Delta Green - All Part of the Job

Nomessiah

Visitor
Agent ROSE is still entirely under the player's control. Agent SETH's player decided to bow out of the game, but before he left we worked out the specifics behind the cell restructuring. His character was pretty much wholly disgusted with what he saw as lack of professionalism on the part of everyone else involved, and dangerous criminal tendency surfacing in ROSE specifically. Agent RUBY's player has also left, and her character has retired. She knew very little, if anything about ROSE's activities.

Agent SID (now, Agent REDLIGHT after the restructure) is becoming suspicious as you'll see as soon as I get the recent session posted, but he has no evidence to justify choking anyone, and he has problems of his own. I would imagine there might be plenty of fallout once he finds out about her connection with the Dark Man, but then again, my players like to take hard left turns on me from time to time. It's not likely, but it is possible that they'd form their own cult instead.

As far as player strangling goes, my players are really good about separating in- and out-of-character information, and they're really just in it for a good story. Whether that story is good or bad for their characters doesn't matter as much, and that's a good attitude for Call of Cthulhu.

Delta Green should start out with an idealized feel of Good vs. Evil so that the players can be properly disgusted with the actions they find their characters taking just to cover up the actions they took to survive. In my experience with most other role-playing games, players keep a pretty strong control over their characters. In Delta Green, that control can slip without notice until you take a long, hard look at a situation and retrace the steps that got you there. I take that as a sign of immersion in a story as opposed to playing a game, and that's the feel I try to produce at the table.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent REDLIGHT – Captain Cramer Gump, INSCOM “Black” Ops (formerly Agent SID)
Agent RICHARD – Major James McGinnis, AMEDD General Surgeon
Agent ROSE – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator, Leader of R-Cell – Computer crimes specialist (formerly Agent SAM)

Former Agents
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Gregori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher
Agent RAPUNZEL (deceased) – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist
Agent ROBIN (deceased) – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Agent RAPSCALLION (deceased) – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RUBY (retired) – Amelia Larce, DoE Nuclear Emergency Support Team
Agent SÁBADO (deceased) – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SERGE (missing) – Ferdinand Bazinet, Federal Research Division, French-language occult documents specialist
Agent SETH (reassigned) – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist
Agent SLEEPLESS (deceased) – Reginald Longbottom, NSA Cult Infiltration Specialist

Before the previous Operation began, Agent SID's player requested something "outside the U.S.", and so here we have the agents tackling their first overseas Opera. We had a bit of player turnover, so we only had two players for this session. A new (to this game, but not to Delta Green or this group) player should join us next time.

The curtain rises nearly a year after the last Opera. This brings us to October of 2011.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 1a

Eleven months can seem like an eternity when you anticipate some wonderful event in your future. Those same eleven months can pass you by seemingly in an instant when you dread that same event. Eleven months had passed since the Spooner Avenue Operation, and many things had changed.

Agent SETH had requested reassignment for SID, and SID was now known as REDLIGHT as a result. Agent ROSE was still the leader of R-Cell, but RUBY had retired. This left an opening which A-Cell promised to fill as soon as a new Agent or Friendly could be found.

Agent ROSE’s Delta Green phone had been silent for nearly a year, and yet when it rang, it didn’t surprise her. She was almost expecting it.

The voice on the other end was Agent ADAM. She’d only heard the voice a couple times, but given what inevitably followed, it was a memorable one.

“ROSE, I have the honor of inviting you to a Night at the Opera. See that your passports are in order. You’ll need them if your cell is to reach London. No cover. At the U.S. Embassy, meet with Sandra Bower, a CIA Case Officer for your briefing.”

Without waiting for a response, the line went dead. London in October. It should be a stark contrast to New Mexico. Agent ROSE contacted her only cell member, the former Agent SID. Agent REDLIGHT indicated that his passport was good to go, and he could leave by morning.

Once he was packed, REDLIGHT stopped by the local Wal-Mart to buy four large bottles of Advil. His new body was strong, fast, and healthy. It did have a small problem, however. It hurt. Everything hurt. On his best days, the recommended dosage of Advil was enough to block the pain. On his worst days, it took morphine.

ROSE and REDLIGHT were on the same connecting flight out of New York. Whether ROSE was just lucky, or if her stunning looks backed by a well-played flirt were the cause, she managed to get herself upgraded to first class. Whether REDLIGHT was just unlucky, or if his odd appearance had something to do with it, he found himself stuck in coach next to a kid who kept sneezing on him.

The flight seemed to take no time at all for ROSE while it seemed it would never end for REDLIGHT. Eventually, it did end, and the agents met up at the baggage claim. ROSE hailed a taxi, and they were taken directly to the U.S. Embassy.

Sandra Bower was a smartly dressed, attractive woman in her forties. She greeted the agents and offered them seats. That was the extent of the pleasantries, and she got down to business.

“David Benjamin Sienkiewicz, age 34, native of New York City, is an agent of the CIA. He went AWOL a few weeks ago. He appears to have cracked. He murdered two unconnected people – one a 62-year old man in Reno, and the other a 23-year old woman in New York – seemingly for no reason. He then fled the country. He is at large in the UK, and he appears to be holed up in an empty house in the city of Plymouth. He is armed, and you should consider him dangerous.”

Ms. Bower dropped a thin file on the table in front of the agents and sipped at her tea. The file contained a photograph of Sienkiewicz and a map of Plymouth with one address marked, and another area circled. She pointed to them.

“This is the area where he was last known to be. And this is the flat we’ve managed to secure for your lodgings.”

The two residences were a street away from each other. She dropped a key ring containing two keys onto the file. One key was to their flat, and the other was to the green Nissan Micra they’d been granted for the duration of their assignment.

“This is a fact-finding assignment only. Under no circumstances are you to approach or engage Sienkiewicz. Simply find out what he’s up to – why he’s in the UK. Then report back to me, and you can be on your way home. We can provide some basic surveillance gear; a camera, an audio recorder, a few bugs.”

She gestured to a side table which held the equipment she’d just listed. The agents indicated they understood the assignment, and they collected the equipment, the file, and the keys. Before taking their leave, Agent ROSE had a request which had been in her mind, but she did her best to play it like she’d only just thought of it.

“One thing before we go if you don’t mind, Ms. Bower: Would you happen to know where the ‘Land of Albion’ is?”

The case officer raised an eyebrow and nodded to indicate that she did.

“Albion is an ancient name for Great Britain, Ms. Jones.”

“Ahh, okay. That makes sense. In that case, do you know where I might find ‘the Sleeping Place’ or a road between space? Maybe a library between homes?”

The woman’s eyebrow raised a bit more, and she canted her head.

“Been reading Lewis Carroll in preparation for your trip to England? I’m sorry, Ms. Jones. I love a good mystery, but I’m not really much for riddles. There are many wonderful libraries in the UK, though.”

Agent ROSE thanked her, and soon they were off to Plymouth. It was early evening when the agents arrived at their destination. Their flat was in one of the poorer areas of the city. Several of the houses were boarded up on Fisher Park Road where their flat was located, and on Rosy Cross Park Road, one street over where Sienkiewicz was last seen.

The agents briefly toured their flat. It wasn’t much, but it met their needs. There were two beds with stiff mattresses, and old television set, an empty refrigerator, an oven, and some dishes. The Mr. Coffee coffeemaker on the counter made Agent ROSE sigh in relief. Looking out the window, Agent REDLIGHT could see a long row of houses across the street, and a small pub a few buildings down.

They were tired, but more than that, they were hungry. They decided to brave the fog and the damp air, and they headed down to the pub. Agent ROSE wanted to sit outside under the awning, but REDLIGHT preferred an actual roof and walls, so they ate inside. ROSE was well-cultured, and so she enjoyed her food very much. REDLIGHT, however, was every bit a red-blooded American, and as such the food seemed pretty bland and tasteless. He made a mental note to send ROSE shopping.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 1b

As they were about to head back to the flat, REDLIGHT spotted David Sienkiewicz emerge from a building across the street; number 39, Rosy Cross Park Road. He was bundled in heavy clothes to guard against the cold, but it was obvious Sienkiewicz was a large man with a heavy build. REDLIGHT noted the crew cut before the man covered it with a hat.

Sienkiewicz turned right and headed south toward Rosy Cross Drive. The agents followed at a safe distance initially, but Agent ROSE attempted to get closer. She weaved through the small crowds of people, but at one point she was forced to step into the road to get around, and she was nearly hit by a furniture delivery truck.

If the loud honking of the horn didn’t catch Sienkiewicz’s attention, the shouts would have. Several people were splashed as the truck hit a puddle to avoid ROSE. Sienkiewicz turned to see what had happened, and then he ducked quickly into an alley.

ROSE offered silent apologies to the people around her. All she really wanted was to be unseen, and yet she was the momentary center of attention. Fortunately, Sienkiewicz didn’t seem to have seen her. After a few moments of peeking, he stepped back out onto the sidewalk and continued on. This time, his steps were a little faster.

He turned right to follow Rosy Cross Drive, and Agent ROSE saw that while REDLIGHT was following her, and she was following Sienkiewicz, Sienkiewicz was in turn following someone. That someone was tall and wearing dark clothes. He had a dark beard and glasses, but ROSE couldn’t make out much more than that through the fog.

The man turned north along Rosy Cross Lane, and it appeared he was taking a stroll around the park rather than through it. Sienkiewicz followed, and Agent REDLIGHT followed him from the same safe distance. Agent ROSE decided she would cut through the park and head them off. She was instructed to have no contact with Sienkiewicz, but the case officer said nothing about the person he was shadowing.

She was standing in the grass along the north side of the park as the man approached. She got his attention with a smile and a quick wave. She introduced herself as Gia, an American tourist. The man greeted her and introduced himself as Graham Dworkin, a musician from New York City. He seemed friendly enough.

ROSE stalled with small talk and noted that Sienkiewicz had sat on a bench trying not to let on that he was watching. She told Graham she was on a sort of adventure, a sort of scavenger hunt. She asked him the same questions she’d asked the CIA woman at the embassy, but she got the same result. Yes, Albion was Great Britain, but as for roads between space and libraries between homes … well, he’d seen a library a few blocks away during one of his walks, but there was a pub on one side, and a bakery on the other.

