TRU Echo

Mission 005: Operation DEEP FREEZE [Session 26]

Mission 005


Session 26

Session Date: 25 October 2012

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station
Game Date: 28 September 2011

  • The group considers its options. Jack suggests checking Bruno’s hard drive to see what they can learn. He, Lincoln, and Adrian begin sifting through countless files, looking for anything beyond the routine notes Bruno made concerning genetics and transgenic fusion of plant and human DNA.
  • Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Martin trace their trail back to the main research station, check to make sure no one is looking for Bruno, and then return to the rest of the group, concealing their tracks as they go.
  • Lincoln discovers an encrypted file which piques his interest. The file is labeled “Project Capricorn” and notes associated with it describe it as Transgenic Plant-Human Modified Organisms [Chimera]. Lincoln and the others decide to wait for Martin to return before trying to defeat the file’s encryption.
  • When Martin and Hawkeye return, the group turns their attention back to Bruno and question him again about the Basement and Red Sickle. Again, he denies knowing again, and again it’s clear he’s being honest about Red Sickle and hiding something about the Basement.
  • The group tries a number of approaches, but they’re not successful until Martin threatens to destroy Bruno’s hard drive and all the scientists research notes. Bruno frantically pleads with the group not to destroy the hard drive. First he gives them the password to access the encrypted file. The file contains a sketch of hybrid plant-human creatures, which Bruno explains are designed to be creatures that can be sent into the Basement without fear of nuclear mutation. He tells the group that the only thing he really knows about the Basement is what he needs in order to create the Chimera creatures. He also explains the research is at the initial stages.
  • The group debates whether they should send the full interrogation to Kuchma or not. Eventually, they decide on sending the file to Agent Fraus with Department B. He receives the group’s message and replies that he will contact Kuchma. While using the research station’s communications to access the internet and send his message, Martin stumbles on a news story that catches his attention: “Antarctic Research Station Attacked.” The story includes a link to a video newscast:
  • Rough home-video images show Ukrainian naval vessels churning through Antarctic waters. One of these is the Kapitan Belousov, and it is accompanied by two other ships that weren’t there when the group was on the Kapitan Belousov. The voice of a female correspondent says, “. . . Kapitan Belousov, shown here in footage taken by an American tourist on a whale-watching tour just an hour or so ago, happened to have been on routine training operations in the Antarctic during the past few days. It was routed to the area when officials first became aware of the situation. It has been joined by two other Ukrainian vessels that were operating nearby. Ukrainian and American officials have spoken, and Ukrainian officials have offered to help with the situation.”
  • The image shifts to the 15 seconds of video footage of TRU Echo interrogating Bruno Pontecorvo.
  • The image cuts to an interview with an American Navy official. “We are very concerned about what is happening at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station. The terrorists appear to be Russian, based on their apparel. Their motives and goals are unclear. We were alerted by the brave men and women who work at the station, and as you can see from the video, they may already have paid the ultimate price. We are on our way to intervene. We are working very closely with the Ukrainians, who were the first to respond to this incident.”
  • The image shifts to the naval vessels once again. Troops from these ships are clearly boarding helicopters, some with their rotors already turning. “Ukrainian troops left just a short time ago, with the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station as their destination. Our prayer are with the captives at the station.”
  • The group realizes they have little time. They start concocting a plan, but Adrian hears the telltale whirring of helicopter rotors nearby. Everyone rushes out of the communications building, where they see two CH-47 Chinook helicopters with Ukrainian markings approaching their position. Hawkeye hides in the snow and takes aim with his sniper rifle, Martin and Adrian throw C4 charges under the landing area of one of the helicopters, Lincoln and Jack take cover and prepare for the inevitable firefight.
  • As the Ukrainian soldiers repel down from the helicopters, Jack fires at one of the soldiers, causing him to lose his grip and tumble to the ground. Martin sets off one of the C4 charges and the explosion rips through one of the two groups of soldiers. Hawkeye’s aim is true, as he shoots through the cockpit and takes out a co-pilot in one of the helicopters. Adrian has second thoughts about detonating her C4, after seeing the carnage and smelling the burning flesh from Martin’s attack. Instead, she just takes aim at one of the soldiers. Lincoln and takes aim at one of the helicopters with his machine gun, letting loose a full burst. A few of the rounds find their mark, but don’t bring the helicopter down.
  • Despite the initial success of the group’s attacks against the Ukrainian soldiers, the soldiers are clearly professionals. As soon as they hit the ground, they collect themselves and start their assault. They focus fire on one member of the ground at a time, trying to take out the most dangerous threat. One by one, they take down Hawkeye, Lincoln, Martin, and Jack. Seeing her friends go down, Adrian runs into the communications bunker, setting C4 shape charges as traps and pulling an unconscious Lincoln with her. She yells for Bruno to take cover.
  • When the Ukrainians appear, she sets of the charges. It rips through two of the soldiers, but more are there in an instant to take their place. Within seconds, they bring Adrian down too.
Mission 005: Operation DEEP FREEZE [Session 25]

Mission 005
Session 25
Session Date: 11 October 2012

Players: Brad, Lenora, Lex, TJ
Location: Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station

