The Roleplaying Diaries of Bryan Stephens
|Campaign Dates||Summer 2014|
In an unused conference room in a concreate and glass governmental building, four new Delta Green agents await their first briefing. Each had received only the basic instructions to be at this room, on this date, at this time.
Head of this unnamed “unit”, which did not appear on any government records, is Special Agent Fred Hanson. The 38 year old Agent Hanson already has a career with the Department of Homeland Security before selection for this assignment. He has already seen and experienced hard choices in his life. Towering over the rest of the room is Sergeant First Class Zachary Lewis, an Operator from the Joint Special Operations Command. He too has seen more than his share danger in his past, including a horrible extraction leading to the death or insanity of one third of his team.
The only woman in the room is Emily Wagner, MD, on loan from the Cleveland Clinic. Her journey to this room started with a Delta Green emergency. A Delta Green team member was brought to Cleveland Clinic for emergency medical assistance who turned out the team member was a living incubator the while Dr. Wagner was conducting her exam. The Doctor would not let this incident drop, and Delta Green decided to recruit this skilled physician. Alone on the team, Dr. Wagner has a deeper understanding of the unnatural world they are facing. The final member of the team is James “Saul1021” Ballard. Only 24, James is an engineer with extensive computer science skills. He also has a profound interest in conspiracies and other strange mysteries. In a recruitment test called “Locust1013” James was the only person to complete the puzzles, mathematical, technical, and occult based that were littered across the internet. To the rest of the world, the mystery of Locust1013 just faded out, but for James, it was his job interview. He was given agent training and this is his first assignment.
As the four finish their introductions, Agent Harold Simmons comes into the room to give them a briefing. It seems there have been two mysterious deaths at the edge of Death Valley. Since this is on Federal land, the government has authority. Since this is tied up with the strangeness of the now defunct Hunt Electronics Corporations, Delta Green is taking the case. Arthur Hunt was a strange man, who during the 1940s had a growing company. All that changed after the war with an explosion of his main facility. Remains of a Mr. Potter were found near the old site, and one month later, the body of a local artist, Amber White were found. The mission of the team is to head out and find the truth about what is going on.
The team is on a plane that afternoon, headed to the west coast. They draw equipment from the local FBI station and with their black suburban, head out to investigate. Their first stop is Jarvis Green, who owns a local filling station and store “Gas and Sip They investigate the bobcat driven by Potter and quickly see that, despite the local reports, there is no way the bobcat drove over the victim. Indeed, the blood smeared and a urine like substance strikes Dr. Wagner as the markings of an animal. They take samples and find what looks like a giant feather-scale. All that is sent back to HQ for analysis. The store owner notes his grandfather used to work for Mr. Hunt, and the team interviews him. It seems he was a favorite of Mr. Hunt, and the only one willing to tolerate his angry and disdainful nature. It seems Hunt was working on ”Something that will change the world” but he was not clear what. On the day of the plant’s destruction, the man was told to stay home. Th team learns that Hunt was always cold, and liked to be in rooms over 40* C. He had heat lamps and even a sphere build to keep him warm, but in daylight, he wore goggles to block out the light, and seemed to almost be able to see in the dark. He often drew blueprints that he had to translate into English. Never was he anywhere that he cast a shadow. The old man notes he spoke at length with Mr. Potter about Hunt, and that Potter even made recordings. Potter was living in a small home two km for them old plant. And, man is sure that the plant did not explode, but imploded upon itself.
The team decides to drive to the Potter home and investigate. The home is a small house, with two stories and a storm shelter. The group checks out the shelter and sees it looks like it was visited by just one person. Agent Hanson is adamant that the group not separate, and all four search. Finding nothing in the shelter, they head upstairs to the well kept house. All the activity seemed to be in the kitchen. There they find his books, the tapes of the interviews with the old man, and lead gloves for handling radioactive material. Immediately, they look for a Geiger counter, which Agent Ballard finds. It is an older type, but it shows the gloves has some readings. Worried, they check the shelter and find dangerous readings there. Hansen orders a retreat to town to get iodine and request the proper equipment. The group begins to wonder about the actual biology of Hunt.