Graham tried a couple times to take his leave and continue his walk, but ROSE kept up with the small talk, and he was too polite to say anything. All the while, Sienkiewicz sat on the bench waiting. A few minutes later, Agent REDLIGHT walked up and joined in the small talk.

As soon as he saw an opportunity, Graham politely excused himself and went on his way. The agents followed Graham, and Sienkiewicz followed all three. The agents and Sienkiewicz all watched as Graham entered the house he was renting; number 28, Rosy Cross Park Road. ROSE and REDLIGHT continued past and noted that Sienkiewicz watched them but didn’t follow. Instead, he waited until they were out of sight before entering the abandoned house where he was staying.

Upon reaching their flat, Agent REDLIGHT swallowed some pills, flopped onto his bed, and turned on the television. The set flickered to life and a cooking program was in progress. He saw his opportunity to send his cell leader to the store. He bet he could cook the next thing they showed as long as ROSE was willing to buy the ingredients and do the dishes.

They had a deal, and a couple hours later, they were enjoying surprisingly well cooked spiced parsnip shepherd's pies followed by cherry and almond tarts. Say what she might about him, ROSE was happy not to be the one cooking for a change.

The next morning, Agent REDLIGHT was up and out of the flat at first light. The sky was an overcast steel grey, and a thin layer of frost covered everything. He walked around the neighborhood, up and down every street noting the various businesses and street names; just generally familiarizing himself with the area. He found a small art gallery directly across from the rear of the house where Sienkiewicz was staying. The gallery was just opening, and so he stepped inside.

He was a little disappointed at first to find that the gallery showcased local aspiring artists rather than established world-class ones, but he took a look around. The walls were rather sparsely hung with uninspiring paintings and photographs, and there was quite a bit of space between the sculptures as well. The only piece that caught his eye appeared to be simply a large rock. It showed no signs of sculpting to his untrained eye, but he felt sure there must be something he was missing. Surely no one would place an ordinary rock in an art gallery with a price tag of £300.

He waved down the gallery manager and decided he’d like to purchase the rock. Once the transaction was complete, the gallery manager informed him that he’d have until the close of business to pick it up. Agent REDLIGHT looked all over the rock, but he found nowhere decent to place a bug. He found the best place he could, and then promptly left.

His phone rang just as he stepped outside, and Agent ROSE informed him that she was on her way to the local library. He said he’d meet her there. After about a block, he heard a boy’s voice calling him a “Yank”. He turned in time to watch a small rock hit him right in the forehead. A group of boys likely between the ages of eight and fourteen laughed at him. They ran when he seemed to be coming after them.

The agents looked over the library for a couple hours without much success, and all the while, ROSE shrugged off and dodged most of REDLIGHT’s questions regarding the riddle and the book she was looking for. She did tell him it was a small, unnamed book, and when he asked if it was Delta Green Operation-related, she replied with a quick “sorta”.

Finding nothing, the agents decided to check the park and see what they could of the house where David Sienkiewicz was staying. They made it most of the way there before REDLIGHT heard another boy’s voice behind him calling him a “Yank”. He turned instinctively, and he was hit in the shoulder. This time it was a chunk of cement from the sidewalk. The group of boys laughed again, and this time REDLIGHT gave chase.

The kids weaved through the crowds with an ease which the agent couldn’t manage, and so he rejoined ROSE defeated. He muttered to himself all the way to the park.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 2a

Major James McGinnis was a general surgeon with the U.S. Army Medical Department and newly inducted member of Delta Green’s R-Cell. Less than a month after selecting the name RICHARD, he was assigned to his first Operation, and he looked forward to meeting his cell members face to face. He had exchanged emails with Agent ROSE a few times, and he had spoken to her over the phone once. That was when she had invited him to London. A later text message instructed him to meet the cell at number 3, Fisher Park Road in Plymouth.

The sidewalks of Plymouth were busy, and the park seemed abandoned by contrast. Agent ROSE scanned the landscape, and she made note of the tree-lined walking paths and some of the more secluded parts. REDLIGHT determined which windows belonged to the house of Graham Dworkin, and which belonged to Sienkiewicz’s hideout.

Graham’s house was rather plain from the outside, but it stood in contrast to several of the neighboring houses which were unoccupied and boarded up. The house in which Sienkiewicz was hiding was one such house. REDLIGHT could see no movement in either place.

Feeling they’d seen all they could, the agents decided to get out of the cold, and so they headed back to their own flat. It was early afternoon, and Agent RICHARD was due to arrive in an hour or so. ROSE had acquired all the necessary ingredients for REDLIGHT’s next attempt at cooking, but he needed to get started if it was going to be ready in time for dinner. According to his recipe, haggis would take nearly six hours from start to finish.

While he began preparation, Agent REDLIGHT casually mentioned the artwork he’d purchased from the gallery, and how he’d planted a bug on it. It needed to be picked up by the close of business, and as he was busy in the kitchen, he suggested that Agent ROSE take care of it. He wanted it delivered to Graham’s place.

ROSE gave him a dirty look, but she took the receipt and headed down to the gallery. She was no artist, but as everyone is a critic, so to speak, she had definite opinions on the place. There wasn’t much to see, and what there was could probably have been done by children in her estimation. She flagged down the gallery manager and produced the receipt.

“I need to pick up a piece of art work for a friend. He said he purchased it earlier.”

“Ah, yes. The American. A fine eye for art, he’s got, I must say.”

The gallery manager waved a hand toward the rock, and ROSE simply blinked.

“Wait. What? The rock?”

“Yes, as you say. The rock.”

The rock was large and looked quite heavy. Agent ROSE sighed and covered her face with her hand.

“Okay, well … He didn’t say he bought a rock. Any chance you could deliver it for me? It’s a gift for a friend.”

ROSE turned on the puppy eyes, and the gallery manager decided he could have his people deliver it for a modest fee as long as it was close by. When ROSE indicated that she only had American currency, the manager waved a hand.

“Oh, your friend paid with his card. I’d be happy to add the fee to that.”

“Thank you, sir. Please, add a tip for yourself and your delivery people, too!”

The manager was only too happy to do so, and all that was left was for ROSE to give Graham’s address. She then headed back to the flat shaking her head. A rock? Seriously?

Agent REDLIGHT had finished preparation, and the liver, heart, and tongue were boiling. When ROSE returned, he was looking over the file Sandra Bower had given them. It had details on Sienkiewicz’s victims, but none of it seemed particularly helpful. There was an interesting bit about one of Sienkiewicz’s previous assignments. He was investigating a British Muslim of Bangladeshi parentage named Shazan Amin Shah. Shah was known for his fiery anti-American rhetoric.

The file contained an order from Sienkiewicz’s director recommending censure for the extreme force used in a firefight in Hamburg, Germany connected with the Shah case. The firefight left Shah and eight German nationals dead. The documents specifically detailing the incident were apparently missing, and despite the director’s order, there were no black marks in Sienkiewicz’s file.

Just as REDLIGHT finished relaying the information from the file to ROSE, there was a knock at the door to the flat. Agent ROSE opened it to see a man about six-feet tall or so wearing a suit with a red tie, and carrying a black briefcase. The man matched the picture she’d been given of Agent RICHARD, and so she greeted him and asked him in.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 2b

Introductions were made, and ROSE filled RICHARD in on the assignment while REDLIGHT tended to the boiling ingredients which were destined to become his first attempt at haggis. RICHARD was informed that the current arrangement had REDLIGHT doing the cooking and ROSE doing the cleaning. That left laundry detail for him. Also, the flat had no laundry facilities, but there was a launderette a few blocks away.

It wasn’t quite how he pictured the start of his first Opera, but he grudgingly took up the bag of clothes and headed out. The afternoon was cold and dreary, and the sky was a uniform grey. RICHARD made his way through the foggy streets of Plymouth, and he ignored the odd looks and whispers he seemed to inspire. It took a few minutes to sort out which coins were which as he wasn’t familiar with British currency.

He was nearly back to the flat when he spotted a man he recognized from the file photograph as David Benjamin Sienkiewicz. His heart immediately jumped, but he kept his cool and the man passed by seemingly without noticing him. Agent RICHARD turned and followed at a distance of about twenty feet; probably too close, but the veteran spy didn’t seem to notice.

Sienkiewicz pulled his jacket tight around him and walked hurriedly in a route which led around the park. After some time, RICHARD realized Sienkiewicz was himself following another man; a tall man in dark clothing and dark overcoat. The fog made it difficult to make out much more than that.

The man circled the park and turned down Rosy Cross Park Road. Sienkiewicz followed him, and RICHARD followed Sienkiewicz. The man stopped in front of number 28 and spoke to a man who seemed to be delivering a large rock. The delivery man left the rock in front of the steps, and the tall man went inside. Sienkiewicz passed by and looked around quickly before entering number 39.

Agent RICHARD returned to the flat with the laundry just as REDLIGHT was leaving. The men nodded at each other, but neither said a word. REDLIGHT went around to the park to look around for a good place to hide a camera with a view of the upstairs window of number 39, Rosy Cross Park Road.

The park was eerily quiet and seemed nearly empty, but no sooner had REDLIGHT arrived than he heard a boy’s voice behind him yelling “Oi, Yank!” REDLIGHT grumbled. He’d sort of been expecting this. Without turning, he took a £100 note from his pocket and held it up in one hand while pointing at Sienkiewicz’s window with the other.

“Hey, kid! I’ll give you £100 to throw that rock at that window instead of me.”

He turned to see a group of five rough looking boys a short distance away, and one did indeed have a rock in hand.

“Set it down and back away, and you got yourself a deal.”

“Oh, no. Rock first, and then you get it.”

“Set it down, mister, and I’ll throw it straight away. Always get yer pay in advance, me mum says.”

“Throw it now, kid. Then you can have it.”

The boy did in fact throw the rock, but rather than the window, his target seemed to be REDLIGHT’s face. It was a narrow miss, but the kid quickly scooped up another rock.

“Now what was that, mister?”

REDLIGHT frowned and pointed once more.

“That window. Then you get your money.”

“Suit yourself, mister.”

The kid threw the rock perfectly and cleanly through the boarded up window. It shattered the glass and knocked a couple boards loose. A moment later, a set of eyes could be seen peeking out. The boy pointed at REDLIGHT and yelled.