Game Date: 25 September 2011

  • During his down time between missions, Jack tries to develop a plan for helping the shapeshifting Basement creature the group encountered at a nearby Starbucks. Jack covers the creature in the radioactive ash recovered from a Basement creature during one of their previous missions, and then puts the Basement creature in a radioactive protection suit. That seems to keep the creature alive, but just barely. When the group is notified by Department B that they’re needed for a new mission, Jack tries to come up with a hasty means of improving the Basement creature’s condition. However, he is extremely limited in his ability to study the creature’s physiology. As such, when he injects the creature with a toxic dose of Polonium, he accidentally kills her. When the creature dies, she – like all the other Basement creatures the group has encountered before her – turns to a pile of radioactive ash.
  • TRU Echo responds to a call from Agent Dolos for the group to rendezvous at the Department B facility in Atlanta. Agent Dolos provides the group a brief on their next mission: Operation DEEP FREEZE. The group is to rendezvous with a Ukrainian intelligence service agent aboard a Ukrainian icebreaker ship in Argentina. From there, they are to travel to Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica. Once at the station, they are to track down an Italian scientist named Bruno Pontecorvo. Pontecorvo is apparently experimenting on genetic or biological weapons under the cover of legitimate scientific research at the station.
  • Once aboard the Ukrainian icebreaker, the Kapitan Belousov, the group meets with the Ukrainian agent, Leonid Kuchma. Leonid provides the group additional background on Pontecorvo. Apparently, the background and tipoff information for the mission came from the Ukrainian intelligence service to Department B, but their background relationship is unclear.
  • Kumcha tells the group that Pontecorvo has ties to Red Sickle and reaffirms that he is developing biological weapons at the station. Kumcha plans to send the group in via helicopter, so the group can fly in low below the radar at the station. He also suggests the group disable to the communications capability at the station, just in case something she happen. He urges the group to exercise caution, because the station is manned by legitimate scientists – mostly Americans – for the most part.
  • The group is dropped off via helicopter. When the group arrived at the station, it was approximately midday. Due to the time of year – late September – the South Pole is in an extended period of twilight as the season shifts. Based on the time of day, the group assumes Pontecorvo and most of the other scientists will be at work. The station has a skeleton crew, and will, until the first airlifts arrive from McMurdo Station, approximately 1,000 miles away, with the arrival of summer.
  • Martin goes to the communications facility, but does not disable the stations satellite link. Instead, he hacks into their local network to try to find out whatever useful information he can on Pontecorvo’s work.
  • Meanwhile, the rest of the group infiltrates the station’s main compound. The station operates with three primary generators and furnaces for heat. The group disables the furnace that supplies heat for the laboratory wing of the station, hoping to drive most of the scientists away so they can move through the laboratories without detection. The plan works perfectly. Most of the scientists leave the laboratories, and the group is lucky enough to grab Pontecorvo as he exits his work area. They take him back into his laboratory and interrogate him about his work and affiliation with Red Sickle. The group had been instructed to film the interrogation and send it back via satellite link to Kuchma. However, the group decides to wait on sending the interrogation film back.
  • After searching through Pontecorvo’s research and stealing his hard drive, the group takes him back to the communications building where Martin is waiting, where they complete their interrogation. Pontecorvo claims he doesn’t know who or what Red Sickle is. He also claims ignorance with regard to the Basement, but the group can tell that he recognizes the term and is trying to hide something. Eventually he breaks and reveals that he is working on developing transgenic manipulation of organisms, specifically trying to fuse human and plant DNA in an attempt to develop hybrid cells, organisms, and potentially creatures.
  • Content with what they’ve learned, the group calls Leoind, and then a tense standoff occurs. The group tells Leonid to send the helicopter to pick them up, and Leonid responds that the group needs to send the filmed interrogation first. Each group claims the other may not be trustworthy. Eventually the members of TRU Echo decide to send a 15 second clip of the interrogation. Leonid isn’t satisfied. He tells the group to send the entire interrogation or they will be stranded at the station.
Interlude: A Friendly Message

Session 24
Session Date: 13 September 2012

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ
Location: Atlanta (TRU Echo Safehouse)

