The Office of Antiquites: Wildcards

Episode 7
Family Issues

After crashing out at base, Fern and Pistachio closed themselves off into her lab to try and tear into the data they had mined from the Church of the Broken God.

The rest of MTF PHI 7 gathered around the center table discussing what to do. As Dan answered questions about Copper Flight, and Tempe explained her ghost problem. Arturo’s phone rang.


“Arturo.” The voice on the other end stated. Arturo knew instantly who it was, his Uncle, his pack Alpha.

“Yes Sir?” Arturo’s voice was stricter now and the other two noticed his change in posture and quieted down.

“I need you here as a part of your team. Not as a member of the pack, but with your team.”
“Is it important?”

“I need you here now.”

“Yes sir.” Arturo replied.

Arturo closed his phone, “Guys, I need your help. My Uncle needs our help.”

Milt had been cleaning his weapons, “You guys seem short, and I’ll fill in.”

Milt finished reassembling his weapons and headed to the armory.

The group split up to pack for the mission. Tempe stopped by Arturo’s room, “uh, don’t mean to be rude, but what should we bring in case of werewolves?”

“Garou.” Arturo corrected her, “We call ourselves the Garou. My Uncle will have stuff for that.”

They loaded into the van, Bono at the wheel and started the two hour road trip to Albuquerque.

Bono pulled the van into a Lottaburger. As the group came in, the manager came out from behind the counter.

“I’m sorry but no animals in the restaurant.” The manager said as he approached them.
“He’s a service animal.” Tempe told him.

“What kind of service animal? Do you have his credentials?”

“I have all kinds of credentials.” Dan said dryly. “Credentials to put you in a ditch, credentials to make you and your family disappear…”

The manager’s eyes widened.

“But that doesn’t matter as the national disabilities act says you can’t even ask about that.” Dan finished.

As the manager retreated to the counter, Bono raised a paw and flipped him off.
The meal was astounding and Milt picked up the tab on his government card.

Arturo gave Bono directions and within the next 15 minutes they were approaching the Caern.

The Caern was the Kaizen International Botanical Gardens. It was a huge towering construct of white steel and glass. Through the clear panes they could see a multitude of environments from coastal waters to African savannah.

In the center of the park were the main offices of Kaizen International. They were greeted at the door and directed to Arturo’s Uncle’s office. The mood at the building was somber and quiet as if people were afraid to speak.

“Usually its way friendlier here. Something is definitely wrong.” Arturo told them as he led the way.

As Arturo opened the door Arturo’s Uncle rose from his desk and hugged Arturo. Tempe could easily see the family resemblance; Juan looked like an older more weather beaten version of Arturo. He was only a little larger than Arturo but carried an imposing personal presence.

“Miho, sit down.” And he motioned to a chair.

“Are Josh and Ash here?”

“No I have them handling something.” Juan seemed to be gathering his will, “Miho I called you here because your mother is missing.”

“Was she on a mission?” Arturo had stiffened.

“No, from your house.”


“We are still putting that together. That’s why I called you in.” Juan said, “But, I need you to look at what’s going on. That’s why I asked you to bring your team.”

“How? How did they get passed security? Where there any unusual scents?” Arturo began.

“We don’t know, nothing was found. That’s why I called your team in.” Juan raised his hand for Arturo to calm himself. “Your sister just went home the other night and found the place a mess.”
“Cecilia is safe?” Arturo cut in.

“Yes, she is back at the house with the boys.”

“So there were signs of a struggle?” Tempe asked.

Juan smiled at her, “Chiquita, you can’t take a Garou anywhere they don’t want to be taken without signs of a struggle.”

“I was just trying to judge what happened.” Tempe justified.

“Well Ma’am, I would say go look at the scene yourself and judge.”

Arturo was quiet. Quieter than his team mates had ever seen him, his anger seeming to come off him in waves. As his hands clenched, the sound of the wooden chair arms splintering filled the room. Arturo stood and walked out of the room. His team fell in behind him.

Quiet weighed heavy on the drive to his families’ residence.

They rode the elevator in silence. No one was sure what to say, or what could be said.
They walked into the room and the damage was apparent. The furniture in the living room was shattered. Chips were shattered out of the pillars that ran to the ceiling. Glass lay scattered everywhere, the windows to the balcony had provided the glass. The stove was caved in like a stomped on tin can from the weight of something large being slammed into it. Everywhere there was destruction. Blood was a wash on everything.

Dan looked at the mess, “The glass was broken outward, and the entry door is unharmed.”
Josh and Ash were milling around the room and looked up.

Josh walked to Arturo, “Dude, I am so sorry. We are trying to figure out what is going on.”

“Any unusual scents? Anything?” Arturo asked.

“Nothing man, the house smells like it always has…”

“The blood, who?” Arturo stumbled over the words as he fought to contain his rage.

“I hate to say it man, but it’s your mom’s.”

Arturo couldn’t hold it, the beast started to slip his control.

Tempe could see the hair on Arturo’s arms visibly start to grow.

Dan looked up as he heard the distinct sound of bones popping, and didn’t realize his hand fell to the butt of the Rev.

Arturo was shifting forms to Crinos, Josh took a step back and seemed to tense up.

Ash slid in from the side and slammed a large syringe with a milky white substance into Arturo’s arm and the beast dropped to the floor.

Dan was out of his holster, the Reverend trained on Ash. “Back up!”

Ash and Josh both raised their hands.

“His uncle sent us prepared for this, knew it would happen. He is just sedated. It’s a formula of Valerian and Chamomile. He isn’t hurt.” Ash stated.

Tempe placed her hand on Dan and he lowered the gun.

Tempe started to go over her questions, “Are there cameras? Where there any visitors?”

“No Cameras. The only exits were from his sister leaving the night before.” Josh answered

“Where is the sister?” Dan asked.

“In her room, as far as we know she was the last one to see her mother.” Dan pointed at the door and Tempe headed for it.

Milton paced the main room looking for anything that stood out. Milt noticed something under the ruins of a chair. On the bottom of the magazine was a standard property identification tag for Alchemax. He whistled and tossed the magazine to Dan.

Dan caught it and handed it to Josh and Ash. It looked similar to an M-16 mag, but with a more pronounced channel on the front.

“Any beef with Alchemax?”

“None that I know of, hell we just built a server site for them last month.”

Tempe knocked on the door Ash directed her to.

A young lady pulled the door open her face was stern and she had trails on her face from where she had been crying, “Yes?”

“Hi I’m Tempe and this is Bono; I’m with your brother’s team. We came to help.”

Cecilia relaxed and let them into her room. She began to relate her story of having left to go out with friends. She didn’t get back until that morning and found the destroyed house. She called her Uncle and hid in her room.

“Is there anything else, maybe something you forgot to tell the others?” Tempe asked

Cecilia rose, anger visible on her face, “I don’t even know who you are and you have the nerve to come into my house and accuse me?”

She turned and yelled, “ASH! Get these people the hell out of here!”

Ash turned to Tempe, “Can you guys please leave? We will carry Arturo down.”

The team headed down to the ground floor.

Ash placed the reverted Arturo into the car, “I’m sorry, Cecilia is always a hot head, and the situation isn’t helping. Please let me know if we can do anything to help. I would check back in with Juan.”

They headed to Kaizen International.

Tempe tried to call Gwen, her phone went to voice mail.

“MINERVA what can you tell me about Alchemax?” Tempe asked the unit’s AI.

“Alchemax is one of the leading corporations that have made its money from Government contracts, energy production and research into the Lucifer’s Hammer crystalline form.” The A.I. answered. ‘I believe Miss Barrow just left the employ of Alchemax. Information provided by Fern implicates them in dealings with the Dynastic Empire.”

“Any recent large payouts out of Alchemax accounts around here?” Tempe asked.

“There have been quite a few transactions in the local area from Alchemax concerns. You would need to be more specific.”

“Are there any local physical locations for Alchemax in the area?” Tempe tried again.

“There are quite a few physical locations in the local area for Alchemax concerns. You would need to be more specific.” The A.I. responded sounding indignant.

“So you’re giving me the same answers?” Tempe was sick of this snotty A.I.

“No I answered your questions.”

“I’m trying to find connections.” Tempe hissed at the A.I.

“Are there any security or armament concerns Alchemax has in the area?” Dan asked trying his luck.

“There is a local security office. It is approximately 17 miles from your location; I have placed a marker in your H.U.D.”

Dan held up the mag, “Let’s see what we can get them to say about this.”

Everyone was getting sick of the A.I.

Arturo started to stir. His eyes opened, “What?”

Milt filled Arturo in on what had developed while he was out.

“Do you think this could be linked to those weird dog things?” Tempe asked.

“Maybe. They are antagonistic to the Garou, but they were Wayland-Yutani.” Dan mused.
The sound of ripping metal filled the inside of the vehicle. Arturo had torn apart the magazine.

“Well that lead is compromised.” Dan said.

“I want to talk to Josh and Ash’s moms.” Arturo said.

They arrived at Kaizen and headed in. Juan was in his office directing operations of the pack and the company.

Arturo placed the magazine remnants onto Juan’s desk.

“Doesn’t make sense. We have contracts with them from before I was Alpha.” Juan stated.

“It wasn’t Garou. No scent. I refuse to believe humans could take her.” Arturo stated.

“This isn’t the first time we have had a scene with no scents. There was no scent from the dog creatures, and there was no scent at the warehouse.” Tempe corrected the group.

“Don’t you start acting like MINERVA.” Dan said jokingly.

“So we should arm up for supernatural…” Dan let it hang in the air.

“Take them to the Armory.” Juan told Arturo.

“This might be hard to hear, but it might be an inside job. The glass was all on the outside…” Dan started.

“Now you understand why I called you in.” Juan cut in.

“Do you have any suspects?” Dan followed.

“The alpha of the Bone Gnashers pack contacted me in the last month to inform me that 2 of his pack had been slaughtered.” Juan told them, “Slaughtered and skinned.”

“Is there a meaning to this? Ritualistic?” Dan probed.

“There is a legend, a spook story told to young cubs. A rite to allow kinfolk to take the skins of Garou and become a Garou themselves. They must take the skins of 4 Garou.” Juan told the group.

“So we may have this rite being performed or attempted as we only have 2 confirmed victims.” Dan filled in.

“I think my mom put up too much fight for anything but a Garou.” Arturo said coldly, “I’ve only heard of things that can go toe-to-toe with a Crinos in legend.”

“That’s not a legend, that’s a fact.” Juan informed his nephew. He began to open his dress shirt and display a scar that ran the length of his torso, “this was given to me by a member of the Dynastic Empire.”

“They would leave a scent though right?” Arturo asked.

“Yes of the grave. The only thing I know of that does not leave a scent is the abominations from Weyland-Yutani. I have arranged for rooms here for you.”

A soft tink, tink, tink, tink, came from across the room.

“Each of you press your fingers on the scanner in turn. Across the room are your IDs. You are now Kaizen International private contractors.” Juan told them and entered data for each person.

Arturo took the group to the armory. They exchanged the normal rounds they carried for silver laced rounds. They then stopped by the Medical wing to pick up the tranquilizers that Ash used earlier.

They headed to Ash’s mom’s house to see if she could add anything to the puzzle.
20 minutes later, they arrived. An attractive older Hispanic woman came out to greet them.

“Miho!” She said as she hugged Arturo. She ushered them into the house, making them comfortable with food and drinks. Then she finally sat with them.

“I know you guys were close. Has anything been going on with my mom lately? Anything strange?” Arturo asked her.

“No just your sister being difficult.” Mona answered, “Everything seemed good. I last seen her was on Thursday like always. She hasn’t been on a mission in a year.”

“Do you know of anything that doesn’t leave a scent?”

“Some of the Dynastic Empire can hide their smell.” Mona answered.

“Have you been to the house?” Arturo asked.

“No Miho, that’s not how I will remember her.”

They said their goodbyes. The group quickly decided to meet with the Bone Gnashers.
Arturo gave directions to the Superstition Underpass 7. This is where they typically could be found.

Homeless people drifted around the area. As soon as Arturo stepped into the shadows, 6 people present shifted to Crinos.

“Wrong place to be.” One of them growled.

From the shadows farther back a voice called, “What are you doing down here uptown?”

“You know me? You know of me?” Arturo called back challenging the unseen speaker. ‘I’m just here for information. Shift Back.”

“This doesn’t have to be a blood bath.” Dan said

“Shift Back. That’s all I am going to tell you.” Arturo spoke gravely.

A chuckle came from the unseen speaker, “Did, Did you not notice where you are? You are not in your Uncle’s office son, so you had best check yourself before you come down here telling us what the fuck to do.”

“Shift back, I just want to talk.” Arturo said again, but still with the tone of command.

“Do you want to do this son?” The voice was harder and the man came forward. He appeared to be in his late 40’s. A hard 40 years. His skin was weathered and dirty. His black hair tangled in places, but his face only held a days’ worth of stubble. He looked a lot like Rob Zombie.

“Yes I do.” Arturo said with the authority still in his voice.

The people in the area spread out farther as the man walked to the center across from Arturo. He reaches behind his back and when his hand came forward he was lazily twirling a large jagged silver sword.

Tempe let out an exasperated sigh and leaned back against the van. Bono shook a box of M&M’s at her. She took some and waited for the aftermath.

Around the circle, Dan noticed several of the bystanders starting to place bets.

The man rushed forward, faster than Arturo could follow. Pain shot up through his left arm. His left hand was lying in the dirt.

“Only time I will let you, step down son.”

Arturo kneeled, head bowed.

The man placed his hand behind him again and the sword was gone. “Your Uncle taught you better than this.” He said in disappointment.

“Now why did you come into my house acting this way? Stand.” The man said.

“I do when my mother is missing.” Arturo spoke again rage still in his voice.

The man shook his head. Arturo felt his burning rage quiet, settling away from a bonfire to an ember.

“You do not come into my house and speak to me like your bitch. The next time you walk into my house, I’ll kill you.” The man turned and walked away, his pack followed.

Arturo was mad at himself. He wasn’t thinking. His anger was driving him. Approaching the Bone Gnashers in this way was a mistake.

No one spoke in the van. Tempe told Bono to drive to the apartment.

Dan called Juan, “Yeah we, we kind of pissed in the faces of your Bone Gnashers.”

“Oh I have already heard about it.” Juan said curtly.

“I was hoping you could set up an intro.”

“I’ll see what I can do. Keep him on a shorter leash.”

Tempe walked through again, now with no distractions, she could feel something under the surface. Lying over the place like a sheet over old furniture. She drifted following the pull of it. “Something was cast here. Several times” Tempe told the others.

The world seemed to fall away. Tempe stood in darkness as the cold bit deep into her. A whisper she couldn’t make out started in the darkness.

