by Jonathan Souza
This adventure is for a team of black ops, optimally a team of two Combat ops, one Tech op, one Security op, one Intel op, and one Science op. Variations on this theme are allowable, as the Company will give the team the required members. The team should be fairly well experienced (about 4-5 missions under their belt), and the team has to be pretty skilled in dealing with problems via their heads more than their guns.
The team gets their first warning when the Company contacts them and sends them a message via Omicron to report in for a briefing. The briefing is in the form of unlabeled videotape and an envelope of papers on the subject. The videotape is direct, and to the point:
Hello and good evening, ladies and gentlemen. A few days ago, Centurion Computing Systems released a new palmtop computer called the Centex. This computer is equal or better to the Cistron that we issue to Technology ops. In addition, we've been hearing reports from inside that they're going to release new technologies that are equal or better to our own. There's a suspicion of possible interference by extra-terrestrial influences and such. You're to discover if this is due to Grey or other ET influences, or possible compromise by someone in the Company. Your equipment list is in the envelope as well as information on the company itself.
The tape self-destructs soon afterwards, and the players should review the equipment list, which gives them:
- Enough automatic pistols (all in .40 caliber Glocks) to equip the entire team, and silencers for the guns.
- Ammo for the guns.
- A full set of surveillance and computer-cracking gear.
- Heavy monocrys armor for the combat ops, light monocrys armor for everyone else.
- Information and paperwork to help the ops to get into the company with identities, as hired workers.
In addition, the team can request any sort of equipment listed in the book (except for experimental gear) within 12 hours and requests for personnel within 24. The information on Centurion Computing Systems (CCS) is like many other startup computer companies in San Francisco -- a nutty bunch of inventors and developers that gave up jobs with bigger companies and went to work independently. The company has twenty-two employees, and none of them have had contact with anyone that has worked for an Argus front company, according to the investigation. The team has tickets to San Francisco Airport and their gear will arrive at the safehouse at the same time they do.
Getting To Work
The team of ops arrives at the safehouse and start getting set on the job. The safehouse has vehicles for the team: one minivan for surveillance (treat as a TL 7 van, except for TL 8 sensors and a instant chameleon), and enough mid-sized cars to carry the team (all look like TL 7 equivalent cars, but built with TL 8 gear and armored). The team should, by the first day, have figured out how they will get started.
The first thing the team should do is investigating the company itself. CCS recently moved into a new office complex in San Jose, and getting hired with the expanding company would be easy for the ops. The team quickly realizes that it's the top four people -- the head of the company, Walter Morrow; his two best friends Nick Allyson and Wang-Li Gi; and the girl that gave them the garage to work in, Lisa Patterson -- that are the inventive and creative parts of the company. There appears to be no form of contact or method of transmitting information to the four -- taps on their e-mail system both at home and at work seems to be a mixture of work e-mail, bad jokes and stories, and some erotic commentary about the relationships in the office.
If the team decides to break in and search the homes of the four top people, all they'll find is somewhat messy apartments and maybe a little bit of pot and cocaine. GMs should be willing to play this up for all it's worth, as a team of very well-trained covert ops try their best not to get caught by rent-a-cops, and what happens if they do. Working out a check on the top people for Grey implants would be difficult, but not impossible -- the team will learn that they were checked and found clean. Expanding to search the twenty-plus people of the company will take too much time for the ops, but they will quickly discover one piece of information -- of all the employees, only ten, including the top four people -- have been with the company since they started their innovative streak.
During this investigation, the team will hear that CCS is about to release a new computer system -- the Navi system -- which would be easily equal to a TL 9 mini-computer. The ops will hear from the Company that unless the Navi can be proven not to be developed by hostile forces, it has to be stopped or the creation and the creators destroyed. The estimated release date of the Navi is one month, and the team is ordered to resolve the problem in under a month or "clean up" the situation.
Hunting down these ten people will quickly winnow down one name -- Morgana Lafayette. She's a twenty-six year old secretary and her personal history has a few major "blanks" in it, as well as having some other problems -- including that she was rumored to be the lover of the top people in the company. Searching her apartment will quickly reveal several things that will make the ops suspicious. A doctor's prescription for Pitremenopine (which Science ops will tell players is commonly used by people with psionic talents to keep their powers from working while they sleep) and documentation on certain items of hardware of early TL 9 computer designs are only just a few of the things found.
