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Delta Green - All Part of the Job

Nomessiah

Villager
Fuel of the Gods - Session 6

He couldn’t exactly just turn in for the night since he was sharing a room with a man who had to all appearances crashed his truck through a wall to run himself over before removing his head with a pistol, so Agent REDOX headed to the motel office to request another room. The office was closed, however, and so REDOX was left with the prospect of sleeping in his rental truck or tracking down RAJEEV. Given his recent vehicle-related experiences, he settled on the latter.

The waitress set a plate of blueberry waffles stacked a foot high in front of Agent RAJEEV and then casually set the check on the table face down. The FBI man was pouring warm maple syrup in each square-shaped indention as his phone rang and rang. Once he finished with the syrup, the agent set his phone to silent and enjoyed his quiet dinner.

It took only a few minute for REDOX to find the only remaining member of his cell; the diner was the only place in the small town which was still open. He took a seat across from RAJEEV who acknowledged his presence with a nod.

Instead of speaking, REDOX made a show of calling RAJEEV on his phone. With the phone to his ear, REDOX simply stared at RAJEEV. The other agent simply ignored his cell member and focused on his waffles. While the phone rang, and without blinking, REDOX grabbed RAJEEV’s soda and drank the whole glass. RAJEEV continued to ignore the EPA scientist. When he had finished his waffles, RAJEEV looked up and across the table.

“What’s up?”

“ROSE and REAPER are dead, and I’m going to be rooming with you.”

“Dead? How?”

“Bullets and tires.”

RAJEEV accepted that answer, tossed some money on the table, and stood up. The agents headed back to the motel and slept the best they could. Agent RAJEEV laid awake wondering just what he’d gotten himself into. Agent REDOX should have been wondering the same, but instead, he dreamt that he drove his rental truck off the pier and along the ocean floor.

At about 3:00 AM, Agent REDOX’s phone rang interrupting his dream just as he was pulling over a ridge overlooking a vast underwater cityscape. He rolled over and answered. It was the sheriff, and he sounded upset.

Calls had been coming in about stolen cars, and then more calls about driverless cars. Those were followed by reports of someone matching Jan Bronski’s description doing funny dances in the street. The sheriff had gone out to investigate only to find his own car revving its engine in a menacing manner. He wasn’t sure what was going on, but as long as the agents were in town to find Bronski, maybe they could look into this as well?

REDOX wanted to wish the sheriff the best of luck before heading to the airport, but instead, he said they’d be right on it. RAJEEV was still awake, and so REDOX filled him in on the situation. Both agents got ready and stepped outside only to find that one of their vehicles was gone. RAJEEV’s truck was still there, but REDOX’s rental was nowhere to be seen. It was probably one of the many making the racket off to the north.

RAJEEV hopped in his truck, but before REDOX could get in the passenger side, the doors locked themselves, and the engine started. Agent RAJEEV tried to open his door, but it refused to cooperate. His seatbelt wrapped itself around and clicked in place as RAJEEV struggled to get free.

The tires squealed as the truck started to speed away. Agent REDOX had time to draw his gun and fire a few shots at the tires. He managed to hit one, but that didn’t seem to slow the truck much. RAJEEV’s hands were trapped by his sides, and no amount of force applied to the brake seemed to do any good.

The truck’s radio came on, and the volume went all the way up. Agent RAJEEV could see the sparks flying from the rim of his shredded tire, and he could hear the voices behind the static urging him to remain calm and surrender.

Agent REDOX climbed up a drain pipe to the roof of the motel to get a better view. Through his night vision binoculars, he could see about twenty or so vehicles circling the blocks around City Hall and trying to run over any pedestrians they found. He also saw RAJEEV’s truck heading west toward the beach. He watched helplessly from the rooftop as the truck dove from the end of the pier, and RAJEEV watched helplessly as the truck sank to the bottom and continued its drive.

That did it. REDOX was done with the Opera. He didn’t care how it turned out anymore. He’d played his part to the best of his ability, and now it had become a one-man show. He slid down the pipe, grabbed his bag from the room, and went for a walk out of town and down the highway. Now more than ever, he was convinced that his work with the EPA was important. Screw FOST Petroleum. Screw vile, living oil that can turn your vehicle against you. While he hitchhiked his way back to San Francisco, he called A-cell to let them know the story. He had to leave a message, but he was sure someone would get it.

As the windows began to roll down, and the cold, salty ocean slowly traded places with the oxygen in the cab, RAJEEV struggled unsuccessfully to get free. Everything was dark, cold, and claustrophobic. He could feel the water fill his shoes first, and then he felt it at his waist. The radio urged calm. It urged deep breaths and peaceful acceptance.

As the water reached his shoulders, he thought he could see shapes moving outside. It was impossible, sure, but in the pitch black of the ocean outside, he was sure he saw shapes darker still.
The radio still urged calm, but RAJEEV refused to obey. He struggled right up until the water reached his nose. He thought he felt something grab his shoulder, and he gasped in fright. As the sea filled his lungs, the radio had its way. RAJEEV was calm and at peace at last.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Just a quick status update: The game (and thus this Actual Play) will be on a brief hiatus as I practice being a father. I still have many plans for this game, and my players definitely want to continue, so it'll be back in probably a month or so.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Another update, and a reminder that I haven't disappeared:

This has been probably the fastest month of my life. The baby is doing very well, and it turns out I don't totally suck at being a parent!

We had intended to pick the game back up tonight, but one of the players is taking a sick day. We should be good for next week though.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent REDOX - Doctor Dexter Michael Pepper, EPA Environmental Scientist
Agent REINHARD - Michael Pollander, IRS Special Agent
Agent RIVER - Kiwen Doucette, Office of Export Enforcement, Criminal Investigator
Agent ROMEO - Terrance Winters, Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis - Interrogator

Former Agents
Agent RAPSCALLION (deceased) – Tatom Merzos, U.S. Marshall’s Office - Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL (deceased) – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Gregori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher
Agent REAPER - Master Sergeant Jack Jack, Delta Force Operator
Agent REDLIGHT (deceased) – Captain Cramer Gump, INSCOM “Black” Ops (formerly Agent SID)
Agent RICHARD (deceased) – Major James McGinnis, AMEDD General Surgeon
Agent ROBIN (deceased) – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Agent ROSE – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator, Leader of R-Cell – Computer crimes specialist (formerly Agent SAM)
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

This Opera marks the introduction of Agent RIVER; Agent ROSE's player's new character. After the break, I wanted to ease them back in to the swing of things, so I planned a simple surveillance operation. As I found out later, my players have apparently never even seen a spy movie.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 1a

Agent REDOX was really hoping for a vacation after the events in California, but work – legitimate work – demanded his attention for the next couple months. Each morning, he checked the various news channels, websites, and papers. There was no mention of FOST Petroleum, no mention of all the carnage and vehicular assault; there wasn’t so much as a report of a traffic jam in Willoughby, California.

Maybe FOST bought off the authorities. Maybe Delta Green executed a cover up. Maybe it was just the flood of political news in an election year. Whatever the case, REDOX felt he dodged a bullet.

Agent RIVER, an Office of Export Enforcement Criminal Investigator, had been assigned to his cell, but he had yet to meet her. Agent ADAM also promised another recruit in the near future. Other than that, it was mid-July before he heard from A-cell again, and there was no mention of the previous Opera, so he officially put it behind him. The email clearly laid out A-cell’s expectation; a simple surveillance operation.

From: A-cell
To: Agent REDOX and R-cell
Subject: Operation SEE NO EVIL

Congratulations, REDOX, on your recent field promotion, and condolences on the loss of your previous team. You have been invited to a Night at the Opera.

Your employers will soon be temporarily reassigning you to New York City. There, you will lead a surveillance operation against an organization in which the FBI has recently developed an interest.

This organization, and in particular the individuals comprising its leadership, is also of potential interest to Delta Green. We require objective analysis and intelligence in this matter, and consequently we cannot share any further information on the target subjects with your cell at this time.

Your FBI superiors will place legal parameters upon the nature of the surveillance that you will be conducting. As Delta Green agents, you will not be bound by such parameters. I am sure you will understand when I say you are to consider yourselves answerable to a higher authority.

Outside of your cell, the fellow members of your team are not cleared for Delta Green intelligence and will be unaware of your true purpose in this operation. Extreme caution must therefore be exercised, particularly with regards to any breach of the legal parameters discussed above.

Your team will be provided with cover identities as FBI Senior Special Agents. Collect your package from your local FedEx dropbox. In the future, this dropbox will be referred to as ‘the usual spot’.

To summarize your objectives:

1) Covertly gather intelligence on the target subject(s) while maintaining your cover. We will be particularly interested in any indications of ‘occult interest’ or of any manifestation of paranormal phenomena.
2) Report back to A-cell when the surveillance operation is complete, or at your discretion should circumstance dictate.

