Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: July 3, 2004
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Nicholas Connelly, codename MICHAEL (Jason Gallagher); Joshua Frost, codename MORGAN (Jimmy Pope); Carson Kovac, codename MAYA (Alana Goodall)
Agent MORGAN was at work in his office at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta when one of his cell phones rang. The ring tone that played was "It's Not Easy Being Green" indicating that someone was calling him on his encrypted Delta Green phone. Agent ALPHONSE was on the line. "You are invited to a night at the opera".
MORGAN quickly accepted. He was to meet ALPHONSE early the next morning on the National Mall, in Washington, D.C. ALPHONSE would be the man with the flower in his lapel. The A-cell leader hung up.
MORGAN filled out yet another leave slip, handed it in, and took off from work early to pack. On the way home it occurred to the studious forensic investigator that he didn't actually know where the National Mall was. As soon as he got home, he went on the Internet. A Google search showed him that the National Mall was the area in front of the Washington Memorial, with the reflecting pool, and the other national monuments. It was apparently a big tourist destination. Who'd have thought?
While still online, MORGAN booked the first available flight out of Atlanta. He packed a bag, including his digital SLR camera with a long, telephoto lens. He called Agent MICHAEL to let him know where he was going, in case something happened. MORGAN was pumped that ALPHONSE had called him directly, instead of going through MICHAEL. He let his enthusiasm be known.
"Now I know where to send the flowers or donation," said MICHAEL, in response.
They hung up, and MORGAN finished packing. Early that evening he took a plane to Washington.
MORGAN took a cab to the National Mall. Using his camera and telescopic lens, he spotted ALPHONSE from a distance. MORGAN snapped a picture of the Delta Green leader, then moved toward the Delta Green leader, trying to look the part of an average tourist.
"Walk with me," said the elderly ALPHONSE.
ALPHONSE asked MORGAN what he knew about Plum Island. MORGAN answered, explaining that Plum Island is a biological laboratory on a small island in the ocean off New York City. The lab's facilities were rated as BL3-AG (biosafety level 3, with enhancements for testing diseases harmful to agriculture), but because it is on the ocean and physically removed from the rest of the country, it was given the rating of BL5 (which allows it to study diseases not allowed on the U.S. mainland). It is used for doing research on animal diseases, particularly foot-and-mouth disease, African swine fever virus, African horsesickness, and Rift Valley fever. The research is being conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but the island and its facilities were now part of the Department of Homeland Security.
As they walked, ALPHONSE added some details. Plum Island has been the darling of conspiracy theorists for years. The facility has had labor difficulties and safety violations that have concerned some citizens. The lab has applied for money to be upgraded to BL4-AG, which requires even more stringent security and safety features than its current BL3-AG facilities. This confuses laymen because they can't understand that the facility is BL5 (physically removed from the mainland), has BL3-AG labs, and wants to upgrade to BL4-AG; they believe that BL5 is "higher" than BL4, which isn't technically the case. At any rate, conspiracy web sites and poorly researched newspaper articles erroneously list Plum Island as BL4. ALPHONSE glanced at MORGAN before continuing. "Actually, Plum Island does have a BL4 facility..." MORGAN looked at him with obvious interest.
Unknown to most outside of the government — and many in the government — Plum Island has a BL4 lab hidden somewhere on the island. Where better to hide a secret lab than in a place that already has a secure lab? Plum Island claims to hold no secrets, but no one believes them. So why not hide a secret research center "in plain sight"? ALPHONSE did not explain how he knew all of this, but MORGAN trusted his knowledge, implicitly.
ALPHONSE continued. Two workers were killed, one was missing, and six were injured due to an accident on an oil rig off the coast of Louisiana three days ago. The injured workers were airlifted off the rig to the Gulfport Memorial Hospital. A container of some sort was also airlifted from the rig. Confidential sources informed ALPHONSE that the container was taken to the secret BL4 facility on Plum Island.
M-cell's mission was to infiltrate the Plum Island facility and get a sample of whatever was taken to the BL4 lab. ALPHONSE believed the container, and whatever was in it, was still at the lab. He had no idea what was inside the container, or who actually ran the BL4 lab. The reason he needed to see MORGAN personally instead of sending the mission profile by encrypted e-mail was that he wanted to keep the mission "hush-hush" — at least that was the only reason he gave MORGAN. Once ALPHONSE was sure that MORGAN understood the mission, the two men parted.
