Issue #1 - Big Ideas
In a nondescript office in New York City, five figures assemble as instructed by the mysterious International Operations (IO). It's 5 PM on a Saturday in the big city, and a cloud sits just over the immediate area of the office building, raining only in the immediate vicinity. The five men, all previously having been employed by IO, though most of them without knowing exactly who they're working for, file into the office of a man they know only as "Joshua". They find they have a common acquaintance in the form of a woman who has worked with each of them at one time another, Emily DeVoto - an empath working for IO. This helps break the ice, and it also helps that a couple have worked together before. As they are introduced, the rough character of these men becomes evident: Mark - the snper - who has considerable experience freelancing with IO and knows a bit about the organization introduces himself and then simply introduces the man to his left, Reggie, as a "bullshit expert." Reggie cites papers supporting that contention, explaining he's good at figuring out the facts of a matter. Mark then turns abruptly to the nearby quiet, mild-looking fellow and demands, "What are you good for?" The man is unfazed, introducing himself as Jimmy Hebert, and simply says, in a Louisiana drawl, "I get along well with people." Then a tough-looking bruised and downright ugly figure introduces himself as "Sid," (his actual name Sid Nancy), preferring to let his brooding heavy presence speak for itself otherwise. Finally Eric, a healthy athletic sort, introduces himself - though his true name is a mystery even to himself, for his memory is shrouded before "the accident," since which time his body has been supplemented by bionics. Eric though has worked with Reggie on a couple occasions and the two know each other well. With some familiarity among the group, the men quickly get down to business.
Joshua explains there's a special assignment for them, and furthermore offers that the men may all have an opportunity to work for IO steadily, that IO is building up new permanent teams. This mission is to work with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Development in Area 51, where further details will be given. Apparently IO and the BPRD have a special relationship, wherein the BPRD provides IO with invaluable research, and IO performs "special services' in kind. Guns and suicide capsules are issued, along with Kevlar vests. Mark, for his experience and knowledge of IO procedures (unique among the group), is appointed as the group mission lead and liaison, and given special emergency contact information. Flight arrangements are made, the men are to take off immediately.
Reggie requests Cesium to "protect" his skull from intrusion; Sid asks aloud "Where did you get this guy?" But Reggie is quick to provide research indicating that Cesium prevents mental intrusion, producing a document on his Palm PDA. Mark requests material for explosives, and Jimmy suggests he'd like a room nowhere near Mark's.
Preparations completed, they're off on a private jet. Sid and Jimmy sip bourbon throughout the flight, Reggie having a Cosmopolitan. Reggie looks at Jimmy and says, "I sized you up as a Bloody Mary man," and Jimmy simply replies, "You size me up wrong, sir.," in his genteel manner. Reggie then starts doing little parlor tricks, keeping at least himself amused. They don't get much of a view, though, as there are storm clouds all the trip.
Upon arrival, where it is uncharacteristically raining, they are escorted to the base commander, who indicates they are to be taken to Area 7F. Reggie intones, emphatically, "7F," while Jimmy makes small-talk, saying it's a pleasure to come to the much-storied base. Shortly they arrive at Area 7F, which is a massive gothic-looking building surrounded by a heavy iron fence and gate. The base commander leaves them at this point, indicating he's not secured to enter. Reggie taunts him - receiving a shove from Mark. The strange building reaches far up into the sky, into the upper clouds, in fact, yet from all around was not visible as they approached and from the rest of Area 51 is in fact not visible as a skyscraper. As they enter the gate and are checked, then enter an anteroom and are checked again, and the procedure is repeated through several gated areas within the building, Sid exclaims, "Jesus Christ, there's enough security here to cover the president!" Reggie adds, "No, more."
Once checked in, they are greeted by a wizened old scientist named Dr. Forrester. The man seems so frail and hunched over he looks barely able to walk. Sid puts his arm around the old man, offering help, though Reggie warns, "Don't touch him!" The man seems to get along reasonably well, though, and reveals he's 312. Mark comments he doesn't look a day over 100. Sid asks what the old man attributes his longevity and (relatively) good health to, and the scientist merely answers vitamins. Then Sid offers up his flask filled with booze but it is declined politely, Dr. Forrester explaining his liver isn't what it used to be. Eric thinks though that perhaps the doctor has the liver of an 18 year old - literally.
Sid asks if anyone minds if he smokes, but Reggie responds, "Mind if I fart?" Sid doesn't care, but Jimmy states outright, "I'd prefer if you wouldn't."
