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Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain

"Sounds about spot-on to me, Hekmatyar. If we can at least take a guess at which government is backing these guys and which relics they're looking for, we can probably run it past the Director and get clearance for an operation, if you deem it sound."

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Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


One last set of rolls for a hypothesis! In this case you're trying to answer the question "what the hell was going on here?" Or, less prosaically, what's the point of this operation? Why would a government hire the Coquillards to steal this stuff?

You have the facts Relics From Tibet, The Thieves Use The Dreamlands As A Shortcut, and Backed By A Government.

Emerald Rogue
Mar 29, 2013


Madeline
FP: 4/4

As Cain interrogates the thief, Madeline starts going over the European crew's equipment carefully. Maybe they got sloppy and left a clue about about who they are working for.

"Well, China's in control of Tibet, right? Maybe they realized that the Miskatonic expedition made off with something they wanted before they took over the country ... there's all kinds of stuff in this room that's fundamental to modern magical theory. Maybe that would be enough to go through with a complicated plan like this."

Madeline scratches her head with a free tentacle as a disturbing thought occurs to her.

"I wonder how they found out about this old lab - I mean, we're from the Ashton Foundation and we didn't know about it."



Using Notice to nail down a hypothesis about our intruders by looking for a "smoking gun" in their stuff.

Looking for the smoking gun: 4dF+4 2

Not great. I need to come up with a stunt or something that has some application in these brainstorm sequences. Spending a Fate point to invoke Infant Predator for a reroll as Violet's hunting instincts start to kick in.

Looking for the smoking gun (reroll): 4dF+4 4

I'll take it.

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"If the Plateau of Leng is connected between Tibet and the Dreamlands, you cannot discount that the ones responsible have taken hold on the Tibetian side. Easy to assume the work of powerful wizards who could exploit that connection. Ones working on behalf of China, I assume." Shirona shrugs at the mention of the country, remembering an awkward debate a month back. A People's Republic apparently has no monarch, but certain people become very upset if she compares it to a democracy...

"Whatever Ashton discovered in Tibet, our interested party could have discovered as well. And could be in the dark about it, as we are in the dark about them." She ponders. "What if they believed that her notes were the missing piece of their puzzle?"

Dreamlands Lore for the final roll! /-// +4 = 3, invoking The Thieves Use The Dreamlands As A Shortcut to make it a 5.

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

[ Just because it's Tibet, the G-men gotta come from China? You mailing this one in? ] The roomba spins in place. [ That would totally be too obvious. It could just as well be our government doing this. Inside job. It explains how they knew about the lab. ]

Rolling Arcanotech Appraisal: -//++3 = 3
ehhh not gonna use anything on it

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"Not my government." Shirona waves the roomba off. "But your point is taken."

Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain FP: 3

He spins the thief around, striking him quickly in the back of the head to render him unconscious again before dropping him smartly to the floor.

"It's likely not the U.S. government, or China for that matter, if only because they've got the manpower to send a team of...people like me, instead of these guys. We're probably looking for something smaller, more wealth and less military power - think Monaco or one of those other postage-stamps that has more money than an entire state's population. I want to say northern Africa or the Caribbean for a general location, you see a lot of deniable-asset-based strikes coming out of countries in those locations. However, their ability to move through the Dreamlands and get intel on a place even we don't know about within our facility is concerning - these Tibetan relics must have some pretty serious heat behind 'em if strikes like this are being mounted."

He sighs, turning over some variables in his head.

"Yeah, definitely thinking someplace in the Caribbean. If I'm right, we'll at least get out of the snow, I think." Being funny helped, right?


Rolling Notice to wildly speculate about this.
RANDOM SPECULATION: 4dF+4 3

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010


Li Wu

Li isn't actually listening, just reading the notes she found while doing the hair-tugging thing she always does when she's engrossed in some occult nonsense.

If anyone feels like being a dork and startling her with a loud noise this is probably the time.


Archaeology: <Krysmbot> Ettin, ---/+4 = 1

I got a fact in so I don't care, someone else can invoke my fact!

Takanago
Jun 2, 2007

You'll see...


Mali Sasithorn
FP: 6

"No, I don't think it's simple as that. Like, governments can send anyone they want, but they might not want to. But if you send you top dudes and they get beat up and people find out they're your top dudes, that's gonna bring a lot of heat on top of you. But you go with dudes like these, and they could have been hired by anybody. And with the Dreamlands shortcut, that anybody could be anywhere from here to Mars."

"I think you gotta look at who's got a stake in this whole thing. China does, but they're kind of obvious. Plus, they'd only get half as much use out of a Dreamlands shortcut anyone else would. If they wanted, they could've just taken a plane. Same idea kind of applies to the US, they're close to the lab but closeness doesn't matter. Apart from these guys, there's..."

Mali points her finger out at Li. "Hey, Li, when you were talking about the relics you said, like, NATO went in there after Miskatonic, right? And then it got WikiLeaked..."

