Modern/Delta Green - The Beginning of the End (COMPLETED)

talien

Community Supporter
Chapter 67: Unpleasant Dreams

Introduction
This story hour is from "Unpleasant Dreams" by Scott David Aniolowski and Gary Sumpter. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

• Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
• Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://jeremyrobertortiz.blogspot.com)
• Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast/Dedicated Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster

Imagine The Cell merged with Inception and you get an idea of what I was aiming for with this scenario. Dream scenarios are difficult to pull off – they're remarkably similar to cyberspace scenarios, which is basically the same concept as they're fundamentally selfish universes influenced by will. Clever players manipulate the rules behind this kind of universe to their fullest, and Jeremy is the kind of player who knows how to leverage a universe like this to his advantage.

Unfortunately, once you figure that out, much of the game becomes rote. We cycled through this scenario much quicker than I anticipated. Still, the PCs played along nicely.

Defining Moment: Jim-Bean realizes it's better to live to fight another day than take on two high priests in mortal combat.

Relevant Media
 Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=24385&it=1&affiliate_id=34014

:cth:

Prologue
Down once more to the dungeon of my black
Down we plunge to the prison of my mind!
Down that path into darkness deep as hell!
Despair!
-Andrew Lloyd Webber, Phantom of the Opera

BRICHESTER, ENGLAND—"Ready?" asked Thredra.

Andy was hooked up to an IV and a heart monitor. The slow beeping signaled his near catatonic state.

Archive, Hammer, and Jim-Bean were all hooked up to a device that connected them all together to the Crystallizer of Dreams at the center.

"This kid has had a rough life," warned Hammer. "It's not going to be a picnic inside his head."

"Ready," replied Jim-Bean and Archive.

Thredra pressed a button on the device...

They stood at the top of a huge stairway leading enticingly downwards.

"This is the seventy steps of light slumber," said Archive, "by which you we descend to the Cavern of Flame." Archive led the way downward.

They were faced by two gaunt, bearded beings wearing ancient Egyptian attire denoting them as priests.

"Nasht and Kaman-Thah," said Archive out of the side of his mouth. "The guardians of dreams."

"Halt," said Nasht. "We recognize you!"

"You have entered the Dreamlands before, without our permission," said Kaman-Thah." You will not pass this time without being judged."

"Should you defeat us in trial by kuta," continued Nasht, "we shall let you pass with your equipment intact. Fail and you shall be expelled."

"Ready your weapons and defenses," said Kaman-Thah. "And prepare to be judged!"

Hammer reached for his pistols and realized they had become hand crossbows. "This is nuts."

"Technology in the dreamlands is several hundred years behind ours," said Archive.

"How are we supposed to fight them then?" snapped Hammer.

"We don't." Jim-Bean walked up to the two Egyptian priests. "I have no intention of fighting you." He imagined a portal. "I prefer to avoid you entirely."

The two priests exchanged a glance and then bowed. "You have passed the test. You may proceed with your weapons intact."

They stepped through the portal...

:cth:

Part 1 – Level One
They fell through a dark cavernous room resembling a mammoth hollowed-out rib cage. Below it was a dome-like structure "growing" out of the floor, a hole in the center of its crest. Dozens of other such domes were visible in the murky hell-hole. Once they passed through the hole, inside the dome, they fell through what felt like water even though there was no liquid to speak of.

Suddenly they were in a kitchen. A younger version of Andy Cook was at the sink washing dishes, an anxious eye on the clock.

As they entered the claustrophobic house, the boy hesitantly pushed a towel toward them, but didn't look. He then tried to hand Hammer a wet plate but dropped it. The dish slipped from his fingers and shattered on the floor.

The boy's eyes filled with dread. The kitchen clock read 5:30. He pushed the agents toward a broom closet and shoved them inside.

With a finger to his lips, he shut the door. From within the closet, they could see the terrified child through a crack in the door. In the kitchen, Andy desperately tried to hide the broken plate.

Startlingly, his father, John Cook, was already in the room; a cruel, imposing, manipulative man.

“What did you do know?” snarled John. “You make a mess? I hate a mess.”

Andy backed into a corner, fearing what would come.

“Don't lie, now, Andy,” said John. “Remember what I said about liars?” asked John. “Liars will be punished.”

There was a scream, but scream came from the other side of the closet. They whirled, only to discover they were staring into a living room.

Andy was forced to sit on the lap of an ugly middle-aged woman barely wearing a man's robe. On a nearby table were whisky, tumblers, and an ashtray filled with butts.

“I got you a present, cutie-pie,” said the woman.

She gave Andy a tiny doll. Drunk, she hugged and kissed him. Embarrassed, the boy tried to squirm away.

“Oh no,” she said. “You're not going anywhere.”

John entered and sneered at the boy.

“Go back to bed, worm,” growled John.

“It's okay, we was just—“ began the woman.

“Shut up, bitch,” snapped John.

The woman cowered, familiar with his violent moods. The boy hurried to his room, but John grabbed him by the collar.

“What is that?”

He pulled the doll from the child's hands, turned to the woman, and smacked her across the face with it, gashing her cheek.

“You give him nothing. Whore. Are you his mother? ARE YOU?”

Terrified, she shook her head "no." John saw Andy quietly crawling away, hoping to escape. He lifted the boy off the floor with one hand and held him in front of the woman.

“You see that? SEE IT? You slithered out one of them. But where is she now, Andy? As far from you as she could get, that's where.” He shoved him at the woman. “You want a mommy? Is that what you want?”

The poor boy trembled with fear. John noticed a puddle of urine on the floor. He dropped the boy and laughed.

“Little worm pissed his pants.”

Humiliated, Andy covered himself and hid in a corner.

John and the woman laughed and laughed, delighting in the boy's humiliation.

The woman spoke in an oddly metallic timbre: "I killed them, I killed them, and now I have to kill you!"

That's when you realize the woman's face is utterly featureless. She howls and attacks!

Hammer fired his Glocks at the thing.

Jim-Bean watched, arms crossed. "This is ridiculous. We don't have to fight it. Archive, can you use the Elder Sign on it?"

"Here?" Archive danced backwards as the thing produced a wicked knife and slashed at him. "I don't know if it will work…"

"Sure it will work. I'd do it, but I'm afraid it might work against me." He coughed, uncomfortable, as Hammer backed further into the closet, peppering the thing with bullets that had no effect.

Archive pulled out his amulet. "By the power of the Elder Gods I repel thee!"

The eye at the center of the amulet lensed open part-way, like a dreamer only partially awake. It was enough. The faceless thing melted into the floor.

Andy was visible again, this time in the living room window, beckoning them inside. The door was open.

After exchanging glances, the agents pursued Andy into the next dreamscape.

:cth:

Part 2 – Level Two
A murmur of low voices was audible from the kitchen. Suddenly, the sound of a slap reverberated through the hall and a woman’s voice shouted: “How dare you accuse your father! How dare you! You selfish little pig!” More slaps were heard in rapid succession.

In the kitchen, Andy Cook stood trembling, his face red and bruised from her blows. A woman--his mother--faced the boy, hand raised to strike him again. She glimpsed the agent of the corner of her eye, then put her arms around Andy and cradled his head against her chest.

“There, there,” she crooned while her gaze burned hatefully at the intruders. “Mummy will take good care of you. Mummy knows what’s best.”

Mrs. Cook instructed the boy to go to his room, but he backed away to the opposite end of the room. She smiled at the agents. “Such a good boy, my Andrew. But such poor choice of friends.”

The woman’s body split apart like a husk, transforming into an amorphous monstrosity with ropy pseudopods in place of arms and legs.

Jim-Bean rolled his eyes. "Oh look, another horrifying monster from the depths of Andy's twisted imagination." He put one hand up and a cage grew around the thing. It shrieked in frustrating, stretching its pseudopods at him. Jim-Bean yawned and made a fist with his open hand.

The cage wrenched tightly into a ball. Ichor and gore squirted out from between the bars.

"I told you this wasn't going to be a cakewalk," muttered Hammer.

Jim-Bean shrugged. "Seemed pretty easy to me."

Before Archive could add his two cents the scene shifted again…

Part 3 – Level Three
The "floor" was covered with filth, ash, pebbles, and insects. Water was present in many forms, puddles, moisture, dripping ceilings.

Through a crack in the "floor," they briefly catch sight of the boy on a lower level. As he disappeared into a corridor ending in "nothing," they took in their surroundings: there was a massive pile of blocks, cubicles, crawlspace, walls, stairs, and ladders. Leading everywhere and nowhere.

The boy crawled into a specific "room." Shortly after, a light came on within the cubicle. It was like looking at a series of interlocked tenement rooms, some walls of which had been torn away to expose rooms within, rooms with no windows or doors.

Following a path of fragile steps, they made their way to the lighted room and entered. A mottled horse stood with its head down, nose kissing the floor, allowing the boy to caress its neck. This sweet animal was an incongruous vision in this hellish world.

"Hmph," said Archive. "So this thing's going to sprout tentacles too?"

The frightened child retreated into a corner of the claustrophobic room, but the horse did not startle. The horse took an affectionate step towards Hammer.

Hammer kept his pistols out. "It looks innocent enough…"

"Which is why this will end badly," said Jim-Bean.

The boy reacted to an unusual sound coming from the ceiling. Very anxiously, he looked at the wall behind them. An old wind-up kitchen timer clicked down.

Hammer knew enough about timers in the real world to suspect one counting down in the dream world was also bad news. "Back!"

He fell backwards just as eight sheets of glass dropped from the ceiling! Like oversize razor blades, they sliced the horse into four clean sections. They separated and compacted the quadrants until four glass-contained sections of dissected horse stood within the room.

The boy ran and Hammer gave pursuit. The boy knew his way around the landscape, but Hammer had difficulty simply keeping him in sight.

He heard a noise nearby and found a geared mechanism connected to some kind of shuttered door composed of an almost metallic-looking glass. After examining the nearby walls, floor, and ceiling for any signs of "traps" akin to the glass blades and finding none, he pulled the mechanism and quickly stepped back.

The shutter opened into a boy's bedroom, illuminated by a faint reddish glow.

Andy cowered on a bed. He turned to Hammer and began to weep. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” he sobbed. “They made me do it!”

A big, powerfully-built man stepped into view: John Cook again. He cursed the boy, hurling insults in a drunken rage before removing his belt. John proceeded to lash Andy wildly, striking the boy over and over again until his back was an ugly mass of raw meat. The boy's screams subsided as he passes out.

John then turned his attention to Hammer, a strange gleam in his eyes: “Meddling bastards!” he shrieked. “We’ve forgotten more about discipline than you’ll ever know!”

"I've got this one," said Hammer. He carefully aimed his Glock at the oncoming apparition and fired. The bullet struck John Cook between the eyes.

Archive looked around for the boy. "Where's the kid?"

:cth:

Part 4 – Limbo
They appeared in a massive cavern. A horrible sulfuric stench hung heavy in the air. The young boy stared at the agents with wide-eyed shock. In the center of the vast, ever-changing cavern, swirling mist rose from a jagged chasm of unguessable depth. The heat was tremendous, the stench of sulfur overpowering. Nearby, a long metal ramp led to a second flight of stairs.

A small cage hung over the chasm, dangling a small white rabbit. A plaque on the cage read: HERE LIES ALBERT JENKINS, GOATSWOOD.

Jim-Bean snapped his fingers. "That's it! That's where Jenkins is!"

Hammer frowned. "This is a little too obvious, don't you think?"

"That's assuming Andy came by this knowledge honestly." Archive looked around. "Why kidnap Jenkins and then try to kill himself?"

"What are you saying?" asked Hammer.

"I'm saying that it seems as if there's another force at work here, one that has other goals than Andy's miserable life…"

A terrible roar shook the cavern. Terrified, the boy searched for a place to hide. “He found me...”

The rest of his sentence was drowned out by the buzzing of a thousand angry flies. A humanoid form hung in its center, but it was clear that it was no human.

"Well now we know what that buzzing interference was," said Archive.

"Is that a…" Jim-Bean squinted at the thing.

Hammer holstered his Glocks for once. "Brain spider."

"Shan," corrected Archive.

“You," the Shan inside Andy's dreamscape buzzed. "You big truzzle-mekker...” The humanoid spun in the air to face the boy. “And you. You cumm home now, lizzle worm. Or me gozz haffa punish you...”

Hammer walked over to Andy and knelt down. "I know you're scared. But this isn't you. This…" he pointed up at the Shan, "…thing is forcing you to do things you didn't want to do."

"I didn't." The boy wept. "I didn't. He made me do it."