They're shortly greeted by a scientist who looks to be about 30, a Dr. Andrews, with black hair and coke-bottle glasses. Sid, adjusting his hat, tests the scientist's peripheral vision just to see if he is as he appears - he seems to be. They then journey down an elevator - 17 miles underground.
They are introduced to "the Nexus", a vast computing array consisting of 150 teraflops of processing power. The computer processes all sorts of input and, using advanced chaos mathematics models, predicts the future - among other things! They are shown a film of a thin, totally white albino gentleman sitting in a spartan office with an array of recording devices hooked up to the Nexus. Nearby a nurse sits patiently. The albino seems autistic and rambles nonstop excitedly to the nurse, saying in rapid succession things like:
"Eugenics, a national sperm bank
stocked by Mensa members, pro athletes, and People's Choice Award-winning
"Elections that allow ranking of preferences, not just one choice, and a 'none of the above' option!"
"Mood clothing, changing colors like mood rings!"
"Lizards. Everywhere. Covering trees, sidewalks, buildings inside and out. Can't go to the bathroom in the middle of the night without stepping on one! Or more."
"Third House of Congress, members chosen at random to give a voice to 'the average guy'!"
"Smellavision replaces television!"
"3D fax machines!"
Sid asks if they've fed him mushrooms and LSD. Dr. Andres explains that the albino - known as the Idea Man and whom they found in a sanitarium - is trapped between dimensions and sees images from many parallel realities. He won't speak unless a human being is there to hear him, but when he does speak he can only constantly ramble what he sees. The Nexus computer assembles the information from the albino and calculates probabilities of events as well as suggested courses of action. They discuss how it is a kind of hell, and Sid thinks he should be put out of his misery. Jimmy points out a human can survive much misery, and Sid grimly nods.
It turns out the Idea Man disappeared when out on his daily routine walk. Despite being accompanied, as usual, by a squadron of men and his nurse, an unexpected - and unforecasted - sandstorm kicked up. The dizzying storm affected the soldiers' orientation and somehow the Idea Man escaped into the desert. Reggie begins firing rapid questions at the doctor, Jimmy imploring him to slow down so the doctor can answer. It is revealed that a strange figure, probably the albino, turned up at a police station in far away Roswell - again linking Area 51 and the town - but then disappeared. The scientist has little info beyond that, explaining they've been brought in as quickly as possible and no local or "official" federal authorities can be brought in due to the extreme security required.
Jimmy takes the opportunity to ask about UFOs, to which Dr. Andrews firmly answers that they exist and that they have fairly good relationships with most alien species. Jimmy wonders if the aliens feel threatened by the albino. They also ask as to the albino's state; he seemed happy enough. Sid wonders if the albino was in love, but they don't think so. They then resolve to talk to the soldiers who accompanied the albino.
They interview the soldiers, the base Colonel gathering them back at the "regular" part of Area 51 in a military conference room. The Colonel bellows orders to the men to tell the men anything they ask, including if they "licked their mommies' titties." Of course, Reggie asks that of the nervous and confused men.
As the interrogation proceeds in earnest, they find there was no lapse in time sense and no blackouts among the men, and no high-pitched warbling heard. They talk about the tumbleweeds that came through but find nothing specific via that avenue, either. They consider if magic is involved, Sid's eyes narrowing at the suggestion. Mark points out that from the accounts the wind sounds tornado-like, as the soldiers report it coming from "all directions". They point out their hair pointed up/on edge, not in any one direction. Jimmy assumes the sandstorm of course was to obscure vision, and as they discuss with the troop and ask if they know anything more, each responds "no." But Reggie detects a strange pace in the speech of one of them, and a heightened heart rate with his keen hearing. One of the soldiers is lying.
Reggie points out the soldier has something to say. Jimmy insists very politely but firmly that the soldier help them. The soldier, James Frederickson, gets red-faced and tense; Jimmy gently points out all are friends and only trying to find the truth. The soldier then starts to break down, pleading, "I failed my duty!" They take James aside at his own request, Sid consoling him saying, "You never truly fail so long as you try."
The soldier then admits that he's not referring to US military duty - he's referring to his duty as a Freemason! He was contacted two months prior by a 25th level member of the organization, whose name he does not know, and informed of a plan to remove the albino. But he was supposed to see to the albino's exit to the road, and that is where he failed as he lost control of the situation. They press the Mason soldier, and he admits that there are two others on base who were supposed to help him. The three soldiers are interrogated, and each, privately, corroborates the account and the description of the man - an Englishman with salt and pepper hair, dark glasses, a square-jawed face, very well-dressed (with an Armani suit), and a cane crested by the figure of a dragon's head, with its mouth open and rubies for eyes. Sid carefully compares the accounts, finding only normal trivial differences of perception.