Notice:
<Takanago> !r fudge+5
<Krysmbot> Takanago, //-++5 = 5
Invoking Relics From Tibet to make that 7.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


In a last second upset, Mali gets to do the hypothesis! Nail that down and we'll move to you guys meeting back up with the Director, if I understand your plans correctly.

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


A Short Summary of the History of the NATO Expedition WikiLeak

Way back at the start of the 21st century, WikiLeaks created a bit of stir when it published a detailed, unredacted file on Operation OLYMPUS. OLYMPUS was a Cold War era NATO expedition into the Himalayan Plateau, a spying mission directed against the People's Republic of China and the remote Central Asian portions of the USSR. It caused a bit of a stir at the time because of how ambitious it had been, and the fact that if it had been discovered it could easily have touched off a war.

According to the WikiLeaks documents, OLYMPUS was to establish a secret base for radio traffic interception, as well as use high altitude balloons to photograph remote parts of the Communist states as an difficult to detect adjunct to satellite coverage. It was even supposed to include a runway for emergency U-2 landings, and eventually provide a base for a subsequent stealth reconnaissance aircraft. The expedition ultimately failed to achieve its ambitious goals. Only the first phase, OLYMPUS I, actually took place, a proof of concept mission to locate a suitable site and test the balloons. It was something of a disaster, with nearly half of the expedition members lost due to environmental hazards and disease. The project was cancelled when the survivors limped back to India.

The whole thing would likely have ended up a strange Cold War footnote, one among many, except for the proposal memo included with the report. The memo referenced a 1920s scientific expedition to the same region, as well as Operation DEEP FREEZE and the "Argus anomaly." WikiLeaks believed this suggested the supposedly scientific Antarctic expeditions in the 1950s had some sort of espionage aspect and promised to pursue this.

Annabelle Ashton, however, made a different connection. She went back and located the files of the Miskatonic-Oxford Central Asian Expedition, and something in those records lead her to the invent the D-Drive.

That's the part of the story you can find with a Google search. After Annabelle Ashton went insane, though, her notes and the only apparent copy of the expedition records went missing, so no one was sure exactly what she found in them. At this point it's just a matter of historical interest.

There can't possibly be anything new in them after a century of occult research. Right?

Now that you have the records, you can find out! As an added bonus, Li Wu's survey of the records makes it clear Ashton somehow got her hands on an expanded version of the Operation OLYMPUS file, including a section called OLYMPUS PEAK, which has an appendix with some interesting supplementary material. Specifically, copies of maps from the 1920s expedition, an interview with the only surviving expedition member Captain Reginald Smythe, and a report from Operation BLACK ICE which appears to be some kind of adjunct to DEEP FREEZE. All of it is covered in notes in green and purple ink, in Ashton's handwriting.

It's going to take a while to parse all this, but something big was going on back in the 20th century. Something that inspired Ashton in her work. Something someone spent a lot of money to get their hands on.

Notes
In addition to the hypothesis, you guys have the original notes. You get the aspects Ashton's Notes, Expedition Records, and Operation OLYMPUS PEAK for them, but right now none of them have any invokes. When I provide down time for you at various points, you'll get a chance to add free invokes to them.

Takanago
Jun 2, 2007

You'll see...


Mali Sasithorn
FP: 6

"Okay, so..." Mali skims a few reports on her handheld. "Looks like this goes back to the original D-Drive. I mean, if we assume that Tibet and its artifacts are important here, that seems to be what's happening. And we've got this D-Drive here," she points to the Mark III in the center of the lab, "then there's one in that workshop they had over in the tunnels."

"So, I'd say they were investigating something. Something that they needed to stay in the lab for. If they just wanted the notes, they could have just taken them and ran. And they would have gotten away with it, too."

"But..." Mali looks to everybody else. "Doesn't it seem weird that they went through all this effort? I mean, jumping through the Dreamlands, hiring these dudes, and trying to pull off this big science heist when they could have just asked us to investigate it. Whatever it is they're looking for, they must really not want anybody else to know about it."

"I'm going to guess that it's probably something really bad. Maybe even really, really bad. I think it's gotta be something pretty crazy if someone is still trying to keep old D-Drive stuff hush-hush after all these years."

Hypothesizing that The Thieves Were After The D-Drive's Dark Secret.

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"If you are right about this, and I am sure you are... there would be a long list of people who would want those secrets. For any reason, from profit for themselves to slander against the Foundation." Shirona nods. This easily counts as a Special Circumstance, to her reckoning. "We should head back to Headquarters and consider our next move."

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

[ The Hek concurs. ] The roomba leaves the lab as it's released from Hyun-Ae's control. [ Let's get our plan on. ]

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Stross Building

Hyun-Ae hears a knock on the doors to the building, followed by two State Police and two Ashton security bundling their way in. The storm has started to pick up out there, as evidenced by the dusting of snow on all four, but it's still just flurries for the moment. Officer Duquesne looks like she's wondering what she did in a past life to deserve this, while Officer Vinh is entirely too chipper for Hyun-Ae's liking. Seems he's a bit starstruck. Carvalho and Wojciechowski, the two security personnel, have the same hackles-raised appearance of cats upset about a strange dog in their territory, but given the situation are prudently keeping their mouths shut.

