Delta Green M Cell Campaign (2003 – 2010)

Golden Years, Session 4

Previous Scenario: Golden Years, session 3

Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: January 22, 2005
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)

I'll stick with you baby for a thousand years
nothing's going to touch you in these golden years
   - David Bowie, "Golden Years"

Sunday, September 5, 2004, 2:01 a.m. EDT

Embassy Suites, Tampa, Florida

Agent MICHAEL stared out the window of the hotel as a large, winged serpent flew past. MICHAEL made strange laughing sounds for several minutes after the thing disappeared around the corner of the building. Slowly MICHAEL swung form hysterical laughter to a panic attack. He ran over to MORGAN and shook him awake. MICHAEL told MORGAN to look out the window. MORGAN looked, while MICHAEL looked everywhere but out the window.

MORGAN saw nothing. He began to suspect MICHAEL had a bad dream, or was imagining things. He poured the M-cell leader three fingers of 12 year old Glenfiddich scotch. "Here, drink this."

"I'm not drinking it, and neither are you," replied MICHAEL.

MORGAN motioned the scotch in MICHAEL's direction. "If you don't drink it, it's alcohol abuse."

MICHAEL ignored the CDC investigator. Having recovered somewhat, he walked to the window and looked out. He didn't see anything. MORGAN moved to the hotel's door. He opened the door and looked up and down the hallway. He didn't see anything, but he heard the sound of running foot falls from the floor above. MICHAEL also heard running. MICHAEL realized that their original room, the room they had until a few hours ago when they moved due to the storm, was on the floor above them...

The agents acted quickly. MORGAN woke MAYA while MICHAEL ran to the stairs. As he got to the next floor's stairwell door, he heard the wail of a strong wind. MICHAEL opened the door a crack. A man in a blazer carrying a walkie talkie and a flashlight hung out the door to their previous room. The man — obviously a security guard — had his back to MICHAEL. The man stared down the hall in the direction of the elevator. MICHAEL heard voices from inside their old room as at least two men yelled over the wind. MICHAEL slipped back downstairs, and told MORGAN and MAYA what he saw.

After a brief discussion, the two male agents stated that they wanted to investigate the upstairs room. MAYA wasn't sure that was a good idea. "Stay down here and die, or go upstairs and die?" she asked.

"What's easier?" replied MICHAEL.

"Sleeping, but y'all took that option away from me." In the end, MAYA agreed to accompany them.

When they got upstairs, they discovered that the door to their old room was closed and there was no security guard. Realizing she hadn't brought any tools to break into the room, MAYA limped back downstairs and retrieved some of her gear, including a swipe card attached to an old Palm handheld device by way of a ribbon cable. She slipped the card into the door lock, tapped the device's screen, and within seconds the light on the lock switched from red to green. MICHAEL and MORGAN moved into the room, followed by MAYA.

The room was a shambles. Rain and wind whipped into the room from a broken window. Shards of glass littered the writing desk, and the bed. Furniture lay upended throughout the room. The desk's chair lay in crushed splinters. Towels covered the carpet near the window, though it was unclear if it was to cover glass shards or to soak up water. MICHAEL peered out the window, watching for the flying serpent, as MORGAN began searching the main part of the room.

MAYA took a step towards the bathroom. MORGAN saw where she was going. "Don't go near the tub!" he shouted.

MORGAN searched around the window. On a shard of glass hanging from the window frame he noticed a small piece of greenish-grey tissue. Fighting the wind and the rain, he carefully extracted the tissue from the glass. The tissue appeared scaly to the naked eye. As MORGAN bagged the sample, MICHAEL remarked that the storm was getting worse.

MAYA found nothing in the bathroom, except that the housekeeping staff did a less than stellar job. As she moved to the main part of the room, she heard the dull "ding" of the elevator. She called for the male agents in a stage whisper and told them the elevator was on their floor.

"Oh! The dragon's taking the elevator," whispered MORGAN, as he grabbed his gear.