The team discusses how to follow up. They know that since the albino somehow got to Roswell in a short order he had to have been in a car. They decide to check the gas stations along the way (though Sid suggests checking out the bars) and hastily rent an SUV all-wheel drive vehicle.
Along the way Jimmy uses his remarkable skills with persuasion to convince the gas station owners they need to show their videotapes as the team works for "the authorities." Before long they find a gas station where they hit pay dirt; a VW bug is seen with the Idea Man in it, and it's driven by an older hippie, a man of about 50-60 years of age. They get the license as well, on a California plate. Mark calls into IO, to his contact Sandi Johnson, and they find the car is owned by Harry McAllister from San Francisco, a Timothy Leary adherent. The plates, though, have been expired for 10 years. Mark notes that the VW had been traveling the speed limit and no more, given the time of its arrival at the gas station. Sid wonders if the Idea Man is Leary's "love child." And then he asks if they want to go to a bar. The team insists otherwise, wanting to stay on the trail. They calculate the distance at which the Volkswagen would need to refuel. Eric drives them along, moving at a reckless pace but keeping the SUV going. Of course they're stopped, but somehow Jimmy manages to talk the police out of tickets each time.
They end up just outside of Flagstaff, nailing the next gas station correctly. They review the next tape, trying to discern more about the situation, Eric noting that the Idea Man is saying "Fax machines with pumpkins!" to Harry and catching as Harry turns toward the camera that he calls back to the Idea Man, "Be safe." The owner of the station points out the hippie was smelly, with a body odor like patchouli. As Jimmy inquires more, the owner points out all hippies smell like that. They note that McAllister bought David sunflower seeds and water at the station before leaving.
Before leaving Jimmy points out they're blessed with civil weather - as it's been raining the whole time they've been on the road. The team hasn't quite realized it yet, but where Sid goes, so goes the rain...
It's 8 AM in Flagstaff on Sunday, and Jimmy excuses himself as he has to go to church, and asks if anyone wants to go with him. Reggie just asks/repeats, incredulously, "Are you stopping for church?" To make this part of the trip efficient, Jimmy suggests they order him something at Denny's and he'll catch up afterwards. Sid wanders off to look for a bar as the remainder of the team eats breakfast. At Denny's the other three discuss whether to follow the path closely still or simply rush to Roswell. Sandi calls back with information on a Sally McAllister who lives in Roswell, giving Mark her address and phone number. She also indicates that an APB has been put out for the car. As Jimmy rejoins them, he agrees they should catch up quickly to Roswell. They note the weather is now sunny.
Sid, meanwhile, at a rare open bar for Sunday AM, is lucky enough to find that in fact the hippie and Idea Man stopped at the same bar! He discerns they indeed were headed straight to Roswell and the hippie was quite open about things, having gone to the bar to refresh himself with a Coors. Sid orders a beer and walks out quickly to get the team - the bartender running behind him. Sid just gives him a $20 bill and continues on his way, the bartender satisfied.
So then Sid shows up at Denny's just as the team gets into the SUV. He demands, "Move over boys, I'm drivin', we're goin' to Roswell!" Jimmy asks if he's inebriated, but Sid convinces Jimmy he's not, and Eric takes a needed nap as Sid drives. Jimmy cautions Sid that if he's been drinking his reflexes could be affected and getting an accident would be most inconvenient. After a while on the road, as Jimmy notes Sid's reckless driving is truly reckless as opposed to Eric's controlled combat-style driving, Jimmy convinces Sid to pull over. Eric is roused and he completes the journey to Roswell.
Or nearly so - they are pulled over again just before getting into town, coincidentally by the sheriff. The sheriff takes a look at the crew, who begin asking questions, and bluntly tells them they're not wanted. Jimmy charms the sheriff, though it takes a while, and n the process finds out that several others have been through town as well asking after the Idea Man. They then proceed to the police station (and find the sheriff has called in sick for the rest of the day). There Jimmy talks to the desk sergeant about "the peculiar man saying peculiar things," asking how he got in. Apparently nobody saw the VW or the hippie, and the Idea Man was just found on the street acting strangely and was brought in. The policeman doesn't have much to add and nobody seems to know how the Idea Man left, as he was in a holding cell until psychiatric care could be called, but just seemed to vanish. They ask about Sally McAllister, whom the desk sergeant knows as she works with his cousin, Bobby. The sergeant also reveals that a few other people, namely Joseph Green, Stephanie Owens, and Father McIntyre all have asked after the Idea Man, only the father being local, and in his case simply out of concern for the fellow's welfare.