-A
Being an EPA scientist, Agent REDOX had no experience in surveillance, and he suspected Agent RIVER had little more. Still, he’d seen a spy movie or two. How hard could it be to plant a few bugs and wiretaps?

He forwarded the email to Agent RIVER after carefully redacting the bit about ‘condolences on the loss of your previous team,’ and then he gave her a call. He was going to be on the next flight to JFK, and he wanted her there in the morning, Sunday, July 15th.

Upon his arrival in New York, Agent REDOX rented a car and found a hotel. After a night’s sleep, he met RIVER at the airport. She was young and pretty, but she was no Agent ROSE. They headed back to the hotel so RIVER could get a room and drop off her bags before making their appearance at the FBI office.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 1b

The agents were met by a tall man in his late-40s with what was probably an athletic build in decades past but was now in decline. He introduced himself as Assistant Special-Agent-in-Charge Williams. ASAC Williams showed the agents to a briefing room and gave them the rundown.

“Agents, we have four rookies who are still inside their two-year probations. They need some practice with standard surveillance gear and procedures. That’s why you’re here. A Holocaust denial group known as The Review is presenting an event at the Merriweather Center this Saturday. Four of their senior members will be speaking, and we plan to run a small surveillance operation on them.”

“This project is meant purely as an intelligence-gathering exercise, part of our ongoing effort to collate information about possible terrorists in American society. Senior members of the Justice Department believe that The Review, and possibly one or more of the four men under surveillance, may have links to other, more sinister organizations that plan and carry out unlawful activities.”

ASAC Williams dropped four thin manila folders on the table for the agents to look over.

“The four men scheduled to speak are Peter Hames, a WWII veteran and a once-noted historical scholar; Michael Watts, a former professor of European History currently without a position; Allen Bhrunt, the main publisher and editor of The Review's newsletter as well as the publisher of many of the group's texts; and Stephen Colm, The Review's secretary and the group's longest-serving member – one of the founders, in fact. All four of The Review's heaviest hitters are rarely together like this, as they live in different cities. An opportunity to gather surveillance data on all four of them together may not present itself again for a long time.”

Each folder contained a photograph and a detailed yet patchy background:

Peter Hames
Aliases: none
Age: 87 Occupation: retired
Description: White Caucasian Male, 5'9", 150 lbs, limp right leg, tattoo right arm "B-17 Delightful Dora," far-sighted (glasses)
Military Rank: Air Force Major, retired
Immediate Family: wife Evangeline (deceased), son Patrick (deceased)
Notes: Born Fairview, Ohio August 18, 1924. Enlisted September 20, 1943 served until August 29, 1963. Married wife Evangeline ]une 27, 1955. Arrested three times for assault, no charges brought. Wife Evangeline died July 25, 1963. Author of three books: Air Power (1960 Gerwin, republished 1965 Hewlitt), Hitler's Germany (1968 Hewlitt), Rise of the Reich (1974 Hewlitt).
Other Associations: former chairman Fairview John Birch Society, former member Fairview Veterans' Association
Michael Watts
Aliases: none
Age: 63 Occupation: Professor of History (unemployed)
Description: White Caucasian Male, 6'1", 180 lbs, birthmark orange right thigh, scar left temple
Immediate Family: wife Dorothea
Notes: Born Deepdene, Massachusetts January 15, 1949. Educated Boston University 1971 (B.A.), Reading University, England 1971-75 (M.A., Ph.D.). Married wife Dorothea May 5, 1970. Criminal Record: arrested DWI convicted 1982. Author of two books: Hitler and the Nazis (1978 Godwin), The Jewish Problem in Germany 1935-45 (1986 Bhrunt). Author of numerous historical articles; published in History Today, Times of Conflict, Military Historical Quarterly among others
Last Employer: Boston University 1985-95
Allen Bhrunt
Aliases: Alexis Bellman
Age: 53 Occupation: Publisher
Description: White Caucasian Male, 5'2", 208 lbs, scar right leg, asthmatic
Immediate Family: none
Notes: Born Fort Lauderdale, Florida May 8, 1959. Educated Florida State 1981 (B.sc.). Criminal Record: arrested forgery 1982, acquitted. Arrested assault 1983, convicted 1 month. Arrested possession narcotics 1985, convicted 2 months. 32 parking citations. Editor/owner Review Press, publisher Truth newsletter & website. Currently under investigation for mail fraud
Stephen Colm
Aliases: none
Age: 67 Occupation: Accountant
Description: White Caucasian Male, 5'11", 165 lbs, near-sighted (glasses)
Immediate Family: wife Wilhemina (divorced), son Andrew, son Brian
Notes: Born Barlow, Missouri December 29, 1945. Educated Missouri State 1967 (M.B.A.). Criminal Record: none. Married wife Wilhemina April 8, 1972, divorced Jun19, 1982. Current Employer: Harwick, Chadderton & Merlo, New York City, New York
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 1c

ASAC Williams called in the rookies for the rest of the briefing. Special Agent David Faulkner was tall, thin, and fair with thinning blonde hair and all-American-boy looks. Samantha Lynn was a petite, slim woman with bright blue eyes and brown hair. Then there was Steve Udagawa, a short man of Japanese descent with military-length dark hair and a strong build. Finally, there was Eric Taylor. Special Agent Taylor was a tall, black man with a cleanly shaved head.

Once the rookies were introduced and seated, ASAC Williams continued the briefing.

“Michael Watts is booked on the 4:15 PM Delta flight into JFK from Providence, Rhode Island tomorrow, and has booked a single suite, Room 1210 at the Marriott Hotel from tomorrow until Sunday, the day after the conference. He is booked on the 8:00 AM Delta flight from JFK back to Rhode Island.”

“Peter Hames is booked on the 10 PM American Airlines flight from Toldeo, Ohio, to JFK on Thursday. He has a reservation at the Marriott, Room 1126 from Thursday until Sunday, and has a ticket on the 5 PM American flight back to Toledo on Sunday.”

“Allen Bhrunt is coming by train from his home in Holden, Connecticut. He will arrive at Grand Central Station at 4:45 PM on Tuesday. He is booked into the Marriott, Room 1708 from Tuesday until the following Tuesday.”

“Parabolic microphones, video cameras, still photography, and other non-intrusive means of monitoring these four men may be used. They may be followed, watched, and their contacts noted and recorded. You will not be able to plant listening devices, tap phones, or search computer files unless there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or is being planned. Ultimately the surveillance mission will involve a lot of stakeout time.”

After being dismissed, Agent REDOX told the rookie Special Agents to get a van from the motor pool and meet back the following morning. From there, they would develop their plan. The rookies went their way, and the agents when back to the hotel to relax.

The next morning, the agents met up with the rookies at the FBI office. REDOX took them for coffee and planning while RIVER stopped by a store specializing in ‘spy gear’ on her way to the Marriott.

She told the man at the front desk that she had a gift for Mr. Watts from his wife, and she wanted to take it up to his room. The man informed her that Mr. Watts had not yet checked in, and in any case, he couldn’t allow her access to the room. If she wanted to leave the gift at the front desk, he’d be happy to have it taken up. Agent RIVER declined but thanked the man for his time. Instead, she wandered off in search of the maids’ station.

There were four hotel maids in the room, and they were chattering away in Spanish. RIVER wasn’t fluent, but she could get by easily enough. She offered one of the maids $100 to give her access to a uniform, a cart, and a universal room key for 20 minutes. The maid was happy to help, and she got her coworkers to go outside with her for a break.

In her new disguise, Agent RIVER was in the perfect position to clandestinely plant listening devices, cameras, and wiretaps in all three rooms rented by the visiting members of The Review. The uniform, cart, and room key were all returned before the maids came back.

Her next stop was Mr. Colm’s apartment. She figured he’d be at work by now, and she was correct. The apartment was on the second floor of a six-story building. Rather than try the front, Agent RIVER decided to use the fire escape. When she was sure no one was watching, she jumped to catch hold of the ladder and pull it down, and then she climbed up.

The window to Mr. Colm's apartment was locked, so Agent RIVER wrapped her hand in cloth and smashed it. As she crawled in, she was greeted by a vicious sounding terrier who couldn't have weighed more than about 9 pounds. RIVER reached into her pocket for something to feed the animal, and she pulled out a bag of marijuana. She tossed it to the dog who didn't eat it but was sufficiently distracted.

Agent RIVER crawled through the broken window to have a look around. The place was immaculately kept. Everything was well-ordered and clean. The couch was covered in plastic, and there was a small dog bed on one cushion. Mr. Colm had no television, but he did have shelves full of books.

Agent RIVER decided that the man was Obsessive-Compulsive, and so she took it upon herself to make his life more interesting. She turned objects slightly and skewed hanging pictures. She rearranged the carefully hung pots and pans in the kitchen and flipped the toilet paper roll in the bathroom so that it rolled the other direction. In the study, she turned the computer monitor around and repositioned the antique World War II soldier figures on the bookshelf. In particular, the figures of Hitler and Mussolini now seemed to be performing lewd acts upon each other.