They quickly ran for the stairwell before who ever was in it got out of the elevator. The stairwell door closed behind them. MICHAEL slowly re-opened the door and peaked out. Three security guards lugged large sheets of plywood to the agents' old room. MICHAEL eased the door shut, and motioned for the agents to return to their new room.

Once in their room, they discussed what they saw. It seemed obvious that someone sent something to attack them. Their attacker knew their old room number, but they stymied him or her when they shifted to a room facing away from the coming hurricane. They had a pretty good idea who sent the flying serpent/"dragon".

MAYA and MICHAEL were exhausted. MORGAN volunteered to take the first four hour watch. The others readily agreed and were soon fast asleep. After they drifted off, MORGAN picked up the Revelations of Hali, which he had acquired from Sebring. He also took out the Tarot deck MAYA found in Sebring's desk drawer. He skimmed through the book looking for anything related to the cards. After a couple of hours of searching, he gave up and simply went back to reading the book.

At 6 a.m. MORGAN woke up MICHAEL. As MICHAEL yawned and stretched, MORGAN dropped into the bed for a short sleep. An hour later MICHAEL woke up MORGAN and MAYA. They showered and then went out for a quick breakfast.

Sunday, September 5, 2004, 8:37 a.m. EDT

Denny's Restaurant, Tampa, Florida

The wind was at gale force when they got into their rental vehicle. That didn't stop the local Denny's from being open, albeit with a skeleton staff of "wage slaves". Breakfast at Denny's was becoming an all too common occurrence for M-cell. "What is this, a recurring nightmare?" asked MAYA.

They discussed their course of action over Grand Slam breakfasts. Sebring and, perhaps, others in the community were planning some sort of ritual. If what they found was correct, the ritual was timed for the estimated time the eye of the hurricane would pass over Tampa. They had no idea what the ritual was, or what it would do, but they suspected it involved moving — or exchanging — part of our world for the other world MAYA and MORGAN had recently visited. They guessed that the ever-changing shape of the community was important to the ritual. If they could permanently alter the community's design, perhaps they could spoil the ritual.

They talked about blowing up the outer wall of the community, or ramming the wall with a bulldozer. Since GPS units didn't work within the community, it seemed likely that it had already "gone" to some extent. Breaching the walls could maybe let some of our world "inside", and spoil the ritual. MICHAEL and MAYA worried that such wholesale destruction might result in the injuring or killing of innocents. MORGAN was willing to live with that possibility; to him, sacrificing the community to save the world was a fair exchange. He explained his belief that the walls and buildings in the gated community were like the magically important squiggles that made up an interdimensional gate. Destroying a building would disrupt the magical pattern.

"We'll be wiping out the squiggles," he said.

"You can't call innocent people 'squiggles'," retorted MICHAEL. "Tell you what, find a family called 'squiggle' and we'll wipe them out."

MICHAEL's counter proposal was to find the people involved in the ritual and encounter them directly. MAYA and MORGAN thought this was dangerous. Those people were magically adept, and possibly armed. The agents would be out-numbered. MICHAEL pushed this approach as the one least likely to cause harm to innocents.

The agents didn't know how many cultists they would be up against. They knew Sebring was involved because of the book they found. They suspected Elton was involved because he was the community's architect and he went to school with Sebring. They figured Charleton was involved, but they didn't know if he was a willing participant or a potential victim. They went through the list of people they had previously met. When they checked out Vinnie's house — Vinnie being the victim that prompted their investigation — they were met by Marie Claire Villeneuve, the president of the Home Owner's Association. The agents realized that the job of the Home Owner's Association was to make the owners conform to the community's bylaws and regulations. This included keeping children off the streets, and making sure all the homes were the same color and not altered. If the design of the homes in the community was important to the ritual, the Home Owner's Association had to be involved!

MORGAN succinctly summed up the group's thoughts when he said, "I always thought home owner's associations were evil."

