Delta Green - All Part of the Job


Future/Perfect - Session 2c

This Hughes guy must have been pretty strange if those tapes were accurate. Dempsey was starting to come around to the weresnake theory. Hughes preferred the dark, and he liked heat lamps. Snakes like heat lamps. His sense of smell was incredible, and snakes had some of the keenest noses in the animal kingdom.

Tongues. Clark told the Irishman snakes smelled with their tongues. Well, Dempsey wasn’t so sure about that, but whatever. Clark also pointed out snakes weren’t exactly vegetarians, but it sounded like Arthur Hughes was. Still, heat lamps. Clark agreed there was a similarity, and he still liked his weresnake theory. It was something to keep in mind.

Clark took the Geiger counter and the Master Lock key, and the agents headed out back to the root cellar. Dempsey swung the doors open and looked down. The cellar had dirt walls reinforced by wooden supports. A set of slate steps led the way down.

Clark went down first, gun out, and once at the bottom, he pulled the chain dangling from an uncovered lightbulb in the ceiling. The bulb came to life and illuminated the roughly ten-foot square cellar. The cellar was empty, and the soft dirt floor had been meticulously raked. It looked somewhat like an uninspired Zen garden with only parallel grooves. A rake rested against the near wall at the foot of the stairs.

Well, Dempsey wasn’t about to go messing with a dead man’s Zen garden. That’s how you get bad karma. He was about to head back up the stairs when he noticed a clicking sound from the Geiger counter. Clark suggested Potter may have buried something in the dirt and raked it over to hide it. That may be, but if he did, Dempsey reasoned, it appeared to be something radioactive.

Clark shrugged and followed the trail until the counter clicked the fastest. If anything here was radioactive, it wasn’t strong enough to be dangerous in small doses. Clark began to dig, and it only took a moment before he found something.

He pulled a large jar from the ground, and Dempsey immediately wished he hadn’t. It was full of some sort of liquid, but it was what floated in the fluid that made the Irishman flinch. It looked like a dragonfly curled in a death position, and it was at least two feet long. Clark was a little bothered by it, but on seeing just how badly it affected Dempsey, he reverted to his bro days. He teased Dempsey by pretending to throw the jar to him a few times.

The Irishman was not amused. His older brother had tortured him with a dead dragonfly when they were younger, dangling it over young Dempsey’s head or setting it on his shoulder. The incident ended when Dempsey’s brother forced him to eat the thing. Nope. Clark could put that right back in the ground or send it off to the nerds at the lab. Clark laughed and set it aside for the moment.

There was one other thing in the hole; a Ziploc bag with a golden cube. The cube was a little less than three inches on each side, but it had to weigh almost 15 pounds. Either it was gold-painted lead, or it was actually gold. Clark wasn’t sure this much gold should be radioactive. He probably should have studied harder for his Physics class instead of partying. Either way, it had to be worth millions of dollars if it was real. Clark suspected the cube might actually be 2.718 inches, and if so, it would match the measurements of the sockets from the drawing in the notepad.

The edges and corners were rounded, and there were odd symbols etched into each face. Clark thought he knew some of them, or at least he recognized the style. It had been little more than a year since the tragedy at the community center in Buffalo. That was where he met and recruited the State Department linguist Dolf de Jaager. What was it de Jaager called the language they were learning? Anglo? He knew that wasn’t right, but it was close.

Dolf hadn’t been assigned to this Operation, but he could help. Clark took pictures of each face of the cube with his phone and sent them to de Jaager. He received a response on the first before he’d even sent the last. Aklo. That was the language.

The etchings each had a few different translations. One translation would indicate direction – north, south, east, west, middle, and time. Another would indicate relative position – first, last, above, below, transition, and before.

Dempsey wasn’t so sure the second set of translations made sense. Why would one stand for before if another stood for first? Clark didn’t care too much. They had a two-foot-long dragonfly and a multi-million dollar radioactive cube to hide. The nearest Green Box was probably in Bakersfield, so the back of the SUV was going to have to suffice for now.

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Future/Perfect - Session 2d

Their next order of business was to speak with the old man at the gas station, Montgomery Greene. Clark was pretty sure he was the Monty from the interview tapes, and if so, maybe he had an idea about what happened to Potter. While Clark called the gas station to set up an interview, Dempsey stashed the dragonfly and the cube in a compartment in the back of the SUV. He placed Potter’s leaded gloves over the cube. It might not make much of a difference, but an ounce of prevention, and all that.

The drive to the gas station was quick, but ever with the air conditioning on full blast, the SUV didn’t seem to cool off. It was like sitting in an oven with a dragon breathing in their faces.

Montgomery Greene was old. He looked to be in his 90s, at least. Clark assured him they wouldn’t take much of his time. They just had a few questions.

He was the Monty from Potter’s interview tapes, and Potter interviewed him because he developed an interest in the history of the Hughes Electrodynamics plant after poking around the ruins looking for scrap metal. Potter interviewed him because he was the only living person in town who knew the owner, Arthur Hughes. Hughes was a little creepy, and he was involved in revolutionary and groundbreaking science, but to Monty’s knowledge, no, he wasn’t performing “mad science.” No, Hughes wasn’t a harpy or weresnake skulking around Death Valley murdering people who got too close. He had died in the explosion that destroyed the plant back in ’52.

Now, the old man had some questions for them. Were they serious? They were just covering all their bases. Were they high? No, sir. That was illegal without a prescription. Did they watch too much Scooby Doo? Well, Clark did, but that was beside the point.

The agents thanked Mr. Greene for his time, and Clark bought a few Red Bulls on their way out to the SUV. Lorraine Minor’s house was nearby, so they headed over to speak with Emily Warren, Ms. Minor’s partner. That interview was even shorter than the one with Montgomery Greene.