"I know. And he dug up some awful things from your past. But you can stop him. This is your mind. Nobody can tell you what to do."

"No!" The Shan flashed past Hammer and the boy was gone. He was trapped in the swirling mass of buzzing insects, but their silhouettes were visible inside the cloud. It was holding Andy by the throat.

"Uh, what happens if the Shan kills him while we're in his head?" Jim-Bean asked out of the side of his mouth.

Archive swallowed hard. "Let's not find out."

To his credit, Hammer didn't reach for his Glocks.

The cavern thumped and shuddered. Something huge was making its way towards them.

Two huge stone palms slapped together, instantly smashing the Shan to a red pulp. Only the Shan's arm, still dangling Andy, protruded from between the giant fingers.

It was one of Andy's miniature gnomes, but much, much larger – proportionate to the Shan's size as a fly.

Hammer leaped and caught Andy as he slipped from the Shan's grip.

Andy looked up at him, covered in welts from the stinging insects. "Thank you," he croaked.

Hammer tried to speak, failed, tried again. "I'm sorry," he whispered. "I tried to help…"

“You did help me. More than you'll ever know.”

Then all went dark.

:cth:

Conclusion
The agents woke up to see Thredra staring worriedly at them.

"He's in full arrest," she said

The heart monitor beat a panicked staccato.

Archive leaned over Cook's convulsing body, but Hammer put one hand on his shoulder. "Let him go," he said. "He's finally found peace. No point in dragging him back into hell with us."

Jim-Bean barked a laugh but didn't elaborate on what he found so funny.

Thredra sighed and put one hand on Cook's forehead. He stopped convulsing and the heart monitor descended into a low wail.

Archive's hands clenched and unclenched. He was a field surgeon – it appalled him to willingly let a man die. "What did you do to him?"

Thredra sneered down her nose at him. "I'm giving him peace."

Jim-Bean checked the clock. "Six seconds." He hopped off the cot he was laying on. "Let's go find Jenkins."

Thedra shut the monitor off and followed Jim-Bean out the door.

"Six seconds?" asked Archive. "Six seconds for what?"

"Regret," said Hammer grimly. "That's how much humanity he has left."
 

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talien

Community Supporter
Chapter 68: Blessed Be

This story hour is from "Blessed Be" by Gary Sumpter. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

• Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
• Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero/Telepath) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://jeremyrobertortiz.blogspot.com)
• Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast/Dedicated Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster

There are two scenarios where Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places seems to gets its bad rap: Gothic and Blessed Be. Gothic worked fine in my campaign because I established vampires previously and I didn't work very hard to make the two lovers sympathetic, and instead had them in the employ of Count Nadasdy. But Blessed Be is simply a deathtrap.

Blessed Be is inspired by The Wicker Man (the original, not the remake). I'm not fond of the Wicker Man – it's an outdated artifact of its time and a very narrow view of religion – but it's considered a critical horror film, so it's no surprise to find a scenario inspired by it in this collection. I modified the quotes by the lead cultist to match the original script.

The scenario lures the investigators in with Jenkins as bait, which implies there's some sort of collusion between the shan and Shub-Niggurath. Once the investigators are trapped by hundreds of angry villagers and an avatar of Shub-Niggurath, there's very few ways out.

But I liked the idea of taking on an entire village of maniacs, action horror style, so I put Jenkins in genuine danger and had the agents arrive at the climax. Then I let all hell break loose.

This scenario combines the shan presence in Goatwood with the shan presence in Delta Green. The two aren't entirely compatible so I had to mess with a few elements to make it fit, but overall I was pleased with the results.

Defining Moment: Jim-Bean comes up with a desperate plan to save Jenkins.

Relevant Media
 Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=24385&it=1&affiliate_id=34014

:cth:

Prologue
Senses dimmed in semi-sentience,
only wheeling through this plane,
only seeing fragmented images
prematurely curtailed by the brain,
but breathing, living, knowing in some measure at least
the soul which roots the matter of both Beauty and the Beast
-Peter Hammill, “The Sleepwalkers.”

GOATSWOOD, ENGLAND—Located about half an hour out of Brichester by train, Goatswood was one of the oldest villages in the Severn Valley. The cluster of stone buildings and thatch cottages was completely surrounded by a bleak and unwholesome woods in a sheltered valley, through which a web of twisting country lanes extended.
The village was eerily claustrophobic, a complicated labyrinth of alleyways and cul-de-sacs. Narrow streets and crowded dull-red roofs gave Goatswood the impression of archaic furtiveness; bad times had left the place with sagging roofs and cracked walls, and a certain shabby ambience.

The houses on the outskirts of the village were dirty, tired-looking affairs with steeply pitched gables. Years of indifferent maintenance ran them into dilapidation and, in some cases, ruinous dereliction. Lined with ancient oak trees and buildings of old honey-colored stone, the High Street presented a slightly brighter face, accommodating offices, department stores, public houses and even a cinema. Many of the shops specialized in antiques, old books, and local hand-crafted items.

Outside, the villagers were gathering.

“My friends, enough now!” shouted the high priest of Shub-Niggurath. “We shall all reassemble outside the town hall and then process through the village and the countryside, down to the hill, by the route which has become sacred to our rite. This year at the procession's end, as has already been proclaimed, a holy sacrifice will be offered up jointly to Nuada, our most sacred god of the Sun, and to Avellenau, the beloved goddess of our orchards, in order that we may furnish them with renewed power to quicken the growth of our crops. Hail the Queen of the May!”

“Hail the Queen of the May!” the villagers shouted back.

Dressed in colorful robes, the priest stood by the pylon and adjusts the ropes tied to the pivot; the lens and the mirror shifted, and a concentrated beam of moonlight moved up the road toward the hill.

The priest lifted up a tankard of wine. “O god of the hill, I offer you this ale as a libation, that you may bestow upon us in the year to come the rich and diverse fruits of your kingdom. Hail, god of the hills! Accept our offering!” He poured it out onto the ground. “And now, for our more dreadful sacrifice...you who command the fruit of the Earth.”

Albert Jenkins, restrained by two burly villagers, was near the center of the crowd.

When the beam of concentrated moonlight slid far enough up the side of the hill, a hush fell over the crowd. In the eerie silence, a faint rumbling could be heard – as of distant thunder. The priest turns toward Jenkins and, with a wild gesture, shouted, "We must offer to our god of the Sun and to the goddess of our orchards the most acceptable sacrifice that lies in our power. Animals are fine, but their acceptability is limited. A little child is even better, but not nearly as effective as the right kind of adult. You should be honored…you will undergo death and rebirth! You will not only have life eternal, but you will sit with the blessed among the elect. Come. It is time to keep your appointment with the Keeper of the Moon Lens.”

Suddenly, a door which occupied the whole of the hill slid open to reveal the entrance to a cavernous passage. Further back in the darkness, something massive shimmered and stirred in the refracted moonlight.

The pillar of white flesh was supported on many-jointed bony legs tipped with great circular pads. It had no arms, merely three spines which dig into the ground. But the head was the worst—formed of thick coils of white jelly, covered with water eyes, and at the center was a huge toothed beak. Those great yellow eyes peered in different directions, and all the coils twisted and jerked, sometimes transparent so that Jenkins could see into the head.

The god’s yellow eyes squinted in all directions as it moved out of the doorway, creeping forward with the grotesque paddling motion of its three great spines. The beak opened, and the thing squawked and hisseed at its worshippers.

The crowd's jubilation was interrupted by the roaring of a car's engine. The agents' Phantom skidded into the center of town.

Hammer gunned the Phantom and flipped open the triggers on either side of the steering wheel. Multi-barreled machineguns popped up out of the front of the wheel wells of the Phantom.

"Let's dance," he snarled before mashing both firing triggers on the steering wheel.

:cth:

Part 1 – The Keeper of the Moon Lens
The machineguns sprayed hellfire into the crowd. Seconds later the Phantom mowed through a wall of flesh, smashing cultists aside left and right. The Phantom careened to a stop, both front tires blown from cultist blades.

The agents dove out of the vehicle. The Keeper of the Moon Lens swallowed Jenkins whole, slurping him up like a butterfly licking a droplet of honey. He hung suspended in its head. It rotated on stilted legs towards the opening where it emerged.

"On it!" shouted Archive. He chanted and extended an open palm. The opening in the hill sealed over as it filled brick by brick with stone, the same trick Archive had used on the PISCES strike team.

The Keeper shrieked in rage as its exit was cut off. It whirled on the tiny gnats who dared defy it.

Jim-Bean fired grenades into the crowd, tossing cultists into bloody bits of body parts. The lead cultist, Burgess, chanted and a bolt of dark energy speared into Archive. He crumpled.

The Keeper stomped over to them and, skewering the Phantom with one pincered leg, tossed it. The Phantom flipped end over end before exlpoding against the blocked entrance to the mound.

Hammer fired wildly. The Keeper of the Moon Lens pinned him through the thigh with one spine. He yelped, pinned to the ground.

Jim-Bean levitated upwards, satchel of explosives slung over one shoulder. "Dinner's served," he shouted, spraying a burst of gunfire at the thing's head. "Hungry?"

And with a lightning-fast snap of its maw, Jim-Bean disappeared into the thing's head.

:cth:

Part 2 – Final Escape
Jim-Bean was held inside transparent walls that pulsed and gripped him firmly, but not tightly enough to injure.

"You okay Alfred?"

Alfred, slumped against one wall inside the thing's head, nodded weakly. "Yes, sir." He pointed at the satchel. "Are you planning to use that in here, sir?"

Jim-bean unslung the satchel and set the detonators. "I'm going to put up a telekinetic barrier around us both. It should shield us from the blast. You stay behind me, okay?"

"I can shape the charge sir, for maximum effectiveness. I worked with a bit of explosives myself during the War..."

The old codger was being far too modest about his skills. Jim-Bean knew he had been Special Forces. Despite the circumstances Jim-Bean allowed himself a quick smile. "Okay."

Alfred arranged the charge, separating out the explosives in a line. "Ready, sir."

"Here we go!" Jim-bean focused and a shimmering wall of telekinetic force went up between them and the explosives.

He pressed the detonator.

:cth:

Conclusion
The explosives ripped outwards in a cone shape, spattering alien gelatin miles in the air. Jim-Bean was hurled back into Alfred, who crumpled from the concussive force.

The Keeper let out a gurgling hiss as its head whipped back and forth, oozing. Jim-Bean came to his senses quickly enough to grab hold of Albert as they were hurled out of the thing's head like a catapult.

With a loud croak, it took two steps forward, one back, releasing its grip on hammer. Just as the high priest prepared a retaliatory spell against Hammer it smashed on top of him, silencing priest and god permanently.

Jim-Bean landed with the limp Jenkins in his arms. "Albert. Albert! Stay with me!"

Albert's eyes fluttered as he was placed on the ground. "We gave them what for, eh, sir?"

"We got them Albert." Jim-Bean sniffed. "You got them."

"Good, good." He closed his eyes and his chest shuddered. "It's been...a pleasure...serving you...sir..." He let the last of his words out with a sigh.

Jim-Bean leaned over the only man he loved like a father and was still for a long time. He only got up until Mrs. Jenkins ran over.

"So that's it then," she said softly.

Jim-Bean looked up at her. There were no words.

"Get up," she said, tear-filled eyes blazing with vengeance. "We've got killin' to do."
 

talien

Community Supporter
Chapter 69: King

This story hour is from "King" from Cthulhu Brittannica by Mike Mason, Alan Bligh, John French, Keary Birch, and Paul Fricker. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

• Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Sebastian “Caprice” Creed (Fast/Smart Hero/Techie) played by Bill Countiss

When Bill's work schedule changed so that he couldn't play, we considered just killing his character off. But then I had a better idea – what if I ran a campaign by email that just dealt with what happened to him? It wouldn't end well, of course – he still couldn't get his schedule to work – but as I discovered I've run campaigns long enough for Matt to leave for Australia and then return to the States three years later. Never count anyone out for long!

What's fascinating about this scenario is how I was able to manipulate the tension because there were only text descriptions. Particularly because the protagonist begins playing blind, it's very difficult to play this scenario as if the characters were blind unless you have complete control of your surroundings. I don't know about you, but there's no way I could have an audio-silent room – be it birds outside, people in the house, or just other players making noise.

In email, the only noise is in your head.

Defining Moment: Caprice finally tears off his blindfold.

Relevant Media
 Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=24385&it=1&affiliate_id=34014

:cth:

Prologue
In the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king.