With the Home Owner's Association as their target, they decided to meet with them and quickly capture them. They phoned the office of the HOA to set up a meeting, but they got the answering machine. Stymied, MORGAN suggested contacting Sebring and offering to trade him for the Tarot cards and the book. He hoped this would goad Sebring into a meeting.

"We don't know how bad he wants them back," argued MICHAEL.

"They... sent... a... dragon... after... us!" replied MORGAN.

MICHAEL agreed to call Sebring's office to set up a meeting. They got Sebring's voice mail. The same thing happened when they called Sebring's home. They concluded that they were going to have to go to the community and encounter Sebring on his own turf. "If we're going to do that, we're going to need weapons," suggested MICHAEL.

The agents left Denny's. The wind whipped them around as they made their way to the Jeep Grand Cherokee. They drove through the unusually deserted streets on the way to a local Wal-Mart. They were stopped a couple of times by police, but MICHAEL waved his badge and they were on there way with minimal disruption.

They arrived at the nearest Super Wal-Mart around 10:30 a.m. The store was closing in less than an hour due to the storm. They ran to the sporting goods section. MICHAEL bought a Remington Sportsman rifle (which, fortunately, didn't require a waiting period). MAYA bought a shotgun. MORGAN bought ammunition for his Glock, some nylon rope, and a high quality paintball gun set along with several containers of paintballs.

They rushed through the checkout at the sporting goods desk, and ran out to the car through the wind and rain. MAYA drove them as quickly as possible to Sunset Park.

Sunday, September 5, 2004, 12:10 p.m. EDT

Sunset Park, Tampa, Florida

The intense winds buffeted the Jeep with driving rain, making it hard for MAYA to see where she was going. With not a little amazement, MAYA managed to turn onto the road leading to Sunset Park without running into anything. They were approaching from the west, so the rain was hitting them head on. This had the unexpected benefit of making the view out the side windows easier, which was good as they intended to drive by the front of the community to recconoiter it.

MAYA drove slowly past the front gate of Sunset Park. Crashing through the gates was out of the question. If the Jeep got hung up, they'd be sitting ducks. Climbing the walls in the wind and rain would prove too difficult. The community was as well fortified as a castle. Like a castle, the weakest point was the gate, and this castle had more than one. The security building was built into the wall. Visitors could enter the community by first entering the security building, and then getting clearance through the building's secure door. This seemed to offer their best chance for invading the community.

The agents turned around and headed back the way they had come. They parked across from the guard building and watched. At first there was only one guard there, behind a Plexiglas barrier. After a couple of minutes they noticed a second guard. Fifteen minutes later, two more guards entered the building. These guards came inside the community. They disappeared off to the agents' right for several minutes.

When they reappeared they were pushing something that was below the level of the Plexiglas window, and thus couldn't be seen by the agents. MICHAEL noticed a metal, hook-shaped pole move along with whatever it was the guards were pushing. A plastic bag hung from the hook. He realized this was a fluid bag attached to a gurney. MICHAEL pointed this out to the others. He opined that they were wheeling out Charleton. If that was true, they now knew where the man had disappeared to. They had to act quickly.

Their plan called for MAYA to fake an injury. Once she distracted the guards, the other agents would storm the building. MORGAN happened to carry ketchup packets in his manpurse. They squeezed ketchup onto MAYA's jacket. With her pistol readily accessible in her purse, she ran across the road and then staggered up to the security building's door. The other two agents followed a short distance behind, but paused at the door.

MAYA threw open the door and staggered into the security building's reception room. The guard behind the window looked up, shocked. "Please help me..." she moaned. She flashed the guard the sight of some ketchup, then collapsed on the floor.

The guard behind the window rushed to MAYA's aid. The other guard stayed behind the Plexiglas. MAYA lay on the floor moaning while clutching the pistol still in her bag.

