jim-Bean, drawing his SIG.
“What?” asked Caprice. “We didn’t do anything!”
Glowing with psychic energy, Valiant floated into the air. “YOU!” he shouted pointing at Jim-Bean. “We have a heretic in our midst!”
“Oh crap,” said Jim-Bean.
Thursday, 12th February, 2009, 11:54 AM #423
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Prince: Part 14a – Valiant’s Last Stand
Caprice and Hammer were parked across the street from the warehouse.
Caprice was still trying to figure out what the hell was going on when there was a knock on his side of the car. He caught a glimpse of a knuckle rapping on the window, but it disappeared so quickly he wasn’t sure if he saw it.
“Did you hear that?” he asked Hammer.
Hammer peered over Caprice. “What are you on about Hot Pants?”
“Knocking!” He rolled down the window to look. “Somebody just knocked!”
Jim-Bean’s voice crackled over the comm. “I’m moving,” he whispered.
“Stand by to cut the lights,” said Hammer.
Caprice had the control panel up on his cistron. “Standing by.”
The camera feed was displayed on Hammer’s cistron. “We just lost the cameras.”
“Good job boys,” said Jim-Bean.
“What?” shouted Caprice into the comm. “We didn’t do anything!”
Hammer didn’t respond immediately. He was looking past Caprice.
Hope’s head, and just her head, floated on a long tendril of a neck near the open window. “Knock, knock,” she hissed.
“Out of the car! Now!” shouted Hammer, drawing his pistols.
Hammer slammed the door open, smacking the rubbery head, but she slammed it shut again with her face. Caprice managed to get the door open.
The car turned sideways. Hammer fell on top of Caprice and they both slid out of the car onto the pavement.
Hope flipped the car off of them. It sailed through the air, turning end over end, smashing into a telephone pole. It spun and land upside down on another car. Car alarms went off all down the street from the terrific explosion of screeching metal and broken glass.
Hammer fired both Glocks at her. Ignoring the gunfire, Hope encircled the broken telephone pole with both arms.
Hammer ran to one side behind another car, Caprice in the other.
WHAM! The telephone pole smashed down in front of Hammer, crushing the car nearly in half and sending shrapnel flying. He rolled and moved to another car.
He caught a glimpse of Caprice jogging down the street. Hammer cursed himself. Caprice was no combat veteran, he was an engineer at heart. He couldn’t be expected to face down something like this …
Hope reached down and lifted something heavy out of the pavement. Then she hurled a whistling manhole cover towards him.
Hammer ducked. It sheared right through the car he was hiding behind, bisecting the telephone pole behind him. Electrical wires snapped and sparked as the pole landed just over his head.
He was saved only through a quirk of physics; the pole landed on the smashed car just above Hammer’s head, preventing him from being totally crushed. It still hurt, and Hammer struggled to his feet.
Hope took slow, unhurried strides towards him, her features expressionless. Hammer got a good look at her this time. She was, insanely, dressed in a bell hop’s uniform, cap rakishly tilted on her head.
A car horn interrupted her approach. Hammer caught a glimpse of Hope’s surprised expression as the car’s headlights blinded her. Then Caprice hit her with a Ford truck at over ninety miles an hour.
Hope exploded on impact. Her rubbery protomatter body gave from the sheer force, but parts of her were caught in the grill, stuck under the wheels, and spattered to the sides. Despite her malleability, the impact was strong enough to stop the truck in its tracks.
Caprice, blood trickling from his forehead, was unconscious in the driver’s seat, his head resting on an airbag.
Hammer staggered over. He knew how these things worked. He knew how Jim-Bean worked. And he knew that he didn’t have much time …
Hope was still alive. The eyes rolled in a blubbery face, struggling to focus on him. The lips twitched, curling towards him. Hammer emptied both Glocks into her face.
Finally, the pieces stopped twitching. Hammer started to make his way over to Caprice when the warehouse containing Jim-Bean and Valiant collapsed.
Friday, 13th February, 2009, 10:34 PM #424
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Prince: Part 14b – Valiant’s Last Stand
Before Valiant could say anything else, Jim-Bean fired the entire clip of his SIG at him.
The bullets hovered in front of Valiant’s head and chest. Jim-Bean thought to himself: wow, I’m a pretty good shot.
Then he was hurled with telekinetic force across the room, scattering chairs and congregants everywhere.