Game Date: 25 September 2011

  • After returning to Atlanta from their most recent mission, TRU Echo takes a few days of rest and relaxation. They meet back up in a safehouse Adrian used in her former life. The safehouse is in Atlanta, not far from the Department of Homeland Security field office, where the secret Department B office is located. However, the members of TRU Echo agreed not to reveal the location of the safehouse to Department B.
  • The group gathers to discuss their next course of action. They have begun to suspect Agent Dolos – their new agent in charge at Department B – may not be trustworthy. During their most recent mission, the idea of investigating Dolos was even raised.
  • Adrian is interested in investigating the disappearance of her brother, Andrew, especially in light of the unusual recent contact by their former handler, Shepherd.
  • Christine Roberts, an intelligence officer who previously served with IARPA, has agreed to stay with TRU Echo and live in the safehouse for the immediate future. Christine has been helpful in the group’s search for clues about the Basement, and she has valuable contacts in the CIA and FBI.
  • The group has also discussed going out on their own to see if they can learn more about the Basement and what happened to Shepherd.
  • As the group discusses their options, the Atlanta Falcons game is on in the background. The Falcons are struggling in Tampa Bay. The roar of the crowd during a big play draws the attention of the group to the TV. Suddenly the video and audio feeds fade to static. A familiar voice breaks into the static:
  • Adrian, it’s Shepherd. Need static find out about Andrew static trouble static Starbucks on Camp Creek static contact static
  • The group instantly recognizes the reference as a Starbucks only minutes from the safehouse and the Department B office. Martin toys around with the idea of checking out the TV for a few minutes, but then quickly changes his mind and joins the group as they leave for Starbucks.
  • The group staggers their arrival. Lincoln gets out of the car early, walks the last quarter mile to Starbucks, and takes up a position outside where he can monitor everyone who comes and goes.
  • Adrian and Christine go in first, grab a couple drinks and then sit down together. Martin, Jack, and Hawkeye all go in separately. Each member of the group is alert, and studies the Starbucks employees and the patrons. The staff are all young adults, dressed in eclectic clothes and sporting the latest teen fashions. At one table, a group of teenagers is playing Magic: the Gathering. Elsewhere, a young mother struggles keeping her two children from destroying the place, a group of business men are gathered around a table studying some architectural drawings, and an elderly man sips his coffee.
  • After ordering his drink, Jack takes up a spot near the cream and sugar stand. When a young, attractive woman orders her drink and then walks near Jack, Jack tries to strike up a conversation. The woman is immediately put off and makes a huge production about how she is being sexually harassed and how it is impossible for her to go anywhere without being bothered. Hawkeye quickly joins the conversation, plays the role of defender and quickly wins the woman’s interest. As soon as the woman shows interest, Hawkeye turns the table, telling the woman that he is married and that he didn’t appreciate her advances. The woman storms out.
  • Lincoln watches as the woman angrily storms out of the Starbucks, slams the door to her car, and speeds off. He wonders what has her so wound up.
  • Jack and Hawkeye take their coffee and sat outside, while Christine, Adrian, and Martin stay inside.
  • A few minutes later, Lincoln, Jack, and Hawkeye all notice a delivery truck pull up. It appears to be a UPS truck, except Jack notices the detailing is a little off – as if it was a UPS before, the detailing was removed, and then reapplied.
  • The UPS, a young, thin, pale woman with wispy brown hair and a pimply face, walks inside, goes to the counter, and asks the Starbucks employees if they known a woman named “Adrian Ashe.” The employees shrug, but then the UPS driver looks around the Starbucks, and her eyes settle on Adrian. The young girl walks over and asks Adrian, “Excuse me, are you Adrian Ashe?” In the girl’s hand is a standard priority-style envelope.
  • On guard, but a little confused, Adrian responds “Yes.” The UPS girl hands over the envelope and immediately leaves. Adrian quickly scans the envelope. It’s addressed to Adrian Ashe, 3507 Camp Creek Parkway, Atlanta, GA; however, there is no return address label.
  • Adrian moves to the door, trying to catch the woman as fast as possible without running to alert the other patrons.
  • The other members of TRU Echo notice what’s going on and all go on the alert.
  • When Adrian gets to the door she’s only a few feet behind the UPS girl. Adrian calls out, “Hey wait.” In response, the UPS girl breaks into a run.
  • Adrian and Lincoln give chase on foot, Hawkeye and Jack run for their SUV to drive after the woman, Martin moves to leave the Starbucks but makes sure to scan the crowd to gauge everyone’s reaction, and Christine is surprised for a moment – not sure what to do.
  • Adrian is the first to catch the girl. Adrian tries to grab her, but the girl expertly deflects the grapple; it is clear to Adrian that the UPS girl is an extremely well trained physical combatant. Lincoln arrives a moment later, and he too is unsuccessful in pinning the woman. People in Starbucks are staring at the scene, not sure what to make of it. From their viewpoint, it seems as if the UPS girl is being attacked. Martin considers the crowd for a moment, but moves up to help his friends. Christine follows.
  • A moment later, Hawkeye and Jack pull up in the SUV. Adrian pulls off one her her stiletto heels and uses it as an improvised weapon, trying anything to slow the woman down. The UPS girl realizes she’s surrounded, pulls out something tiny from her pocket, and swallows it. Realizing that she’s probably trying to kill herself, the group gets desperate. Finally, Jack jumps out of the SUV, successfully grapples with the woman using his cain, and – with the help of the other members of the group – pulls her into the SUV.
  • Hawkeye speeds off. The UPS girl is foaming at the mouth and convulsing, while Jack works furiously to stop her from dying. Just a few seconds later, as the group is pulling away from the Starbucks, Adrian finally opens the envelope. Inside is a manilla folder with a typed label on the tab that says, “Initial Contact.” Inside the folder is a single yellow sticky with a handwritten note. The note reads, “*BOMB*”
  • As if on queue, the fake UPS truck suddenly explodes, sending shrapnel and debris everywhere. Hawkeye turns the SUV around, drives back to the explosion, and he and Lincoln get out to inspect the damage. The rest of the group heads back to their safehouse with the UPS girl.
  • A quick inspection of the explosion reveals the facade of the Starbucks was damaged, but no one was seriously injured. The UPS truck is a mess, but inside, under the wreckage of what was apparently the bomb, is a case. Hawkeye grabs the case, and starts out on foot back to the safehouse.
  • Meanwhile, Lincoln waits for the police to arrive, hoping to misdirect their attention away from the group. He concocts a story about the UPS girl announcing that she had a bomb, and a group of civilians moving to stop her. The police officer – an officer that recognizes Lincoln through their shared contacts – seems little suspicious of the story, but doesn’t push the issue too much with Lincoln, apparently torn between Lincoln’s reputation and his suspicious recount of what happened. The officer does tell Lincoln he’ll probably be back in touch.
  • Eventually the entire group rendezvous back at the safehouse. Jack has worked furiously to keep the girl alive. After the convulsions, the woman’s physical appearance mutates and transforms into a human-Basement hybrid creature. She has the general appearance of a human, but with stark white skin, slits for her mouth and eyes, small openings for her nose and ears, and elongated hands and feet. Based on what the group knows about the Basement, Jack wonders if the hybrid’s physiology would respond to electromagnetic or perhaps nuclear stimuli. The girl is barely alive and fading fast, so the group comes up with a desperate plan. They expose her to the radiated ash from the monster they defeated at the McLeod family lakehouse, and then put the woman in the radiation proof suit they recovered from one of the Ming-fu agents. Jacks listens carefully and believes he can hear a faint heartbeat.
  • With that settled, the group turns its attention to the case Lincoln and Hawkeye recovered from the destroyed UPS van. Inside, they find seven folders. Five of the folders have the characters’ full names on them. Inside is a dossier on each character. The dossier contains their full name, code names, places and dates of birth, family members, and photos, to include some images from recent missions.
  • One folder is labeled Andrew Ashe and has this file:Andrew ashe file
  • The last folder is labeled A Friendly Message. Inside the folder is a handwritten note: Sometimes those who you believe to be enemies are your closest friends, and those who you believe to be friends are the true enemy
Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 23]

Mission 004


Session 23

Session Date: 30 August 2012

Players: Brad, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Interstate 85, from Washington DC to Atlanta