MICHAEL and MORGAN rushed in. MICHAEL went straight for the door leading to the other side of the Plexiglas partition, but it closed in his face. MORGAN, armed with MAYA's shotgun, yelled for the guard helping MAYA to freeze. As MAYA stood, brandishing her pistol, MORGAN pointed the shotgun at the Plexiglas. He yelled for the other guard to open the door. The guard who came to MAYA's aid cried, "Don't shoot!" and held up his hands.

The guard on the other side of the bullet proof Plexiglas picked up the phone. MICHAEL shot his pistol at the lock on the door. MAYA fired her pistol at the glass. The bullet did not penetrate, but it distracted the guard behind the glass. He dropped the phone and went for his gun.

The door lock was destroyed by MICHAEL's bullets. The FBI agent slammed into the door, banging it open. He aimed his gun at the guard, who just managed to get his own weapon clear of his holster. "Freeze, federal agent!" yelled MICHAEL. MORGAN fired the shotgun into the glass. The startled guard dropped his gun.

The agents made the guards drop to their knees. MICHAEL handcuffed them, then checked the telephone. It was dangling from its cord. Behind the Plexiglas was a bank of monitors attached to videotape records. MORGAN rewound the tape from the camera in this building. He yanked the cable from the back of the VCR and set it taping dead air.

Off to one side was a second room. MICHAEL stuck his head in. It was a first aid station, but it also had some expensive equipment including a defibrilator and a heart monitor. MICHAEL thought, out loud, that this was where Charleton was held. MORGAN and MAYA ushered the guards into this room.

MICHAEL watched the monitors. He realized that the vast majority of Sunset Park was covered by cameras. Conspicuous was the absence of a camera pointed to the park at the center of the community. One of the monitors showed a pair of golf carts with armed guards rushing somewhere through the rain. MICHAEL assumed that they were heading for the security building. He ripped out the cables running to the bank of monitors; he didn't want to leave behind any evidence of their presence.

MAYA opened the electronic gate. She ran out to the Jeep and backed it into the opening so that no one else could drive in or out of Sunset Park and they could make a quick getaway. Meanwhile, MICHAEL looked over the uniforms worn by the guards. Neither of the uniforms would fit the agents, so MICHAEL looked around for something else. He found the guards' baseball caps and rain ponchos. He put on a set while MORGAN injected the guards with a sedative. MAYA returned to the building and took one of the guards' guns.

With a dark grin, MICHAEL said to the guards, "Well, you boys are going to enjoy your stay in Cuba," suggesting that they would soon be spirited away to Guantanamo Bay.

After all the agents donned ponchos, they ran out the back door and up to a golf cart. The keys were in the cart's ignition. The ground was slick with rain; MICHAEL slipped and fell, but managed to clamber onto the cart just as MAYA started it and threw it into gear. She drove off down the road, keeping to the middle in order to avoid speed bumps.

The wind pushed the cart back and forth, forcing it up over the curb and onto a lawn at one point. MAYA quickly regained control and got the golf cart back onto the road. She fought the wind and the rain as she tried to propel the cart as fast as she could. They headed for the park.

On the way, MORGAN pulled out his paintball gun. He waited until the wind was behind him and fired the gun at a nearby house. A paint ball shot from the gun and splattered against a house. A visible wave front expanded out from the point where the paint hit the house's siding, like a special effect from The Matrix. MAYA stopped and the agents looked at each other in amazement. She drove to the next house, and MORGAN fired another paintball. The same effect happened. As they watched, MORGAN realized that the water-based paint was fading in the rain. MAYA drove up onto a nearby lawn and did a doughnut on the grass to mark their location, then she drove back onto the road and headed for the park.

As they drove, MAYA suggested that they hit mail boxes and leave other visible marks of their passage. Suddenly she saw a golf cart driving down a side street. MICHAEL watched out for the other cart as MORGAN fired his paintball gun at the road. There was more of the strange effect as the paint balls hit the asphalt. A moment later, two golf carts carrying armed guards crossed their path at an intersection ahead of them.