It was only after she'd thoroughly rearranged the man's carefully ordered apartment that she got around to the business of planting bugs, wiretaps, and cameras. She then left the way she'd entered and flagged down a taxi to take her to the airport.

Agent REDOX and the rookie FBI agents arrived at the airport in the white van from the motor pool a little before RIVER's cab. Once Watts's plane landed, the agents all followed his cab to the Marriott.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 2a

Watts entered the hotel to check into his room, so Agent REDOX ordered the rookie FBI agents into position; Agents Faulkner and Udagawa were to man the laser microphone from an apartment across the street which REDOX had managed to secure for the week while Agents Lynn and Taylor were to sit in the van outside the apartment and find some way to be useful. The teams would switch up every couple hours, and if Watts left the hotel, the van team was to tail him. Meanwhile, REDOX went to his personal room at the Marriott and ordered a pizza, and RIVER retired to her room to review recordings and monitor camera feeds.

While waiting for his pizza to arrive, Agent REDOX found an email from A-cell regarding new agents. He was to expect the arrival of Michael Pollander, an IRS Special Agent who had selected the name Agent REINHARD, and Terrance Winters, an interrogator with the Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis who had selected the name Agent ROMEO. They were due to arrive in the morning.

Upon viewing the photographs, the irony of ROMEO’s choice of name wasn’t lost on him. The man appeared to have lost large sections of his skin to a fire, and REDOX couldn’t help but be reminded of Rachel the rat; the one that had ripped its own face off after being doused with tainted fuel only a couple months earlier. The agent shuddered slightly. With a face like that, it was no wonder the man became an interrogator. He was probably a natural.

Agent RIVER was playing a mind-numbing yet oddly addictive game on her phone, and she was in the zone. So deep in the zone was she that she failed to notice when the listening devices and cameras in Mr. Colm’s apartment went dead. She wasn’t sure how much time had passed since it happened, but fortunately she’d been recording. She played the recordings back, and this time she saw it:

Stephen Colm returned home from work and immediately felt the disturbance in the Force. His window had been broken, a bag of something green – drugs, no doubt – was on the floor, his furniture had been turned, pictures had been skewed, pots and pans had been rearranged. He whistled quickly to the dog which he called Bernard. Scooping Bernard up with one arm, he left the apartment only to return about a half hour later without the dog.

Colm produced something that resembled a wand and began waving it around the room. Whenever the wand passed over one of RIVER’s devices, it made a noise, and the device would be flooded with interference. One by one, Colm found and destroyed each device. He left a single camera and leaned close to it.

“I don’t know who you are, but it’s obvious you’re trying to intimidate me by breaking into my home and planting obvious bugs. Well, let me tell you this: You aren’t going to scare me. I’ve done nothing wrong, so you can’t touch me. The event this weekend will go on as planned, so let’s cut the bull. Either you back off now, or meet me face to face if you have something to say.”

Colm then reached toward the camera, and the transmission ceased.
Well, damn. That was the end of that. At least she still had Michael Watts’s room bugged. Agent RIVER decided to look in on him only to find all of her devices offline. Rolling back the recording, she found that shortly after Colm delivered his message, he called Watts. She could hear Colm’s voice coming through Watts’s tapped phone.

“Michael, it’s Stephen Colm. Listen, they broke into my apartment while I was at work. They tried to drug Bernard, and they planted bugs and cameras. I knew they were going to be watching. Look, just check your room. They may have gotten to you, too. Call me back in ten.”
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 2b

Before Watts could speak a word, Colm had hung up. Watts sighed and shook his head, but he began looking around his room. He growled when he found the first device. Eventually, he found them all, and Agent RIVER never knew whether he returned Colm’s call.

She gave REDOX a call to let him know what had happened. The new cell leader wasn’t particularly happy about the news, but his only response was to make sure she knew not to let the junior FBI agents find out. There was nothing more to do for the evening, and so the agents called it a night.

The next morning, all four rookie agents were assigned to Watts. RIVER was left in charge of them while REDOX went to meet the new recruits. Agent REDOX had emailed the mission briefing to both of the new agents, and so upon reaching New York from his home in a small Wisconsin town, Agent REINHARD went immediately to the local IRS office to see about tracing the finances of The Review.

Agent ROMEO went immediately to Al’s Pizza, a small pizza place struggling to survive in the cutthroat business world of the big city. Normally, a pizza place would thrive in New York, but Al had made one serious mistake which was so far spelling doom for his shop: He only made Chicago-style deep dish pizzas, and there were forks on every table. Word spread quickly of such an unforgivable heresy as that, and as such, Al was very happy to see even someone as physically unappealing as ROMEO. When REDOX called, ROMEO let him know exactly where to meet him, and about five minutes later, Al had his second customer of the week.

Agent REDOX dropped the files down on the table for ROMEO to look through. As they say, sometimes all you need is a fresh set of eyes. Agent ROMEO had several questions spring to mind. Could they get a hold of copies of any of the books these men had written? Maybe the newsletter? What did their website look like? Why was Michael Watts fired from Boston University, and why hadn’t he found other employment in the nearly 20 years since? The file said Allen Bhrunt had been convicted of possession of narcotics, but what sort of narcotics? Could they register to attend the event this weekend? Why hadn’t REDOX asked these questions already?

Agent REDOX had no answers to any question but the last. To that, he replied that he’d been pretty damned busy lately, thank you very much. ROMEO sort of shrugged and seemed to accept that. He resolved to find the answers himself, and REDOX wholeheartedly supported him. After their lunch, Al bid his customers a farewell and encouraged them to please, please tell their friends. Agent ROMEO went to the New York Public Library for research while REDOX headed to the IRS office to meet his other new recruit.

At the IRS office, Agent REINHARD spent a few particularly dull hours going over numbers and tracing them. He was able to determine that The Review brought in only about $40,000 annually, at least that they reported. Part of that was from sales on limited production runs of its books, and subscriptions to its newsletter. The vast majority, however, seemed to come from anonymous donations. These were almost always small, but there were a great many throughout the year.

Introductions were made at the IRS office, and REDOX seemed to be satisfied with his team as a whole. He let REINHARD know to meet up at his room at the Marriott for a cell meeting and briefing. They would all be staking out Grand Central Station to spot and tail Allen Bhrunt when he arrived; all but the two rookies assigned to monitor Watts.

At the library, ROMEO looked around for a librarian who looked 'potentially Jewish', but he settled for a balding, middle-aged caucasian man named Charles who was apparently the head librarian. ROMEO laid out his case: he was looking for a narrow selection of books on a list he provided. Charles was happy to help, and in only about twenty minutes, they had found all of them. The New York Public Library was truly an amazing institution. ROMEO spent a few hours looking over the books before checking them all out.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 2c

On his way back to the hotel for the meeting, ROMEO placed a call to Boston University posing as a professor from another institution. He said he was checking on a former professor, Michael Watts. He was placed on hold, and after a couple minutes, the man from Boston University returned with a file.

He told ROMEO the reason for Watts's dismissal was that he had several relationships with students. When ROMEO asked for the names of the young women, he was told that the names of the young men were confidential. ROMEO thanked the man and hung up.

The cell meeting went quickly, and soon it was time to watch for Bhrunt. Agents REDOX, ROMEO, and REINHARD found a bench to sit on as they waited, and RIVER stayed in the van with the rookie FBI agents.

While they waited, REINHARD checked for court records on Allen Bhrunt, but he found that it seemed to be a more common name than he had thought. He made a mental note to check again when he had more time.

Bhrunt arrived right on time and looked just like his file picture. In one hand, he pulled a small, wheeled bag, and in the other he carried a black briefcase. The agents inside followed until he made it outside and hailed a cab. Agent REDOX called RIVER and had her follow him while he hailed his own cab. As it turned out, this was all unnecessary as Mr. Bhrunt only went straight to the Marriott and checked in.

Agent RIVER headed straight to her room to monitor the devices in Bhrunt's room. It wasn't long before he made a phone call to Watts who told him the same thing Colm had said the day before: "Someone's watching. Check your room and phone." Then the devices went dark. Let's just hope the agents across the street weren't listening with the laser micr-- RIVER's phone rang.

Agent Udagawa informed her of what they'd heard. It may be nothing, but it sounded like someone had planted illegal devices in Bhrunt's room - maybe Watts's room, too. RIVER agreed. It was probably nothing.

Agent REDOX decided the day was pretty much over, so he, RIVER, and REINHARD returned to their respective rooms, and the junior agents switched up van and laser microphone duties.

Agent ROMEO decided to check a few other avenues of investigation before calling it a day. His first stop was the Merriweather Center to check on registration. He was pleased to find that registration for the event was free, and so he signed himself up with a fake ID.

His next stop was a grocery store to pick up a fruit basket. He addressed the card to Allen Bhrunt and left a note professing his love and admiration for the man's work, and asking for a meeting. Upon reaching the Marriott, he had the desk clerk send the basket up.