After obtaining iodine pills and suits, they return to dig up the floor of the shelter. The experienced men do this, while Dr. Wagner and Ballard wait outside. They find a heavy cube of gold, with six symbols on it that is quite radioactive. Agent Hanson takes pictures of all 6 sides and gets it into a lead box. They also find a giant dragonfly, 29” across. Upon seeing this, Dr. Wagner is rocked back, noting this large an insect died out before the dinosaurs died.
Ballard also does a search for the art of the female victim online. One item strikes him as bizarre, called Broom of the Black Pharaoh. The team goes to interview the partner of Amber. She is open to the talk and is quite clear Amber had strange dreams of Egypt and the desert. She liked to go out at night and acted as if “things spoke to her”. She was most excited to have made the Broom, and the team decided to take it into evidence. It is a piece of black wood, nothing like the wood normally found in the area, with a strange whisk that Ballard is sure seems like tentacles. When they take it, Amber’s partner notes that someone from Europe just bid on it.
Ballard does a drone investigation of the place where Amber died and the plant site. During this time, the results from the lab tests come back that the blood and urine are from unknown animals. Ballard searches for information on the symbols and finds information about “Clow” which appears to be a term for pre-human civilization. Hanson is somewhat derisive of the information, noting that if it were real, that the government would have seized it all by now. Ballard is much less sanguine about the abilities of the government.
Ballard offers Drone overflights of the area. Watching the flight, the biology minded Dr. Wagner notes both a large footprint and what appears to be scat. Ballard is unable to get the drone safely down the opening in the desert into the old factory. The group sets up a camera to watch the hole and then goes out during the day to take samples and a cast. They set up a mile away from the site and overnight prepare watches.
Ballard is unable to notice the giant velociraptor charging, but the old hand operator Lewis wakes up and fires at the creature charging them. While Ballard and Dr. Wagner try to help, it is the focused fire of the experienced Sgt. Lewis and Agent Hanson who fill the anachronism with lead, dropping it. It does take a swipe at Lewis but is too staggered by the gunfire to connect. Unlike the other three, Ballard is pretty shaken, having never been in a firefight or any sort of fight before. Even the doctor watched as agents took on a horror in an OR. Agent Hanson helps him with group photos with the beast and gives him a coke saying the sugar will help. Dr. Wagner looks over the body and feels like it was a solo predator. The group rents a trailer and plans to haul it back to town for collection by HQ, which takes a full day.
Ballard reviews the camera monitoring the hole in the ground where the factory used to be, and it catches a giant bug come out of the breach. They hope that it will end up dead, as it is woefully out of its own time.
With the body dealt with, the group heads to the old factory site, taking their radiation gear. At the hole itself, there is a strange red flower with an odd smell. It is clearly an early type of flower and it is killing bugs around it and their bodies are covered in spores. The group dons their gear to head down. Inside there is a stream of water that rises and falls over time. Sgt Lewis hears an odd clicking, and ahead they find a sears diehard batter hooked up to a makeshift Geiger counter. The radiation seems to be going up and down. Moving deeper, they find a room with a partially exposed gate, but part of the ground is loose, and they slip, with Dr. Wagner tearing her suit. Sgt. Lewis and Ballard simultaneously say the “out” and the group starts to leave. Dr. Wagner suggests she leaves on her down, but Agent Hanson overrules that and the four head back out. Agent Hanson tries to take pictures as they leave, but that does not work as something from the gate seems to stop the camera. Dr. Wagner immediately goes through decontamination procedures and Ballard says they need new suits now these are contaminated, explaining the most radioactive waste is this sort of boring stuff.
Regrouping, the team goes over Potter’s notes, and discovers he was able to chart the rise and fall of the radiation in a cycle over several hours, including time when it was not radioactive at all. The translation on the cube symbols also comes back:
|Asa||“The West”||“The End”||“The Last”|
|Suu||“The East”||“The First”||“The One”|
|Shé||“The Between”||“Transitional”||“The Middle”|
|Sek||“The North”||“Above” / “Up”||“Cold”|
|Sesh||“The South”||“Below” / “Down”||“Warm”|
The team decides that the gate is malfunctioning because the cube is out, and that there must be six slots, one for each facing. Their idea is to see which face is missing and put this cube in. Ballard advocates brining the whole hole down on top of it, feeling no one should have this technology. Hanson is surprised by Ballard’s insistence that Delta Green might not be the responsible party. Ballard follows orders and they decide to shut down the gate if they can/
After a three day rest the group gets their new suits and heads down when the radiation is low. Upon inspection, they see the Gate is filled with a deep gray swirling, eddying mist that seems trapped in the archway itself. There are places for cubes, with one at the top and others buried. The group assumes there are 6 slots and start to uncover it. Agent Hanson and Sgt. Lewis dig, while Agent Ballard holds the Geiger counter and he and Dr. Wagner sit in overwatch. Uncovering the gate, they find that it only has three cubes, two set to the “Asa” setting. Agent Ballard takes the Cube while the others cover the gate with guns, and places it in the same configuration as the others. The mist clears and the gate appears to shut down.