-Erasmus, “Adagia”

MAGONIA, ENGLAND— Caprice was lying face down on some sort of bed. His head was held up by a firm, circular cushion of some kind, while his hands were level with his head, restrained by medical restraints. Indeed, wrists, ankles and forehead were all held by Velcro restraints, ensuring that he did not move from their current position.

Caprice was laying on something soft. His eyes were closed. A faint smell of disinfectant lingered in the air and he could hear a soft humming sound…perhaps of a fan. Beneath him, Caprice could feel the crispness of fresh sheets. He was comfortably warm.

He opened his eyes. Darkness. Total darkness.

There was the rattle of a trolley moving closer, a slight change in air pressure and the noise of a door being opened.

“Good morning,” came a female voice with a pleasant British accent. She sounded youthful, yet professional. There was a smell of perfume, which was quickly overpowered by the smell of burnt toast.

“Have some breakfast,” she said. “I’m afraid it’s just the usual, orange juice and toast. You can’t have anything more substantial until the doctor gives you the once over.”

He heard the sound of furniture moving – perhaps a small table, and the squeaking of metal underneath his face. Caprice flinched as something plastic was pushed into his mouth, past his dry lips – a straw?

Tentatively taking a sip, he felt the sweet taste of orange juice in his mouth.

The nurse went round to the other patients in the room. Caprice gathered it was the crew. Given their predicament he guessed none of them were his fellow agents.

"What…happened?" he croaked. He remembered tentacles, and screaming, and free falling. The glass of his helmet shattered, and hungry mouths…

"You've undergone eye surgery—" The noise of a door opening cut her off in midsentence.

There was another change in air pressure and Caprice heard a door open and close. A male voice, with a distinct far eastern accent could be heard.

“Good morning, everyone. I hope you had a comfortable night.”

The man seemed to shift about the room as his voice grows and diminished in volume as he moved around. He appeared to be stopping at each bed and picking up something, making “hmmm, yes,” noises –studying medical charts.

“Yes, all quite good. Each of your eye procedures has gone very well,” the man said, somewhat smugly. “Now, you need to rest for another twenty-four hours. I’m afraid we can’t have you moving around as it may cause complications, hence the restraints. Yes, face down and no exposure to light. We don’t want any of that! None of you would like to have any disastrous complications, eh?! Don’t want anybody going blind!”

"What happened?" Caprice asked again.

“You have each had your eyes rebuilt. I then replaced the emptied eye cavity with a gas bubble. Since gas rises and the macula and retina are at the back of the eye, you must remain face down in order for the gas bubble to apply pressure to the area in need of healing. And so, allow the macula or retina to re-bond to the eye wall and a new vitreous to replace the gas bubble. Although vitrectomy has a strong, successful track record in improving vision, the recovery from it is often far more challenging as patients must put up with the discomfort of being held in a face-down, post-operative position for a further twenty four hours. As I said, we don’t want you going blind!”

After a cursory examination of each of the patients, the doctor pronounced that he was happy with everyone’s progress.

"The nurse shall return shortly, should you require anything further."

Caprice's thoughts roiled. What happened? He caught the British accent, but he didn't recognize the other one. They were over the Pacific Ocean, right? What was he doing in a hospital? And what in God's name had happened to his eyes?

A terrible female scream snapped him out of his dark thoughts. It was from somewhere close to, yet outside the room, followed by the sound of someone running. It was followed by a strange, high-pitched, twittering sound that seemed to appear from nowhere.

Caprice gasped. He knew that sound. It was the thing…the thing in the air that was trying to – no had succeeded in – eat his eyes.

More screaming. A male voice shouted something in a foreign tongue, and more footsteps. It was followed by a sucking noise that rose in volume.

Then silence.

:cth:

Part 1 – Exercising Restraint
Caprice called out. “Can anyone see?”

“That you, Caprice?” asked Agent Seabiscuit’s voice. He was the surveillance operator for the plane Caprice was on.

“Yeah, it’s him. We’re here,” said Agent Hooch, field engineer. “And so’s Boner. I can hear him breathing.”

“Very funny,” said the unfortunately named Agent Boner, communications. “Can any of you see?”

"No,” said Seabiscuit. “And I can’t move either. What the hell is going on?”

“Maybe we’re tied up to protect ourselves,” said Hooch. “The doc said something about our eyes exploding…”

“I’m a little freaked out right now,” said Boner. “You guys are freaking me out.”

“Calm down,” said Seabiscuit. “We’ll figure something out.”

"Well at least we're together,” said Caprice. “Let's work on trying to get at least one hand free. Who's closest to me? Maybe we can shimmy closer and attempt to assist getting these restraints off"

Caprice attempted to shift his table to whoever was closest in an attempt to assist in the removal of restraints.

“We’re strapped down,” said Seabiscuit. “But I think if I…unh. No good.”

Hooch muttered. “Me neither. I get the impression they meant to keep us in here.”

“You’re the strongest of us, Boner,” said Seabiscuit. “Give it a try.”

Boner grunted. A second later he sighed. “No luck chief. But…” Caprice heard a body shift and wheels creak. “Yeah! Caprice, where you at?”

Caprice called out and Boner inched closer. It seemed to take forever, but eventually his bed bumps into Caprice’s. “Okay, I’m gonna try to reach your…” Caprice felt Boner’s fingers brush his wrist, then grab hold of the restraints. “Buckles? Son of a…”

“We ain’t got all day here,” said Seabiscuit in irritation. “Whatever was out there may be still lurking around.”

“I’m trying, I’m trying!” shouted Boner. “Don’t rush me!”

“Yeah, don’t rush him,” grumbled Hooch. “I want to get out of here before I die of old age.”

Finally, Boner unbuckled one of Caprice’s wrists. He was free.

Caprice kept the blindfold on and made his way over to the next guy and unbuckled his restraints. “Everyone tuck their chins and hunch over slightly if you have to. This will keep our heads in the same face down position that we were restrained in. Let's form a chain and keep your left hand on top of the left shoulder of the man in front of you. The two highest ranking form the beginning and end of our chain. Any breaks in the chain speak up. Let's get the f*&k out of here."

Caprice felt his way over to the other guys and pulled off their straps.

“Caprice…this is freaking me out,” said Boner. “Will our eyeballs fall out if we take these blindfolds off?”

“If it’s a pressure thing, we’d be bleeding already,” said Seabiscuit. “I’m sitting up and my eyeballs haven’t exploded yet.”

“You don’t know that,” snaps Hooch. “Could be a delayed reaction.”

“Maybe we should just take the damn bandages off,” muttered Hooch. “I ain’t holding your hand.”

“He said shoulders, not hands, Christ!” growled Seabiscuit. “Anything’s better than sitting in here.”

There was more shifting of movement. Caprice could hear the pad of men getting to their feet.

“Ready!” chirped Boner.

“Fine, you lead,” said Hooch. Caprice felt a hand on your shoulder. “Hope we don’t walk into a pit…”

:cth:

Part 2 – The Thing Behind the Door
The room was very cold, the concrete floor icy to the touch. Caprice felt around for dressing gowns in bedside cabinets which provided some relief from the cold, although the lack of slippers or other footwear meant that his feet started to feel like blocks of ice. He opened the door.

Caprice could hear a woman’s voice echoing down what sounded like a hallway, tinny and electronic. “Hello? Can anyone hear me?”

Caprice led the train of men towards the voice. "I can hear you, can you see me?” he asked. “I'm coming down the hall."

Caprice kept one hand against the wall and the other in front of him as he moved the train. They made their way way down the hall.

“Yes, I can see you! The security protocols are in effect!” said the woman. It’s clear she was communicating through a speaker. “Whatever that…thing was, it tore out the security guard’s eyes. I think the door’s palm activated. Can you feel around for his hand and put it up to the panel?”

As Caprice made his way to the door, he felt something cold and wet near his bare feet. His hand brushed against a cool panel on the wall.

"Are you sh**tting me?” Caprice sighed. “Okay guys change of formation. Everyone shoulder to shoulder with me on the far left. Once we're all lined up let's get on all fours and slowly move forward, and all together maintaining shoulder contact. We're looking for human hands. Oh and Boner, if you find his dismembered penis try and resist jamming that thing in your ass until we get out of here."

Boner laughed nervously. “Hey guys…hey. My feet are sticky. Why are my feet sticky?”

“Did you piss yourself again?” asked Hooch.

“Not funny man. I think this thing on the floor—I--I think it’s a dead body. I don’t want to touch it…Christ.”

“Fine.” There was some muttering from Seabiscuit. “Yeah, dead body here all right. A lot of blood near his face.”

“Are his eyes missing?” asked Boner, voice rising. He was on the verge of hysteria.

“The f**k if I know! I’m not trying to make out with the corpse, Boner.”

“Sounds like the thing that…” Boner swallowed audibly. “We heard outside our door...”

“Caprice, grab his arm and let’s go before Boner completely snaps,” growled Hooch.

Caprice helped lift the dead guard to the security console and put his hand to the pad. He slapped the dead guard’s palm to the raised panel on the wall and let the corpse’s arm slump back to the ground.

There was a quiet hiss as a door on the far side of the wall opened.

“Hey guys,” said Boner. “I uh…there’s another body over here.” Caprice could hear him shuffling around in the hallway. “It’s a woman.”

“Don’t tell me…” begins Hooch.

On the far side of the door, metal bars whisked into hidden compartments. Several heavy locks clicked open, one after the other.

“…I think it’s the nurse,” finished Boner.

“Wait,” said Seabiscuit. “If the nurse is a corpse…”

“Then who did we just let out?” finished Hooch. Alarm klaxons begin wailing all around them.

:cth:

Part 3 – I Can See Clearly Now…
"We never actually asked who we were speaking with, so there's no way to know for sure if it was or wasn't the nurse,” said Caprice. “It could have been anyone, including the creature that may have or may not been trapped on the other side. We're not being torn to shreds at the moment so we can figure it either isn't on that side or isn't interested at the moment. Let's move forward. Now should we lock up behind us in case the creature is behind us? It's possible that whoever wanted that door open may have hid in fear that the creature would move in with us. She survived so she may have another safe area. Let's hope for that. Okay, line up and let's bring this body with us so we have the option."

“Thank you for releasing me,” husked the woman’s voice. It was electronically communicated through the speaker, but the sound was so close that they could hear her through the door as well. There was a wet plopping sound from inside the room, like someone dropped a bag of meat.

“Okay, I’ve had enough!” shouts Hooch. “I don’t care if my eyeballs fall out!”

“No, wait—“ begins Seabiscuit.

“We will be free soon, and then I shall thank you appropriately.” The response was deeper, alien. But this time they could hear two voices, speaking in unison.

Hooch began panting hard. He must have removed his blindfold.

“Hooch, you’re scaring me man. What’s going on?” asked Seabiscuit.

“Did your eyes explode?” asked Boner.

“No…”

“I’m taking mine off then,” said Seabiscuit. “…Jesus.”

There was a thump. A wet sound, like that of a rag being slowly moved across a glass window. It was right near Caprice’s face.

Hooch, the most sarcastic of the three, sounded distracted. “WHAT. THE F&*K. IS THAT.”

“Oh come on you guys…Fine!” Boner yanked his blindfold off.

Then he just started screaming.

:cth:

Part 4 – Patient Zero
Caprice, his bandages still on, ran back the way he came. He tried to and find a way to lock himself in the recovery room where they all started out…

Only to slam into Boner. The two of them bounced off a wall in the confusion. Boner flailed, still screaming, and over the klaxons it was nearly impossible to get one’s bearings. If Hooch and Seabiscuit were still there, Caprice couldn’t hear them.

“Don’t leave me!” screamed Boner, clawing at Caprice. He managed to shrug him off and stumble down the hall.

Caprice’s open palm slapped against a doorframe. After slamming into the door with his shoulder several times he burst into another room. His knee thumped into a metal chair, which he managed to pop up against the door.

As Caprice plastered himself against the wall to catch his breath, he realized the klaxons were barely audible. The room seemed air tight. He could still, faintly, hear Boner screaming.

Then he heard the wheezing. Slow, unsteady, deep. It was coming from the center of the room.

Caprice double-checked the security of the door and crawled over toward the center of the room.

"It's okay, you're not alone. Can you talk?” he asked. “If you can understand me but can't speak tap on the floor or something."

He felt his way to a tent at the center of the room.

The breathing stopped for a second. A deep breath. A dry, whispery voice said, “I want to die… Can’t take it anymore…The invisible monster!"

"What is this place?” asked Caprice. “I'm blind so visible or invisible makes no difference to me. How do we get out of here?"

