Killing in the name of...
By Nick Barnes
Colour Designation: Jade
Minimum SCL: 9
Training Package Recommended: Investigation
Consolidated Pay: 400c per Op
Contact: Department of Investigation
Coverage: Station Analysis - successful result may lead to media coverage/bonus on completion
Summary: Operative squad urgently required to investigate the disappearance of Operative Ebons Vesper and Coral. Both Operatives graduated from Meny University during the last passing out parade, but were otherwise unconnected. Operative Coral has been missing for approximately four days and is believed to have been moving into her operative accommodation prior to her disappearance. Operative Vesper has been missing since 09.48 hrs yesterday, when he was last seen exiting BPN Hall C104 after collecting BPN number 933A-4959V-28//96.
GM's please note:
This BPN depends very heavily upon your interpretation of the Ebb and in particular on your interpretation of the Formulae trait. I interpret it as an innate ability that can be honed by training but is either present in a person or is not - like the ability to draw perhaps - and the BPN is written from this point of view. If you interpret formulae in another way (perhaps as a learned skill or even as a more esoteric power) you will have to tweak the BPN to maintain realism. However, I hope this will not be too difficult. In fact, I have tried to make this as generic as possible so that each GM can fine-tune it to suit their own style of play and their own players. The suggested scenes and NPC statistics are just those - SUGGESTIONS.
"Yes I'm killing, but I'm killing in the name of... of evolution - or progress! Slayer should be able to relate to that."
Fulcrum, Brain Waster.
A new drug is beginning to make a hit on the streets of Mort, especially amongst young Ebon and Brain Waster Operatives. Called Formarol, although it is becoming more commonly known as "Evolution" or "E-Vol", the drug is a black-market relaxant that gives the user a feeling of peace and serenity while also heightening the users emotional state. The drug is marketed, on the streets, under the brand name "Evolution" with the slogan "Evolve into a higher state of consciousness." It is infrequently used by other races, most often during sexual intercourse, but is gaining a ground swell of support amongst ebb-users because the drug also replenishes the users flux supply. Unfortunately, DarkNight have had a hand in the drug's creation. They are very excited by side-effects witnessed under laboratory conditions and look forward to seeing the same side-effects replicated on the streets of Mort in the near future.
The creator of Formarol is a Brain Waster by the name of Fulcrum. Trained in the Medical Package, Fulcrum is a former Operative who put his knowledge to best use through improvised torture methods and by concocting drug cocktails to use on the enemies of SLA Industries. He was honourably discharged in 891sd after a run in with a Thresher Powersuit left him missing an arm and wounded internally. He began working as an employee in the Drugs R&D department of Karma in 892sd but walked out on the company, and on SLA Industries, in 898sd after "Ebon Tears", the pet project he had slaved over for six years, was dismissed by his superiors. He disagreed that Ebon Tears was 'too similar to Drum to market successfully.' Very few of his colleagues were sad to see him go. Many described him as 'unbelievably committed and dedicated.' Those with more honesty said he was obsessive and slightly unhinged.
Fulcrum drifted into Downtown, out of the sight and mind of SLA, and began working as a Prop in an attempt to raise the cash he needed for his own drug lab. Initially, his motives were noble and true to the principles of SLA. He was convinced people would buy Ebon Tears and was determined to put the drug on the market, make it successful to prove the suits at Karma wrong, then sell out to SLA lock, stock and barrel for a tidy fee that would fund his retirement and old age. However, he had difficulties as a Prop from the outset and was laughingly tagged "The One-Armed Bandit" by his peers. Despite his SLA training, he was hampered by his injuries and had difficulty commanding a fee to cover his costs and his living expenses let alone saving for a hi-tech lab.
Then, in a Prop hangout called Slamz, in the wasteland near the Perimeter wall of CS3, Fulcrum met a DarkNight Interceptor called Cinder who seemed to sympathise with Fulcrum's feeling that SLA Industries had betrayed him. Eventually Cinder got Fulcrum talking business and an offer of funding and equipment was made, under the proviso that DarkNight took a 50/50 split of the profits and that their chemists be allowed to modify the drug 'to make it more addictive.' The DarkNight chemists were actually far more interested in experimenting with chemical cocktails that affected an Ebon's ability to manipulate the Ebb. Using Ebon Tears as a base compound, they began to combine Shatter with genetic material harvested from the brains and spinal cords of Feral Ebons collected, Skin Trade style, off the streets of Downtown and from Cinder's forays into the Cannibal Sectors.
