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Wednesday, September 30

Time and the Serpent: Part 2 – The Wasteland

Hammer stepped out into a nightmare.

It was a destroyed city. Clouds swirled and thundered above. Sunlight barely filtered through, bathing the place in perpetual twilight. Wind tore at him, filled with debris. Hammer choked and ran over to the rusted hulk of a long-since abandoned car, covering his mouth.

Ssuthraa appeared, followed by Jim-Bean.

"Did it follow—" Hammer didn't get to finish because the allosaurus roared through the gate right behind them.

Jim-Bean kept running straight down the street.

"Loop back around!" shouted Hammer. His pistols were out, but they weren't going to help him much.

Jim-Bean ducked into a crumbling building. The allosaurus smashed its snout into the doorway, partially collapsing the façade of the building on it. Roaring in pain, it took a few steps back. Then it lowered its head and slammed into the building again. more

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Chapter 60: Where the Ocean Meets the Sky - Introduction

This scenario is from the Dead Man’s Chest adventure “Where the Ocean Meets the Sky” by Necromancer Games, adapted to the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

Alert readers will note that we already played half of this adventure in our heroes’ quest to return from Nyambe. Instead of making Coralis a long journey, we have the PCs traveling by glass whale powered by pseudonatural fihali—weird transportation, but fast nonetheless.

I tweaked the adventure so that exploring the sunken ship is a necessity to get the Moonsilver Orb. Then I threw out the not-so-interesting caverns/challenges and replaced it with all the neat challenges I never got to use on The Isle of Chaugnar Faugn. This turned out better than I expected, and the PCs were more than up to the challenge.

I also decided that if one of my PCs is going to have an amulet of the planes, then he’s gonna use it as a plot device to escape certain doom. Which he did. Of course.

This is also the last you’ll see of the k’n-yan and the fihali as they struggle to prevent the Cult of Leviathan gaining dominance. Or to put it another way, out with the old cult, in with the new! more

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Tuesday, September 29

Time and the Serpent: Part 1 – The Thing from the Gate

The citadel was constructed of pure obsidian and it reached two hundred feet into the reddish sky. It twisted like a gigantic serpent, looking as if it grew up from the dark plane. It was an ominous sight.

The only opening was at the base, approximately twenty feet high and ten feet across. The interior was shrouded in shadows.

Inside, the fortress was a vast complex of tunnels, passages, and rooms. The passages inside perpetually twisted and turned in seemingly random directions. All were completely cylindrical, like giant tubes.

"Did those worm things build this?"

Ssuthraa snorted. "The Chthoniansss? No, they have no need of sssuch ssstructuresss. They make their homesss deep within the Earth."

Ssuthraa led them through the tunnels.

"Where are we going?" asked Hammer.

"If you wisssh to leave here you will do asss I sssay."

"That's not an answer," muttered Hammer, but he continued to follow the serpent man for lack of any other options. more

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Fair Salvage: Conclusion

The crowd roared as the designated executioner wrapped the noose tightly around Bijoux’s neck. She was easy prey, muttering feverishly to herself, eyes rolling. They bound her hands and feet so that she couldn’t glide to safety. Then, with a mighty heave, they shoved her off the stone steps of one of the other towers.

There was a flash of black and the rope snapped. Bijoux was snatched out of the air by something moving fast.

Sebastian flew all the way to the beach before he let Bijoux go. He slashed open her bindings.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered to her. “The card…the card forced me to do things…”

Bijoux didn’t seem to hear him. She wobbled steadily to her feet. “They’re calling me,” she whispered. “They’re trapped between worlds.”

“I killed so many.” Sebastian fell to his knees. “There were a dozen, I think, in Carcosa. They didn’t know what hit them.” He could still smell the stench of burning flesh. “The King in Yellow forced my hand…”

Vlad and Kham arrived a few minutes later, panting.

Vlad put his hands on his knees. “You have to leave. The mob is coming this way.”

Sure enough, the pool of angry fireflies that were the mob’s torches had transformed into a serpent of flame, winding its way through Freeport and towards the beach.

Kham stared out at the water. “Uh, guys…”

Vlad looked over at Kham. “What now?”

“The water out there…it doesn’t look right. It’s broken up somehow, like something…” more

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Monday, September 28

Time and the Serpent: Prologue

Confusion never stops
Closing walls and ticking clocks
Gonna come back and take you home
I could not stop that you now know

--Clocks by Coldplay

After trudging across the blasted landscape for hours, they reached a standing stone nearly five feet in height with strange markings on it.

"What is that?" asked Hammer.

"It isss a warning," said Ssuthraa.

"Warning against what?"

Jim-Bean cocked his head. "Did you hear that?"

Hammer and Ssuthraa stopped. "What?" asked Ssuthraa. "What do you hear?"

"Voices…" said Jim-Bean, swiveling his head to pinpoint the sound. He was on utterly barren and flat terrain; there was no way he couldn't see the source. The voices were coming closer…

"…it sssound like?" said Ssuthraa urgently, interrupting Jim-Bean's concentration. The serpent person shook him. "Ssspeak, fool!"

"Hey," shouted Hammer, pointing his pistols at the serpent man. "Step away from him."

"Chanting," said Jim-Bean. "It sounds like chanting." more

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Fair Salvage: Part 3 – Assault on the Towers

The most impressive part of the Old City’s defenses was the five arcane fire cannons atop each one of the walls’ towers.

“The massive brass and iron armaments were salvaged from a mysterious hulk, found beached on the windward side of A’Val after a savage storm.” Kham climbed the winding outer steps up one of the towers. “It was impossibly large by Freeport standards. Sea Lord Francisco paid an exorbitant amount of money to acquire what were at first regarded as expensive curiosities.”

“Have they ever been fired?” asked Vlad.

Kham nodded. “The next marauding fleet that cruised into Freeport Harbor bent on stemming the tide of piracy received a surprising reception. Once the fleet’s flagship was reduced to a floating bonfire by one shot from the top of the Freeport battlements, the rest of the invaders quickly moved on.”

Two guards stopped his ascent with large clubs. “Halt!” said one of the guards.

There was a shout beyond the guards.

Kham swigged a potion and disappeared. The guards blinked and looked around.

Sebastian snapped out his wings. The guards readied their polearms, only to have the dark-kin spiral up past them.

That left Vlad. He smiled. “Do you know who I am?” He flashed the Symbol of Drac. “I’m a good friend of the Commissioner.“

The guards looked at each other. Finally, with a unified shrug, they let him pass. more

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Sunday, September 27

Chapter 45: Time and the Serpent - Introduction

This story hour is from “Time and the Serpent” from Traid Entertainment's Dwellers in Shadow. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

Playing old-school Cthulhu adventures (they're definitely not scenarios) is enlightening. They're basically Dungeons & Dragons with guns. Time and the Serpent is an old-school adventure that involves time travel, dinosaurs, zombies, and serpent people.