Milton noticed her body go ridged. He covered the distance to her. “Tempe?”

An electric shock ran through her body. The air itself became oppressive, thick and dirty like trying to breathe oil, viscous and sickly.

Milton shook her shoulder. Nothing was reaching her. Her eyes were rolled up so that all he could see was the whites.

Tempe could feel another, there in the darkness. “Hello?” she called out.

“Why are you doing here?” a whispering gritty female voice answered. The sound of a 50 year, 12 packs a day smoker talking through a mouth full of glass.

“I’m here to find out what happened.”

“You are not the one who asked for passage. You are not allowed here in the places in-between.” The voice answered.

“No I am here for Arturo.” Suddenly Tempe had the sensation of a crushing hand coming for her and was back in the real world. Now she could see a sickly neon green trace on the world. A left over of the things done here. Tempe quickly took a photo of the room and began to trace in green on the photo to show the others what she could see.
The traces formed glyphs and paths of movement from the living room outward; out to Cecilia’s room. Tempe opened the door to her room and was nearly blinded by the overlapping glyphs. She took another photo and began to sketch furiously.

Arturo walked into the apartment. As he walked around repressing his memories of his life here, he saw Tempe sitting in front of his sister’s room, drawing on her Tile. He looked over what was visible on the screen.

“I know that mark.” Arturo spoke. “That’s the glyph of the Breaker. Those,” He added pointing to other symbols, “are travel glyphs. The Breaker is the destroyer. Once he was the simple death and cleaned the slate for the Promise to create new. Then the Builder was not content to let go of her creations and tried to be rid of the Breaker. This only drove the Breaker mad and now he seeks to destroy everything.”

Tempe nodded in agreement. She uploaded the photos to MINERVA. MINERVA quickly tagged several of the glyphs that were in her databank. Promise, Sacrifice, Taken, Shift, Binder; The words lit up in her visual field as MINERVA applied them.

“Now the lack of scent makes more sense.” Arturo said softly.

“Anyone have anything pressing, because I need to hit the books on this?” Tempe asked.

“You go take your time with the research and I will go see Juan.” Dan answered.

“I have to go see him.” Arturo said with the tone of a condemned man.

“Wait and let me do some research and that way we have something to give him.” Tempe said.

Tempe began to pull up online books and thumbing through the writings Cecilia had in her room. Dan made himself comfortable as guard duty started.

Arturo, Milt and Bono loaded up and drove to Ash’s mom’s house. As they arrived Mona was out front, shaking her head at Arturo.

She made everyone at home. She doted over Bono.
Bono took off his shades and kissed Mona’s hand. She giggled and smiled as she settled in to talk to them.

Arturo began to show her the pictures of the glyphs. Mona was able to identify most of the figures that the group had. Others looked familiar but she wasn’t quite sure of them. She would have to look into things to find them. Some had not been used for generations.

“Could only a Garou do this?” Arturo asked.

“Typically, but anyone with the Umbra-sight could have done this. There are rites and gifts that would allow for anyone to do this.” Mona told him.

“I can’t feel my rage, not since the fight with the Bone Gnasher Alpha.” Arturo admitted to her.

She smiled a sad and understanding smile. “You’re lucky. Jericho is actually very kind and thinks highly of Juan. He normally will not allow one to yield. That is why few challenge him. You have definitely made life difficult for your Uncle.”

“For this?” Arturo answered defensively.

“You went into another pack’s Caeren like a mad dog and called out the Alpha.” She fired back. Her voice was stern and correcting.

As the Team waited, Mona made phone calls and sent messages. She brought out old books. She chatted with the boys occasionally to ease their wait.

Tempe was starting to see it now, to see the pieces. MINERVA was a great help with the information she had access to. The picture slowly begins to come into focus as she continued to work. The picture was clear. She yelled for Dan as she struggled to her sleeping feet.

Mona took in a deep breath and clutched at her phone. “Ash where are you?”
“Both of you were to stay with her!” “Where are they?” “Get back here now!”
Mona killed the call and turned to Arturo.

“This isn’t going to be getting any better is it?” Arturo asked her when their eyes met.

“Whoever wrote this, this rite on Cecilia’s wall; this is the rite of the Skindancer.” Mona told him in a perfectly flat voice.

Arturo was struck silent.

Comms flew to life, “Where are you guys?” Tempe shouted into their ears.
“It’s the rite of the Skindancer. I’m sorry but Arturo, where is your sister?”

Everyone in the room turned to look at Mona.

“Josh and Ash were supposed to look after her. She was angry at Ash. Josh told him to relax and it was fine he would watch her. Ash left them.”

“This is bad, Josh is Garou. We are going to see my Uncle.” Arturo ordered.

They speed to Kaizen International. Josh’s car sat in the parking lot.

They poured inside. Josh was at the front desk.

“What’s up guys?” Josh asked.

“Oh thank god. Where is my sister?”

“She is in with your Uncle. What is wrong?” Josh asked again with more urgency.

“What happened with Ash?” Arturo grilled him.

“He was pissing her off so I told him to take a breather. You still haven’t told me what’s wrong.”

“Nothing, nothing’s wrong. I need to see my Uncle.” Arturo stonewalled him. He shouldered past and headed for his Uncle’s office.

Arturo threw open the door to the office as the team was following at his heels.

On the desk lay what was left of the body of Juan; his form bloodied and raw from his skin being cut away. A shape moved to the left. Arturo realized his sister, Cecelia stood there, holding the bloodied hide. She looked at him with unmasked hate and stepped away through the Umbra.

“What the fuck…” Arturo was stopped in his tracks.

Tempe began to pull her power and reach out to try to break the flow of power to the portal. She felt her power slapped away.

Arturo stumbled forward to his Uncle; the body of his Alpha. The man who had helped guide his life. Arturo felt for his rage. An empty pit, cold and hollow lay where his rage should be. He should be screaming; destroying the world around him. All he had was quiet. Quiet and sorrow.

Cecilia was gone.

The team regrouped and waited for Arturo.

Tempe threw open the door. “Josh!”

Josh ran up, “What the fuck happened in here?”

“His Uncle is dead. His sister is the Skin dancer. Anything else?” Milton said flatly.
Josh slammed his hand onto a button on a desk. Klaxons began to scream throughout the building.

“Your sister?” Josh said again still distraught.

Josh was dialing his mom.

The team watched Garou and kinfolk flood into the area from all over the Biosphere Park.

They came as men with guns, as darting lupus, and the hulking Crinos. They hung in the fringe, crowding and watching Juan’s office.

“It’s, it’s Cecilia. She’s taken Juan’s coat.” Josh spoke into the phone.

It hit Dan then that Arturo was the oldest of his friends and the most experienced.

Two people came in and began setting up what looked like the set of CSI. Lasers played against the walls. The ushered the group out of the room as they investigated.
Arturo looked at Josh, “I need to speak to Jericho. Get word out for Garou to stay in pairs. There is a Skindancer loose.”

“Ok, but are you sure?” Josh asked. He tapped at his phone. He looked up, “Jericho will see you. Here is the address.”

The group headed back to the Bone Gnashers. They approached the underpass. A scrawny looking man came out from the shadows. “What chu’ want man?”

“I came to see Jericho.” Arturo answered.

“ohhhh You wanna see the boss again?” The man asked and quickly chuckled.

“I’m here on good terms; I just need to speak to Jericho.”

“I’ll pass the word man, but you owe me ten bucks. You didn’t even scratch him.”

The man disappeared into the shadows. Time crawled by as the team waited impatiently. The scrawny, dirty man reappeared, “Yo, he said you can come.”

The team rolled in behind the man. Tempe felt like she was in a set from a bad 80’s movie; burning trash barrels and all.

Dan noticed that some of the “garbage” was well placed cover to fight from.

“So you come back like a man now?” Jericho asked.

“Yeah, I came in here like a little boy. I was enraged and was not thinking. My mother was missing and I acted out of fear. I could give you excuses and sob stories about my dog dying but that does not change the fact that I was wrong.” Arturo spoke.

“Isn’t that a fucked up form of slavery?” Jericho asked.

“What?” Arturo was taken aback by the question.

“A Garou owning a dog, I’m pretty sure that’s slavery.” Jericho clarified.

“I, uh…” Arturo stumbled over his words…

“Hey man you brought it up.” Jericho answered. ‘I’m just saying that’s a fucked up existential question.”

“I uh, I just wanted to try and patch this up and make amends for my actions earlier.” Arturo told him.

“There is a greater threat to all of us than the fight between us.” Dan added.

Jericho turned to Dan, “Hey meat, who asked you?”

“My Uncle was just skinned and…”

“Something happened to Juan?” Jericho cut in.


“What happened exactly?” Jericho questioned taking control of the conversation.

“I saw Cecilia leaving through a portal…”

“Who is Cecilia?”

“My sister, kinfolk; she was leaving through a portal and Juan was there skinned.” Arturo finished. “At my house, where my mother was taken from there are a ton of glyphs having to do with the Breaker. You had come to my uncle about a possible Skindancer.”

Jericho shook his head taking it all in. He held up a finger and walked away. Minutes later, he returned, a wrapped package in his hand. “You’re going to need this.”

Arturo took the package from him and began to unwrap the dirty rags covering it. Inside was a large sword. The edge lined in silver and glyphs scribed into the blade. “Thank you.” was all Arturo could manage.

Dan whistled when he seen the blade.

“Holy I have the power.” Tempe said quietly.

“Don’t thank me. I beat your ass when you were a boy missing his momma.” Jericho told Arturo as he lit a cigarette. “This time you came as a man caring for his pack. You earned this.”

He gestured to the sword, “Her name is Varin.”

“This is a Totem.” Arturo said softly. Arturo felt a hard sting in his palm, like trying to hold on to a hand full of hornets. Slowly it subsided. The grip was warm in his hand. He looked again at the blade. Arturo could now read some of the glyphs, “Varin Wyrmfoe.”

“I am Varin Wyrmfoe. Do not call upon me without bathing me in blood. Do not ask of me, or I will ask of you. I will destroy your foes, if I find you lacking, I will destroy you as well.” Tempe said as she stared at the blade.

“I’m impressed. You’re quick.” Jericho told Tempe.

“Where did you get this?” Tempe couldn’t stop herself from asking.

Jericho smiled, “I travel. Come with me so I can teach you the way.”

Arturo followed Jericho to the side.

The other members of the pack crowded in making it impossible to see or hear what was being taught.

When they came back, Jericho clapped Arturo on the back. “I will keep my pack listening to the wind. I’ll let you know if I hear anything. Ferret, show them where we found the boys strung up.”

The team followed Arturo out. They headed to an abandoned alley. Nothing was there it was too long since the event to find anything. Ferret parted ways with the team and they headed out to Juan’s office.

When they arrived at the Biosphere, josh met them with a manila folder in hand. “This is what they found.”

Arturo spread it out on a nearby desk for the entire team to view. “Recorded Trace Anomalous Energies found after incident.” Looked like Greek to Arturo. It went on and on and on.

Tempe seemed to understand more of what the files said. She could see the reference to the travel glyph with an estimated radius of no farther than 25 miles. She could only think of one target in that radius.

Arturo realized that he was able to touch his rage again; a burning warmth in his center. He reached for it and healed himself. A sick wet breaking sound filled the room as he forced his body to fix his maimed hand.

Arturo looked at the group, “I think we need to head out to try and speak to some of her friends. Maybe stir something up.”

Ash gave Arturo the contact info for her friends. A day of questioning leads that led seemingly nowhere. Over the last six months, she had been more distant and dismissive of them; on other occasions she seemed like her old self. Finally one friend, Niandy, told Arturo about Cecilia getting a new tattoo.

“What did it look like?”

“It was like a weird octopus thing. Think it had to do with religion.” Niandy told him.

“Shit.” Dan muttered. “EOD.”

“EOD?” Arturo asked.

“A religious order that worships chaos and desolation. Terrorists but we haven’t been able to prove it. We had a run in with them on our first mission for the OA.” Dan explained.

“They aren’t fans of ours after I shot one of their big robes through the heart.” Milt said off hand.

“Hell of a shot.” Dan commented.

“Just doing my job.” was all Milt responded.

“When did she get the ink?” Arturo asked Niandry.

“I think like a month ago. I’m not sure.”

They thanked her and sent her on her way.

“MINERVA what do we have on the EOD?” Dan asked their AI.

“The Esoteric Order of Dagon is an apocalyptic order that began after the event referred to as Hammerfall. It believes in primordial godhead that is tied to the perfection of oblivion. The church holds that the only meaning that mankind can have is through self-eradication.”

“Let’s go check in with Alchemax.” Arturo said and the team followed their last lead.
The compound was a smaller building than expected set in the edge of the encroaching desert. Dan didn’t see any posted guards but there was a fairly comprehensive surveillance system in place. They made it to the front desk before they even lay eyes on an Alchemax employee.

“May I help you?” the typical suburban hipster manning the front desk asked.

“We have a missing person we would…” Dan started.

“Have you filed a police report?” the man cut him off.

Tempe moved forward, annoyed at the man. “Have you ever seen this person before?” She held up a photo of Cecelia.

MINERVA had finished drafting a police report and sent it to all the official servers it needed to exist on and sent a copy to the team for good measure. Detective Monroe would never know he had made this report but judging by the lack of care she seen in his recorded work she knew he would be unable to say if he did or did not. The many transactions for bars and liquor stores told her of his problem which she scaled along a time line to judge that he was soon to be fired but hadn’t crossed that line quite yet. He would claim the work as it meant he had done something to justify the time on shift.

The man glanced at the picture and immediately reached for a phone dialed a number and whispered into the receiver. “Someone will be with you.” he said.

The interior doors opened and a man in a dark suit was gesturing to them. Dan could see the bulge of a pistol at the shoulder. He was an operator that had moved to the corporate sector. He extended his hand, “Adrian Maddoff, How can I help you?”

“We are looking for a person that may be a danger to themselves and others.” Dan said as he shook the man’s hand.

“And you are?” Adrian pried.

“Dan Tsudofsky.”

“What agency are you with?”

“Office of Antiquities.” Dan said as he presented his badge and ID.

“Please let’s take this to my office.” Adrian led them through a small working office area to his larger office. “What is the issue we are dealing with?”

“We believe she is involved in several incidents that border on their legality. She may be in danger.” Dan told Adrian.

“I’m sorry but we don’t have record of her at this facility. I’ve had our mainframe running facial recognition and have no hits. What brought you to Alchemax?”

“We found a piece of Alchemax property at a site under investigation.” Dan answered him. “Seemed like special item.”

“May I see it?”

“I have a photo from the site.” Dan handed Adrian the photograph of the magazine. “Do you recognize it?”