The radiation stops, and the group now can take pictures of the gate. They summon their DG team to come clean up the site and the group heads back to DC to recover and train. After two weeks, they meet again with Agent Simmons in a hotel room in Virginia. He is clearly pleased with the team, and Agent Ballard is pleased to see this time there are Krispy Creams. Agent Simmons tells them there has been a racially motivated attack in Tampa Florida that seems linked to the occult. This group is being sent in.
|Campaign Dates||Summer 2014|
Finishing their briefing in the Holiday Inn amid a Real Estate convention the team researches the information provided while they wait for their flight. The symbol on the door is related to a Greek Mystery cult of Kose, an early version of Persephone. No on expects whatever the team will encounter to be anything like that goddess.
Upon arriving at the house, Agent Hanson notes the mark on the door appears to be made by a claw, and was covered in blood and other smeared animal substances. Those have been removed with an industrial cleaner, and a new door ordered. This symbol has shown up before in relation to cultist in Chicago in the late 90s.
The group interviews the family, staring with the father. The Bernier family is composed of Timothy, Black Male 49, Evelyn, white female 42, Chad, Black Male aged 16, and Kathryn Black female aged 10. Kathryn is also completely deaf. Mr. Bernier works for a tech firm, and Evelyn with the police.
At first Evelyn is not at home and is out shopping. Mr. Bernier relates feeling attacked by the racist groups and is quite down on the people of the area. With his North GA accent, James decides to keep his mouth mostly shut. The wife comes home as the interview continues, and it becomes clear that the two children do not seem to be of mixed race. Mr. Bernier relates that their mother, Sarah Garrison, also a police officer, who started to abuse the kids and he left her and remarried quite some time ago. When Ms. Bernier arrives, Mr. Bernier looks relieved and while James helps Chad put away the groceries, she talks to the others. She is sure something is wrong in the house and is sure someone who left the mark will come back.
The group looks around, and Dr. Wagner talks to the children, asking Chad to help translate. Chad says he hears things at night. She notes an odd crack in a metal mirror, maybe a scratch? Emily talks about her friend “Sweetness” who is coming for her soon and will take her through the mirrors. While Chad is trying to say he thinks this is an imaginary friend, Emily is not so sure.
James and Dr. Wagner are adamant that the family be moved to another location. James proposes wiring up the house after they leave to see if a visitor shows up. While they make these arrangements, Agent Hanson reaches out to find out information on Sarah Garrison but is stonewalled. It seems she did encounter the cultists and there was some cover up. Hanson changes tactics to persuade local agents to give him more information. It seems Garrison is running out of money, is a recluse and not well. She is only ever in her apartment or going to a storage facility. James is unable to further trace her with financial tracking. Hanson is able to get more information that her partner was killed.
The team decides to check out Chicago and arranges for a commercial flight. With the local police moving the family (always willing to take care of one of their own), James leaves the house rigged for surveillance. James and Hanson get into a heated argument about keeping secrets and now because they cannot get information, a girl’s life is at stake, with James taking the side of more open knowledge.
The group heads to the storage facility first, to check it out. There they meet Sonny, a white male, Copy of the Constitution carrying libertarian. He goes to film the agents and asks for badge numbers and refuses to do anything without a warrant. While he grudgingly agrees to admit that Garrison does rent here, he will not tell them anything else. The group leaves, and James immediately goes to tap into the local system from the outside, easily getting into the security files. They find her unit, by observing her coming and going. Mostly she seems to come at night, around 10pm. As it is only 7:30, there is time. James spoofs the lock and they get inside. Inside is a large obsidian stone weighing over 300 pounds. It seems oddly shaded, and the agents make sure not to touch it. The room also has a dirty sleeping bag and a bucket with urine mixed with industrial cleaner to cover the smell. With some quick research, James recognizes the stone as “the Stone of Yos”, located in post WWII Greece and sold at auction. It was stolen from a museum in London in 1967 and has been missing since. It is linked to the same historical cults as the mark on the door. The team then heads to Garrison’s apartment.