MAYA was in her apartment in New Orleans. A voice in her purse was singing, "Warning, live without warning." The song was "Warning" by Green Day, an apt ring tone for her own Delta Green cell phone. She answered it.
"Meet me at the National Mall," said MORGAN.
"Shopping! Woo hoo!" replied MAYA. They made arrangements for MAYA to meet him in Washington that afternoon, then they would drive to New York. She hung up. MAYA made the appropriate arrangements to leave work. When she got home she quickly arranged a flight to Washington and packed a small suitcase.
The computerized strains of "Greensleeves" informed Agent MICHAEL that someone was calling him on his Delta Green cell phone. It was MORGAN. Since MICHAEL was at his office at the FBI building in Washington, D.C., it was easy for the two agents to link up. They agreed to meet within the hour at the Washington Hotel. MICHAEL arrived at MORGAN's room, and MORGAN told the M-cell leader about the mission. Late in the afternoon they caught up with MAYA at the National Mall. They got something to eat and then returned to MORGAN's hotel room to make plans.
MORGAN did as much research as he could about Plum Island. Although it was a research facility and, officially, didn't have any secrets, security at Plum Island was tight. At first the agents thought about breaking into the facility, but they realized that none of them knew how to use SCUBA equipment and that the security might be too hard to penetrate.
They began brainstorming other approaches. MORGAN had a contact in the USDA who worked at Plum Island, a Dr. Stephen Bellows. He proposed that he, and two "lab assistants" be transferred to Plum Island "temporarily" to research "the implications of an anthrax attack on the American heartland".
MICHAEL suggested, instead, that they stick with infiltration. He figured they could get a mini sub that would bring them within swimming range of the island. MORGAN stuck to his own proposal. He turned to MAYA and told her that she would cast the deciding vote. MICHAEL agreed.
"Let's go in the front door just this once," she said.
MICHAEL finally acquiesced. He pointed to MORGAN, "Okay, you win, but you get to develop the plan."
"He can't even develop a photograph," shot back MAYA.
MORGAN contacted ALPHONSE. The A-cell leader was guardedly optimistic about the idea. He wanted MORGAN to inform him when he had worked out the details of the plan.
MORGAN logged onto the CDC computer and set up MICHAEL and MAYA as lab assistants. MICHAEL was listed as "Michael Connor" and MAYA was "Mia Jackson". Meanwhile, MICHAEL continued to investigate the idea of using a mini sub. To his chagrin, he didn't find anyone in the New York area that rented mini subs. There was a company in Florida that would sell them a submarine at what MICHAEL thought was a reasonable cost, but they would have to assemble it themselves. Striking out there, he relented and went with MORGAN's idea.
MORGAN phoned Dr. Bellows' house. The USDA scientist answered. MORGAN asked for a favor: he wanted a lab at the facility and sleeping accommodations so that he could do research into anthrax. Dr. Bellows was not sure how long it would take, but he said he would try his best to get MORGAN into Plum Island that week. After he hung up, MORGAN wrote an e-mail to his boss explaining what he wanted to do that week at Plum Island, and followed up with an e-mail to ALPHONSE with their current status.
The other two agents spend the next few hours working with MORGAN, learning how to fake being lab assistants. MORGAN continued this training over the rest of the weekend. Since he put their IDs into the CDC computer, he had the local CDC office make up new identification badges for "Michael Connor" and "Mia Jackson", using the excuse that they lost their ID cards.
The agents continued to "train" at being lab assistants. MORGAN's regular cell phone rang with a boring Nokia ring tone. It was Bellows. He had contacted his superiors. As luck would have it, there were a couple of labs available. They ran security checks with the CDC and everything looked fine so far. Pending further checks, they could get into the facility the next morning. An elated MORGAN thanked Bellows.
The agents grabbed their gear, piled into MORGAN's rental car, and headed for New York City.
The team checked into a hotel on Long Island for the evening. After settling in, they went into New York. The male agents let MAYA go shopping for shoes, and "lab assistant things", which made her happy. They also went shopping for items for the mission. One thing in particular that they were looking for was a PDA-like device for breaking into electronic slide card locks. Unfortunately she couldn't find one of those. She used the cell modem on her laptop to e-mail ALPHONSE, asking if he — or someone else in Delta Green — could acquire such a device and overnight it to her. A little while later she got an e-mail back from ALPHONSE saying that he would see what he could do.
