Night’s Black Agents, Session Three

So here we go, session three. In which: Shit. Gets. Weird. (Which was one of the more entertaining in-character scenes I’ve been party to.)

It’s still the same night as we left off. The agents haven’t slept, but they’re super spy badasses. They can sleep when they’re dead. The group decides that, if they’re going to take the Russian alive, they’ll need some better equipment. Better guns, tasers, that sort of thing. We decide there’s a BASTION equipment cache they can raid… only, they don’t make the roll. So somebody got there first and cleaned it out. Other BASTION agents on the run? The enemy? The question may never be answered. A regular preparedness roll gets them a couple of tasers anyway, but their weapons are still limited to their one captured SMG and pistols.

Elena cuddles up with her technology and dives into some Data Recovery on all the hard drives and laptops they made off with. While she does that, Barney borrows Quin’s car to take Toby’s corpse to a medical school for examination. Quin, being the forger extraordinaire that he is, whips up some documentation that shows Toby is a new donation. Despite the fact that the body is arriving via the trunk of a muscle car and not an ambulance, Barney pulls it off like everything is normal, getting a gurney and rolling Toby into an examination room. He spends the rest of the night finding that the infestation of parasites not only resides in Toby’s brain, but in his digestive tract as well. The examination also shows that the anti-parasite drugs did indeed do what they were intended to do. Toby’s death was the result of the parasites releasing a massive dose of toxins as they died. He takes some samples of the dead parasites, but will have to find a specialist to properly identify them.

While those two do their thing, the others follow up on the Russian. Donald has a corporate contact, Albert Ying, who fixes them up with some empty office space in a building near the Trans Global highrise. With some preparedness they have a laser microphone, but sweeping the offices facing them only picks up a couple of late night suits doing normal office work. Finally, around sunrise, the Russian appears. He leaves the office building on foot and starts walking down the street. Gwen decides to make like an early morning jogger and go after him, taser ready. Quin takes her car and makes sure he’s out of sight but close enough to help if needed. Donald mans the Office, watching the Trans Global building for any sign of enemy backup.

The moment approaches. Gwen reaches for her concealed taser… and the Russian gets a phone call. Gwen hangs back, pretending she needs to stop and tie her show while she listens. He speaks in Russian, of course, but luckily she knows that language. “Da?” says the Russian. “Good, good. You’re sure it’s them? Then you’re go. Take them out.”

This is cause for alarm, so Gwen drops back and ducks into a coffee shop that’s just opening its doors for the early crowd. She gets on her phone and calls Elena, telling the hacker the safehouse might be compromised. Elena doesn’t waste any time. She grabs what she can carry and leaves through the fire escape (the safehouse is on an upper floor). Hoodie up, portable game device securely in hand, Elena circles around and comes at the safehouse from across the street to see what’s going on. What she finds is two nondescript black vans parked near the safehouse, men in black tactical gear with SMGs rushing inside. Through a window she sees one of them stop and talk to Vic, who doesn’t look particularly alarmed at his place being raided. Elena heads for the Office by foot and public transportation.

Gwen also calls Barney who, elbow deep in an autopsy, is rather annoyed at having to answer his cell. He notes the warning, finishes his autopsy, and incinerates the body before also heading to the Office.

Meanwhile, Gwen and the others reacquire the Russian. A bit more wary now, they decide to see where he’s going instead of just grabbing him. He catches a bus to a park, and spends about a half hour in the park while the agents slowly circle. They catch sight of him leaving, peeling bloodied latex gloves from his hands and placing them in a ziplock. Curious, Gwen investigates the park while Quin follows the Russian to his next destination. It turns out to be a soup kitchen, which the Russian opens for the morning with a set of keys.

In the park, Gwen finds a body. It looks like a drifter or homeless type, which meshes disturbingly with the Russian’s last stop. The corpse has had its guts torn out (as in, they’re missing completely), but shows little other damage. She calls the police, anonymously reporting the body as a murder victim.

Quin fits some surveillance cameras to watch the front of the soup kitchen as well as the back alley, picks up Gwen, and heads back to the Office (which has suddenly become the agent’s new safehouse).

Now that the group is together again, they all share their findings. Elena managed to scrape up some disturbing intel before she was forced to abandon the safehouse. Intel like a list of codenames that resolve to real names, many crossed off. A hit list of BASTION agents, and the PCs are on it. From what Donald can tell (he knows the code names), it’s a list of BASTION’s West Coast operatives. Not including the PCs, it seems there only around twelve others who haven’t been hit yet. Elena puts word out over BASTION channels, as many as she can find, that the entire operation is compromised. All agents are to go to ground. Trust no one.