"You really have no idea, do you?" He hacked out a cough. It sounded productive, like he was spitting up phlegm...or worse. "My name's Lee. Lee Coleman. This SHOULD be Dartmouth Prison, but they transferred me. I am..." he coughed, "I used to lead the Army of the Third Eye. We've been fighting the ghosts from space. They've taken over the government. If I had my guess...we're in their secret prison, Magonia. And nobody leaves Magonia."

Gunfire rattled the hallway behind Caprice. He could hear men shouting orders over comms.

"So that's how you got out?" More coughing. "You let Edith out, didn't you?" More noise came from his throat -- could be a laugh, could be another cough. "Oh that's a great going away present."

A long pause. If it weren't for his unsteady breathing, Caprice would have suspected that Lee had expired on the spot. The gunfire in the hallway was followed by booted footsteps.

"There's a...thing. They call it an Ocularon. It eats...it uses...eyeballs. It's from another dimension, a dimension opened by the Nightmare Wave. Now the...things that have taken over the government are scared. They're worried about losing control, that their secret plans are being disrupted by this...intrusion. It's why they fear and hate Edith. They captured the Ocularon. They've been feeding it. Feeding it my eyes. But I’m guessing they didn’t have as much control over it as they thought…got tired of eating the same old dish…"

Screams in the hallway. Some human, others shrieks of pain and rage.

There was a sucking sound. Lips pulling back from teeth. "That's what happened to you, isn't it? That's why you're wearing that blindfold? Did the old doc tell you the same bulls*&t about your eyes falling out? It's a little game they play. See, you're my replacement. Doctor Funikoshi Tenaka is trying to create supersoldiers with nightvision, using what they've learned from the Ocularon. He keeps regrowing eyeballs in my sockets, then lets the Ocularon tear them out." Lee begins to sob. "There's no anesthesia in Magonia."

The gunfire stutters, then stopped. Something heavy slams against the door. Gibbering. Then heavy footsteps slid down the hall. Doors were torn from their hinges. Something fantastically strong was ripping the place apart.

"Director Hampton!" shouted the singsong, husky voice Caprice heard earlier. "We'd like to speak with you!"

Lee stopped weeping. "Listen. Listen to me." He wheezed. "You've got to get out of here. The Ocularon must have caused this. It eats eyeballs..."

Something clawed at Caprice-- not quite a hand, but perhaps a finger, confined beneath a sheet. It brushed his face.

"And for Christ's sake take that damn blindfold off..." Another fit of awful coughing. "You're going to need to see...just don't read whatever Edith...writes..." This time the breathing stopped entirely. The hallway was silent. The room was silent.

The silence was interrupted by the door being shoved open, knocking the chair to the ground. "Caprice?" asked Seabiscuit. "You okay?"

:cth:

Part 5 – Animal Farm
"F*&k no I'm not okay!” shouted Caprice. “I just found out we're being farmed for eyeballs for that thing!" He tore his blindfold off. "Let's gets out of here. Who's still alive?"

As he tore the bandage off, Caprice felt it squirm in his hand. When he looked down with his newfound sight, which was crystal clear (better, he realized, than it ever was – he used to wear contacts) he saw a squirming mass of tiny purple worms on the inside of the bandage.

Seabiscuit saw it too. “What the F*&K?!” He looked from the bandage to Caprice. “Jesus, you’ve got…”

Caprice could can feel them. Squirming. Writhing. They were nested there, dormant, under his eyelids. Now you he could feel them, like ants marching across his eyeballs and for a second he seriously consider tearing his new eyes out. He screamed and clutched his face as one wiggles across his iris…

Then it stopped. When Caprice open his eyes again they were gone. There was just a greasy smear on his palms, and the bandages.

“I don’t…” Seabiscuit shook his head slowly. “I don’t think we had those under our bandages, but…maybe. I didn’t look. I was too freaked out by what I saw in that room.” He shuddered and then noticed the sheet.

Now that Caprice could take in the room he could see that he wasn’t missing much. It was bare, except for the chair and the bed, which was covered by a containment tent. The tent had collapsed somewhat, pressing itself against a tiny form. Perhaps that of a child – but Caprice knew it was a man, which meant beneath was just half a man, his legs missing. A slow, red stain spread from where the shape of a nose might be.

"Guess he’s not coming with us,” said Seabiscuit slowly. Recovering from his shock, he ducked his head out into the hallway again. “It’s all clear, Hooch!” he whispered. Seabiscuit turned back to Caprice. “Whatever that thing was tore the guards apart. There’s nothing but stains everywhere. Hooch hid in what I think was the operating theater for this place. And I found…” he hesitated. “It’s better if you see for yourself.”

Hooch entered with Boner in tow. “Look who I found,” he said with a grimace.

Appraising Boner, Caprice could see why. He looked dazed, disheveled in his hospital gown. But it was the bite marks on his shoulders that draw Caprice’s attention.

The sleeves of his gown were torn off. There were two gouges, as if something – certainly not human – bit into his shoulders, deep. Bruises from big, meaty fingers left ugly marks on Boner. “She must have grabbed him by the shoulders,” said Hooch. “That’s when they bit him.”

“We’ve got to stop the bleeding. There’s gauze in the storage room. Come on.” Seabiscuit stealthily padded out of the hallway.

All Caprice could think of was: how did “she” and “they” grab Boner and bite him at the same time?

:cth:

Part 6 – Tag, You're It
"Well I'm officially freaked out,” said Caprice. “Any objections for getting the hell out of here? Let's get a move on before that thing has another bowl of eyeball soup."

He crossed the hallway. With blood spattering the walls and limbs torn, half-eaten bodies kicked into the corners like so much refuse, what was once a creepy hallway now seemed like a gateway to hell. At the far end was the end of the hallway, which terminated in an elevator shaft. The doors were wrenched open by something, something big enough to gnaw on the doors as it tore them free. The alarm lights still flickeed a fiendish yellow, painting the blood in an odd green light.

But their destination was across the hall. Once inside, Caprice discovered a storeroom of sorts, containing two medium-sized industrial refrigerators and three tall cupboards – all of which were unlocked. In the cupboards were surgical tools, including scalpels, bone saws and the like, as well as towels, spare scrubs, linen and bandages.

“We ducked into this room when the s*&t went down,” said Seabiscuit. He fished out bandages from the cupboard and tossed them to Hooch. Hooch began binding Boner’s shoulders with pad and gauze. “They brought some serious firepower down here against that thing we let out of the room.”

At the mention the thing, Boner started trembling. He was still in shock.

“Can we not talk about it right now?” snapped Hooch.

Seabiscuit frowned. “Why don’t you take Boomer into the bathroom, clean his wounds out. I saw a restroom down the hall.”

Hooch nodded and shuffled the still-sniffling Boner out of the room.

“This is what I wanted to show you.” When they were gone, Seabiscuit opened a refrigerator door.

Caprice looked inside. The inside of the refrigerator looked back at him.

It contained a number of specimen bottles of varying sizes, each containing an eyeball. Dozens of eyeballs, different colors. Blue, hazel, green, brown. They floated, socketless, bereft of a skull to hold them. If they ever belonged in a skull at all. In the back were other organs, also bottled. Each bottle was labeled with a bar code. A number of blood pouches, each labeled by type, were piled next to a carton of orange juice.

“What the hell is going on here?” asked Seabiscuit.

"We got the munchies but our good guests don't have anything worth snacking on,” said Caprice. “I'm guessing after they farmed a new pair of eyes they would scoop out whatever the creature didn't want and store it for later. Maybe it was backup for when that guy in the tent died in case they didn't have a new group to harvest from. You know, insurance. Let's each of us take a jar in case we run into that thing, it might buy us some time as it scoops up the tossed eyeballs. "

He toss the orange juice to Seabiscuit. "Here. Just in case we are wrong and all the damn thing wants is some
vitamin C."

Seabiscuit looks askance at the bottle Caprice called orange juice. “I wouldn’t drink this for breakfast…” He shrugged and places the bottle on a table. “Unless you’re planning to shove these bottles up your ass we’re gonna need to change.” He tossed Caprice some purple scrubs. “Found these too.”

Hooch returned with Boner in tow. He was carrying an armful of blood-spattered guns. “We might want to carry these with us while we’re at it.”

They all changed into scrubs. Boner did too, though he was strangely mute through the whole experience. It’s then that caprice notice something, but kept it to himself, hoping Boner wouldn’t notice.

In purple scrubs and packing a pistol, Seabiscuit looked like some kind of deranged orderly. “We’d better go, those guards will be back with reinforcements.” After checking the hallway again, he ducked out.

“The elevator’s open, but we’re gonna have to climb it,” said Hooch.

Prodded by Hooch, Boner followed a little less enthusiastically. But before he Caprice heard him mutter something about barcodes.

And he knew Boner was right. There were bar codes on each of their wrist tags too.

:cth:

Part 7 – Shafted
Caprice checked his weapon and made my way into the elevator shaft to climb down with the others

Below was a yawning abyss, dimly lit by strange violet rays at the bottom of the shaft. It's clear the elevator snapped, or blew open, or was torn open. Judging from the bloody tooth marks on the edges of the elevator doors that lay in the hallway, something terrifically strong ripped them off their hinges.

"It's pitch black down there," said Seabiscuit mournfully.

"Whoever Edith is, she is one pissed off bitch," said Hooch, shaking his head. "We don't have any flashlights, so I'm not sure how we can get down there without breaking our necks."

Caprice looked back down the elevator shaft. The shaft was hardly what he’d call dark. In fact, it was illuminated by a purplish glow.

That's when he caught Boner's gaze of horror. "His eyes! Look at his eyes!" He pointed an accusing finger at Caprice.

"Hey guys, don't freak out, but I can see perfectly,” said Caprice. “Let's get through this and then we can scoop my eyeballs out if it freaks you out too much. This must have been what that guy in the tent was talking about. They were trying to grow special eyes for their soldiers. I guess this one worked. They must have done something different with mine."

"Yeah, maybe you can see in the dark," said Seabiscuit, "but you don't know what you look like. Let me show you."

He ducked back out of the hallway into the storage closet and returned with a small mirror. "Now look."

At first Caprice couldn’t make much out in the dim light of the hallway. But when he stuck his head back into the shaft and checked the mirror again he was startled by two pinpoints of yellow glaring back at him. His eyes.

His iris was a ridged five-pointed star of a pale yellow color. It looks a lot like the symbol Archive always carried with him.

Shaking off the fact that he now had eyes shining in the darkness like a cat, he looked back down the shaft. He could still see just fine, but it's apparent that the illumination wasn’t really there -- EVERYTHING was limned in a purplish glow.

Caprice could see an elevator cable dangling down the length of the shaft. "Well at least I'll save some money on the energy bill when I get home. Okay, guys let's make our way down."

Steeling himself, Caprice took a running jump and crossed the gap to one of the dangling cables. To his relief, it held.

For once Caprice was glad he was the only one who can see in the dark – the others were edgy enough without seeing him freak out. He waited a moment until his nerves finally calm down, then begin swinging over so the other guys could grab hold of the cable.

Somebody chuckled up above but he was too busy concentrating on not slipping to his death to look. Good, everyone’s staying cool. Caprice began humming the theme song to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” as he inched his way down the cable. He hummed the tune, G, A, F, (octave lower) F, C so that the other could gauge his distance from them.

“What the hell do you think that thing was?” came Hooch’s voice, oddly distant in the echoes of the elevator shaft.

“The eyeball thing?” asked Seabiscuit.

“No, you know…the big mother…”

Caprice hummed the first three bars: G. A. F…

“I don’t know, Hooch. I don’t think I wanna know.”

F. C.

“Where is she? She tore the elevator apart. Took those guys out with guns…”

G. A. F. He was almost at the bottom.

“I don’t know man.”

F. C.

“Can we NOT talk about this now?” whined Boner.

“Sorry Boner,” muttered Hooch.

Caprice never heard Hooch apologize to anybody. The experience had changed them all.

He could see the cable stoped a few feet above the top of the elevator. Caprice hopped the short distance and clamber down into the elevator proper.

G…

The first thing he noticed was the ammunition. Someone expended a lot of bullets. Shell casings were everywhere.

A…

The second thing he noticed was the blood. There wasn’t a lot of it, unlike the hallway. It was rough, violent blood spatter – someone strong struck with something sharp. Brutal. Messy.

F…

Then Caprice looked out beyond the wrecked elevator doors. He was sorry he did.