I wasn't happy with the outline for Future/Perfect Part Four. It took the scenario arc in a completely different direction and provided a take on time travel that didn't match with what we've already established in the campaign. Time and the Serpent went in the opposite direction and turned the conclusion into time traveling pulp insanity, which is just fine with me.

Like the scenario before it, if the players aren't morons, a lot of combat will be avoided. The agents at this point know when to run when faced with something huge and pissed off. So unfortunately, that means they let the plot sweep them along. They're in unknown territory being led by a cannibalistic serpent man sorcerer, so their options are a bit limited.

The other thing that I wrestled with was when to pause the game. The final battle is tough and I wasn't comfortable having just two agents face off against many serpent people. So I used the gate jumping interludes as an excuse to pause until the next session when we hopefully have more players. more

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Fair Salvage: Part 2 – The Collector

The brutal murder of Falthar cast a pall over the surrounding area. Some people were afraid to go out at night, while others formed themselves into vigilante groups and patrolled the streets in search of evildoers. There were several cases of mistaken identity that resulted in innocent people being stopped, beaten, and even lynched.

An almost palpable sense of dread hung over the neighborhood, but the rest of the city carried on its business as usual—a murder, however gruesome, was not a serious thing in Freeport, so long as it happened at a comfortable distance.

Sebastian joined Vlad and Kham in front of a two-story house on a leafy side street off Wave Avenue.

“Why have you summoned us here?” the dark-kin asked as he landed.

“Maybe you should stop flying around the city,” Kham said in irritation. “You could get lynched.”

Sebastian let a sly smile cross his lips. “They’ve already tried.”

It was understandable, said the Sea Lord’s Guard. Sebastian fit the description of the strange creatures seen roaming the city at night. They were never clearly seen and were described as nothing more than distorted shadows slipping in and out of the darkness. The stories told of glowing red eyes and tall, misshapen figures as thin as an elf but as tall as an ogre.

Vlad looked up at the house. “Where are we, anyway?”

“Aljandros Haddon’s house,” Kham said flatly.

“Aljandros too?” Vlad looked sideways at Kham. “Is there something you want to share with us?”

Kham shrugged. “Don’t look at me. I can’t help it if I know a lot of people.”

“A lot of dead people,” said Vlad. more

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Friday, September 25

God Shall Tread: Conclusion

Jim-Bean awoke in a rubble field, under a red sky. Ssruthaa and Hammer were present and unharmed, though their clothing and hair appeared scorched, and they were lying amidst random debris from the gate.

The surrounding landscape was utterly desolate. The dark plain of cooled lava stretched to the horizon in every direction.

"Maybe I should have asked this question earlier," said Jim-Bean, dusting himself off as he rose to his feet. "But where did the gate lead us?"

"Millions of years in the past," said Ssruthaa. "Long before your race learned to crawl."

"Great," said Hammer, glaring at Ssruthaa. "And what are we supposed to do now?"

Ssruthaa shook his head violently, then his whole body shivered. The human form melted away, replaced by a distinctly serpentine shape. He pointed one long finger at a giant structure in the distance, silhouetted against the reddish sky. It was a strange and alien building, twisting like some behemoth serpent up into the sky almost two hundred feet.

Though the great structure appeared clearly, it was quite a long way away. It could take the better half of a day to reach the alien edifice.

"Ssstart walking," said Ssruthaa. more

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Fair Salvage: Part 1 – The Unfortunate Antiquarian

Falthar’s Curios was only fifteen feet wide, but it was a good fifty feet long. It almost seemed that the building was an afterthought, crammed between two existing structures with little regard for functionality. Falthar made it work though. The front room was normally stuffed with curiosities from floor to rafters.

Kham found the door unlocked, the shop’s contents scattered. The furniture was reduced to kindling.

“Falthar!” shouted Kham.

Falthar val’Abebi lay on the floor in several pieces, badly charred but still identifiable. It had not been disturbed. Given the recent corruption scandal sweeping Freeport, none of the Sea Lord’s Guard had yet arrived despite several citizens raising the hue and cry.

Kham leaned down to inspect the corpse. The damage suffered by the corpse was consistent with magic. And yet, there was none of the widespread fire damage that one would expect from something so powerful.

“Skiz, look around,” said Kham.

The talking rat hopped out of Kham’s haversack and climbed down his pant leg. He paused to sniff the corpse.

“That’s not dinner,” Kham said sternly.

Skiz shot Kham a hurt look. Then he resumed sniffing the rest of the room. more

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Thursday, September 24

God Shall Tread: Part 8 – The Gate

A fully armed Hammer followed Ssruthaa and Jim-Bean down to the Level Six. Little attention was paid to them. It was a busy level. People ran down the hallways, many in odd jumpsuits, combat boots, gloves and helmets.

The final level underground was a maze of pressure locks, airlocks, huge, reinforced steel and carbon bulkheads and more. Colored lines meandered on the ground and on the walls, leading particular groups through the maze of rooms.

As Ssruthaa led them towards the gate, moving through various rings of airlocks, the air pressure, humidity and temperature seems to shift. Near the center, humidity was nearly eighty percent, and the temperature was approximately ninety-eight degrees.

"I don't like this," Hammer said to Jim-Bean through the telepathic link. "How do we know we can trust—"

"You have no other choice," Ssruthaa interrupted their mental conversation.

Hammer's eyes widened but he said nothing else, inwardly or outwardly.

Finally, they gained access to the Gate room, an enormous room the size of a concert hall, filled with equipment, personnel and the Duxbury gate.

It was immediately recognizable — it was identical in every way to the Hellbend gate.

The gate was a thirteen-foot wide by thirteen-foot high tall stone archway with slots on the left hand side of the large portal. The stone was odd—it was a deep black soapstone-like substance with an almost metallic quality, unidentifiable by modern science. The slots each fit a 2.718” gold cube. The archway was filled with a deep gray mist; much like steam, which did not seem to drift far from the door. There was something odd about the way the smoke drifted; it occasionally seemed to twirl, twist and congeal into tiny storm-like collections of clouds; and it never drifted far from the stone doorway before evaporating.

Next to the gate was a small, odd, wheel shaped device covered in Aklo writing. It was obviously an alien device retrofitted to a human constructed machine that operated the gate. Huge, thick power cables ran from the device up into the ceiling of the Gate room.

Ssruthaa disconnected the cables with his bare hands. "Fools," he snarled. "You have no idea the power you trifle with."

Several Brownshirts whirled. "Hey, get away from there!"

There was another trumpet behind them. Rhan-Tegoth was coming.

"Did that thing…take the freight elevator down here?" asked Jim-Bean to nobody in particular. more

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Fair Salvage: Prologue

The Long Day’s Night eventually rescued Sebastian, Vlad, and the remaining crew of the Lady Quay. The breezed had stopped completely, so that the air hung hot and humid and utterly still. Ships had been becalmed, sometimes for weeks, with no sight of land or salvation, slowly depleting their supplies.