Game Date: 19 September 2011

  • On the drive from Washington DC to Atlanta, the group decides it’s time to question the Chinese man they’d captured a few days earlier. Over the course of the last few days, Jack had made sure to keep the man unconscious and safely locked away in the truck of one of the group’s two rental cars. Jack had made sure the man was fed, but he had not been allowed to leave the confines of the trunk.
  • The group took a detour off I-85 Greensboro, NC. They headed southbound on I-74 to the Uwharrie Natuional Forest. Once they were well hidden on a remote road in the national forest, they took the Chinese man out of the truck. The group took out their guns, hoping to intimidate the man into cooperating as Adrian questioned him.
  • However, the guns were unnecessary. Speaking to the man for the first time, it became clear that something had seriously damaged the man’s psyche. The appeared emotionless. He responded to Adrian’s questions mechanically. However, he only responded to simple, direct questions with short, factual answers. He did not respond to questions that required a subjective or emotional response.
  • Once the group learned the Chinese man, whose name was Ming Tsui, knew at least some information about the Basement and a Chinese organization related to the Basement called Mingfu they set about conducting a lengthy, extensive interrogation. Information the group learned included:
    • The Chinese man’s name is Ming Tsui; he is from Tangshan, China.
    • Jack and Adrian both know a few facts about Tangshan. It is a large (7.5 million people) industrial city in northeastern China. It is probably best known for a massive earthquake in 1976 that resulted in the death of about 255,000 people.
    • Ming claims to work for the People’s Liberation Army (the armed forces of the China)
    • He says that he was sent to “retrieve” Shannon McLeod. He also refers to his job in general as “retrieval.”
    • The unusual, specialized grenade he used in the McLeod family lakehouse opened a temporary gateway to the Subterrestrial Operational Theater.
    • The Subterrestrial Operational Theater is apparently some sort of other world or dimension. There is a gateway to the Subterrestrial Operational Theater called Mingfu in Tangshan, China.
    • Mingfu is also the name of the Chinese organization associated with the Subterrestrial Operational Theater (perhaps a counterpart to Department B).
    • There are also gateways in the United States, Russia, Algeria, and Germany.
    • He did not know where the Gateway into the Subterrestrial Operational Theater in the US was located, but he did know that Department B was associated with it.
    • Ming had traveled into the Subterrestrial Operational Theater over 40 times. Inside the Subterrestrial Operational Theater time was variable. Exposure to the Subterrestrial Operational Theater could lead to serious health issues, which is why he wore the specialized radiation defense suit.
    • He did not respond when asked if Department B was enemies with Mingfu (suggesting the answer was complicated).
  • After the interrogation, the group debated what to do with Ming. It was clear he was mentally broken. The group debated leaving him stranded in the national park, dropping him off at a rest area, taking him to a mental institution, and killing him as painlessly as possible. Christine weighed in, but only to say that it’s possible he may be a good source of information later on, but that would require providing Ming extensive, sustained mental health care. Martin largely stayed out of the debate. Eventually Hawkeye, Lincoln, and Adrian agreed that killing Ming was the best option for a number of reasons. Jack vehemently disagreed and refused to provide the rest of the group with a mixture of drugs that could be administered to kill Ming. Hawkeye eventually killed Ming with a single shot to the head. Ming was left for dead in the national park. Infuriated, Jack smashed a window on one of the rental cars. It is unclear whether the strain between Jack and the others will be sustained.
  • When the group reached Atlanta, Adrian set up a place to stay for Christine at an old safe house she’d use in the past. The group had talked extensively on the way from Washington DC to Atlanta and none of them felt comfortable with Agents Dolos and Fraus or Department B. They agreed that having a safe house they could all use was a good idea.
  • When the group went to report to Agent Dolos, they left out some of the details of their assignment. They didn’t mention what happened with Shannon and the monstrous creature, they didn’t report Shepherd’s strange contact with Adrian, the interrogation of Ming, or their involvement with Christine. They also didn’t provide the samples from the monster or Shannon’s laptop. Agent Dolos was clearly not happy about the group’s failure to bring Shannon back. He dismissed the group and told them to take some leave, with the exception of Jack, who was to conduct follow-up research on the samples from Shannon, the Chinese agents, and the Americans.
  • Adrian stayed after the rest of the group left. She told Agent Dolos that she had chased down one of the Chinese agents and that he had told her many strange things. Essentially she told Dolos the Chinese man’s claims about the Subterrestrial Operational Theater. Adrian was able to deduce that Dolos was at least broadly familiar with the concept of the Subterrestrial Operational Theater. He didn’t seem to doubt her claims at all, and instead pressed her for more information. At the end of their conversation he told her to remain silent about the conversation.
  • While the group gathered together at the safe house, Martin also rented an efficiency apartment in a run down section of Atlanta. Over the course of a day, he moved all of his specialized gear into the apartment and prepared for his most difficult, dangerous hacking job ever. When he was ready, the entire group gathered together as Martin hacked into a portion of NSA’s network from Shannon’s laptop. He only had access to Shannon’s files, and she had apparently only uploaded one file – a map with notes on her research into the Basement. Martin downloaded the map, but as he did so, he was detected by NSA’s cyber security team. The cyber team asked, “Who are you?” To which Martin replied, “#.”

Basement map

Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 22]

Mission 004


Session 22

Session Date: 16 August 2012

Players: Brad, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: The McLeod family lake house – Oakland, Maryland; Washington DC