MAYA had an epiphany. She knew exactly where she was. She realized that this must must be coming atuned to the community. She also realized that the guards' golf carts would soon cut them off, apparently in contradiction to normal geometry and physics. She slowed down and drove their golf cart between two houses. The agents ducked down as best they could. A couple of minutes later, the two golf carts passed them at (relatively) high speed.

MORGAN stared at the nearest house and was inspired to write some graffiti. He jumped out of the cart and wrote "Non-Euclidean math sucks!" one the house's siding. The strange wave effect happened again. This time MORGAN pulled out his GPS unit. It displayed a "no signal" message. He put the unit against the pen marks. The GPS beeped and displayed latitude and longitude information. MORGAN had no idea what the numbers meant, but MICHAEL joined him and figured out that they did, indeed, indicate a location in Florida. The agents followed up by putting mud on the house and drawing on the cart. Neither act had any kind of visible effect. The golf carts weren't part of whatever was happening, and dirt didn't dilute the magic inherent in the community's design.

The agents climbed back into the golf cart. MAYA drove back to the road. After a few minutes she made a left turn. The agents were now driving on a road that bordered the park. The wind seemed to have lessened, as did the rain. Before them was the park. Ringing the grassy area were a dozen people in ponchos, hand raised and chanting. They recognized a couple of these people as two of Sunset Management, Inc.'s administrative assistants.

In the middle of the park were four people: Bert Sebring, Sally Klein, Marie Claire Villeneuve, and a middle-aged man that the agents assumed was Doug Elton, the architect. These four stood in a circle. In the center of the circle was a gurney. On the gurney lay Jacob Charleton. The people in the park were bathed in light. Between them and the people ringing the park was the same light barrier they had seen previously. As they watched, the barrier grew slightly, but perceptively. Whatever Sebring was planning had begun.

MAYA stopped the cart. The agents piled out. MICHAEL grabbed his rifle and lay it on the cart to steady it. He aimed at Sebring's heart. MICHAEL estimated the range at 50 yards and adjusted his sights accordingly. He took a deep breath. He waited between heartbeats before squeezing the trigger. The rifle barked, but the shot missed.

MORGAN pulled out his pistol and fired at Sebring. The bullet was deflected by a tree branch that seemed to move into the bullet's path. No one seemed to notice their gunfire over the howling wind.

The agents got back into the cart. MAYA drove it closer to the surrounding line of chanters. MICHAEL lowered the rifle and fired it through the barrier. MICHAEL saw the bullet visibly slow down after it passed through the bubble that surrounded the park. Sebring dodged the bullet easily. MORGAN walked up to the nearest chanter. It was one of the administrative assistants. He pointed the shotgun at the back of the woman's head and fired. A spray of blood and brains exited the front of the chanter's head. She collapsed to the ground. In spite of the woman's death, the bubble around the park expanded.

The agents climbed back into the golf cart. MAYA drove straight for the barrier. The cart shot through with a pop. They were once again in the center of some unknown and forgotten city on a distant world. Wan sunlight bathed them. The air was warm, dry and pleasant, with only the hint of a breeze. There was no evidence of the hurricane about to engulf Tampa, Florida. Cyclopean structures seemed to press in on them. It appeared to MORGAN that the square enclosing Sunset Park had grown to accommodate the larger "bubble" that encapsulated the park on Earth. MICHAEL, who hadn't previously crossed the barrier, looked around and muttered, "That's different." MICHAEL, whose sanity had been wavering of late, shook off this latest shock with little effort.

Now inside the barrier, MICHAEL took aim at Sebring. His pistol belched. At that precise moment Sebring dodged out of the way. The bullet miraculously passed him by mere inches. MICHAEL stood for a second in disbelief. In this "world", bullets could be avoided!

Meanwhile, MORGAN jumped off the cart and fired his paintball gun at one of the nearby buildings. The paint splattered onto the stone, but there was no other effect. Whatever effect the paint had on Earth, it had no effect here.