“Sorry boys,” said Captain Amos. “According to the charts you recovered from Marissa Lapideaux’s home, the time to open a portal to R’lyeh came and went.”

Sebastian turned the small sextant over in his hands. “Then all is lost.”

Amos clapped Sebastian on the back. “Oh, I’m sure something’ll turn up. If my boys heard right, you stopped the Unspeakable One and lived to tell about it. Opening a portal should be a piece of cake for the likes of you.”

Vlad rubbed his forehead. “If only it were that easy.”

Sebastian looked up. Something had caught his attention. “There.” He pointed. “What’s that?”

There was a glint on the water, not far off. Vlad peered over the deck at it.

“Well, I’ll be…” said Amos. He handed Vlad the spyglass. “See for yourself.”

Vlad looked through the scope. more

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Wednesday, September 23

Chapter 59: Fair Salvage - Introduction

This scenario is from the Tales of Freeport adventure “Fair Salvage” from Green Ronin, by Graeme Davis and adapted to the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

Bijoux’s player had abruptly exited the campaign before I was ready to write Bijoux off completely. So it took awhile, but this is the adventure where we explain what happened to Bijoux’s people and why anyone should care. After all, they’re the Great Success or Failure (depending on how you look at it) for the Unspeakable One. Are they any better off?

More importantly, as the campaign winds to a close, it’s time to clean out the closet, so to speak. Anyone and everyone is fair game, and more than a few NPCs have served their purpose. When it comes to a murder mystery, somebody or in this case several somebodies, have to die.

This scenario is barely an adventure, actually, but more an encounter. It’s one of those adventures that seems much more interested in telling the PCs about what already happened, as opposed to actually thrusting them into the middle of a conflict. I tweaked the adventure so the PCs were at all the exciting parts and heard about the boring parts instead.

Even that resulted in very little combat, because fortunately the PCs are smart enough to know when to hold ‘em and know when to fold ‘em.

Now somebody tell that to Bijoux. more

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Too deeply flawed

The Horror tells us about overly flawed characters, in Just Like Suicide.

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God Shall Tread: Part 7 – On the Menu

Ssruthaa transformed right before Jim-Bean's eyes into the Brownshirt he consumed. Jim-Bean picked up the guard's pistol. Ssruthaa passed by several weapons on the floor, left by Brownshirts who fled in utter terror.

"Don't you want a gun?" asked Jim-Bean.

Ssruthaa sneered at him with his human features. "I am far more formidable without your mortal weapons," he said without a hint of his lisp. more

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Tuesday, September 22

God Shall Tread: Part 6 – The Thing in the Cell

"Let me go! It is starving down there beyond that cell door, and if It dies the Old Ones can never come back. Hei! Hei! Let me go!"

The thing was telepathically screaming at him. Its head was facing his direction but its snake-like features were otherwise inscrutable. A Brownshirt stood guard with another scientist checked Ssruthaa's vitals.

"Let who go?" Jim-Bean

"Wza-y'ei! Wza-y'ei! Y'kaa haa ho-ii, Rhan-Tegoth-Cthulhu fthagn-Ei! Ei! Ei! Ei!-Rhan-Teogth. Rhan-Tegoth, Rhan-Tegoth!"

"I get it," Jim-Bean beamed back. "But you don't have to keep ranting about Goths…"

"No, fool! Rhan-Tegoth! You do not trussst me? And yet you trussst the ssshoggoth."

Jim-Bean made his way to the doorway, but there was no way he was going to get inside without some serious firepower.

"Oh, you didn’t know, did you?" continued Ssruthaa. "Ssstupid human. Lasssiter is a ssshoggoth in human form. Now quickly, releassse me from my bondsss! Even now Rhan-Tegoth awakesss!”

Jim-Bean recognized the name. Lassiter was the CEO of Hunt Electronics. But he wasn't entirely sure what a shoggoth was.

"Listen, fool! Listen hard! It has heard me, and is coming. Can't you hear It splashing out of Its tank down there at the end of the hallway? It is amphibious, you know--you saw the gills. It came to the earth from lead-gray Yuggoth, where the cities are under the warm deep sea. It can't stand up in there--too tall--has to sit down or crouch."

There was a splashing, padding or shuffling, as of great wet paws on a solid surface. A noisome animal stench poured into Jim-Bean's nostrils. Sudden baying followed sniffing and snorting. A trumpeting noise assailed his ears.

Jim-Bean whirled, his hand going for his pistol. The pistol he didn't bring with him. It was safely secured in the crate along with Hammer and the rest of their equipment.

Something fumbled with the latch of the heavy cell door, patting, pawing, pushing. There was a thudding on the stout metal, which grew louder and louder. The stench was horrible.

The Brownshirt in Ssruthaa's room looked up and so did the scientist. They were looking past Jim-Bean. more

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Lady Quay: Conclusion

An explosion wracked the Lady Quay…then another and another in a chain of designed destruction. She had seen better days: she was a wrecked bulk of planks and torn sails, of rotten shrouds and sagging yardarms. Her keel was irreparably split, her rudder nothing but a splintered stub. Fetid seaweed clung to her warped bulkheads like rotting flesh.

“What the hell happened?” asked Vlad in horror.

The hull of the Lady Quay ruptured, cracked open like an arid desert; the aft section burst and trembled. Slowly, it began to sink in flames, plunging to her death.

Sebastian watched dispassionately.

The Lady Quay sank beneath the waves as the sun set. A few crewmen dove off the side, swimming their way to shore.

The survivors of the Lady Quay, temporarily safe, watched in awe and grief as their only way home died in the ominous Pale Sea beyond. Captain Miro watched with hollowed eyes.

“My god, Rekello,” she whispered. “What have I done?”

“What you had to do,” said Rekello. “What you always do. Turned death into a fighting chance to live.” He looked concerned over at his captain. “You hear me, Winnifer?”

Captain Miro took a deep breath and nodded her understanding to Rekello.

“Mind explaining it to the rest of us?” asked Kham.

Rekello shot Miro a glance. She nodded at him. “It doesn’t matter now.” more

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Thursday, September 17

God Shall Tread: Part 5 – Have You Seen My Red Stapler?

It was the last cell that gave him pause. It contained a bulbous, ten-foot tall shaggy crab/spider sealed in a large transparent specimen case. It had an almost globular torso, with six long, sinuous limbs terminating in crab-like claws. From the upper end a subsidiary globe bulged forward bubble-like; its triangle of three staring, fishy eyes, its foot-long and evidently flexible proboscis, and a distended lateral system analogous to gills, suggested that it is a head. Most of the body was covered what first appeared to be fur.

Jim-Bean shuddered. The thing didn't feel right. He kept on walking towards the freight elevators…

“Free me!”

Jim-Bean pulled up short. He looked around. No one had said anything. All the techs were busy passing in the hallway or focusing on their instruments in other rooms.

Jim-Bean reached out with his mind to Hammer. "Was that you?"

"What?"

"Did you just ask me to free you?"

