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Tuesday, 16th June, 2009, 11:09 AM #541
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 14 – It’s Been a Blast
“Gogogo!” Jim-Bean ran.
The horde had swelled to include every zombie in the facility, over one hundred, clawing and screeching, stumbling over each other to get to the sweet flesh.
The agents skidded out into the main hall. They were surrounded. The zombies began to moan softly, tightening the noose as they closed in on their prey.
“BY THE POWER OF THE ELDER SIGN I REPEL YOU!” shouted Archive. He thrust the phylactery before him and the zombies, as one, were thrust backward as if hit by a wave of force. The sign was losing its efficacy against them.
They dashed for the door.
“Fiona!” shouted Jim-Bean. “Throw Guppy’s satchel behind you. Now!”
Fiona didn’t need to be told twice. She had Guppy in a fireman’s carry, but she managed to unsling his satchel and drop it at the entrance to the building.
They kept running. Archive’s temporary distraction had bought them a few seconds lead, but not much. Jim-Bean skidded to a halt and turned, concentrating.
Zombies poured through the opening. Security and administrative staff, research and production, from the highest vice president to the lowest custodial staff, all were united in their bloodlust for the living things that continued to evade them. They didn’t notice the beeping of the detonators in the satchel even as they kicked and shoved past it.
Jim-Bean dove to the ground. “Get down!”
They all hit the ground just an explosion ripped through the mansion. It collapsed the entrance and the covered garage, bringing tons of rubble down on the zombies. The explosion tore through the front of the structure and the entire front of the mansion collapsed, sliding forward in a waterfall of brick and stone.
Fiona got to her feet. “That is one useful symbol,” she said to Archive, appreciatively.
“Thanks.” Archive dusted himself off. “What about Hammer?”
Jim-Bean got into one of the employee vehicles. “He’ll be along in a few minutes.”
“How can you be so sure?”
Jim-Bean smirked. “You don’t know Hammer like I do.”
“No,” said Fiona, her expression distant, “I guess I don’t.”
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Wednesday, 17th June, 2009, 11:06 AM #542
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 15 – Safe at Last
Hammer creaked open the safe door. Fire and sparks lit the darkness around him. Plaster and wires hung from the ceiling. The explosion deafened him. His ears were ringing.
The world swam as Hammer stumbled out of the rubble. He looked around. All the Nazis were dead.
Klaxons continued to wail. The way back up the steps was blocked, but Hammer could make out the opening to the Sapphire plant, a stairwell on the other side of the room. He shoved some debris out of the way.
Hammer sensed movement out of the corner of his eye. He turned to look.
One blackened, burned hand shoved its way out of the rubble.
“Oh, no…” whispered Hammer to himself. He dug faster.
Like some Nordic god, the Nazi rose up naked out of the scorched earth around him. He was over six feet tall, with a very muscular physique and classic German features. His blonde hair was cut short, his face clean-shaven. He looked as if he could have stepped out of a World War II SS recruitment poster.
“No!” Hammer dug faster.
The Nazi reached over and pulled out a jagged piece of metal. Testing its weight in his hands, he slowly stalked towards Hammer with murderous purpose.
Hammer cleared a path. He ducked through the hole and clambered up the steps.
An air lock blocked his path. Mustering all his strength, Hammer wrenched open the air lock and slammed it behind him. He knew it wouldn’t stop the Nazi for long.
Inside the decontamination chamber, Hammer ran to the other side.
The German reached the airlock door. The door slowly winched open.
“Come on, come on!” Hammer spun the wheel to open the other side of the airlock. Blue gas hissed through the opening.
The Nazi entered the chamber behind him.
Hammer dashed out onto the catwalk suspended above the Sapphire chemical plant. Below him, it was clear that the covered vats that normally protected the chemical processes had been torn open by an explosion. An explosion the Karotechia had intentionally set off. Blue chemicals bubbled within.