Their initial experiments were unsuccessful and it was around this time, that Fulcrum finally realised what DarkNight were up to. The concept of his cherished creation being perverted in such a heinous way finally shattered his tenuous grip on reality and after destroying half the lab in a psychotic rage his fractured psyche seized on the idea as a perfect way to have his revenge against his betrayers. He decided his initial plan to flood the market with pure Ebon Tears until SLA bought him out was still sound, but he would sell the backstabbers at Karma the compound for the mutagenic version. They would be the architects of their own downfall, for when it became known that their version of Ebon Tears was polluted, their ivory tower would surely be bought crashing down.
The experimentation process was far easier with Fulcrum's assistance and it was his idea to target the Shatter by actually splicing it with the genetic material from the captured Ferals. Now the mutagenic properties of Shatter were far more effective - directly attacking the test subjects ability to manipulate the Ebb. However, the genetic mutations caused by the mix of drugs were far removed from the expectations of Fulcrum and his partners. The chemical cocktail does indeed 'take you to a higher state of consciousness' because it immediately increases the users Formulae. Unfortunately, the drug is seriously unrefined in its present state, and in laboratory conditions, the test subjects formulae and understanding of the workings of the ebb and the universe increases exponentially in short order, driving them irrevocably insane and provoking a physical transformation similar to the Ebb Daemon power.
Fulcrum is firmly of the belief that the drug is provoking the onset of the Ebon races next evolutionary state - an evolutionary state which the Ebons are being prevented from taking by the Necanthropes who force powerful Ebons and Brain Wasters to enter the White and become one of them. Ebon Tears is the progenitor of the E-Vol drug doing the rounds on the streets. Currently, the E-Vol is pure but DarkNight's plans continue to grow and soon, they hope to begin corrupting street supplies, unleashing rampant Ebb Beasts on the unsuspecting minions of SLA.
Where the players come in:
E-Vol is on the streets and making a name for itself. Fulcrum and the DarkNight chemists are still testing the mutagenic version in their laboratory. They recently decided it was time to test the corrupted compound on Operative Ebons and Brain Wasters. Because of the training Operative Ebb users receive, Fulcrum is concerned that they might have more control over the change than Feral Ebons. The last thing he wants is for lots of SLOps to take E-Vol, receive an increase in their Formulae and carry on going about their daily business.
Because of this, he has set in motion a program of snatches - taking low level Operatives who are less likely to be missed and using them as live test subjects. Vesper and Coral have been kidnapped for exactly this purpose but they are not the first to have gone missing. Fulcrum and Cinder initially chose their targets well. The Brain Waster Cydon was the first to be snatched and soon after, the Ebon Psyklone was picked up. Neither of these Operatives has yet been missed and in actual fact, nobody is particularly concerned about the disappearance of Vesper. However, Coral is the daughter of a minor diplomat from Static - a minor diplomat with major friends who are already chafing at the four-day delay caused by the bureaucratic minutiae of the monolithic SLA.
Someone with their wits about them in the Department of Investigation has seen the notice that Vesper has collected a BPN but not reported for duty and as both are Ebons, has connected the events and issued a dual BPN. This is the Operatives one and only stroke of luck. The Department of Investigation is trying to get a two for one deal - because the diplomat's friends are picking up the tab. They don't believe Vesper's disappearance is serious and expect the Operatives to locate and round him up in short order, but in fact, he too has been kidnapped.
The following are suggested scenes only. Feel free to ignore them, add your own, mix them up and change them to suit your WoP. The most important thing is to tailor the BPN to your players so that everyone enjoys playing. Got a cerebral squad? Add in more dead ends, red herrings and head-fucking clues. Got a bunch of combat monkeys? Better add in a few more combat scenes or power up the antagonists in the suggested scenes. Enjoy...