"We'll sit on your guests until the FSB gets their Boston situation unfucked," Duquesne explains in her chowder thick accent. "International crime like this is way above our pay grade. Our boss told us you guys have some sort of agreement with the Feds, and to let you question the perps if you want. I'm cool with that, long as Vinh or I are in the room. Just to cover our asses, right? You're the experts on this magic stuff. Don't figure there'll be any problems."

It takes a little work and press-ganging the security trogs, but you get everything and everyone shifted over to the main building. The files start getting put through the high speed scanning process - nothing in there is likely to jump modern firewalls when digitized - while everyone reconvenes in room 313.


Room 313

Director Douglass is on the phone when you come in, looking at something on her AR glasses. "Right. I have your support on this? I'm going to let them off the leash and I don't want Accounting - I see. Of course. Perfect. They're just coming in, so we'll get to work right away. I'll keep you posted. What?" She pauses. "No, no, I do not want her involved right now. You know how she is, she'll turn this into another Mu. All right, good. Thank you, Henry."

She blinks, and refocuses on you. "Well! This certainly turned into something. Good work out there, this could have gone terribly wrong. Instead, we've had potentially the find of the decade dropped into our laps." Douglass smiles thinly. "And we all know what the reward for good work is."

The smart screens come on, showing a great deal of information on the Coquillards, the notes, and what look like very fresh satellite photos. "This has gone all the way to the top. I just got off the line with the Executive Director. He's given me the green light to run this down, wherever it ends up taking us." She points at the satellite photos. "Especially since we just confirmed there's someone on that plateau in Tibet. Or China, border's a little fuzzy around there. Anyways, there's some kind of station up there that's showing up on infrared. There isn't much activity just now, but we don't have any idea who it is or what they're up to. Our analysts are saying they see a lot of ruined structures too. Some of them are old - as in thousands of years - but there are several that look like they date from the Cult Wars era. And I understand that there's a Dreamlands connection to look into as well."

"And to let you know, we're keeping this close. We're required to notify certain agencies in a situation like this, but there are ways to get a lot of attention, and ways to bury it until we decide it should be noticed. Just be aware that if you run into OOI spooks or some kind military op that while we technically have clearance for this sort of action, our opposites in the government could be a little tetchy about it."

She sips what's probably her third or fourth coffee. "This is going to be your show. I see plenty of leads, from digging around here to jetting off to the Himalayas. What do you think is critical?"

Meanwhile

Cain gets a message from Lilith via a back channel.

quote:

sorry about earlier. asking those questions triggered some kind of trip wire, all of sudden had full bird colonels all over my rear end, all "cease this line of inquiry and forget i called you." sounded like someone was making GBS threads on them from on high so they were shifting it down the pole. the hell did you get into? no dont tell me. if you need info on the coquillards sub rosa try mccullough with the fsb. our files are just basic data, they arent considered a military threat. and watch out for some ooi spook. ertekin. someone name dropped him, dunno what the deal is but sounds like bad news.

Notes
You can take some time to plan, but also to create or discover aspects here. Here are your options.

• You can use your own skills to add invokes to the aspects from the recovered notes. Notice or magic/science skills would apply.
• You can use your own skills to uncover more clues, by reaching out to Contacts, to interrogate the thieves more (Provoke, Rapport), or poke around the scene some more (Burglary, Notice).
• You can use the Ashton Foundation's Resource skills instead.

These aspects will be used to help you get where you decide to go. To overcome the difficulty of getting there on time and with what you need without drawing unwanted attention. Each of you will a chance to make one roll, and there can't be duplicates. That is to say, only one person can add invokes to each of the notes aspects, only one person can use a given individual skill, and only one person can use each of the Resource skills.

Comrade Gorbash fucked around with this message at Aug 6, 2014 around 02:39

Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain

"Yeah, those OOI spooks and military ops. Spooky stuff, stay away at all costs," he says, flashing his best attempt at a cheeky grin at Douglass.

"Any way we can retask a satellite to give us a view of the plateau? I'd like to have eyes on the area in case of any visual disturbances."

He stops for a second, idly munching on another donut from the Dunkin Donuts vendor and compose a reply to Lilith.

quote:

Roger that, message received. This op seems a little hairy, there's a lot of stuff I'm not sure about. I can confirm government involvement, but which government is still unknown. Ashton team has been briefed that OOI may be in the area, I don't expect you to know if we have any ops active but if you hear something keep me posted. You tasked me with keeping these people alive, good intel will help me do that. Also, if at all possible get me a dossier on that operative, Ertekin. I'm gonna follow up with the FSB contact you gave me. Expect contact later.

"Alright, I've got some leads to pursue. I'll be back shortly, meantime I need to find these FSB guys and get in touch."