Game Date: 16 September 2011

  • When Lincoln and Adrian arrive at the house Lincoln helps Jack clean the house of any trace of the group’s presence. Then the group places the Chinese man, now their captive, in the truck of the rental car that had been registered to the dead black man, Garret Jennings. Martin, Hawkeye, and Jack ride in the stolen rental, while Adrian and Lincoln stay in their car. The group decides to head to Reagan National Airport to see if they can find any trace of the trio that escaped.
  • On the road from Oakland Maryland to Washington DC, both groups are listening to a local news radio station to see if there are any reports about the lake house.
  • Suddenly the radio in Lincoln and Adrian’s car fades out, followed by noisy static, and then a garbled message from a voice both Lincoln and Adrian recognize as Shepherd. “Adrian, it’s me Shepherd static warn you static Dolos and Fraus static your brother Andrew static not safe. I’ll try static stay in contact.” Then the radio faes back to the news station.
  • Adrian calls Martin, tells him what happened, and asks his opinion. Strangely, there was no change to the newscast in Martin’s car. He suggests its possible someone secretly placed a radio frequency device in the car and tied it to the radio. The group stops both cars, Martin joins Lincoln and Adrian, and then he sets out to investigate whether a device has been added to the car as they continue toward Washington DC.
  • Despite searching for an hour or so, Martin finds no evidence of tampering with the radio at all.
  • When the group reaches the airport, they pile all of their gear and the Chinese man into Lincoln and Adrian’s car and ditch the stolen car in a nearby parking lot. Martin drops off the group at the airport and then waits with the car. The group searches the airport, but finds no trace of the trio that fled the lake house. The group rents another rental car so they have two legally acquired cars available to them again.
  • The group debates the best course of action for a while. In reviewing the information they’ve compiled, the only lead that seems promising is trying to track down Shannon’s confidant, a woman named Christine who presumably works at IARPA. Especially interesting to the group is the implication that for some reason Christine might recongize the members of TRU Echo, suggesting they’ve met her before. Martin gains access to IARPA’s unclassified email addresses and finds there are three Christine’s with IARPA email addresses. They cross-reference the names with all Christine’s of the same names in the area. They find a few promising candidates and split up to monitor the addresses.
  • The group successfully finds Christine’s apartment, as they see her returning to her apartment at about 7PM. They identify her as the woman who had flirted with Martin in the bar in Atlanta the night Shepherd had taken the group out – the woman who introduced herself as Amber Wilkins and claimed to be a Delta flight attendant. Based on the information Martin gained, the group now knew her name to be Christine Roberts.
  • Adrian knocks on Christine’s door and introduces herself as someone concerned about Shannon. Christine is suspicious but obviously concerned about her friend. Adrian eventually wins Christine’s trust. A lengthy conversion ensues, in which Adrian reveals she works for a secret agency and is concerned with Shannon and Shannon’s research, but never actually acknowledges her ties to Department B and TRU Echo. Regardless, it is clear Christine knows the truth. Christine explains she works at IARPA as a liaison for human intelligence agencies (CIA, FBI, etc) and she agreed to help Shannon try to gain information about TRU Echo in the bar in Atlanta. She also says that Shannon thought the TRU units and Department B were terrorists who had infiltrated the Department of Homeland Security and were working with other international actors such as Red Sickle and Mingfu. Shannon has recently been frightened because she thought someone – probably Mingfu – was on to her.
  • Christine’s trust of Adrian grows throughout the conversation and she agrees to help however she can. In return, Adrian and TRU Echo invite Christine to take some time off and return with them to Atlanta so they can keep an eye on her in case Mingfu comes after her. Christine explains she has a job to, that she needs to report to IARPA that something has happened to Shannon, but agree to return with TRU Echo if they’re willing to wait a day or so.
  • TRU Echo agrees, and they help move Christine to a local hotel where she can maintain a low profile until she’s ready to leave. Within a couple days Christine has spoken with IARPA, the police, and Shannon’s parents and is ready to return with TRU Echo to Atlanta.
  • Operation CERRIDWEN accomplished.
Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 21]

Mission 004


Session 21

Session Date: 19 July 2012

Players: Brad, Lenora, Lex

Location: The McLeod family lake house – Oakland, Maryland

Game Date: 16 September

  • Hawkeye tries again to convince the woman to listen to reason, “I think we’re on the same side her. Are you TRU Bravo?” The blond woman remains quiet, but her body language suggests surprise and recognition. She and Hawkeye continue their standoff, with their weapons pointed at each other.
  • The black guys yells, “Screw this, I’m going in.” He fires a few shots into the door and then charges in. He’s greeted with gunfire from inside the house.
  • The blonde responds by also moving towards one of the house’s doors. Hawkeye shoots her in the leg too, dropping her to the ground.
  • Martin rams the front of the house with the 4Runner, revealing to the group for the first time what’s going on in the house. Inside is a large living room where three men are dressed in advanced protective suits presumably designed to protect them from dangers such as radiation. They are all wielding submachine guns. One of them has Shannon held hostage. The three men are yelling back and forth to one another in Chinese. They are locked in a firefight with the black guy. It is clear from the firefight and posturing that the Chinese men are trying to escape with Shannon unharmed, while the black man and blonde want her dead.
  • The Chinese man with Shannon pulls her deeper into the house, trying to flee the firefight. He is greeted by the white man in black fatigues and hoodie. The white man is wielding a long serrated dagger.
  • TRU Echo joins the fight, and chaos erupts in the three-way fight. The Chinese men gun down the black man; the white man with the hoodie kills one of the Chinese men with his dagger; Jack disarms and saps one of the Chinese men; and the last Chinese man is also gunned down. However, before he goes down, he throws a strange, small cylinder about the size of a grenade into in the middle of the living room. The cylinder explodes, apparently causing some sort of electro-magnetic pulse. The normal shadows in the living room grow larger and darker. Then they take on the form of a monstrous bipedal creature. The shadow creature merges with Shannon and within seconds her body radically morphs into a monstrosity. Her flesh is torn from her bones, and the bones themselves crack and reform. The resulting beast is massive, roughly bipedal, with a gaping maw filled with razorsharp teeth rather than an upper torso.
  • With Shannon destroyed, the injured white woman and the white man with the hoodie flee the battle. They get into the 4Runner and flew the scene, stopping only to quickly pick up another man – a sniper – who had been hiding in a boat house the entire time.
  • TRU Echo is stunned by the creature’s terrifying aura for a few second, as each member tries to battle through the fear and surprise of seeing the unnatural beast. Martin fills the creature with bullets while Jack nimble dodges the creature’s attacks. Meanwhile, Hawkeye runs down the 4Runner, jumps onto it, and tries to smash open the front windshield. Unfortunately he is thrown from the vehicle.
  • Martin’s bullets seem to have little affect on the creature, so he and Jack begin to flee. Fortunately, just like in the bunker under the camp in Algeria, the beast collapses and turns into a pile of decayed material and ash.
  • With the immediate threat averted, the group goes about inspecting the house. Jack takes DNA, blood samples, and fingerprints from the black man and the Chinese men. The group also discovers the two cars in the lake house drive way are rentals from a Hertz at Reagan National Airport. The rentals were registered to “Emily Ekks” and “Garret Jennings.” The group finds a set of keys to one of the cars on the black man, leading them to conclude the blond woman was Emily and the black man was Garret. Jack gets fingerprints from both cars.
  • A search of the house indicates Shannon must have recently arrived. The only interesting belongings in the house was Shannon’s laptop.
  • Martin examines the computer. He quickly realizes it’s linked to NSA’s classified network. After successfully using “Taliesin” as the password for the laptop and bypassing Shannon’s local encryption on the computer, Martin finds a number of interesting files. Although very interested in the reference to the Tartarus Program, Martin knows the only way to access the file is to hack into NSA’s network. While it’s possible, it would be very dangerous and he’d prefer to have his full arsenal of contacts and computer equipment to help. Cerridwen programs
  • Hawkeye, Jack, and Martin decide to wait for Lincoln and Adrian to arrive before deciding how to proceed.