"I've been asking you to free me for the past ten minutes." more

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Lady Quay: Part 8 – The Hidden Vault

Kham padded down the hallway, peering around each corner before he did so. He waved the others on behind him.

He came to a door. Throwing caution to the wind, Kham opened it.

The small room was heaped with pillows of all shapes and sizes. Thick rugs covered most of the floor. A thin copper lever protruded from the northern wall. It smelled like reptile flesh.

There were sounds of combat in the hallway. Kham ignored them. He pulled the lever.

There was a grinding sound. A stone wall slid open near the lever.

Something shrieked in agony in response to whatever it was Sebastian and Vlad were doing.

The vault’s interior was totally dark and heaped with crates, five in all, each bearing a decrepit iron lock. They were quite large, almost too big to fit through the narrow doorway.

Vlad shouted an inquiry as to Kham’s whereabouts, littered with expletives. more

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Wednesday, September 16

God Shall Tread: Part 4 – Through the Wire

The Duxbury plant was a nearly three-acre section of land located outside of the town proper. Two deep twenty-foot security fences topped with razor wire surrounded it. Every fifth fence-pole was topped by a swiveling security camera monitored twenty-four-hours a day by Hunt Electronics guards, known as Brownshirts.

There was one main gate that was “air locked” — separated into its own section by a series of fences — overlooked by two cement buildings with bulletproof glass that looked surprisingly like bunkers. Only delivery trucks entered the gate.

Jim-Bean, dressed as one of the drivers, drove through the gate. They had intercepted a service truck in record time while he was at a red light; so quickly, in fact, that the whole thing had taken just under two minutes. Although the plant's security was amazing, its reach was only as effective as its perimeter.

Jim-Bean was guided by several of the Brownshirts into a docking bay. He backed the truck in with some trepidation, stopping frequently – he wasn't accustomed to driving big rigs. As Weeks had indicated, the place was buzzing and there was an air of urgency. His hesitation just made him seem like a nervous and overworked employee under the gun. The Brownshirts seemed to take it all in stride.

He just hoped they wouldn't look inside the Box.

The Box was a hastily constructed chamber, large enough to fit a human being, but not large enough to be comfortable. Hammer was crunched up in a hunched position, along with their weapons and an oxygen tank. Most importantly, it was designed to foil any scanners. There was actually a false exterior around the box that provided a faux scan. So long as nobody opened the box, it would pass muster. That was a big "if."

There was also the fact that, eventually, Hammer had to get out of the box before he ran out of air. And it was practically impossible for him to do it on his own. more

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Lady Quay: Part 7 – The Mistress' Lair

Vlad crawled his way out of the window. If Kham and Sebastian hadn’t distracted the snake-thing, she would have killed him.

Sebastian found him lying on the ground.

“What happened to you?”

“Snakes…drank…blood…” he was pale and shivering. “Caught me…by…surprise.”

Sebastian shook his head. “As I feared. This is no mere medusa.”

“Right, because she wasn’t bad enough as just a ‘regular’ medusa.” Kham rubbed his forehead. “This one sucks blood. Probably turns into a bat too.”

“Boss,” whispered Skiz from Kham’s haversack. “Boss!”

“Not now Skiz.”

”BOSS!”

“What is it Skiz?”

“She’s calling me.” The little rat was clearly freaked out. “I can hear her in my head. She’s calling me. She’s calling us.” more

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Tuesday, September 15

God Shall Tread: Part 3 – The Week Link

Walter sat down on a kitchen stool. Another man with sandy brown hair and eyes with a hint of blue in them sat down across from him. "Walter, we need to know some things." He casually waved a gun in Walter's direction. "You're going to help us right?"

"What do you want?" asked Walter.

"Answers," said Jim-Bean. "I need to know about you. What do you do at Hunt Electronics?"

"I'm…I'm a chemist."

"And what chemistry do you do at HE?"

"I…I work on chemical samples, looking for valuable substances like gold, silver and platinum."

"What kind of chemical samples?" snarled Hammer, edging closer. "We don't have a lot of time here…"

Weeks flinched. "Don't hurt me! I'm sorry, I'm sorry it's hard to focus…" He broke down into a body-wracking sobs. "P-please don't k-kill me…"

"Oh for crying out loud…" Jim-Bean turned towards Hammer. "Why don't you go search his bedroom?"

Hammer glared at him, but he did as Jim-Bean suggested. more

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Lady Quay: Part 6 – Ruined Lab

The room was a chaotic mess of wrecked beakers and shards of glass, broken chemical gear and tattered books. Kham didn’t think the owner would mind a broken window.

Something hissed near the doorway on the opposite side of the room. A creature coalesced before his very eyes, serpentine in form. He thought at first it was a ssanu, but its feminine upper torso and forest of snakes for hair made him jerk his gaze away.

“Welcome to my home,” snarled a feminine voice. “So good to see you. Have you come for tea?”

Kham reacted quickly. He reached for his powderhorn and then threw it into the air between them.

“Sorry, I’ve got a date with the ladies!” Careful to avoid her gaze, he drew two pistols and fired.

The ensuing explosion blew him backwards. Kham twisted through the air, using the momentum to hurl himself out the window. At least, that was the plan. more

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Monday, September 14

God Shall Tread: Part 2 – Hairball

"Go, go, go!" shouted Hammer to the pilot.

Jim-Bean and Hammer were already on a plane to Berne. They planned to have eyes on the ground before he got there. They were both exhausted – SPIDER transit outside the U.S. was considerably less luxurious than within America. And given that SPIDER transit was awful to begin with, it meant they were nauseous and exhausted from the endless turbulence required to cross the Atlantic Ocean in record time.

There was no way Emery could pull off wearing a wire. He was too jumpy, too nervous, and simply too clueless to act as their mole. The only way to do it right was to stick to Emery's original plan and maintain his ignorance.

The COCKTAIL worked well. Emery's memory was completely wiped. He didn't remember where he was. In fact, the Majestic boys were a little concerned he might remember nothing at all, given the sudden decision to dope Emery up. But it worked like a charm.

Everything was bugged. The phone, the gold nuggets, even Emery himself. They injected at tracker in his bloodstream.

"All trackers are functioning," said the pilot. They were already in the air before Emery had arrived at the airport. The staff was paid well to delay Emery as much as possible, but it seemed Hunt Electronics paid even better.

No matter, they were still one step ahead of HE. "We need to know his destination," said Hammer. "Wherever he lands, we need eyes on Emery as soon as he steps out of the plane."

"Copy that," replied the Majestic agent on the comm.

They watched the tracking devices on a monitor in the jet. They beepered a comforting staccato with every mile Emery's plane covered.

"Do you think this is going to work?"

"Why shouldn't it?" asked Hammer. "HE is still going to get its shipment."

Jim-Bean looked uncomfortable. "I don't know, it's just that…"

"Don't tell me you've chosen this moment to develop a conscience."

Jim-Bean laughed. "That's not what I mean. I'm just not sure Emery's the type to blow his money on booze and hookers."