Agent ROMEO returned to his room, but he had one final call to make before being done for the day. He called the Museum of Jewish Heritage and got a hold of a man named Morty Silver. ROMEO told him about the event planned by The Review, and Mr. Silver said that he was well aware. In fact, they had a protest planned. About 250 members of the Jewish community were registered to attend. That was good enough for him. The day could now be done.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 3a

Morning came at 6:00 AM for Agent RIVER, and she left the hotel in search of coffee. Sure, there was a continental breakfast in the lobby, and this was a Marriott, but in her experience you get what you pay for, so you always pay for coffee.

Morning made its way around to REINHARD about a half hour later. After a long shower, he dressed and headed back to the IRS office. He was in for a long day of tracing Franklin, Grant, Jackson … hell, probably even Hamilton and Lincoln.

Morning then checked in on ROMEO just long enough for the agent to stumble to the bathroom, vomit, and stumble back to bed. Something he’d eaten the day before didn’t agree with him; it was either the pizza from Al’s or the questionable-looking airline food. Whatever it was, R-cell was just going to have to give him a day off.

Last on its list as usual, morning finally made its way to Agent REDOX. The bedside alarm clock rang like a claxon for a full minute before the scientist managed to swat it from the table with enough force to unplug it. No time for a shower; it was 7:00 AM.

Agent REDOX rounded up the rookie FBI agents and gave them their daily assignment. Lynn and Taylor were to tail Watts, and Faulkner was to watch Colm. REDOX planned to interview Morty Silver of the Museum of Jewish Heritage, and he wanted Udagawa with him. He made a quick call to RIVER to give her assignment. She was to watch Bhrunt.

When REDOX and Udagawa reached the Museum of Jewish Heritage, it was 7:30, and according to the hours posted on the door, it wouldn’t be open for another two and a half hours. That would give them time for breakfast. They found a corner diner nearby and waited it out.

Agent RIVER took her coffee back to the hotel and found a spot in the lobby where she could be sure to see Bhrunt if he left. By the time 9:00 rolled around, she had a nagging feeling that maybe the man had stepped out while she was at the coffee shop, so she asked the clerk at the front desk to call up to his room for her.

“Certainly, ma’am. Who shall I say is calling?”

“Oh, no one. I don’t want to talk to him. I just need to know if he’s there.”

“Ah, well in that case, ma’am, I’m afraid I can’t do that. You’re welcome to go up to his room and knock if you like.”

“No, you see, I have a message for him from his wife, but I can’t go up there unless I know he’s there.”

The clerk was obviously tiring of the conversation, and RIVER’s smile and batting eyelashes were getting her nowhere just as fast. The clerk directed her to the elevators and indicated that for a woman as in shape as she appeared to be, the stairs weren’t likely to be an obstacle either.

“Fine, just call his room. I’ll talk to him. My name is Kiwen.”

“Of course, ma’am.”

The clerk placed the call, and as soon as it was obvious Bhrunt had answered, but before the phone could be passed, Agent RIVER had left for the elevator. The clerk took the opportunity to alert Mr. Bhrunt that there was a woman on her way up to see him, and he offered the unsolicited opinion that she might be dangerous.

When she reached the room, she disregarded the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign hanging from the knob. She knocked, but there was no answer. She knocked again, and again there was no answer. She continued to knock until a member of the hotel staff informed her that there had been noise and harassment complaints from the guest, and that if she didn’t leave, he would be forced to call the police. She growled as she stomped off back to the lobby to wait. At least she knew he was there.

REDOX and Udagawa finished up their breakfast and killed some time looking in shop windows before returning to the museum at 10:00. They were the first visitors of the day, but they completely bypassed the multimedia presentation in the entry rotunda and headed straight inside.

It didn’t take long to find Mr. Silver, and REDOX let Udagawa speak first so that he could observe. This was a training assignment after all. Udagawa smiled and introduced himself, and then REDOX dismissed him with a quick “Thank you, agent. That’ll be all.”

Once Udagawa was out of earshot, REDOX introduced himself with his codename and told the man he’d like to help with the protest this weekend. Mr. Silver was happy to accept any help the FBI could offer, but REDOX made it clear that he was only offering his personal assistance; the FBI was only supposed to observe. Mr. Silver was only slightly less happy to accept the lesser assistance.

Before leaving, Agent REDOX wrote down a number for the man to call if he needed anything.

“The man who’ll answer is named Romeo. He’s interested in helping, too. He’s not the prettiest thing to look at, so please don’t stare.”

“Sure thing, agent. I’ll be sure not to Skype.”

Agent REDOX wondered if all surveillance operations were this slow. Why had they been sent a week early anyway? There didn’t seem to be much going on, so he sent Udagawa to assist Faulkner in watching Colm at his accounting firm, and then he paid a visit to the New York Public Library for some research. He spent a couple quiet hours there before breaking for lunch.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 3b

It was about noon when Agent RIVER finally spotted Bhrunt leaving the hotel. He was dressed in a nice suit and carried his briefcase. When he hailed a taxi, RIVER did the same. She was excited to actually get to say “Driver, follow that cab!”

The taxi took Bhrunt to a local radio station, and RIVER followed him in just in time to see him sign in and be escorted upstairs. She was about to follow when the girl behind the front desk stopped her. Only authorized personnel were allowed upstairs without an escort. RIVER asked where the man with the briefcase was going, and the girl told her he was being interviewed on the air for something or other. And no, RIVER wasn’t allowed up there. If she wanted to hear the interview, she could tune in just like everyone else. It would be broadcast in about an hour.

Agent RIVER eyed the girl up and down to size her up. She was eighteen, maybe nineteen, and pretty with long auburn hair, a lip ring and several tattoos.

“Look, I need to talk to him. What’s it going to take to get me up there?”

“Yeah. Look, lady. This is a radio station. When you see the words ‘On Air’ over the door, that means you can’t go in. If you want to come back in an hour, he’ll be done, I’m sure.”

“I don’t have that kind of time, miss.”

The girl rolled her eyes. “Would you have that kind of time if I gave you a couple cards for free McDonald’s sandwiches?”

Agent RIVER was tempted to pull the girl over the counter, and teach her that the real world was tougher than high school, but she instead replied that she didn’t care for McDonald’s. She would be back.

She then left the building and caught a taxi to the nearest Hot Topic. Only $200 on a fake credit card later, and she had a gift certificate to use as a bribe. Bhrunt was probably halfway through his interview by the time RIVER dropped the gift certificate on the desk. The girl eyed it and then looked back to RIVER with a much-improved attitude.

“All I want is to get up those stairs.”

“I wouldn’t dream of getting in your way, lady.”

The girl pocketed the bribe, and RIVER headed up the stairs toward the sound booth. The sign did in fact say ‘On Air’, and the door was locked, but RIVER had a hairpin. That always worked in the movies, right? Agent RIVER was quickly reminded of the fact that her life was not a movie; at least not yet. She failed to pick the lock, and so she waited somewhat patiently outside the door for Mr. Bhrunt to exit.

As soon as he was out, she approached him. She told him that she was interested in his work, and that she was sort of a fan. She turned on the smile and the eyelashes, but it had little effect. Bhrunt was cold and distant, and he regarded her with narrow eyes as he tried to make his way toward the front door. It was obvious he didn’t trust her, and he didn’t want to talk, so she let him go.

When Bhrunt hailed a taxi, she got one of her own. When he got out and headed down to a subway station, she followed. He got on a crowded train, and so did she. Three stops later, he got off, and so did she. She lost him momentarily, and by the time she realized that he’d only pretended to get off the train, it was too late. She huffed and caught a cab back to the hotel.

After lunch, REDOX decided to visit Colm at work, but he didn’t want Faulkner and Udagawa in the way, so he sent them to lunch. Colm’s office was easy to find, but the man wasn’t interested in visitors. He didn’t trust REDOX, and it was obvious. Colm asked if he was the one who broke into his apartment and planted the cameras, but REDOX denied it. There wasn’t much information to be gained from the accountant, so REDOX returned to the hotel.

Agent RIVER spent the rest of her day researching The Review on the internet and browsing their website. REDOX made a few calls to the wives and children of the four men they were watching, but all he found was that no one particularly wanted to talk to him. Well, tomorrow was Thursday, and that meant the final member of The Review, Peter Hames would be in town. Four people to watch, four FBI agents to direct, and three cell members to lead; REDOX had a full day ahead of him, so he got to bed early. The alarm clock remained unplugged and silent under the bed.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 4a

It wasn’t until almost 10:00 AM that Agent REDOX crawled out of bed. Why hadn’t the alarm rung? It was missing. He vaguely remembered swatting at it the day before. In that case, why hadn’t anyone called to wake him? He decided to ask his cell that very question.

