TRU Echo

Season 2. Episode 1: The Sickle and Star (Part 2) [Session 29]

Session 29
Session Date: 11 December 2012
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Game Date: 15 November 2012
Location: Jakarta, Indonesia

  • Adrian manages to convince the Transwisata tourist company to rent the group a Super Puma AS 332. Though much larger than the group’s cargo needs – with a capability to hold 24 passengers and 2 crew – the group needs the Super Puma because of its range (851 km). They expect the interception of the Sickle and Star to occur at the eastern extent of the Malacca Straight, which is more than 400 km away.

  • While Hawkeye pilots the Super Puma toward the Sickle and Star with Lincoln assisting as a co-pilot, Martin, Jack, and Adrian prepare repelling gear for the assault on the ship. A short time later, just as the sun is setting, the group spots the Sickle and Star exiting the Malacca Straight. Hawkeye calls back to the group to prepare themselves. Hawkeye prepares to fly over the ship for a reconnaissance pass before returning to lower the rest of the group down on their repelling gear. However, the plan is interrupted, as the group spies a single person manning a crow’s nest on the ship’s superstructure.
  • Hawkeye suddenly tastes a bitter metallic flavor and calls out to the group to see if anyone smells anything unusual. Meanwhile, Jack is hit with a powerful wave of vertigo and collapses, unconscious for a moment. When he comes to, he screams maniacally, “The Basement! The Basement!” He startles the rest of the group with his behavior. They try to settle him down as Hawkeye closes the distance with the ship.
  • A couple hundred yards away, a few members of the group realize the man on the crow’s nest is holding a man-portable air defense system (a handheld heat-seeking missile launcher). Hawkeye, having flown in warzones where these missile systems have been fired against him, feels naked, as the Super Puma has no countermeasures. He prepares himself for the inevitable and sure enough, as he closes within about 100 yards, the man fires the missile launcher. The missile goes screaming past the helicopter, missing by inches, as Hawkeye pushes the Super Puma past its limits by evading the missile. Adrian, Martin, and Jack – who had been preparing to repel down to the ship – are tossed around like rag dolls as Hawkeye tries to regain control of the helicopter. Amazingly, the helicopter sustains only superficial damage from the missile’s fragmentary warhead. As Hawkeye regains control of the helicopter, he positions it over a group of twelve 40’ long shipping containers that are stacked two-high.
  • As Hawkeye is stabilizing the helicopter, he and most of the group spot another man; the man is standing on the shipping containers and looks identical to the man in the crow’s nest. In fact, he is carrying a portable missile launcher and mirroring the man in the crow’s nest’s every action. “The Basement,” Jack whispers, suspecting the man on the containers may be an illusion or some other similar manifestation with ties to the Basement. “The guy on the containers is just a hologram,” Jack warns the group. “Ignore him.”
  • The group prepares to repel down just as the man on the crow’s nest fires another missile. Hawkeye’s ability to evade the first missile had been amazing, but nothing compared to the miracle required to evade the second missile. He is less than 100’ away from the launcher and essentially a sitting target as he hovers over the containers, and yet he somehow manages to once again maneuver out of the way, taking only minor damage from the missile. “Get him!” Hawkeye screams to the group as they began to repel.
  • Martin and Jack are the first down, leading the way with shot after shot from their pistols. Adrian follows, also wielding a pistol. Jack is the last one out of the helicopter, but he too comes out shooting – first using a hunting rifle and then switching to a shotgun. The group concentrates fire first on the man in the crow’s nest and then on two thugs that appear from a door leading into the ship’s superstructure. As the group descends down to the containers, their suspicions of the illusionary man and their proximity to him seems to overcome any mental influence the image has, and it slowly fades out of their vision. Before the illusionary man fades away, the group notices he mirrors the pain the man in the crow’s nest feels when he is shot. They also notice he has Hawkeye’s rifle – Jenny – slung over his shoulder. The man in the crow’s nest gives a good fight before going down, firing a few shots from Jenny at the Super Puma. The shots ring true, hitting the Super Puma’s tail, but Hawkeye is able to maintain control. The man is armed in a bulletproof vest and tough as nails, as he takes shot after shot from the group, but he eventually succumbs to their barrage, and falls lifeless out of the crow’s nest.
  • Hawkeye keeps the helicopter flying, hovering over the ship, as the rest of the group enters the ship’s superstructure to investigate. Lincoln leads the way into what appears to be a passenger area. There the group encounters a couple more thugs but quickly dispatch them. They start to head up a set of stairs to the ship’s bridge, when another man kicks open a door to a side room in the passenger area and opens fire on Adrian. She takes bullet through the stomach before she and the rest of the group return fire, dropping the man.
  • Martin leads the way up to the ship’s bridge. When he throws open the door, Kuchma and two bodyguards are waiting. Kuchma cowers, hiding and pleading for his life in a nasally, trembling voice. Martin and the bodyguards exchange fire. Martin fires two shots which tear through one of the bodyguards but don’t drop him. The bodyguards respond with dozens of rounds from their submachine guns at point blank range. Nine bullets rip through Martin’s body, and blood, flesh, and splintered bone go flying in all directions. Lincoln leads the response, charging into the room, standing defensively over Martin’s prone body, and firing at the bodyguards. He takes one down and injures the other. Jack is next into the room, racing in with his cain and knocking the remaining guard unconscious. As Jack enters the room, he notices his old cain leaning against a computer console next to Kuchma.
  • Kuchma drops to the floor, pleading for his life.
  • Meanwhile, Hawkeye, who had been monitoring the firefight as best he could from the helicopter, looks down to check his gauges and notices the Super Puma’s fuel tank is half empty (or, I suppose, half full).
Season 2, Episode 1: The Sickle and Star (Part 1) [Session 28]