Offering a brief nod, Cain sets off to find transportation to Boston, when it hits him. Aerial transport is probably the best maneuver, quick response time for whatever's tying up the FSB and less chance of getting stuck in the Boston traffic in a snowstorm.

"Director, I'm going to use one of the tiltrotors for rapid transport, I've got a good lead on the Coquillards that I need to follow up on in Boston and it's time-sensitive. Key me in on comms, please, team, I'd like to know if we find out anything else here, and I'll report back as soon as I've got what I'm chasing down."

Heading up to the roof, he climbs into the craft, its rotors already spinning up as he gets inside, taking off for Boston with a quickness.

Tempus Rimeblood fucked around with this message at Jul 6, 2014 around 21:12

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


quote:

oh jeese makes sense now. cant pry the official dos loose right now but heres the 1000ft view. ertekin was head of chicago-milwaukee metroplex office, supervisory special agent. backgrounds in anticult activities and asset acquisition. weird mix. seems like troubleshooter for someone at the top. now hes with internal affairs. worried he was gunning for you somehow but probably you tripped over the same things hes looking at from another angle. ill keep it quiet from my end but dont be surprised if he shows up to ask questions. i can pull the fire alarm if you need me to but you know how things get if external operations steps into an ia investigations territory.

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

"Aw buddy, folk already clamoring for her to get in on this? People are getting jum~py!" She falls into a rolling chair and leans back. A few AR windows pop up on her glasses. "To be fair, I'm trying to get some of my peeps on hold as well." Hyun-Ae pauses to rap her fingers on her chin in thought. "Any of ya'll need anything from me before I go talk to our would-be thieves?"

Emerald Rogue
Mar 29, 2013


Madeline
FP: 3/4

"Um, no. I, I don't think I need anything."

Omigosh, Director Douglass is asking us what we think is a priority? Last time I went on a field op, all the discretion I got was deciding how to pack the the standard field kit in that old Land Rover we borrowed from the field archaeology division.

"I think we have to check out whatever's going on on that Tibetan plateau. Probably sooner rather than later. As long as I don't have to pack again."

Emerald Rogue fucked around with this message at Jul 8, 2014 around 14:48

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"I will look into the Dreamlands connection with my channels." Shirona nods, feeling sure that the Shinigami would know more about these grand schemes more than she does right now. She'll have to take a catbus to the Dreamlands, and that's always fun. "And... I suppose I could visit my cousin in the North as well. To find out how to reach Tibet from there."

That clearly bothers her. "If anyone wishes to accompany ne, I would be glad for it." And she looks at the others, almost pleading with her eyes. "He is a terrible boor and just drones on and on about himself and how he deserve the crown more and ugh."

Contacts to find more about the Dreamlands connection: /++- +3 = 4.

Emerald Rogue
Mar 29, 2013


Madeline

How often do you get to go visit a palace when you live in Massachussetts? Even if it is owned by your coworker's annoying cousin.

"I can keep you company, Shirona - I promise Violet won't shred any curtains or anything. I can go over the papers we recovered while we're traveling. It's not like I need to sit around here to do that kind of research ... wait, there's nothing in these files that's going to blow up the copier or turn it into a monster or something, right? Not like last time?"


Notice to dig deeper into the recovered notes for free invokes:

Research!: 4dF+4 2

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

"Naw Maddy, we don't use that brand of toner anymore. And Princess, I'll be glad to join you after I do my thing." She thumbs back towards the door. "Gotta go offer my lawyer's services to the Coquillards. I dunno if I'll be able to buy off the police observers, sadly. Ya'll didn't hear that." She winks, playfully shooting finger guns at her coworkers. "I'll let you know if they bite or not."

Going to try to wrangle some more info out of the burglars with bribery
Rapport: 4dF+4 5

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Getting all the way to the plateau in the Dreamlands would take at least several days travel, but Arkham is a hub for a lot of occult activity so it's easy for Shirona and Maddy to catch a catbus route to the Mage Killer Academy. It's easy enough to find some of Shirona's contacts there. There are a lot more cat spirits around since last year, for some reason.

The trip takes about an hour, and Maddy makes some progress in Ashton's notes. It's obvious that the woman was a genius and that she was slowly going stark raving bonkers while she was working on this, and a lot of it is either beyond Maddy or just nutso, some of it probably both. She steal manages to glean a very interesting insight. The D-Drive is still Ashton's invention, but she had more direct inspiration from something in the OLYMPUS PEAK or Expedition records than history supposes. It also looks like the Mark III was actually her attempt to use the d-drive concept to duplicate that unknown device's capabilities.

Hyun-Ae finds the Coquillards uninterested in hiring her as counsel. They have their own well paid lawyers who are probably already camped out in a Back Bay hotel. However, game recognizes game, and it's easy enough to get the state police turned around so she can speak to the leader of this crew more or less privately. It turns out to be the guy Cain was interrogating earlier, who calls himself Ruud. "You wouldn't happen to have a cigarette?" he asks, sotto voce while two of his comrades fake a loud argument in what sounds like Estonian to distract Duquesne while Vinh escorts another to the restroom.