Interrogation of Morgana will reveal that she had been getting visions of such things -- but she hadn't revealed the plans to the company. A good team of investigators will reveal that where she had some of her blank spots have had links to Grey operating zones. Calling in a PsiOp to check on her story will reveal that she's telling the truth -- but she does have some latent telepathic ability. And, she does have a Grey implant in her, which looks like it had been placed there in one her "blank" periods a few years ago.
Hunting Down The Grey Road
The players will have to use Morgana's telepathic link to the Greys to find the Grey nest. They broadcast the plans to her, and her own telepathic ability "relays" the signal to one of the four inventors, who think that it's their own idea (and they innovate on it). By helping human computer technology grow more rapidly, the Greys have access to hardware to rebuild their ships and equipment. They didn't develop the Navi system, but they will make use of it to get access to more and better hardware.
Tracking down the Greys will be difficult. The moment they realize that Morgana has been compromised, they will cut the link to her and start packing up to leave the area. But what they didn't know is that they left enough information in Morgana's head to let the ops be lead to the area where they established their base. Assuming that there is a Psi-Op available, the Op will be able to narrow down the signal to within about ten degrees and a thirty-mile arc in the southeast of Morgana's apartment. Contacting the Company for information on Grey psi-transmitters, they'll indicate that the estimated range of transmitters is about forty miles -- and is about the size of a small car. Investigating warehouses and other type of locations (as the area is too well-inhabited for the Greys to establish a concealed base without someone noticing it) will reveal that a large warehouse was rented in the last six months. This warehouse is next to the San Jose Airport, and is of sufficient size to hold both a Grey saucer and the transmitter hardware.
The warehouse has armed guards carrying M16s (see Grey Guards stats), claming that the warehouse is under FBI investigation, and no story or documentation that the team uses will allow the team into the warehouse. Any attempts to force or bribe their way in will cause the guards to go from firm statements to deadly force, very rapidly. Using FBI contacts or checking to make sure that there is a real FBI investigation will quickly reveal that the FBI doesn't have any idea of what's going on at the warehouse. The team does detect, if they're doing surveillance of the warehouse, a lot of activities -- clean-up activities that seem to be coming close to a resolution -- sometime that night, probably about 3-4 am.
Cleaning Up The Problem
The team really has two options at this point -- let the Greys escape or attack the warehouse at some point that night. The first option isn't one the Company would really like, but if the team does it, they'll see the "FBI" guards open up a door in the warehouse and the saucer will take off; the guards will quickly disperse to six cars and drive them away in separate directions. No amount of tailing will reveal where the guards get in contact with the Greys, or their equipment -- and no amount of interrogation will reveal this, either. However, the Greys do have an implant in all the guards. If they let the Greys escape, the team will be told that their handing of the situation wasn't perfect and will be told to do better next time.
The second option is the one the Company would prefer. Besides the players, the Company can provide three Combat ops and a Security op to help keep the scene clear of people not involved in the little attack. All team members will have a Castor '94 Assault Carbine and a Heavy Monocrys suit, as well as communications gear for the assault. Any other reasonable gear (grenades, night vision gear, etc), will be provided. Exotic or experimental gear will require the players to have a very good reason for it (and require good rolls on their Fast Talk skills).
The layout of the warehouse is fairly straightforward, but there are several locations worth noting and being aware of.
- Front Office. This room is accessible from the street. It has a few simple chairs, a receptionist's desk, and an old coffee machine. There is not much else here, except for two Grey Guards waiting. One is behind the desk, the other is sitting down enjoying his coffee (they'll both have to take an action to bring their weapons to the ready). The receptionist's computer has no real information on it other than a few appointments for the "cover" staff.
- Office Space. The front office leads to this area. These are several small offices (consider the walls PD 2, DR 20). There are four Grey Guards in the office, sipping coffee and chatting about "government foul-ups." Unless previously alerted either by Grey telepathy, gunfire, or the other Guards, it will take two actions for the Guards to be ready for combat (one to get their weapons, one to ready them). The computers in the offices are fairly standard, and have no real information on them.
- Bathrooms. Leading off from the office space are men's and women's bathrooms. Each has two stalls. Other than that, ordinary.
- "Security Area." This room adjacent to the office space has two ready Grey Guards that can respond to an attack instantly. The walls of this area, the warehouse area around the saucer, and the large doors exiting the warehouse, is PD 3, DR 100. The door has a retinal/telepathic lock and the door itself is DR 250. It leads to a large area where the Grey Saucer is being held.