Session 28
Session Date: 6 December 2012
Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Game Date: 10 November 2012
Location: Amsterdam, the Netherlands

With Shepherd barking out directions, Hawkeye navigates the streets southeast of the Hague.  “There,” Shepherd says, pointing to a highway on-ramp, “take the A4 north.  We’re heading to Amsterdam.”
“In this boat?” Martin asks.

“Well, it’s all we got for now.  We’ll find something more…discreet…as soon as possible.”

Jack finally gets Kamal patched up, then yells up to Shepherd, “Boss, it’s good to see you again… the way where in the blazes were you!? What exactly happened at Department B?"

Once he helps Hawkeye get on the highway, Shepherd makes his way to the back of the van.  He rests a hand on Kamal’s shoulder.  “You’re going to be ok.”

Kamal grimaces in response.

Shepherd sits down.  He looks tired, stressed.  “It’s a long story, but I’ll try to be quick.  We can talk about it more in Amsterdam.  I was fired by the powers that be, but now I’m not sure how legit the whole thing was.  I don’t have a lot of contacts back in Department B, that’s just the way things are – very compartmentalized.  But from what I hear there was some sort of internal shake-up around the time I got fired.  Hell, they didn’t even do it in person, just sent me the paperwork.  Now, from what I hear, everything is in shambles because of Antarctica.”

The members of TRU Echo begin to explain the situation, but Shepherd stops them with an upheld hand.  “I’m not saying it’s your fault.  I think it was a setup.  Something about the whole situation stinks.  Anyway, I had to get you out of there.  I’ve still got ties to…well you know now…the Basement.  Sorry I had to keep it from you all in the past.  Orders, know what I mean?  But fuck orders now.  We’re on our own.  We’ve got some friends: Kamal and his buds, Carla is in Amsterdam…there are others.  But it’s not much.  Anyway, something big is going on; there’s a buzz running through the Basement circles like crazy.  I think it has to do with North Korea and Red Sickle – you know, that string we were trying to unravel before I was kicked out.”

“Anyway, Department B is gone.  The TRUs are gone.  From now on, we’re just Echo.”

Shepherd takes another swig from his flask and offers it to the rest of the group.

Hawkeye grabs the flask and takes a long drink. A couple members of the group eye him, a bit surprised he’d drink and drive without hesitation.

As the group continues the drive toward Amsterdam, Martin settles into his seat and askes Shepherd, “Why did you rescue us?”