Notes
I'm going to give Shirona and Hyun-Ae prompts here for you to write out. I'll give you the aspect you reveal and a brief explanation, then you write the interaction that gets you there.
• Shirona reveals the aspect Sealed Borders. The plateau has been closed to outsiders within the last few months, and strange lights have been seen atop it. None of the inhabitants have been seen in that time.
• Hyun-Ae reveals the aspect Uller Hand Me Downs with two free invokes. Ruud's explanation of how they got into the room involves an arcanotech enhanced teleport breaching device Uller was experimenting with several years ago. Somehow the people who hired the Coquillards had at least one to give to them for this job. The device has serious flaws (feel free to make some up), in particular that it creates an explosion on ingress.

Gonna do this prompt thing with everyone else too.

Maddy succeeds on her roll and adds an invoke to Ashton's Notes.

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

Hyun-Ae produces a pack of menthol Marlboros and a bic lighter from a cargo pocket. "Sorry," she says, tapping one out and offering it to Ruud. "Probably not your type. All I got besides my e-cig."

He accepts it with an indifferent shrug and holds it out for her to light. "I take it that you came down to inquire as to where we acquired one of your company's prototypes?"

"I wasn't gonna say nothing in front of my coworkers - and technically it was never mine - but yeah, man. Enlighten me."

He takes his first puff before speaking. "We were loaned the device so that we could make use of its D-Drive seeking feature. It greatly simplified the process of locating and arriving at the Mark III."

"Didn't count on it frying all your electronics though, did you?" She chuckles. "I take it ya'll never got the tech manual."

"A manual would have been most useful, yes. We were not originally planning on trapping ourselves within your building." He takes a long drag off the cigarette, shaking his head in frustration. "Care to explain why it behaves as it does?"

"Hah, sure. The Gatecrasher project before my time, but I hear it was supposed to be a D-Drive seeking weapon. Y'know, to do stuff like teleport a bomb straight on top of one even if it wasn't running. Uller mothballed the project when they couldn't figure out how to stop it from wrecking the electronics inside the payload. Made it kinda useless. The thing also drew so much power that the bond lackeys figured it would be more cost and energy efficient to throw a pile of cruise missiles at the target the old fashioned way." She shrugs and shoots a finger gun at him. "Your turn."

"We actually were in possession of two of the devices. The original intent was to use the second one in our escape," he says, massaging his forehead. "It is a pity that the devices do not seem capable of teleporting each other."

"Woah, two?" She shoves the pack of cigarettes into his hand and starts for the door, waving over her shoulder. "That's all I needed, dude. Good luck with the trial or whatever."

The devices are bad with electronics, have to be charged, and can't teleport one another!

Takanago
Jun 2, 2007

You'll see...


Mali Sasithorn
FP: 6

As the group splits up, Mali hops into her car. The drive back to the lab is a pretty short one, but with the weather as it is, it still feels like it could stand to be a bit shorter.

While still managing to be the exact same building she had been in less than an hour ago, the atmosphere of the lab feels different now. All the tension, eeriness, and danger that was in the air before is now gone. What's left is the fine electricity of a crime scene. And where there's crimes, there's clues. That's a simple fact. Even the best of crimes leave something behind.

And this is by no means the best of crimes.

"Alright buddy," she says, getting her skull out of her bag and hanging its chain off her shoulder. "Let's go take a look at this heist again."

Checking out the crime scene with Burglary.
<Takanago> !r fudge+5
<Krysmbot> Takanago, ++-++5 = 7

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


Mali's re-examination of the crime scene finds some things that were overlooked in the heat of the moment earlier. There's a pile of burnt out electronics in a corner of the room, apparently left by the Coquillards. Now that she considers it, all the tablets and devices they were using were Ashton supplies they'd repurposed. Something must have gone wrong with their plan.

That's interesting, but doesn't really tell her anything useful. It already was clear that the heist had gone tits up somehow and the thieves were improvising their escape. Just as it looks like she'd really exhausted this angle, she gets that uneasy cold feeling in her stomach and the skull turns on its chain to regard something kicked under a cabinet during the chaos. Something interesting, and a little frightening.

Notes
New verse, same as the last. Mali uncovers the aspect Cult Following with two free invokes. She finds something that suggests at least one of the Coquillards is a cult member. One of the hardcore ones, not just a weird post-arcanotech new age temple. Pick the cult and let me know what the object is.

Comrade Gorbash fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2014 around 02:58

Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain

The cyborg touches down in Boston, boots crunching in the snow as he approaches the bank.

The bank is surrounded by SWAT APCs and FSB troops, aptly dubbed "storm ninjas" by one of the more excitable interns. Cain pays them no heed though, he's seen a million heavily armored government troops with guns, and at this point they're all background noise.