- Julia - When the Operatives contact the Department of Investigation, an appointment is made for them with Julia - the human caseworker. Julia is very harassed and has a hefty workload that is preventing her from doing her job properly. She does not have a lot of time to devote to individual cases. She will arrive late and leave as soon as possible and the information she leaves behind is going to be sketchy at best, because that's all she has. She tells them the truth about Coral being the focus of the case and makes it clear Vesper is a bonus job. She tells them some expanded information based on their BPN including handing out Operative personnel files and details on the BPN Vesper accepted (make these up from your own fevered imagination). She does demand that regular updates be left on her voicemail.
- Vesper - Vesper's accommodation is a shoddy flat in Downtown (Bad Housing) slap bang in the middle of Kiesta's turf. Depending on how the Op's act, a small scuffle with the Kiesta's will ensue but the Kiesta's liked Vesper (Good Rep) and if approached in the right way may offer to help look for him. The door to Vesper's flat has been kicked open and there are signs of a fight. The only important item here is a small dish containing empty ampoules of E-Vol next to the bed and at the bottom of the dish, a paper serviette with a telephone number scribbled on it. The neighbours who can be cajoled, bribed or threatened into talking to the Op's say they heard no fighting and saw Vesper leave with two friends. They say the friends were Op's and all three left in a long black vehicle like a hearse. The neighbours are confusing Vesper's squad mates Dagger and Guppy with DarkNight Op's simply because of the body armour. Dagger and Guppy can be found together in a bar near Guppy's Op apartment. They are still waiting for Vesper. They haven't heard from him since he rang to say he was at the BPN Hall to collect a job. He said he would head home for his gear and then come and meet them. They are very concerned (and now slightly worse for wear after sitting in the pub drinking all day) as that was hours ago. They reported Vesper missing and are glad the Op's are on the case. If the Op's go back and press the neighbours for more info - someone will eventually give a pretty good description of DN body armour that may or may not mean anything to the players. As for the vehicle, well the widespread Kiestas gang members would make an ideal (if slightly disorganised and easily distracted) search party.
- The armour and the vehicle - These belong to Fulcrum's snatch squad. Generally led by Cinder, this is a four-man team consisting of Cinder, a driver and a couple of heavies. Cinder is a well-equipped Interceptor but the others have standard DN gear. Cinder and the driver normally wait in the car and the heavies do the snatch. If shit goes down, Cinder assists. The vehicle is an old, disused hearse that the squad have done up. The vehicle is unobtrusive but distinctive enough to be remembered if the Op's start asking around. A determined search will take a long time to find it but will eventually succeed and a car chase could then ensue. On the streets of Downtown, where people lived through the period when Fulcrum was experimenting on Ferals, the vehicle is well known and feared. Downtown's inhabitants connect the vehicle with their friends amongst the Ferals going missing and either never being seen again or turning up dead and horridly mutilated some time later. Test subjects were mutilated and then burned before being dumped to disguise the experimentation, but the Op's may have the contacts or the persistence to track down one of the corpses in a Downtown morgue. Someone highly qualified must look at the body, but if the players can swing this then drop a few clues as to the physical transformation. Alternatively the players may notice the similarities between the methods of the snatch squad and the methods of the Skin Trade. Is the Trade starting a new business venture? If the Op's start to dig, the Trade will happily take steps to defend themselves. This is very much a dead end, but let the Op's play down it to their hearts content.
- Cinder - As stated, Cinder is a very well equipped Interceptor. Either use the MRB equipment or your own variants but tool him up as much as possible. It isn't unreasonable to assume he would be well equipped for a mission of this sensitivity - in fact, it was almost inevitable that SLA would get wind of Formarol eventually and send someone to investigate. It is highly likely that Cinder would be wearing DN power armour. Give Cinder good physical statistics and combat skills with a particular terrorist emphasis, such as demolitions, electronics B/R etc.
- The telephone number - This is the number of Vespers E-Vol dealer. He is a scarred and disfigured man known as Gideon who runs a small pawnbrokers. He has a reputation on the streets for being able to get hold of anything at the right price. He is also a DarkNight sympathiser - one of many who have been roped in to disperse E-Vol onto the market and scope the customers for potential 'hits'. If he can be persuaded to talk, he at least knows that Ebb users are being kidnapped by DN, that Vesper was a target and he knows his contact - a weaselly man called Doone. There is a network of dealers pushing E-Vol and with contacts or by making a few discrete enquiries, it will not be hard to track some of them down. However, very few are sympathisers doubling as spotters. If the characters decide to follow the supply chain, from a dealer back up to the source of the drug, they will eventually run into one of the sympathisers. A quick phone call to Doone will soon see an 'accident' heading the way of the nosy characters.