“It was him! It was him made me do it, sir!”

The boys then ran off leaving a quiet stillness between Agent REDLIGHT and the eyes in the window. REDLIGHT took a deep breath, put his hands in his pocket, and walked slowly down the path. No reason ROSE had to hear anything about this little incident.

Having long since given up on his haggis experiment, he decided a visit to the pub was in order. Agent REDLIGHT knocked on the back door to Graham Dworkin’s house and invited him to dinner. While Graham got his hat and coat, REDLIGHT sent ROSE a quick text to let her know where he’d be.

ROSE and RICHARD had also given up on the haggis, and so they made a trip to the pub as well. RICHARD took a seat at a table and pretended to watch the rugby match on the television while the others sat at the bar. ROSE and REDLIGHT made small talk with Graham, and the conversation turned to his reasons for being in Plymouth at this time of year. He admitted that he wasn’t quite sure why he’d chosen this place, but he sort of felt drawn to it.

He had been having a recurring dream that bothered him. It wasn’t the only dream he had, but virtually every night, it would pop up. He would be standing alone in a fog looking up at the sky, and a bright green moon would shine down on him with a sort of malevolent feeling. He said that he wasn’t quite sure what it all meant, but he believed that if he followed these feelings to the end, everything would be clear.

ROSE excused herself claiming that she needed to make a call, and REDLIGHT continued with the small talk. Agent ROSE made her way to the park and looked around. It only took a moment to find what she was after.

There was a man who gave every indication of being homeless, drunk, cold, and hungry. Agent ROSE approached the man with a warm smile and asked if he was hungry. The man nodded, and so she pretended to order a pizza to be delivered to one of the secluded areas of the park which she’d seen earlier. She then led the man that direction.

Once she was sure no one could see, she slipped behind the man and cut his throat. She was sure to catch as much of the blood as she could in the bronze bowl as she called for the presence of the Dark Man. It took only a moment for him to appear.

The Dark Man stood over ROSE silently. She quickly told him why she’d called. She needed to know why Sienkiewicz was in Plymouth. On a side note, she said she’d also like to know where to find the Sleeping Place and the library between houses. In which city was it? In exchange for those two pieces of information, he could ask whatever price he liked.

The Dark Man contemplated the offer briefly before responding.

“Begin your search in Plymouth, Gia Jones. At midnight, the Sleeping Place will be made plain if you know how to see it. The information you seek will be found there. In exchange, you will find the Vaeyen in the library between houses, and you will smash it.”

With that, the Dark Man vanished. Agent ROSE was lost in thought. Vaeyen. She’d heard that before. Vaeyen were small, black statues which were used in some occult rituals. They were humanoid with features of vultures and bats. They had five arms each with a different number of fingers, and the heads had four eyes all on the outside of the faces. The stories told that the Vaeyen were actually living creatures, but they never showed themselves. Each of the few rituals she’d heard of which used the Vaeyen used five of them, and there seemed to be a power in that number.

She slowly returned to the present with a shudder. Okay, so she didn’t quite get the answers she was after, but at least she was sure she’d get them tonight. In the meantime, she set about cleaning up traces of her presence in the park and of her part in the crime she’d just committed. She then casually returned to the pub just as the rest of her cell was leaving.

The rest of R-Cell settled in for the night while their leader dreamed of midnight.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 3a

It didn’t take long for Agent REDLIGHT to get restless. While ROSE took a nap and RICHARD immersed himself in the wonders of the BBC, he stepped out for a walk in the park. As had been the case for the entirety of the Operation so far, the night was cold, damp, and foggy. It was still early evening, but the cloud cover was thick. The street lights flickered at times, but rarely was more than one lit at once. This made the park even darker than the rest of the district.

“Oi, Yank!”

Seriously? Were these damned kids just following him? Agent REDLIGHT turned just in time to duck a rock. The same gang of five kids that had been pelting him with rocks and concrete since he arrived in town was at it again. Well, this time was going to be the last. He quickly scanned the park just to make sure no one was watching, and then he charged. He tried to tackle the biggest one; a kid of about fourteen who looked like he’d seen a lifetime of fights.

The boy artfully dodged the soldier’s tackle, and REDLIGHT hit the ground face first. In an instant the gang of children swarmed on him. Fists and boots struck him from all angles. It stung a bit, but the kids were more of a nuisance than a real threat. With one powerful motion aided by his alien-engineered body, Agent REDLIGHT stood up tossing children in all directions.

The kids scattered and ran, but REDLIGHT was determined to teach them a lesson. He targeted the slowest of the group and chased him down. He knocked the kid out with a quick shot; not hard enough to really hurt, but placed just right. The plan was still forming in his head while he lifted the kid onto his shoulder and carried him to a grouping of trees. He would wait for the kid to wake up, and then he’d have a nice, calm talk about how it’s not nice to throw rocks. Maybe he’d throw in a bit about ‘what goes around comes around’, or something along those lines.

Then again, plans change. Right where he planned to have his little talk with the kid, there was a body. REDLIGHT leaned the unconscious boy against a tree and investigated. It appeared to be a vagrant. His throat had been cleanly cut, but there was very little blood. He lifted the man’s head, and that’s when he heard a click from behind.

“That’s enough, son. Why don’t you put down that corpse, and turn around slowly?”

The agent did as he was instructed, and he turned to see a revolver in the hand of David Benjamin Sienkiewicz. Okay. So there went the ‘no contact’ part of the assignment.

“You wanna tell me just what in the hell you’re doing?”

“Yeah, sure. Okay, well … First of all, it’s not what it looks like.”

Sienkiewicz raised an eyebrow in response inviting further explanation. REDLIGHT continued slowly while he worked out a way out of this.

“See, I was just going to teach this kid a lesson. The body was here when I got here.”

“You know what, son? I don’t really care about what you do for that cult of yours, and much as I’d like to be the hero and save the kid, I gotta admit: I don’t much care for him either. I got bigger things to save.”

“Cult? Man, I’m not in a cult.”

Sienkiewicz laughed and pointed with the revolver to the body, the kid, and then the sky.

“You expect me to believe that? Look at you. You’re in the darkest part of this damned park with a dead bum and a knocked out kid. Seems pretty cultish to me. And that’s not to mention how you’ve been following me.”

“No, no. I haven’t been following you. I’ve been getting to know Graham, and you’ve been following him.”

“You ain’t helping your case. I already knew he was in the cult. You, I wasn’t sure of until now.”

The men argued back and forth for a few minutes, and eventually REDLIGHT was able to convince Sienkiewicz to give him the benefit of the doubt for the time being. According to the CIA man, some cult called the Children of Cyäegha were working to bring about the end of the world. They were waiting for something called ‘the Sleeping Place’ to appear, and then they were going to conduct a ritual to wake something known as the Waiting Dark, the Principle of Hate, the Whistler from the Stars, and the Eater of Dimensions.

Yeah. Most people might think this guy was crazy – and maybe he was – but a Delta Green agent on an Opera is a little more inclined to be a believer. If Sienkiewicz was right, they were most definitely on the same side.

The men agreed that the world needed to be saved. There was a slight disagreement about who should save it, but again it seemed Sienkiewicz had the upper hand. He knew a counter-ritual. The only catch was that he had to wait for the cult to actually begin their ritual before he could start the counter. That’s why he’d been watching Graham Dworkin, and that’s why he’d hardly slept in a week.

The men parted ways, but Sienkiewicz made it clear that he’d be watching. They left the kid with the dead vagrant. REDLIGHT wasn’t sure, but he felt there had to be a lesson there for the boy. He returned to find the flat just as he’d left it.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 3b

Agent ROSE awoke from her nap to find herself lying not in her bed but in the grass in the park. She calmly got to her feet and studied her surroundings. The park seemed smaller now, and the row of houses along the east road were different. They seemed older, and they all looked abandoned. She looked to the street sign, and it read Drake Park Road. There was no Drake Park Road on their map, and it sure wasn’t there the last time she’d been to the park. Was it midnight already? Was this ‘the Sleeping Place’?

She heard a twig snap from behind a tree, and she spun to see someone in the shadows. The person didn’t appear to be watching her. She called for whoever it was to come out, and the person did so. It was Graham Dworkin.

ROSE asked what he was doing there, and he replied that he was out for a walk in the park. She pressed for details, and he said he was there to look at the moon. When she looked up, the clouds had parted to reveal a large green moon staring down on them. It felt like the moon was watching them intently. Graham had said something about his dreams earlier, and she guessed that’s what was going on here, but it seemed so real. Without warning, the moon winked out, and moments later, Agent ROSE awoke in her bed.

The flat was just as it was when she had laid down for her nap with one exception. Agent REDLIGHT was looking for an ice pack for the red marks all over his body. He looked like he’d been in a fight, but she didn’t ask. Instead, she asked him to go to the park with her at 11:45. She thought she’d found an answer to her riddle, and she wanted backup.

At about 11:30, Agent REDLIGHT left the flat saying that he’d meet ROSE at the park. He crossed the street and knocked on Sienkiewicz’s door. There was no answer, but he saw the CIA man peeking out through the window. Agent REDLIGHT nodded toward the park and walked off. He sat on a bench in the park just across from the house where Sienkiewicz was squatting, and a few minutes later the man joined him.

At the stated meeting time, Agent ROSE made it to the park. Seeing REDLIGHT sitting with the man they were assigned to watch, she kept her distance. She leaned against a tree on the far side of the park and watched.

Right on cue, Drake Park Road came into existence at midnight. The abandoned houses of that road seemed to materialize around REDLIGHT and Sienkiewicz. This was it. It had to be. Drake Park Road wasn’t there a moment ago, and now just as the Dark Man had predicted, here it was. It had to be the road between space. Now she just had to find the library between homes, grab a book, smash a statue, and be back in time for breakfast.

Sienkiewicz and REDLIGHT were more than a little surprised to find themselves on a couch in an abandoned house rather than a bench in a park. Agent REDLIGHT examined the room while Sienkiewicz started talking about how this had to be a sign, it must be starting, the end was near, blah, blah, blah. REDLIGHT ignored him. Something was most definitely going on, but apocalypse rhetoric wasn’t going to solve anything.

Sienkiewicz announced that there weren’t any light switches, but he’d found some lamps. REDLIGHT turned on his flashlight to show his technological superiority.