Agent Hanson and Dr. Wagner go to the door to Knock, while Sgt. Lewis and James monitor from outside. James puts up his drone to monitor the situation. Lewis is ready to fire as needed. Garrison responds to the two agents knocking by firing through the door. She then tries to flee down the fire escapes. James relays this information and Agent Hanson kicks down the door and wings her. She is trying to crawl away but is easily subdued. Dr. Wagner stabilizes her and notes she will need to get to a hospital. It is clear that Garrison is sick. She has not been taking care of herself and she has been just eating junk food. The inside of the apartment has rotting food, plastic bags strewn around, discarded soda bottles and other filth. It is clear that garrison has not been sleeping here. On the wall is a map of the eastern United States. It is covered with thumbtacks and strings between them leading down from Chicago across the Southeast. Once in the deep south, somewhere in Tennessee, the pins are replaced with the ink of a red pin. Past Alabama there is just a messy scrawl of writing that is clearly some sort of incantation:
The door. The key. The keyhole. Are the same. Open the way for me now. The living. The dead. The dying. Are all the same. Open the way for me now. Praises to YogSothoth. Praises to his name. Open the way for me now
Upon questioning, Garrison is clearly insane. She rants of wanting to see her children, and her plan to take her daughter. She talks of visions of a great city under the sea. It is clear she has been using the artifact to get closer. James’s phone goes off, and he sees a shadowy form in the Bernier house, moving like it is swimming through the air, with no eyes, just a shadow. It is unnerving to James, but he relays the information to the others.
The group contacts their handler to clean up the artifact, which they do with sledgehammers. Garrison is taken to an asylum and the group is able to get a flight back to DC.
|Campaign Dates||Fall 2014|
Summoned back for a briefing at the Holiday Inn, the team meets with Agent Simmons for the next mission. All four agents have been working on honing their skills. This time, The EPA and the Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) are working with the local Sheriff’s Office to investigate a death outside Helena, Montana of Deputy Fred Jacobs (white male, age 37, married, no children). He died 6 days ago form high levels of heavy metal poisoning, cadmium, arsenic, and zinc. This was odd because it was sudden, and usually this sort of thing happens over time. The contamination was widespread. His digestive system showed concentrations of the metals, but so did his other organs. There were no reports of an industrial event or area that would lead to such a sudden increase of metals in the body. His gut bacteria were of an unknown variety that is still alive. The understanding of the contamination is inconclusive.
Agent Simmons also wants the team to explore the local Green Box and see what is there. The team decides a cover story to keep the EPA and DEQ off their backs and out of the way is in order. They opt for a cover story Deputy Jacobs was a secret witness and that DHS expects this was a murder to stop him from testifying. Once in Montana, they go straight to the local Sheriff Potter to check in. He believes the story and assigns Deputy Hayes to assist them. They decide to check on the wife, Christina. They follow Hayes in their car, with James riding with Hayes to talk shop and ask about fishing. Once they arrive, they are starteld to be meet by a pale, gaunt, and very much not 7 month pregnant Christina. She says the baby is sleeping. Sgt. Lewis and Dr. Wagner go upstairs to check on the child, while Agent Hanson and James stay with the mother. The two upstairs notice a strong musty smell in the home. Upstairs, they look into the room, and Lewis sees an odd human form with a partially fungal head. Dr. Wagner, now under the influence of spores in the air, only sees a normal baby. Lewis sends her down to switch out with Hansen, knowing that one of them has been compromised. Wagner talks to the mother, but in her current state, cannot tell the woman is at all crazy, even as she starts talking about going away with the “Star People”. She tells Hanson to head up stairs and follows him to the baby area. Hanson notices the filters are clogged with a fungus and covers his face. As the three talk about that child, James gets the deputy and Christina outside the house. James notices that Hayes is just standing there, dazed as he shrugs off an odd feeling from the strange woman. For her part, Christina walks with determination towards the deputy’s car, keys in hand. James tries to stop her, but she punches him and he dodges but falls to the ground. As she goes to open the trunk, James yells for the others and pulls his weapon, demanding she stop. When she reaches in, James fires, but is still prone and his shot goes wide. The crazed mother now has a shotgun in her hands and goes to shoot at James.