Sally Klein leapt at MORGAN. He jumped out of her reach. She fell to the ground a couple of feet away. Klein quickly got to her feet as MORGAN pulled out the shotgun. In her hand was a long, deadly-looking sinusoidal knife.

MICHAEL yelled, "Freeze, federal agent!" though he didn't expect anyone to heed him. Sebring continued to chant, his arms spread outward and upward. MICHAEL jumped at him. Sebring dodged MICHAEL's attempt to grapple him, and pulled out a knife of his own.

"Stop it!" yelled Sebring. "You're ruining everything!"

MORGAN leveled his gun at Klein before she could jump at him again. He fired. Klein jumped out of the way of the shotgun blast, but not without a couple of pellets skinning her arm. MORGAN fired again, but this time she miraculously dodged the pellets by jumping to her left. Klein shifted to her right and rushed MORGAN. The knife slid across his ribs, ripping his poncho, jacket and shirt, and drawing blood in its wake. MORGAN fired once more, but he missed her. Klein knocked the shotgun out of his hand\.

MAYA raised her pistol and fired at Elton. The gun jammed. In frustration, she hurled it at Elton. She noticed the gurney. On it was the sleeping form of Jacob Charleton. She rushed at the gurney and knocked it over, spilling still-sleeping Charleton. MAYA grabbed the gun she took from the guard and shot Charleton three times. Charleton stopped breathing.

Since shooting didn't seem to do much, MICHAEL resorted to his martial arts prowess. He slid his pistol back in his holster, and then swung at Sebring, hitting him in the ribs. Sebring swung his knife at MICHAEL's throat, but MICHAEL dodged it easily. He kicked at Sebring, missing by an inch. Sebring was quick to take advantage of the miss and stabbed MICHAEL in the arm.

Klein grinned at MORGAN. She braced herself like a cheetah about to pounce on a wounded antelope. MORGAN pointed at her and chanted a quick invocation. A head rush washed over him. Klein rushed at him, the knife raised. It struck MORGAN in the leg as he tried to get out of the way. As he pushed her off him, he saw that her skin was beginning to puff up, beginning to inflate. The Bloat spell he had cast on her was working. He backed away from her as she came at him with the knife.

MAYA aimed the pistol at Elton and fired. A spurt of blood shot up from his shoulder. As he yelped in pain, the air near the buildings shimmered and the square seemed to close in a little. With Klein and Sebring defending themselves, only Elton and Villeneuve were left chanting. Whatever they were doing, one of them wasn't sufficient to keep the process going. She fired a second shot at Elton, but it missed.

Sebring swung and hit MICHAEL once more on the arm. Regardless of the weird physical effects at work on this world, MICHAEL realized he was woefully under armed for a knife fight. He pulled out his Glock again. He fired at point blank range. The bullet, which was aimed at Sebring's heart, hit the cult leader in the shoulder. MICHAEL was still gratified to see blood. He fired once more, and Sebring collapsed in a heap.

MICHAEL swung his gun, and aimed it at the president of the Home Owner's Association. The gun barked, but the bullet flew wide, missing Ms. Villeneuve.

MORGAN backed away from Klein. She stopped advancing when the effects of the spell were finally noticeable. MORGAN dug out his own pistol. He fired at Villeneuve at the same time as MICHAEL. Two bullets thudded into her, and she dropped like a marionette whose strings had been cut. Suddenly, pain lanced down MORGAN's shoulder. He turned back to face Klein. She now looked like a blow-up doll parody of herself that had been over-inflated almost to the bursting point. She swung the blade once more, but MORGAN easily dodged her. It was now almost impossible for her to move the knife at all. She gasped breathlessly before falling over. Her face started to turn blue as she continued to expand.