- Doone - Doone is the driver of the hearse and he is also the most trusted confidant of both Fulcrum and Cinder. Doone acts as distributor, passing the drug from the lab, through the sympathisers to the streets and he acts as the linkman for the operation. When a spotter identifies a 'hit', Doone is called in to approve the hit and only when he has seen the target and given the go ahead will the snatch squad be called in. Doone may therefore be a highly visible target for the Op's to track down. He is a short weaselly looking man with some half-decent armour and a DU loaded FLAY autopistol (MRB). Give him a mix of skills and abilities, including exceedingly cool, pistol, persuasion, bribery, gambling and even minor friends amongst the armies of SLA bureaucrats. Above all is he is a fixer who prides himself on getting the job done. If the characters become known to the sympathisers, they will warn Doone and he will either arrange for DarkNight to pay them a visit or he may even unleash Psyklone. If the characters track Doone down, he will fight to the death. If they subdue him and try to persuade him to talk they will soon realise, how well he has been trained to resist torture - after all, the master of torture Fulcrum has had a hand in his education. However, Doone's weakness is that he can be bought. He is approaching 40 years old and is sick and tired of having spent the last 20 years as a DarkNight lackey and never as the boss. He knows he doesn't have many years left and if the characters can offer him a decent package of protection and luxuries he will sell out. (The diplomat's shadowy friends can fund these, but they will demand a meeting with Doone and will expect him to convince them that he is being truthful about selling out. He is and he can, but this sideline creates some interesting opportunities for Doone's treachery to be discovered - because then the characters are responsible for honouring the agreement to see him to safety.)
- Psyklone - If the squad is low power, or if you want to run a less combat orientated game DO NOT RUN THIS SCENE. Save the effects of E-Vol for the end game and assume that Psyklone died a horrific death in the laboratory. If Doone, Cinder, Fulcrum et al get wind of the characters investigations they may decide to bring Psyklone out of sedation and have him pay the characters a visit. Attune Psyklone to your PC's level of skill because if played correctly, this scene should present the squad with a tricky challenge. Formarol's effects have turned Psyklone into a mutated, maddened, Ebb-using monstrosity. I suggest using the modifiers for Ebb Beast and remember that his Formulae is now through the roof! The PC's will be lured to a suitably dark and spooky location - abandoned warehouse, tightly packed network of streets and alleys etc - and then Psyklone will be released. His rage and madness will be enough to make him lash out at the nearest thing (The characters). What should follow is a nightmarish combat scene where they never really get a good clear look at him (Think of the original Alien film) and just when they think he is dead, he leaps up for one last combat round! Don't forget those FEAR tests.