“You’re going to have to do better than that,” snarled Valiant, hovering higher.
Jim-Bean concentrated, using his Realizer to help him focus in the confusion. He could feel energy pulsing out of him, towards the Spiritual Reservoir, just as it had with the damaged Realizer at Washington University. The Spiritual Reservoir crystal was the key.
He reloaded his SIG as he dodged and weaved, ducking behind the screaming congregants. Valiant, clearly unconcerned about the safety of the others now that he had the power he needed, began hurling chairs at Jim-Bean through thought alone. One person’s head burst as a chair smashed into it sideways, spraying a gout of blood over Jim-Bean’s back.
He fired, still running towards the crystal. The bullets ricocheted off. Whatever was protecting Valiant was protecting the crystal as well.
He made it to the crystal. Jim-Bean grabbed it with the intent of running off, but with his own crystal pulsing and the Spiritual Reservoir at his fingertips …
The power! Energy surged through him, and now two pulsing strands of psychic energy connected to both Jim-Bean and Valiant.
Valiant screamed in rage. “No!” He pointed at the stage beneath Jim-Bean and a jagged piece of it ripped up, whistling towards him.
It stopped in mid-air and dropped to the ground, just like Jim-Bean’s bullets. He had Valiant’s powers now, or more properly, he had the Spiritual Reservoir’s powers.
And in that moment it was clear where the energy was coming from. He could see the psychic strands of energy pulsing from the cultists in the room, but only from some of them, the ones who were on the floor. Their crystals were different from his, smaller, imperfect somehow. Jim-Bean guessed that’s what was happening, that Valiant had handed out damaged crystals to power his own.
Jim-Bean knew what he had to do. He grabbed hold of the Spiritual Reservoir and floated up to the ceiling, eye to eye with Valiant. Valiant extended his hand, but the telekinetic force was blocked by the barrier.
Jim-Bean shook his head.
“You may have the power, but you don’t know how to use it!” snarled Valiant.
“I don’t want it,” said Jim-Bean. “And I know how to stop it.”
Focusing his newfound telekinetic energy on the ceiling, he brought the entire building down around them.
Saturday, 14th February, 2009, 12:50 PM #425
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Prince: Part 14c – Valiant’s Last Stand
“Jim-Bean?” shouted Hammer into his cistron. “Jimmy?”
Nothing but the blaring of the car horns and alarms greeted him.
“This is Agent Hammer calling for backup!” he pulled Caprice out of the car. He was unconscious but alive. “Two agents down, repeat, two agents …”
He trailed off as the rubble of the warehouse shifted. There was no way anyone could survive that.
Jim-Bean stretched to a standing position, rubble sliding off the fading telekinetic force field. He made his way out of the rubble towards Hammer, the Spiritual Reservoir in his hands.
Hammer limped over towards him, reloading his Glocks. “Look out!” he shouted.
Jim-Bean turned. Valiant rose like a phoenix out of the rubble, but unlike Jim-Bean’s slow stretch he burst from the wreckage with a roar.
Jim-Bean held up the Spiritual Reservoir. The soft glow sputtered. “It’s over, Valiant.”
“No,” snarled Valiant, stalking towards him. “No!” He put one hand out, fingers outstretched in a choking motion.
“They’re all dead,” said Jim-Bean. “The power’s fading.”
With the Reservoir in one hand, Jim-Bean pointed at the sparking cables that had been severed when the roof collapsed. With a flick of his finger, they snaked towards Valiant.
But they didn’t connect, incapable of approaching Valiant within a few inches.
Jim-Bean spun and hurled the Spiritual Reservoir down the street. It smashed into the pavement, shattering into several pieces from the impact.
Valiant watched the electrical cables with disdain. “Great idea.”
With a sneer, Valiant spread his outstretched fingertips and the sparking cables encircled Jim-Bean. He screamed as thousands of volts of electricity surged through him.
Jim-Bean collapsed in a smoldering heap. Smoke curled from his eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
“It’s over Valiant!” shouted Hammer, both pistols trained on him.
“It’s far from over.” Valiant crouched and then launched himself at Hammer, moving at impossible speed. Hammer got a glimpse of metal in his upraised fist.
Hammer didn’t bother trying to track Valiant. He just sprayed the area in front of him with bullets.
Valiant dodged most of them, but the ones that struck home were fatal. He fell in a bloody pile of perforated flesh at Hammer’s feet.