F…

Stretched before him was a rocky, rough-hewn tunnel. The area carried a strong, earthy smell and was illuminated by two large open fires set in the middle of the cavern. Around the fire pits were rough, woven straw mats. Also arrayed around were numerous tools including mops, buckets, wrenches and spears. In the far left corner, beyond the sleeping mats, was a heap of rubbish.

C.

Bodies. Dozens of them. Small dark-skinned males. Caprice couldn’t tell their race because none of them hadfaces. Every single one of them had their face chewed off with horrible, lamprey-like efficiency, like their faces were torn off as easily as Halloween masks. They faceless bodies were blessedly in the shadows beyond the reach of the fires’ glow.

Boner landed behind him first. “Whoa,” he whispered. “What do you see?”

:cth:

Part 8 – What's for Dinner?
"It looks like a mass grave, all dark-skinned individuals with their faces munched off,” said Caprice, trying to make light of the situation without freaking Boner out. “Well, you know what they say....once you go black... There is lots of blood down here, but not all of it appears human. I can't see to the end of the cavern, but I can't imagine it being any prettier. Should we go back?"

Seabiscuit and Hooch landed shortly after Boner. Seabiscuit looks back up the shaft. “Go back where? I’m not climbing up there again.”

“Screw that,” said Boner, suddenly decisive. “I’m starving!”

He made his way over to one of the fires. It was the main cookery area, complete with roasting spit, chopping boards, large evil-looking knives and bottles of barbecue flavored sauce. Meat roasted on the spit.

Caprice’s stomach rumbled in response.

Boner took a hunk and tore into it. “Pork!” he said around a mouthful.

Caprice slapped the meat out of his hands. "Are you insane?! That is probably a human chicken wing you're eating! Why are their spears on the ground? Everyone here has machine guns, and there are spears on the ground."

Boner’s eyes glazed as he looks down at what he was eating in the flickering firelight.

“Oh Jesus!” He wailed, tossing the meat to the ground, and then stumbled into the shadows, heaving in the direction of the tunnel. Caprice noted that at the far end there was a slight glow – that of an elevator button perhaps on the far side of the cavern.

Caprice immediately regretted his crystal clear vision in the flickering darkness. There was a wrinkled tattoo visible on the hunk of meat. He could make out a buxom woman astride a phallic-like rocket.

“What the hell is wrong with you Boner!” Hooch snatched up the meat and held it up to the firelight. Then he saw that tattoo too. “Oh God…”

He staggered backward, hands to his mouth, tears in his eyes. Caprice had never seen him like this..

“That tattoo,” whispered Seabiscuit, who saw it too. “That was Rocket’s.”

Rocket was one of the pilots on the plane. Caprice had wondered if he survived. Now he knew for sure.

Their morbid thoughts were interrupted by a familiar clicking and high-pitched twittering sound behind them.

:cth:

Part 9 – Boned
"I guess back isn't an option, RUN!" shouted Caprice. He darted ahead into the unknown.

Hooch turned to run but it was too late. Shimmering tentacle-blades snakeed lightning fast towards Hooch’s face. Caprice didn’t stick around to watch but his screams painted the picture. It was taking his eyes.

Caprice booked towards the far hall. There was an elevator, but there was no way everyone would make it.

Boner wailed, scrambling on hands and knees towards Caprice. “It wants our eyes!” he screamed. “IT WANTS OUR EEEEEEYYYYYEEESSS!”

Seabiscuit began to run but he fell face first with a grunt, the wind knocked out of him. The eye-thing was about to claim its next victim. “Caprice!” Seabiscuit shouted. “God damn it help me!”

Caprice fired at the tentacles below where they had him as to avoid hitting Seabiscuit with tons of hot lead. "Break free!!!"

He sprayed bullets into the thing, but they just punched through it as if it were cotton candy. Hooch was hoisted in the air like a puppet, dangling helplessly by his eye sockets as he was tossed back and forth by the flailing tentacles.

Tentacles snapped forward to encircle Seabiscuit, who crawled toward Caprice. “Throw the jar you f*&king idi-iccKKKHHHHH!” One tentacle snapped around his neck and yanked him backwards.

Unnoticed, at least for the moment, Boner fast-crawled towards Caprice.

"Hey!! Try these tasty treats!” Caprice threw the jar of eyes at the foot of the beast. Boner crawled past him and began pounding on the elevator button.

The eyeballs sloshed around crazily, gazing every which way, as the jar tumbled end over end towards the thing. For a split second Caprice thought the beast might not even notice.

But then, like a football player chasing a Hail Mary, every tentacle released its prey to catch it. Seabiscuit, eyes still intact, stumbled forward, practically body-slamming Caprice into the elevator doors just as they closed. It whispered shut with a pleasant DING!

:cth:

Part 10 – Revelations
In the elevator they were treated to Seabiscuit’s panting, Boner’s sobbing, and the soothing sounds of “Girl from Ipanema” playing softly over the elevator’s speakers.

DING! The elevator opened into a wood-lined corridor that went on for twenty feet and ended in a wood-paneled door.

Klaxons were no longer wailing but yellow and red lights spun a silent testament to whatever took place. There was gore spattered all across the hallway.

The carnage was even worse than the hospital corridor. It looked like whoever ran the facility made their stand here.

Their efforts were not in vain. The corpse of an obese, naked woman lay face down on the floor. Caprice could only tell that it was a woman because of her flaccid, massive breasts – there was no head. One arm was a stump.

Seabiscuit didn’t wait. He shoves his way past them down the corridor and opened the door. Beyond were two more doors: one with a frosted glass window on the left, and a plain wooden door to the right. He yanked open the door on the right and peered inside. “Our stuff!”

Boner fumbled with the door on the left, hands shaking, but managed to get it open. He stood, agog, bathed in the light of a flickering monitor in the dark room.

“That’s her,” he whispered like an abandoned child.

"What are you talking about?” asked Caprice. “Where?" He moved past Boner for a better position to view the monitor. "Who's that?"

Seabiscuit handed Caprice his stuff as they took in the other room. The office beyond the door is well maintained, modern and very tidy. A large oak desk dominated the room, behind which were plate glass windows. To the left hand side of the desk was a tall metal filing cabinet. Opposite the door from which they entered was another wood paneled-door.

Atop the desk was a reading light, a collection of neatly arranged stationery and a name plaque for a “Doctor Funikoshi”. A monitor has been turned to show a video footage from a security camera playing over and over. Caprice recognized the hallway, the room, the door.

“Thank you for releasing me,” husked the woman’s voice. The camera panned from caprice, blindfolded, his head near the doorway. And then seconds before the door whisked open, he see what was inside. What killed all those men. What lay headless now in the hallway.

Edith Hammond. The video clip shivered and repeated, over and over and over.

Caprice could make out writing scrawled along the back walls of Edith's chamber, in blood and feces. He could almost read it...

"Hey, any of you guys computer savvy?” asked Caprice. “We need to zoom in over here" He pointed on the screen to the writing on the wall. He was able to make out a few sentences: When his name is spoken or read he comes forth to be worshipped or to feed and take on the shape and soul of those he feeds upon. For those who read of evil and search for its form within their minds call forth evil, and so may Y’golonac return to walk among men…

Before he could finish, Caprice noticed a presence standing very still next to him. It was Boner. He was looking behind Caprice, at Seabiscuit. “You read it,” his gaze unwavering. “You read it…like I did…”

“That’s quite enough,” said an accented voice.

Dr, Funikoshi held a .22 to Seabiscuit’s head. “Your little adventure ends now.”

:cth:

Part 11 – End Game
Caprice flicked the monitor off, aiming his weapon at Dr. Funikoshi. "For such a smart guy you're not very clever,” he said. “You're outnumbered. Now drop the guy before I drop your ass and serve you up as fresh sushi to that thing."

It wasn’t completely dark as Caprice had hoped. The glass windows behind him opened into a lit hallway illuminated by sunlight, and possibly escape.

Funikoshi’s calm demeanor begins to crack as he looked past Caprice. “Outnumbered? Oh I’m afraid we’re all outnumbered here.”

He took a step back, dragging Seabiscuit with him, eyes wide, hand shaking. Funikoshi turned the pistol on something above and behind Caprice. “No! We killed you. Edith Hammond is dead!”

Behind Caprice was the sound of wet flesh on bone. Boner’s shadow loomed large over him, stretching and pulling. He was growing, growing, growing in blubbery folds. Two voices from opposite sides of the room boom in chorus, “Dr. Funikoshi, we never die. But we feel pain. Oh yes. And now you will too…”

The floor shuddered with the rapid thuds of something heavy as a rhinoceros barreling towards Caprice’s back.

Caprice dove to the side, hoping to avoid certain death. "Get the hell out guys!"

He whirled as the massive bulk springs. If the horror before him was once Boner, there was no way to tell – he was now a buffalo-sized headless mountain of fat, the remains of Boner’s clothing hanging in loops around its trunk-like legs. But the part that burned in Caprice’s memory forever were its hands, the hands that were formerly spread wide and talking from each palm.

There, nestled in a place where no mouth ought to be, were fanged maws. The creased palms open wide with teeth like a shark, bloodless lips, and a long, prehensile tongue. The twin throats – where did they lead? – opened into darkness as if there were far more space within the thing’s wrists than any humanoid form could contain.

It cleared the distance to Funikoshi in three steps, but before it could reach him the doctor kicked Seabiscuit straight into the thing’s waiting arms.

Caprice sprayed gunfire into the back of the thing as it begins feasting noisily on Seabiscuit’s face. Temporarily preoccupied, Funikoshi crawled over to his desk and hit a red button beneath it.

The klaxons that were whirling yellow and white, turned blue. New warning sounds, more urgent, began blaring.

One hand interrupted the thing’s eating, still punctuated by Seabiscuit’s horrible screams, to face Funikoshi. “Flooding Magonia will not stop me from feasting on your loins,” it hissed.

Funikoshi paled. “You’re right.” He pulled out a yellow-and-black striped device from the desk. Taking a key from around his neck, he inserted it into the device. The glass top popped up, and Caprice could see it was a bright red button. “But this will.” He pressed it and the light died in his eyes. Funikoshi had just signed his own death warrant.

The lights changed to green. A countdown began on the device. Five minutes. Not enough time to escape. Not enough time to do anything but die.

Funikoshi remembered the pistol in his other hand. He pointed it at Caprice. “I’m afraid this facility has been compromised. Nobody leaves. Magonia will be flooded with seawater in the next minute and minutes after that a thermonuclear device will destroy this entire island.”

The faceless hole that was Seabiscuit’s head lolled to the side as the thing tossed him to turn, leisurely, towards Funikoshi. “I’ve still enough time to taste your suffering, good doctor.” It took a lumbering step forward.

Funikoshi put the pistol in his mouth and pulled the trigger, but Caprice was already at the door on the other side of the room before he hit the floor.

The two mouths in the thing-that-was-Boner’s hands screeched in rage at having lost their quarry. But it had other prey. It turned, unhurriedly, to face Caprice.

He tore open the door just in time to see a wave of seawater blasting books, shelves, and furniture down the hallway. You slammed the door shut, but it was a futile gesture. The ocean would not be denied.

Caprice turned to face certain death, sandwiched between a literal rock and a hard place. This was it.

But what was Boner stopped in its tracks. The two gibbering mouths paused. They stretched into awful, terrible smiles. The hands waved goodbye.

And then the seawater splintered through the door.

:cth:

Conclusion
Caprice was propelled forward from the crushing force as the room filled with water. The gasp of air he took before the wave hit was lost as the force of the water battered the air from his lungs. Verging on the gray border of unconsciousness, Caprice could taste the salt of the water in your mouth. It tasted like freedom.

He opened his eyes. He was underwater, in another world where gravity was meaningless. Pens and paper floated aimlessly. Funikoshi’s corpse made a beautiful pirouette. Chunks of trailing red gore, probably Seabiscuit, bobbed aimlessly.

Caprice struggled towards the doorway even though it was hopeless. He could never hold his breath long enough to make it. He wasn’t even sure which way was out. But the opening seemed like a good place to start, and Caprice was’ot willing to give up just yet.

Unfortunately, nobody told Caprice’s lungs about the importance of his mission. Animal instincts took over and he clawed at the ceiling and then, as the interminable seconds tick by, at his own throat. He was an ant covered in a teardrop of water. He was nothing. Caprice curled up to die.

And then he took a gasping, deep breath. He was alive. What the hell?

He was breathing seawater. That wily bastard Funikoshi did more than replace his eyes. Caprice could see that now as he looked down at himself in wonder. His ribcage flutters with huge gills. He was sure he would have noticed that when he changed clothes. His body was…adapting?