And on that note, the agents get a response to their meeting request. In a few days time they’re to meet at an upscale hotel with agent Turner (who, they verify, is on the list but not crossed off). Trap? Of course it is. Or at least, that’s how they’re gonna play it until they know otherwise. List or no, they’re going to follow their own advice. Trust no one.

The Russian stays in the soup kitchen the entire day. A steady stream of homeless types go in and out, and the agents verify that each one who goes in also comes back out. No one goes missing, and their thoughts turn to parasites. They were in Toby’s digestive tract as well as his brain, after all. Barney wants to examine the corpse the Russian left in the park, but since it’s already in police custody Elena has an idea. She hacks into the coroner’s computer system and red flags that particular case. High priority, must be done ASAP. Then they just wait for the ME to do his thing.

When the Russian leaves, he closes up for the day, and the agents decide to follow him some more. He takes the bus back to the Trans Global building and goes inside. Spends the entire day in there, and around the end of the day the ME report comes back. The body looks like an animal attack, though there are possible tool marks or other striations on the bone that don’t look like they’re from animal teeth. Also, there was a head injury that may have been the cause of death, though it looks consistent with the victim having fallen and hit their head on a rock.

Just around sunrise the Russian comes out again. He takes the bus to a different park, leaves another body, and opens up his soup kitchen. But this time the camera in the alley out back catches him stepping out to have a phone conversation. “Yes? Hmm. How soon? Who do we have available? Meh, they’ll do. I’ll have him bagged and turned in a couple of days. Call you when it’s done.”

The agents decide to snatch him before whatever he’s got planned goes down. They let him get back to the Trans Global building, prepping to put their plan into motion when he leaves for the bus stop the next morning. Quin “liberates” a nondescript van for them to use. Barney puts together a tranquilizer cocktail that could put down a horse (but leaves a good percentage chance of not killing the guy). They also find someplace to take him that isn’t the Office: The Seattle Underground.

Morning comes. The Russian heads for the bus stop. A van speeds up the street and screeches to a halt beside him. The door slides open, and two agents jump out. Barney and Gwen are the go-to people for this sort of work. Quin is the getaway driver, while Donald and Elena stay at HQ. At first they try to just drag him into the van – once they’re away they can knock him around, sedate him, whatever. But the Russian is fast. Two attacks per turn fast. He knocks aside Barney’s attempts to grab him and breaks the agent’s nose. Gwen kidney-shots him, but he doesn’t seem to care. Barney slams the syringe into the Russian’s neck and pushes down the plunger. The Russian staggers, but stays up enough to hit Barney in the face again. From the driver’s seat of the van, Quin looks back at the fight and tries to get a clear shot with a silenced pistol. Gwen pummels the Russian from behind again, but he’s got his sights locked on Barney, who takes out the Russian’s knee with a called shot. Only the Russian stays up. He aims to permanently ruin our soap opera doctor’s good looks, but Gwen has had enough of this shit. She uses the Jump In maneuver and slams the taser against the base of the Russian’s neck (with a critical hit, no less), dropping him like a sack of potatoes. They throw him in the van, and as it speeds off they slap two sets of handcuffs onto his wrists and tase him again for good measure. They also strip him down to nothing, tossing his clothes in a dumpster and cloning his phone before tossing it in the bed of a passing pickup truck. He didn’t have a wallet.

Gwen and a very unhappy Barney are dropped off with the Russian at the underground lair. They secure the Russian to a chair and set the scene. Bright lights, tarps on the floor, Gwen with the group’s only SMG, and Barney with some medical equipment. Quin goes to ditch the van. On the way back he picks up a burger for Donald, gives Elena the cloned phone to play with, and picks up a few things for Barney (including a bonesaw).

Barney examines the Russian. His muscles seem denser than normal, and his ribs seem to be suffering some sort of additional growth or calcification. Among his myriad tattoos and battle scars, something stands out. He has a small circular scar at the base of his skull – the same place they found an injection site on Toby.

The moment the Russian wakes up he starts straining against his handcuffs. Barney opens the interrogation by showing the Russian the anti-parasite medication, and explaining what it did to Toby. “It was a slow, painful, unpleasant death,” Barney lies. “And we kinda liked him. You? Not so much.”

They have the Russian’s attention. Barney fills a syringe with anti-parasite drugs and starts asking questions. The Russian, despite Barney’s threats, doesn’t seem to be taking this seriously.

“We know all about those little parasites. You’ve got ’em too, don’t you? Just like Toby.”

“Nyet, no.” There’s a little chuckle and a smirk. “Not like him.”

“No, you’re not. You’re special, aren’t you? More than just a pawn.”

“Is perk of job.”

“Yeah?” Gwen jumps in. “Aside from headworms, what other perks do you get?”

“Good vacation.”

Quin shows up to add a little more gravity to the situation. “Hey doc, I got the bone saw.”

“Who do you work for?” Barney demands.

“The boss.”