“No it belongs to a prototype weapons system and should not exist outside of the facility.” Adrian began to type quickly into the keyboard.

“So this is a breach in your security as well?” Dan probed.

“Have Darion Jones sent to my office.” Adrian called into the speaker phone.

“Can you tell us anything about this?” Dan said as he gestured to the screen.

“No. The project is still in testing.”

A knock on the door broke the silence. A small man in a lab coat entered. “You wanted to see me?” He asked cautiously.

“Yeah,” Adrian started in an authoritive tone, “I have questions about Project 27751. Where are the records for the equipment?”

Darion broke out into sweat and started to shake.

“Uhmm, Uhmm they aren’t on the hub? I updated them earlier this month…” Darion was stumbling over his words.

“No it is not.” Adrian’s tone became more intense and demanding as he spoke, “These people and more to the point, I, want to know the load out at this moment.”

“I’ll have to go back…”

“No you’re not going to your office.” Adrian cut him off.

“Uh, ohhh man…”

“Spit it out kid.” Dan prodded him, “It’s easier if you tell us what happened now.”

“Let me explain something to you. I am not even your concern right now. The worst I can do is fire you and ensure you never work in this field again. These people are from the government. They can make you not exist anymore.” Adrian said in a softer voice.

Darion glanced quickly back and forth to the people in the room. Darion started to sob and collapsed into a nearby chair. He had met a beautiful girl. Way out of his league. She was smart, and beautiful. She was interested in his work. She made him feel smart and on top of the world.

“Cecilia.” Arturo said.

“Yeah, her name was Cecilia. She wanted to see some of her work. I brought one of the magazines home. She was gone in the morning and so was the magazine.”

“What was in it?” Dan snapped, “This could be a major biological hazard. Alchemax manufactures everything under the sun from glass cleaner to nerve gas. What did you unleash?”

“It was empty! I only do mechanical engineering.” Darion cried defensively.

“So why was it important?” Arturo puzzled.

“What’s so special about this project?” Dan continued the line of thought, “It was non-standard. What is it for?”

Adrian laughed. “You’re not going to get anything with that line of questioning. I will answer questions when you have a warrant from the NSA. We could play who has the biggest dick, but it will get nowhere.”

“You’re not going to talk, I respect that.” Dan said to Adrian. He looked at Arturo, “Give him his toy back.”

Arturo handed over the bag with the broken magazine in it.

“Thank you.” Adrian told him.

MINERVA had been over Darion’s records. There were no flags except for his intelligence and employment. He was a rule minding individual.

Adrian coughed, “If you’re done with Darion, we need to discuss his termination.”
Adrian handed them a plain folder, “Here is his complete personnel record. His address is listed.”

The MTF left and easily gained access to Darion’s apartment. It was the shining example of a child making adult money. Good adult money judging by the multiple game systems and each having their own TV.

Tempe linked MINERVA to the apartment’s security system. MINERVA returned on the coms to tell them she found the relevant video. She fed the team the video of Cecilia entering and leaving Darion’s apartment.

“I think I need to go back to Arturo’s apartment.” Tempe told the team. “I might figure out something I missed.”

Arturo’s phone rang and the ID told him it was Ash, “Hello?”

“We can’t find Josh.”

“What?” Arturo caught his breath, “Do we have anyone tracking him? Who seen him last?”

“We are checking his phone now. He had a call before he left. He told me he was running an errand for his mom. I checked with his mom and she had no ideal about an errand.”

“We need to ping his phone.” Tempe ventured.

“Do we have GPS on his phone?”

“We are waiting for the results now.”

The team continued to search Darion’s apartment when Arturo’s phone rang again. As he picked up, he could hear Ash.

“Dude his phone is at your apartment!”

Arturo could hear the panic in Ash’s voice. “We are only 5 minutes out. We are headed there now.”

Arturo hung up the phone, “Let’s go, phone is at my apartment.”

They flew through the streets, Bono driving like he was playing Forza. As Dan loaded the Reverend, Arturo asked him, “Please don’t kill my sister, please.”

“I don’t plan on it…” Dan said without finishing his thought.

Arturo was first through the door, Dan at his heels. Tempe, Bono and Milton followed close behind.

In the center of the room, stood his sister, large silver and black knife in her hand. Below her blade, Josh was strapped to a table, unconscious. The floor burnt with the sickly green flames showing the mark of the Breaker. There were others present, but Arturo could only focus on his sister.

“You don’t want to do this, drop the blade.” Dan called out as he brought the Reverend to bear on Cecilia.

The MTF team moved like water flowing into the room and out of each other’s line of fire.

Tempe reached out to distort the Breaker symbol on the floor; as her power touched it, but it burnt back; biting at her psyche.

Cecilia plunged the knife into Josh’s chest; his body convulsed.

A shadow moved towards Dan; another moved to confront Arturo.

Dan pulled the Reverend onto the new target a squeezed the trigger. The round whipped past its target without hitting.

Bono let loose with a volley from his P90; the targets moving too quickly for the bullets to find their marks.

Milton seen the movement towards Arturo, He drew his breath, held it and pulled onto target. Squeeze. Arturo felt the wind rip past him as a round struck the creature rushing him.

Dan smashed the creature in the face with the Reverend and then pressed it close and pulled the trigger. Boom; the round ripped through the mid-section of the man. It howled in pain and his body jerked and spasmed as it rearranged itself into a full Crinos werewolf. Dan smiled as he sees it was still bleeding from what he had just done to it.

Arturo embraced his rage and allowed the change to take him in the heartbeat that
Milton’s shot had bought him.

Tempe rushed forward towards Cecilia.

The one in front of Arturo launched itself at him. The werewolf’s feet did not support the change as it bit at his leg.

Bono glanced at the field and the girl who had just stabbed the man. Tempe would not make it. He pulled his sub-gun up and depressed the trigger. He barked with his weapon.
The rounds should have struck her but instead they flew wide.

Tempe was a step away reaching for Cecilia.

Cecilia’s eyes locked on Tempe. Her skin seemed to crawl with black runes, the jagged rough shape of ferromagnetic fluid, and she raised a flat palm to Tempe.

Tempe felt the wind hit her and send her sprawling away from Cecilia.

Milton reassessed the situation and chose his next target. Dan had promised not to kill Cecilia. Milt did not. His eyes focused on her through the glass. He squeezed.

Cecilia screamed as her left hand ceased to exist. The .50 BMG slug had impacted the middle of her hand. The bullet had continued on its flight path, but the hydrostatic wake of its flight ripped the flesh of her hand to tatters.

Milton let the weapon cycle and moved forward. He closed on the corner, a raccoon standing below him with a sub-gun.

Dan slammed the tranquilizer into his attacker.

The wolf’s eyes rolled into his skull and collapsed.

Tempe rolled over and pulled her P90 up. She pulled on the trigger and Cecilia collapsed.

Bono ran over to Josh. The man was still breathing raggedly.

Arturo watched his sister fall. The rage reached him, his claws bit deep into the werewolf below him. He grabbed the trachea, and ripped. The wolf tried to howl, to cry, to scream, but all that came out was a wet bubbling as Arturo finished him.

All present felt a deep thump of pressure, like thunder with no sound. Father Lattimer was now next to Cecilia. The lights flickered and faded to nothing.

The lights returned. Lattimer and Cecilia were gone.

The unconscious wolf in front of Dan began to seize. The tattoo of the EOD emerged onto his fur and then began to spread engulfing him and then blending into the shadows of the floor. Nothing was left. It stank of rotted sea water.

Dan picked up the syringe. He whistled and tossed it to Tempe. She caught it and dropped it into a sample container. She swabbed up some of the blood splatter from Cecilia’s wounds.

Dan crossed to Josh. Bono looked at Dan and shrugged. Dan grasped the knife. He collapsed wordlessly.

Arturo ran to them quickly. He grasped the handle and felt his rage flare. He then felt it rush away from him. Arturo pulled his hand back.

Tempe called back to Kaizen; they needed help.

The other Garou arrived. The first responder pushed past the group to his patient. He prepped his kit and reached for the blade. “Wait…” the majority of MTF Phi yelled nearly in unison. The first responder collapsed next to Dan.

Another of the group was quickly on his cell phone and others moved to help the MTF with their wounds. Arturo Still paced in his Crinos form.

Finally an old woman appeared. If Tempe would have guessed the Abuela was somewhere between 80 and 8000 years old. The spiritual presence this woman carried with her like a shawl dismissed the miasma that clung to the apartment. Tempe drew her first full, refreshing breath since this long day had begun.

The Abuela moved her walker slowly through the crowd. Arturo’s heightened senses did not allow him to hear the whispered words she spoke as she moved next to Josh. She stared at the situation for a few moments; fished in her handbag, and broke a vial onto the blade. There were sparks and a hissing sound. She then pulled the blade free.

The Abuela stood back and Arturo could see the sweat on her brow as her assistant’s helped her sit down.
In rushed another group who began to treat Josh’s wounds. The gear boxes they opened superficially looked like any you could pull from the back of an ambulance; but as Dan watched he spotted the differences.

Alongside the Morphine and intubation equipment, were bundles of herbs; in the next divider were sticks and cord wrapped into figures for an unknown purpose.
Soon they had Josh stabilized and moved onto a stretcher.

Tempe walked over to the Abuela.

“Ma’am, I don’t mean to bother you, but earlier I confronted a spirit here. It was cold, and strong and …” Tempe struggled to search for the right words, “…wrong.”

A translator spoke to the Abuela in rapid fire Spanish. The Abuela smiled at Tempe; just the simple acts of this woman’s comforting grandmotherly smile, made Tempe feel better. She spoke in Spanish.

The translator, a young Hispanic girl, pretty, no older than 12, spoke the words for Tempe. “That was a gate keeper spirit. The foolish girl had bound this place to the labyrinth as a means to move through the Umbra. The gatekeeper recognized her for the taint of the Breaker. She was allowed to move through, quickening her corruption; you it recognized as untouched.”

The Abuela spoke again in her slow methodic Spanish and the girl’s eyes widened a little before her control set back in.

The young lady looked again at Tempe, “That’s not entirely true though is it? You have a small shadow resting on your soul. It’s been there as long as you can remember hasn’t it? The stain isn’t yours, its’ your brother’s taint. It binds you to your familiar.”

Tempe sat there shocked trying to process what she was just told.

The MTF regrouped and returned to the Bio-dome to rest. Three days passed slowly.

While the rest of the MTF rested. Arturo was frequently in meetings and talking to elders of his Pack. Kaizen International was in flux. Their CEO/Alpha had been killed. The future was too open, too vast. The family line was shamed by the actions of Cecilia. While the Pack still had hopes for Arturo’s future, he was not ready for the main office. He would continue on his assignment to the MTF. Michal Tress from the Glass Walker cooperative, Holden, Mayer and Jones, would be flying in to take the position for the foreseeable future.

The only other news was from the Virginia PD. The DNA testing on the severed hand was not a match for Dr. Terry’s daughter.

Tempe studied the knowledge she could pry out of the tribe and now was more comfortable with the glyphs they used.

Dan and Milton were able to set up contracts for supplies with Kaizen International for special equipment. They would have silver rounds and sedation syringes.

The blood tests showed that the Garou with Cecilia were Black Spiral Dancers. The blood was saturated with every disease Tempe had ever seen, and some she had never seen. She had to shower every time she dealt with the samples.

Josh was back on his feet but still recovering. He was marked forever. When he shifted to Crinos the wound was covered with a sickly green colored fur. He didn’t remember much.

Finally on the last day they gathered their gear and headed back to the outpost; the Raccoon driving. Tempe studying new books till she made herself car sick. Dan and Milton slept. Arturo stared out at the desert and tried to wrap his mind around what had happened.

Episode 6
Team Meat goes to church

They had made it back.

Tired and worn out they had unceremoniously crammed the knocked out scientist into the isolation chamber. The unspoken decision was to pass out.

The next morning seen the MTF rousing from sleep around eight a.m. There had been no alarms in the middle of the night. No calls to arms. For once MTF PHI 7 had simple slept.
Fern awoke to the smell of eggs and bacon. The scientist sat quietly on the small bench in the back of the isolation cell. She wrapped herself like a burrito and trudged out to the common area.

Arturo was busy in the small mess making food. Dan sat at the table cleaning the Rev and eating a plate.

Pistachio headed down to the gear locker and began replacing his missing field gear. Milt handed him a copy of his .300 BLK.

Fern shuffled to the bench and sat. She held her hands out in a cupping motion but said nothing. Arturo brought her a cup of coffee. It disappears into the mouth of the burrito.

“Did anyone speak to the scientist yet?” Arturo asked.

There was no quick answer.

Tempe was eating and going over the files recovered from white sands.

Pistachio walked back in to the room and dropped his new gear bag.

They ate breakfast and joked about the last few days. A few comments were made about changes to the bus. It was decided that the bus needed a cattle pusher on the front.
“Charles Terry,” MINERVA chimed in, “He is a moderately well-known geneticist. He has worked on several government projects and his last known employer per his security clearance documentation was Weyland-Yutani.”

The group finished breakfast and headed to Fern’s lab.

Dr. Terry was sitting on the bunk still. He watched the walking burrito walk to the port and pass a cup of coffee through.

“Thank you.”, Dr. Terry stated as he took the cup.

“Why were there so many Pistachios?” Arturo asked.

“Pistachios?” He asked uncertainly.

Arturo pointed to Pistachio, “Why were there so many of him?”

“Oh, The Anomaly.” Dr. Terry answered.

“That’s cute.” The burrito offered.

“Oh great.” Tempe said

“Who are you guys?” Dr. Terry asked as he looked over the mismatched group.

“That’s not really relevant right now.” Dan replied.

“You guys realize I work for Weyland-Yutani, right? If you don’t kill me, they will.” Dr. Terry replied.

“You can choose to die now or die later.” Dan offered.

“Well I guess I choose now and they may leave my family alone.” Dr. Terry walked back to the bunk.

The MTF walked away from the cell to regroup.

“Someone is going to have to play good cop.” Fern said quietly.

“Well that’s not me.” Dan said sternly.

Tempe walked back to the cell.

“Is there anything you can tell us?” She asked.

“There are lots of things I could tell you.” He said flatly.

Arturo paced around the cell; maybe he should change and shock the hell out of this guy again…

Tempe returned to the group.

“We have other, less palatable ways to try and get something from him.” Dan voiced, not liking the option himself, but understanding the pragmatism of it.

“Or,” a lesser heard voice offered, “We can have MINERVA find his family and get them first.”
Everyone looked at Pistachio.

“Yeah….Yeah MINERVA, can you locate his family?” Fern asked.