The glowing red timer bobs unhurriedly into view. Four minutes.

When Caprice heard a tittering screech behind him, he suddenly realized he wasn’t the only one who could breathe water.

Caprice kicked off my shoes to ditch the extra weight and started swimming away from the creature as fast as possible.

He dove like a fish towards the opening. Caprice had no idea how fast the gas bag of a beast moved, but he got a good idea as he caught sight of its reflection behind him. The answer: damn fast.

It swam like a squid, eye-tentacles darting behind it as it moved in a languid spiral towards him.

Then the water current changed. Suddenly Caprice wasn’t swimming, he was being sucked faster and faster down the hallway. He was dragged through hallways and meeting rooms, to some unseen source. The water lowered enough that he could catch air, which he gasped reflexively. Above water, he could hear the klaxons still wailing.

The safety doors began closing automatically. As Caprice bounced and tumbled through the water, he caught sight of the Ocularon in pursuit. It wasn’t giving up, and even as one door nearly sliced it in half it squeezed through the few inches before the doors sluice closed.

This thing was going to follow Caprice right outside into the ocean, and then it was going to eat his eyes.

Funikoshi’s dead body bounced right along with Caprice. The safety door ahead of him was closing fast and the Ocularon was hot on Caprice’s tail…

Caprice grabbed hold of Funikoshi’s dead body, the bullet hole in his skull still blossoming blood and brains. Maybe there was still one last use for the good doctor.

He could see daylight through the narrowing doorway. Caprice was almost out. There was just one more doorway to pass through after this one.

How much time did he have? Minutes? Seconds?

Funikoshi’s body was surprisingly heavy in the water. Caprice managed to get it between him and the Ocularon. He slipped through the door and realized that Funikoshi wouldn’t make it.

The doors snapped shut, stuck on Funikoshi’s neck. It was a second’s hesitation but enough for the Ocularon to slide through. Tentacles probed the opening and it thrust itself through the slit as Funikoshi’s neck gave way.

SNIKT! The head spun freely on Caprice’s side of the door as it sprayed blood behind it in circles.

Just one more door…

Caprice dove into the last door, every muscle pumping for all its worth. Then a tentacle grabbed his ankle and pulled.

That split-second hesitation jammed Caprice in the doorway. Tentacles curled around his wrists and elbows. He splayed his legs and arms in the door frame and held on tight as the doors begin to close.

Caprice was far stronger than he remembered. The fact he could hold open emergency doors was amazing unto itself – the pull of the current to the outside was in your favor, but soon all the water would flood out of Magonia and then he would lose the tug of war with the even stronger thing trying to eat him.

Caprice was screwed – either the door was going to cut him in two or the Ocularon was going to eat his eyes and then the nuke would go off.

And yet what a way to go. Beyond was the roaring ocean, the blazing sun, the fluffy clouds. Caprice could see the world for miles beyond and it was just blue and yellow and white. If he was going to go, Caprice would die with freedom in his lungs.

Funikoshi’s head bumped Caprice shoulder as it was about to be sucked into the ocean. It looked with an accusing gaze, as if to say – “I may be dead but at least I still have my eyes.”

And that gives Caprice an idea.

Two of the Ocularon’s tentacles reared like serpents poised to strike. They were so close Caprice could see the flexing pincers. And he could see every detail because the pincers were perfectly positioned to scoop out his eyeballs.

Caprice’s arms and legs were occupied so he could use the only tool left – his teeth. He bit down on Funikoshi’s hair and, snapping his head back, flipped up the sopping head out of the water. It wasn’t a second too late as the tentacles plunged deep into Funikoshi’s skull.

Caprice let the head go as the tentacles dug deep. Convinced it had fresh dinner in its clutches, the Ocularon let go.

Caprice had been holding himself rigid between the closing doors with his arms and legs while water tore at him with the strength of the receding ocean. The only thing keeping him there was the Ocularon. When its grip abruptly released him, Caprice was catapulted like a slingshot through a drain.

He flailed as he sailed end over end. If Caprice weren’t capable of breathing water he would have surely have drowned by now. He sailed towards a rusty barred grate…

And SLAMMED into it hard. Caprice’s ribs cracked from the impact but the grate gave way and spun into the ocean with him.

Caprice could tell he was sailing away from Magonia as the water became colder and sunlight streamed down from above. He could do this forever, just float in the peace of the ocean.

A fish darted past. First one. Then five. Then a school. Then a swarm. They blast past him, fish of all sizes, rushing heedlessly past from an unseen threat.

The nuclear explosion reminded him. The shockwave pounded through the water with eardrum shattering force. Caprice’s ears were filled with a high-pitched ringing as he got a glimpse of the bottom of the ocean. He had a first-person view as he rode a tidal wave that sucked the sea clean in its fury.

Caprice blacked out before it crashed back down…
 

talien

Community Supporter
Chapter 70: Third Time's the Charm

Introduction
This story hour is from "Third Time's the Charm" from Cthulhu Brittannica Steve Spisak. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

• Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Sebastian “Caprice” Creed (Fast/Smart Hero/Techie) played by Bill Countiss

When Bill's work schedule changed so that he couldn't play, we considered just killing his character off. But then I had a better idea – what if I ran a campaign by email that just dealt with what happened to him? It wouldn't end well, of course – he still couldn't get his schedule to work – but as I discovered I've run campaigns long enough for Matt to leave for Australia and then return to the States three years later. Never count anyone out for long!

What's fascinating about this scenario is how I was able to manipulate the tension because there was only text descriptions. Particularly because the protagonist begins playing blind, it's very difficult to play this scenario as if the characters were blind unless you have complete control of your surroundings. I don't know about you, but there's no way I could have an audio-silent room – be it birds outside, people in the house, or just other players making noise.

In email, the only noise is in your head.

Defining Moment: Caprice finally tears off his blindfold.

Relevant Media
 Ramsey Campbell's Goatswood and Less Pleasant Places: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product_info.php?products_id=24385&it=1&affiliate_id=34014

:cth:

Prologue

BRICHESTER, ENGLAND— The meager offices of SANE (Students Against Nuclear Energy) were located in a seedy part of downtown Brichester. The small office was manned by a handful of young men and women of college or university age, and was well-stocked with boxes of flyers, buttons, pamphlets, and various anti-nuclear paraphernalia.

Fiona paced like a general commanding her troops at the SANE office. "This is Tim. He'll give us the technological skills we need to get in."

At first Hammer thought she was pointing at a tall, lanky guy with glasses. But then he stepped aside to make way for a precocious fourteen year-old. "Whasssup?" he says, peering at them through hair that concealed his eyes.

“This kid?” asked Hammer.

Jim-Bean ruffled Tim’s hair. “You can’t just be Tim. We’re going to need to give you a code name so you can be a secret agent like us.”

“We’re not even secret agents anymore,” Archive corrected him.

Fiona snorted. "He don't look like much, but he's a crack hacker. We just need to get Tim into here." She pointed to a map on the wall of a manor hour and its surroundings. "This is Kilmaur Manor. It's officially held by the Gaelic Landmark Trust on sixty-seven acres of land. We've tracked the CEO Walter Cargill to here. It's his home." She tapped several black-and-white pictures of Cargill entering the manor house. "But here's the thing – he never leaves it. We have confirmed reports of him entering the manor and appearing within an hour at the Berkeley Nuclear Reactor. It's simply not possible he drove there, and no vehicles – including aircraft – exited his home."

Tim coughed. "Yeah, so uh, we think he's got a portal or something."

Fiona frowned at Tim. "He's right. It's got to be some kind of magic. We consider Cargill a primary target. It's also the last place Guppy was seen. If we get him, we'll find Guppy."

"Thing is," said Tim, "we'll have under five minutes after you enter the manor before security shows up. Everyone there carries a gun. Even the gardener."

"The only way out," said Fiona, "is through the portal – assuming it exists. Or else…" she drew her pistol and checked the chamber. "We shoot our way out."

“You sure you’re up for this Mrs. Jenkins?” asked Jim-Bean. “This could get messy.”

Mrs. Jenkins hefted a submachine gun, loaded it, and cocked it. “You better believe it.”

Satisfied, Jim-Bean turned to Tim. “How about you? Got a handle?”

Tim shot him a broad smile. “Sexwax69, dude!”

Jim-Bean stifled a laugh. “Sexwax it is!”

:cth:

Part 1 – Kilmaur Manor
There were no books about Kilmaur Manor itself, but William Thomas Sangster’s Notes on Witchcraft in Monmouthshire, Gloucester- shire and the Berkeley Region-available at many libraries or certain used book stores-contained a relevant passage that Archive dug up.

Kilmaur Manor was officially held by the Gaelic Landmark Trust as a historic landmark, but it was not open to the public. The Trust received almost 95 percent of its funding from Severn Aerospace, which declared the trust as a charitable tax deduction.

The manor was set in the middle of sixty-seven acres of land and could not be seen from the driveway that approached the front gate.

Kilmaur Manor stood alone. There were no farms nearby, nor were there any other homes. The manor was set a half mile back from the main road amid wooded grounds, barely visible from the road. A graveled drive led to the manor.

Though the building was repaired and updated in the last year, it still showed its age. A balcony ran the length of the roof on one side, and a gravel path led from a modern garage to the double doors of the home.

The manor was updated with all the modern conveniences, but a painstaking restoration ensured that the building retained much of its original appearance, both inside and out. Cargill tried not to upset the simple elegance of the house with such items as big-screen television sets and digital clocks, preferring instead more traditional furnishings.

Archive, Hammer, Jim-Bean, Fiona, Mrs. Jenkins and Sexwax snuck up to the brush. A security vehicle with two armed guards rumbled past. They had deactivated the electrified fence, sniffed out the booby traps, and had the surveillance on a perpetual loop.

“On my mark¬—“ began Hammer.

“Go!” shouted Jim-Bean. He sprinted towards the manor.

“What the…” Hammer swore and followed after the obvious trail of people sprinting from the brush.

“What?” Jim-Bean shouted over his shoulder. “The coast is clear!”

Just then a branch smashed just behind Jim-Bean.

On closer inspection it wasn’t a branch at all but a tall, ropy thing that was roughly in the shape of a tree. It roared in frustration at having missed its prey, and more tentacles from the writhing top of it swung down to try again. This time they smashed through the glass windows in front of the manor.

Shrugging as if to say, “See?” Jim-bean dove through the broken glass. The others followed soon after.

The main hallway was unusually wide and two stories high; a balcony overlooked the hall. The hardwood floor shined as though recently polished. At the far end was a double staircase, one flight leading up to the left and the other to the right. Various paintings hang upon the walls. There were also various items of archaeological interest here: Egyptian vases, Greek pottery shards, Roman coins, and African fetishes. The chandeliers that hung from the upper ceiling used conventional incandescent bulbs, but the fixtures have been crafted to resemble authentic seventeenth century pieces.
Closer examination revealed that the paintings were Kilmaur family portraits-Theodore, Emerson, Emily, along with some aunts and uncles-as well as Cargill’s family.

Writhing tentacles smashed their way through windows and burst open doors. The thing was doing more damage to the manor than they were.

“Basement!” shouted Jim-Bean.

The basement floor was a mixture of concrete and flagstones. This room had a few pieces of broken furniture lying about that couldn’t be restored.

Suddenly, Agent Raphael appeared, sword in hand. "Wait," he said, his other fist clutching a Hand of Glory. "I want to make a deal."

Jim-Bean pulled up short. “Since when you do want to talk?”

Hammer didn’t lower his Glocks. “Talk fast. That thing outside is going to tear this place apart looking for us.”

"The Shaggai have been on this planet for centuries; we are not guests but prisoners, trapped here by the Earth’s unusually high levels of ozone. Only the destruction of the ozone layer will allow us to escape; twice in recent years, at Three Mile Island and at Chernobyl, we have attempted to punch a hole in the ozone layer by causing a full-scale nuclear disaster. On both occasions, however, something went awry and we failed to open the hole. Now a third attempt is about to be made, in the Severn Valley."
“So you’re trying to set off a nuclear meltdown?” asked Archive.

"Cargill purchased the decommissioned Berkeley nuclear power facility. Using L‘gy’hxians to work on the reactor and Xiclotlans as guards, Cargill invited other Shaggai to help complete the project. They were brought together under the guise of the Berkeley Revitalization Conference, in London. His team assembled, Cargill has been modifying the plant. He plans to create an explosive reaction when an Xada-Hagla is summoned into the reactor core. The explosion will allow our temple ship to escape the Earth once and for all."