As the others race down from the house, the Doctor stops to examine the stunned Hayes, while Hanson and Lewis take aim at the woman, telling her to put the gun down. Lewis catches her with a great shot, but somehow the woman does not fall, but her shot at James is wild and goes wide. Hanson takes aim and finishes her off. The thing that was Christina Jacobs explodes into a mess of fungal remains. Hanson is somewhat shaken by his taking of a life and adopts a hard demeanor. James stands and is pale at the full realization that she had tried to mind control him.
The group manages to get Hayes back to normal and says that there was a terrorist attack using Ricin and that the area needs to be decontaminated. They head up to deal with the creature in the bedroom, and James suggests shotguns. Once that is delt with and called in, the team wants to check out the dash cam footage for Jacobs. While Hayes says he encountered a drifter, he notes Jacobs was a bit odd about the call in around the incident.
Before hitting the dash cam footage, the team checks out the Green Box. After finding it and getting in, the team finds
The tape has a recording with an unnamed Cree man talking about the “Star-People Song.” The chant is meant to be sung to the Pleiades He claims that his people came down to Earth from that lodge as spirits, and then took human form. In the past the Start People came down to share wisdom or to take people with them up to the stars. He suggests to sing it high up, like at “The Ghost Mountain”. When asked to describe them, he has no good description and says it has been so long they might look like anything. He then sings the chant, which sounds like a Native American chant. The dog tag appears to be US Navy from WWII. James suggests that maybe it was from a sailor on the USS Eldritch the ship in the so called Philadelphia Experiment, where the ship phases and people came back embedded in it. As usual, James knows the bit of mysterious pop culture while his teammates to not. Agent Hanson says they can have the Navy try to match the ID. Searching for ships which may or may not have vanished is not in the scope of their mission.
The next day the team goes to watch the video footage from Jacobs’ dash cam. It is not hard to find. It ic clear that Jacobs saw a man on the side of the road, in the cold without a coat and wet from the rain. Despite Jacobs saying this looked like a drifter, this man clearly was not such. The man had no ID and was confused, so Jacobs put him in the car, but did not handcuff him. The man got out and vomited on Jacobs, who then went to call for paramedics. The man appeared to mind control Jacobs in the same way his wife would later control Deputy Hays. Jacobs stands there as the man leaves, telling Jacob to forget everything, After a few minutes, the Jacobs got back in the car, said it was nothing on the radio and drove off.
The team decides to run the face of the “drifter” and go back to check out the Jacobs home. They find the soiled clothes in the laundry room and figure out that the vector for the infection can come from vomit and the contaminated clothes must have infected Christina Jacobs, as well has her unborn child. Checking on the bodies, Dr. Wagner is able to see they are not decomposing as expected and she goes to make sure the bodies are taken care of by teams.
The team is able to get a match on the face of the “drifter” and it is Dr. Brent McCaslan, a local scientist working for Benthic, which appears to be a clear cover for some sort of DARPA like organization. There is a local lab. The team hits his home, which smells fungal, but he is not there. There is reference to the Devil’s Tower, and again, James has to patiently explain to the rest of the group his cultural reference as he checks the living room for a giant mound of dirt. James takes his computer and hacks it, but it does not have much other than his log ins are remote into a secure location. It does show on his calendar however, that he was visiting the Oakland Pit, a source of heavy metals, regularly for the last two months. While they are there, they get a call their hotel was broken into and nothing was stolen. The team goes back to find the Star People Tape has been played. It appears McCalan needed the song. The group is not even surprised he knew about it.