He called them each in turn. REINHARD had been up early, and he was already back at work tracing the finances of The Review. He wasn’t aware REDOX needed him for a wakeup call. ROMEO had been sick all the previous day, and while he was feeling better, he had spent the morning showering and enjoying breakfast. He reminded his cell leader that hotels will generally be happy to call you at a given time if you need to wake up. RIVER was even less help. She offered no explanation of her activities over the course of the morning or why she hadn’t called him to see why he wasn’t up, but instead she told him she’d be sure to find him a Hello Kitty watch with an alarm.

Agent REDOX decided this was probably what it would have been like if Rodney Dangerfield had been a Delta Green agent instead of a comedian. In fact, maybe he should change his name to Agent RODNEY just to see if his cell picked up on it.

The cell met to discuss the day’s plan of action over coffee. It was decided that Agent REINHARD would continue following the money trail since he was the only one with that sort of patience. Agent RIVER was to have two of the rookie FBI agents keep tabs on Bhrunt and Watts, and she would continue to research The Review online. REDOX planned to have Agent Faulkner follow Mr. Colm, and Agent Udagawa would see about finding phone numbers for Colm’s children.

ROMEO and REDOX were going to kidnap Hames as soon as he was off the plane this evening. To facilitate this scheme, Agent ROMEO rented a car with tinted windows, stole the plates off a sedan in a parking garage, and purchased a tinted license plate cover just to make it more difficult to identify him; never mind that with a face like his, even a blind man could pick him out of a lineup.

That brought him to the next step of his plan. New York was full of talented makeup artists. Surely someone would be able to make him look presentable. And different. Different was the key. Presentable was sort of a pleasant side effect.

Hames wasn’t due to arrive until 10:00 PM, so REDOX and ROMEO headed to the library. ROMEO wanted to get a hold of back issues of Truth, the newsletter of The Review, but he found that in order to do that, he’d have to subscribe. He set up a throw-away email address and charged $20 to a fake credit card, and then he had several years’ worth of Holocaust denial periodicals to sift through.

The agents decided to take a break for lunch a little after noon, and REDOX called RIVER to check in. Agent RIVER informed him that she felt she’d probably found just about all the information she was going to find, and the rookies had no idea where Bhrunt or Watts were. It seemed like the members of The Review were justifiably paranoid.

REDOX grumbled and told her to just keep researching. No detail was too small. Every angle had to be examined. All her hard work would pay off in the end. Blah, blah, blah. Agent RIVER assured him that she’d get back on it, but as soon as she ended the call, she resumed her nap.

After lunch, Agent ROMEO set about putting his plan into effect while REDOX returned to the library to continue his research. At about 3:00, Agent Faulkner called REDOX.

“Colm is on the move.”

“He left work? So? Follow him. Just let me know if he does anything unusual.”

“Well, that is unusual, sir. He normally leaves at 4:30. He’s headed toward JFK.”

That was all REDOX needed to hear. In the middle of the New York Public Library, he responded in an odd combination of shout and whisper. Faulkner was to keep eyes on him and call back with an address. By the time REDOX had headed outside and hailed a cab, Faulkner called back with the address; a boarded up building in a bad neighborhood.

As his cab took him to the address provided by Agent Faulkner, REDOX called ROMEO to let him know the situation. He indicated that we was on his way in his new rental car. The agents arrived at about the same time. What had been a nice, warm day was starting to look like a stormy one instead. In a matter of minutes, clouds had gathered and darkened over the area, and there were flashes of electricity in them as they slowly swirled.

Agent REDOX paid the cab driver and sent him on his way before approaching the unmarked FBI van directly across from the boarded up building. The only other people in sight were Agent ROMEO a block or so down the street, a cab driver reading a newspaper in front of a convenience store next to the target building, and the clerk of that store.

Agent ROMEO entered the convenience store and bought a fifth of Everclear and a lighter. After a suspicious look from the clerk, he also bought a pack of cigarettes.

REDOX pointed out Colm’s car and held up a tracking device. He told Faulkner to place it underneath the back bumper, but rather than hand it to the agent, REDOX feigned clumsiness and dropped it in Faulkner’s lap. As the agent looked for it to pick it up, REDOX shot him in the neck with a tranquilizer. Once he was sure the agent was out, REDOX began crossing the street.

There was a scream from the boarded up building, and Mr. Colm came running out to his car with a large book under his arm. As he fumbled with the door, Agent ROMEO started jogging while drawing his gun. REDOX drew his gun as well.

Colm didn’t notice the agents, but it’s not likely he’d have done anything differently if he had. He tossed the book in the passenger seat, got in, and turned the key. Agent ROMEO fired a shot from his revolver, but he missed completely. The cab driver was apparently no longer reading the newspaper as now he was pointing a gun at ROMEO. He fired, and the agent took a grazing shot to his left arm.

The wind was starting to die down, and the clouds were quickly dispersing. Agent REDOX fired at the fleeing sedan, but he missed as well. He had to twist to narrowly avoid being run down by the cab driver as he sped off in pursuit.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 4b

REDOX ordered ROMEO to investigate the abandoned building, while he took the van to chase Colm and the cabby. Agent REDOX ran across the street and pulled the unconscious Faulkner from the van. His first instinct was to take the agent’s wallet, badge, and gun, but he didn’t have the time if he wanted to follow Colm. He left Faulkner by the side of the road and took off in the direction he’d seen the cars go.

Agent ROMEO spent a minute binding his wound to stop the bleeding before heading to the open door. The inside was dark, but he shined the flash from his cellphone like a flashlight, and he was able to see a dusty, empty building with a large crate and a man exiting through a swirling hole in reality. ROMEO shook his head and looked again. He saw the man disappear, and the hole closed behind him. That was most definitely not normal, and if people can just step through holes in space, what good was he really doing with the Department of Homeland Security anyway?

He looked around the building, but the only thing of any interest was a granulated bluish-white powder. The agent shrugged and headed out to his rental car leaving Faulkner unconscious in what seemed to be a bad New York neighborhood. He went back to the Marriot.

After finally conceding that he’d lost the cars he was tailing, REDOX ditched the van, hailed a cab, and returned to the hotel as well. The agents waited until about 9:30, and then REDOX and ROMEO headed to the airport. Agent ROMEO went to the baggage claim for Mr. Hames’s flight holding a sign with the man’s name on it, but he never showed up. REDOX called to alert him when he saw Bhrunt coming out of the terminal with Hames and getting into a cab.

The agents decided their targets were probably headed to the Marriott, so there was no need to try anything dangerous. REDOX had ROMEO drop him off by the ditched van before sending him back to the hotel. After watching ROMEO drive off into the city night, he hopped into the driver’s seat and started the van up. He took a different route back to the hotel; one that went wide and gave him time to think.

What was Colm up to? Who was he meeting in that abandoned building? Had he attacked someone and stolen that book? What was that book, for that matter? Who had caused the clouds to condense? Surely, that wasn’t natural. Why did the cab driver shoot ROMEO? And what was with the flashing lights behind him? Was he being pulled over? Oh, for the love of God. He was being pulled over.

The officer approached the driver’s side door as his partner took the other side. Agent REDOX rolled down the window.

“Evening officer.”

“Mmhmm. Do you know why I pulled you over?”

“Tail light?”

“No, sir. This van was reported stolen earlier.”

“Oh, no. It wasn’t stolen. I took it.”

“Are you the owner?”

“No, sir, officer. This van is the property of the FBI.”

“The man who reported this van stolen was an FBI agent, and he said it was stolen by another agent matching your description. Says you drugged him.”

“That’s ridiculous.”

“Mmhmm … You can tell it to the chief. Step out of the vehicle, put your hands on the side, and keep your feet shoulder width apart.”

REDOX was stunned. He was being arrested? How can they arrest him? Sure, he wasn’t an FBI agent, but they didn’t know that. As soon as he got out of this, he was going to have somebody’s badge.

Once at the station, REDOX was run through the booking process, fingerprinted, and photographed. As a courtesy, he was allowed to wait in an interrogation room rather than in the general lock up. He was given his one phone call, and he weighed his options. ROMEO hardly knew him, but he seemed like a good agent. He hardly knew REINHARD, so he was out. RIVER … well, she might not answer, and if she did, he couldn’t be sure she’d help. Right. ROMEO, it was.

“ROMEO, listen, I’ve been arrested. They say I have to talk to the chief, but he’s not going to be in until the morning. Get me out of here.”

“Uhhh … yeah. Okay. I’ll see if Morty knows a good lawyer who might be up at this hour.”

“Good. I need to be out of here tonight if possible; definitely before the event.”
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 5a

Agent REDOX had been returned to the interrogation room and cuffed to the table for only a few minutes before there was a knock on the door. An officer poked his head in the room to let REDOX know his lawyer had arrived. There was no way ROMEO got a hold of Morty Silver, relayed the situation, and had a lawyer sent in a matter of two minutes, but REDOX was in no position to argue.

The door opened wider, and in walked Morty Silver himself. He was dressed in a fine, blue suit with a blue tie and silver cufflinks, and he carried an expensive-looking briefcase, but it was definitely the man from the Jewish Heritage Museum. Mr. Silver entered and took a seat across from REDOX. He placed his briefcase flat on the table between them as the officer closed the door to give them privacy.