“Are we kidnapping his family or protective custody?” Arturo asked.

“We will decide when we have them.” Dan cut him short.

“I have his last home of record found. There is every indication his family is still there.” MINERVA answered.

“They are in Vermont. A small town called Harrisburg.” MINERVA clarified.

“Can we send someone to extract them while we are on the way?” Tempe asked.

“I will contact local authorities to contact the family while you are in route.” MINERVA offered.

Fern approached the cell.

“If we can get your family into protective custody, would you help us?”

Dr. Terry looked up, “If you can keep my family safe, I’ll give you anything you want. Weyland-Yutani is a job.”

“Done deal.” Arturo said.

“We will get your family.” Fern told him as she walked away.

A monitor in the lab was turned for Dr. Terry to watch. A few words with MINERVA and things had been arranged.

The live feed from the officer’s cam came on to screen. As the officers exited their vehicle the house blossomed in flames. Automatic gun fire cut the officers down before they could respond. The officer fell against his car showing the area still but in an askew tilt. Several men ushered the family to a waiting van. Three other armored men approach the fallen officer.

“Yeah he has video feed.” The lead man said.

The other two walked to the van then returned. A tossing motion from one of the returning men was accompanied by a simple, “We have them.”

The men walked away and the van departed.

Within minutes another responder arrived, the officers at the scene where all dead. The house was a charred, smoking husk. The thrown object was the hand of Dr. Terry’s eight year old daughter.

“What the fuck…” Fern breathed into the heavy silence.

Dr. Terry was ashen, “She played violin…” He said softly as he began to cry.

Tempe turned to him, “We will get them, but you would have to help us.”

“I worked on projects all over the AU mainly on Project Expendable. When word came that we had recaptured the anomaly, they set up the base in White Sands and we were flown in.

“Ok the more you give us the better chance we have to save your family.” Fern tried to facilitate the flow of information from Dr. Terry.

He suddenly looked cold and hard as diamond, “My family is dead. I will give you anything. Just… Just promise me that you will kill every one of them.”

Fern turned the terminal in the isolation cell on.

Dr. Terry’s hands flew across the keyboard. The only sound for 5 minutes was the hammer stroke of his fingers on the keys.

“There. That’s access to everything I have saved remotely and all of my passwords.” Dr. Terry said as he stepped away from the terminal.

“I’ll continue to help you in any other way. My main focus was on Project Expendable, the last 15 years. The Anomaly,” He pointed casually at Pistachio, “was the only outlier. All other products did exactly as expected. The Anomaly broke out of storage, freed all the lab animals and slaughtered everyone at the facility. We have been looking for him for two years.”

Tempe moved away from the cell, “MINERVA, can you have them do a full forensic evaluation on the hand?”

“I will have it forwarded to you when local authorities complete it.” MINERVA said quietly in conspiracy.

“Is the Anomaly a clone?” Arturo asked.

“They aren’t really clones. There is no original. They were created from an amalgam of sampled material. They are all identical though.”

“Who were the suits in the back when we picked up Pistachio?” Dan asked

“The Emissaries from the Dynastic Empire. They were effectively there for quality control. They were at White Sands already when I arrived.”

“Deep Shit huh?” Dan commented.

“My understanding is that the Russians have nearly lost the country and that the Dynastic Empire is concerned about the same problem encroaching them. They funded the entire project. There are approximately 1300 of the Project Expendable Products fielded in Russia.”

“What’s happening in Russia?” Pistachio asked.

“No one is sure. The Russian government has not been heard from in eight years.”
Dan was looking over the video feed again. No mistaking it. The first man in the shot was Buzzard. His armor still had the patching from Copper Flight.

Dan looked up, “Team, this man is Florintino DeHard. He is a god damned monster. If we go I am killing him.”

“MINERVA can you get a jet ready for us at the local airport, flight plan for Vermont.” Pistachio asked.

“The flight will take 6 hours.” MINERVA answered. “I am currently monitoring all forms of transport for any Weyland-Yutani movement. I have limited information for DeHard. He served in the AU army during the first conscription. He was an unremarkable soldier and served in South America. He left the Army and started a career in the PMC field. He joined Copper Flight and served with them until five years ago when he announced his retirement and intentions to start a private investment firm.”

“Can we get any leads on his supposed company?” Pistachio asked.

“Yeah, follow the money.” Dan added, understanding what Pistachio was thinking. “Any fallout from the local LEO’s?”

“It is a shocking event for the small town. All responding officers were killed. They have recovered the van, seen in the video, at a local dock facility.”

“What about the van? Who owns it?” Fern asked.

“It is a rental. It was rented by Benton Salvage. It is a company that does not seem to exist. The same company has a rented slip at the docking facility.” MINERVA answered. “The vessel in the owned slot is not even sea worthy. It is still there.”

Fern began going through the data, helping chase leads and look for the money trail that would lead them to the captors. The team slowly scattered to get ready as no instant results were forthcoming. They had their own tasks to attend to. Hours past, but Fern kept picking at every stray lead she could find.

“Bingo!” Fern yelled out. The team hurried to her lab to see what discovery had been made.

“Benton Salvage has a facility on Eagle Island New York!” She explained as the last team member walked in.

MINERVA was already pulling up the data from her satellites. The picture showed a facility with one main building. A boat landing was the main access.

“This is the only holding they have in North America. I will update the flight plan.” MINERVA added as she showed all angles available.

“We head out in the morning. If the LEO’s find anything we can head there. If they don’t have anything we go to Eagle Island.” Dan laid out the plan.

“The house looks isolated. No major out buildings. I think this should be our main point.” Fern stated.

“All right, let’s get our gear and head there.” Arturo spoke up.

A private jet waited on the tarmac. A flight time of two hours seemed to drag on for days. MINERVA kept her attention on the sight.

MTF PHI 7 transfered to a patrol boat and headed to thier goal on Eagle Island. The boat cut its way across the bay. There was no sign of them being noticed from the house.
There were cameras on the outside of the building covering the area. Fern began to tap away at her devices and in short order, the views from the cameras showed up in Fern and Tempe’s visors.

Pistachio walked to the front door and swung it wide open.

Inside on the floor of the empty building, laid the bodies of Dr. Terry’s family. Patience was not a vertue thier captors had possessed.

Tempe instantly reacted, “MINERVA cut feed to Terry’s monitor!”

“I am sorry Temperance, I do not belive this will be a concern.” As she said the last word, she began to play a video loop. Dr. Terry had hung himself.

Arturo shifted to Crinos and sented the air. He could smell the life that had been here. The scent of a light oil layed across everything else. The group spread out to look for anything they could find.

In the far corner of the room Arturo and Pistachio found a small torn page of paper. The paper looked like a cross between the bible and a technical advisement bulletin. As Fern held it up in her camera view, MINERVA identified it as a page from the tome of engineered enlightenment, a holy text of the Church of the Broken God.

“This passage deals with the toil of the small workers to rebuild their god.” MINERVA finished.

“So their god is a spaceship?” Pistachio asked.

The search turned up only 4 spent casings, the three family members and a dead Copper Flight mercenary.

“MINERVA, do you have a physical address for this church?” Dan asked

“There are many throughout the American Union. The closest is four towns away from your location. 2262 Gear St., Piedmont, New York.” She answered.

They exited the building and searched the grounds. Nothing. They loaded onto their patrol boat. They headed to Piedmont to go to church. An hour and a half later they drifted to the dock and tied off.

MTF PHI 7 went to church.

The Church of the Broken God was housed in an old Sears in a Strip mall that had seen its glory days pass by. As the strip mall had lost its customers, the old Sears building lost its namesake. It changed hands from the religion of the dollar to the religion of gears.
They approached the building, it was quiet and unassuming. The doors were unlocked.
“Tracking movement for the last 1.5 hours shows that the building should have one inhabitant.” MINERVA passed over the coms channel.

The gang gave each other the Scooby-doo shrug and began to cautiously approach.
Pistachio drew his short shotgun. When he received a disapproving look from Arturo, he shrugged, “Its bean bag rounds.”

In the former alter to consumerism, a stage had been set up. A rag tag assortment of chairs and pews surrounded it. The walls had old shelving converted to hold church pamphlets. Tables held assortments of gears and tubing that could only be described as a steampunk wet dream. A chime sounded as they entered the door.

After a few minutes a man in his early 30’s, dressed all in white approached them from the rear of the building. “Can I help you folks?”

Pistachio looked him dead in the eye, “Tell us about your Lord.”

“Uhm, what would you like to know?

Fern held out her hand held, “Have you seen this man?” DeHard’s face was there in its malicious grin. The still was taken from the officer’s cam feed minutes after the animal had cut off a little girl’s hand.

“I have never seen him before.” The man in white replied.

The questioning continued and the man answered with little reservation. His name was Reverend Jacob Moore. He has run the church here for 5 years. He gives Pistachio the corporate office of the Church of the Broken God.

“Do you have any rallies or meetings on Eagle Island? Any other chapters?” Dan questioned.

“Not to my knowledge. You would have to ask corporate.”

“Do you have a list of members?” Pistachio asked

“Of course for my area I do.”

“Can we get a copy?” Pistachio asked again

“Not without a warrant. I am sorry but I have to respect my member’s privacy.” Reverend Jacob answered.

“MINERVA, can you look deeper into the links between Copper Flight and the Church of the Broken God?” Dan asked.

“I will look into it.”

“Looks like we are headed to Oregon.” Dan said and the group

“Fucking dirty hipsters…” Fran mumbled to herself.

Pistachio pocketed a bottle of oil from a table.

As the group began transit they began to research the Church of the Broken God.
The Church had a lucrative income from numerous patents that were used throughout the tech industry. They were big money.

MINERVA prepared a bigger brief that described their belief of tech as the way to god. Think Steven Hawking running a religion like Joel Olsten.

Upon arrival they are helicoptered to the corporate office. They had dressed down from their full tac gear for the business meeting.

As the helicopter landed they are met by a sharply dressed man. On him Fern sees multiple pieces of wearable tech. Very cutting edge stuff, better than hers. He motioned the group to follow him away from the helicopter pad. He led them to a nearby meeting room.

“My name is Thaddeus Kain, I was told you’re from the government.” The man finally spoke.
“We are.” Dan answered. “Is your organization involved with a Paramilitary security company named Copper Flight?”

“I believe we have used them to guard some of our missionary groups.”

“Do you presently employ any Copper Flight teams?” Dan continued to question.

“I would have to check with security. I don’t make those arraignments personally.” Thaddeus answered.

“So make those arrangements then.” Pistachio told him.

Thaddeus stared at Pistachio for a few moments, “Please allow me to. Do you wish to rest here or would you like to accompany me?”

“I think we will all go with you.” Fern added to the discussion.

They are paraded through the facility to a Security Manager’s office. The Security Manager spends a few minutes searching several databases to tell them simply no.

“There you are we do not currently employ any PMC security from Copper Flight.” Thaddeus answered with his politician’s smile.

“May I ask you when the last time you employed Copper Flight” Fern asked.
Thaddeus gestured to the Security Manager.

“Looks like the last time was about 3 years ago in South America.” He chirped.

Fern’s eyes stayed focused on the men in front of her as MINERVA came over the team’s com.

“I have found a third tier banking account that is still making payments to Copper Flight. They had two shell companies in-between, but the Church is still holding on to Copper Flight’s leash.”

Dan visibly stiffened, “How about you stop jerking us around and come clean on the ongoing payments to Copper Flight?”

Thaddeus stood straighter. The friendly politician was gone. “You have seen our records. We have shown you what you asked for.”

Dan didn’t back down, “It’s hardly the first time that finances have been hidden in shell companies.”

Thaddeus didn’t give any ground, “We are a church, not a corporation.”

Dan smirked, “Pretty fine distinction.”

“Everyone pays their tithe.” Fern added.

In a sudden break in the tension, Tempe asks, “Can we get a tour of your building? I love the architecture.”

Thaddeus does actually look thrown off by this, ‘Yes I can arrange that.”

He walks away and begins to make some phone calls.

“It was a pleasure to meet all of you.” Thaddeus closed and left the room.

As they sat there with security and the door closed Dan looked at Arturo, “I want to throw him through a window.”

“Excuse me?” a bubbly friendly voice asked. The group turned to see that through the other door a young woman had entered.

“I’m Kelly; I’m here to give you a tour of the building.”

The group followed Kelly as she began to walk them around the building. They said nothing to their young guide but subvocalized signals to each other as they seen cameras and other security provisions on the tour.

After they had toured a few floors, Tempe started to act as if she was sick.

Fern picked up on her play and put her arms out to help her friend, “I’m sorry is there a restroom around here? My friend isn’t well.”

Kelly quickly showed them a restroom.

As soon as the door closed Tempe was on her radio, “Bono where are you?”

A series of clicks told her he was still on the helicopter, forgotten by the staff.

“I need you to get down here and pick up a package, then take it and find the server room.”

Affirmative clicks came back across the radio.

Outside the restroom, Kelly waited impatiently.

Fern turned on audio of the worst noises she could find.

A furry hand appeared from the air duct.

Fern jumped up and handed the small paw a dongle. It disappeared and reappeared giving the ok signal.

“I may start liking you yet.” Fern added as she herd him scurry along.

Back outside Dan started to talk to the girl to try and distract her from the passing time. “So what brought you to the Church of the Broken God?”

“I was raised in the Church.”

“And what exactly are your beliefs?” Dan pushed

“We believe that the only thing that makes sense with everything that is wrong and plagues the world, is that this is a simulation or it is in fact an engineered existence, and something has gone wrong.” Kelly happily answered him.

“When you say raised in the church, do you mean that you were raised by the church community or an organization?”

“No my parents are both members.”

“You mean like a Jonestown commune or something?” Pistachio asked with his typical smoothness.

“No I’m not some kind of odd person.”

“Tell us more about the singularity your writings mention…” Dan tried to keep their guide occupied.

“What we believe is that in the past a greater construct, or entity larger than anything we can even conceive of, was in charge of all creation. As a part of that construction it created the most random event generators it could. That random event generator was humanity. In our random chaos that we bring we caused the downfall of the creator.” Kelly told him.

“God makes man. Man destroys god.” Dan surmised.

“Basically. We at the Church are trying to remake that creator to help correct the problems we have caused in what we call reality.”

“Using Tech?” Arturo questioned.

“It’s more hands on than abstract prayer with measurable results.” Kelly smiled at him.

“So no need for faith?” Arturo prodded.

“I see the results of my faith when I am rebuilding a broken circuit board.”

“What else do you do besides intern here at the Church” Arturo asked.

“Do you believe in abstinence?” Pistachio asked.

“With you, Yes.” Kelly said with the ice in her voice an audible quality.

Clicks sounded around the coms.