Ms. Warren was still grieving and understandably upset. There wasn’t anything she could tell them that they didn’t already know, and so the agents thanked her for her time and offered their condolences.

They drove out to the ruins of the Electrodynamics plant. That seemed to be their only unturned stone. If this Hughes guy wasn’t a harpy or a weresnake, and if he really did die in the explosion more than sixty years ago, maybe he had been working on something which was responsible for the deaths. Sure, Monty had said Hughes wasn’t performing mad science, but they only had three theories, and one of them was bound to be right.

The plant was destroyed, but maybe the Bathysphere could still be accessed. It was underground and supposedly structurally sound. If Hughes was a harpy or a weresnake, and he had somehow survived all these years, the Bathysphere would be the place to find him. If he had been a mad scientist, maybe he had Jurassic Parked a monster that Potter released. Harpy, weresnake, dinosaur … could be worse. Could be a razor tiger from Chicago. Clark tried to meditate on a perfect sphere just in case.

The plant was little more than rubble, broken concrete slabs, and twisted metal struts. There were some old typewriters and filing cabinets mixed with the debris. It was easy to find where Potter had been working. It was a cleared spot about twenty or thirty feet in diameter covered in Bobcat tracks, footprints, Dr. Pepper cans, and candy bar wrappers. The Bobcat had broken the ground in a few places, and the dirt it revealed matched the dirt from the leaded gloves from Potter’s kitchen.

It was the hottest part of the day, and the agents couldn’t find stairs or an elevator shaft which might lead underground, so they went back to sit in the SUV. Even an oven with a hyperventilating dragon was preferable to the midday sun in Death Valley.

They decided to drive around the area and see if anything jumped out at them, literally or figuratively. It took only a few minutes for them to find what they were looking for. Not quite a mile northwest of the plant, the ground dropped at least twenty feet in a modest slope. At the bottom of the hill, the desert morphed into a garden of bright green speckled by tiny red fern-like flowers. A muddy stream ran along the base of the slope, and it was coming from a large culvert.


Future/Perfect - Session 2e

The concrete culvert was about twelve feet in diameter, and it led underground in the direction of the Electrodynamics plant. Water from the plant was spilling into Death Valley and creating a ditch teeming with life. That sounded like mad science. Clark half-jokingly said they could cross harpy and weresnake off the list, but they should watch out for dinosaurs. It was at that exact moment when Dempsey found what seemed to be an enormous footprint in the mud. It was only a partial print, and neither of the men was an outdoorsman, so they couldn’t tell what had created it. Still, it had to be huge. Dempsey guessed it was maybe 1,000 pounds, but he had no basis for that estimate.

The clues seemed to lead into the tunnel, and Clark’s Geiger counter clicked its agreement. Clark headed into the culvert, but Dempsey thought he might prefer to stay outside. If there were a real-life Jurassic Park in there, he’d take his chances with the sun. But Clark was welcome to his flashlight if he wanted it.

If Clark was going into that tunnel alone, he did, in fact, want the flashlight, but he only had two hands. He needed one for his gun, one for the Geiger counter, and now one for the flashlight. Grumbling, he turned the volume up on the Geiger counter and put it in his pocket. He paused for what he hoped was a dramatic moment before giving Dempsey an upward nod. He then headed into the tunnel.

The culvert had a slow rush of water about two inches deep, and the walls were covered in deep green moss a little higher than his waist. The tunnel was mostly straight, but it did curve and weave a little at points. It wasn’t long before Dempsey and the sunlight had faded.

At first, Clark thought his Geiger counter might be echoing until he came upon a small recess. In the alcove, he found two overturned milk crates. A device which probably began its existence as a radio sat on one of the crates, and it was clicking cheerfully in unison with his Geiger counter. The other milk crate held a motorcycle battery, and its nodes were connected to the device by thick wires. Potter had died months ago, but Clark was sure a device like this wouldn’t require much power, and a motorcycle battery could probably do the trick for quite some time.

Clark was sure this tunnel led to the answers, but he wasn’t going to find them alone. He turned back and called Dempsey in. The Irishman wasn’t too eager to go, but he grudgingly followed. Not far past the alcove, the culvert opened into a large, concrete room filled with water and odd plants. It looked like this room had once been two rooms until the reinforced dividing wall collapsed.

Clark shined the flashlight over the wet, jagged rubble of the dividing wall. The other side was just as green and full of odd vegetation. Dempsey thought he saw something in the far corner, and Clark shined the light back. It was a large archway of deep black stone tilted forward at a slight angle and pinned in place by debris. Most of the top and right side of the archway were clear, but the majority of the left side was covered.

Clark scrambled carefully over the jagged wall, and Dempsey followed after a slight hesitation. Once on the other side, the agents crept closer to the archway. Judging from the part visible above the debris, it resembled the drawing from the notepad. There was a square slot about the height and width of the gold cube and maybe two-thirds as deep. If they were to slide the cube into the slot, it should protrude almost an inch. That would be enough to remove it easily.

Also, if this was the inspiration for Potter’s drawing, that would imply there were two other 14-pound gold cubes beneath the rubble. They weren’t moving that debris without heavy equipment, though, and really, that wasn’t their assignment.

All of that was secondary, anyway, to the interior of the archway. It was filled with a deep gray mist that swirled and drifted around. It would twirl and twist, almost hypnotically, and then it would congeal into tiny collections of clouds which would dissipate into more swirls. The mist never drifted far from the archway before evaporating.

So, that was it. Mad science. The agents had thrown out three theories and rolled the dice. And yet, somehow, they weren’t feeling lucky.

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