“Morty! I’m glad to see you.”

“Yeah. I’ll bet. Why don’t you tell me in your own words what they got you for, and I’ll see what our options are.”

“They say I stole a van that I checked out of the FBI motor pool myself, and they say I drugged a federal agent, but I didn’t. I caught him sleeping on the job, and he’s trying to cover it up by throwing me under the bus.”

The EPA scientist was speaking rapidly, and Mr. Silver held up a hand to slow him down.

“You’re investigating The Review, yeah?”

“That’s right.”

“And you suspect them of occult ties?”

Agent REDOX didn’t recall ever mentioning that part, but whatever. He just went with it.

“That’s right.”

“Then you need out of here tonight if you’re going to make it to the event tomorrow.”

REDOX agreed that time was of the essence. Morty rolled the wheels of the combination locks on his briefcase and opened it. His eyes narrowed ever so slightly as he looked across the table at the agent.

“I represent a man who can make this happen for you. He has the means, but it’s up to you to provide him with the desire.”

“Sure. What’s he want?”

REDOX was far too desperate to be suspicious.

“Like you, he’s interested in the occult; books, artifacts, knowledge of all sorts. Just agree to come to me the next time you find something of that nature and want it researched. The man I represent asks only for the opportunity to examine and research such things for you.”

“Yeah. Yeah. Sure. If he gets me out of here tonight, you’ve got a deal.”

Mr. Silver smiled and produced a yellow business card from his briefcase. It had an elaborately stylized ‘S.A.’ printed in gold on the back. He placed the card face down on the table with the gold letters up and slid it across the table.

“This may seem silly to you, but I can assure you of its power. Simply pick up the card, read it, and then tear it in half. And now, I’ll bid you good night.”

REDOX just blinked at the card on the table as Mr. Silver left. S.A.? What did that mean? Were they initials? Did they stand for something important? He shrugged and picked up the card. He then frowned and let it fall back to the table.

This had to be a joke. Mr. Silver had given him a card from a Monopoly game; a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. Oh, very funny, Morty. Very freakin’ funny, you bastard! Agent REDOX picked the card back up and ripped it to pieces. Almost as if on cue, there was a soft click, and his handcuffs loosened. He blinked in disbelief at his newly-freed hands as the door opened once more.

The officer poked his head in again to give REDOX his belongings and tell him to have a good night. The scientist wasted no time collecting his things and heading outside. Once on the sidewalk, he called RIVER to come get him.

On the cab ride back to the hotel, Agent RIVER grilled her cell leader about just why he was in jail, but he refused to answer. As it was already after midnight, the agents got some sleep.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
See No Evil - Session 5b

The next morning, all the agents were up early. This was it. This was the big day. R-cell had a meeting over coffee to discuss how to handle the day. ROMEO suggested forcibly detaining the members of The Review for questioning under the pretense of national security, and REINHARD offered to help since he'd done about all he could tracing the money, and there was a guy at the New York IRS office who was really getting on his nerves anyway. REDOX tentatively okayed the plan on condition that the men not have their rights violated enough to blow the Opera open, and that they be allowed to attend the event.

ROMEO and REINHARD secured three separate rooms so the men could be questioned separately, and then they paid a visit to Bhrunt. Mr. Bhrunt wasn’t in the best of moods, but he agreed to answer ROMEO’s questions after he saw the Homeland Security credentials.

He told the agents he hadn’t been able to reach Colm for days, but he was sure the event would go on as planned. He didn’t know anything about any occult dealings or other nonsense, but he did have one potentially useful piece of information. Colm had mentioned a man he’d been corresponding with who supposedly had “wondrous things” to show him. Bhrunt didn’t know more than that except that he thought the man’s name was Scathis.

Watts and Hames hadn’t been able to reach Colm either, but they weren’t worried. The event would go on as planned. They were sure Colm would be there. They also knew nothing about occult dealings, and if Colm had ever mentioned someone named Scathis, they hadn’t noticed.

It was about noon by the time ROMEO and REINHARD released the three members of The Review and broke for lunch. REDOX had been laying low since the events of the previous night, but he met up with his cell for pizza. ROMEO and REINHARD relayed what little they’d learned, and REDOX called A-cell. He asked Agent ADAM if he’d ever heard of someone named Scathis, but he hadn’t. ADAM did offer to pass the inquiry along to ALPHONSE.

It took a couple hours, but ALPHONSE did email REDOX a quick reply: Scathis is likely Reynaldo Scathis, a singularly vicious Tenente Colonello (Lieutenant Colonel) in the Royal Italian Army during World War II. He was killed in action in North Africa. If encountered, treat with extreme caution. DO NOT ENGAGE unless you are absolutely certain you can take him down. Failure to kill him will almost certainly result in mass casualties.

A picture was attached to the email of Tenente Colonello Reynaldo Scathis in full military dress. The picture was dated April 3rd, 1941, but the man looked exactly like the cab driver who’d shot ROMEO outside the abandoned building. So Colm, the accountant for The Review, was in close contact with a World War II Italian officer who hadn’t aged a day in 70 years. If that didn’t scream “occult ties”, what did?

REDOX informed his cell about the identity of the mysterious cab driver and warned them to be watching for him at the event later. The plan was for everyone to show up early. REDOX and RIVER would be inside since they’d registered for the event. REINHARD would be in the Merriweather Center’s security room monitoring cameras. ROMEO would be near the front entrance watching for Colm.

After taking the afternoon to relax and prepare themselves for the event, each of the agents made their way to the Center about an hour early and got into position. The protesters were already on site and chanting. The police and a private security firm were on hand to keep the situation from boiling over. Barricades were in place to keep the protesting crowd back, and allow attendees and presenters access to the front doors.

Not long after the agents were in place, all four members of The Review arrived; Watts, Bhrunt, Hames, and even the elusive Colm. All four arrived at the same time and hurried somewhat nervously down the path toward the front doors of the convention center. Under one arm, Colm carried the same book he’d had when he fled the abandoned building. The protesters shouted and surged forward against the barricades, and soon they gave way. The crowd rushed the four men, and Colm panicked. Three shots rang out, and it was the crowd’s turn to panic.

Watts, Bhrunt, and Hames dove to the ground, the crowd ran every direction at once, and Colm darted toward the front doors of the Merriweather Center with smoking gun in hand. A large, dark-skinned security guard spoke into the microphone on his wrist before closing on the gunman. Security personnel from all corners of the building came to assist while the police tried desperately to control the panic.

From somewhere deep in the crowd, the man known as Scathis came rushing after Colm. The supposedly-long-dead Italian officer was now wearing sweatpants and an NYU hoodie, and he held his Beretta Modello 1935 handgun out as he ran. He fired a single shot at the dark-skinned security guard and caught him in the head. The guard was dead before he hit the ground at Colm’s feet.

The accountant, even more in fear for his life now, threw open the glass door and ran into the lobby. Agent REINHARD gave real-time updates to the rest of his cell, and so REDOX made his way to the lobby. Agent RIVER stayed back while she worked to picture the situation in her head.

Colm didn’t see ROMEO as he passed the agent on his way inside. On hearing the first gunshots, ROMEO had drawn his pistol and waited. Now he took his shot. Two bullets were fired at short range, and both hit … the standing corpse of an elderly woman. ROMEO and REDOX blinked in confusion and horror. Where Colm had been running through the lobby, now there was the dead body of a woman. Had Colm somehow shapeshifted? What the hell was going on? REINHARD’s voice came over their com links.

“Uhhh … I don’t know what you did, but Colm’s outside. He just stood up in the field. Looks like he switched places with a downed protester. He’s just standing there now.”

Okay. Whatever just happened couldn’t possibly have happened, could it? There was no time to think. REDOX ran for the front doors while ROMEO took up a position overlooking the front and east-side doors. RIVER exited the east-side doors to head Colm off, and REDOX was going to try to come at him from the other side.

First thing was first though. Scathis was still out there, and it looked like he wasn’t caught off guard by Colm’s teleportation. REDOX figured it was Scathis who had caused it. As the Italian officer turned to rush Colm, he was tackled by several security guards. Agent REDOX ran past the pile of bodies, and he wasn’t the least bit surprised to see Scathis stand up several yards away where another of the dead protesters had lain.

Scathis charged toward Colm, but REDOX intercepted and fired his Taser. The Italian officer dodged out of the way. He was far more nimble than a man who’d been dead for 70 years should ever be. Colm ran around the east side of the building, but seeing Agent RIVER waiting, he made a hard left through the side doors.

This was just what Agent ROMEO had been waiting for. He fired twice, and this time, the body that hit the floor was indeed that of Stephen Colm. Agent RIENHARD came out of the security room and crossed the lobby toward the dead accountant. He picked up the book just as ROMEO made it over. The agents gave each other a congratulatory nod.