- Coral - The Operatives BPN contains some slightly misleading information. Vesper and Coral did in fact have several things in common. Both were in Downtown when they were last seen and both were jacking up on E-Vol on a regular basis. Since graduating from Meny, Coral has been hanging out with her slovenly boyfriend 'Pablo' in Downtown and generally living the low-life of which Pops would not approve. Pablo is a repair technician at a transmitter on the border between Suburbia and Downtown and has been known to take bribes to help Channel Resistance broadcast across Mort's airwaves. Pablo is essentially a good man but he is stuck in a Downtown rut that he cannot get out of and has become a selfish slob. He lives in a dirty three room apartment in a decaying tenement block and hangs out with a group of friends at the High Hat - a live music venue which is also well known for the black market products that can be purchased from the canvassers fleecing the crowd. He met Coral at the High Hat. She first got into drugs at Meny where her and her high-life friends were looking for something to stave off their idle boredom but curiosity quickly became obsession. Back in Mort, she went looking for the people who could supply her with a fix or two and found them at the High Hat. She was living in a holding station, waiting for operative accommodation to become available and spent every idle moment at the High Hat. She took her first E-Vol here and it was here that Pablo first found her, stoned and unconscious. The High Hat bouncers were all for throwing her into the street but Pablo intervened, took her to his home and looked after her until she came around. From that meeting their relationship blossomed. She liked his caring manner and he saw the relationship as an easy trip out of Downtown - especially when notification of her operative accommodation came through. They moved her belongings from the holding station and were in the process of moving the last few items from Pablo's tenement to their new apartment when Coral, who had again been 'spotted' by her DN sympathising dealer, was kidnapped. Pablo watched from the cab across the street as Coral closed the door to his flat and was jumped by Cinder, Doone and the boys. Selfishness and self-preservation took over and he simply sat and stared. There were two witnesses - Pablo and the cab driver. If the PC's investigate Coral's Operative accommodation they will find it piled high with unopened boxes and other signs of a recent move. If they investigate further they will find enough male paraphernalia to tell them that Coral had a mystery boyfriend. If they investigate how she was moving her stuff, they will eventually find their way to the cab firm and then through the firm's records to the driver who ferried her round. He remembers the hit but because of too much TV has come up with a string of half soaked conspiracy theories to explain it all away. The only useful thing he can tell them is that she was with Pablo and then he will tell them where he picked Pablo up from. If the Op's don't follow the paper trail to the cabbie, they will have to find another way of locating the mystery boyfriend. Love letters in a jewellery box in one of the moving crates, Coral's friends or forensic evidence lifted from the crates, doorknob etc (if they go to that extreme) will all give them Pablo's name and further investigation - particularly at the department of employment - will lead them to Pablo's workplace and to Pablo himself.
- Pablo - He is the key to this whole mess, because despite being a cowardly and self serving little shite, he did love Coral and after sitting and watching her kidnapped in broad daylight he was consumed with grief. This man hates himself now even more than he did before he met Coral. With the money she had left for him and using her account and clearance numbers etc (another way the Ops might track him down), he has purchased some Body Blocker armour, a Blitzer and a little box of HEAP ammo. During the hit on Coral, he recognised Doone as someone he had seen talking to all the dealers in the High Hat. Two nights after Coral went missing; Pablo saw Doone at the High Hat and followed him back through the alleyways of Downtown to an abandoned and disused hospital in Lower Downtown, near the perimeter wall of one of the Cannibal Sectors. By the time the Operatives reach him, he will have plucked up the testicular fortitude to storm the hospital and rescue Coral. The players can either intercept him and question him, in which case he will spill the whole sorry tale (he has not approached SLA with his information thus far because of his fear that as 'a nobody from Downtown' they were going to make him a scapegoat and blame him for Coral's disappearance) or they can follow him to the hospital.
- The Hospital - The Kennet Hope Hospital was once part of a thriving suburban community, but Mort has moved on and grown away from its roots. Kennet Square, the plaza in which the hospital stands, is now part of Lower Downtown and the Perimeter Wall is too close for the hospital to be a viable concern. It does however have the equipment and facilities Fulcrum needs for his experiments and his drug processing plant. Have fun mapping out this hospital. There is one secure route in and Cinder has put his terrorist abilities and guerrilla tactics to the test making sure that the other routes are largely impassable. Litter traps everywhere. Be as imaginative and inventive as you can. Kennet Hope Hospital should look like an abandoned building from the exterior, but once inside - the players should realise they are assaulting a stronghold. If they followed Pablo, he will give them a headstart by leading them to the correct secured entrance - he saw Doone use it when he followed him here. If the players have intercepted Pablo and not got that information out of him, they are going to be working very much in the dark. Cinder also lurks in the shadows and will add to the characters' pains, sniping at them, leading them astray down side passages etc. However, he will not reveal himself fully, continually pulling back and then harassing the PC's again. Cinder should live to get back to the main labs.