Hammer leaned over Jim-Bean. “Jimmy?”
Jim-Bean, his flesh burned in places where the electricity had surged out of his body, groaned. He was alive, but gravely wounded. “I need to find a new religion,” he wheezed.
Sunday, 15th February, 2009, 12:18 PM #426
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Jim-Bean didn’t know where he was. The drugs were powerful, but his protomatter physiology was incredibly resistant. His eyes were closed, but he could see.
And hear. He could make out were voices. Sprague and someone else. And a red button. It was near someone’s hand; he couldn’t tell whom.
Jim-Bean wasn’t actually seeing their conversation. He was sensing them, so he only received impressions, without many of the details granted to normal sight.
“I told you he was useful.”
Jim-Bean couldn’t tell who was speaking.
“RECOIL agents have to be paired with a stable agent.”
“But can they control him?“
“This is a gift, a tool, given to us by the Greys as a show of good faith.”
“Good faith? Is that what you call what happened in Groversville? I don’t need to remind you that the same THING they destroyed is directly related to the protomatter crawling around in his flesh!”
“There are others who have access. This Enolsis somehow got hold of it too—“
“Which is precisely why we need more RECOIL agents in the field. We can’t afford NOT to have them.”
“There’s always BIOSAN-5 …”
“Only if SCP-130 creates more. We have a very limited supply, and it hasn’t been cooperative so far.”
“My point is that we can always use BIOSAN-5 as a last resort. But there’s not enough to use as a weapon against these so-called Stewards. For now, we need to keep the pawn in play. And I’d say our pawn did a very good job today.”
The hand moved away from the button. Jim-Bean saw a fire symbol in red and yellow above it.
“Yes. He just bought himself a little more time …”
Before his mind faded back into unconsciousness, Jim-Bean dimly realized he was strapped down in a fireproof room.
Tuesday, 17th February, 2009, 11:39 AM #427
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Chapter 32: See No Evil - Introduction
This scenario, “See No Evil,” by Adam Gauntlet, is from the issue 16/17 of the Unspeakable Oath. You can read more about Delta Green at Delta Green. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!
Our cast of characters includes:
Only one of the players is really interested in investigative scenarios. In the usual confluence of events that end up shaping how the game actually plays out, Jeremy was late (again). As a result, this gave us plenty of time to play out the investigation without rushing it. Jim-Bean showed up at the end, when all the action happened, just in time to steal the spotlight as usual.
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster
- Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://www.ninjarobotstudios.com)
- Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
It was a pleasant surprise to have Agent Archive back, although he’s now technically not an agent but a freelancer. We find out what happened to him and get to see Archive use his magic like he’s never used it before. He kicked some serious ass in this scenario.
This scenario’s entire purpose was to connect a terrorist organization with a mythos organization. I then linked it to another, much more combat-intensive scenario that further developed the conspiracy. But I’ll leave that commentary for Chapter 33. Suffice it to say that although the investigation happens slowly, when it finally came time for the big finale it didn’t disappoint.
Defining Moment: Archive’s magic vs. Aryan brawn!
- Critical Locations: For D20 Modern and a lifesaver, since Delta Green rarely provides maps.
- Unspeakable Oath #16/17: The source of this scenario.
- Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag: by Marilyn Manson, which is in turn inspired by the movie "Swing Kids," about Swing in Nazi Germany.
- See No Evil Handouts: by Graham Kinniburgh. Did I mention Graham is awesome?
Wednesday, 18th February, 2009, 11:16 AM #428
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
See No Evil: Prologue
NEW YORK CITY, NY—Joe Fontaine, formerly Agent Archive, sat glumly in his cell. He had been transported, roughly, from holding cell to holding cell on trumped up charges. The charges started with impersonating a government agent, even though Major Sprague knew full well that Archive had been on Majestic-12’s payroll under Agent Drake. But all that had changed when Sprague took over.All the goose-step girlies with
their cursive faces and
We know it's all Braille beneath the skirt
I'm bulletproof bizzop and
Swing heil and
I don't really care what gentlemen prefer.
- Doll-Dagga Buzz-Buzz Ziggety-Zag by Marilyn Manson
Sprague didn't like all that "mystic mumbo jumbo crap" and nobody embodied the supernatural, unquantifiable nature of the unknown than Archive. Sprague was dismantling Drake's legacy, piece by piece, person by person. In retrospect, it was jut a matter of time before Sprague got around to booting Archive.