Beelining straight for the guy who appears to be in charge, poring over blueprints of the bank with two fireteam leaders, coffee in one hand and sidearm in the other, he nods briefly and speaks.

"Cain, Ashton Foundation liaison. I've got some intel relating to the current situation you're in. You McCullough, or someone who can put me in touch with him?"

Cain will make a Contacts check here!
4dF+3: 4
Would have a link to Orokos, but it's weird on my phone.

Tempus Rimeblood fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2014 around 02:48

Ettin
Oct 2, 2010


Li Wu

Annabelle Ashton's notes and some more notes she scribbled over? Oh, man! Li is going to geek out about this for days.

She goes to get some donuts and coffee and sinks as deep into the notes as she can. You might have to shake her when it's time to move on.

Archaeology to add invokes to Expedition Records: <Krysmbot> Ettin, -++/+5 = 6

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


The guy in charge looks up briefly, then nods to the fireteam leaders, dismissing them. "Cain is it? I've heard of you." He has a remarkably deep voice, a diction so sharp you could learn to spell by listening to him. He sticks out a hand to shake. "Kennedy McCullough." He's tall, even taller than Cain, but gaunt, with a perfectly smooth shaved head that looks good on him. Cain can tell his suit isn't an off the rack job, it's professionally tailored and fits perfectly, and his silver cufflinks and rimless glasses set off his dark skin perfectly. This guy clearly doesn't need the job to pay the rent.

"I'd appreciate any light you can shed on the matter. What's Ashton's angle on this?" The way he asks the question implies he wants confirmation it is Ashton, and not Cain's prior employers, who are taking an interest.

Notes
My bad, I forgot I hadn't given you the guy's name. Duquesne is the state police officer back at Ashton headquarters. The guy who you were referred to is Kennedy McCullough, who you've just met. If you want to modify your last post for that, feel free.

Cain is going to reveal More Than a Feint. The bank robbery was done in such a way that it drew a lot of attention, but there was a secondary goal beyond keeping the FSB occupied while the Coquillards ran their heist. This job was a lot less professional and a lot more violent, and several people, including most of the perps, ended up dead. However some of them got away and are still being hunted for. I'll leave other details up to you.

And yes, if this was the teevee version of the game, it would be Lance Reddick playing McCullough.

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

First of all, it should not be understated that Shirona and Madeline went to the Dreamlands on a catbus.



Okay, that aside, the two of them make a brief visit Shirona's contacts in the Academy, then to her cousin in the northern wastes. All of them refer to the exact same problem at the heart of Leng.



"Closed for the last few months?" Shirona looks at the plateau from the vantage point of her cousin's palace in Kadath, a dreary gothic affair in the peak of a lonely mountain. "How does that even happen? This is your domain, is it not?"

"You make it sounds like your father punishment's included control of this entire northern province." Her cousin scoffs. "I only get this castle, sorry." In the realm of dreams, the Lord of Kadath presents himself to Shirona and Madeline as a living pile of bones covered in a rotted robe. His eye sockets writhe with worms, while his bony jaw occasionally spits out rats.

He doesn't look and sound bitter about his exile at all.

"I only know what I see from here." He continues. "More pilgrims being turned back while on their way to the plateau. Strange lights dancing above the earth. Reports of the plateau's inhabitants going missing. Some concerned parties have tried to search for them, but whatever's blocking the plateau keeps turning them away. They just end up wandering back here." He sighs. "It's so tiresome."

"Of course, it is." Shirona rolls her eyes, then turns to Madeline. "How about we look closer and to see this for ourselves?"

Emerald Rogue
Mar 29, 2013


Madeline
FP: 3/4

Breaking away from her alternating pattern of amazed stares at the scenery of (previously unknown) Kadath and covert horrified glances at Shirona's brother, Maddy nods.

"Sounds about right to me, Princess. Whatever's got the plateau on lockdown might have a harder time keeping us away."

As the two women prepare for their trip, Maddy just can't hold it in anymore and asks the one question that she's been holding back ever since they arrived in Kadath -

"What's going on with your brother? Is he sick, or does he always look so ... um ... dead?"

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"My cousin is still very, very bitter about his exile to this wasteland." Shirona explains rather matter-of-factly. "You stay in the Dreamlands long enough, you eventually start to look on the outside how you feel inside. Do not worry, he will get over himself within another hundred years."

Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain

"Ashton's angle is that they hit us, unsuccessfully, less than an hour ago, and we have intel that says these incidents are connected. A mutual acquaintance tells me you're the guy I need to go to for info about the Coquillards, and I'm trying to figure out how all of this fits together."

He surveys the scene, sees the bodies being rolled out on stretchers.

"At least a five-man fireteam, twenty civilian casualties from the looks of things...drat. I'd wager arcanotech was used in the assault, same as ours, and likely as an exfiltration method. Seems pretty similar MOs, although these guys had no problems with civilian casualties and ours were pretty harmless."

Looking over the map, he frowns.