When Shepherd looks at Martin to reply, Martin can’t help but see how haggard and tired Shepherd looks.  The man – who was probably no more than 40 – looks at least 10 to 20 years older.  Sure the alcohol and Shepherd’s unkempt appearance contributes to this, but there is something else…almost as if Shepherd has lost his vitality, his strength.  "What else was I going to do," Shepherd replies with a shrug and half-hearted chuckle.  "Department B was all I had.  And like I said, there’s something big going on I’m afraid.  I can’t stop it by myself, that’s for sure."  

As Shepherd speaks, most of the group pays him close attention, and it is clear that there is more to Shepherd’s story.  It doesn’t seem that Shepherd is trying to decisive the group,  but rather that his past ties to Department B, and perhaps even the Basement by extension, goes further than his profession.

“This exit?  To Amsterdam?  OK, got it.  Pretty convenient that Amsterdam is spelled the same in English and in whatever the hell language they speak here…I should be able to follow the signs, but help me out if anyone sees anything.  We ain’t got no GPS and I’ve never driven here before, so just keep an eye out for me.

“No offense, but you look like shit, Shepherd.  But it’s good to see you again.  You too, Kamal.  It’s weird to see you without you being mostly dead.

“So, what’s waiting for us in Amsterdam?  And who’s waiting for us?  And for fuck’s sake, tell us everything you know about the Basement, because I think I can speak for the rest of us when I say that we are damned sick and tired of running around like a chicken with its head cut off not knowing what the hell we’re doing! 

“If you want our help, and I’m guessing by the fact that you rescued us from UN prosecution that you must, you need to give us as much information as you have.  What the hell is the Basement.  How do we get there and how does whatever lives there get here? 

“Look, we’ve seen several people, mostly Red Sickle, with strange mutations and powers — is that related to the Basement?  If so, how?  Is that a side-effect or a purposeful change? 

“We also saw a girl get transformed into some kind of beast by a grenade.” [I describe the grenade-thing that transformed Shannon McLeod in some detail.] "What the f#ck was that and how do we protect ourselves if our enemies are wielding that kind of power?

“And finally, what do you know about the current leadership of Dept B.  Because they’re at the top of my Fucked-With-The-Wrong-Person list.”

Hawkeye continues to rant for a little while more before Shepherd can calm him down with another offer of the flask. The two trade the flask back and forth for a couple more drinks before Shepherd discards it in the floor of the van. “There will be time for talking at the apartment in Amsterdam,” Shepherd says. First, let’s get to Central Station, ditch this heap of metal, and get the apartment so we can lay low.”