Related: Jack’s Journal from Session 21.

Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 20]

Mission 004
Session 20
Session Date: 5 July 2012

Players: Brad, Lenora, Lex, TJ
Location: Hampton Inn College Park

Game Date: 15 September

  • After leaving Shannon’s apartment, the group returns to their hotel and spends the day researching the various leads outlined in session 19.5.
  • Thinking that Shannon’s parent might be their best lead, the group decides to pay her parents a visit.
  • The next morning they drive to Frederick, Maryland. Lincoln and Adrian pose as police officers who claim to be investigating Shannon’s disappearance. Martin, Hawkeye, and Jack wait in the group’s 4Runner, monitoring the situations.
  • Shannon’s mother is home and seems genuinely surprised and worried about Shannon’s disappearance. She tells Adrian and Lincoln that she last spoke with Shannon on the phone during the past weekend (September 10 or 11, 2011). She says that Shannon keeps her work, social, and family life separate. Shannon and her parents speak occasionally, about once or twice a week. Shannon’s mother calls the lake house, but there is no answer. She provides the phone number and address to the lake house.
  • Adrian and Lincoln plant a bug, then stay nearby the house in the Audi so they can monitor who comes and goes. About a half hour later, they hear Shannon’s mom talking to someone on the phone. They can’t make out the specifics of the conversation, but she’s clearly upset. About an hour after that, Shannon’s dad comes home. He and Shannon’s mom start talking about Shannon’s disappearance. Shannon recounts her interaction with Lincoln and Adrian but at some parts of the story she is nearly inconsolable.
  • Meanwhile, Hawkeye, Martin, and Jack drive to the lake house, which is about 2 hours away in Oakland, Maryland. They drive by the lake house to get an idea of the layout and then they park their 4Runner in a nearby secluded driveway. Martin stays with the 4Runner while Hawkeye and Jack move to investigate the house. They sneak through woods, taking a circuitous route to check the area south, east, and north of the house (west of the house is the lake itself).
  • As they move north of the house they spot a white woman with a lithe build and blonde hair moving through foliage near the house, clearly trying to hide and advance towards the house. They continue to watch for a while and then spy a large black man in military fatigues and carrying a sub-machine gun. He too is trying to advance on the house stealthily. Hawkeye and Jack ask Martin to drive up to the house, fain that he is lost, and ask for directions. As Martin is driving up to the house, Jack and Hawkeye spot a third person (a white man in black fatuges and a hoodie) moving up to the house through the trees and brush.
  • Martin arrives at the house, goes to the door, rings the doorbell, and no one answers. Reluctantly, he goes back to the 4Runner. He tries to buy some time by playing with his GPS for a few moments. Then he starts pressing the horn. The large black guy in military fatigues darts out of the woods and charges the 4Runner. Martin steps on the gas with the 4Runner in reverse and goes to the intersection of the main road and the driveway leading to the house.
  • Hawkeye shoots the black guy in the leg. The black guys screams in pain, and stumbles to the house. The blonde woman charges out of the woods and takes up a position outside of the house, pulling out tow handguns.
  • Jack sneaks through the woods, trying to take up a hiding spot near the blonde woman. Hawkeye moves out of his hiding spot, shows his sniper rifle and yells, “We’re Federal agent. Put down your guys.”
  • The black guy and the blonde woman point their weapons at Hawkeye. They both warn him not to advance. Hawkeye, thinking this may be TRU Bravo, says, “I think we may be on the same side,” but fails to persuade the man and woman. Meanwhile, Martin calls Lincoln and Adrian to update them and then drives the 4Runner back down the driveway, through the grass in front of the house, and takes up a position near the blonde woman.
Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 19.5]

Mission 004
Session 19.5 [Between session email exchange]
Session Date: 21 June – 5 July 2012
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Location: Maryland
Game Date: 15 September