“Bono is at the server room!” Tempe translated.

“Do you have any alternate jobs?” Arturo tried to restart the conversation after she had shutdown Pistachio so quickly.

“Yeah I’m still in collage. My Doctorate is in Theology and Quantum Mechanics.”

“Your theology studies, are they only on the Church or other religions too?” Dan asked trying to help Arturo keep her talking.

“I’ve studied other religions and they all just seem like pale comparisons to church doctrine from a time when tech wasn’t understood.”

“Right they just didn’t understand tech so it was magic and miracles. Dan commented.

“Well if your technology is advanced enough, tell me the difference between it and magic.” Kelly looked down to check her watch.

“Keep her busy!” Fern hissed into the coms, “We’re only at 6%.”

“So quantum mechanics, do you use torque wrenches in that?” Pistachio asked.

“No.” She laughed and smiled while checking her watch again, ‘It’s about the basic way the forces of the universe interact.”

“Do you find a lot of spill over between your faith and your science?” Dan asked.

“If you look at quantum mechanics on its own, it is self-defined. As a member of the Church I believe that its own self-definition is from the underlying structure laid out by the broken God.”

“Your able to rectify your faith vs your education because”, Dan started but Kelly cut him off.

“I don’t find it needs rectifying.” Kelly finished.

In the restroom, the two women cursed under their breath as they watched the progress bar stall at 6%. It achingly jumped to 11% and they both let out a relived sigh.

“The man we spoke to earlier said there is you guys have some major tech that is ahead of the curve. You guys have some amazing stuff here in the church?” Dan struggled stringing out the question as Kelly looked to the bathroom door again and checked her watch.

“We develop a lot of tech in house and beta test it among our faithful until we feel it is ready for general release. Then we typically license it out for production. The more people we have working on research and development that faster we reach singularity.”

Arturo began to form another question when Kelly’s hand went to her ear. “We are on floor four.”

A short burst of clicks cut through the coms.

“Guys something has gone south.” Tempe translated.

Kelly stepped into the bathroom with a slight nock, “Ladies?”

Tempe began to fake throwing up.

“I’m so sorry she is not feeling well at all.” Fern called out.

Pistachio tapped Arturo on the shoulder and pointed away from the bathroom. The two began to slink away down the long hallway.

An elevator dinged and two suited men began to walk towards Dan.

Tempe subvocalized on the radio, “Bono find a vehicle! Start creating a scene!”

Along the hallway, Pistachio looked at Arturo, “Come on Scooby! It’s time to get in the shit.”

Arturo shook his head and his body rippled. He shifted into his Crinos form.

Bono crept around the parking garage and his eyes stopped on a smart car. He smiled, that would fit in the elevator.

Dan muttered to himself, “Fuck it.” He pulled back and kicked Kelly into the women’s room. She screamed and Dan slammed the door and braced against it.

“What is going on?” Kelly yelled, scared and confused.

Fern leaned out of the stall, “I’m so sorry.” Fern brought her gun down as hard as she dared and knocked the girl out. She began searching Kelly for her I.D., Communications and anything else that could get them out of there.

As Fern searched her a parking ticket fell out of her pocket.

“This is a really bad day for you.” Fern said consolingly to the unconscious girl.

Arturo and Pistachio ran around the connecting halls. Arturo realized he was faster and grabbed Pistachio up to run with him.

The elevator dinged again and the sound of a small engine started to fill the area.

Dan held the door as the guards pushed against it.

Arturo pulled back to throw Pistachio and as the man shifted in his grip he lost balance and threw Pistachio into the ground short of the guards.

As the sound of the noise, and chaos the guards turned away from the door.

Dan felt the resistance relax and jerked the door open. The guard had a split second to see Dan slam him in the throat. The guy began to clutch his throat as he passed out.

Pistachio picked himself up and charged down the hall, he leapt and slammed the shotgun into the face of the guard. The man crumpled and Pistachio hit the ground sliding on his knees past Dan and into the bathroom.

The car zipped down the hall and Bono tapped on the horn.

The Ladies filed past and loaded into the car. Fern looked at Bono, “To the server room.”

Bono sat there staring at her.

“Fine you can drive!”

Bono managed to bark his wheels on the carpet.

Arturo seen the smart car barreling towards him and leapt upwards for the car to clear
under him and felt his back go through the false ceiling.

The boys crammed the unconscious guys into the toilet. Dan had the MP7 that Tempe took off the guards.

“Let’s go find the Camera room.” Dan said to the other two.

They made their way down the hall and took the elevator to the first floor.

The other elevator binged and an engine could be heard idling inside as it went down.
The doors opened and Bono gassed the car out of the elevator, through the door to the server room. The engine coughed and went silent. Fern rushed to the servers to patch in. Tempe and Bono covered the doors, waiting.

Fern started to type furiously on the keyboard and watched the percentage begin to climb.

“Guys good news and bad news. We are in the server room, but the car is dead.”

“Still rally in the loading docks.” Arturo answered.

The boys arrived on the first floor. Dan held down the hold elevator button. The boys moved down the hall being as quiet as they could. As they seen the front lobby, they could see a contingent of Copper Flight coming into the building.

Dan grimaced he knew the first two Harrier, and Osprey.

They could hear the guards arguing with the Copper Flight mercs as Pistachio began to open the door to the camera room.

“Call Mr. Kain. He called us here!” Osprey bellowed at the guard.

In the room, a man lay curled up and sobbing under the desk.

“Docks are clear.” Pistachio put out over the call.

The boys started to retreat down the hall. They pressed the button for the docks.

Bono headed up to the dock and began to look for a car.

The download meter flashed at Fern 50%.

As the boys stepped out Bono honked the horn on a delivery van.

They pushed a car into the elevator they exited. No one was going to be using it. They loaded into the van.

The other elevator dinged.

“Help! We need help. We are only at 50%” Fern shouted on the coms.

Fern hid behind the desk and watched the bar reach 65%.

She quickly navigated the menus, and shut down the power. The elevator jerked to a stop.
She rapidly locked all of the doors in the building and reset the only access to Kelly’s ID she had in her pocket.

Shouts and yells originated from the elevator and the distinctive sound of a mini-gun spinning up. Bullets ripped up and down the face of the elevator and a sharp ting as the cable was hit. The sound of the crash rang through the building.

Fern’s hand held chirped at her, 100% download complete.

“GO !” she shouted as she ran for the door. Tempe was hot on her hills. They ran up the stair well to the loading dock and entered the van with everyone else.

Bono hit the gas and MTF PHI 7 was reunited and headed home.

Episode 5
Will it Werewolf?

Dan walked into his room to find a large box. On top was a letter. Dan read it and smiled. He reached inside the box and pulled out the helmet he wore when he was in the VDE.

Two days passed with fern dwelling in her lab and Dan constantly checking for signs of Pistachio’s tracker.

It was three in the morning and Tempe woke up. The only other light on was Fern’s lab.

“Hello?”, Tempe called out.

“I’m in the back.” Fern replied with irritation in her voice. She was busy checking results that didn’t make sense.

“Remember the girl I accidently killed?” Tempe asked.

“Yeah, that was a thing.”

“Uh, she came to me in my sleep. She needs me to do something and promises information in exchange.”

“As a ghost?”

“A spirit, she has a husband and son. They didn’t know what she did. She doesn’t want them to do without, and computers aren’t my thing.” Tempe finished

“Yeah I’ll help you out…BINGO!” Fern suddenly interrupted herself. There in the genetic code itself was the copyright trademark of Weyland-Yutani bioweapons. Corporate bastards had to make sure everyone knew it was theirs.

“Look,” she excitedly motioned over Tempe.

“What am I looking at?”

“That is the product trade mark that Weyland-Yutani placed into the genes of those dog creatures showing that it was theirs!” She swapped a few dials, “And there!”

“Ok same thing, but it’s a little different.” Tempe said as she looked at this new sample.

“Yes, that’s the corporate tag on the insect beetle things genes. We have a suspect; Damn I should have said ‘jenkies’ first!

MINERVA appeared in the lab. Her soft blue light brightening the room. “Fern, I have a sample of Pistachio’s blood from his event at the castle. Will you please review it against your last two samples?”

“Sure.” Fern was still irritated that the A.I. had refused to let them pursue Pistachio and now acted as if it cared.

The information came up on her screen, she began to go over it. There it was, tied into his DNA was a marker, BWP-7539-5. Pistachio had been a test subject, or a clone or god knows what else. She quickly debated the merits of hiding this information and decided to keep it close to her chest.

“Nothing here, at least nothing unusual for Pistachio…” Fern told the two women, real and simulated, she shared the room with.

“Very well.” MINERVA said curtly and disappeared.

The girls said good night and went back to sleep.

At 5 a.m. the sirens began screaming throughout the complex.

“Everyone to the conference room! Now!” MINERVA commanded over the intercom.
MTF PHI-7 gathered around the center of the conference room. The girls looked rough.

Bono was sipping coffee while sporting a pair of ear protection.

MINERVA appeared, “I have a position on Pistachio.”

Dan spoke up, “Get ready to roll, team.”

Bono whistled at Dan and gave him a thumbs up.

Dan had traded in his NSA suit for his full VDE gear. His mask was pulled back but hints of design could be seen.

“I have the bus ready for transport. The signal is in a remote sector of White Sands testing range. I will continue to monitor while you are in transit.” MINERVA informed.

The team loaded up into the familiar surroundings of the bus. Dan pulled out and focused on getting Pistachio back.

Pistachio slowly began to blink awake. He was slumped against the glass of a large specimen tube.

The room swam into view. There were four other specimen tubes in the room. One contained his doppelganger. “That dude looks like a dick.” Pistachio thought to himself. A man who looked like a scientist type, a woman, and a bunch of techs filled the room.

Pistachio shrugged, got as comfortable as he could and slept.

Dan pulled the bus onto a hill overlooking the small squat building that Pistachio’s signal was coming from. It looked to have been built in the 1940’s. Three men with guns stood a disinterested and sloppy post at the front of the building.

“Team we have organics. We want fast and loud or slow and ninja?” Dan advised.

“So should we be quiet and sneaky?” Fern asked.

“If we could take them out all at once, that would be the best plan.” Dan added.

Fern held up her hand indicating that she wanted everyone to switch to channel 50 on their radios. She didn’t want MINERVA listening in.

Everyone shifted over their radios.

“Guys, I found something in Pistachio’s blood sample. A tag, just like the creatures. He is a subject or a creation of Weyland-Yutani. I didn’t let MINERVA know. I think it needs to be on the low down.”

“Good. I don’t trust the bitch.” was all Dan said.

“There’s no way to approach.” Tempe observed.

“Hard and fast it is. I’ll hit them with the bus.” Dan said flatly.

The bus trundled up the road gaining speed.

The guards were slow to respond and walked into the road to check ids.

The bus continued to speed up.

The guard in the center raised his hand to signal a stop.

Dan smiled and pressed harder on the gas. He watched the three guards slide under the unstoppable bus. He stopped with the bus door facing the facility door.

Tempe looked the front of the building over and seen no cameras or reinforced facility.
The doors were unlocked and opened easily.Tempe tossed the drone into the air, and guided it into the building, watching its camera in her goggles.

A T-shaped hall way was present immediately. Sand was gathered along the edges and dust lay across the halls. Tracks disturbed the dust in multiple paths. Lights were on but missing in areas. It was occupied but haphazardly and had been abandoned in the past.
She flew the drone down the center hall. There were several doors, but the windows were frosted.

Seeing the hallway empty, Dan stepped into the hall.

Tempe recalled the drone catching it as it landed in her hand.

Tempe and Arturo both joined Dan.

Fern set herself up in the bus to try and supervise the op.

Bono grabbed His P90 and took his place with Tempe.

Dan looked at Arturo, damn he was young. Had he ever been that young?
“This building looks to be a typical old style boxes in a box floor plan. Stay fast. We are not here for prisoners or information. We are simply here to bring our boy home. If it’s not us, kill it.”

Dan Headed toward the center hallway.

Arturo shifted to Lupine form as he headed down the right side hall.

Tempe and Bono headed to the left hand hall.

Arturo’s senses exploded. He could smell the Wyrm on the wind. He could smell Pistachio. He could smell Pistachio from four different sources. That wasn’t good.

Dan made his way to the closest door and began to check the handle. It was not locked. He slowly edged it open trying to see what lay past it.

Inside the room there where several specimen tubes, inside two of the tubes were Pistachio. Two Pistachio’s.

A technician was working at a computer. The room was cooler, brighter ad cleaner.
Pistachio looked up. There was a man in heavy armor and a ballistic mask with white stripes opened the door.

Fern was watching the video feed and drew in a quick breath.

“Team I think I have eyes on our prize. Problem is I have two Pistachios.” Dan radioed.
Arturo turned around and started to charge back.

Tempe and Bono headed back to Dan.

Pistachio smiled and pressed his ass against the tube glass. This should keep them from thinking he was the evil twin. Was he the evil twin?

Through the back doors another Pistachio walked out escorted by what appeared to be a nurse and a doctor.

Dan had pulled back and grabbed a flash bang off of his vest. He pulled the pin and his finger ripped through the pull ring. He fumbled the grenade and it fell at his feet. Luckily the pin had stayed in place.

Dan snatched up the grenade and grabbed the pin itself and jerked. His throw this time was dead on target. The grenade landed in the center of the other people in the room.
Dan’s mask dimmed his view to protect him, and deadened sound.

The flash didn’t catch Pistachio’s eyes as he still had his ass pressed against the glass. ‘Tactical mooning’, Pistachio thought to his self. ‘Team Meat serving up pressed hams’. He smiled at his own inner monologue joke. It took his mind off the pain in his ears.
The over pressure from the grenade hurt Arturo’s ears.

Tempe and Bono proceeded to the second door and began to enter the room to help cover the area.

Dan breached.

The people in the room were crumpled on the floor, blind and in pain.

Arturo dashed between Dan’s legs.

“Don’t clip the balls!” Dan shouted as he felt Arturo pass.

Tempe seen the Pistachio with his ass on the glass, and seen the scars on his face that Arturo had not intended to give him. That was their Pistachio all right.

Fern radioed in to the team, “Steal anything not nailed down so I can try and see what they are doing.”

“Copy that.” Dan responded.

The specimen tubes were not a model Tempe was familiar with. Where was the open button?

Dan heard movement in the room behind him. He grabbed the door and braced it shut; he placed a foot on the wall.

Bono snatched up the Tech’s chair and slammed the chair on the tube. Nothing
Fern opened a closed channel to Tempe.

“It’s a class Omega specimen container.” She quickly guided Tempe through the menus, “Try 1999 for a pass code.”