While checking out spyware stores, MORGAN found a place that sold horn-rimmed glasses with a tiny video camera built-in. There were two pairs of black glasses and a pair of dark blue glasses. MAYA hated the look of them. "Colour me contacts!" she said.
MORGAN pointed out that they looked cheap, but deliberately so. People in dangerous locations — like, say, a laboratory testing deadly diseases — often wear cheap glasses that they can be throw away without a thought and replace cheaply if they become contaminated. This made sense to MICHAEL, though he was scared they'd all end up looking like the "horn-rimmed glasses geeks from Atlanta".
MORGAN suggested bringing a gun broken down into three parts, but he was vetoed by the rest of the group.
"We wouldn't have to worry about this if we had the mini sub," said MICHAEL.
MORGAN bought a briefcase with a false bottom, and a fake container of Barbasol shaving cream with room for hidden vials (the label on the can said "As seen on Jurassic Park"). By 9 p.m. they had all that they thought they could sneak past security. They returned to their hotel.
As they were leaving the hotel, they spotted a FedEx delivery man at the front desk. He had a package for agent MAYA. It was from ALPHONSE, and it contained an electronic lockpicking PDA. They left the hotel, got into the rental car, and drove to the ferry dock.
MICHAEL went over his own cover story. If exposed, he would reveal himself to be an FBI agent investigating — covertly — the possibility of terrorists breaking in to the facility. MAYA was hard pressed to think of a cover story involving the IRS, so she decided to piggy-back on MICHAEL's cover while hoping hers remained intact.
The agents drove to the dock and parked the car. They waited for the ferry to arrive. They could see it coming towards them, through the morning mist. It was big enough for about a dozen vehicles. Passengers would have to stand for the one and a half mile trip to the island. They decided to leave the car at the parking lot on the assumption that it would be easier to escape Plum Island if they didn't have to worry about the car.
"Yes, and then we could swim for it... and drown," said MICHAEL. "Then our final words would be, 'If only we had a mini sub.'"
The water was reasonably calm and the trip was uneventful.
They were met by Stephen Bellows as they walked off the ferry. MORGAN made the introductions. Bellows took the agents in to a security building and got them their IDs. He escorted them to a Chevy Blazer outside the building and drove them to the main set of buildings on the island. The structure was impressive, a cross between an office building and an 18th century fortress, as envisioned by a post-modern architect. Near the main building were residences for researchers who didn't want to spend the time commuting from the mainland. Bellows stopped by the rooms so that the agents could drop off their luggage, and then he took them to the main building.
Bellows took them directly to Cheryl Fairview, director of the Plum Island facility. MORGAN reiterated his anthrax investigation cover story, slipping into medical geek talk along the way. MICHAEL and MAYA stood by, smiling and nodding knowingly. It was all very cordial and professional.
At they left Fairview's office, Bellows said, "I guess you'll want to get started." He took them to their lab, showed them where the rest of the labs were located and how to get to the cafeteria. He went over safety precautions with them, told them what to do in case of a containment breach, and how to leave the building in case of a fire. He finished by wishing them luck. By 10:00 a.m. they were alone.
MORGAN checked out the fire evacuation map on the door, so that he could get an idea of the building's overall layout. There were video cameras in the lab, and throughout the building. MICHAEL had MAYA checked the computer terminal in the lab to see if there was anywhere in the facility that was off limits to them. Except for the laboratories that were conducting experiments and investigations, the storage areas for hazardous chemicals, the drug supply rooms, and — of course — the disease vaults, they were free to go anywhere in the building.
MAYA went through the computer system looking for information on the experiments being conducted. A lot of experiments and investigations involved mad cow disease. There were some others looking into anthrax, anaplasmosis, pink eye, foot rot, paratuberculosis, and hoof and mouth disease. MORGAN spent a couple of hours searching the system to see if there was anything strange in inventory or supplies that he wouldn't expect to be there. He read through a host of documents but didn't find anything out of the ordinary. When he came to the few openly available accounting documents, he was totally out of his element. He asked MAYA to look into those. There was nothing untoward in the documents that were freely available, and MAYA was unable to get into the accounting software. After more than three hours of digging, they broke for a late lunch. Meanwhile, MICHAEL checked out maps of the area and made notes on approaches to the island, just in case they had to come back by way of a mini sub.