"He's greedy," said Hammer. "Greedy people just get worse over time."

"Maybe," said Jim-Bean. "I guess it tells us a lot about the character of a man, huh? They'll probably kill him when he gets there."

"That's why we have to get there first. We'll be ready to take them out. HE just cares about the equipment," said Hammer. "Once they get that back, he's as good as—"

The monitor beeped urgently.

The tracking devices were scattering. They beeped once, twice, radiating outwards from the plane in a circle, thousands of miles above ground. Then they disappeared entirely.

Hammer and Jim-Bean stared at the screen, dumbfounded. more

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Lady Quay: Part 5 – Living Room

The walls of Marissa Lapideaux’s home were made of stone. The door had a base knocker shaped like a coiled snake.

Sebastian spread his bat wings. “I’ll check around the back.” He launched himself into the air with a mighty flap.

“I’ll check the windows on the other side.” Kham swigged a potion and disappeared.

Vlad sighed. “Well, guess that leaves me.” He banged the knocker a few times. “Hello? Anyone home?” more

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Saturday, September 12

God Shall Tread: Part 1 – Belling the Cat

Emery sat up in a blind panic.

"Oh Jesus…" he looked around.

He was dressed in only his underwear, in a bed. In a hotel room. The room smelled of sweat, cigarette smoke, and booze. The sheets were roiled around him.

There was a note on the dresser. A lipstick kiss and "call me" with a phone number he didn't recognize. It was not an American phone number.

Where the hell was he? Think Emery, think! You were on your way to Berne and then…and then…nothing. It was like hitting his head against a mental wall.

Emery's heart pounded as he realized what must have happened. He had been ambushed. Maybe some hooker had gotten him drunk. But most importantly, what happened to the equipment…

Emery tore open the bathroom door. Nothing.

It was all fading away. His excursions to Europe. His suspicious bonuses. His job at Hunt Electronics. It was all over. If he was lucky, he would lose his job. If he wasn't…he didn't want to think about it.

Emery pulled open the folding closet. He was so relieved by what he found there that he sank to his knees.

The cases were there. He tried to lift one…it was heavy. Emery checked the seals. Unopened. The hooker who swindled him wasn't smart enough or interested enough to look inside. Emery didn't even know what was inside. In fact, he was paid to not find out.

Emery's emotions careened from utter despair to hopeful salvation. He had a chance! He could make this right!

He fumbled through the nightstand drawer. "Please tell me she didn't take my…YES!" He pulled out his cell phone triumphantly. It even had one bar left. Just enough, he hoped, to make the most important phone call of his life. more

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Lady Quay: Part 4 – Aegis Isle

Eventually, the Lady Quay weighed anchor in one of the lagoons at Aegis Isle. The island was very small, less than five miles across, but abundant in jungle flora. The Lady Quay moored several hundred yards off the dangerous reefs surrounding the island. Rekello saw that the pearl-laden crates from the lower hold were put into a dinghy.

“Nothing lives here,” said Captain Miro, “except the yurians.”

“Yurians?” asked Vlad.

“Crabmen,” said Kham. “They use Aegis Isle as a mating and assembly ground.”

“Marissa Lapideaux also lives here,” said Rekello. “She’s a renowned sculptor that lives in a simple stone cottage in the center of the island.”

“Since when does she deal in healing draughts?” Kham blinked. “Last I heard, she was selling one of her life-sized statues. I think they called it the Spirit of Freeport.”

Lapideaux’s statue was of a pirate brandishing a cutlass in defiance of the world. It created quite a stir, such that the Captain’s Council bought it and placed it outside the Sea Lord’s palace.

Rekello and Captain Miro took the oars of the dinghy. “Follow in the second, just in case your sword arms and spells are needed along the way.”

Sebastian, Kham, and Vlad clambered into the other boat and followed them.

As they came closer to the island, what looked like bizarre coral reef were actually the waving eyestalks and claws of several yurians.

“This is unusual,” said Captain Miro. “They never meet us here. We usually drop off the pearls and there’s a crate of…herbs waiting for us.”

“Yeah, right,” said Kham. “Herbs.” more

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Friday, September 11

God Shall Tread: Prologue


Hammer and Jim-Bean had been circling Hunt Electronics' Duxbury headquarters for over a week with no luck. The place was built like a fortress, but then a gold mine of information fell into their laps. Literally.

On a gray Monday morning a young 22-year-old employee of Hunt Electronics was detained and questioned by TSA officials at La Guardia Airport in New York City. He was pulled aside in a random search, and quickly drew the suspicion of his interrogators with his evasive answers and nervousness.

"So who's this?" Jim-Bean craned his neck to inspect the nervous young man sitting in the interrogation room.

"Jonathan Emery," said Hammer. "Ready?"

"Good cop or bad cop?"

"Let's switch it up," said Hammer. "I'll be good cop for once."

"Do you even know how?"

Hammer paused to remark "very funny" before opening the door to the interrogation room. [MORE]

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Lady Quay: Part 3 – Master of the Fathoms

The winds were sparse, causing the Lady Quay to drift.

“What do we do when we get there?” Kham was hanging from a makeshift hammock, swinging to and fro with the ship’s motion.

“What we’re being paid to do,” said Sebastian. “Find whoever is supplying the Essence Ingots and kill them.”

“Since when do you talk so callously about killing people?” Vlad proceeded to whittle a piece of wood, for lack of anything else to do.

Sebastian stared out at the ocean. “You weren’t the Stranger in Carcosa for years. Maybe centuries.”

Kham rubbed his throat. “Was it that long?”

“It’s impossible to tell. I did many unspeakable things over and over again until I no longer understood their significance.” Sebastian’s tail flicked behind him.

Vlad couldn’t help but notice the poison stinger at the end. He looked at Kham as he addressed Sebastian. “You’re not mad?”

“Mad? Unbalanced, perhaps. But angry? No. Why should I be? I made the decision and Kham made his. You brought me back. That’s enough.”

“Things are different, that’s for sure,” said Kham. “I feel like the whole world has changed. Like it lost its spark.”

“Almost as if we’re cursed?” Sebastian allowed a tiny smile to creep across his ashen lips. “The King in Yellow was your patron, as he was mine. He has withdrawn his protection from us. Arcanis is a little grayer because of it.”

Vlad shook his head. “Now you’re both scaring me.” [MORE]

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Thursday, September 10

Chapter 44: Where a God Shall Tread - Introduction

This story hour is a combination of “Future/Perfect” Part Three by Dennis Detwiller and “Where a God Shall Tread” from At Your Door. You can read more about Delta Green at http://www.delta-green.com. Please note: This story hour contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

When you're running straight-up survival horror, smaller numbers are easier to manage. Dealing with the aforementioned dinosaur attack was perfectly suited for two agents alone in the dark. A Mission Impossible-style infiltration of a heavily guard base, on the other hand, could use as many agents as we can stuff around the table. But we only had two.