Agent RIVER decided this chaos and gunfire was a bit too much, and she fled the scene. Seeing Colm’s death through the bay windows of the Merriweather Center lobby, Scathis decided to abort his plan. He ran across the yard toward the street, and REDOX gave chase. Scathis fired a single shot into the window of a passing taxi, and a moment later, a dead cab driver fell at REDOX’s feet. The bastard had teleported again.
The taxi fishtailed a bit as the necromancer gained control, and REDOX watched helplessly as the cab escaped. The EPA scientist cursed as he checked the dead cab driver for identification. He could trace the cab and put out an APB, but something told him it would come to nothing.

Agent REINHARD took the book back to the hotel, and REDOX left the scene as well. ROMEO stayed behind to coordinate with police and cover up the true nature of the events. Once back in the relative safety of the Marriott, REDOX made his final report to A-cell and booked the next flight home.

REINHARD handed the book over to ROMEO later that night, and the agents looked it over. It was in German, and neither of them could read it. The cover was a tasteful dark grey with golden details. A subtly embossed swastika was one of those details, as was the title, name of the author, and two simple lines at the sides, barely suggesting the shape of one of Albert Speer's Nürnberg banners above a “podium” of text. The title was easy enough to translate: Mein Triumph oder Drittes Buch, meaning "My Triumph or The Third Book". It was probably just more propaganda, but ROMEO wondered if just maybe it told how to do the corpse switching trick.
 

Nomessiah

Villager
Night Floors - Introduction

R-Cell
Agent REDOX - Doctor Dexter Michael Pepper, EPA Environmental Scientist
Agent REINHARD - Michael Pollander, IRS Special Agent
Agent RIVER - Kiwen Doucette, Office of Export Enforcement, Criminal Investigator
Agent ROMEO - Terrance Winters, Homeland Security Office of Intelligence and Analysis - Interrogator

Former Agents
Agent RAPSCALLION (deceased) – Tatom Merzos, U.S. Marshall’s Office - Special Operations
Agent RAPUNZEL (deceased) – Yuki Anderson, FBI Forensic Pathologist
Agent RASPUTIN (retired) – Gregori Ruspokov, CDC Researcher
Agent REAPER - Master Sergeant Jack Jack, Delta Force Operator
Agent REDLIGHT (deceased) – Captain Cramer Gump, INSCOM “Black” Ops (formerly Agent SID)
Agent RICHARD (deceased) – Major James McGinnis, AMEDD General Surgeon
Agent ROBIN (deceased) – Chika Takahashi, EPA Biologist and Environmental Scientist
Agent ROSE – Gia Jones, FinCEN Investigator, Leader of R-Cell – Computer crimes specialist (formerly Agent SAM)
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

The agents got about 12 hours of downtime before I threw them into the next Opera. They struggled with surveillance, but I know they can handle a simple disappearance investigation.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Night Floors - Session 1a

It had taken Agent REDOX all of about ten minutes to book his flight home, and in that time Agent ALPHONSE had replied to his emailed report. That wasn’t something the scientist had been expecting; ADAM, maybe, but ALPHONSE tended to take his time. It probably had something to do with age. Delta Green’s leader always sounded old and weary over the phone, but REDOX had never met the man. Not that he was likely to know it if he had.

The response from A-cell only briefly acknowledged receipt of the report. It seemed there was another matter that needed R-cell’s attention. The email gave a phone number and the name of Agent MARCUS of M-cell. The instruction was short: Before dismissing R-cell, meet with Agent MARCUS. He has an urgent matter which needs attention. He will give the briefing. It also advised REDOX to be prepared to welcome a new agent to his cell; one with abilities which should be particularly suited to the task at hand.

Well, damn. No rest for the cell yet. At least the area code indicated a New York City number. As it was already after midnight, Agent REDOX cancelled his flight and alerted his cell before getting some sleep.

Agent ROMEO was in the process of painstakingly photographing each page of the Italian’s book when he got the call. His response was hardly more than an assenting grunt. He had more important things to do than talk to his cell leader. A few hours later, ROMEO had a complete copy of the book in the form of digital images, and so he handed it off to REINHARD. The IRS agent took the book outside to an alley and set it on fire. He was relieved to see that it burned easily. Burning a Nazi book – the irony wasn’t lost on him.

On his way out in the morning, Agent REDOX stopped by the front desk to make sure the rooms were booked for another three days just in case. Then it was breakfast time. He hadn’t been to a Denny’s in a while, so he hailed a cab. After ordering his food, REDOX gave Agent MARCUS a call to set up a meeting for 10:00 AM, and then he relayed to information to his cell. The meeting was at the FBI office. Did that mean MARCUS was actually FBI, or was he FBI followed by a ‘wink, wink’? Not that it mattered, really. For REDOX, the bigger question was this: “If Delta Green already had a cell in New York, why the hell did his get sent in?”

Most of R-cell arrived at the FBI office on time. Agent RIVER hadn’t responded since fleeing the chaos of the previous night, but REDOX wasn’t worried. She’d turn up. Hell, maybe she was the smart one. All he really wanted to do was go to ground.

Agent MARCUS directed the agents to a secure briefing room and asked them to make themselves comfortable. MARCUS was probably in his early 30s, but his face seemed to have a sort of permanent scowl of suspicion which somehow made him seem older. His first order of business after the door was closed and the blinds were shut was to ask if the agents were followed. When they indicated they weren’t, he asked if they could account for all their waking hours. Yes. Yes, they could. Agent MARCUS accepted their answers, but he didn’t seem to believe them.

“Okay. This should be a milk run; a simple in and out. It’s going to take weeks, and if you’re lucky, it’ll be the most mind-numbingly boring job you’ve ever had.”

“And if we’re not lucky?”

Agent ROMEO likely just wanted to cover all possibilities.

“If you’re not lucky, Agent, your mind will still be numb.”

Agent ROMEO conceded that everything seemed to sound fair enough. MARCUS nodded, and then he wasted no more time.

“Abigail Laura Wright is missing. She is a successful commercial illustrator and artist, and she was last seen four days before she was reported missing by her father, Thomas Wright. Thomas Wright is a Nassau County police officer and he pulled some strings to get the NYPD more involved than is usually the case.

“Abigail has been living in Manhattan for more than seven years and has only been to the police once, to report a mugging in 2007. Besides this, she has a distinguished academic record and an impressive list of credentials and former clients. Late last year, her first show was held on Franklin Street downtown at The Mercury, a small but trendy art gallery.

“Six months later she disappeared. Her father says he tried reaching her for four days before calling a friend at the NYPD on May 13th. When the police opened her apartment, they were baffled. It was an obsessive-compulsive’s dream. Every available surface was covered in junk, glued or taped to the walls. Only the floor was clear. The carpet had been yanked up to reveal battered linoleum. Prior to this, by all accounts, Abigail had been a fastidious young woman not given to accumulating odds and ends. There were no signs of a struggle or any other sort of violence, and the neighbors could offer no useful testimony.

“On July 13th, Abigail’s credit card was used in Patience, Maryland to purchase a pack of Old Gold cigarettes, and the case was given to the New York FBI as a possible interstate kidnapping. We re-examined the tenants of the building and Abigail’s associates and friends, and soon come to the same dead end which stopped the NYPD. The employees at the gas station where Abigail’s credit card was used had no particular recollection of the transaction and did not recognize her from photographs. The signature on the receipt was her name, but not her handwriting. The gas station had no surveillance cameras.

“Among the debris found in Abigail’s apartment was a piece of paper with a Yellow Sign hastily scrawled on it in blue ballpoint pen. The occult symbol caught the attention of a Friendly here who reported it to me.

Agent REDOX had to stop MARCUS for a question.

“A Yellow Sign?”

“Yes.”

“In blue ink?”

“Yes.”

“Was the paper yellow?”

“White.”

“Then why is it called a Yellow Sign?”

“Pray you never find out, Agent REDOX. I need your cell to examine Abigail’s disappearance, with an eye towards any possible occult connections. I understand two of you have badges already. Give me a couple days, and I’ll get some for the others. Welcome to the Bureau, boys.”
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Night Floors - Session 1b

The agents had a few follow up questions. They were told Ms. Wright had an apartment in the Macallistar Building which was a co-op for young artists. It was owned and operated by a non-profit called ARTLIFE. Agent MARCUS gave them a list of tenants.

There were three floors with four apartments each, and a basement consisting of storage and a boiler room. On the first floor were Thomas Manuel in 1A, Abigail Wright in 1B, and Roger Carun in 1D. Apartment 1C was vacant. Each apartment on the second floor was occupied; Louis Post in 2A, Michelle Vanfitz in 2B, Penny MacLaren in 2C, and Daniel Gray in 2D. Only one apartment on the third floor was taken. Clarice Milner lived in 3B.

When the cab dropped the agents off in front of the Macallistar Building, they looked up at it in an odd mix of confusion and wonder. The surrounding buildings were normal apartment buildings and small businesses, but the Macallistar stood out. Someone had gone to great lengths to make it look like a castle. The wall along the rooftop was done like the stereotypical castle rampart, and cheap concrete gargoyles stood watch. There was even a non-functional portcullis over the front doors.