"McCullough, did your men check the vault for wards, possible use of teleportation? More importantly, was the bank manager among the known dead?"

A silent nod tells the cyborg everything he needs to know.

"Listen, these guys most likely hit the vault through teleportation, the real hardcases raided the safety deposit boxes while the nutjobs, probably PMC guys from one of the less reputable corps, mowed down civvies. Bank manager was likely the only intended casualty for his master key to the boxes, a lockpick could easily get them through the other part of the two-person locks. The safecrackers bug out, the gunners get left to die. And they likely left you a present, McCullough, same as they did us. Don't send a usual fireteam into the vault. Send EOD, preferably drones if you have them."

He looks down at the map one more time, looking back up at McCullough. And it was definitely up - the guy had at least six inches on Cain, and it would have been imposing if Cain actually acknowledged intimidation.

Poring over a pile of paperwork next to the schematics of the building, he finds a list of the contents of safety deposit boxes.

It was then that he saw exactly what he didn't want to see.

code:
BOX 642C: CONTENTS ONE (1) THESIS ON THE NATURE OF D-DRIVE USE IN THE DREAMLANDS, AUTHOR: DR. GORDON MARKOV
"poo poo," he says, tapping his finger on the list. "Found what they were after. Whoever's backing the Coquillards are planning something huge, but from what just happened at Ashton we may have temporarily SNAFUd it. They were looking to grab an archaic prototype Dimensional Drive from the Ashton archives, along with some notes on a location in Tibet with ties to the Dreamlands."

He sighs, briefly thinking. "Not sure what the next move is from here, but I'm sharing what I've got, in the interest of security."

"Last thing you'll want to do is CS the vent shafts, take out any stragglers. They're weaselly bastards, still probably think they have an out. Now then, Director McCullough: what can you tell me about the Coquillards?"

Takanago
Jun 2, 2007

You'll see...


Mali Sasithorn
FP: 6

"Man, look at this junk."

Mali crouches down, next to a heap of dead electronics in the corner of the lab. After the Mark III and the blast debris, the pile of wasted gadgets seemed like the most interesting thing in the room. "Fancy stuff."

She picks up and examines a tablet, but all there is to find upon it is the sight of her own reflection. "Crapped out." The device is tossed back over her shoulder, with no apparent care for crime scene etiquette. Then she tries another one, with the same result. "This all's gotta be dead as poo poo. Someone hosed up here."

"But..." she turns around to look back at the would-be D-Drive bomb, still covered in electronics. "That stuff's still-"

And then, in a moment, it clicks. "That stuff's Ashton equipment. There's no way they could have planned it out."

Well, of course they didn't. The whole lab smelled like a gently caress-up. If this had gone according to a Coquillard plan, it would be hard to even tell that they were here in the first place. But it wasn't.

"Man..." Mali groans, and starts walking away from the lab table. "I really gotta get my poo poo togeth-"

There is a tug. A chill rattle. An uncomfortable shaking feeling. A sharp awareness. That kind of sharp awareness. The kind that gives you goosebumps and makes you forget to breathe for a second.

Mali looks down. The skull has moved. No longer hanging in its familiar resting place, it is now pulling the chain taut with an unnatural weight. It's fixated on something. Something to her left.

She takes a few steps in that direction, slowly and carefully. The sound of her creaking shoes echoes the otherwise quiet lab. In front of her, now, stands a steel cabinet. It's the kind which you'd usually simply expect to find lab equipment in.Throwing open the cabinet's doors, Mali finds that to be exactly the case. Nothing out of the ordinary, simply machine parts and measuring equipment. What could possibly be so special in here?

The skull is pulling downward now. Mali crouches down and leans forward to get a closer look at the bottom shelves. Is this where it's...?

No, the skull is still pulling downward. It must be something beneath the cabinet.

Mali gets down even further. She's lying on the floor now. She grabs a flashlight from her pocket, turns it on, and finds...

A glove. The kind you'd use to interact with a virtual interface, in fact. With just a little bit of stretching, Mali grabs it from under the cabinet.

Normally, something like this wouldn't seem very strange at all. But then, normally, a VR glove wouldn't look anything like this. Whatever it's made of, it definitely didn't come from Earth. Instead of any type of standard fiber or nanofiber, it is made of of some slick, absolutely void black material. If lit just right, you can get a nice, rainbow shine out of it.

And it looks like there's something up with the embedded circuitry, too. Normally the circuits would just be standard silicon, supersilicon, or whatever the latest fad in computing tech is. It would not be whatever the hell fancy space-metal this is instead. And the circuit patterns definitely would not look some kind of non-euclidean eldritch mess.

"Wait a minute..." The longer Mali stares at that eldritch mess, the more familiar it starts to look. "That's..." It was in a book. A Textbook. One of the occult ones she studied. It had to do with something about the universe. It was...

"The Cold Ones! Disciples of the Cold Ones! gently caress!"