The furniture was old. Agent REDLIGHT was no expert, but he had done some research on antique furniture for the Spooner Avenue investigation. He estimated the style to be early- to mid-19th century. There were picture frames on the walls, but they were empty and hung at odd angles. The walls and ceiling were falling apart. The windows and doors were boarded up and nailed shut. No one had been here in a long time.

Sienkiewicz looked out the window next to the front door. He told REDLIGHT that he saw the place where he was staying across the street which didn’t make sense to him since he had a view of the park from his window. Other than that, it was all clear. Sienkiewicz turned away from the window as REDLIGHT looked up.

A silhouette had appeared outside, and it didn’t look human. He shined the flashlight up and got a good look at the thing. It was a hideous, toad-like creature with bulging eyes and an oversized mouth of countless sharp teeth. Its body was dark but translucent, and the agent could see organs pulsing inside. He yelled for Sienkiewicz to get down. The CIA man reacted instinctively, and he rolled behind a chair drawing his revolver just as the glass shattered behind him.

The creature had reached two of its four scarred and wart-covered arms through the window trying to grab Sienkiewicz. When it pulled them back, the broken glass drew green, foamy blood which caused the glass to slowly dissolve. With the window now effectively open, the two men could easily smell the thing. It was a disgusting combination of rotting meat and stagnant water. REDLIGHT was able to cover his face in time, but Sienkiewicz wasn’t so lucky. The sounds of his violent vomiting barely drowned out the low, guttural snarl of the toad-like creature.

Agent REDLIGHT was sure his Taser wouldn’t help much against that thing, so he grabbed Sienkiewicz and dragged him to the kitchen. He stopped just in time to avoid falling into what appeared to be a six-foot diameter tunnel burrowed through the wooden floor. The agent stepped over the hole, grabbed a cleaver from the cutting block on the counter, and went back to the living room, but the thing was gone.

Once they were absolutely sure the coast was clear, Sienkiewicz decided it was time. If the ritual was going to start, he had to be ready. He told Agent REDLIGHT about a comb-bound book of standard printer paper in the house where he was staying. It contained the counter-ritual. He was going to get it, and he asked REDLIGHT to come with him.

The agent declined. His partner was out here somewhere, and so he was going to look for her. They made a plan to meet in the park as soon as they’d completed their respective tasks. Sienkiewicz had one final thing to say before he left.

“Look, if that ritual starts, and for whatever reason, I can’t counter it, I’m going to need you to save the world for me.”

With that, the CIA man was out the door and crossing the street. REDLIGHT decided to check the upstairs before moving on. There were two bedrooms upstairs, and they were decorated similarly. Each had a bed, a dresser, and a wardrobe. Each had empty picture frames hanging askew, and each had a boarded up window with broken glass. The agent went back downstairs and moved to the next house over.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 3c

Agent ROSE checked house after house, and they were all pretty much the same; old furniture, walls and ceiling falling apart, boarded up windows, and two bedrooms upstairs. A couple houses had holes in the kitchen floors leading to tunnels, but so far, no library.

She entered another house using the flashlight app on her cell phone for lighting. It was maybe the fourth house, maybe the fifth. She was losing track. This one was similar to all the others, but there was a footlocker at the foot of one of the beds. She easily broke the lock and opened it. On the underside of the lid, someone had painted what appeared to be a lazy five-pointed star with an eye inside the pentagon in the center.

On one side of the footlocker was a neatly folded suit along with suspenders and shoes. On the other side was a long, leather box with a silver lock which appeared more ornamental than functional. ROSE broke that lock, too. Inside was a long, silver knife. It was almost a short sword. It had a pearl handle, and the blade was inscribed with a sort of hieroglyphic she didn’t recognize. She took the sword, closed the footlocker, and headed downstairs.

She entered the next house, and while it was laid out much like the others, the living room held a bookshelf which had fallen forward from the wall revealing a hole roughly three feet high and just as narrow across. The back of the bookshelf had the same lazy star design as the footlocker next door. She had never seen it before, but she was quite familiar with occult symbols. If she had to guess judging from the placement of the stars, they were probably wards of some kind.

She poked her head into the hole to have a look. The tunnel may have only been three feet high, but the narrow passage was lined ceiling to floor with bookshelves, and it extended at least as far as her light shone. Taking a deep breath, Agent ROSE crawled into the library between houses on the road between space.

Agent REDLIGHT found nothing useful in the next couple houses. He was starting to become discouraged. On his way out to check the next house over, the wind picked up dramatically, and snow began falling in impossible amounts. He stepped back inside for a moment and closed the door. It wasn’t snowing at all out the back door, just the front. That made the choice easy. He went out the back and entered the next house the same way.

Just as he suspected, this house was the same as all the others. It had the same style of furniture, all the windows were boarded up, and there were no pictures in the picture frames. Where the hell was ROSE? For that matter, where the hell was he? This road wasn’t supposed to be here. He sat down for a moment so he could think.

It didn’t take ROSE long to find the book she was after. All the others were about nine to twelve inches tall, but this one was only six inches. Directly across from the book was a shelf with various statuettes rather than books. Some were wooden, some were crystal, some were ivory. There was one that stood out. The Vaeyen.

Agent ROSE quickly took both the book and the statue, and made her way back down the tight tunnel of a library. She was nearly out when she saw something glide past in the shadows of the living room. Whatever that was, she didn’t want anything to do with it. She sent a quick text to Agent REDLIGHT who responded with a phone call.

ROSE explained that she was in a tunnel between houses, and that she was trapped. There was something outside in the house. REDLIGHT told her what he’d seen, and that only served to support her decision not to go out into the house. While they were talking, the thing poked its hideous face into the hole. Its breath nearly overwhelmed ROSE, and she instinctively moved away farther down the tunnel. Her phone beeped to let her know that she had another call.

When she switched over, Agent RICHARD informed her that something had happened. He didn’t know what, but all of a sudden, everyone across the street was awake. Lights had come on, and people seemed to be getting ready for something. He’d even seen a few in robes.

ROSE hung up without acknowledging because she needed her phone for light, and it sounded like the toad-like thing was getting closer. She shined her light down the tunnel while shuffling backward. The creature was too big to fit, but it was compressing its body and squeezing through. She was most definitely not getting out that way, so she turned and headed away. Maybe the tunnel opened up to another house. Maybe it would open up in the park. At this point, she wouldn’t care so much if it dropped her in Wonderland. It didn’t.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 3d

The tunnel ended in a brick wall with a pentagram of some sort painted on it. A long-dead skeleton had been nailed to it upside-down with its hands and feet each on a point of the star. There was no skull.

The creature was slowly squeezing toward her, and she had no way out. This was as good a time as any to panic. Agent ROSE desperately flipped through the book looking for something that could help her. She found a page with a drawing of the creature. It was called a Nagaäe. That figured. She couldn’t even pronounce that. She couldn’t tell it to go away, and once it ate her, she couldn’t even explain to St. Peter quite how she had died. Could she even get past Heaven’s bouncer if she couldn’t say what had eaten her?

She panicked and threw her sword at the thing, but it bounced harmlessly off the slimy skin. It moved closer and opened its terrible mouth. Agent ROSE was engulfed in a wave of foul breath, and she instinctively covered her face. In doing so, she must have done something else, or maybe the creature had seen something. It didn’t matter, because the result was that the creature backed away.

ROSE cautiously inched forward, and with every move, the thing squeezed back leaving a layer of slime on the books, the ceiling, and the floor. The agent pushed forward, grabbing her mucous-covered sword as she did. Eventually, she forced the thing out of the tunnel, and she made a break for the back door. She ran for the flat without looking back.

REDLIGHT had hung up when ROSE switched lines. If he was going to find her, he was going to have to keep moving, and if that thing had spotted her, he may not have much time. He stood and headed for the front door. Just as he was about to open it, someone else opened it from the outside. There were three people in hooded robes outside, and REDLIGHT kicked the door closed. The lock wouldn’t hold long, so he ran for the stairs. He entered one of the bedrooms as the front door was kicked in. He slammed the bedroom door closed as the three figures rushed up the stairs. He broke the boards on the window just as the people broke the door in.

There was no snow out the back, so it was either jump or fight. His Taser might not work on that toad-thing, but it would sure work on a human. He drew it and pointed as one of the robed figures pointed a finger at him. REDLIGHT fired as the figure spoke. The Taser missed, but there was nothing he could do about it.

To Agent REDLIGHT, the man seemed to be speaking soothing words, calming words. Everything would be okay if he would just relax. The man was actually chanting the words of a spell, but REDLIGHT heard only peaceful things. The other two robed figures got behind him, and one placed a cloth over the agent’s mouth and nose. He didn’t care. He was so relaxed already. REDLIGHT took a deep breath and relaxed further into darkness.

As soon as Agent ROSE reached the flat, she dumped the book and statuette in her suitcase. REDLIGHT wasn’t back. That meant she needed to go back out there. She told RICHARD to hold down the fort and keep her apprised of any important events.

She made it back to Drake Park Road and followed it north. Every building seemed empty but one. Looking through the window, she saw another pentagram on the wall, but this time there was a fresh body hanging from it. The head was missing, there was a pool of blood, and worst of all, there was a robed figure kneeling before it. Agent ROSE snuck in quietly with her sword at the ready. She ordered the robed figure to stand and face her.

Agent REDLIGHT felt himself slowly pulled back to consciousness. He heard a voice. ROSE? It was Agent ROSE, and she was yelling at him to drop his weapon. REDLIGHT opened his eyes to find himself kneeling before an upside down body, and he held a sword in his bloody hands. His mind was reeling, and he still felt a little drugged, but he dropped the sword and stood. Agent ROSE took an involuntary step back as she recognized REDLIGHT.

“You! I … I knew you were acting funny. Shady. You did this?”

She took another step back. REDLIGHT protested his innocence while he checked the pockets of the body. He was pretty sure what he’d find, and he was right. He found a revolver, a microcassette recorder, a book of matches, and CIA credentials for one David Benjamin Sienkiewicz.

ROSE wasn’t sure what to believe anymore, but she knew what her eyes were telling her. She held the sword in front of her and told REDLIGHT to drop the gun and stay back. He didn’t. Instead, he walked forward almost dumbfounded, still protesting his innocence.