All was still except for Elton's chanting. MORGAN, MAYA and MICHAEL turned and fired in a single volley. It was impossible for Elton to avoid all of the missiles. One bullet hit him in the head, another in the chest and a third in the abdomen. Elton was dead before he hit the ground.

The bleeding MORGAN looked back at Klein. She had stopped expanding. Her chest was still. The Bloat spell had killed her.

MAYA was the first to notice the shimmering along the walls of the stone buildings. The boundary between this world and Earth was stiffening. She yelled a warning, and all three agents climbed into the golf cart. MAYA turned the cart around and drove directly for the spot where they had come into this dimension. They hit the wall at about 15 miles per hour. They lurched forward as the barrier resisted their efforts to pierce through. MAYA and MORGAN both slapped into the front of the cart.

MORGAN felt a wound tear open a bit wider. Then he felt a strong breeze and rain pelt his face. They made it through the barrier.

They looked up and saw the whirling dark maelstrom of clouds all around them. They were in the eye of the hurricane. The eye wasn't expected until 5 p.m. Their watches said it was just after 2:30. Either by being in the other world or by crossing through the stiffening barrier, they lost two and a half hours.

In spite of the pain wracking his body, MORGAN pulled out his GPS unit. It functioned perfectly. The people that had been chanting around the park were gone, though the corpse of the woman MORGAN had killed was still there. The park was back, but the shimmering bubble around it was gone. In the center of the park were the bodies of Sebring, Elton, Klein and Charleton. Klein was quickly deflating. The gurney lay beside Charleton's lifeless body. MICHAEL and MAYA looked around, but there was no sign of Villeneuve. They hoped she was trapped on the other world, permanently.

MORGAN ruffled through his manpurse for first aid supplies. He bound the worst of his wounds. MAYA treated another of his cuts. After he had been seen to, MORGAN helped bind one of MICHAEL's wounds. MAYA, who had been shot by MORGAN the previous day, was the only one who to escape the encounter unscathed... physically, at any rate.

As the wind began to whip up again, they discussed their next course of action. They decided to take the five bodies — including that of the woman MORGAN had killed — to Sebring's house. Once safely stashed away there, they could call ALPHONSE and have him clean things up after the hurricane had passed.

They piled all the bodies except Klein's onto the cart. At the last minute they decided to leave her in the park. An autopsy would show that she died either of asphyxiation or drowning. Either way, it would be easy to blame the hurricane. They reasoned that the fewer bodies ALPHONSE had to "clean up", the better.

They hauled the bodies into Sebring's house and dumped them in the kitchen. Now in relative safety, they searched the bodies. They didn't find anything of interest except for a few sheafs of paper in Sebring's jacket pocket. MORGAN pocketed these.

They got back into the cart and drove for the front gate. The streets seemed less confusing to all the agents, somehow. They got to the front gate in just over three minutes, something that would have been impossible the day before. Four guards in ponchos sat outside the entrance to the guard building. They appeared to be stunned. One was trying to shake off some sort of mental fuzz. He acted as though he had been drugged. MORGAN and MAYA walked into the guard shack. MORGAN was prepared to use the last of his precious blue fluid to erase their memories, but it was unnecessary. One of the guards called out to him, "How did we get tied up? Hey, Mister!"

MORGAN unlocked the handcuffs on the guards. As he did so, MAYA checked the monitors. They were still unplugged. They heard the Jeep rev to life. MICHAEL had climbed in and started it. MORGAN and MAYA left the stunned guards. There was no need to use the blue fluid. MORGAN climbed into the back seat. MICHAEL scooted over to let MAYA drive. MAYA put the Jeep into drive and left Sunset Park.

The wind picked up as the eye of the hurricane left the Tampa area. She dodged debris on the street. Once, they had to wave MICHAEL's badge at a police officer who was intent on keeping vehicles off the road. They got to their hotel and tried to slip up to their room as inconspicuously as possible. MORGAN poured some scotch and they all sipped at it for a while, mostly in silence. Exhausted, mentally and physically, the agents lay down and were soon asleep.