  • After leaving the Towers of Westchester, the group returns to the hotel where they’ve been staying, Hampton Inn College Park.
  • The group gathers their evidence and sets to work. Jack focuses on the blood sample from the Chinese man and hair sample from Shannon. With the tools at hand, Jack is only able to learn a little. He is able to determine that Shannon’s hair sample is free of any toxins and traces of drugs, and he can get a good idea of her levels of vitamins and minerals, which seem at normal levels.
  • The Chinese man’s blood reveals extremely high levels of Caesium-137 (radioactive isotope), which is consistent with the analysis of all the members of Red Sickle.
  • The 9mm gun’s serial number was filed off.
  • Research into Taliesin reveals the term is used to describe a number of things (a village in Wales, Frank Lloyd Wright’s home in Spring Green, Wisconsin, pop culture references, etc). However, all of these are inspired by a 6th century Welsh poet who also wrote a manuscript called Taliesin.
  • Taliesin was an early British poet of the post-Roman period whose work has possibly survived in a Middle Welsh manuscript, the Book of Taliesin. Taliesin was a renowned bard who is believed to have sung at the courts of at least three Celtic British kings.
  • In further researching the poet the group learns that according to myth and legend, Taliesin began life as Gwion Bach, a servant to Ceridwen, the wife of a nobleman Tegid Foel, in the days when King Arthur ruled. She was a magician who had three arts she learned: enchantment, magic, and divination. The reference to Ceridwen certainly draws the groups attention.
  • Martin investigates the printer, hoping to recover print jobs from the printer’s memory. He is only able to recover one file. It appeared that Shannon meticulously manually deleted all the other print jobs from her printer’s memory. She tried to delete this file, but Martin is able to restore it.
    • A MS Word document that reads: Christine, I’m leaving this for you as a hardcopy, because I think my email’s been compromised. I think one of the groups…Mingfu, Department B, Red Sickle, Vympel – it could be any of them…are on to me. There must be a leak at IARPA. I have to get out of town and lay low. You’re the only one that knows about everything. Watch out for TRU Echo. They may recognize you, and they may be the group coming for me. Destroy this after you read it. Please keep an eye on my parents. -Shannon
  • Shannon has a brother, Sam, who lives in Spain. He is an architect and single.
  • Martin is able to hack Shannon’s mail, though she did a good job of encrypting it with some of the best commercially available software. Her mail inbox and outbox are clean. However, she has an email in draft. Apparently she was using her email to type notes to herself. By keeping the mail in her drafts, she was able to access the file anywhere, without the risk of it being intercepted. The email notes read:
    • Add to master file at work:
    • Mingfu/PLA – Tangshan (what is at this location?…called a Gateway)
    • Department B – TRU Bravo (New York) / TRU Echo (Atlanta) – possible nuclear plot? TRU Echo has ties to Russia (Red Sickle), Germany, Algeria. Made contact with Orlando Thomas, known spy for Russia based in Czech Republic.
    • Vympel – Group called Red Sickle is somehow affiliated (also possibly affiliated with TRU Echo)
  • Additional possible research: the group can conduct additional research on the gun, bullets, and fingerprints, but not without either gaining access to some police databases or calling in favors from friends. Let me know if that is something the group wants to pursue. Anything else?
Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 19]

Mission 004

Session 19

Session Date: 21 June 2012

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex

Location: Towers of Westchester Park, Maryland

Game Date: 15 September

  • Jack arrives on a red eye flight from Atlanta. Adrian picks Jack up at the airport and rendezvous with the group at Shannon’s apartment.
  • Once at the apartment complex the group splits up. Martin finds a layout of the apartment complex, providing location information for apartment 810. He stays in one of the groups vehicles and tries to hack into Shannon’s internet. Marcus takes up a position under heavy foliage north of the apartment complex where he can keep an eye on apartment 810. Lincoln checks out the complex for security. Adrian and Jack approach the apartment manager about getting a tour.
  • The apartment manager, a girl in her mid-20s named Michelle, seems very eager to please, and readily takes Jack and Adrian to the 8th floor, where they tour apartment 806.
  • Marcus spies someone partially opening the blinds for the door that leads from the bedroom to the patio in apartment 810. Marcus can make out the silhouette of a tall, slender person – probably a man. Jack and Adrian, who were on the patio of apartment 806 with Michelle, also see the man’s silhouette. Adrian surreptitiously calls Jack, giving Jack a chance to excuse himself.
  • Jacks sneaks into apartment 810. He hears the blinds in the bedroom shift. He tries sneaking through the living room and onto the patio. At that same time, the man in the bedroom walks out onto the patio. He looks around; Adrian notices he is Asian, maybe Chinese. The man sees Jack trying to sneak through the living room and he draws a handgun and aims for Jack.
  • Jack moves for the apartment door, Michelle runs, Adrian tries to hide and pulls out her derringer. Marcus runs for the car where his sniper rifle is hidden.
  • The Chinese man notices Adrian and shifts his attention and aim for her. She responds by firing at him, glancing his side. She ducks back inside apartment 806 for cover. Jack hides outside apartment 810, readying himself in case the Chinese man flees the apartment.
  • Marcus makes it to the car, alerts Marin, assembles his rifle, and heads back to the concealment of the woods north of the apartment complex.
  • Martin runs for the apartment complex’s poolside entrance, grabbing Lincoln on the way. They make their way into the building and wait for the elevator.
  • The Chinese man climbs over the patio railing and drops down to the patio for apartment 710. He balances on the railing for apartment 710’s patio with inhuman ease. He jumps down to the patio shoots the patio door out and runs for the door.
  • The “BANG, BANG, BANG” of the Chinese man’s 9mm is followed by the relative thunderous roar of Hawkeye’s high-powered rifle. The rifle round hits the Chinese man in his back and takes out most of his chest. He fails dead to the ground, blood mixing with shards of glass.
  • Jack begins searching apartment 810. Martin and Lincoln arrive on the 8th floor and see Adrian making her way to the 7th floor in pursuit of the Chinese man. Realizing that he’s no longer a threat, Adrian and Lincoln go to apartment 810 to help Jack search, while Martin goes to apartment 710. Martin breaks into the apartment, searches the Chinese man, and finds the 9mm gun and an extra clip, US currency, Chinese currency, and Shannon McLeod’s access badge for IARPA.
  • Jack, Adrian, and Lincoln search the entire apartment. Adrian finds clothes and cosmetics laid out on Shannon’s bed in a manner that indicates she had packed some belongings and left the apartment in haste. Jack takes a couple family pictures off the wall – one with the family at what appears to be a family lakehouse. On the back is a note that reads “At the lake house, October 1997, mom, dad, me, and Sam.”
  • Jack also finds a note hidden under Shannon’s computer desk. The notes reads: “01010100 01100001 01101100 01101001 01100101 01110011 01101001 01101110 00001010”, which the group quickly deduces is binary for “Taliesin.” Jack also takes hair samples from one of Shannon’s pillows. Finally, just as Jack goes to leave, he hears a voice from God (aka, Braon meta-gaming and telling Lex what to do out of character), and thinks to grab the wifi printer on Shannon’s computer desk.
  • Hearing the sound of police sirens off in the distance, the group flees. Jack pulls the fire alarm, creating enough chaos for the group to slip away unnoticed. When the rendezvous, Jack takes fingerprints and bloods samples from the Chinese man’s belongings that Martin had taken.
Mission 004: Operation CERRIDWEN [Session 18]

One year anniversary session. Can’t believe we’ve been playing the campaign this long.