ROSE called the police, and she told the dispatcher she’d found what appeared to be a ritual killing, and the person responsible was threatening her, and he had a gun. REDLIGHT told her to hang up, but she refused. She told the dispatcher where she was, and that she was trying to get away.

REDLIGHT fired a shot into the wall. He didn’t want to hurt anyone, but things were spiraling out of control. He begged ROSE to hang up. He swore that he wasn’t in a cult, and he didn’t kill Sienkiewicz. He got closer and tried to knock the phone from her hand, but she swung the sword. Neither agent wanted to hurt the other, but both were confused, afraid, and disoriented.

REDLIGHT fired again. He wasn’t aiming for her. He just wanted this all to stop. He wanted to get away. ROSE ran outside, and so did REDLIGHT. She ducked left, and he turned right. REDLIGHT ran through the snow toward the flat, and ROSE called RICHARD.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 4a

Agent REDLIGHT made it to the road in front of the flat and promptly changed his mind. If ROSE had called the police, the flat would be the first place they’d look. He instead slipped quietly into the place where Sienkiewicz had been staying and called Brigadier General Justin Drake who seemed none too happy to be getting a call at 9 o’clock at night.

“Sir, this is Captain Gump. I need to ask a favor.”

“Gump? This had better be good. Do you have any idea what time it is?”

“I do, sir, and I apologize. I’m in Plymouth, UK on a Delta Green Operation, and things have gone really wrong.”

There was a moment of silence, and when the general spoke, he emphasized nearly every syllable with a strong southern accent.

“You have got to be kidding me, Gump!”

“No, sir. You see …”

“Captain, do you mean to tell me you’re across a damned ocean on a Delta Green Operation you can’t handle, and you think I should give a damn?”

Agent REDLIGHT explained to the general how he had been framed for murder, his cell leader wanted him arrested or dead, and a cult was going to end the world. For his part, General Drake listened in agitated silence until the end. He then let REDLIGHT have it, and he was merciless. He didn’t care one way or another if Delta Green couldn’t handle field operations. He was a general in the United States Army, and he was unwilling to commit resources to extract a single asset from an allied country. He finished with a piece of advice:

“Calm yourself, and think about what you’re saying. An evil cult is going to end the world tonight, and you need help running from it? You need some rest, Captain, and I do, too. Don’t do anything stupid, and talk to me when you can make some damned sense, boy!”

Agent RICHARD answered his phone, and ROSE told him about recent events from her point of view. REDLIGHT was compromised. He was in some kind of cult, and he’d just killed the man they were assigned to watch, nailed him to a wall upside down, and cut off his head. She had last seen him heading toward the flat, and she wanted RICHARD to be prepared.

Agent RICHARD was unsure of what to do, but he thanked ROSE for the heads-up. The door to the flat had just opened, so he told her he thought REDLIGHT was there. She told him to take care and hung up the phone.

While the general was yelling at REDLIGHT, the agent noticed three robed individuals across the street entering his flat. As soon as the general was finished, he apologized and quickly hung up to call RICHARD. There was no answer, so he took a deep breath and looked around the room.

Sienkiewicz hadn’t left much. There was a bedroll, a backpack, a can of beans, and a bible with a bookmark. There was also the thick, comb-bound book of printer paper Sienkiewicz had said contained the counter-ritual.

The book was printed single-sided, and it was pretty thick as a result. The cover page listed the title as The Book of the Damned, by Karaj Heinz Vogel. The agent skimmed several pages here and a few pages there trying to get an idea of the content. It contained a treatise on ‘Sleeping Places’, several genealogies, and many pages in a strange language which the hand-written annotations suggested was an incantation of some sort.

This had to be the counter-ritual Sienkiewicz had mentioned. Not trusting himself to remember the words or to be able to read them when the time came, Agent REDLIGHT took out the microcassette recorder which had belonged to the dead CIA man and recorded himself reading the words several times in several different ways hoping that one of them would be right.

A police car pulled up in the snow where Agent ROSE was waiting. Two officers got out and approached her. One took her statement while the other examined the interior of the house. ROSE told the officer she and her partner were independent private investigators working a job for the U.S. Embassy in London. They were instructed to keep an eye on an American named David Benjamin Sienkiewicz, but her partner had apparently snapped. She had found him kneeling in front of the body hanging on the wall inside with bloody hands and a sword.

The second officer confirmed that there was a headless body nailed to the wall and a sword on the floor. He called for a homicide detective, preferably one with a specialty in occult crimes. The officers offered to take ROSE into protective custody, but she declined politely. Her other partner was still at their flat, and he was likely in danger.

The officers called in to report and then gave ROSE a ride two blocks over to the flat. Agent REDLIGHT watched her enter with the police officers while he cleaned his prints from the gun. The door to the flat was open, and ROSE could smell the familiar rusty odor of blood. She entered with the officers behind her, and found what she had feared. Agent RICHARD had been decapitated and nailed to the wall upside down to the points of a pentagram. The head was missing.

Agent REDLIGHT could hear his cell leader’s scream from across the street, and he knew what had happened. He also knew who would catch the blame, so he slipped outside. After a quick scan to make sure no one was watching, he carefully set the revolver on the hood of the police vehicle and headed off to the north. As REDLIGHT turned the corner onto snow-covered Drake Park Road, he stopped short. There was a large gathering of robed people. He estimated there must be at least a hundred. Time to find a better plan.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 4b

Once Agent ROSE managed to calm down, she excused herself and went to the bedroom to check her luggage. Her bags had been dumped on the floor. The book was there, but the statuette was gone. She had a little trouble breathing. The Dark Man wouldn’t be too happy about this turn of events, but maybe there was a way to salvage the situation. Maybe there was another one? Maybe the one she’d taken had been returned? She decided to check the library again. As she turned to leave the bedroom, she glanced at the clock. It said the time was 4:33 AM. There was no way four hours had gone by. She checked her phone: 4:33 AM. Whatever. She had work to do.

With a sigh, she exited the flat, passing homicide detectives and paramedics on her way. She slipped into Sienkiewicz’s hideout and gave it a cursory examination on her way through. Nothing jumped out at her, and so out the back door she went. Agent ROSE saw the gathering down at the end of the road, but they didn’t seem to notice her through the falling snow. She found the house with the toppled bookshelf and the tunnel of a library. It was just as she’d left it with the exception that the layer of mucous left by the toad-thing had dried into a greenish film.

ROSE frowned as she crawled back into the tunnel, but she was relieved to find the Vaeyen exactly where she’d found it before. She was leaving no room for error this time. She took up the statuette and smashed it into a hundred pieces. The tunnel shook and groaned, but that was all coincidence, right? The agent crawled back to the end of the tunnel and peeked out. There was the toad-like thing - the Nagaäe, or whatever – but it didn’t seem to notice her.

She gripped the handle of her sword tightly as she slipped out of the tunnel and out the front door into … sunlight? She didn’t have time to worry about how time seemed to be flying by. That was someone else’s problem at the moment.

ROSE called the embassy and prayed that Ms. Bower would answer. The CIA woman did indeed answer, and Agent ROSE explained just how sideways their assignment had gone. Ms. Bower was obviously displeased. The police weren’t likely to allow her to leave, but Ms. Bower offered ROSE a safe place at the embassy until things could be straightened out. Reaching the parking lot behind the flat, ROSE fired up the engine of the Nissan Micra and headed off in the direction of London.

Agent REDLIGHT headed back down the road that led past his flat. The police were gone, and the street was deserted. The sun was near the middle of the sky now, but he didn’t have time to wonder how it took eight hours to walk up and down the street once. In fact, if time was moving that quickly, midnight would be here soon, and he’d have to be in position by then.

REDLIGHT cautiously snuck into the flat and looked around. There was no body, but it was obvious that there had been one recently. He checked the refrigerator finding only the remains of his failed attempt at haggis, and the six-pack of beer ROSE had brought back. Something told him he’d be needing that. He downed one bottle in a single chug and opened another for the road. Armed with nothing but a backpack on his shoulder, a bottle of beer in one hand, and four more in the other, Agent REDLIGHT stepped out to save the world.

Before he could save the world, he needed one last piece to his puzzle. There was a mechanic’s garage across the street to the south, and they appeared to be closed. If they had a car, he’d be set. Peeking inside, REDLIGHT saw a blue Mini Cooper on a hydraulic jack. The locked door gave his lock picks little trouble. Once inside, he found the controls for the jack, and lowered it. The keys were on a hook behind the counter.

Microcassette recorder with counter-ritual recorded, check. Transportation, check. Four … make that three beers, check. Oh, what the hell. REDLIGHT downed the remaining bottles of alcohol, turned the key in the ignition, and sped off in the direction of the ritual as the full moon shined. The radio quite fittingly blared a song by R.E.M.

This was it. This was the moment he was born to live. This was the night he would save the world. There was just one thing. He had forgotten the snow.

The Mini Cooper took a hard left and crashed into the first house on Drake Park Road. The alcohol helped cushion the impact. At the far end of the road, the cultists formed a horseshoe shape with two robed figures in the center.

REDLIGHT turned up the radio as far as it would allow before stepping out of the car. It was not as graceful as he would have liked, but at least he had the right soundtrack. As he stomped north through three feet of snow, he held the microcassette recorder high and pressed play. The words of the counter-ritual flowed from it and blended with the music from the car radio. REDLIGHT spoke the words of the song to himself as he moved closer.

“It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine.”
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Sufficient Unto the Day - Session 4c

One of the two robed figures in the center of the horseshoe dropped her robe and laid down naked in the snow. The other took something out of a bag and held it high. It was a head; Sienkiewicz’s head by the look of it. The pale green light of the full moon lit the entire scene with an eerie glow.

The robed figure cut into the head with a knife letting blood and bits of brain fall onto the woman in the snow. He then lifted a second head. This one had belonged to Agent RICHARD, and the odds were good that he wouldn’t approve of its intended use. Brain and blood fell again upon the woman in the snow, and she remained still.

The cult leader’s words weren’t clear, and they sounded like gibberish, but the gathering repeated them exactly. The counter-ritual on the recorder completed just as Agent REDLIGHT got close. Without warning, chunks of tar, asphalt, and cement were sent toward the sky as the snow and earth melted away in a purple-black foam between the cult and the agent.