Hammer ran across the catwalk. There was a spiraling stairwell at the center of the plant. If he could make it…
The German forced open the second door of the airlock. He stepped out onto the catwalk behind Hammer.
Hammer, grunting from the exertion, dropped to his knees. Then he rolled over the edge and gripped the catwalk with both hands. Swinging himself back and forth, Hammer hurled himself over to a nearby catwalk.
Hammer slammed sideways into it and nearly lost his grip, scrabbling to gain purchase. He hoisted himself up onto the catwalk and rolled over on his back to catch his breath.
The catwalk shuddered from the weight of something heavy. Hammer didn’t have to look up. He knew the Nazi had jumped the distance between the two catwalks effortlessly.
“Ich werde die haut schneiden sie ihr gesicht und essen sie!” snarled the Nazi. He lifted the metal shiv over Hammer’s head.
The catwalk shuddered from an explosion and the big German windmilled. Then he lost his footing, hurtling down into the vat of Sapphire fifty feet below.
Hammer slid down the spiral steps as the entire complex began to go up in flames. “This is Agent Hammer!” he shouted into his comm. “We need a STREETSWEEPER team at my coordinates!”
Thursday, 18th June, 2009, 11:38 AM #543
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 16 – Men in Black
Hammer, Archive, and Jim-Bean drove Fiona back to the nearest Majestic-12 facility. Guppy lay unconscious in the back seat.
“Tell her,” said Jim-Bean. “She’s seen too much already.”
Archive looked fearfully at Hammer, who was driving. But he nodded.
“We work for an organization, an organization of the highest level of secrecy,” said Hammer. “It’s a clandestine taskforce that deals with the elimination and obscuration of preternatural phenomena that pose a threat to our citizens and their country."
Fiona, dirt smudging her face and an ugly purple bruise on her cheek, looked askance at Hammer. “And what organization might that be?”
“Majestic-12,” said Jim-Bean. “But our cover is the Counter-Intelligence Field Agency.”
Fiona sighed. “So you ARE government goons.”
“We’re beyond the government,” said Hammer.
“You’re all the same,” said Fiona with a scowl. “Why are you telling me all this?”
“Because we want you to join us,” said Hammer. “You know your way around a pistol. You dealt with the supernatural calmly. You’d be a good fit.”
Fiona barked a bitter laugh. “Oh you think so, huh? Was that before Jim-Bean punched me in the face or after he killed my friend?”
“I told you,” said Jim-Bean with a sigh, “he was infected…”
“So is Guppy,” she said, pointing at the bluish tinge to Guppy’s skin. “So are you. Hammer was exposed to the fumes in the plant, more than any of us. And yet everyone trusts him to drive.”
Hammer shrugged. “The Redlight boys say they have an antidote…”
“So there’s an antidote? Where was the antidote when Jim-Bean shot David in the back of the head?”
“Look, we make decisions based on our best judgment,” said Hammer seriously. “Jim-Bean made the call and I agree with it. The man was a liability.”
“Is that what they were?” snarled Fiona. “A liability?” She crossed her arms. “I suppose you’ll just kill me if I say no.”
Hammer shook his head. “We’ll give you the COCKTAIL, a chemical that will erase your short-term memory. Your friends died in a car accident while you were driving to intercept ABC. It will explain your bruises. Keith and David’s corpses will be placed in the car. Someone will drag you to safety but not in time for your two friends, who will die in the inevitable explosion. You’ll wake up in a hospital and resume your normal life.”
“And what about the rest? The chemical plant?”
“We have STREETSWEEPER teams for that,” said Jim-Bean. “It will probably be chalked up to a chemical spill.”
Fiona rubbed her forehead. “I don’t believe this.” She looked sideways at Archive. “And what about you?”
Archive shrugged. “Don’t look at me, I’m just a Friendly.”
“You don’t look too friendly to me.”
“Are you joining us or not?” asked Hammer.
There was a long pause as Fiona picked her words carefully.