Monday, September 6, 2004, 7:17 a.m. EDT

Embassy Suites, Tampa, Florida

M-cell waited until the next morning to file a short report with ALPHONSE. They asked the Delta Green leader to call in a team to clean up the bodies in Sebring's house. After they sent that off, they composed a much longer, more in-depth report. They made no mention of the book, the Tarot cards, or the "dragon scale" sample they found.

By the time they e-mailed the longer report, they had received a response from ALPHONSE. He would send a team to clean up the mess in Sebring's house. He didn't know precisely what they has stopped, but whatever it was it wasn't good. He thanked the agents for a job well done.

The agents decided to spend that day in Tampa recovering from their ordeal. Most of the time was spent in their hotel room, relaxing and watching TV. They ordered room service. "Tell them we want breakfast... and scotch!", cried MORGAN.

MORGAN looked over the sheaf of papers he took from Sebring's body. They appeared to be photocopies from a book. They looked suspiciously like pages MORGAN had read in the book he had taken from Sebring. Apparently MICHAEL and MORGAN weren't the first people to think of photocopying Revelations of Hali. MORGAN thought about it for a moment. They had copies of the book, and scans of the cards. He decided the best course of action was to tell ALPHONSE about the book and the cards and let the A-cell leader decide what to do with them. He wrote another e-mail to ALPHONSE and attached the scanned images of the cards in JPEG format. He sent it off to ALPHONSE.

An hour later, MORGAN got the following response.

>We found a copy of a large book in Sebring's office. The book is
>titled the Revelations of Hali. Attached to this e-mail is a se

Please ship the book to our regular drop. We believe it to be a tome of significant value.

It looked like your e-mail was cut short, or was somehow corrupted. The message ended with an incomplete sentence, as seen above. I received several graphics files with your e-mail. They were definitely corrupted as I could not open them. To what did the pictures pertain?

MORGAN read the e-mail. A chill ran up his spine. He shot back a quick reply.

They were surveillance photos that are now obsolete. Please disregard.

MORGAN made no mention of the Tarot cards in the second e-mail. He had a feeling that it wouldn't have mattered if he did, anyway. He also made no mention of the "dragon scales". He wanted those analyzed himself, first.

Tuesday, September 7, 2004, 10:46 a.m. EDT

FedEx Kinkos, Tampa, Florida

The agents drove their rented Jeep to the FedEx Kinkos store. MORGAN mailed the Revelations of Hali to the Delta Green mail drop. The group drove to the airport and dropped the car off at the rental place. As their respective flights boarded, they said goodbye to each other and headed home. Each of them put in for leave via the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) the next day.

Along with her leave request, MAYA turned in the findings on her investigation. She stated that there was nothing strange in Vincent Marcello's income tax returns. There did appear to be some items untoward in his personal finance records in his home. She said she turned that information over to the FBI and that her part of the investigation was over.

With any luck, an attempt to verify this information would be intercepted by Delta Green in general, and Agent MICHAEL in particular. She didn't know what had happened to Vinnie. She suspected that he may have been used as a sacrifice in one of the cult's rituals. At any rate, she spent the rest of that day relaxing.

Wednesday, September 8, 2004

Undisclosed Locations, Atlanta, Georgia, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Washington, D.C.

The next day all three agents received an envelope in the mail. The envelope was made of nice stationery with a wax seal. It was remarkable that the card survived the U.S. Postal Service in perfect condition, with the seal intact... There was no return address, but the letter had been franked in New York City.

The envelope contained a card, printed on equally nice stationery. The message for MICHAEL and MAYA was a simple, hand-written sentence:

I would like to talk to you about your debt. - S. Alzis

MORGAN's card said the same thing, but it had an additional sentence:

Bring the cards.

The agents booked flights to New York. MORGAN photocopied the cards, front and back, mounted them, and had them laminated. He also made a duplicate of the copied pages of Revelations of Hali.