  • The group ditches the van near the busy area of Amsterdam known as Central Station. Jack cleans the van out, trying to make sure they leave no evidence behind, and they remove the van’s license plate, hoping to buy themselves a little more time before the police find the van.
  • Once the group finds the apartment, which is just a few blocks off the Red Light District, they discover that Carla is there waiting. She eagerly greets Adrian and even seems to be relieved that the rest of the group is ok. Kamal tends to his wounds, gets cleaned up, and tells the group he has to leave. He explains that he was helping Shepherd out as a favor to the group and that the Mossad doesn’t even know what’s going on. Before leaving, though, he admits that he knows about the Basement, and that his assignment within the Mossad is to ensure Israel’s enemies – especially Iran – doesn’t gain access to the Basement.
  • After everyone settles in, Shepherd begins to explain to the group what he knows about the Basement. First, he caveats the information by saying that he has only been to the Basement on a couple of occasions, and both of those times were only for a brief period. He explains that the Basement is a sort of world that is somewhat parallel to the “normal” world, though physically linked by subterranean “gateways” created through nuclear testings. Apparently the initial Gateways to the Basement were create by the US and USSR in the 1950s during nuclear subsurface tests. Shepherd goes on to explain that the Cold War was really more about a race to gain access and control of the Basement than it was any sort of ideological, economic, political, or overt military conflict. In the 1970s, when other countries began learning about the Basement and wanting to gain access to it, the US, USSR, and other key nations realized the danger in widespread access to the Basement. This led to the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which the US and USSR sought to use as an instrument to limit other countries’ access to the Basement. In recent years, countries such as India, Pakistan, and North Korea have all sought to create their own Gateways, with limited success. The belief is that North Korea tried to create Gateways in 2006 and 2009 but was unsuccessful.
  • Shepherd goes on to explain that there are three main “levels” to the Basement, which are roughly divided into “Landings.” The First Landing is used as a base of operations for further excursions into the Basement. This is where humans establish base camps with medical, research, and military facilities. This is also where Basement exploration teams deploy out of. Occasionally, Basement creatures venture into the First Landing, but they are weaker there. The Second Landing is where most exploration takes place. On the Second Landing, exploration teams often encounter the more monstrous, less intelligence Basement creatures. This area is “psycho-reactive” in nature, with a morphing landscape that cannot be accurately mapped. The Third Landing is by far the most dangerous, but also the most lucrative for exploration. This is where intelligent creatures have been contacted, and this is where powerful “Artifacts” can most often be found and brought back to the surface world for study. These artifacts are most often objects made of materials not native to Earth and possess strange powers. The Third Landing also features inconsistent physical relativity to the Earth surface world, and can be used to transverse the equivalent of long-distances on the surface world in just a short period of time. Conversely, it is possible to travel for long periods of time on the Third Landing, only to discover that the travel has accomplished little more than returning to an exploration team’s starting point.
  • Prolonged, repeated exposure to the Basement almost always leads to physical transformation, manifestation of mutations, and the occasional development of a Basement-like supernatural ability. The most common physical traits are nuclear burns, elongated body parts, exaggerated facial features, and coloration changes in the skin, hair, eyes, etc. More radical changes are possible with increased exposure, especially on the Second and Third Landings.
  • Shepherd’s experience in the Basement came through two trips to a Gateway in Chernobyl. The Chernobyl Gateway, commonly called the Trap Door, is run by a combination of the Russian and Ukrainian mafia and ultimately headed by Ivan Gregori Masarov, the Godfather of the Soviet Mafia. Masarov was thought to have died in the 1990s, but in fact he went into hiding to run the Trap Door Gateway full time. Passage into the Trap Door can be bought for the right price ($50,000 US per person for a week), and Masarov and his men can also be sought ought for information about the Basement, its inhabitants, and goings-on.
  • Taking all this information about the Basement in, the conversation shifts briefly to Adrian’s brother, Andrew, and the Ukrainian ship captain who betrayed the group, Leonid Kuchma. Shepherd reveals that Andrew was originally a member of TRU Alpha and that Shepherd was his handler. It was because of Andrew’s success that Department B recruited Adrian. Andrew eventually transferred to TRU Bravo, which was headed by a friend of Shepherd’s named Carlos Frost. After a stint with TRU Bravo, Andrew was assigned to a Subterrestrial Operational Theater Exploration Team and based out of the Tartarus Gateway in the Nevada desert. Shepherd believes that whatever happened with Department B probably also affected the Basement exploration teams and that Andrew may have been trying to warn Adrian. Shepherd is also worried that Andrew may be in trouble and perhaps even trapped in the Basement. The only lead Shepherd has to contact Andrew is Carlos Frost, and the only way Shepherd knows to contact Frost is through a special radio frequency transmitter device ties to the Basement at the Trap Door Gateway (the same way Shepherd was able to contact the group).
  • As for Kuchma, Shepherd followed his activities after the incident in Antarctica. Immediately following the incident, Kuchma took his ship, the Kapitan Belousov, to New York City, where it was docked for a few days. After that, Kuchma conducted operations primarily in the Black Sea for the next few months. Eventually the Kapitan Belousov was decommissioned in the military naval port of Nikolaev. Kuchma then began using a much smaller cargo ship called the Star and Sickle, which was also based out of Nikolaev. Once Shepherd started planning to break the group out of the ICC, he didn’t have time to monitor Kuchma, and so he hadn’t followed his activities over the last few months.
  • The group considers their options. They toss around the idea of traveling to the US and seeing what became of their safehouse, but dismiss the idea because of concerns of traveling to the US. They also debate whether they should spend their limited resources on buying passage into the Trap Door Gateway in Ukraine in search of clues leading to Andrew. Eventually they decide the best course of action is to track down Kuchma and the Star and Sickle so they can interrogate the captain. They are able to dig up a good deal about the ship, to include pictures, specifications used during its initial sea trials, registry information for its current activities, etc. They learn that Kuchma is current transferring classified military cargo from Ukraine to the North Korean port of Songjin. They are able to track the ship via its transponder and learn that it is currently transiting the western Indian Ocean. They deduce that it will likely pass through the Malacca Straight in about four or five days, and so they set a plan into motion to board the ship.
  • Adrian leads the effort in creating false identification papers for the group, to include a pilot license for Hawkeye. Meanwhile, Martin is able to purchase plain tickets from Istanbul to Jakarta using their new fake identities and hide his online purchasing information. The group drives to Istanbul, flies to Jakarta, and then splits up. Adrian and Hawkeye go to a local tourism company, Transwisata, where Adrian is able to smooth talk her way into the company allowing her to rent a helicopter. Meanwhile, Jack, Lincoln, and Martin work the Jakarta black market, meeting up with some street thugs who are able to supply the group with a hunting rifle, a shot gun, six pistols, two bulletproof vests, and some camouflaged fatigues. The group is also able to acquire gear for repelling out of the helicopter and Adrian is able to locate common chemical substances necessary for building a homemade bomb.
  • The group continues to track the progress of the Star and Sickle, and on the evening of the day after they arrived in Jakarta, the Star and Sickle begins transiting the Malacca Straight. The group immediately heads out on the tourist helicopter to intercept the ship.
Interlude: Justice [Session 27]