To my surprise, the agents ended up ranging beyond the scope of the scenario. The players know when scenarios are "open" and "closed" – this was definitely an open scenario, so they ranged far and wide. I brought them back in with the logical conclusion to their actions, which shocked them and put a timetable on penetrating the base.

The base itself turned out to be fairly anticlimactic. After all, if the alarms haven't sounded, things tend to go pretty smoothly. Fortunately, I had a very big series of wrinkles in store for the agents. The question was whether or not they would play along. To my surprise, they did.

Defining Moment: Tracking beacons hidden in gold nuggets suddenly scatter…40,000 feet up. more

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Lady Quay: Part 2 – Buried at Sea

Kham fingered an ancient bronze amulet they found in the kelpies’ chest.

“I don’t know what you see in that ugly thing.” Vlad held up a necklace of coral and pearl. “This is worth a lot more.”

“Not to me it isn’t,” said the val. He kept running his fingers over every contour. “It’s what’s on the amulet that’s important.”

“It’s a map,” said Sebastian coolly. “So Kham can find his way.”

“Seriously?” asked Vlad. “So does that mean you can—“

Before he could say more a rubbery, wet thing landed on top of Vlad, its tongue lolling from its mouth. [MORE]

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Wednesday, September 9

Operation Bravo: Conclusion

Jim-Bean met Hammer at the hospital. Hammer. He was laid up in bed, doped up on painkillers.

"Did you get them?" asked Hammer. His forearm was heavily bandaged. The dinosaurs had near snapped his forearm in two.

"Good to see you're alive, Jim-Bean," began Jim-Bean sarcastically. "I thought you were dead. Sorry I had to leave you behind with the scary Jurassic Park rejects…"

"Very funny," croaked Hammer.

"You're seriously messed up yourself," said Jim-Bean.

"Radiation…poisoning," said Hammer.

"Oh yeah, I noticed that. But I got over it."

Hammer continued his question. "So?"

"The dinosaurs are now definitely extinct. As for the gate, I called in a STREETSWEEPER team. Gave Larry the gold cube. They're going in now." [MORE]

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Lady Quay: Part 1 – A Woman in Need

“A pirate’s life is sadness and woe.” Kham spun on one heel, encompassing the ship. “We're rascals, scoundrels, villains, and knaves,” sang Kham.

Vlad looked dubiously at Kham. “You’re drunk.”

“We're devils and black sheep, really bad eggs,” sang Kham.

“Drink up, me 'earties,” shouted some of the crew in chorus, “yo ho!”

Kham chuckled and sighed. “Where’s the elf when you need a good song?”

“What’s gotten into you?” asked Vlad in irritation.

Kham laughed again. “You mean this?” he tore off the scarf he wore on the ship and pointed to the yellowish wound. It would never heal correctly. “Or do you mean the fact that my powers don’t work?”

“What?” asked Vlad in disbelief. “Since when?”

“Since we closed Carcosa.” Kham was somewhere between giggling and crying. “I can’t walk between worlds anymore because there’s no world to walk, you see.”

“Something off the port bow!” shouted a crewman.

No more than fifty yards off the port bow floated a small, crudely built raft. The craft had been lashed together of ill-fitting timber, sporting a single mast that bore a sail that appeared to have once served duty as a bed sheet. One end of the pitiful raft was partially submerged, due in no small part to the large, seaweed-laden chest encumbering it. Water lapped over the legs of the raft’s single passenger, a woman in a sodden evening gown who pulled determinedly at the sea with a broken paddle.

“Mr. val’Abebi?” asked Captain Miro wearily. “Would you like to rescue the damsel in distress?”

“Oh sure,” said Kham. He took two steps forward and then slipped. Kham let out a loud belly laugh. “Maybe later!”

Vlad shook his head. “I’ll do it.” [MORE]

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Tuesday, September 8

Operation Bravo: Part 8 – The Gate


Jim-Bean unshouldered his duffel bag. There was enough C-4 to do some damage. But he had bigger problems.

Behind him, the Hellbend killers entered the cave entrance, snapping and snarling at each other as they established dominance for who would eat Jim-Bean first.

At first glance, they looked like an enormous flightless red-green colored birds the size of pick-up trucks. They had small forearms sprinkled with orange-green feather-like extrusions, and the same faux feathers on their backs. They were quite obviously predators—heads filled with two-inch long serrated teeth, and face broken by one blunt horn. Their small forward arms were tipped with five-inch hook-like claws.

They were also most definitely not lizards. These were dinosaurs.

The predators crept into the cavern, hissing, heads darting to track his every move.

"Velociraptors," whispered Jim-Bean. "Great." [MORE]

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Lady Quay: Prologue

Kham and Sebastian, stared skeptically across the table at Vlad. They were sequestered in a dark recess of the alehouse known as the Dead Reckoning.

“So we just do this one job and all is forgiven?” asked Kham in disbelief.

“That’s how the Commissioner put it to me,” said Vlad. “But we’re all in, since we broke the law, so to speak.”

“And they’re just going to let me walk…” Kham stared into his mug. He wasn’t sure how he felt about all this.

“Not quite,” said Vlad. “Technically, you’re dead. Freeport declared all hands on deck of the prison ship drowned. So it’s more a matter of letting you stay dead.”

“Sure.” Kham shrugged. “That makes about as much sense as the rest of the laws in Freeport.” [MORE]

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Sunday, September 6

Operation Bravo: Part 7 – One Lousy Day

Hammer had no idea that the sudden drop in the culvert saved his life. When Hammer sputtered back to the surface, Jim-Bean was gone.

He spun around, Glocks out, hoping they would still work despite being soaked. "Jim-Bean? Jimmy?"

There was an odd barking screech, almost like that of an angry seagull, only louder and angrier. It echoed to Hammer's right. Then to his left.

When Hammer caught sight of a red-green head he didn't hesitate to fire. There was a screech, and something thrashed in the water. Then he was alone again in the inky blackness.

Hammer made his way over to the side of the culvert. If he could just get his back to the wall… [MORE]

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Chapter 58: The Ghosting of the Lady Quay - Introduction

This scenario is from the Necromancer Games adventure “The Ghosting of the Lady Quay” from the Dead Man’s Chest supplement, adapted to the Arcanis setting. You can read more about Arcanis at http://www.onaraonline.org. Please note: This adventure contains spoilers!

Our cast of characters includes:

By this time the rest of the players showed up and it was time to close the loop on Freeport’s Ghoul Juice problem. I turned this adventure on its ear, reversing the role of the Lady Quay (ferrying pearls for Essence Ingots instead of the other way around). How the Essence Ingots are made is an awful secret that our heroes are about to stumble onto.

This is the beginning of a series of high-level adventures where the monsters truly test the mettle of the PCs. The gloves are off and now everything is fair game, including petrification, energy drain, and a whole host of other nasty things. This is also the adventure that introduces the amulet of the planes on a 4 HD monster (I boosted the kelpies to be considerably nastier, but still…a 120,000 gp item on a 4 HD monster?).