“People like you are why I started writing for the Ecotopian. You think you can just do whatever you want, just cover things up, just take away civil liberties. Well enough. I may not be able to stop you but I can at least not be a part of your stupid games. David and Keith had lives. Lives that you sacrificed all because you wanted to blow up some factory.”
“A zombie factory,” added Jim-Bean.
“Shut up!” snapped Fiona. “I used to think you were cute. But you’re just as bad as him.” She jabbed an accusing finger at Hammer.
Hammer’s expression darkened as they pulled up to an innocuous-looking warehouse. “We’re here. You’ll be decontaminated, given a cover story, and dropped off at the nearest hospital.”
They all got out of the car. Guppy was taken away by stretcher.
Hammer looked as if he was about to say something else to Fiona. But whatever it was, he changed his mind.
“Have a nice life,” was all he said.
Then he stalked away, leaving Fiona to the techs who swarmed around her with needles and tubes.
Friday, 19th June, 2009, 11:45 AM #544
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 17 – Skin in the Game
True to his word, Hammer argued vehemently to have Fiona given a COCKTAIL. For a little while it looked like she might be given the 9mm retirement plan, but ultimately Sprague prevailed. It was easier to have at least one witness alive; if everyone died, it would look like ABC was covering up something, and Majestic didn’t need more GNN reporters snooping around.
Hammer, decontaminated and showered, took a look at himself in the mirror.
Maybe Fiona was right. Maybe he was becoming a cold bastard. But then, he did what he had to do. To protect everybody. People like his grandma in Manhattan.
His grandmother lived a life Hammer wanted her to maintain. It made him happy, thinking of her smiling at him from her porch, standing in the sunlight.
It was a fiction, of course. He knew that. But fiction was what counted as life for most people. The truth was ugly and violent. It killed Blade. And it would kill him one day too, if the package he had sent himself from the future was any indication.
In the mirror he looked tired, older. The job aged him. Gray streaks were sprouting at his sideburns. Hammer left the decision to pluck or dye them or do nothing at all to another day.
Hammer opened the medicine cabinet and popped some aspirin. Another day. He had killed the Karotechia sorcerer, Whitcher, just as his future self had indicated. But the other parts – the scar on his thumb, the woman with the tattoo – hadn’t yet come true.
Or did it?
Hammer closed the medicine cabinet mirror and looked at himself again. Didn’t Jim-Bean say something about not dating any Asian chicks? What did he mean?
“That is one useful symbol,” he remembered Fiona saying as she watched Archive display the Elder Sign.
“Oh no,” said Hammer. He reached for his cistron.
The possibilities spun in his mind. It was a paradox, that the sight of Fiona’s own tattoo caused her to get that tattoo. Was that even possible?
But if he was trying to keep his fragile future together, follow some sort of script, fix things that weren’t meant to be broken in the timeline…simply dumping her off in a hospital was a bad idea.
He pulled up a news report. His stomach clenched. Fiona was missing.
GNN reported that one of the interns at the hospital, John Mackey, was assaulted by three skinheads. A doctor, Kevin Shapiro, got the blue panel van’s license plate.
“Damn it!” shouted Hammer into his cistron. “Jim-Bean, Archive, Guppy, meet me at the car. Fiona’s been kidnapped.”
They split up. Hammer and Guppy went to the hospital, Jim-Bean and Archive tracked down the car.
By the time they arrived at the hospital, Fiona was long gone.
Hammer scoured the room for evidence. There was ample hair, fiber, and fingerprint evidence – Fiona put up a fight.
Guppy plugged the data into his cistron. The prints popped up immediately.
“They’re all members of the Bear Flag Republic, a white separatist movement,” said Guppy. “All of them have criminal records in the state of California. I’ve got their addresses.”
“Skinheads.” Hammer shook his head. “Won’t matter, by the time they return it will be too late for Fiona. What about the car?”
“We found it on the side of the road,” said Jim-Bean over the comm. “They switched vehicles to a van.”