They then go to Sally McAllister's place. It's a two-story suburban-style wood structure and they note a man out front watering the lawn. It turns out to be Sally's husband, James, and all shortly go into a breakfast nook where at long last they see Harry. They are quick to get to the point. Harry nervously says he wasn't doing anything at Area 51, and says he simply ran across the albino on the road. Reggie knows he's lying at least somehow, and they press him. It turns out that Harry was surveilling Area 51 out of his UFO interest, and was near the fence where the Idea Man ended up just after he wandered off from the dust storm. Harry cut a hole in the fence and helped the man he perceived to be an escapee/victim. The Idea Man said many phrases and sentences with Roswell in them, and as Harry was headed there anyway he simply took him along. Once they arrived in Roswell the Idea Man simply eagerly jumped out of the car and took off. Harry figured he knew where he was going and left him to his own devices. Before leaving, Sid checks around and notes the VW bug is indeed there, laying to rest any suspicions that they were somehow being deceived. And Mark points out that Harry should really get his license renewed.
They split up to find leads. Sid looks for his via bars, coffee houses, and diners. One older man in a diner says he saw a strange man like the Idea Man in a Subaru outback heading East, having left a few minutes after 8 PM the prior day. And Sid runs across Stephanie Owens, a private investigator as rough and tumble, but a lot more attractive, as he. He buys her a drink and just chit-chats in general, working her while not at all bringing up the albino. She's obviously attracted to him and before long they head to her hotel room - at her own mention of having "20 spare minutes" - on her Harley...
Mark heads over to the bed and breakfast that Joseph Green is staying at. He's greeted by an elderly woman who without apprehension offers up that Green is in room seven, and notes how he's had at least four messages. And by coincidence Green walks into the house and she points out that Mark is there to see him. Joseph is suspicious as they retire to the dining room in private. Mark just says he's from "a federal agency" and demands information. Joseph retorts, "Sorry smart guy, nice work," condescendingly tapping him on the shoulder. And suddenly and savagely Green finds himself on the receiving end of the butt of Mark's rifle, which he has with him though all wrapped up so as to avoid undue attention. Green is stunned and falters, but as Mark walks away he grabs a chair and comes at him. Mark then strikes him again, knocking him out while breaking his nose and cracking his cheekbone! As the woman calls out to see if there's trouble, Mark rushes to her and says that his friend "fell," and gets a wet towel. Mark tends to the man as a ruse and the woman unthinkingly lets it go. As the man comes to he spits out a tooth and Mark immediately presses his advantage. Green tells him that he interviewed an Officer Peachtree whom he suspects of knowing more than he's said, as he seemed "squirrely." Then Mark notes Joseph reaching into his coat and knocks him down, finding a revolver. He takes it and leaves the wounded investigator unconscious again. Mark then wipes down the revolver and gives the gun to the woman and says it's for the "lost and found". She's dumbfounded.
Meanwhile Eric is driving around and follows up on the priest, seeing him outside the local Catholic church. He calls Jimmy, who expressed a keen interest in the father. And about that time Mark as well calls the other on their phones about the incident with Green and to tell them to look out to talk with Officer Peachtree.
Jimmy makes it out to see the priest. As they talk, both express concern for the albino's welfare. The priest detects something "different' about Jimmy, a "demonic presence," and Jimmy admits to having had an encounter with a vampire years before. He explains that some good men were quick with an antidote, so he suffers only a slight infection. He explains that he works for the government and needs to know whatever the priest might know about the albino. The priest is unusually interested, and presses Jimmy to reveal the organization, but the investigator won't; he merely cites the Shakespearean line about "more things in heaven and earth." The priest seems strangely simpatico with that, and reveals that he is aware that the albino was spirited out in a blue Subaru according to a young female parishioner who saw the car leaving town around 8:15. The priest impresses upon Jimmy that the Catholic church has "an interest" and wants the man. They exchange cell phone numbers, though Jimmy promises nothing. Before leaving, Jimmy asks an obscure doctrinal question just to be sure the priest is at least likely a Catholic priest, and he thoroughly passes Jimmy's test. Finally, the priest blesses Jimmy.