Interlude: Justice

Session 27

Session Date: 8 November 2012

Players: Brad, Braon, Lenora, Lex, TJ

Game Date: 1 October 2011

The BBC World International Report

  • Officials from the United States Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation have confirmed the five terrorists that attacked Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station and killed Italian-born scientist Bruno Pontecorvo have been captured by Ukrainian special forces. Despite initial assessments that the five terrorists were from Russia and represented some sort of Russian-Ukrainian internal affair, we have independently confirmed all five are American citizens. Early reports suggests they may even be associated with a US government agency. No US agency has confirmed the allegations. However, we do know that after a brief international dispute, the US has agreed to allow the five to be tried in the International Criminal Count at the Hague, which marks the first time American citizens will be tried in international count.

Game Date 3 November 2011

The Washington Times

More than a month has passed and the investigation into who exactly the terrorists were who attacked the US research station on the South Pole continues. According to a source close to the situation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has learned the terrorists were all tied to a small cell of Department of Homeland Security agents that operated out of Atlanta, GA. It’s not clear at this time whether the agents went rogue or if they were directed to attack the South Pole Station by their DHS superiors for some as yet unknown reasons. What is clear is the United States is now pushing for the transfer of the five terrorists from the International Criminal Court at the Hague to US custody – probably to guard against any further leaks that are surely forthcoming.