“Can you track them?”
There was a pause. “Yeah. Fortunately they were looking at GPS in the car. I got a good look at their location. It’s off of State Road 12.”
Hammer was already out the door. “I’ll meet you there.”
Sunday, 21st June, 2009, 02:56 AM #545
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 18 – A Real Bear
The Training Center was located off State Road 12, on a logging road deep in the Rocky Mountains north of Sonora, California. The terrain was mountainous with dense pine and redwood forests. The agents were positioned on top of a ridge overlooking the facility.
The Bear Flag Republic Training Center was a large compound surrounded by a ten-foot-high, chain-link fence topped with barbed wire. A two-lane paved road led up to a gatehouse, from which an armed security guard checked in visitors and monitored the compound on closed-circuit TV. Guards with dogs made one patrol of the compound every four minutes. Beyond the gate were several buildings of various sizes and a parking lot.
The lot contained a dark green Chevy Suburban (license plate UBER-01) and a black van with license plate AIK 834. In the center of the compound was a large, cylindrical tank approximately 100 feet in diameter and 100 feet high. The road led right up to the tank and encircles it. The other buildings in the compound were the office, the garage, and the barracks.
An unmarked tanker truck stopped at the gatehouse for clearance, then pulled up to the tank, connected a hose to it, and transferred its cargo.
“That’s got to be Sapphire.” Hammer handed off his binoculars to Jim-Bean. “Guppy, think you can override their security cameras? A place out here probably doesn’t have too many wires…”
Guppy tapped a few keys on his cistron. “Yes. It’s wireless all right. I can put in a repeat feed.”
“Do it.” He turned to Jim-Bean. “Jimmy, I need you to provide a distraction.”
Jim-Bean grinned. “No problem.”
“What about me?” asked Archive.
“I want you to go with him,” said Hammer. “One guy by himself will look suspicious—“
“I’d rather not,” said Archive.
“Excuse me?” asked Hammer. “I’m mission leader. You do what I say.”
Archive frowned. “I think I’d be better served hanging back. Jim-Bean’s better at the social engineering stuff than I am.”
Hammer’s expression darkened. “I gave you your Friendly status, but I can take it back—“
Archive cut him off. “Jim-Bean left already.”
Jim-Bean was walking down the road in plain sight of the guard.
Hammer sighed. “Fine. Get back to the car and keep it warm. We’ll need to be ready to bug out here at a moment’s notice.”
Archive seemed satisfied with that. He took off.
“Okay, the feed’s set up,” said Guppy. “You’re clear.”
Hammer, cursing Archive under his breath, ran off down to the fence.
Monday, 22nd June, 2009, 11:38 AM #546
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 19 – I Know Nahzing!
Jim-Bean sauntered up to the front gate. He yelled at the guardhouse. “Hello?”
A guard stepped out, dressed in camouflage and carrying an automatic weapon. “This facility is private property.” He tapped the large sign that read: PRIVATE PROPERTY. “You must leave.”
“Oh that’s okay, I don’t plan to stay long,” said Jim-Bean. “I’m looking for Fiona Lin-Wei, have you seen here?”
The guard went into the gatehouse and picked up a phone. After a hushed conversation, Jim-Bean was ushered in.
“Jaeger will see you. Follow me please.”
Jim-Bean was led to Horst Jaeger’s private office. It was furnished with a desk and a large chair, plus two more chairs next to the door. On the desk was a computer.
Jaeger was very overweight, but still muscular. He wore his hair long, his beard thick, and sported camouflaged U.S. military fatigues.
Jaeger stood up. “Who are you?” he asked. “And what do you want?”
“You can call me Jimmy,” he said. “I’m looking for Fiona Lin-Wei.”
“My name is Horst Jaeger,” he said gruffly. Jaeger pulled out a bottle of scotch and two glasses. “Can I offer you a drink?”
“No thanks,” said Jim-Bean.