Countless dark tentacles shot from the hole and grabbed any living thing within reach. Bodies were slammed to the earth. Cultists were thrown to the sky. One robed figure tried to run, but a quick flick of a tentacle left behind no more than a smear.

There were screams everywhere mixed with the singular sounds of human bodies dissolving and popping, splattering and crunching. All the while, the radio could be heard.

It’s the end of the world as we know it.

Agent REDLIGHT looked up to see the clouds part for the green moon, and then he watched the sky behind the moon do the same. The moon seemed to blink, and then it became clear in all its terrible glory. It was no moon. It was an eye. It was the eye. It was none other than Cyäegha, the Waiting Dark, the Principle of Hate, the Whistler from the Stars, and the Eater of Dimensions.

It’s the end of the world …

Dark, impossibly large tentacles pried the rift in the sky wider, and REDLIGHT ran. He ran the best he could through three feet of snow. He ran as if he could actually escape.

Agent ROSE was half-way to London when she saw it in the rearview mirror; the hole in the sky, the hole in the earth. Only two short years ago, she’d seen the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast in the rearview mirror, and she had been sure that was the worst thing she could have seen. Now that belief was being dashed.

She drove faster, but the earth and sky melted away. She drove as fast as her little car could go. She drove as if she could actually escape.

A tentacle shot from the sky and pierced REDLIGHT’s back pinning him face down in the snow. The last sounds he heard were the low guttural snarl of the Nagaäe, and the fading music of R.E.M.

It’s the end …

Eventually the darkness melted away, and they were back where they’d started the night. Everything seemed normal. REDLIGHT and Sienkiewicz were sitting on a bench in Rosy Cross Park, and Agent ROSE watched them from a distance. Her phone said the time was midnight, but if the date was correct, that entire night never happened. Only … she remembered it. She remembered every single moment.

Apparently, Sienkiewicz did, too. He stood up quickly, looked to the sky, and let out a blood-curdling scream before drawing his revolver and erasing the top half of his head with a single shot. It was all REDLIGHT could do to get out of range of the fallout.

ROSE ran over, and she and REDLIGHT both moved away from the body. Neither agent could explain what was happening, but after a brief talk, it seemed that their confusion stemmed from different sources. Agent ROSE was unsure how the world was eaten, and then everything was back to the way it was before. Agent REDLIGHT didn’t remember any of what ROSE described, however.

There was no Drake Park Road in REDLIGHT’s account, nor were there any toads or tentacles. One moment, Sienkiewicz was sitting next to him on the bench waiting for midnight, and the next … scream, bang, splat.

Agent ROSE called the police to report a suicide in the park, and then both agents walked back to the flat. ROSE was quiet, but REDLIGHT was absent-mindedly humming a tune he had stuck in his head. They returned to find Agent RICHARD still watching television. Agent ROSE was relieved to find the book from the library still in her luggage. Everything was the same as they’d left it, but REDLIGHT noted one small difference. There was a scar running all the way around Agent RICHARD’s neck, and he could swear it wasn’t there before.

The rest of the night was spent packing and preparing to leave the UK. The agents reported the death of David Benjamin Sienkiewicz to the CIA, and then they were off to Heathrow. Agent RICHARD flew home relieved that his first Opera was a relatively tame one, and Agents ROSE and REDLIGHT flew to New York City.

They went to see Graham Dworkin’s band play, but they were a little disturbed to find that Graham had never returned from Plymouth, and he was no longer answering calls. In fact, the band was already planning auditions for someone to take over playing the bongos.

After the show, REDLIGHT caught the next flight home to Alabama while ROSE waited for Monday. That morning at precisely 8:36 AM, she placed the little, black octavo on a shelf in the Religion section of the first Barnes & Noble she found. Without waiting around, she headed straight for the airport, and a few hours later, she was once again safe at home.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent REAPER - Master Sergeant Jack Jack, Delta Force Operator
Agent REDLIGHT – Captain Cramer Gump, INSCOM “Black” Ops (formerly Agent SID)
Agent RICHARD – Major James McGinnis, AMEDD General Surgeon
Agent ROSE – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator, Leader of R-Cell – Computer crimes specialist (formerly Agent SAM)

Former Agents
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Gregori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher
Agent RAPUNZEL (deceased) – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist
Agent ROBIN (deceased) – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Agent RAPSCALLION (deceased) – Tatom Merzos – U.S. Marshall’s office, Special Operations
Agent RUBY (retired) – Amelia Larce, DoE Nuclear Emergency Support Team
Agent SÁBADO (deceased) – Marcus Hernandez, IRS Investigator – Computer crimes specialist
Agent SERGE (missing) – Ferdinand Bazinet, Federal Research Division, French-language occult documents specialist
Agent SETH (reassigned) – Ian Trotter, INSCOM Special Agent – Army Intelligence criminal psychologist
Agent SLEEPLESS (deceased) – Reginald Longbottom, NSA Cult Infiltration Specialist

After the previous Operation, I solicited requests from the players, and they asked for something in Alaska. This past week has been pretty busy, but I managed to get some research and writing done. The end result, at least for the first session, is about 30% improvisation on my part. We are also adding a new player. This Opera begins in the middle of January, 2012.

“Have you known the Great White Silence, not a snow-gemmed twig aquiver?
(Eternal truths that shame our soothing lies.)
Have you broken trail on snowshoes? mushed your huskies up the river,
Dared the unknown, led the way, and clutched the prize?
Have you marked the map's void spaces, mingled with the mongrel races,
Felt the savage strength of brute in every thew?
And though grim as hell the worst is, can you round it off with curses?
Then hearken to the Wild -- it's wanting you.”

~ Robert Service, The Call of the Wild
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 1a

The holiday season had come and gone. Thanksgiving seemed somehow hollow and mocking. Sure, there was so much to be thankful for, but when the universe has tossed you around like a broken toy seemingly on a whim, it can leave you to wonder just how much any of it matters. When you’ve seen the world itself devoured, all the turkey and stuffing in that same world can’t satisfy. What does it matter if you eat until you pop? What does it matter if you starve? When the sky can open up and swallow the Earth, how much does anything really matter?

One holiday down; on to Christmas. This year, R-cell received a brand new member. The Delta Force operator code named REAPER was a full-blooded Navajo who went by the name Jack Jack. ROSE met with him briefly to get acquainted as she felt it was better than meeting just as the curtain rose on the next Opera.

New Year’s Day. If you believe the people who misinterpret the Mayans, this was to be the last year. The end of the world would arrive in less than a year. How much worse could things really get? ROSE wasn’t particularly anxious to find out.

About two weeks later, her phone rang. The voice on the other end was female, and it was one she hadn’t heard before.

“ROSE?”

“Yeah. This is ROSE.”

“QUINN.”

“Err … Hello, QUINN. What can I do for you?”

“Passing on an invitation from a friend, PETRA. O is tied up, and to be honest, Q needs rest. Is R up for an Opera?”

There was a moment of silence before ROSE responded. She tried to sound cheerful when she said her cell was always up for an Opera. Agent QUINN told her to be at the Broad Street Starbucks in Bozeman, Montana at 10:00 AM the next morning. She’d tell PETRA to be expecting her. With that, the line went dead.

ROSE relayed the invitation to the other members of her cell and started packing. She hated packing, and she resolved then and there to always have a bag already packed for occasions such as this.

The next day was a Sunday, and Agent ROSE arrived at the designated meeting place an hour early. REAPER rolled in fifteen minutes later and took a seat next to her. REDLIGHT went to Dunkin Donuts.

His flight had landed in the early morning hours, but he didn’t notice the clock on his phone had already updated itself for the change in time zone. He had manually set it back another hour, and as a result, he incorrectly thought he had plenty of time before the meeting.

At 9:59 AM, a woman entered, ordered a plain drip coffee, and gave her name as PETRA. She was young, soft-spoken, and neatly dressed in blue with a knee-length skirt. Her dark hair was held in place by a pair of crossed chopsticks.

Agent ROSE approached and introduced herself. PETRA seemed nervous, but she smiled politely and took a seat next to REAPER. Agent ROSE explained that RICHARD’s flight had been snowed in, but he’d be on his way as soon as possible, and REDLIGHT was in town, but he was probably being intentionally late. As half the cell was in attendance, and one of them was the cell leader, it was decided that the meeting could start. The others could be caught up later.

PETRA slid a manila envelope across the table. ROSE opened it to find several black and white 8x10 photographs of what looked like plane wreckage in a snowy field. Whoever had taken the photographs had done a very good job of capturing the detail, but there were no objects added to show scale.

ROSE examined the photographs one by one, sliding them to REAPER when she had finished. One of the photos showed the plane’s call numbers on the tail; N4313G. REAPER saw five parallel gashes on either side of the fuselage running nearly the entire length. To him, they were claw marks, but ROSE couldn’t see it.

There were symbols painted on the wings which ROSE thought represented a wind spirit or elemental of some sort. When REAPER saw them, his eyes widened a bit, and he slid back from the table with a single whispered word.

“Wendigo.”
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 1b

Agent REDLIGHT walked in just at that moment and took a seat at the table. He finished the last bite of his donut as ROSE informed him he was nearly a half hour late. REDLIGHT looked from his phone to the clock on the wall to ROSE, and he shrugged. He asked what he missed, and ROSE filled him in. REDLIGHT nodded. He had just one question.

“The hell’s a wendigo?”

ROSE explained what she knew, and then REAPER gave the version he’d heard from his grandfather. The two stories were similar but they didn’t completely agree. In ROSE’s version, the wendigo was a creature that was associated with the cold north wind. It would ambush lost or unwary travelers and eat them. Sometimes it would toy with them for a while, terrifying its victims and driving them insane.

REAPER’s version was more detailed. His grandfather had described the creature as a skin-walker; a monster that could appear human just as easily as take the form of a wolf or other animal. In all its forms, it had golden eyes. The wendigo would torment lost travelers and feed on the strength of their negative emotions. Their fear, their anger, and their despair would all make the thing stronger until it tired of the game. The wendigo would strike so quickly the victim would never know, and by that point, they were usually begging to die. It would eat only the heart, leaving the rest to the cold wastes.

REDLIGHT nodded. Okay, so they have some kind of evil, cannibal werewolf that can look like anyone or anything, and it could kill in an instant. Assuming that had anything whatsoever to do with what looked to him like random squiggles on a crashed plane, what did it have to do with them? How was this an Opera?