The tube hissed open. Pistachio stood up tried to step out, and failed. He fastened his pants and stepped out.

Arturo attacked the downed guard and bit deeply into his throat. He felt the man attempt to fight, and then fade away.

Dan felt a pull from the other side of the door, but held firm.

Arturo felt a radiant of cold, the smell of death and ancient dust flooded his senses. There in the corner of the other room was an Ancient man surrounded by three other men in Dark suits.

Arturo started to move to them, and shifted to Crinos as he did.

Bono whistled at Pistachio and tossed him one of the pistols Bono carried.

Tempe looked around the room. They needed to leave. Her eye’s stopped on a flash drive sitting at the tech station and the Tech’s ID. She grabbed them both.

“Time to go guys!” Tempe yelled.

Dan pulled a frag grenade pulled the pin and jammed it, with the spoon still on, into the space between the frame and door handles.

One of the suited men grabbed the Pistachio from the floor and began dragging him back to the waiting elder.

Arturo grabbed the scientist. He looked at the Crinos form Garou in front of him. The man had seen strange but his mind refused this. He began screaming and fainted. Arturo threw the dead weight onto his shoulder. “Team, do not approach the ones in the back. They smell of a crypt and rot!” Arturo growled into his comms.

“Package secure, everyone vacate! I’m last man out!” Dan ordered over the comms.

“There can only be one!” Pistachio said as he shot the controls on his doppelganger’s tube.

Arturo stormed onto the bus, casually tossing the scientist into the back.

Tempe and Bono were hot on his heels.

Fern started the bus.

Pistachio stopped at the door to the bus to watch Dan’s back.

Dan ran to the bus. Behind him he heard the door jerk open and the grenade fall. The men inside crowded the door to bring their weapons to bear on him. That’s when the grenade exploded, ending any threat they presented.

As Dan’s feet hit the door, Fern stepped on the gas.

They pulled away and everyone finally began to catch their breath.

“So what have you guys been up to?” Pistachio asked casually.

Fern was still at the wheel when she seen the blue and red of police lights in her rear mirror. She pressed down on the gas. “Guys we may have an issue.”

The police were still following. A chopper began to spotlight them.

Fern kicked her comms back over to the channel MINERVA monitored. “We have police trying to stop us.”

“Pull over and present them with your credentials.” MINERVA demanded.

Fern brought the bus to a stop and watched as three officers tried to secure the area.
They began to shout commands, but where interrupted by ear splitting static burst that made them stop.

“Officers, this is National Security Artificial Intelligence 7J27525, these people are official operatives of the American Union. You may check their credentials. That is all you may do. Anything beyond that is outside the scope of your duties. You may not ask questions, nor may you search the operatives or the vehicle. They are on official AU business.” MINERVA announced over the police radios and the teams comms.

The police were shaken. They began to shakily check the presented credentials. They got to Pistachio. Pistachio had no credentials.

The lead officer began to call in to his home base again when MINERVA interrupted.

“Officer you have no authority over this mission. You have seen their valid credentials. You have no authority to question anyone present. Anyone or thing on this bus is considered AU property. Your job is complete. EXIT MY VEHICLE.”

“You can’t just come into our jurisdiction, and start throwing federal authority in our face!” one of the officers began to raise his voice.

“Can I just shoot him?” Pistachio asked.

“Please don’t.” Tempe replied.

“Well I’m not going to say you can, but if you do…” Dan trailed off.

“But then we have to bury them.” Fern added.

“Nah, the Scooby can eat them.” Pistachio added as he pointed to Arturo.

The officers had not been trained for this and backed off the bus.

MTF PHI-7 resumed their trip home to the outpost.

Episode 4
"Finally delivering the box"

The giant shapes slammed into the creatures, batting them away like flies.

The chaos allowed Dan to shoulder Pistachio, and head for the bus. As he ran the battered creatures burst into flames. The crowd became an uneasy Mexican stand-off. Everyone watched everyone else nervously.

Tempe finally spoke up, “What do you want?” as she glanced at the wolves, her eyes caught on a brand on its arm. She swore it was a mark she knows.

The wolf shifted back to human.

It looked at her, “Temperance?”

“Gwyneth? What are you doing here?”

“Tracking these creatures. Get on the bus, we will try and get you out of here.”

Fern ducked out of the bus to take a sample from the two closest creatures.

As Dan and the Garou pushed the burning wrecks off of the road, Fern and Temperance tried to stabilize the wounded and make them as comfortable as possible.

The Garou and Dan boarded the bus. Tempe walked up to Gwyn, as the later shifted back to the blond haired girl she went to collage with.

Before she could speak, MINERVA chimed in, “Identify who else is in the vehicle. I am observing three heat signatures who are not MTF.”

While most of the others only had to hear the matriarchal scolding in the A.I.’s voice, Tempe and Fern were treated to the image of the A.I., standing, arms crossed impatiently tapping her foot in their HUDs.

“We had an encounter with unknown quadrupeds. We have an injured woman in the back that needs transport to medical. Pistachio is seriously injured. There is also two, wolf-people that assisted us in dealing with the quadrupeds.”

“Clarify wolf-people.” MINERVA requested.

“Not exactly certain. Bipedal, canine like, I don’t know.” Dan stumbled in his definition. “The fictional term is werewolf, but I don’t know…”

MINERVA cut him off. “You were not cleared to utilize outside resources.”

“We didn’t ask, it just happened, not much I could do about it. They have proven themselves to be capable. We would still be clearing cars right now.

MINERVA redirected her attention, “Temperance, please give me a visual of the two new individuals.”

Tempe turned and looked over Gwyn and her companion.

“Recognized as Garou Nation, Glasswalkers.” MINERVA stated curtly and fell silent.

Gwyn gave Tempe a questioning look as she raised a hand to the com device she wore. “I still need to talk to my pack leader. Understood.”

Tempe was unsure of which question of the thousands she had for her collage friend to start with. “So who do you report to?”

“I have my pack, you know. Like you have your guys here, I have my pack.” Gwyn answered. “I’m sorry I never told you, but it doesn’t just come up in conversation. Yeah I went out with Johnny last week, and by the way, I’m a god damn werewolf.”

“Do you have an engagement you need to attend?”

“We were hunting down those things that attacked you. They were created using DNA stolen from the Garou Nation. We have no proof but we think Weyland-Yutani made them.”

“We are going to get those samples examined as soon as possible.”

“Well I would have to make some calls but it seems like you have something we could learn from so I may be able to utilize some of our facilities.” Gwyn answered.

“Are they on the way?”

“Like regionally?” Dan asked.

“Negative, case delivery is priority.” MINERVA commanded.

“MINERVA has spoken.” Dan spat the words as if they were sour, “Case delivery is job one.”

“What is happening with the wounded in the back of the bus? I am registering a temperature anomaly of 175 degrees.” MINERVA questioned.

“Uh oh…” Tempe let slip as everyone turned to focus on the wounded woman that they had onboard.

What had been a woman was now a fleshy pupa. It split open as they watched. A large greenish insectoid rose from the casing. It immediately grabbed Pistachio and enveloped him. Its body split open to cover him completely.

“Someone grab something to tie it down!” Tempe yelled

The inside of the bus was deafening as Bono unloaded a burst of fire from his guns into the creature.

“Don’t shoot Pistachio too much!” Dan cautioned from the front seats.

“He has nanites!” Fern called from the driver’s seat.

“MINERVA! The Situation is a shit show. The wounded woman became some kind of Insect and has engulfed Pistachio. Can you tell me anything about this?” Dan requested of his least favorite A.I.

“No. There is nothing in the records of this. I have seen similar models used as transport, but not this. Please document.”

“Yeah, we will make sure to grab souvenirs.”

“That is the correct procedure.” MINERVA replied

“This is the second time that things have singled him out. Do you have anything on Pistachio’s history?” Tempe asked the A.I.

“We have no files on Pistachio. There is no documentation of his existence before he walked out of the woods to board the plane to Miskatonik castle. Wait there is another sig….”static cut out the rest of MINERVA’s comment.

Suddenly there was the sound of things landing on the roof of the buss.

“Hit the gas!” Arturo barked to the driver. He couldn’t remember her name.

The bus lurched forward, slowly gaining speed till it was running at 60 miles an hour.

Unfortunately, the jerk happened as Milton had pulled the trigger on his blackout. The cairned off the curved roof and struck Dan solidly into his soft armor. He sat heavily back into his seat and tried desperately to breath.

The screech of metal ripped into the area due to the creatures on top digging their way in.
Bono steadied himself and took aim at the insect’s eye. He was rewarded with the creature’s left compound eye bursting into a cloud of blood.

Tempe focused and reached out with her power. A creature yelps. It then began to emit the whistling chitter that they had just heard for the first time earlier that night.

The metal roof protests the force placed on it. With a scream, the metal parted and the insect began to struggle for the sky.

Gwen jerked the trigger to her gun, but the round flew wide.

Arturo instinctively reached out for the creature digging his claws in. The claws ripped into the neck of the creature. He felt the sickening flesh give way and then felt his claws bight into something tougher.

Tempe looked on to the scene and could see the fresh wounds across Pistachio’s face.

The creature continued its accent. It made it through the roof and struggled drunkenly over the sparse woods before crashing in the distance.

The two beasts from earlier leap from the roof and charge off after it.

“Fern stop!” Arturo yelled.

Fern slams on the breaks.

Tempe slammed into the seat in front of her.

Bono leapt through the new hole in the roof and started scanning the area.

Dan rushes out of the bus door, but the darkness of the night revealed nothing. “MINERAV, you there?”

MINERVA answered, “Yes, there was an interfering signal.”

“The insect took Pistachio and has left the area. I have headed out on foot in pursuit.”

“Regretful. Rejoin the bus and resume delivery of the package to site 305.”

Dan turned, holstering the Reverend, and nearly running into the hulking form of Arturo.

“What are we doing?”

“MINERVA says the case is priority.” Dan spat the words.

“We can’t just leave him behind!” Fern objected.

“I’m not a fan of it either, but the mission is the mission.”

Arturo’s cellphone interrupted the exchange.


“Arturo, its Juan. I have been advised of the situation. Gwen will return with anything she has. You will stay with that team until I call you home.”

Arturo could see Gwen was also on her phone. She nodded smiled at him and headed out of the bus, into the night. He regretted seeing her leave. She still had not noticed him.
Tempe opened a side window and leaned out, switching her vision to thermal. She could see four heat sources entering a vehicle in the distance.

“They are gone. We can’t close the distance to get to the vehicle.” Tempe relayed.

MINERVA tells them she will try and track the vehicle, but to get back on task.

Tempe voices “If whoever this is wanted Pistachio that bad, they are not going to kill him. We should deliver the package and then try to recover Pistachio.”

Fern stormed to the rear of the bus and collapsed in a seat, sulking to herself.

Dan sat in the driver seat and started to head down the road.

The days and nights passed with Dan and Arturo swapping in the driving.

Quiet anger dominated the rest of the drive but the path to Site 305 was uneventful.

They delivered the case to another Massive Dynamics team at Site 305.

SITE 305 is a huge Massive Dynamics facility.

They are issued their IDs.

MINERVA recalled them to the Outpost.

The Outpost was a squat, eight sided building made of concrete. Not what Arturo was expecting.

“Welcome to the outpost. Holding cell hell.” Fern said distastefully.

As the bus pulled in, several robots begin to swarm the vehicle and start to repair it.

Fern snatched up the sample and stormed into her lab. She was pissed that she didn’t know how to slam a sliding door.

Dan dropped off the weapons that were recovered on the trip.

Tempe helped Arturo find the only unused room on the first floor. She then walked over to place the page in her lab. She had to deliver the statue, but she wasn’t under any orders to turn in the page.

She was bone tired and wanted some real sleep.

Arturo found his room already been delivered his gear to the outpost. An envelope contained his ID. He was now a member of MTF Phi 7.

Episode 3
Where Wolves?

Dan drove on. His companions occupied themselves as they could. All of them still dealing with the events of that morning.

Tempe took notes and studied the arcane page about the Binder.

Fern occasionally consulted with her, but mainly went back over her gear the martial action making her mind calm itself.

Bono Slept. Pistachio followed his lead.

Milton seamed to sleep, but occasionally checked on the detainee.

A few hours later the silence was broken by the chime over their comlinks that MINERVA was joining the channel.

“I require a status update.” Her voice softly demanded.

Dan coughed, all eyes turned to him. “Um, we encountered a blockade from an exterior force that we later identified as the..” he paused to remember the name of the cult.

“Church of pain in my ass.”, Fern chimed in.

“The Esoteric Order of Dagon,” Dan continued. “We engaged them in combat, killed several and wounded others. We have one detainee for questioning. The van was damaged and we took one of their busses for transport.” Dan was beginning to feel for the shit Teach had dealt with as the lead man in the VDE.

“This does not fully corroborate the video feed of the events.” MINERVA stated flatly. “The damage to the vehicle was majorly caused by a member of the MTF.”

“Correct, to protect secrecy and to not leave behind traces to lead to us or our mission, Milton deployed thermite.” Dan glanced into the review mirror and was met by Pistachio giving him two thumbs up and mouthing the words, ‘Way to bullshit’. How did he become the spokesman for the group?

“Very well. Tactical analysis agrees. Continue on route to Site 305. At this point your MTF has successfully engaged in hostilities, your team has earned the right to have a squad designation.”

“MINERVA give us some time to confer on this team name and we will get back to you.”

“Very well.” The comlinks chimed with MINERVA’s exit chime.

“Congrats,” said Milton, “Just don’t name yourselves the fighting dreidels or some shit.”

Silence settled back into the bus and people settled around. Fern briefly shuffled through the CDs in the front of the bus but the first one was a track of unusual chanting and sound. Fern and Dan looked at each other and stated a flat “no”.

“Someone should try and start working on the detainee.” Dan suggested.

“Can we make her sing? She might know hotel California.” Pistachio added to no one in particular.

“I think I might have an ideal..” Tempe stated, the words escaping her as a secret that she didn’t want to tell. She walked to the back of the bus.

“Let me know if you need anything for enhanced interrogation, I think there is a cigarette lighter up here.” Dan shouted

Tempe sat across from the brooding woman.

“What’s your name?” Tempe asked.

“I’m not paid to tell you my name.” The woman stated.

“Who do you work for?” Tempe tried again.

“I’m not paid to tell you that either.”

“I have ways to make you talk.”

“Do what you have to do sister.” was all the mercenary stated.

“MAKE HER SING!” Pistachio shouted from the front, “FREEBIRD!”

Tempe tried to ignore her and began to reach out in a new way with her power. she used her power to pull the woman’s breath from her lungs.

The mercenary began to choke and strain as she could not pull air into herself.