Mission 004
Session 18
Session Date: 7 June 2012

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, TJ

Location: Atlanta, Georgia; Riverdale Park, Maryland

Game Date: 9 – 15 September

Atlanta, 11 September (Saturday)

  • It has been over a week since the group last met with Department B. Since that time, each member of TRU Echo has spent their down time tending to personal business. During this time, Adrian and Meet and discuss the issue of her brother again. They agree the best course of action would be for Adrian to simply go to the Department B facility at the Atlanta DHS field office and ask Department B for help in securing a warrant for the phone records.
  • When they arrive at the facility, they find the nondescript door that opens to the stairs that lead to the hidden Department B facility is locked. Adrian considers trying to pick the lock and disabling the security cameras in the area, but Martin convinces her it’s a bad idea.
  • The two call the rest of the members of TRU Echo and ask to meet. Within a few hours everyone except Jack has rendezvoused in Martin’s hotel room in an upscale Atlanta suburb. Adrian tells the group about her brother and about her concerns that Department B’s facility in Atlanta was locked up. Marcus, whose day job is serving as a security guard for the overt operations at the DHS facility, confirms he hasn’t seen Carla in a few days.
  • Adrian gives her brother’s information to Lincoln. Lincoln calls a buddy on the Atlanta police force and asks him to run the name. Meanwhile the group grabs a meal together and spends some time on the shooting range.
  • Lincoln gets a call back a while later. His friend tells Lincoln there were no results at all for anyone with Adrian’s brother’s name or biographical information.
  • The group then sets out to conduct an analysis of the phone message Adrian’s brother left. Martin sets up the computer software needed to perform the analysis, and then the entire group leverages their individual investigation specialties to decipher any clues. The only information they are able to glean is the call was made from a cell phone in a relatively quiet outdoors environment. There were no other voices on the phone. It appeared to be windy during the call.
  • With very few concrete leads from the audio tape, Martin begins reaching out to his hacker community and asking for help in tracking down the origin of the call. He knows it will take a few days to get the information he needs.

Location: Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations Directorate, Special Agent in Charge Principle Field Office – Atlanta, GA.

Date: 12 September 2011 (Sunday)
Time: 0800

  • Everyone in the group receives a call from a woman which whom they are not familiar. She doesn’t give a name; she simply instructs them to “Come in. We have a job for you.”
  • The group, with the exception of Jack, rendezvous at Department B’s facility in Atlanta. They are greeted by a professional, middle-aged woman who introduces herself as Agent Fraus. She instructs the group to wait for their new handler. Adrian asks Agent Fraus what happened to Carla, and Agent Fraus replies that she believes Carla has either been reassigned or quit.
  • Minutes later TRU Echo’s new Special Agent in Charge, Agent Dolos, enters the room. He greets the group. In stark contrast to Shepherd, Agent Dolos appears very professional. He also seems very familiar with TRU Echo’s recent missions and congratulates them on great work.
  • In the briefing room, Agent Dolos provides the group a briefing packet for their newest mission, Operation CERRIDWEN. It seems Department B has learned who has been spying on Department B and TRU Echo. Shannon Mcleod (who goes by the cover name CERRIDWEN), a former NSA cryptological analyst and linguist who now works for the Intelligence Advanceded Research Projects Activity, has apparently been intercepting the group communications. Agent Dolos instructs the group they are to find Shannon and bring her in to Department B for questioning and debrief. Under no circumstances are they to question her about her activities.
  • The group has IARPA’s location, which is in the University of Maryland’s Research Park, as well as aerial photography and a map of the location. They decide to take a day to let Agent Fraus provide them with fake drivers licenses. In the mean time, Lincoln asks Jack for help in acquiring powerful sedatives, and Lincoln also gets a tranquilizer gun.

Maryland, 13 September (Monday)

  • The next morning Agent Fraus provides the group the fake IDs, and they drive to Maryland in their Toyota 4Runner and Audi A8. They make a few reconnaissance runs around the IARPA facility to get an idea about the level of security. The entire complex is fence-secured with barb wire fence, and there is a guard shack at the entry control point. The group discovers a jogging trail just a few hundred feet east of the IARPA facility. Marcus uses the jogging trail to position himself in heavy foliage east of the facility so he can covert watch as people leave work for the day. He never sees CERRIDWEN.

Maryland, 14 September (Tuesday)

  • Early the next morning Marcus sets back up and watches who comes to work. Once again he never sees CERRIDWEN.
  • Adrian approaches the guard shack in the Audi A8 by herself. She tells the guards she is in town and wanted to look up her friend. She doesn’t offer specifics, but she charms the guard and he tells her to go ahead to the facility’s front desk and ask if she can call her friend from there.
  • At the front desk one of the guards informs Adrian that Shannon didn’t come to work, and in fact she wasn’t at work the day before. He doesn’t know why she was out, just that he didn’t see her come in.
  • The group begins to worry that perhaps CERRIDWEN is on to them, tracking them via their cell phones. They construct an elaborate plan to try to draw her out. They go to the Vietnam Memorial at the Mall in Washington DC. They talk about going to the Memorial over their cells and provide detailed specifics in case CERRIDWEN is listening in. She doesn’t show while their at the memorial.
  • The group then pays a currier to drive to Atlanta and deliver their cell phones to Jack. They instruct Jack to make it look as if the group is going about their daily routine, hoping to trick CERRIDWEN if she is tracking the cell phones’ locations. Meanwhile, the group gets new cell phones.
  • That night Marcus once again watches the compound. Like the previous night, there appears to only be two security guards. However there are security cameras (potentially, it’s difficult to tell for sure, as the cameras are housed in dark globes) positioned around the entire building. The group contemplates a wide variety of approaches to gain access to the building, but they finally decide it might be better to go a different route. Lincoln and Martin are able to find Shannon’s home address through some routine investigative work.

Maryland, 15 September (Wednesday)

  • Early the next morning the group travels to Shannon’s apartment complex, located just minutes from the IARPA facility. Shannon lives on the 8th floor of the complex, and while it is technically access controlled with key cards, the groups sees people regularly “tail gate” after one another. Gaining access to Shannon’s apartment should be simple enough.

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