PETRA conceded that it was possible it might not amount to an Opera, but her contact – the one who’d provided the photographs – thought there was something worth checking out. That’s why she’d asked for help.

The agents decided to check the crash site, and so PETRA led them to a spot near Wheeler Mountain south of Bozeman. Either the name failed to conjure memories of the entity in the Spooner Avenue investigation, or REDLIGHT and ROSE had made a point to ignore the coincidence.

On the way, ROSE searched the FAA website for the plane’s call numbers. They identified the plane as a 1961 Cessna 172B registered to the National Park Service in Coldfoot, Alaska before the registration expired in 1972. The plane had not passed an airworthiness certification since 1967. She called the FAA and got the same information, but she was also able to learn that this particular aircraft hadn’t filed a flight plan in over forty years.

The crash site was small but easily spotted. The land for miles around was covered in a thin layer of frost, but there was a small oval-shaped area roughly sixty yards long and twenty yards wide which was covered in ice and snow at least a foot deep. There were a few small trees which appeared to have been bent away from the crash with great force and then flash-frozen. PETRA explained that the wreckage had been taken to a hangar at Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport, and she could get them access if they wanted to see it. There was one body recovered, and it was taken to Bozeman Deaconess Hospital for autopsy. The agents decided to break for lunch, and then PETRA would take REDLIGHT to examine the wreckage while ROSE and REAPER would talk to the Medical Examiner.

At the airport, PETRA didn’t so much flash a badge as hold up a wallet and smile, but it managed to clear all barriers for them. The hangar was dark everywhere except where the floodlights shined on tables blanketed with twisted metal. There was one man here inspecting the wreckage, and his cap identified him as an employee of the FAA.

Agent REDLIGHT poked around a little, and he took pictures of anything and everything he found interesting. The glyphs were flaking away, but they appeared to be long-dried blood. The inspector said that if he didn’t know this crash happened within the past thirty-six hours, he’d never believe it. The engine was little more than a chunk of rust, and in the inspector’s estimation, it couldn’t possibly have been operational for at least twenty years. Same with the fuel tank. It was rusted completely through in several places, and there wasn’t a trace of fuel.

ROSE took a taxi, and REAPER drove his car, but they arrived at the hospital at the same time. Over the past few years, ROSE had become intimately familiar with the general layout of the average hospital, and so it took them no time at all to find the morgue.

She flashed her FinCEN credentials and explained to the Medical Examiner that she’d like to see the body recently recovered from the plane wreckage. She and her partner were investigating him for suspicion of money laundering.

The Medical Examiner was happy to assist, and she pulled out the drawer they were after. She did confess that other than a cursory examination Friday night when he was brought in, she had been putting off the autopsy. Something about this body gave her an odd feeling.

The agents took a look. The body was male with short brown hair and about a week’s worth of facial hair. The skin was pale, the eyes were sunken, and the chest cavity had been ripped open. True to REAPER’s prediction, the heart was missing.

There was some bruising all over the body. The Medical Examiner explained she couldn’t be 100% certain until she’d performed the autopsy, but at a glance, she’d say the impact wasn’t what killed the victim. It appeared he had survived the crash only to die when his chest was opened and his heart taken. Obviously, that didn’t make sense, and she really did intend to perform the autopsy once she could bring herself to do it.

ROSE asked if the body had been identified, and she was given a bag of personal effects containing the victim’s wallet. The driver’s license identified him as James Spaulding, 33, from Portland, Oregon. The agents thanked the doctor and took their leave just as REDLIGHT texted his photos to ROSE. They decided to meet up and do some planning, and PETRA left them to it. She had her normal job duties, but she exchanged numbers with ROSE to keep tabs on the Opera.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 1c

While the agents discussed possible courses of action, ROSE searched online for information about James Spaulding. It’s not an uncommon name, but she quickly narrowed it down. She discovered that Mr. Spaulding was a freelance writer, and he wrote an outdoorsman blog. According to the blog and Mr. Spaulding’s Facebook page, he and three friends were planning an off-season trip to Gates of the Arctic National Park about 250 miles north of Fairbanks, Alaska. The group would consist of Spaulding, Jennifer Montgomery, and Tavis Green from Portland, and Melissa Martin from Salem.

Cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and dog sledding were all on the menu, as were hunting, camping, and gold panning. This was to be an epic adventure for the group spanning the entire month of January. They would ring in the new year in the park. Hunting permits were already purchased for all the caribou they could eat, plus a few moose, Dall sheep, and one black bear. An entire month’s worth of supplementary provisions had been procured and were to be waiting at Porcupine Creek Airport for their arrival.

The Opera appeared to be set in Alaska, and so the agents made travel arrangements. ROSE and REAPER drove to Seattle, and then to Bellingham, Washington to take the ferry to Alaska. This was the only way they could think of to take what they felt they’d need to hunt a wendigo. REDLIGHT wasn’t about to sit on a boat for days on end, and so he flew. On a layover in Anchorage, he did some shopping for cold-weather gear, and he arrived in the tiny town of Coldfoot, Alaska four days before the others.

The scenery was at once beautiful and dreary. There were maybe thirty houses in the whole town, and they were pretty well spaced. There weren’t many buildings which didn’t appear to be homes. There was a very large gas station. Then there was the airport which was really little more than a dirt and gravel runway with a hangar. The Arctic Interagency Visitor Center was the only architecturally interesting building in the town with its split-layered roof. A sign on the door indicated that the Visitor Center would be closed for the months of October through April. The other two buildings were a bar and a small hotel.

The sky was bright blue because it was just too cold for clouds. Agent REDLIGHT’s body could probably stand the cold better than most, but his lungs and eyes were still human, and that meant they could freeze. One local happened to pass by, giving the agent a strange and mistrustful look. REDLIGHT stopped him and asked about the Visitor’s Center. The man just shook his head and said it was closed. If he wanted in, he’d have to talk to Samantha Wendell who operated the center during the warmer months. He pointed her house out, and REDLIGHT thanked him.

The agent then headed toward the hotel. The building only had about ten rooms, a lobby, and a small dining area, but a travel brochure might say it had a certain rustic charm. Agent REDLIGHT had to ring the bell a few times before he got service, and then he was told the cost of a room was $175 per night.

He started to argue, but the clerk reminded him he was welcome to rent a tent from Mrs. Wendell if he’d rather. REDLIGHT handed over his credit card with a slight sneer. There was an upside to the extortion, however. Food was included in the cost of the room. He could have anything he wanted as long as they had it, and he could have as much as he could eat. The clerk explained that at the moment, they were a bit low on vegetables, but they had plenty of meat.

REDLIGHT took his room key, signed the guestbook, and went to his room to get settled. Shortly thereafter, he headed to the dining area and ordered right off the menu: Meat Stew. He was told that for tonight, the role of ‘meat’ would be played by caribou. Over the next few days, the meat changed a few times, but it was always very well prepared and well worth the price he paid.

The day ROSE and REAPER were due to arrive turned out to be far warmer than the others. The thermometer pushed as high as fifteen degrees above zero. REDLIGHT took that as a sign that he should do all his outdoor activity, and so he headed down the frozen dirt road toward Samantha Wendell’s house.

Mrs. Wendell was quite tall, about 6’3” or so, thin but athletic, with long, light blonde hair. Her eyes were a pale blue, and they appeared slightly sunken and dark as if she hadn’t slept well in a while. For all that, she seemed friendly enough. She was certainly friendlier than some locals REDLIGHT had met.

She told REDLIGHT she’d be happy to provide him with a map from the Visitor Center, and if he needed a snowmobile, dog sled, skis, tent, guide, whatever … he just needed to ask. Well, ask and hand over a modest amount of money. She was in the rental business after all. He thanked her for her time and said he’d be in touch once his friends arrived.

An hour or so later, ROSE and REAPER completed their journey arriving in Coldfoot in the early evening just as things really started to cool off. ROSE went to the bar and had a drink before calling REDLIGHT to let him know she was in town. REAPER stopped by the hotel to check in.

By the end of the day, the three agents occupied three rooms in a hotel of ten, and they still had one agent on the way. The Opera would be a costly one already if not for the magic of fake credit cards. At least the Meat Stew was complimentary.
 
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Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 2a

Four days snowed in at Logan International Airport in Boston had left Agent RICHARD weary of travel, and he hadn’t moved. When he was finally able to fly out, he really just wanted to go home. His connection in Seattle didn’t help matters. The next flight north didn’t leave for almost six hours.

Upon reaching Fairbanks, he found that there was one plane leaving for Coldfoot, but it was leaving in about ten minutes. It would only hold four, and it had been chartered by a trio from California. RICHARD grumbled, but he put on his best smile and tried to charm his way on the flight. The Californians weren’t particularly interested in squeezing in next to him for the next two and a half hours, but RICHARD’s smile managed to win them over, being accompanied as it was by many smiles from Benjamin Franklin. The doctor wasn’t happy about handing over $500, but at least he was on his way.

Agent REAPER wasn’t about to let a skin-walker get the jump on him. That’s why he’d insisted on driving rather than flying. There was no way any plane would let him bring toys like the ones he’d packed. In these days of heightened airport security, the bed of a truck was the only reliable way to transport M18A1 Claymore mines and an M79 grenade launcher. Had Agent ROSE known what was in the back, she would likely have questioned the need for such firepower.

This was her first Opera with REAPER, so she was still a little wary. At least he seemed to know what he was doing. Besides … Delta Force. There were only like 300 of these guys, right? They had to be the best of the best. She had done her research when she’d learned about the new cell member. She also learned there was a movie about Delta Force starring Chuck Norris and Lee Marvin. Lee Marvin was okay, but damn, she hated Chuck Norris.

They were in the center of Alaska in the middle of winter, and they were hunting a wendigo. REAPER’s grandfather had told him the skin-walkers were dangerous during the day, but they were nearly un-killable at night. Well, at least night only lasted 22 hours each day at this time of year. That would give them easily an hour and a half or so each day before things got really dangerous. Claymore on this window, Claymore on that window, Claymore on the door to his room … REAPER was ready for the night.