“Who do you work for?” Tempe asked again as the woman turned white and her eyes rolled up into her head. Tempe was shocked, the ease. The simplicity she had just snuffed out this woman’s life. The woman was collapsed on the floor. Tempe reached down and placed her hand on the woman’s throat. She absent mindedly scanned her face and her fingertips into her glasses.

Tempe stood and began to walk forward, “Guys, I think, I think I killed her…”

“What are we doing with her body.” Fern asked

Dan and the other three had a quick discussion of what to do with the body. It was decided that they didn’t have time to bury her. They would hold on to her body till they could deal with her. Fern sat quietly dealing with this new dark taint that now seemed to show on her gift.

“So what we just fabreeze her?”

They stopped momentarily to wrap her body in what they could find on the bus, and placed her in storage under the bus.

As the day wore on the scenery passed and they crossed into Oklahoma. The scrublands were an uninteresting backdrop. Fern and Dan swapped out, and she pulled the bus back onto the road. She drove on into the night. She glanced into the mirror and watched Tempe. The Mercenary’s death had affected her new friend deeply.

Before she could ponder this further she crested a hill and witnessed a scene out of a bad movie. The road was on fire and there were multiple wrecked vehicles. “Guys, Guys, get up.”
“There are people still alive in there” Tempe stated as she glanced over the wreckage. Fern edged the bus to what she felt was a safe distance.

Pistachio grabbed the trauma bag and headed off the bus, followed by Milton, Dan and Tempe.

Closest to them a woman was trapped under a burning car screaming. As they approached her, they could make out her screams.

“Where is my baby? Where is Matthew?”

Tempe heard a baby cry off to her left in the edge of the woods. She couldn’t let someone else die right now. She ran towards the cry.

At the car Pistachio began to assess his patient. She had major injuries to her mid-section and broken hips. She was not going to last long. He braced her as best as he could then enlisted Milton to help move the car off of her. The weight of the car was now off of her and the blood began to flow freely. Pistachio quickly applied the Quik-clot from the bag and wrapped the wound.

She was ashen and had passed out. Pistachio pulled the emergency Mylar blanket out of the kit and wrapped her up. “We have to get her help immediately.”

Fern watched as she sat in the driver’s seat, clutching the case. Dan headed out of the bus doors to try and help in some way.

Tempe winded her way through some of the brush and stopped to listen. The baby’s cry was moving away from her. Her hand went to her glasses to shift her view into thermal. Ahead of her, from where the cries were coming from, she could now see two forms. They were on all fours but their body temperatures were lower than the surrounding air. They moved smoothly, they had the grace of a big predatory cat.

“What’s going on guys, I’m still on the bus? Tempe where are you?” Fern asked across the coms.

“I have contact. Here are my visuals.” Tempe answered

“Ok, Oh good god.” Fern exclaimed as she could now see the creatures Tempe could see.

“Care to elaborate on good god?” Dan asked.

“Oh god what?” Pistachio echoed.

“We have two lifeforms by Tempe. They are unknown and have a body temp of lower than the surrounding area.” Fern filled in the group.

“Milt, I need you with me!” Tempe cut across the channel.

Milton pulled his .300 Blackout to the ready and headed towards her.

As Dan stood security at the bus door he could hear a voice from the dark to the left hand of the road, “Help. Help, is there somebody up there?”

Milton arrived and Tempe stood up and highlighted one of the creatures with her tactical light. They could see it now. It was hairless and its skin so red that it looked like they had just been skinned. They had a flat head and there was no sign of eyes. A series of spines ran along its back. The eyeless creature gave the impression of looking at them and emitted a whistling chirping sound.

Milton watched the creature he had locked in the sights. He took a step towards the creature. The creature moved a step back and to the right of Milton. “Flanking, huh?”
Tempe scanned across the creatures looking for the baby. Her stomach sank as she watched one of the creature’s throat move as she heard the crying of the baby again.
Milton had seen enough and slowly squeezed the trigger. The compact rifle made a quiet coughing sound, and the bullet found its mark. The left side of the creature’s chest erupted blood. It tumbled twice and rolled into the darkness.

Tempe heard a coughing bark from the other creature as it turned and moved deeper in to the brush.

Dan heard the suppressed shot and drew “The Reverend”. From the side of the road Dan heard the voice again, “Help, Help.”

Pistachio passed Dan as he carried the now unconscious woman onto the bus. Pistachio passed him again as he headed back out to protect the approach of the others.
“Everyone on the bus. 360 perimeter!” Milton called over the comlinks as he and Tempe headed to the bus.

“MINERVA! Can you get me some aerial assets? Anything?” Tempe requested as she ran.
“Uncertain, I will try and move assets into your battlespace.” Was all the A.I. could answer.
Fern felt all of the hair on her body stand on end when she heard the man calling to Dan. “Don’t. Just don’t go over there.”

As the MTF closed in around the bus, the shadows of the creatures, now numbering 6, came into view. The night came alive with the chattering/whistling calls.

Dan seen movement from the side of the road the man had been calling from. One of the red creatures came into view. Its throat moved as he heard the call again, ‘Help me, Help me.’
Dan raised the Rev, “Fuck your help.” And squeezed the trigger. The creature rolled backwards as the bullet impacted it.

Pistachio moved towards the bus, three members of the pack targeted it. Pistachio raised his carbine and shot one of the advancing creatures where its skull should be. The head erupted into a fountain of blood and then as the body collapsed, it burst into brilliant flames. Pistachio’s celebration was cut short as his left femur shattered when one of the creatures bit into him. Pistachio fell and the other two attacker’s jaws snapping in the empty space he had just been occupying.

SIGMA-1 had acquired the target and began to pull him away from the other meat.
Fern pulled open the driver side window and leaned out with her P90 and drew down on the creatures attacking Pistachio. The weapon barked and the creature tumbled away from Pistachio. As it recovered it limped into the darkness.

Milton climbed on top of the bus for a better view. He pounded on the roof, “Pass up Vera!”
Fern left her perch and handed up the large .50 BMG rifle.

Tempe had run around the back of the bus and seen another shape approaching from the rear. She grabbed the flash bang from her vest and tossed it at the shadow. As the grenade went off, all of the comlinks went quiet till the sound was extinguished. Tempe didn’t stop until she reached Dan.

Milton took aim with the Sniper rifle and squeezed the trigger. The bullet ripped past Pistachio and impacted into the creature that had been attached to his leg. As the creature regained its feet it bit into Pistachio again this time crushing his left hip. Pain shot through his body as the iliac crest shattered. Pistachio fought to stay awake as the creature began to pull him away from his friends again.

One of the creatures advanced on Dan and Tempe as they guarded the bus door. Tempe reached out with her power and hit the animal attacking Pistachio. She then reached out to hit one of the creatures that had moved to try and block them from reaching Pistachio.
Pistachio felt the pressure on his hip lessen and took the opportunity to jam the barrel into its face and squeezed. The animal jerked hard on Pistachio. Pain rushed back in to fill all the spaces in his mind.

Dan brought the Reverend onto target on one of the interceptors and as his bullet found its target, the creature burst into flame and collapsed. Dan swung the Rev into place the closest creature and squeezed the trigger. The round struck the rear flank of the creature and it screamed as bone exited the wound.

Fern leaned out of the window and as she raised her P90 to fire, she heard a light snoring sound. “Bono? Get up you stupid damn rat.” She acquired her target and fired as she heard the raccoon yawn. The rounds slammed into one of the creatures in Dan’s way. The body was ripped in half by the stitching of the 5.7×28mm rounds. The body ignited and added to the flames, smoke and stink on the road. Fern heard the sound of her weapon jamming. She pulled back as she cleared its action.

Tempe joined the fire fight and her bullets ripped along the closest creature’s midline. It snarled and jumped back.

Bono leaned out of the window Fern had occupied and brought his 5N7 to bear and placed a round into the body of the one pulling Pistachio away from the group.

Pistachio tried to fire again on his attacker but was unable to get his eyes to focus on his target.

Dan could see the animals trying to pull Pistachio away. He slammed the Rev into it’s holster, and pulled his Dragonov off his back and snapped a shot at the one pulling Pistachio. The creature burst into flames, unfortunately so did Pistachio.

Milton fired Vera, his rounds striking the creatures trying to block the rescue attempt.
Fran glanced up from the conflict, there were now two new much larger shapes approaching from behind the creatures. They were at least hotter than the background, but they were approaching.

She drew down on the knot of creatures and fired. The rounds ripped around the animal, and it lunged at Pistachio and, biting his foot began to pull him to the shadows. The heated shapes closed on them. Bono leaned past Fern and threw a flash-bang.

Dan is able to get past the guards and grabs Pistachio. As Dan pulls, the animal pulled back.
“Milt hold on!” Fern yelled as she gassed the bus. A scream of torn metal screeched inside the cabin as Milton slammed his combat knife into the roof. The bus closed the distance and arrived at her goal.

As they fought over Pistachio, the two heated shapes burst forward. Dan shook his head, were those werewolves? Seriously fucking werewolves?

The giant shapes slammed into the creatures, batting them away like flies.

The chaos allowed Dan to shoulder Pistachio, and head for the bus. As he ran the battered creatures burst into flames. The crowd became an uneasy Mexican stand-off. Everyone watched everyone else nervously.

Tempe finally spoke up, “What do you want?” as she glanced at the wolves, her eyes caught on a brand on its arm. She swore it was a mark she knows. The wolf shifted back to human.
It looked at her, “Temperance?”

“Gwyneth? What are you doing here?”

“Tracking these creatures. Get on the bus, we will try and get you out of here.”

Fern ducked out of the bus to take a sample from the two closest creatures.

Ep 1.5
No the raccoon can't drive

It had been three days since the team had arrived at the Outpost. They had settled into the daily routine of their days at the outpost. Fern and Tempest set up their lab space in open bays on their floor. The boys settled into their rooms. The place was unmanned in the traditional sense.

The first floor was left to MTF Phi 7. The second floor was the Hellcat’s hole. Roaming around the facility was Minerva’s work fleet. The DRD’s cleaned and maintained the building. Johnny 5’s did vehicle maintenance and manual labor. The Hellcats had named the robots and Phi 7 had just taken to calling them by the same names.

The days passed slowly. Fern had made time to get Jackie to familiarize her with her P90. Her world had become a strange mess of crazy in the last week and the familiarity of martial instruction had actually made her feel normal.

Today though, the lights coming on were accompanied by the chime and Minerva’s voice. “Please meet in the ready room for mission briefing.” A single chime was all that was needed to get most of the team up and moving. Most of the team.

Pistachio rolled over and pulled the blankets up.

The lights brightened, “Please do not make me escalate this. Please get to the meeting.” Minerva’s voice chimed again.

“Uhh”, Pistachio moaned, “Turn the shower on.” The water hissed on in the bathroom.

The room was filled with chatter and the mixed smells of everyone’s breakfast. They slowly gathered around the central table. The lights dimmed and Minerva’s digital image appeared.
“Good morning. MTF Phi 7 you will be assigned to a simple escort mission today.”

“Simple escort mission?” Fern asked.

“Yeah, because nothing ever goes wrong with those.” Dan added derisively.

“One member of Hellcat will be accompanying you on the mission.”, Minerva added, “Milton Shaddik will be your designated support.”

“There is no current indications of EMP storms. You will be air transported to Tennessee. There you will have ground transport waiting for you. You will travel to Site 87. At Site 87 you will receive the package. Do not open the package. You will ground transport the package to Site 305, and release the package to the staff there.”

“So this is like, a pick-up, drop off no big deal, right?” Fern asked.

“Any Questions?”

“What are we escorting?” Dan questioned

“Yeah are we allowed to know what we are escorting?” Fern added

“No.” Minerva curtly replied.

“Is whatever it is volatile?” Dan soldiered on

“Not in the traditional sense.” Minerva answered

“is it a….person?” Fern asked with trepidation

“It is an item, a case 20 inches by 15 inches by 9 inches. There is no expected resistance or hostility. Ground transport will be provided at the Tennessee airport.”

“Any special considerations for the package?” Dan asked

“Do not open the package.” Minerva answered again.

“Your transport is in the vehicle bay. A preset DAGR is in the vehicle. Please depart in the next 25 minutes.”

The hologram dissolved and the lights brightened. The meeting was obviously over.

The next 25 minutes were a hectic circus of quick questions and short responses as Phi 7 struggled to cover all of their bases.

Pistachio was shoving MRE cases, water cases and ammo cans into the vehicle. Dan was going over all of his gear and checking his weapons, and wondering what he had signed on for.

Fern checked the DAGR for their route and position then went over her gear as best as she could remember how.

Tempe adjusted the custom ear piece on to Bono’s ear. He fidgeted as it settled into place.

“Can you hear me?” Tempe asked him through the Coms.

A quick double click answered her that Bono could hear her.

Moving like a shadow through the group was Hellcat 3; Milton Shaddik. His go bag was slung on his back. Unconsciously he pushed the SBR .300 Blackout back by his pack as he hefted the long bag that held his real workhorse. Technically it was the Barret XM500, but he called her Vera. He watched the new MTF struggle with gear and trying to do the impossible. They were trying to prepare for all possible problems. Amateurs.

With 2 minutes to spare they were on the road to the airport.

The flight was uneventful and everyone was trying to pass the time and seem less nervous than what they felt. Milt slept like a log.

The vehicle provided was a Sprinter that had been reinforced. They loaded up the entire multitude of gear they had brought into the new wheels. As they were loading Milton pulled out Vera and laid out a mat. He now took up the floor between the back rows with the business end of Vera pointed to the back of the van.

“So who’s driving?” Tempe asked.

“Yeah who is driving?” Fern seconded.

“I got it.” Dan said as he shook the keys.

“Shotgun”, Tempe and Pistachio shouted. Tempe was barely faster than Pistachio and smiled as she threw her trauma bag into the floor board on the passenger side.

The drive took three hours into the Tennessee woods. The destination was a large raised earthen berm with a single entrance that was gated. As they drive up the gate opened. Three men and a table were visible standing outside of a single small concrete building.
The lab coat on one gave him away as the tech, his shiny Massive Dynamic logo on the pocket. The two accompanying him dressed in full combat gear brandishing G36 rifles, Massive Dynamic logos on all their gear. On the table set a black case.

A quick exchange of signatures and documents and the case was handed off to MTF Phi 7. They began the long drive to Nevada.

As the silence settled in, Pistachio finally broke the quiet, “So…Are we going to open it?”
Fern spun in her seat, “What if it has radiation or something? You just want to open this?”
Pistachio’s hand moved unconsciously towards the package. Fern and Tempe, oblivious to each other began to use the tech in their head sets to scan the package. There was no Alpha, Beta, or Gamma particle emission. Of course that could just be the protection from the case.