After checking on their hotel room, the group heads off for the Oakland Pit, a stinking lake in a limestone hole 1000 meters wide and, nearly 300m deep. The water is poisoned with copper, arsenic, and cadmium heavy metals. Strangely, it has a gift shop and a bridge to provide fore viewing. It sells crystals and other trinkets. The caretaker is friendly enough and talks with his accent about people interested in “extromo-fillies” for extremophiles, confusing the agents at first. He is willing to talk to the agents and tell them that a group of scientists were coming in diving hazmat suits to take samples. James runs a drone overflight and can see in the middle there is a glowing fungus about 2 meters wife. The group notes that they now have the explosives to deal with that later. Now feeling the urgency to get at whatever the company has been doing, Hanson leads the team to Benthic corporation. It is well guarded and patrolled. Hanson, in his best form, bullies the head of security to let them talk to Dr. Ghent. She seems reluctant to go into too many details and is mostly mad that Dr. McCaslan is not doing his work. However, as the group questions her, she is unable to stop herself from talking about “Star People”, even if she then tries to brush it under the rug. Her speech revels that she is not in control of her faculties, and the agents place her under arrest. Everyone is sure to stay clear of her mouth, to good effect, because when she is tazed she vomits contamination. The Doctor
James grabs papers from her desk, including a file marked “Do Not Open” and copies her computer files from the unlocked computer. The group secures the room and marches the security chief at gun point to see Dr. Nguyen. The man refuses to give over any information, and the agents arrest him. James goes to check the computer which is running under a erase and reformat. James kills the power and takes the machine to recover the data later. Not using an inside like, Hanson calls this in and the feds descend on the facility. The find hazmat diving suits, which include two that were torn.
It is now clear that there was an Air Force project, code named DANCER, that was looking at extremophiles. It appears that the group here had taken over the project and was running samples on the fungus. Dr. Wagner examines the research and it looks like what they have thought was a fungus is an alien life form, fungus like, but does not actually fit any Earth biological category. In addition to thriving in heavy metals, it, sometimes, appears to have an extradimensional transfer of energy. Alarmingly, even before the two doctors were infected, they were talking about using this alien spore in trials with humans.
The team orders a Be On the Lookout for Dr. McCaslan, with strict orders to not apprehend. They move to Devil’s tower, and James brings along speakers to play music from a certain movie to drown out a chant. There, they follow the doctor’s progress and when he arrives and begins to chant, Hanson and Lewis shoot him dead as the music of John Williams echoes off “The Dark Side of the Moon”. The group sees that some stars in the distance might have moved. Maybe not. Agent Hanson notes he may be moving into the “burn it all” camp.
That night, James solves the mathematical formula in the “Do Not Read” folder and Lewis wakes up to see James madly typing into his computer. Shaking James awake, James has no memory of what he did. He is sure he could go over the math again and understand it better, but James is really shaken by the events and asks to talk to Dr. Wagner. James makes the comment that “Math should not make you go crazy,” and the seasoned Agent Hanson sighs as if to say Welcome to the dark reality, kid. James sends a warning to HQ about the math problem.
With a final bit of research on Benthic, James says that they are linked to the March Corporation. James announces he is going to follow the leads on the connection to the March Corporation and Dr. Wagner asks him to also look and see if there is a Hunt connection. What is clear at the moment is that alien technology and devices are being used. Still upset with his experience over Math, James agrees with Hanson that maybe burn it all makes sense.
|Campaign Dates||Fall 2014|
While Agent Hanson is otherwise deployed, the rest of the team is asked to look into a problem going on in Chicago. A 1990s rave drug called Reverb is back on the streets of Chicago. The agency thinks there is something unnatural about this drug and wants the team to find out, and if so, put a stop to it. James suggests to Dr. Wagner that she carry a full kit, including medications that can be sued to help sedate people and she agrees. In Chicago, the team checks in with the local PD and looks at cases. James does a search of the cases on one pops up, where a man vanished from a room that was destroyed, but there were no traces of blood. Dr. Wagner uses the time to search federal records for the Reverb drug, but finds the files are missing. James suggests paper records at the local hospital, and Dr. Wagner is able to get them in and they spend the day searching the records for paper files. Reverb, it seems, was sugar with a trace element alkaloid that has some psychedelic properties that acted on the hypothalamus. It was derived from a plant, but no one was sure which. Records show it was linked to Vietnamese religious refugees, the Tcho-Tcho and their gang.
They search the crime scene and Dr. Wagner finds an unusual crystal that they take for evidence. As they go to leave, James and Sgt. Lewis hear a body collapse on the third floor. They go up to see a man having a seizure. James calls for back up as Sgt. Lewis goes to to bust the door down, but Dr. Wagner just opens it as it was unlocked. While she stabilizes the man, the men secure the apartment and find a bottle of unused pills. They take one to analyze and will send the rest with the odd crystal back to HQ. They also find some other drugs to warrant an arrest. The man babbles about a vision of Aztek like people killing others in his vision. He seems still somewhat out of it. By now, first responders have arrived to take the man into custody.