They all regroup as planned, although Sid is a little late, smelling of cheap perfume, cigarettes, and booze. They go back to the police station and talk to the desk sergeant again, mentioning the blue Subaru, which he says he heard about. As they ask him, he indicates no police are known to drive such a car. Just as Reggie starts to ask the man about the local Masons, Sid notices a Masonic ring on a nearby cop - Officer Peachtree.
They take Peachtree aside and start asking questions. Jimmy pushes his freaky persuasiveness, grilling the man. Peachtree finally admits he saw a blue Subaru out front of the police station, but claims not to have thought anything about it. He admits also to seeing a man drive it who fits the description of the Englishman with the cane mentioned by the soldier. Finally he gives a license plate, a New York license plate, and as he's in fear of losing his job breaks down in telling them the man is likely bound for the Mason center in Lubbock, Texas, the nearest major Masonic temple. It's clear that while Peachtree didn't know anything about how the mysterious Englishman actually got the albino out, he was told to keep his mouth shut about his appearance and the car as the Englishman took advantage of Peachtree's position to obscure the day's comings and goings. Reggie watches the man carefully and confirms as he lets the truth out, and confirms that in fact the man did not actually see how the Englishman removed the Idea Man. They leave Peachtree to his own devices, Jimmy telling him it's between him and his conscience as to what to do about his position.
The group moves at break neck speed to Lubbock, leaving town at 4 PM. The Englishman and Idea Man have a 20 hour lead. However, Eric and Jimmy work their magic, with Eric keeping the SUV on the road and going at its top speed perilously remaining balanced. Jimmy convinces each police car that stops them that they have urgent business, and they are left to their own devices. In just over an hour they arrive in Lubbock, covering 170 miles. The SUV is smoking and choking; it won't be useful without major repair.
The Masonic lodge stands before them, a square building with few windows. Jimmy finds a car that must have been used with the Idea Man, as long white hairs can be seen. He quickly gets fingerprints and Eric lets a little air out of the tires, just enough that it would appear useful but quickly deflate in use and make it difficult to take corners. The trunk has materials on car repairs and various mechanic's tools.
Preparing for anything, kevlar suits are donned and the group is armed. Reggie goes around the back of the lodge and looks for other exits. The rest approach directly, all going to the front door, and are greeted by a Mason in an anteroom just past the main door but with a large door barring further entry. Sid announces, "I'm here with the Brit," but apparently doesn't have the right handshake for the Mason greeting him. The Mason starts talking very loudly, obviously alerting others, but Eric punches him swiftly as does Sid; his ribs are caved in, several broken, as he falls silent.
Through an intercom, a voice warns them to leave, telling them this is a "real friendly" warning. Sid notes a camera in the anteroom and shoots it. Jimmy calls out that they're "duly authorized agents of the Federal government, though I know that doesn't carry weight in Texas." The voice agrees with him.
Then they suddenly crash through the door, Eric and Sid bashing it down. Sid mentions they need a better carpenter - and then is greeted by a few bullets from an assault rifle hitting him in the stomach! But he remains standing, though, only bleeding a little. Others are missed in the hail of fire as they spread out and dodge. Jimmy hits a guy on nearby stairs leading up, but to no effect. Reggie comes in through a side door, responding to the noise, and shoots one man in his stomach. Mark deftly shoots one man dead, a direct shot to the head. Eric, tumbling forward into the main room, misses as he kicks at another of some 8 Masons "greeting" them. Sid grabs at a couch, rushing it, and barges forward, smashing two of the opponents against a far wall and dazing them.
A man apparently in charge rushes down the stairs, exclaiming "what's that noise?" to which Jimmy responds, "Your friends are dying." The man, apparently the lodge leader, tells his men to surrender. One hesitates but he's firm, explaining they'll live this way. Knowing he's beaten, it takes little encouragement to provide information. To the side he tells them that the Englishman was there and has taken off in a BMW Z4, silver-grey, with the license plate LYNX. Sid is already outside smoking, though, leaving the details to the rest. Miraculously, the Masonic lodge outer door is immediately replaced by a substitute door already embedded in the wall and automatically displacing the shot-up former door. The Englishman left 12 hours prior.
The team is exhausted and decides to retire for a few hours. Having no real legal authority, they leave the remaining Masons to their own devices, wondering how they'll explain a death and several injuries. Before they get some rest, Jimmy volunteers, "I have a friend I might be able to call to get some help..."
[Game Mechanics - Points Awarded...