Jaeger shrugged and poured himself a glass.
“She’s a friend of mine,” continued Jim-Bean. “She went missing a few days ago and I lost track of her until I heard she got into a car accident recently on the news. But when I got the hospital she was missing.”
“I know of Ms. Lin-Wei,” said Jaeger. “She came by here two weeks ago and was asking a lot of questions. We sent her on her way, but when I told my superiors about the incident, they told me about her connection to the Karotechia.”
“Karotechia?” asked Jim-Bean. “Who’s that?”
“German terrorists,” said Jaeger smoothly. He downed his drink in one shot. “I haven’t seen or heard of Ms. Lin-Wei since then. My guess is she went into hiding because her cover was blown.”
Jim-Bean leaned forward. “You know, it’s funny…you never asked me why I came here, specifically, to this place, to ask you about her.”
Jaeger glared at him. “This conversation is over. Get out.” He pressed a button.
Jim-Bean shrugged. “Fine. But I’ll be back.”
Once the guard escorted him off the premises, Jim-Bean spoke into his comm. “I hope that bought you some time, Hammer. Because I’m coming back to teach this smug bastard a lesson.”
Tuesday, 23rd June, 2009, 11:18 AM #547
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Part 20 – Going Ape
Thanks to Guppy’s repeating feed, it was a simple task for Hammer to cut through the barbed wire fence and past the guards. What wasn’t as simple was finding Fiona, who could have been in any one of the buildings. He crouched from window to window, peeking in to try to determine if Fiona was inside.
He stopped at the garage. It was a small, single-story building meant to house vehicles being serviced. It held several workbenches, a wide variety of tools for automotive repairs, and what looked like cages covered in black cloth. Fiona Lin-Wei lay bound and gagged on a cot in one corner. On a stool across from her sat an armed skinhead guard.
Hammer snuck up to the doorway. “Get that distraction ready,” whispered Hammer into his comm.
“On its way!” shouted Jim-Bean.
The guard got a phone call. Frowning, he walked over to a phone on the wall. Hammer slipped in through the unlocked door. The skinhead finished talking and hung up.
Hammer put his silenced Glock to the back of the guard’s head. “Don’t move.”
The skinhead whirled for his pistol. Hammer plugged five bullets into his chest.
Hammer walked over to Fiona. She was barely conscious.
The sound of a roaring engine reached his ears. Hammer grabbed Fiona and dragged her out of the way.
The front end of a car smashed through the garage door, ramming into the cages in the back of the garage.
Hammer peered through the window. Jim-Bean, slumped over the wheel, looked up. “That enough of a distraction?”
Hammer frowned. “Yeah. Keep them busy, I’ll get Fiona to safety.”
“Oh sure,” said Jim-Bean.
Hammer fled, half-dragging Fiona with him.
Heavy breathing caused Jim-Bean to peer back through the front of the car, beyond the cracked windshield. Something huge and dark moved in the shadows of the now torn open cage.
Jim-Bean threw the car into reverse, but the wheels merely screeched. The vehicle was held fast by two huge, gangrenous paws that gripped either side of the front fender.
Jim-Bean hit the gas. Gaping white jaws lurched forward, bellowing with such ferocity that Jim-Bean could smell its fetid breath. It was a huge ape, muscle and bone exposed, tinged with blue.
The car groaned as it struggled to break free of the ape’s grip. But it was no match for the reanimated gorilla. It began rocking the car back and forth.
Jim-Bean gave up trying to drive and reached for the door…
The car flipped sideways, rolling over and over. For a moment there was silence.
The passenger door was torn off like tinfoil. The ape roared again and reached inside for Jim-Bean.
Jim-Bean wrenched the driver door open and dove out the other side. Enraged, the gorilla pawed at him through the car.
Jim-Bean ran over to the dead guard and shrugged on his jacket. The ape was temporarily distracted, tearing the car apart.