Takanago fucked around with this message at Jul 15, 2014 around 04:52

Comrade Gorbash
Jul 12, 2011

My paper soldiers form a wall, five paces thick and twice as tall.


McCullough listen politely, then holds up a finger to signal he needs a minute while he makes a call to his people. He has a brief conversation, nodding at various points, then comes back. "Good advice. There was a bomb, but the detonators were fried. That explains a lot about how this happened. The shooters are locals, the descendants of an unholy union between the pre-crackdown Haitian gangs from back in the 21st and the old Southie tradition of bank robbers. My guess is the Coquillard B-team was riding herd and lost control of the situation."

"Unfortunately the masterminds had already bolted before we showed up, so they avoided the whole siege and gunfight. They're in the wind already." He looks pained to admit this. "I'd say they can't get far in this weather, but... In any case."

"The Coquillards are thieves. That's the key to understanding them. They have very specific talents, and only get to exercise them fully by stealing from the most difficult targets. Oh, they don't do it for free, but the money isn't the prime motivator. It's a nice bonus. I'm sure you've seen the same in your line of work, with those PMCs." He pulls out a tablet and unfolds it. "I'll send the brief, but I doubt it will help you much on the angle I think you're after. These people aren't terrorists, Agent. There's no ideological angle to pursue. And they aren't self starters. Someone sent them after you, and the Coquillards won't really know who it was. Oh, they'll tell you what they know. They just make certain they don't know much."

"I'll kick this upstairs, but the FSB remit is crime. If this is as big as you're saying, it's OOI territory."

---

Shirona and Maddy's investigations confirm what they've been told. There's a major ward here that's turning away anyone trying to penetrate the plateau. A few times they get the impression something is watching them, something big and scary in case they somehow get past the ward. Ultimately it becomes clear that while there's something going on here, they're going to need more resources to make further progress.

---

The storm is still taking its sweet time winding up when everyone meets back up in the briefing room, whether in person or via video conference. It takes a bit of work to set up a line to the Dreamworld, but it's doable. And more stable than the line to the tilt-rotor shuttle. McCullough and a few of his people have hitched a ride to take custody of the Coquillards, but they're keeping hands-off on the larger investigation. The thieves will still be made available to you if needed.

Meanwhile, it's time to share the intelligence you've gathered and settle on a course of action.

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

Hyun-Ae kicks her feet up onto the table. "I'll start; Coquillards got their hands on two anti-D-drive weapon prototypes. They used one to breach the area, but mishandled the other and didn't get a chance to use it. Those modules were only ever distributed to very select governments and a corporation or two, so I can probably trace their movement to confirm who might be their benefactor."

She shrugs. "That's all I got."

Mitama
Feb 28, 2011



Princess Shirona of Celephaïs
FP: 4

"I have checked the plateau by way of the Dreamlands, and... well, it looks like our mysterious foe is most strongest at that side. There is a massive ward turns away travelers from the area, as well as some sort of creature guarding the place, I am certain." Not a lot of things scare Shirona, though anything from the Dreamlands can manage to give her a shudder. "We will need a lot of resources to break through that way, or find another way around, perhaps through Tibet. The latter might carry its own set of problems, though."

Emerald Rogue
Mar 29, 2013


Madeline

TurninTrix posted:

"I have checked the plateau by way of the Dreamlands, and... well, it looks like our mysterious foe is most strongest at that side. There is a massive ward turns away travelers from the area, as well as some sort of creature guarding the place, I am certain." Not a lot of things scare Shirona, though anything from the Dreamlands can manage to give her a shudder. "We will need a lot of resources to break through that way, or find another way around, perhaps through Tibet. The latter might carry its own set of problems, though."

"It's pretty serious stuff. I couldn't figure out a way to ghost my way inside the ward - I kept getting lost. I still have no idea how I ended up in that fish pond, or even why there is an ornamental koi pond in the middle of nowhere in the Dreamlands. Shirona tried to explain it to me and I wound up with a migraine. I also never got a look a whatever was watching us - but Shirona's right, there was definitiely something big and nasty keeping an eye on us. Violet was getting really edgy by the time we decided to wrap it up. Can't say I enjoyed feeling hunted very much either."

Atlatl
Jan 2, 2008

Art thou doubting
your best bro?


Hyun-Ae FP: 6

"We could always try and nab the second gatecrasher module that our thieves never got around to using if we're trying to bust into somewhere. Kill two birds with one stone."

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Tempus Rimeblood
Sep 23, 2007

...Friendship? Again?

Cain

The cyborg shakes the snow off his coat, addressing the room as he does so.

"Well, I'd wager the gatecrasher module is gonna get used in the Dreamlands, something to do with the plateau. Coquillards hit the bank in Boston, hired some gunmen, killed a lot of civilians, and made off with a paper on the theory of using D-Drives in the Dreamlands. Lot of potential avenues of attack from there, but without knowing what that paper contains, we won't know specifics. If any of the more academic minds here can get us something on Gordon Markov, PhD, we'd be a step closer to what's going on."

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