Fortunately, the amulet proves to be a really entertaining plot device. You’ll see what I mean in subsequent adventures.

There were other problems. For example, the main villain is hiding in a highly insecure home. It’s hard to surprise adventurers when they can JUST WALK UP TO THE WINDOW AND PEEK INTO YOUR HIDING PLACE. Ahem.

And with that, it’s time to put the pirates back in Freeport. No more worrying about cultists and serpent people in sewers, it’s time to explore a drug dealer’s island! [MORE]

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Saturday, September 5

Operation Bravo: Part 6 – On the Menu

Jim-Bean awoke to shooting pain in his foot. He was floating, half-dragged through the current towards…somewhere. He couldn't make out what it was, but he got the distinct impression of feathers…which didn't make any sense, because he had definitely seen a scaly head.

Focus. Jim-Bean was alive. Hammer wasn't with him. This thing was dragging him back to it lair, no doubt to eat him. He had to come up with a plan.

But there was no beating these things in a fair fight. Not in a water-logged tunnel, not when he was barely clinging to life, surviving only because his protomatter-infused body never quit mending his wounds. He would have to come up with something else than mere violence.

It was time to test the limits of his powers. Valiant's crystal had unleashed powers within him he never dreamed of. He had been meditating, practicing some of the techniques he learned at Enolsis. He was about to put them to the test.

Evidence of the culvert was long gone. What little he could make out with his head beam showed a jagged, uneven ceiling. He was instead surrounded by dirt and rocks.

That's all he needed. He tried to focus.

But it was hard. The damn thing bit down on his foot every few seconds as it adjusted its grip on him. Jim-Bean's protomatter body was capable of some amazing things, but he doubted he could reattach a severed foot. He bit his lip to keep from crying out.

Focus… [MORE]

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Gangs of Freeport: Conclusion

After a hike through the Fortress of Justice that took Vlad through the imposing main gates and past the notorious Courts, he was brought to the second story of a large stone building. A heavy wooden door, banded in bronze, stood before him, and a commanding voice calls out for him to enter.

Within was a spacious office. A heavy oaken desk sat on the far corner, cluttered with piles of paper too organized to be called “heaps,” yet not neat enough to qualify as “stacks.” Weapons of all manner and make hung from the walls. Some gleamed as if purchased from the smith only the day before, while others were little more than solid rust, held together by sheer force of habit.

Behind the desk stood a man of average height and solid build. Though graying strands amidst his black hair and beard betrayed the onset of middle age, he still boasted the physique and the carriage of a seasoned warrior. Even inside, though he wore no armor, he carried at his belt the heavy “smashstick” mace that had become the unofficial emblem of the Guard.

He bid Vlad welcome in a voice that, when raised, could carry clear across a parade ground or battlefield. “Please take a seat,” he offered, indicating a chair before his desk. “I am Commissioner Xander Williams. My guards tell me you have information regarding the current crime wave. I would be delighted to hear it.” [MORE]

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Friday, September 4

Operation Bravo: Part 5 – Down the Rabbit Hole

The concrete culvert, which led into the earth heading towards the Hunt plant, was quite large, capable of allowing a human to stand upright comfortably.

That's when they heard the odd noise.

It was not easily describable—it sounded somewhat like an echoey clicking. The mechanical clicking rose and fell over time.

A slow rush of water about two inches deep lapped at their heels. The culvert's walls were covered in a deep green moss up to about hip height. The water seemed to go in cycles—rising slightly in speed and depth every few minutes.

"I don't like that sound," said Jim-Bean. [MORE]

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Gangs of Freeport: Part 8 – Isle Be Seeing You

The lighthouse known as Milton’s Folly was a two-hundred-foot-tall tower of white marble, a wonder of the modern age. The light atop it pierced the gloom of night like a second sun, guiding ships around the isles and through dangerous waters to the relative safety of Freeport’s harbor. Not long ago, it was the center of a scheme to drive the entire population mad in the name of a dark and forgotten deity. Now, converted to an impressive yet mundane purpose, it had already become a fact of daily life, largely taken for granted or ignored by the people who benefited from its presence.

Vlad approached the island by boat at night. He came from the far end of the island, keeping low to the brush. If Tillinghast was in the tower, he would most certainly see him enter the clearing. But there was no help for it, because the invisibility potions were no longer for sale; even Finn had difficulty acquiring them for Vlad. When he snuck into the clearing and a bell rang, Vlad wished Finn had tried harder.

There was the sound of someone crashing through the bush to his left. Vlad took off in pursuit.

He ran through the light undergrowth into a copse of trees when an axe nearly beheaded him. A mercenary in full plate armor and wielding a great axe yanked the huge weapon out of the tree. Vlad turned and struck at the mercenary’s arms. He was rewarded with a grunt. The axe came up again.

Vlad partially blocked the attack with his shield, stopping a glancing blow. The mighty strike rattled his teeth and numbed his arm. Vlad slashed at the man’s heel. The mercenary wailed and fell to one knee.

Vlad kept running. He ducked through more trees and undergrowth, finally coming upon a gradual slope. He could make out Tillinghast ahead of him, running for his life toward docks on the other side of the island.

“Stop him!” he shouted. Two mercenaries who were jogging behind Tillinghast whirled to face Vlad. [MORE]

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Thursday, September 3

Operation Bravo: Part 4 – The Ruins of Hunt

Located approximately two miles from the center of Hellbend, California on the ruins of a formerly beautiful asphalt road, a sea of destroyed concrete was all that remained of Hunt Electrodynamics Plant #004. A partially ruined chain link fence surrounded it five hundred yards out from the ruins on all sides.

It was hardly a deterrent. Large gaps existed every fifty feet or so. All that remained were concrete slabs split into no larger than three-foot chunks, an occasional metal strut curled by some huge force, random, destroyed business devices from the 1950s.

Hammer walked the perimeter. "Looks to me like the place was destroyed more by an implosion. See how the buildings lean inwards to a center point?"

Walking the site of the plant revealed little. There were no apparent entrances below; no tunnels, holes or stairs down. The site appeared barren.

The point where Clifford Potter was digging with the Bobcat was easily found. The twenty by thirty-foot bald spot was meticulously cleared of rubble, and covered in Bobcat tracks, various footprints and the random detritus of humanity.

"From the looks of it, the Bobcat blade broke the ground maybe once or twice," said Hammer. The hole it created dipped down only a foot or two, revealing nothing. The site was suspiciously clear of anything else.

"You said Potter was digging up metal pipes?" Jim-Bean asked Androzy.

"Yeah."

"Where?" asked Jim-Bean. "There are no metal pipes—no metal at all except steel—on the surface." [MORE]

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Gangs of Freeport: Part 7 – The Reptile House

The house appeared to be like any other. It was solid, but every so slightly run down, as if its owners couldn’t quite afford upkeep along with all their other expenses. It stood two stories in height and its single chimney appeared unused. Every window was shuttered tight. Two doors appeared to grant ingress; one was at the front of the house, while the other door opened out into a small garden.