Using part of the crime lab, Dr. Wagner is able to identity the pill as having reverb in it, this time enhanced with MDMA. It is clear this substance is back. Wanting to approach the local Tcho-Tcho respectfully, Dr. Wagner gets in touch with an retired older woman, herself a doctor, Trang Duk Bien, MD. She scoffs at the idea that there is anything real with the mystical side of the flower, but does note the drug came from a flower. It contains bits of Liao, the “black lotus”. She shows painting of the held by the god Shukoran, with midnight-black skin and an elephant-trunk face and it looks like a deep purple lotus. It comes from the Himalayas and is supposed to be named after a Chinese alchemist who is said to have discovered its powers. It is sacred to the Tcho-Tchos since time immemorial and used in small amounts in ceremonies. She is quite clear its use as a drug is wrong, and she was glad it was cleaned up. She is not happy to hear it might be back out. She notes that those who believe such things think that use of the drug can cause the attention of hungry spirits, using the term “preta” from Sanskrit, which James recognizes as angry ghosts, but feels her phrasing is that the spirits are not human. She says that the myth is that either taking a small does and praying for forgiveness or concentrating on an empty void or perfect sphere will confuse the spirit. Of the three, James takes this seriously and pales. Dr. Bien is not taking is seriously, so James shows her footage of the Shadowman, which see seems to dismiss but does say she will talk to her people. They group leaves.
Once in the car, Lewis dressed down James for breach of secure information. James is aghast at the further implications of his actions, including that this innocent women might be killed for such a thing by cultists. His is subdued and quiet thereafter. At the station, the group interviews the man they caught, Damian Lucis, who is quite the minor criminal. Lewis hits him with all the federal charges and Lucas is more than willing to sell out his supplier, “Spider J” and how he defends himself. The man is really, : Jacob Silas Simmons, former Army Vet who then worked for Blackwater. He had multiple tours in Afghanistan, but was court martialed for suspicion of smuggling. He beat the reap and was discharged.
The team tracks him down to the Excelsior Hotel, where the man has put up cameras to wifi as cheep security. James easily hacks the system and is startled to find nothing but the cameras on the wifi. There is no monitoring going on. They see his room window is open and James flies his drone up to check the window, and Simmons is lying in bed. The team grabs guns and hits the room via the fire escape. As the men secure the room, noting his laptop is clearly missing. Dr. Wagner brings the dealer around. The first thing he says is that “she” told him all the Liao, but he can’t remember who “she” was other than a Hispanic looking lady, with clear amerindian features. When pressed for where he got the drug, he stays Afghanistan where he used American strikes to kill the elders of the tribe since the youth were happy to trade. Before he can answer any more questions, he has a fit and visions. James starts to record the conversation. Simmons is acting out what appear to be scenes from the past, including a Nazi base in Antarctica, though that part is in German, the HQ translation shows it to be a base taken out in the 1950s. Once event even reminds James of Hunt, whom they suspected of being reptilian, as a serpent man in a lab linking to dinosaurs. It is in this mindset that James first sees things shift.
Simmons screams about it being in his brain and geometric shapes, like crystals appear in space. They form into a bizarre “Hound” and it goes for Simmons. Sgt. Lewis tries shooting it with the automatic gun taken from Simmons with no effect. Both James and Dr. Wagner, not concentrating on gun fire, leap to the conclusion that Simmons’ mind is bouncing through time and this is the “preta”. Already in a poor frame of mind from his security error and believing this to begin with, James utters a cry and falls to the ground in a fetal position. He mutters about the math and geometry coming to life out of his brain. Dr. Wagner grabs the young man to start hauling him out, followed in moments by Lewis, who is an expert at bugging out when it is appropriate. Behind them, there is nothing left of Simmons or the creature.
Making their way back to the van, James trips over Simmons missing laptop, lying broken on the ground. He grabs it and clutches it like a talisman to his chest, still worried about geometry coming to life.
James recovers and the next day is able to get images from the hard drive and they get hotel security as well. The woman on the images is unknown to the databases, but now is on file. They agency can be on the look out for her in the future. When they go back to contact Lucis, they find there was screaming and he vanished. It would appear that he, too, was taken by one of the hounds.
That night, James burns the copy of the math treatise and asks Dr. Wagner if they can talk. Returning home. Sgt. Lewis reaches out to his old comrades to see what information he might find.