“No, this is like, Pandora’s box. This is not a good ideal.” Fern established her position more firmly.

“Yeah, but…” was as much of Pistachio’s counter argument that made it out.

Dan spoke over him, “Milt, What do you have to say about this?”

“Probably rigged to explode, that’s how I would do it.”

Dan shook his head and refocused on the road.

Fern unholstered her weapon and pointed it at Pistachio, “Don’t, just don’t. I don’t trust you.”

“Yeah, your knee showed how well you make decisions.” Tempe added in agreement.

Pistachio shook his head and settled back against the wall away from the accusing stares. This is why he hated people.

Everyone’s attention was focused on the standoff in the front of the van. No one noticed Milton grab the case and pop the latches, peering at what it held. His eyes focused on the effigy nested in the foam. A carved likeness of something his mind rebelled against. His brain and higher functions started to sway and the need to vomit was rising. Milton felt the cybernetic enhancement at the base of his spine begin to do its job. His eyes began to see the image as pixilated and distorted. His body began to set itself right immediately. He hadn’t felt things like that since South America.

Fern felt the skin around her eyes begin to warm and then to burn. She snapped her attention to the case that Milt held.

“No!” She yelled. Her goggles showed no change in emissions from the now open case. She crammed her gun back into her holster. “Nobody move. Nobody touch it!” She moved over to the case. The statue inside the case hurt her mind to look at. She snapped the case closed. Her face cooled off instantly.

“Ah you opened it without me!” Pistachio complained to Milt, “What was inside?”

“Nightmare fuel.” Fern answered as she tightened her grip around the case handle, “Dan you need to go faster.”

“It’s a four day drive.” Dan replied

“Then make it a three day drive.”

From the back Milton spoke up, “Pull over if you see a place that has calamari.”

“Didn’t the briefing say don’t open the case?” Tempest said trying to recall the briefing.

“Do you two know what you have done?” Fern started to berate the two men not driving.

“I didn’t do anything!” Pistachio protested

“You do know that we have to answer for this!” Ferns face was hot again but this was due to the rush of blood to her face, “If I didn’t care so much about my own life I would unleash it on both of you!”

The rest of the day passed in uncomfortable silence.

Dan was starting to bob and weave. His head would touch his chest and he would snap back awake. Finally he pulled over to the side of the road.

“I need someone to swap off.”

“Defiantly, who else is driving?” Fern asked

A small furry hand raised in the back.

“Can we please not go with the Raccoon?” She pleaded.

“We need to do this in shifts. It still isn’t proven that this thing won’t kill us in our sleep, Kruger style.” Milt spoke up.

“So who else can drive?” Tempe pressed the question.

“I’ll drive,” Pistachio said as confidently as he could.

He grabbed the keys and with a shuffling of positions, they were loaded back into the van. As they sat there and Pistachio revved the engine in neutral, it became obvious that Pistachio did not know how to drive.

Pistachio turned the van off and stepped out of the van, walking back to the rear passenger bay, “Yeah, someone else gets to drive.”

Fern moved to the front, taking the driver’s seat as she wedged the case between her and Temperance.

The day passed in monotony. Milton was a quiet, creepy presence. They were never sure when he was asleep or awake.

Twelve hours had passed, and now Fern was the one who needed a break.

“Guys, I need a relief.”

A sharp whistle called all eyes to its source and a small four fingered hand appeared above the seat.

“No. No, I put up with so much weirdness; I am not letting the raccoon drive!” Fern shouted.

The hand turned into the modified yet unmistakable gesture of the “bird” before disappearing.

Temperance changed out with Fern.

“I heard raccoon is tasty…” Pistachio mentioned to no one.

As Bono set down in the passenger seat, he made the “I’m watching you”, to Pistachio as he made a feeble attempt at making a sign for trap.

Bono took Tempe’s P90 and settled in for the drive.

Three hours into the ride they crested a hill and below them they could see two busses parked nose to nose blocking the two lane road.

“Everyone up.” Tempe stated as she slowed the van.

They could see six people moving from between the busses. A single man stepped in front of the other five.

“Shit,” Milton said, “that’s Lattimer Mason, he is part of the Esoteric Order of Dagon. Dirty as hell but we haven’t been able to get anything to stick.”

Milton dropped back into position, with Vera.

The group ahead started to aim at the van. Lattimer opened a book and raised his hand. The earth began to shake and Temperance jerked the van into a hasty U-turn. Before them the road was gone. A fifteen foot wall of earth rose to block the way they had come.

“Oh shit, he’s an earth bender!” Fern yelled

Milton shoved the rear doors open and took the shot.

Vera barked. Lattimer’s chest exploded into a mist of blood and there was a clear hole through his chest where his heart should be. One of his followers began to drag him behind the busses. “One down.”

Temperance closed her eyes and suddenly the heavily armed woman dropped and the man next to her fell a heartbeat after.

The rear tire of the van blew as a round hit it.

Fern made her way out of the van and moved to the rear corner of the van using it as cover against the people in the road.

Milton extracted himself and Vera from the van and positioned himself across the hood.

Pistachio dashed to the right hand side of the woods, charging forward to flank the group.
Bono dashed out into the left hand woods and moved counter to Pistachio.

Wild fire from the church followers spread across the van. One man in tactical gear began to advance as he unleashed shotgun fire at Milton.

Temperance took a quick sharp breath and popped up with her P90 and squeezed the trigger as she swept it across the man closest man. He crumpled to the ground.

Dan brought “The Reverend” up on target and pulled the trigger. The hammer fell and there was nothing. As he cleared the chamber, he had a better view of the assailant with the shotgun. That son of a bitch was Gordon Miller. Dan leaned out the window, “Gordon Fucking Miller, it is going to be a pleasure to wipe you of the face of the fucking earth!”

The Reverend boomed and Miller’s left elbow was blown apart. As he wheeled from the impact, the bullet carried on its path and struck the church follower in her side dropping her to the ground.

At the opposing side of the vans the pair emerged from the woods. Latimer was standing and the hole in his chest was gone. Pistachio ran towards the priest as the man next Latimer fell from Bono’s shot. Bono aimed at the priest and fired. Three rounds hit the priest’s chest. The impact from the shots pulled Latimer out of Pistachio’s bullet path.

Fern moved around the van to try and get a shot at Miller.

Temperance brought her P90 back on line and took a shot at Miller. The bullets rocked his lower torso. Miller frantically grabbed flash bangs off of his vest as Milton’s shot glance over his head.

Miller tossed the flash bangs and ran for the woods.

Latimer looked Pistachio in the eyes; Pistachio could feel the hate this man now had for him, and then Lattimer was gone.

Bono looked at Pistachio and shrugged.

As their ears stopped ringing and sight returned, Milton yelled, “Check the bodies!”

The group began to move forward and check the bodies. There were identical tattoos on all of the church members. Pistachio began to board the closest bus and found it empty of
people and gear inside. Bono clicked the intercom key to get Tempe’s attention.

Dan checked the pulse of the female mercenary. She was down but alive. Milton handed him zip-cuffs to secure her. Dan secured her and took her weapons, and began to pull off her armor.

Pistachio jumped up on the closest bus. The keys sat in the ignition. Lying across the back seats he found 3 M-4s, 3 sets of Armor, and a sheet of old, curling paper. Looking at was unsettling. The runic characters on the sheet seemed to crawl across the page. 4 boxes of MRE’s sat unopened in the back 2 seats.

“What is it?” Fern asked

“It says something about “The Binder”, I can’t make it out.” Tempe answered.

Minerva chimed in on the com system, “I concur. The page is about the page is about the “Binder”, but I will need more time for the text.”

MTF Phi 7 began to move all of their gear to the bus Pistachio had checked. As the last piece was taken off, Milton tossed a thermite grenade into the van.

Dan settled into the driver seat of the commercial bus and restarted the journey west.

lets try this again

72 hours before. A promising Alchemax researcher named Fern Ronin Barrow unfortunately ran across documents on the mainframe that suggested that the company was looking to sell weapons to the Dynastic Empire. Fern is floored. Who would trade with the Dynastic Empire? They were enemies of humanity!
Fern took the information to her supervisor, this was obviously not company policy.
Dr. Finnway shook his head, “I wish you had not seen this Miss Barrow. You were a great asset to the team.”
He pressed a button on his desk and mouthed the word, ‘Run’ to her. Fern ran.
She seen the Alchemax security team exiting the elevator as she ran for the bathroom. What the hell was she going to do? She ducked into the final stall and locked the door. She heard the team enter and the sound of weapons being readied. The stall doors were being opened.
As panic set in she listened to the door to the stall next to hers open. Then she heard… Beayon Nevaio?
Suppressed weapons fire. A single man opened the door, “You coming?”
Fern followed him passed the bodies of the security team. He quickly lead her to the street and to a safe house and every few hours to another safe house.
Finally, Jackie, he had introduced himself in the rush of the escape, handed her a pistol. “You know how to use this?”
She nodded, “But…?”
“I have to go.” I’ll send you travel arrangements.”
“The gun?”
“If in doubt, shoot.” He smiled…
A few days later her notification beeped letting her know of her travel arrangements.

Now she was on a small plane, sitting across the aisle from a man who looked like he had just crawled out of the woods. The pilot was quiet and said nothing as they head out over the Colorado forests.
They landed hard on a small dirt strip the likes of which she hadn’t seen since flying out to see Lucifer’s Hammer. She rubbed her face around her eyes remembering her memento from that time. She loaded on to the non-descript white van. The lumberjack loaded a pack and jumped in.
Out of the woods rose a building that looked like a refugee from the English country side. A tall and imposing castle. As she disembarked from the van she seen a smiling Jackie headed towards her. As she watched, his face faded from friendly to hard as nails, suddenly a pistol was in his hand. “Who is that? Fern did you bring him?”
“wha, he was on the plane,” she stumbled on the words as he brushed her behind him and leveled the gun at the lumberjack.
“Who the fuck are you?” Jackie demanded
“I followed the plane to see where it went.” The Lumberjack stated
The Lumberjack shifted slightly as he looked at his options. An angry looking woman came quickly out of the main door. The rifle in her right hand trained on the Lumberjack as she casually tossed another rifle to Jackie without looking.
“How we going to do this? Easy way or fun way?” Jackie asked the Lumberjack
The Lumberjack turned to run. The shot bellowed out of Jackie’s rifle, breaking the silence.
Fern shirked away involuntarily at the roar. The Lumberjack’s left knee disappeared in a cloud of blood, and he collapsed.
Jackie was like lightning, “Get her inside and get medical.” He had pushed his rifle behind him and was pulling a pouch off of his side and running to the Lumberjack.
The angry woman pushed Fern inside, “This way..”
Outside Jackie went to his knees by the Lumberjack, “Hold on kid, I’ll get you.”
Jackie was working furiously, then he came up with a needle in his hand, “Don’t worry son, everyone loves morphine.”
As the plunger fell, Pistachio blacked out.
Fern was ushered into what looked like the lecture halls she had sat in in class. A man, a woman and a raccoon were already seated. A raccoon?
The raccoon lowered its sunglasses and sized up Fern. The raccoon pushed its sunglasses back into position and went back to his own devices.
Fern was in shock, “Is that a raccoon? What is going on….”
“Yeah that’s Bono.” The woman in the room answered.
The angry woman had left. Fern found a place to sit as the world was spinning violently again. She sat and her hands brushed the red reminder she carried with her from her time at Lucifer’s Hammer.

Pistachio woke up on a warm metal bench. He could hear the soft hum of machines. As he opened his eyes, he could see the arm of a machine slowly laying the final tendons into his ruined knee. The angry woman was back. She was rooting around in his pack.
“I’d be careful, my pack is rigged with explosives.”, Pistachio said with a dry raspy voice.
“Nice try, the detector would have triggered on explosives.”, She shrugged and closed the bag.
The man who shot him walked in, “How you doing champ? What the hell were you doing here?”
“Seen a plane flying over the woods. Decided to see where it was going.” Pistachio croaked.
“Well you’ve recruited yourself into the Office of Antiquities. Or I can shoot you.” Jackie smiled, “so grab your bag and follow me or make a run for the door.”
Pistachio stood, his knee surprisingly didn’t hurt. He shouldered his pack and his rifle, the magazine was loaded to his surprise. He followed Jackie out.
As they walked into the room, an older distinguished man had walked on to the dais, “You are all here to be a part of MTF Phi 7. There are forces at work inside and outside the power of our government that I currently fear. As you have all been placed in my care and for my use, I have decided to keep you off of the table. Your two teams will be housed in the Outpost. Your missions will be given to you by Minerva and by your own discretion. Listen to Minerva, and to each other. I trust you to what is best for humanity."
Everyone watched as he left. Silence settled in to fill the void for a beat.
“Ok, April, take them to get geared up and we move out in 15.” Jackie broke the quiet.
“What, I’m not a damn baby sitter.” The scary woman barked, “Shit, Follow me.”
After a confusing gear up and quick introductions, MTf Phi 7 and the Hellcats headed to their new base in the middle of nowhere, in what used to be New Mexico.

First on Campus

Following the research that saved an American Union Marshall, Temperance is offered a new job with the OA. She boards a small passenger jet in Denver and flies to an unknown airstrip. At the run down facilities she is then bussed through a forest to Miskatonic Castle.

The castle seems to be from a back lot horror movie at first glance, but then as Tempe looks closer she starts to see more modern touches, lights, cameras.

As she leaves the van she notices an obvious G-man already there with a small bag over his shoulder. Her attention is pulled away as Bono whistles for her to set him free. Bono is her companion raccoon. As soon as the cage is open Bono dusts himself off and grabs his sunglasses out of Tempe’s pocket. He then looks around the grounds.

Across the parking lot, “so that just happened…”, Dan says to himself.

Only to here a response of, “I think they may have hired her simply for the little guy.”
The voice catches Dan by surprise as he never had an inkling the man had approached.

“Is that typical?”, Dan asked suppressing any reaction to the surprise.

“Man nothing is typical at the castle. Lets get you guys settled in.”

The man introduces himself as Jackie and leads them into the building. He shows them their quarters and takes them to the main hall to wait for the Curator.


Forge a world like you’ve always known…but never have seen…apply for your spot on the team NOW!

A game in it’s planning stages, voice up now and you may just change the world while the ink is still wet. Rules are based on the Savage Worlds game system. four seats open. Game is in planning stages at present. All input and player set up through website to start. Game location TBD. Novice players are more than welcome, they are encouraged to join. Game tone and setting language are for mature players. If under age, your parents have to OK you to play.

So the style and theme are taking a turn and I hope to find players in the area for a semi regular game night. The build of the world is fluid and open to input from players.


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