“So Cargill is one of those brain-spiders,” said Hammer.

"Cargill is one of the Elders,” corrected Raphael. “I am not. The earthborn Shan plan to stay and fight to protect our home. I will tune the teleporter in the next room to the reactor if you give me back the three enchanted blades you have in your possession. They are critical in our war against PISCES. If not…" He gestures with the mechanistic hand in his grip, "There are many other JAGUAR strike teams converging on here any moment. They're led by Sarah Moore. She was from our psychic class, you'll recall. She was the most powerful of all – more powerful than you, than me, than Knightsbridge. You'll never make it out alive."

“I remember her,” said Jim-Bean. “Lots of fire. Bad news.”

“He just wants his blade back,” said Archive, who happened to wield the enchanted cross-blade he found in the cultist mansion when they encountered Eihort. “I don’t trust him.”

“We don’t have a lot of time here,” said Raphael. “Make your choice.”

“Fine.” Jim-Bean threw Knightbridge’s sword to Raphael, who deftly snatched it out of the air.

Hammer frowned and threw Raphael back his own sword.

Archive hesitated.

“Archive…” said Jim-Bean.

With a sigh Archive handed the cross-bladed sword over to Raphael too.

“Follow me. We’ve wasted enough time already.”

They entered a modem furnace room that hummed away in one corner. Raphael searched the ground until he found an uneven flagstone. He pried it up, revealing a switch. He flicked the switch and the adjacent flagstones depressed and shifted, revealing an opening.

The passage, while manmade, was not made with the same tools or materials as the basement, and was much older. A slippery flight of steps was cut out of the natural rock; the passage wound down and opened up into a roughly circular room with an odd silvery disk situated on the floor. The disk was four feet across, and sat within a pentacle carved into the rock. At each point of the pentacle was a pedestal, almost three feet tall. The top surface of each pedestal was made of the same silvery material from which the disk was made.

“This is a shan teleportation device,” said Raphael. He stood at the center of the disk and stepped on a symbol. An electronic keypad snaked up. “Put your hands on the pedestals.”

“I’m tuning it to the coordinates.” Raphael tapped several keys, all of them in an alien language. The sound of radio chatter echoed down the passage. “They’re coming.” He turned and drew Knightsbridge’s sword and his own. “Go. I’ll try to buy you some time.”

“You’d better pay attention,” Hammer told Sexwax. “Because you’re going to need to reverse this to get us out.”

“Uh…” was all Sexwas squeaked out before they were teleported into the Berkeley nuclear reactor.

:cth:

Part 2 – Berkeley Reactor
They appeared in a flash inside a small room. Hammer pointed at the intricate symbols on a keyboard identical to the one Raphael had used. “Get acquainted” he said to Sexwax. There was a rack of NBC suits nearby. “Everyone else, suit up.”

Klaxons and lights whirled around them. Mrs. Jenkins shrugged on a NBC suit. Then she glanced up at the black-and-white monitor. “Oh dear…”

An odd, multi-limbed, squat humanoid was walking in and out of the reactor core, its body glowing with radioactive energy.

“They’ve already started.” Fiona pointed at another monitor. Four people in radiation suits stood high above the reactor itself, raising their arms and lowering them in a ritualistic fashion. Their faces were concealed behind masks.

Across all the monitors was a reactor core meltdown warning. Seconds clicked down from five minutes.

“We’re going to have to lower the fuel rods manually.” Fiona smashed safety glass where an axe was stored. “If we can cut the ropes holding the cooling rods over the reactor I think we can stop it.”

“Okay. We’ll try to give you cover.” She pressed the access button and entered the reactor room, h separated area behind radiation-proof glass and metal. Red flashing lights and an iridescent blue glowed within.

The first airlock door opened, admitting them¸ and then closed behind them as the second door opened. Inside blue crackling energy flickered below. In a gas-cooled reactor like Berkeley’s, gas was normally pumped through the reactor and became hot; that gas in turn heated water which boiled into steam. The steam drove the turbines, which produced electricity. The gas returned to the reactor, cooler than it left, and was reheated, so that the cycle continued. The water was pumped to and from the local waterways, and was never in direct contact with the core. Now that the plant was not producing electricity, the turbines lay idle. The Shan were perverting the energy for other purposes.

Before they could make their way across the scaffolding, a square, squat thing clambered up the sheer surface of the interior of the reactor and onto the scaffolding. Hammer didn’t dare try to use his Glocks and they were tucked inside his suit anyway. He doubted bullets could penetrate its metallic hide. It was all blade and claws with no discernible face.

“Archive!” shouted Hammer.

“On it.” Archive stepped forward and presented the Elder Sign, or tried to anyway. He couldn’t lift the amulet outside of the NBC suit and feared irradiating it. So instead he recited the ritual and hoped for the best.

The glowing red spot on Archive’s chest flared to life. The thing reacted instantly, scuttling back down into the reactor like a chastised crab.

Fiona ran over to the multitudinous ropes supporting the graphite rods above and began hacking away.

Jim-Bean concentrated and one of the cultists flew off the balcony to his doom. Hammer charged another and knocked him to the ground. They were swinging what looked like graphite rods as weapons, and he rolled backwards just as one of the rod nearly clocked him in the head.

Cargill rose up in the air, levitating, and pointed at Jim-Bean. Jim-Bean rose up too, his psychic match…then they both collapsed onto the scaffolding, their energies spent.

Hammer kicked the cultist who was struggling to his feet and knocked him over the ledge. He went down screaming.

“You’re too late!” shouted Cargill, clinging to the edge of the scaffolding. “Xada-Hagla needs sacrifices!” Cackling madly, he let go of the railing and disappeared into the flashing mists below.

“There!” Mrs. Jenkins pointed at the ceiling. The graphite rods were supported by dozens of ropes. Far too many for Fiona to cut down in time.

“I’ve got this,” said Jim-Bean. But the structure was massive and even his formidable telekinesis would be sorely tested. He began to concentrate.

Then something clambered up from below, much bigger than the alien guardian Archive had turned. It was an enormous clam shell, scuttling on dozens of chitinous legs.

Mrs. Jenkins picked up the graphite rods dropped by the three cultists. “Go!” she shouted. “I’ll teach this bastard not to mess with the Jenkins!”

The others needed no further encouragement. They knew she had come to this place to die, one way or the other.

The graphite rods above shuddered as Jim-Bean’s telekinetic grip snapped rope after rope.

The clam shell started to open.

Hammer, Archive, and Fiona ran for the door. Hammer mashed the button. The airlock sequence took time to open.

The shell opened enough that a glowing green light emanated from it. What look like malevolent eyes at first soon uncoiled as long, sticky tentacles. Some reached for Mrs. Jenkins, others reached for Jim-Bean.

“Come on!” shouted Mrs. Jenkins. She batted at one of the tentacles as it reached past her for Jim-Bean. It reacted like a snake, whipping around her and lifting her up. She screamed.

The other tentacles continued to snake towards Jim-Bean as the control rods shuddered above. Despite the pain, Mrs. Jenkins managed to lift the three graphite rods and hurled them into the clam shell, straight into the malevolent face.

The reaction was instantaneous. All the tentacles jerked backwards, mere feet from Jim-Bean. He walked backwards as he stretched out one hand, giving the control rods above one final push. Then he turned and ran.

Inside the airlock, he smashed the button. It winched closed just as the spiny structure of control rods fell into the open shell.

The door on the other side opened. Jim-Bean joined the others. “I hope that portal is ready!” he tore off his helmet as he ran.

Sexwax looked uncertain, which didn’t encourage him. “I think I’ve got it working right.”

They all reached the pedestals as the reactor behind them glowed unbearably bright.

“You think?” shouted Jim-Bean. It was the last word he got out before the portal activated.

:cth:

Conclusion
Fiona went through first, then Jim-Bean, then Hammer. Sexwax, by necessity of his role as navigator, was last.

The portal opened a second too late. He hadn’t been wearing a NBC suit and wouldn’t have been able to tap the keys if he had. Blinded, flesh melting, he collapsed.

“Made it,” he gasped.

Fiona sobbed. “Oh Tim. I’m so sorry.”

“I’m a secret agent…now?” he croaked, unable to see whom he was talking to.

“Sure kid,” said Hammer mournfully. “One of the best.”

“Awe…” he coughed up blood. “Awesome.” Then he expired.

“Where are we?” asked Archive.

“Pagamos,” said Fiona, looking around. “Shan Central.”
 

talien

Community Supporter
Chapter 71: Brood of the Beetle

Introduction
You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

• Game Master: Michael Tresca (http://michael.tresca.net)
• Joseph “Archive” Fontaine (Dedicated Hero/Acolyte) played by Joe Lalumia
• Jim “Jim-Bean” Baxter (Charismatic Hero) played by Jeremy Ortiz (http://jeremyrobertortiz.blogspot.com)
• Hank “Guppy” Gupta (Smart Hero/Field Scientist) played by Joseph Tresca (http://www.eyeballistic.com)
• Kurtis “Hammer” Grange (Fast/Dedicated Hero/Gunslinger) played by George Webster

:cth:

Prologue
PAGAMOS— The small Mediterranean island of Pagamos was hilly, almost mountainous, and everything seemed to be covered with thick endless woods through which the roads cut narrow trails. There were very few clearings in the woods, but the views from the hills were very good. They caught an impressive sight of wooded slopes snuggling together all around, between sometimes gentle, sometimes deeply cut valleys through which narrow brooks rushed. It was summery warm, with bees and other insects humming around everywhere. There was an intense feeling of nature. Everything pulsed with a vitality that was lacking in the big cities. The animals were big and well-nourished, the plants tall and intensely green.

They passed a sign that indicated a town known as Stantonville was three miles off the main road. It was in an enclosed hollow, surrounded by thick green woods that stretched out over the high hills that loomed above the town and surround it. A little river flowed through the town, which apparently made its living from forestry. Slightly outside the town proper, directly along the river sat a sawmill, the largest building in town, with "ATKINS LUMBER, STANTONVILLE, PAGAMOS" painted on its side.

“Why would he send us here?” asked Archive.

“We’re looking for Guppy,” said Fiona. “Sexwax – I mean Tim – wouldn’t have sent us here if he otherwise. He must have discovered his location.”

“In brain spider central?” Jim-Bean shuddered.

“Looks like the Shan civil war has reached Stantonville,” said Hammer. He pointed in the direction of the town. It was on fire.

:cth:

Part 1 – Into the Woods
The woods north of Stantonville were healthy and streaming with vitality. The vegetation was very robust, with plentiful green foliage. Birds could be heard, but there didn’t seem to be many other animals.

The varieties of plants were barely recognizable. The condition of extreme growth was inexplicable. Leaves were of an almost black-green color, gleaming like polished wax in the sunlight that dropped sparsely through the branches. Barely a single beam of light could penetrate the thick branches. The ground seemed to be moist and a bit squishy. It smelled strongly of earth, but also of something else that wasn’t easy to place. It was almost like a prehistoric primeval rainforest.

A clearing reveals two high stone crags that rose up over the treetops. They forrned a sort of natural entrance. There was a green tent set up, just big enough for one person. In a ring of stones, someone set a campfire some time ago.

“You sure this is the place?” asked Hammer.

Jim-Bean nodded. “Yep, he was here.”

Hammer sifted through the ashes. “The ashes are old.”

“What was he doing out here?” asked Archive.

“He must have escaped,” said Fiona. “Looks like he was trying to survive out here in the wilderness on his own.”

Hammer frowned. “If the tent’s any indication, they caught up with him.”

In the tent itself, chaos reigned. Even the canned food was partially opened by deft mandibles.

“Look at this drawing,” said Archive. He held it up for the others to see. “Guppy took notes. Called this thing a scorpiopede.”

Jim-Bean glanced over at the drawing. “Looks big.”

“He didn’t draw it to scale,” said Archive, staring down at the drawing.

Fiona looked up at the huge stinger that loomed out of the muck. “Uh…Archive? I think it’s bigger than we thought.”

Archive was snatched up by the pincers of a scorpion-0like stinger. Claws snapped at Hammer and Fiona.

The tail explodes in a spatter of black ichor from a grenade blast. Archive fell to the ground. The thing squealed, the stump of its tail flailing, and then it burrowed back down into the muck beneath the tent.

Jim-Bean cocked the grenade launcher attachment. “We really don’t have time for this.”

Archive stood up, glaring. “You could have killed me!”

Jim-Bean shrugged. “But I didn’t. Let’s go, Guppy’s close.”

Archive wiped off globs of the Scorpiopede’s ichor off his shoulder and followed after him in disgust.