Two guards, similarly attired, skidded to a halt in front of the garage opening.
“It’s escaped!” shouted Jim-Bean, pointing into the garage. “Fire!”
The guards unslung their automatic weapons. Jim-Bean ran past them. “I’ll get help!”
Then the guards were simply not there. A heavy, black object smashed into both of them, crunching their soft bodies across the pavement. The object bounced its way ahead of Jim-Bean.
It was the car’s engine block.
Jim-Bean kept running right out through the hole in the gate. To his surprise, Archive had the second car ready to go. Hammer, Fiona, and Guppy were inside with him.
Jim-Bean clambered into the back. “Looks like you had the most important job of all,” he said with a grin to Archive.
They took off, leaving behind the screams of the guards and the gorilla.
Wednesday, 24th June, 2009, 11:34 AM #548
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Dead Letter: Conclusion
“What the hell was that?” asked Hammer.
Fiona sat in the middle between Hammer and Jim-Bean. She was still coming to. Archive drove and Guppy sat in the passenger seat.
“I think that was patient zero,” said Jim-Bean. “Whatever it was, it’s been dead a long time.”
“And infected with Sapphire,” said Hammer into his cistron. “Site compromised. Initiate PURGATORY. Repeat: PURGATORY.”
“I remember that,” said Jim-Bean, “wait, you’re not…”
“I am,” said Hammer. “The entire site has to be wiped out. If that gorilla makes it out into the wild…”
“But the evidence!” shouted Jim-Bean. “We can trace this back to the Karotechia!”
“No time,” said Hammer.
Jim-Bean focused. He might not be able to gather evidence physically, but he had his own ways of gathering information. He concentrated.
Horst Jaeger was screaming frantically in German to a laptop microphone and webcam. A bandaged figure, with the same pale blue eyes as the big Nazi they encountered at the chemical plant, barked a command. Jim-Bean’s remote viewing couldn’t make out the location of the Nazi, but he could see his name written at the bottom of the screen: REINHARD GALT.
Jim-Bean didn’t speak German. Galt’s speech was slurred and there was interference in the wireless feed. He could make out the words “The Doctor” and “Rosetta, Texas.”
The signal suddenly went out. The laptop rattled. Jaeger looked up in fear…
And Jim-Bean was back in his own body, just in time to see the breathtaking sight of two black fighter jets shriek overhead, their sonic booms rattling the car as they passed. Jim-Bean craned his neck to track them as they passed beyond the car.
FWOOSH! Each jet released two missiles. They spiraled and ignited, pirouetting up into the heavens and then down onto the military facility. The annihilation was instantaneous. A small mushroom cloud billowed up behind them.
Fiona slowly came to, her head leaning on Hammer’s shoulder. She looked up at him.
“You saved me,” she said with a smile.
"Wow," said Guppy. "We really did wipe your memory, huh?"
Last edited by talien; Monday, 29th June, 2009 at 03:41 AM.
Monday, 29th June, 2009, 03:42 AM #549
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Chapter 40: Last Rites of the Black Guard - Introduction
This story hour is from “Last Rites of the Black Guard” by Ed Wetterman. You can read more about Delta Green at Delta Green. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!
Our cast of characters includes:
If you’re familiar with the Karotechia in Delta Green, you know that it is led by a triumvirate of Nazis on their last legs: the ancient Olaf Bitterich, the artificially sustained Gunter Frank, and the immortal Reinhard Galt. Advancing the Delta Green timeline thus causes a bit of a problem, because Bitterich should be dead of old age. The solution: Last Rites of the Black Guard (LRBG).
- Game Master: Michael Tresca
- Kurtis "Hammer" Grange (Fast Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster
- Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
- Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero) played by Jeremy Ortiz (Jeremy Robert Ortiz)
LRBG assumes the characters will conduct a séance, which isn’t necessarily something every group will try. Instead, I had our resident psychic character possessed by Aimee’s spirit and let him role-play out the answers with the other characters. Only after enough clues were gathered about what happened to the spirits did I reveal that there was once a Nazi living next door.