Price knocked on the door.

A slot opened. “Who is it?”

“It’s…me. I had a problem. I think this Vlad person is on to us.”

The slot closed. Then the door opened and a ssanu stood before him.

Price’s mouth opened and then snapped shut. He walked in.

The ssanu ushered Price over to a table. “So, tell me about this Vlad.”

Price squinted. “He handed me some papers he got from Barnacle-Bottom Bailey’s ship. When I tried to arrest him, he resisted. He tried to hand me over to the Sea Lord’s Guard, but I escaped.”

The ssanu cocked its head. “You don’t sound like Price.”

“And you don’t sound like a ssanu. Where’s your lisp?”

Price raised his hand and concentrated. The magic concealing the ssanu dissipated revealing a surprised human.

Vlad let his illusion drop, sword and shield were at the ready. He leaped onto the table and stabbed the man in the chest. Shrieking for help, the man fell to the ground. [MORE]

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Wednesday, September 2

Operation Bravo: Part 3 – The Thing in the Cellar

The root cellar was a recent construction; something dug in the last two years. It was a small ten foot by twelve foot room about twelve feet down in the ground, accessible through hand-made storm cellar doors and a series of slate steps. It appeared as if a great amount of effort went into constructing it.

Hammer flicked on his head lamp. Jim-Bean switched on a flashlight. They played the beams over the dirt floor.

It was completely empty except for a single long-toothed rake propped against a shored-up wall.

"Only one person has been down in the soft dirt of the cellar." Hammer pointed out footprints in the dirt.

"So?" asked Jim-Bean.

"I don't think Androzy ever stepped foot down here."

"Whoever those footprints belong to, he was really interested in raking the floor." The few footprints disrupted an otherwise perfect sea of carefully raked dirt; like a strange subterranean Zen garden.

Hammer pulled out a small utility tool from his pocket. "Start digging."

"What? Why?"

"You don't rake a root cellar unless you're covering something up," said Hammer. [MORE]

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Gangs of Freeport: Part 6 – Off Their Guard

Armed with Price’s patrol schedule, Vlad knew precisely where to meet him. He met him with a patrol of five guards.

“Price!” said Vlad with a smile. “It’s good to see you.”

Price paused and the Sea Lord’s Guard behind him stopped in place. “Well wot ‘ave we ‘ere? If it ain’t me old friend Vlad! Last I heard, you was drownin’ in th’ sea! Guess you turned up all right then, eh?”

Vlad stepped forward out of the darkness. “You have no idea. But we can catch up later, I’ve got something I need to show you.”

“Wot’s that?” Price’s eyebrows shot up. Vlad had forgotten how ugly the man was.

Vlad handed him the papers he found in Bailey’s ship. “I retrieved these papers from a drug dealer named Barnacle-Bottom Bailey. He’s been providing Ghoul Juice to the gangs; it’s how they’ve been avoiding the Sea Lord’s Guard.”

Price scanned the papers. His lips became a thin line. “’ave you told anyone else about dis?”

Vlad shook his head.

“Good. Ya did th’ right thing comin’ to me.” The guards fanned out around Vlad. “Unfortunately fer yew, that means we’re gonna have t’ silence ya right here. Get ‘im boys.”

It took a moment to register. “Price? You were working with Bailey all along?” [MORE]

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Tuesday, September 1

Operation Bravo: Part 2 – Clifford Potter's Home

Androzy led them to Potter's home next. Clifford Potter lived on the extremities of Hellbend near to what was commonly referred to as the “bluff” – a small rise in the land to the northwest of town; approximately a mile from Hellbend. He was the only resident of the area for nearly a quarter of a mile in any direction.

"Potter bought the house in Hellbend in late 1993 at a fire sale price and has lived in the town ever since," said Androzy, all business. Jim-Bean's constant stroking had pumped the deputy up considerably. "He had no friends to speak of, but was known to help out others as needed. He drank, but not overly so, and seemed content with maintaining his house and hiking around the ruined areas of Hellbend recovering pieces of valuable scrap metal to sell in nearby Independence or Beatty Junction."

"When did he start poking around the Hunt Electrodynamics plant?"

"Late 2003," said Androzy, walking to Potter's home. "He began digging up large portions of brass, bronze and copper piping from the site to make some extra money. He was often seen driving off to the ruins of the plant in his old Ford truck with an acetylene torch and other gear in the back. Word around town is that Potter thought the ruins of the plant were a proverbial gold mine."

"Mind if we look inside?" asked Jim-Bean.

"Oh sure, sure." Androzy took down the tacked notice declaring the house a crime scene and warned trespassers not to enter. That and a flimsy lock was all that kept the curious out. Androzy fumbled for a key and unlocked the door.

Potter's small dwelling was a one-story, gable-roofed house painted a sickly, lime green. It had a hand-dug root cellar separated from the main building that dropped approximately twelve feet into the ground, and a small four-foot tall attic.

Potter’s kitchen seemed to be the hub of his life. The rest of the house was military clean—sparse almost— while only the kitchen seemed “lived in”. A sign over the stove read “You don’t have to be crazy to live here, but it helps”. On the table lay gloves, two books, a notepad, a map, a boom-box and a series of tapes.

Hammer snapped on his plastic gloves. "Don't touch anything."

"Sure," said Jim-Bean, ignoring him. [MORE]

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Gangs of Freeport: Part 5 – That Sinking Feeling

Vlad followed Paulow for almost half an hour. They made their way southwest along the shoreline, leaving the bustle of Freeport behind. The thick jungle loomed nearby, casting dark shadows like fingers out onto the sands. Strange animals call from within the dark trees, as though disturbed that Vlad had the audacity to leave the city at all.

Finally, just as it was beginning to seem as though Paulow was leading him on a false trail, Vlad spotted it in the water some ways further down the shore.

It was a capsized vessel, partially sunken and resting in the shallow waters. Perhaps a bit less than one-half of the port side of the ship was visible above the waves. The deck faced the shore, the masts stabbing out as though desperately reaching for the land. A thin and rickety bridge, anchored to the ship and to the trees nearest the shore, provided the only visible means of access.

Paulow stumbled his way across the bridge. Vlad padded out onto the stands near the water.

The sand near the bridge was churned up and bedecked with tracks, both humanoid and wheeled. The place clearly saw substantial use. Several of the humanoid tracks were blatantly inhuman. In fact, though sized comparably to human feet, they were clawed, almost…

“Ssanu,” Vlad hissed beneath his breath. The Ghoul Juice epidemic was spreading to everyone. If the serpent people were involved, it meant the Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign was involved. And that meant they had not been weakened after all their efforts. [MORE]

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This is Awesome

The Sixth Sense is a wearable, gestural interface. I've dreamed about this sort of technology since I was a kid. more

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posted by Michael Tresca at 6:34 AM | 0 comments links to this post


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