:cth:

Part 2 – Carson’s Creek
They reached Carson's Creek, a crevice cut into the Black Hills by a brook, with steep cliffs on the sides. The valley around the creek itself was washed out flat, covered with grass and bushes. Further back at the northern end of the ravine, it was apparent that a piece of a cliff had fallen off from the cliff foot right into the creek in a sort of frozen avalanche of rubble.

The ground in the valley next to the creek was soft and swampy. It stank, although less of decomposition than of something rotting. A sweet stink filled the whole valley and seemed to affect the senses. There was a sort of black, jelly-like mass mixed in with the riverbank mud and drifting clotted clumps in standing water, a bit like oil washed up on land after a tanker accident.

“This runoff is teeming with life!” exclaimed Archive. A fly lay her eggs on one clump, while unbelievably fat, white maggots were crawling around in another. A little bit further off, one of the clumps burst open and a mature beetle of astonishing size crawled out.

“Gross,” said Fiona.

As they got closer it was clear the entire cliff wall collapsed near the northern entrance to the ravine and an avalanche of rubble covered half the valley. Plants had already grown up through the rubble. The collapse was obviously some time ago.

“The psychic trail leads here,” said Jim-bean. He had discovered an opening quite high up on the rubble heap. It opened into a cave.

At the far end of the cave was a metallic wall.

Archive touched the wall. “I’ve never seen this before.”

The metal, of an unknown composition, felt unsettlingly warm and had a dull gray sheen. The round hatch, about 30 inches in diameter, admitted entry into a metal wall that extended down below the rubble. The hatch was unadorned, made of the same metal as the wall, and was open.

“I’ll sniff Guppy out, give me a tick.” Jim-Bean laid both hands flat on the wall, closed his eyes, and…

He woke up to Hammer, Fiona, and Archive staring worriedly down at him.

“What happened?”

“You went into convulsions.”

Jim-Bean felt something wet on his lip. He wiped blood from his nose. “Wow, that’s some bad mojo.”

“Did you get anything?” asked Hammer.

“Nothing but buzzing.” Jim-Bean slowly got to his feet. “And one mother of a hangover.”

Hammer frowned. “We’re going in blind, then.”

“Or what normal people call every day.” Fiona checked her pistols. “Or what normal people call every day.”

:cth:

Part 3 – The Pyramid Ship
They entered a tube-like hallway with a quite low clearance. It went up and down. They followed tube down, and it branched out into a hall. After a whole series of twists in the hall, they reached the next branching off. The tube that branched off the descending tunnel was a short passage that ended in a large portal. The entire arch around the portal was decorated with intertwined maws, tentacles, and ugly heads, all of the same gray metal. In the middle of the door was a triangular slab of green stone, the borders of which were engraved with artistic carvings. They showed an unknown species of insects flying along the sides of the slab in tiny, stylized form.

“Shan,” said Archive.

“Brain-spiders,” grunted Hammer.

Archive touched the middle slab and the whole portal slid silently into the floor, opening the way to the Temple Hall.

Their lights illuminated the enormous hall behind it insufficiently. It was at least twenty feet high. In the background, the metal wall was dented inward and ruptured, with some rocks lying on the smooth metal floor. But it was impossible to look away from the statue that dominated the entire hall. It was an idol at least fifteen feet high. It looked like a slightly-opened clam resting on countless elastic legs. Out of the opening, which was oriented towards the entrance, protruded a cylinder of sorts, on the end of which was a cluster of polyps. It was made entirely of gray metal. At the foot of the idol sat several pointed metal rods about a foot long.

“Xada-Hagla,” said Archive. “If these rods are anything like what we saw at the Berkeley reactor, they might be useful.” He collected the graphite rods.

“We’ve made his acquaintance,” said Fiona grimly.

“What about these reliefs?” asked Hammer. The walls were adorned with metal reliefs all around.

“They depict the history of the Shan – the Insects of Shaggai.” Archive pointed to each relief in turn. At first they showed Shaggai with its countless temple-pyramids, scenes of the Insects' existence there, and their enormous ocean of primordial slime in which they developed. There were bloated, beetle-like beings laying eggs in the slime. Then these images were interrupted by the appearance of a one-eyed planet in the sky.

“Ghroth,” said Jim-Bean.

The ocean of primordial slime began to boil and the Insects began to die off. The Insects were forced to leave their uninhabitable home planet in their pyramids. Scenes of space follow, depicting the countless planets to which the Insects scattered and encounters with extremely strange alien beings.

“Come on, let’s go.” Hammer led them on a tube wining downward.

As they came around a corner something about the size of a pigeon came rushing at him. It was an insect with pulsating feelers, ten tentacle-bedecked legs, scaly wings, and three mouths.

Hammer fired two quick shots in succession, ready for anything. The thing buzzed so quickly it was a blur, dodging the first bullet, but the second grazed it. It spun crazily and Archive finished it off.

It plopped to the ground, dissolving into goo.

“Brain-spiders,” said Hammer.

“Don’t let it go to your head,” said Jim-Bean.

:cth:

Part 4 – The Breeding Chamber
The passageway kept twisting downward. They faced a round door in which there were four small openings.

Archive nodded. “The four rods need to be inserted.” He handed out a graphite rod to Fiona, Hammer, and Jim-Bean. “On my mark. Ready? One, two, three…go.”

They all inserted the rods into the four holes simultaneously. Once all the rods were in place the round door swung inward. Immediately, they were struck by a monstrous stench.

The room they entered was the only one in the ship that was illuminated a little. The light emanated from reddish panels in the ceiling, which glowed weakly and gave the whole room a bloody complexion. Just a few steps into the room, the floor was covered with black slime.

It got deeper as they waded in further until were almost knee-deep in the disgusting broth. By crossing through the nauseating slime it became clear that the rear wall of the chamber was buckled, torn open, and crushed inward. Bare earth was visible behind it. The stinking broth was up to their waists.

The view of the wall was partially obscured by a gigantic thing. When standing upright, it was vaguely bipedal in form, with a skeletal, biomechanical appearance in muted shades of black. A segmented, blade-tipped tail twitched back and forth. It skulls was elongated and cylindrical, with no visible eyes. It stood nearly twenty-feet tall, with two pairs of arms, one larger and one smaller. The head is protected by a large, flat crest, like a crown. It rests upon an immense ovipositor beneath its lower torso, similar to a queen termite's. It was connected to an ovipositor and supported by what looked like a biomechanical throne made of a lattice of struts resembling massive insect legs.

Standing in a row in front of the thing were ten people. There were more of them collapsed, half-skeletonized, staring out of the nutrient liquid in various stages of decomposition. The ten men were of different ages, who stood before the black thing facing you. Some of them wore normal clothing, others wore shrouds. In the middle stood Guppy. All their eyes were closed and their skin is drained of color. Their hair hung flat and soaked with sweat over their heads. But it wasn’t hair; just glistening black bundles of tiny tentacles draped over their heads like hair, linked back to the throne upon which the queen sat.

With a giant slurp, the ancient Mother-Being monstrosity rose from the nutrient broth, and the red light clearly illuminated the steady flow of nutrient liquid from the egg sac through which shimmering eggs were visible.

“Light ‘em up!” shouted Hammer, pistols out. A swarm of Shan phased out of the eggs and into the muck, followed a second later by biomechanical forms suited for combat to defend the queen.

Hammer and Fiona picked their targets and started firing. The drones were unhindered by the muck, advancing heedless of the withering gunfire.

Archive started to chant, holding the Elder Sign before him. The Queen began keening loudly in response.

Archive shook his head to clear the cowwebs. “There’s…some kind of disruption field…” He wiped his eyes and kept chanting.

Hammer and Fiona split up, dodging gobs of acid spat by the drones. “Do something Jimmy!”

“I’m…” Jim-Bean was concentrating. “…trying…”

Guppy’s eyes fluttered. Inside, his will had been hollowed out, replace by the Queen’s. He was biomechanically hooked into a computer responsible for Pagamos, but connected much broader to a network of shan all across the globe. Guppy was her hacker, getting the Shan into places they could never have reached before. Jim-Bean could see, through a backdoor in Guppy’s psyche, the terror that gripped the Insects from Shaggai. The Elders were doing their best to leave before Ghroth’s arrival and had bent all their resources to that end, infiltrating government and space agencies worldwide.

“Guppy,” Jim-Bean thought at his friend. “It’s me man. Snap out of it.”

But there was nobody home.

“Fine, if you’re not going to help me you can at least be useful.” He tinkered in the cavernous space that was Guppy’s mind. “Let’s send something back up the pipes to the Queen, shall we?” Jim-Bean gave Guppy a mental shove.

The Queen shrieked and the drones collapsed from the psychic feedback. Rearing up, she detached herself from the ovipositor.

“I think ye made her really angry!” said Fiona.

Free of distraction, Archive completed his chant and flames blasted down upon the Queen. She kept coming, tearing rubble out of her way to reach Hammer.

The Queen lifted up Hammer with one of its smaller claws and Fiona with its other. The great mantled head swung close…

“Go for the eggs!” shouted Jim-Bean. He turned and fired his grenade launcher at a cluster of eggs on the far side of the room.

With a shriek, the Queen dropped the two humans, shaking its head back and forth.

Hammer and Fiona tore off in different directions, firing at eggs as they went.

The Queen bellowed in inchoate rage.

“Don’t like that, hmm? We’ll how about this!” Jim-Bean telekinetically snatched the ovipositor and hurled it into the Queen’s face.

Archive called down another gout of flames just as the eggs hit, igniting Queen and her brood in an unholy conflagration.

The Queen lay in its last death throes, thrashing around, spraying its slime wildly. But then it was finally over.
The moment the Queen breathed its last, the remaining men screamed, pressing hands to ears.

Guppy screamed and screamed and screamed and simply wouldn’t stop. His eyes rolled back in his head so that only the whites were visible. A semi-substantial, dead Insect from Shaggai emerged from his head, fell out, twitched once, and then dissolved into a
puddle of green goo.

:cth:

Conclusion
Archive stood up from Guppy’s corpse. “He’s dead.”

“Oh, no,” said Fiona. “Poor Guppy.”

Jim-Bean was solemn. “He may have been a brain-spider slave in the end but he gave me some really useful info. I know the coordinates of their satellite station. They’re planning to beam instructions using the Pagamos signal array. They’ve got some kind of device…it involves harmonics. It’s complicated.”

Hammer reached down to pull Guppy’s corpse out of the muck. “We should give him a proper burial.”

Jim-Bean put one hand out. “I’ve got a better idea.”

He loaded the grenade launcher and took aim at the buckled wall. The explosion caused the wall to burst open like a fetid wound, gushing the vile liquid and corpses of drone and man alike. Guppy’s body was unceremoniously dumped into the valley below.

When they finally located his corpse, they created a small cairn of rocks over it. It was the best they could do on short notice.

“For Guppy,” said Hammer, Fiona, and Jim-Bean.

Jim-Bean’s jaw was set. “Now let’s go squash some brain-spiders.”
 

talien

Community Supporter
The End of the Beginning

It's been bugging me for years that I never finished this story hour after I finished my last one. The campaign went on for over another 30 chapters, concluding in chapter 104. It concluded with the Mi-Go bringing Ghroth to Earth, our heroes infiltrating Enolsis to reach a series of interplanetary gateways, and ended with a battle on Ghroth itself. Hank discovered his father had mutated into some kind of hybrid creature and was forced to face him down on Ghroth's surface -- and then they were back on Earth, discovering that the final plan was really just to fuel Nyarlathotep's return. He had been manipulating the Mi-Go all along into bringing Ghroth nearby, knowing (or perhaps hoping) it would fail, and used the power to bring one of his 1,000 faces to full avatar form. What the agents misunderstood was that all along the other agents were actually one of the 1,000 faces (which explains a lot -- from their mysterious resilience to the frequent Mythos appearances they encountered). Sacrifices were necessary to achieve godhood, even if that included Alzis sacrificing himself. And oh yeah, it all happened on December 21, 2012 -- and yes, Ghroth was the fated planet of destruction, Nibiru. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nibiru_cataclysm for more details.

So the agents sacrificed themselves, using a guided laser, to destroy the final avatar of Nyarlathotep -- Jim-Bean. The end.

The players were unhappy with the conclusion and the campaign overall, which pretty much ended my in-person gaming. For a full summary of what happened out of the game, please see here: http://www.rpg.net/columns/thehorror/thehorror53.phtml

If you have any questions, you can follow me at:


Thank you for reading!
 

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