- Curtain. Dividing the area between the Security Area and the floor where the Saucer is, this curtain is very flimsy and easy to damage; bullets will just go through it, and a knife will easily cut it. It seems to part the moment the players put an object through it, and has no real effect on play other than to act as an obscurant for the Saucer (-4 to hit).
- Grey Saucer and Equipment. A team of four Greys is working here. Two are loading the equipment on the saucer (several large items, using contra-grav pallets to help manipulate them). One is breaking down equipment with a tool, and the last one is at the seat of the saucer, powering up the reactor to allow the saucer to take off. The moment the attack happens (the first Grey Guard that detects an Ops will set off the alarm), the three Greys outside the ship will move to get the already disassembled equipment into the saucer. The fourth one will work harder to bring the saucer up to full operational power. If the Ops manage to get into the hanger, the three Greys will open fire with omniblaster pistols (either in narrow-beam or standard mode), and the fourth Grey will get into the top xaser turret and start shooting at the Ops. Killing a Grey or two will result in the last Greys escaping into the saucer, sealing it up and blowing the outer door (throwing the doors over a hundred meters away), and flying away at top speed, firing back into the hanger to do as much damage as possible.
If the Ops move very quickly, they can secure the Saucer. The Grey in the top turret won't switch over to the bottom turret because its field of fire is blocked by the equipment; within touching distance of the Saucer and a few feet away, the xaser can't fire and hit targets because the body of the saucer blocks the weapon. Assuming Ops capture the saucer, the Company will move a team in very quickly to take it away. If not, the Greys escape, leaving behind many confused people and several bits of equipment.
The Resolution Of Affairs
Dynatronics personnel, reviewing the Navi's plans, inform Argus that they can be modified so that the Grey plan to use them to steal information won't work. With a few doses of the Cocktail to people like Morgana and the Grey Guards, a plan to break into the computer market by the Greys has been thwarted. And the Ops get vacation time -- four days of time to themselves. A good reward for excellent work.
Characters Involved In The Adventure
ST 11, DX 12, IQ 15, HT 10
Advantages: Animal Empathy, Attractive Appearance, Fashion Sense, Intuition, Rapid Healing, Telepathy 15(Uncontrolled, only useable by Greys as a relay), Unusual Background (Latent Telepath), and Comfortable Wealth.
Disadvantages: Delusions (Quirk, "Men love what I enjoy giving them"), Dreamer, Involuntary Duty (Grey Telepathic Relay), Lecherousness, Slave Mentality (only vs. Grey Telepathy, -20%), Weirdness Magnet.
Skills: All Professional/Office type skills, Akido-14, Erotic Arts-14, Savoir-Faire-15, Sex Appeal-15, Guns (Pistol)-10
Morgana wears mostly hand-dyed outfits, usually of either Arabian or Indian origin. Her personality is very sensual and she's able to project an aura of feelings and sensuality upon those around her. While she wouldn't initiate violence, she will defend herself. She does own a .38 revolver at home, but no other weapon (and her shooting is poor).
ST 14, DX 14, IQ 12, HT 14
Advantages: Collected and Composed, Combat Reflexes, High Pain Threshold, two levels Strong Will.
Disadvantages: Delusion (Major, Believe that the Greys are "people"), Duty (To defend the Greys), Slave Mentality (only vs. Grey Telepathy).
Skills: Guns (Light Automatic, TL 7)-15, Guns (Light Automatic, TL 8), Karate-15.
There are eight Grey Guards involved in this adventure. All of them had been, in the past, captured by the Greys and subjected to long-term mind control as well as being implanted. They all believe that the team of four Greys in the warehouse is a group of government officials, and that they're working for a covert operations branch of the government. Any efforts to convince the Guards that the Greys are not human will be rejected (short of long term psychotherapy or a combination of Telerecieve and Mindwipe to fix the damage). When they're operating as "government officials", they are wearing TL 9 Combat Infantry Dress torso units (PD 4, DR 50 for hit locations 9-11 and 17-18) concealed as TL 7 heavy body armor, armed with M16 assault rifles. When operating as "covert officers", the team wears full Combat Infantry Dress, and helmet with radio communicators in them. They are also carrying TL 9 Storm Carbines (UT2) loaded with AP ammo, six magazines of ammo and four concussion grenades (6d damage, detonate on impact, but the grenade doesn't generate fragments). To the Grey Guards, they're defending the best of the United States (if a tad humorless) from Communist hordes/Militia fanatics/insane Islamic terrorists (take your pick).
Article publication date: May 26, 2000
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