Location: The Hague
Game Date: 8 November 2012

  • Over a year has passed since the group was captured in Antarctica by Ukrainian commandos. During that time, they were imprisoned in the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) detention center in Scheveningen, The Hague.
  • The detention center has twelve cells, each with its own toilet, washing area, and computer with the ability to view materiel related to a prisoner’s case. The prisoners used shared facilities, such as a dining area and gym, but the group was never allowed to interact or even see one another. Eventually Hawkeye developed a crude method of carving secretive codes into some of the shared areas. Martin picked up on the codes and used his hacking skills to access the internet on the computer in his cell and setup a chat room for the group to secretly communicate.
  • The group used the chat room to stay in touch over the year. In general they discuss what they thought had happened. It was clear that they were set up, but by who? Was it just the Ukrainian captain, Leonid Kuchma, or did the betrayal go back to Department B and Agents Dolos and Fraus? The group also discussed what their story would be when on trial. After some debate, they eventually agreed to tell the entire truth except for any references to the Basement.
  • Jack never participated in the conversations. On one or two occasions he would type something along the lines of “No time now – busy” or simply “The Basement.”
  • In an effort to shift the widely accepted story that the group was as a band of terrorists who had infiltrated the Department of Homeland Security, the group authored a paper describing their account of the events and leaked it to a number of websites. The article claimed that the group was made up of legitimate agents working for the US government against nuclear terrorism and that the group had been captured and falsely accused of terrorism. The paper claimed to have been written by a member of the United States government and was signed “Shepherd.” The story was first picked up by conspiracy theory and anti-establishment websites, though eventually it was widely disseminated on legitimate news sites.
  • Leading up to the 2012 US Presidential elections, the story surfaced again, with the incumbent accused of being weak on terrorism and allowing a terrorist cell of infiltrating the DHS. However, it was clear that the actual issue was still under investigation by the FBI and no other information on the case surfaced.
  • Over the course of the year when the group was in detention, the US and the ICC argued over where the group should be tried. For that reason, the group never had a chance to meet with their legal council. Finally, on 8 November 2012, the group was gathered together for the first time in over a year, and they met with two men: Karl Bachmeier and Kevin Kreiger. Karl was an older German man, and their lead defense attorney. He had been assigned by the ICC. Kevin was a young man, just out of law school, who the US had assigned as its representative for the case. It was obvious that Kevin was out of his league, and the group suspected they were being setup by the US government. Meanwhile, Karl didn’t seem to care whether the group was truly guilty or innocent, he just wanted to win the case. He was a greasy, old sleazy lawyer who dressed in cheap clothing and embodied all the negative stereotypes of a lawyer. When they met, the group made sure to relay their entire story, only holding back information on the Basement.
  • Two days later the group is gathered back together and transferred to the ICC, where they are greeted by a massive group of international media outlets. The story was in the headlines again, and the media was interested to hear exactly what the group would be charged for. Rumors were circulating that the group was responsible for not only the Antarctica attacks, but also the nuclear incident in Germany and many other activities.
  • The legal proceedings are drawn out and primarily concerned with administrivia, however, the court does eventually read off the list of crimes the group is accused with. The list ranges from international and nuclear terrorism, to murder, larceny, burglary, grand theft auto, and countless others. The prosecution had apparently tied the group to their activities in Germany, Russia, Algeria, and even the US.
  • The group pleads innocent to the charges, claiming they were agents of the US government and operating under its jurisdiction.
  • During the trial, the group notices a strangely familiar person in the media. The male members of the group see an attractive woman with an olive complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair dressed in designer quality business attire. Adrian, on the other hand, notices a tall handsome man, who also had olive complexion, dark eyes, and dark hair. Both Jack and Hawkeye have a strange, uneasy feeling about the woman…the same type of feeling they’ve had in the past when they encountered Basement activity.
  • When the group is escorted out of the courtroom, Karl Bachmeier – their German council – asks to speak with them alone. He takes them into a side room and says, “Listen we only have a moment. I know the truth – who you really are. I know all about Department B, the TRUs, and your ties to the Basement. I’m a member of the Dante Project…think of it as Europe’s Department B. We have need of your services. Think about it. If you’re interested, I might be able to get you out of this mess. Otherwise, you’re in jail for life.” Karl is interrupted by guards, who usher the group out of the ICC and back to the police convoy that is suppose to take them back to the Scheveningen detention center.
  • On the way back to the detention center, an explosion in the middle of a busy intersection sends the two police SUVs holding the group reeling, flipping over, and eventually landing upside down. The group is able to escape the damaged SUVs. There are mangled cars everywhere and traffic is stopped. Police officers are getting out of the lead and rear cars in the convoy. After a few moments of confusion about whether they should try to escape, they notice a familiar figure. Standing atop a building in the southwest corner of the intersection is Kamal Jalili – their contact from the Mossad. Kamal screams “Come on!” and then drops down from the building and runs toward the intersection. At the same type, a van whips out of a nearby parking spot and drives into the intersection. Driving the van is the group’s old handler, Gregory Shepherd.
  • The group gets into the van, but not before Jamal is shot by one of the cops. Hawkeye and Shepherd trade places so Hawkeye can drive. Shepherd points out a cache of hidden cache of weapons, and Lincoln and Martin start firing at the police. A chase ensues. Hawkeye has difficultly with the unfamiliar roads and the van’s poor handling. On a number of occasions, the police catch up to the van, but they are quickly taken out by the group.
  • After a tense chase, the group escapes, traveling southbound out of the Hague.
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.

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