- Main Lab - Set up in the abandoned intensive care unit, this is Fulcrum's centre of operations and by the time the players get this far, Fulcrum will have weighed up the odds and decided to get out - particularly if he had enough advance warning, such as notice of Doone's treachery (see above for that plotline) or the PC's setting off traps and fighting Cinder. He and a couple of DN heavies are making their way to the roof and a waiting chopper (probably stolen SLA issue such as a Third Eye News Helicopter) with the computer files on the experiments, the mutagen enhanced version of E-Vol and Coral. (Note: Vesper has either been experimented on and has 'E-Vol-ved' in which case he will be in the lab, or he has been experimented on and has died in which case his body can be found in the hospital morgue later along with 30 - 40 other failed experiments or he has not yet been experimented on and will be on a hospital gurney like Coral and Fulcrum will try to escape with both of them) In the main lab, are left Cinder (up high for sniping, dropping grenades et al - possibly an observation gantry) and the E-Vol-ved Cydon (possibly E-Vol-ved Vesper as well; See above). The PC's are going to have to fight at least one of the E-Vol-ved and put up with Cinder to get past and after Fulcrum. If they don't, then it will look like they have just raided an illegal drugs lab manufacturing E-Vol and Fulcrum will set up elsewhere and continue his scheming.
- Cydon (and Vesper?) - Where Psyklone attacked from the shadows and presented a tricky challenge, the full horror of these E-Vol-ved is visible (Don't forget those FEAR tests) and they are a much tougher challenge. I suggest using Ebb Daemon modifiers but as ever, tune it to the level of your players. This battle should rage around the main lab and Cinder poses an ever-present threat from above. This is the grand fight - make the most of it.
- Fulcrum - Escaping to fight again another day is Fulcrum's objective once his sanctuary has been penetrated by SLA. He will try to get away with the test subjects, tainted E-Vol and the computer files if possible by fleeing to the waiting chopper. The gurneys will be pushed into the back and Fulcrum will jump in leaving a couple of DN heavies to hold off the PC's. If he cannot take the test subjects he will settle for the drugs (a couple of test tube racks of tainted E-Vol in a medical box on a shoulder strap) and the computer files (a box of data slugs) but he is determined to get away. The players should not find the race to the roof impossible but they should feel as if they are up against the clock. There are many exciting opportunities here, including a heroic Op hanging from the landing skid of the helicopter as it takes off and fighting (James Bond style) against Fulcrum and the pilot. If the Op's shoot the chopper, it may very well go down in a ball of flames, destroying the drugs, data and occupants - but SLA would look upon this as a royal fuck up, after all, they'd love to get their hands on a 'safe' version of the Formulae increasing drug. Fulcrum will fight if he has to and has some good Ebb abilities. For added menace, you might even decide to have him inject himself and E-Vol-ve in front of the PC's eyes (Psyche evaluation anyone?). Fulcrum's statistics should include good Diagnose and Concentration, excellent pistol, medical and torture skills and ten ranks of psychoses with delusions and paranoia being the most appropriate. Fulcrum is an extreme character (Think of The Riddler played by Jim Carey in Batman Forever) so take that into account when you are playing him and especially in any dialogue.
The End? :
For BPN success, the Operatives should at least rescue Coral and she should be alive and well. Any of the following are a bonus and if the GM wishes they can be recognised in an appropriate manner: Killed or captured Fulcrum; Rescued Vesper; Retrieved tainted drugs; Retrieved Dataslugs; Arrested any of the other Villains; Captured a live E-Vol-ved for future experimentation by SLA Industries.
Hopefully, the PC's survived their fight against Cydon and Cinder, made it to the roof and prevented Fulcrum escaping in a suitably dramatic fashion. They will also have hoped to have saved Vesper, the tainted drugs and the Dataslugs. Is the BPN over?
Not necessarily, because there are many story threads that GM's could now pursue. What are the characters going to do with this Pandora's Box they have opened. SLA Industries would love a drug to 'safely' increase their Operative's formulae but that will require further experimentation. Do the PC's hand over drug and computer files to their superiors like dutiful boys and girls, do they try to take advantage themselves or do they try to go public? If they don't play ball with SLA, Cloak Division will be sending a squad after them right away but the PC's should have made friends on the streets and so long as they have saved Coral, will be able to find allies in her minor diplomat father and his major friends from Static. Rest assured, if Static should find out about this drug's effects on Ebb users, they will want to look at it before SLA Industries does because if E-Vol could be refined and the harmful side-effects eliminated it would be a very powerful drug indeed.
So far, no one has even considered testing E-Vol on a Necanthrope...