Agent ROSE relaxed in her room oblivious to the demolitions work in progress just next door. She turned her phone into a mobile hotspot and did a little more research on her laptop. Coldfoot was the last truck stop on the Dalton Highway until Prudhoe Bay about 250 miles north. It had apparently been featured on a few episodes of a show called Ice Road Truckers, but there was very little information beyond that.

Conventional research seemed to be failing. At best, it was as slow as the internet connection. ROSE knew an easier way, but there didn’t seem to be many people in town who could disappear without being noticed. She didn’t remember many people on the drive from Fairbanks either. Could she make it to Fairbanks and back before anyone knew she was gone? The drive had taken almost eight hours, but REAPER drove like an old lady.

She hadn’t seen any State Troopers, so there wouldn’t be any need to obey speed limits. Even if she did get pulled over, she was FinCEN. She was even FBI or CDC if she wanted, but more than that, she was hot. She’d been stopped for speeding in nearly every state in the union, and never once had she actually been ticketed.

Okay, so Fairbanks it was. Now all she needed was transportation. There was only one vehicle parked out front; REAPER’s 2007 Ford F-150. That should be fine. If she could make the trip there and back in under ten hours, he’d never know it was gone.

Agent ROSE managed to get the truck hotwired just before her feet froze, and if you don’t count the near-head on with a moose (which she didn’t), the journey was fast and easy. Her first target was a young female in her early 20s, but the girl politely refused the offer of a ride. She was only walking a short way to her boyfriend’s house.

The girl was young, and she had a boyfriend. ROSE decided to pick another target. After all, she was no monster. A few minutes of driving, and she found another. This one was a man in his fifties on his way out of a bar. ROSE convinced him of the dangers of drunk driving, and offered him a ride back to his car in the morning. The wink sealed the deal, and the man hopped in.

There were so many bad motels to choose from. Agent ROSE found a suitable one, checked in under a fake name, and led the man to the room. It was only a few minutes before she had her opportunity. Bronze knife, throat, blood, bowl, place a call to the Dark Man … The process was becoming second nature.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 2b

The Dark Man appeared a minute later and towered over her in the small room. He was silent and imposing, but Agent ROSE had seen it all before.

“I’ve called you because I’m on an Operation in Alaska, and I’m stuck. I need to know exactly what I’m hunting and how best to find it. In exchange, as usual, ask anything you like.”

The Dark Man leaned forward under the low ceiling, and ROSE felt a slight chill. He demanded that she tell him everything she knew about what she was hunting, and then he would fulfil her request. She ran down the list: glyphs on the plane, localized ice and snow, missing heart …

The Dark Man nodded, and when he did so, the smooth horn which served as his otherwise-featureless face ripped sections of the ceiling away.

“You hunt a wendigo, Gia Jones; a Child of Ithaqua. The best way to find it is to bring it to you. Give it what it seeks. I shall be watching you, Gia Jones. I will call on you soon with my demand, and you will obey.”

With that, the Dark Man was gone, and ROSE snapped into action. She cleaned up all evidence of her presence, and shut the door behind her. On her way out of town, she dropped the room key in a mailbox. To paraphrase the creed of the U.S. Postal Service, “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift return of your motel key.”

By 5:00 AM, ROSE was back in Coldfoot. She repaired the damage done by hotwiring, and she even filled the gas tank on the truck. She had probably two or three hours before the rest of the cell would expect her to be awake, so she slipped back to her room and immediately fell asleep.

Through the entire flight, the Californians never once acknowledged RICHARD. They were entirely too absorbed in their own worlds. Two and a half hours of listening to Antonio, Lisa, and Craig going on and on about how “totally awesome” and “hella sweet, fer sure” this trip was going to be made RICHARD wish he was still snowed in back in Boston. At one point, Lisa decided that since carpool lanes worked so well, there should be planepool lanes, too. Agent RICHARD contained himself, and Lisa managed to not be thrown from the plane.

It was still as dark as night when the little plane touched down in Coldfoot right around breakfast time. Agent RICHARD couldn’t get out of the plane fast enough for his taste. He pulled his coat tightly around himself as he took up his bags and trudged off toward the hotel with deliberate steps. On his way to the front desk, the doctor noticed ROSE and REDLIGHT in the dining area with someone else. He’d been told there was a new cell member, so that must be him.

RICHARD checked in and met up with his cell. After a few clarifications about the menu, he ordered the Meat Burger which he’d been assured was Dall sheep today. REDLIGHT had the Three Egg, Two Meat Omelette. Agent REAPER just didn’t feel right about the presentation of the menu, and so he ordered eggs - lots of eggs – and no meat. For the duration of this Opera, he was a vegetarian unless he shot and killed the food himself.

Everyone filled RICHARD in on Act I of the Opera, and from the sound of it, he’d be lucky if it turned out not to be a tragedy. He had to be corrected a few times when he would call the wendigo a werewolf. REAPER and ROSE assured him it was not a werewolf, but he didn’t see the distinction. Claws and fangs, check. Lives in the cold-assed wilderness, check. More dangerous at night, check. Can change its shape, check. How was this not a werewolf? Well, you see, it eats hearts, and it can look like anything – not just wolves. Nope. RICHARD was going to call it a werewolf.

REAPER explained that the wendigo was attracted to pain and suffering. ROSE’s plan to draw it out would require a volunteer to experience those two particular emotions, and the stronger, the better. Unfortunately for R-cell, it looked like it would have to be one of them to volunteer. REAPER and ROSE thought that maybe REDLIGHT should be the one to volunteer. After all, he was always eating all the Aleve, Advil, Tylenol, and any other painkillers that he could. He even carried morphine patches. He was obviously already in a lot of pain, and he’d just have to stop taking the pills.

REDLIGHT offered a counter-proposal. REAPER could take his rifle and shove it somewhere sure to bring him pain and suffering. Agent RICHARD calmed things down before they went further. His suggestion was to find its lair. That would likely involve heading out into the wilderness, but with any luck, there wouldn’t be any pain or suffering. ROSE and REAPER shot that plan down before it could get off the ground. They were going to draw it out, and that was that.
 

Nomessiah

Visitor
Hearken to the Wild - Session 2c

There was a lively discussion about just who should volunteer, but ultimately it was ROSE who put an end to it. If none of the men were man enough to volunteer, she would do it. She left the table and went up to her room. REAPER followed while the other two finished their breakfast.

ROSE opened the window to her room and leaned out. The air outside was cold, and she could immediately feel her eyes and nose start to freeze. She could reach the roof from her window, and she was sure she could climb up. She looked to REAPER, but he made no move to talk her out of whatever she was planning. She made an awkward lunge in a few directions at once, but she managed to get a grip and pull herself up onto the roof.

The ground was only about 25 feet or so down, but the snow and darkness made it difficult to judge. The ground was frozen solid, so ROSE focused on a snowbank, took a deep, cold breath, and jumped for it. She slipped a bit just at the end, and it threw off her entire trajectory. REAPER’s eyes widened as he saw his cell leader fall past the window.

“No freakin’ way! She did it!”

He moved to the window and nearly winced at what he saw. Agent ROSE looked somewhat like a cold, red pretzel. Her right leg was going in all the wrong directions, and it had to be broken in at least three places. She was obviously barely containing her screams.

REAPER rushed downstairs and outside, and the other two followed. RICHARD immediately started fumbling in his bag for a morphine patch, but REAPER placed a hand on his chest and pushed him back.

“No morphine for her.”

“Are you crazy?! Look at her. She needs it before the shock wears off. I’m going to need to set that leg right away, and we’ll need to cauter-“

“No. Morphine.”

Agent REAPER let the doctor know in no uncertain terms that ROSE put herself in this situation to draw out the wendigo, and to kill the pain would be to waste her effort. ROSE nodded weakly through teary eyes.

“Alright then. You want pain? This might help.”

RICHARD handed her a stick and told her to bite down. He then made some sickening sounding motions to re-set her bones. REAPER was happy to burn the wound for them. REDLIGHT shook his head and headed over to Samantha Wendell’s house while the other two helped ROSE to the hotel lobby.

There was no one around, so REAPER grabbed a few Claymore mines from his room and hid them in strategic places. If a wendigo came for them, it would get hit by hundreds of chunks of metal from all angles. He handed the detonator to ROSE who took them without really comprehending the entire situation due to the lack of sleep and the shock of the fall. REAPER took up a position in the shadows of the hallway. RICHARD sat in the lobby with ROSE and debated on giving her the morphine anyway.

When Mrs. Wendell answered the door, Agent REDLIGHT asked her if she would be willing to rent him a snowmobile and a few heavy blankets. She was quite happy to do so, and she walked with him across the creek to Porcupine Creek Airport about a mile and a half away where she kept the snowmobiles, dog sleds, and camping equipment.

While she was preparing the two-seat snowmobile, REDLIGHT looked around. The airport was hardly more than a very short dirt and gravel runway. The only hangar was probably barely large enough to hold a small plane, but it was empty at the moment.

Mrs. Wendell and Agent REDLIGHT rode back to the town and parked the snowmobile in front of the hotel. Mrs. Wendell went home, and REDLIGHT carried the blankets up onto her roof. His alien-engineered body was rather resistant to the cold, but even he would freeze to death uncovered. Buried in blankets on the side of Mrs. Wendell’s roof which faced the hotel, Agent REDLIGHT waited and watched.

Three hours went by, and nothing came to eat ROSE’s heart. RICHARD did his best to keep her from passing out or getting infected, but with REAPER watching them both, he didn’t dare try to ease her pain.

“Oh, my gosh. It’s, like, still hella dark out.”

“Yeah, Lisa. We’re at the top of the world. The sun only comes out on weekends.”

“Shut up, Craig! I’m not that dumb.”

The Californians were coming down the hall, still loud, still self-absorbed. REAPER gritted his teeth and rested his hand on his pistol. Now these were the people to use as bait. Who would care if they were in pain? He watched them make their way to the dining area, and he even mimed taking a few shots at Craig.

When they had finished their lunch, the Californians made their way outside and over to Samantha Wendell’s house. They were entirely too focused on themselves to notice the bundle of blankets on the roof. They made a deal to rent two teams of dogs and sleds for the day, and Mrs. Wendell walked them over to the airport. REDLIGHT watched them as they prepared the sleds, and the cold morning air carried sounds of “giddyup” and “yaw, mule!”
 

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