LRBG then moves to the second part of the scenario, which is essentially a death trap. Once the investigators find their way down to the secret door, it locks behind them and they are engaged in a fight for their lives with a Risen of Osiris, an undead monster. Since I adopted this monster to a Delta Green setting, I changed it to a Screaming Crawler. The effect is the same: the investigators have to slog it out in a toe-to-toe fight. My players were unhappy about this, expecting to uncover some plot-device to destroy it. The monster has no other purpose than as a guardian, which surprised my players, who expected it to be the old Nazi himself.
This scenario provided a mix of creepy investigation and slugging it out with a supernatural beast. Because of how the fight went down, Archive was taken out early, which left it up to the gunslinger and the faceman. The gunslinger enjoyed himself, the faceman didn’t.
Defining Moment: Since his incident with Yog-Sothoth, Archive is terrified of spheres. Which just happens to be the form an ABE takes…
- [ame=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0011Z0YJK?ie=UTF8&tag=michaeltresca&linkCode=as2& camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0011Z0YJK]Follow You Home[/ame]: By Nickelback
- [ame=http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0981963706?ie=UTF8&tag=michaeltresca&linkCode=as2& camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=0981963706]Last Rites of the Black Guard[/ame]: Source of the scenario.
Wednesday, 1st July, 2009, 11:43 AM #550
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Black Guard: Prologue
Rosetta was a small suburban town, widely known for its beautiful woods. The total population just touched 53,000. Many wealthy families lived in the area and this affluence provided access to many amenities and services. The city had a large library, a first class private hospital, and a professional police force and fire department.You can dig me up a grave
And try and stick me in the ground
You can tie me to the bed
And try and beat me half to death
But you can never keep me down
And I will survive
--Follow You Home by Nickelback
Rosetta was home to RaeMart Industries, a large scientific firm that created specialized missile technology. Rosetta’s schools were some of the best in Texas and the students consistently scored among the highest in the state. Rosetta was home to the American Dream.
The north side of town consisted mostly of industrial zones and shopping areas, including a large mall. The east side was the oldest part of town and many of the families who lived there were very wealthy and owned large plantation-style homes. To the south lay the “poor” section of town, which was the only area zoned for apartment buildings.
“So there’s supposed to be a Nazi around here somewhere?” asked Hammer, driving a huge black SUV.
Jim-Bean shrugged from the passenger seat. “I know what I saw. Galt said Rosetta, Texas. And some doctor.”
Archive scanned his limited-access cistron. “The old town square holds an arts and crafts festival most weekends and is ringed by a number of antique stores. The most popular restaurant is The Cattleman, but many chain restaurants can be found on the north side of town.”
“But nothing about Nazis?” asked Hammer.
“Nothing yet,” said Archive. “But if you had a Nazi living in town, wouldn’t you bury it?”
“Point taken,” said Hammer.
Archive’s phone rang.
Hammer and Jim-Bean stared at Archive, who stared at the cistron.
“Who has that phone number?” asked Hammer indignantly.
“Not many people,” said Archive.
“Are you going to pick it up?” asked Jim-Bean.
Archive picked it up. “Fontaine,” he answered.
“Mr. Fontaine? This is Lisa Gray. You don’t know me but we have a mutual friend. I called his show when the noises first started…”
“Mutual…friend?” whispered Hammer. “Who?”
Jim-Bean started shaking his head. “Don’t say it.”
“When I told him what it was, he said he doesn’t deal with ‘noncorporeal entities’. He recommended I call you…”
“Don’t say it,” said Jim-Bean, rubbing his temples.
“Who is our mutual friend, Ms. Gray?” asked Archive.
“Magnus,” said Gray.
“Of course,” said Jim-Bean, banging his head on the dashboard. “Because he couldn’t spin this into one of his idiotic vampire stories any other way.”
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