Waiting hours to even understand the full range of the charges, Agent Green rattled off a long list of charges that would leave him rotting in a prison for the rest of his life. Never mind that Green was the agent who had recruited him into Majestic-12 in the first place. She did him a favor by merely lowering his charges to trespassing and paying a fine. And throwing him out of the state of Alabama.
But it wasn’t that simple. Archive had just gotten his boss at X-Investigations, to pay the bail when he was pulled over by the police. Agent Green hadn’t seen fit to notify the authorities.
Archive waited patiently for his phone call.
A large man with a mustache that blended in with his sideburns and his mullet, both arms covered with tattoos, stared at him from across the cell.
“Hey,” he said.
Archive swallowed. “Yeah?”
“They say you’re a Fed. That true?”
“Not anymore,” said Archive truthfully.
“Screwed up, huh?”
Archive frowned. “In a manner of speaking yeah.”
“Fontaine!” shouted the cop. “Time for your phone call.”
Archive didn’t waste any time. He sidled over to the jail cell door and followed the guard to the telephone.
“Make it quick,” said the cop.
Archive dialed Rob, the owner of X-Investigations. He waited patiently while the phone rang.
The answering machine picked up.
“Rob. Rob!” Archive shouted into the phone, his voice rising. “Pick up, it’s Joe.”
There was a click. “Joe?” said a groggy voice. “Joe Fontaine?”
“Yeah, Rob,” Archive said. “Listen, I need your help—“
“Do you know what time it is?” asked Rob. “You forget that this is my home phone?”
“I know, Rob, I’m sorry but—“
“What is it?” snarled Rob.
“I’m back in New York,” he said.
“That’s good. Why are you calling me at one in the morning?”
“I got arrested.”
There was a long sigh. “You what?”
“I got arrested—“
“But I paid your bail!”
“I know, but they didn’t have it on record and…“
Rob cut him off. “You know what? Forget it, forget it. You’re fired. Don’t call back.”
Click. And a dial tone.
The cop must have seen the expression on his face. “Tough luck, bud.”
He began steering Archive back to the cell. Archive resigned himself to a long conversation with his new cellmate.
Another cop peeked around the corner. “Hey, is that Fontaine?”
“Yeah?” said the guard.
The cop addressed Archive. “Somebody just posted your bail.”
The guard flashed Archive a smile. “Today’s your lucky day, huh?”
He led Archive to the front desk. Hammer was waiting for him, arms crossed, with a big grin on his face.
“Hammer!” shouted Archive, relieved. “You’re a sight for sore eyes!”
“Good to see you too.” He clapped Archive on the back.
The cop at the front desk handed Archive back his wallet and a pocket knife and processed him out.
When they were out of the station, Archive coughed. “I don’t work for Majestic anymore …”
“Oh, I know,” said Hammer. “You work for me now.”
Archive grinned at him. “Oh yeah? Should I charge you my usual fee?”
Hammer indicated the police station with a nod of his head. “I just paid it.”
Wednesday, 18th February, 2009, 12:23 PM #429
Novice (Lvl 1)
I have really enjoyed reading this story hour (and I am currently catching up on your Arcanis one) but every so often I get confused...
Why did Archive get the boot from MJ-12? Was it because Sprague just didn't like him or did Archive do something else?
Wednesday, 18th February, 2009, 06:50 PM #430
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Sorry I wasn't being clear. Yes, Archive got the boot back at the end of Chapter 26: Cold War. I just realized I never really verbalized exactly why he was booted, but the short of it is that Archive represents "mystic mumbo jumbo crap" that Sprague detests. This is also why Sprague revoked Guppy's access to alien technology and why the agents were reassigned to more "mundane" missions involving aliens and technology. Magic doesn't fit into Majestic-12's equation; they're so dazzled by the Greys that they assume there's a dangerous technological source behind everything. The Jack Frost mission exemplifies this, when Jim-Bean is forbidden from ever using the word "zombie."
The last strategic move in Sprague's complete de-mystification of the team was ousting Archive. Since Archive's player took a break, this helped explain why he was missing for awhile.
As Jim-Bean ranted in our most recent session, "I miss Drake. He'd totally have us pimped out with laser pistols and magic shotguns!"
I'll edit the text to clarify what happened to Archive. Thanks for reading!