MAYA spent another 3 hours going over the books, when she noticed something odd. The facility purchased HEPA filters on a regular basis. There were quite a few different types and MAYA didn't understand the differences between them. In almost every case there were extra filters on hand, usually at least a dozen extras. There was one particular set of filters that were purchased occasionally, and which weren't sitting inventory; they were used almost immediately. She asked MORGAN to look into the filters. These were special filters found most often in BL4 labs. They were an odd size compared to the filters used elsewhere on the island.
They ate dinner, and then they took a stroll through the building. The laboratory never quite shut down for the evening. As they walked around they saw researchers in other labs working into the night. There were some labs, though, that were closed for the evening and had their lights turned off. Most of them were locked with security swipe cards, but they all had at least a large glass window in which someone could see into them. This was a safety measure, but it also meant that there was very little performed in secret. The sun had almost set when they walked around the outside of the building. MORGAN figured that the special filters had to be fitted into some sort of equipment somewhere. They searched around the buildings of the facility's campus but didn't see anything of interest in the gathering gloom. They walked back toward their rooms, but did not stop there. Instead, they hiked toward the north. The island was very dark, and the agents spent half an hour stumbling around. They gave up and retired to their rooms.
MICHAEL's alarm clock went off at 5:00 a.m., sharp. At 5:10 MICHAEL banged on the wall when he didn't hear noise coming from MAYA's room. The response was the clunk of a hair brush hitting the other side of the wall. At the same time, MORGAN knocked on MICHAEL's door. MORGAN was already dressed in a jogging suit, having awakened at 4:58. At 5:23, MAYA staggered out of her room, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt but only barely coherent.
"Coffee?" cried MORGAN, bright and chipper.
"Don't be perky!" snapped MAYA as she took the offering.
They went off jogging. They began by heading north past their rooms. In the brighter light, MICHAEL was confident that there wasn't anything to find on that part of the island. They jogged down through the compound, traveling along the paths that lead through the woods. They didn't see anything of interest, the thick trees restricting their view to only a few yards beyond the trails and roads. They headed up to the eastern end of the island. MAYA's coffee kicked in and she didn't feel the least bit winded. They still didn't discover anything, though they were sure that they didn't miss anything along the way, either.
MICHAEL developed a stitch in his side. "Winded, MICHAEL?" asked MAYA, sarcastically.
"Would you rather be in a mini sub?" asked MORGAN.
"Yes. Yes, I would," answered MICHAEL.
They slowed to a brisk walk. As they made their way through the compound, MICHAEL and MORGAN noticed a metal box sticking out of the ground near one of buildings. The box had been camouflaged so that it looked like a bush from a distance, but the weather had taken its toll on the disguise. The agents slowed to a walk, but continued along the path. MICHAEL and MORGAN made sure they didn't reveal that they had seen the box. When they were past the main part of the campus and sure that there were no more video cameras about, the two male agents informed MAYA about what they saw. They decided not to investigate the metal box until that night. Meanwhile they continued down to the other end of the island, picking up the pace once more. The agents got back to their rooms around 7:00 a.m.
They got ready for work. After they had showered and dressed, MORGAN offered them Folger's instant mocha lattes. "It's the best part of waking up," he said, obviously in the middle of a caffeine rush.
They finished their coffee, which MICHAEL described as "crappy", and went to the lab building around 7:30 a.m. They spent the rest of the day doing lab work, so that MORGAN could catch up on the actual research he told his boss he would be doing.
They finished up their work before 7:00 p.m., ate supper, and went back to their rooms for a nap.
The agents got up, changed into their navy blue jogging suits and slipped out of their rooms. They went down to the area where MORGAN and MICHAEL spotted the metal box. The area was not well lit, and what lights were there were focused on the pathway. They didn't notice any surveillance equipment. They slipped into the woods. When they got closer they could tell that the box was an air intake, though they were almost 100 yards from the main laboratory building. There was no door anywhere near the intake. MORGAN realized they hadn't checked out the basement of the lab building. They looked at the map and noticed a reference to a mine south of the labs. Their options seemed to be limited to checking out the mine, or slipping down to the main building's basement. They decided to check out the mine.