The doors were locked, but REDOX had an idea, and it was worth a shot. There was an intercom system with twelve buttons. The scientist ran his hand down the entire intercom, hitting each button. When the door unlocked, Agent ROMEO shrugged.

“Everyone’s always expecting someone.”

The entry was lined on both sides with the tenants’ mailboxes, and then another set of doors opened to the main building. A single hallway carpeted in plush burgundy ran the length of the building, and there were two apartments on either side. At the end of the hall, a staircase led up on each side. On the south side – to their left as they entered – another staircase led down to the basement. On the north side, directly opposite the stairs to the basement, was a door claiming to lead to the janitor’s closet. ROMEO checked just to be sure. He was happy to find the door spoke the truth.

Back near the entrance, REDOX and REINHARD were trying to figure a way into Abigail Wright’s apartment. The door was locked. Agent RIVER would be the one to call if they needed a lock picked, but she still hadn’t returned any calls. ROMEO rejoined his cell outside apartment 1B and took a driver’s license from his wallet. One quick slide, and the door opened.

REDOX was the first to enter, and he shuddered as he took in the sight. Papers and objects of all kinds lined the entire apartment with the exception of the uncarpeted floor. There was no furniture, but there was a wooden chair leg stuck to the wall just below a light switch. A DVD player had been glued to the ceiling, and a cassette tape-playing Walkman had been glued to another wall.

The agents split up and wandered around the apartment in a sort of awed stupor. Agent ROMEO was the first to break the silence.

“What do you want to bet the Temple of Gozer is in the refrigerator?”

“What refrigerator?”

REINHARD had called from the kitchenette. No furniture in there either, unless you count the wheelchair glued sideways to the ceiling. All three agents admitted to being just a little unnerved, but it was no wonder Agent MARCUS wanted to pawn this of on R-cell. Even when RIVER and the new guy show up, it was going to take the five of them a week and a half just to catalogue each item, and that didn’t count time spent interviewing the other tenants.

“I think I got something here. It looks like the plans for the building.”

Agent REDOX was carefully peeling what looked like a map from the wall with his knife. He showed it to the others when they gathered around. It was a map of the Macallistar Building. It showed all three floors with stairs leading to the roof and the basement, but something didn’t feel right.

Each closet was marked by an ‘X’, and there were cryptic notes. One closet was labeled “Roses and butter”, while another said “Door on 7/12”, and yet another said “Man with briefcase and white shoes”. The agents decided not to bother with the one labeled “Slaughterhouse”.

In addition, the third floor map showed what appeared to be doors opening to the outside of the building, but there weren’t any balconies. One door was labeled “Mr. Castaigne”, and the other said “The Parlor”.

Agent REDOX announced that he’d be back in a little while. He was stepping out to buy a camera. He pointed to a spot on the wall near the front door and grinned as he told REINHARD and ROMEO to start there, and move clockwise cataloging each and every scrap of paper and strange item. He then left the apartment laughing quietly to himself.

About a minute later, Agent ROMEO announced that he’d be back in a little while. He was stepping out to interview the staff of The Mercury art gallery about Ms. Wright’s exhibition. He slapped REINHARD on the shoulder with a quiet laugh on his way out.

REINHARD looked nervously about the apartment in which he now found himself alone, and he sighed. Sure. Leave the accountant to catalog the crazy lady’s wallpaper. One creepy map. One yo-yo, Duncan. One take-out menu, Chinese. One set of dentures. One newspaper, Spanish-language. One shoe, Air Jordan, left.
 
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Nomessiah

Villager
Night Floors - Session 2a

It wasn’t long before REDOX returned with a camera, but he didn’t stay long. He had one more thing on his list that he wanted to do. As he had done previously with the map, REDOX carefully peeled a piece of newspaper from the wall. He frowned at seeing another newspaper article beneath that, and he briefly wondered just how many layers there were. He placed the scrap of newspaper in a plastic bag and let REINHARD know he was headed to the FBI lab to run chemical analysis on the paper and adhesive.

On his way out of the building, he received a text from RIVER letting him know she was alive and still in New York. After hailing a cab, he sent her a quick response: Meet REINHARD at the Macallistar Building. Apt. 1B. He’ll catch you up.

Agent ROMEO found The Mercury art gallery with no trouble. It was a small, two-story building, but the open space inside made it feel much larger. The walls were lined with paintings, and there were aisles of temporary walls also lined with paintings. Below each painting was the artist’s name and an asking price.

While the gallery seemed to have a focus on painting and photography, there were several sculptures interspersed. There was also a corner beneath the loft level which was set up with several sets of studio headphones so that patrons could listen to the music and poetry of New York’s less-visually-oriented artists. The gallery’s stereo played a selection of music by local artists. In addition to this atmosphere, the gallery also had its own coffee shop.

ROMEO’s first impression of the place was one of hipster overload, and the gallery manager only added to the effect. He looked to be in his mid-20s with a zippered hoodie open in the front to show his Radiohead t-shirt, and ROMEO suspected the kid’s glasses were more for show than anything.

The agent introduced himself and gave the name Howard Phillips. The gallery manager shook his hand and introduced himself as well. His name was Alan Conaco. Agent ROMEO said that he was a collector, and he was in town on business. As long as he was here, he’d like to see about ‘discovering’ a new artist. He was actually pretty interested in a few of the paintings by Thomas Manuel, and he’d been told to check out someone named Abby Wright.

Mr. Conaco was happy to talk about the paintings. Manuel apparently had a preference for darker - but vivid - colors; lots of reds and blues especially. His subject matter tended to show entropy with lots of decaying plant life and collapsing buildings, but the colors and brushstrokes brought life to them.

Ms. Wright’s paintings had all sold. The gallery was expecting more from her, but she hadn’t sent any over in a couple months. Still, they were hopeful. Ms. Wright was one of Mr. Conaco’s favorite new artists, mainly because she brought in money.

Agent ROMEO asked for an introduction to Mr. Manuel, but Conaco said it was against gallery policy. There would be another large exhibit next month, and many of the artists would be in attendance. ROMEO thanked him but mentioned he was only in town on business. He then left the gallery and headed back to the Macallistar.

When Agent RIVER arrived at the Macallistar building, there was a man examining the intercom outside the front door. He pressed a button near the top, and the door unlocked a moment later. RIVER asked him to hold the door, and he did so. They both entered, and RIVER was a little surprised to see the man stop in front of Ms. Wright’s apartment.

She flashed her FBI credentials and told the man there was an active investigation, so he should move along. The man just shrugged and said that he knew all about the investigation, and he was there to help. In fact, he was looking for someone named REDOX. Agent RIVER was a little suspicious. Her cell leader hadn’t mentioned anything about help.

A few questions back and forth, and she was pretty sure she knew what was going on. The man gave his name as ROCHE, and he said he was a Postal Inspector assigned to assist Agent REDOX in his team’s investigation. Agent RIVER called REDOX, and he confirmed that A-cell was indeed sending a new agent to assist. RIVER thanked her cell leader in a tone dripping with sarcasm for letting her know ahead of time.

Agents RIVER and ROCHE entered Abby’s apartment, and RIVER introduced REINHARD to the new cell member. After the initial shock of the scene had worn off, REINHARD explained the situation to the others. They got right to work photographing and cataloging all the various items on the walls and ceiling. RIVER hadn’t been in the apartment longer than ten minutes before the hairs on the back of her neck started to tingle. She had a strong sensation of being watched.

REDOX completed his chemical analysis of the paper, and he determined it had been stuck to the wall with a strong epoxy. He called RIVER to tell her what he’d found, and also to say that he was going to stop at a building supply store for a solvent before returning. She gave the wheelchair on the ceiling a dirty look and asked him to get a stepladder while he was at it.

Just as Agent ROMEO returned and was getting acquainted with ROCHE, Agent RIVER found something odd next to a Denver-area phonebook from 1983 – okay, so she’d found two odd things, but one seemed more interesting than the other. It appeared to be a typewritten page from a poorly-written play:

SCENE: The Smoking Lounge, a larger parlor on the fourth floor. In the room are THE DOG, THOMAS and MICHELLE.

ENTER MARK ROARKE.

MARK: Abigail is gone, she moved upstairs today.

THOMAS: And?

MARK: I miss the kid.

MICHELLE: Her dad, that pig, came around. She doesn't like you Mark, no one likes you. Anyway, she ran off with that salesman, everyone knows it.

MARK: F--- you, you c---.

THOMAS: Come on guys... come on...

THE DOG: Arf.

Someone is heard coming up the steps, a loud racket reverberating up and down the staircase.

MARK: Who is that?

Everyone stops to listen.

MICHELLE: Who could be down there? Who is that?

MARK steps to the doorway and leans to look down the stairs.

MARK: Hello? Hello?

ENTER FBI AGENTS.
 
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