“Who’s the boss, comrade?”

“Guy who pays me.”

“What’s with the bodies in the parks?”

Ah, now there’s something else in the Russian’s eyes.

Gwen again, “You putting them in the soup, Boris?”

“Soup?” the Russian looks confused for a moment. “Ah, soup kitchen. No, no. Don’t waste it on the soup,” he licks his lips a little, clearly getting across what happened to those entrails.

“I gave you a chance,” Barney sighs and wields the syringe. “Looks like we’re going to have to do this the hard way. We’ll start with just a little and go from there.” He injects the Russian with a fraction of the amount of the anti-parasite drug that killed Toby. The second the injection is complete, the Russian’s eyes roll up in his head. He convulses once, then goes limp.

This is a surprise to the agents. They had Toby going on this stuff for twenty four hours before he died. No way that small amount was enough to kill the Russian. Barney moves in to make sure, scalpel in hand, carefully checking their captive’s pulse as Gwen and Quin cover him. There’s no pulse. The Russian seems dead. And then…

Then shit gets weird. Four long, thin spines poke through the Russian’s abdomen from sternum to groin. Each one splits into two, pulling in opposite directions, and with a sickening crack the Russian’s rib cage flies open. Something small and slick explodes from his abdomen, wetly smacking onto the tarp before hurriedly wriggling away. Que pandemonium and a lot of WTF?! Barney throws his scalpel at it, Quin fires wildly and misses, and then Gwen shreds it with her SMG. Shocked silence follows.

The general consensus is What The Fuck Just Happened. Gwen looks back at the Russian’s corpse. “Are we sure he – it – is dead?”

Quin fires a few rounds into the corpse just to make sure, sending it toppling backwards onto the ground. A few stability checks shows that Gwen is shocked and surprised but somehow alright with all this, Barney can handle it thanks to a couple of spent points, and Quin is losing his shit after a failed roll. He asks someone to please take his weapon. Gwen obliges, gingerly removing the pistol from the freaked out agent’s hands.

“Huh. Looks like a facehugger,” Barney muses. “I want to bag this stuff up and preserve it.”

Gwen seeks reassurance. “Doc, tell me there’s an explanation for that. There’s something in the rainforests or jungles or something like that, right?”

“Uh, yeah. Sure. Go get the bags.”

“I’m not touching that thing!”

“Hey. Focus. Stay on mission and follow orders, soldier.”

This provides a measure of familiarity for Gwen, who goes to find some bags. Meanwhile, Quin is still freaking out. References to the Alien movie abound. He realizes that anyone could have one of those things inside them. Paranoia: engaged.

Barney inspects the Russian’s corpse. “Yeah, probably. That’s why we’re not going to let you have a gun for a while, kay?”

The inside of the body shows that the rib cage was definitely overgrown to help provide protection for the larger parasite. A lot of the internal organs are gone, but the lungs and heart remain. There also seem to be a number of small holes in the spinal column. This, Barney figures, warrants a full autopsy. But here, where it’s safe. He always wanted a secret lair. All he needs now is some equipment, and he thinks he has a few contacts that could swing that.

They bag the mess as best they can. Quin secures the entrances so that only the agents can get in – or out – of the room, and plants a security camera inside to watch the remains. You know, just in case.

On the way back, Gwen calls in to HQ to explain the situation. Donald can’t quite believe what he’s hearing. “Burst out of his chest? They’re Trans Global, not Weyland-Yutani.”

Still, he has no reason to doubt what three fellow agents are telling him, especially since they made sure to take pictures of everything.

The session ends with some research. Donald has contacts in the State Department that forward him the visa applications for Russians working for Trans Global. Donald’s State Department contact is Andreas Perkins. Perkins owes Donald for “that thing in Istanbul”. Sure enough, their Russian was an actual employee of the company – an “acquisitions manager” by the name of Alexi Chernov. Elena finds text messages on his cell phone relating to several ops (in safely generic language), including one “at the warehouse”, which could very well have been their first encounter. She also pulls out a lot of phone numbers, most to burner phones, but one that goes to an internal Trans Global number. It’s in the building they’ve been watching, and belongs to an executive in charge of Trans Global’s West Coast US operations. His name is Varga Petho, Hungarian by way of Russia. They have their next rung up the ladder. Donald also gets his contact to alert him of any new visa applications from the company, specifically any with the job title of acquisitions manager. If a replacement comes in, the agents are likely to know. Oh, and Donald plays shrink to recover some stability. There, there. There, there.

Thus ends the first Operation. Experience points are given out, and plans are made. Next session: Barney wants to build a secret lab in the underground to study whatever the hell it is they just killed. The others are on board with this idea. Elena plans a cyberattack on Trans Global, and the meeting with Agent Turner will take place. Now more than ever they think it’s a trap.

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