He always seemed like such a nice man

By Martin Wheeler

Colour Designation: Grey
Minimum SCL: 9b
Training Package Recommended: Investigation
Consolidated Pay: 350c per Operative
Contact: Internal Affairs
Coverage: Station Analysis
Summary: Operatives required to investigate terrorist incident in Uptown. Suspected DarkNight involvement. Contact Edward Benedict on 362-544-221857. Ref: IA/3266561/U

Beginning

The telephone will be answered by a man who introduces himself as Mr Benedict, an employee of Internal Affairs. He requests that the players meet him at the Eclipse Tower, 1 Infinity. Anyone with an SLA INFO at 8 or more will recognise the address of the public face of Internal Affairs. The building is in Central, in fact within the shadow of SLA HQ (although HQ casts a very big shadow). Getting to Central will require running the usual gamut of Wall guards and Dark Finders. The Dark Finders will be particularly interested in any Operatives who state Eclipse Tower as their destination and will call in to confirm details with Mr Benedict's office.

Eclipse Tower is in the post-retro-gothic-modernist style common in the Central region. Outside the main doors stand six guards in huge suits of MAL Shock Armour and armed with Warworld quality armaments. Just walking beneath their gaze is worth a FEAR RATING of 6. Inside the reception desk is flanked by a number of trench-coated Dark Finders (on loan from Cloak Division) who will also pay close attention to the players as they ask for Mr Benedict. They will be escorted via the lift to level 32, past offices containing row upon row of employees at workstations to an Office bearing the name plate "Mr E Benedict - Junior Overseer - Control". Mr Benedict will welcome them inside and ask them to take a seat. He gestures at the wall to his left and requests "Run data 317 dash 98 B".

The plain wall dissolves to display a large television screen which comes to life with a recorded scene. The shaky hand-held style of the images, the eye-line viewpoint and the occasional glimpse of arms reveal that the Operatives are watching the view of someone implanted with a Finance Chip. They appear to be waiting in line to enter a night-club somewhere on the streets of Uptown, at night. As the bouncers appraise the clubbers in front of them the chipee watches a group of well dressed humans, of both sexes, emerge from the doorway. The group cross the pavement towards a Romulus stretch limo, but then suddenly a single figure appears in the edge of the field of vision. There is the unmistakable sound of gunfire (single shots, then automatic). The scattering crowd then obscures the view and the scene ends.

"This incident occurred this morning at 02:06 outside the Grail. An assassin gunned down Miss Barbara Vickers, an Employee of the Department of Communications. Six shots from a Klip Killer 20 at point blank range. At 02:14 the assassin was brought down by a Brainwaster by the name of Outrage who was present in the crowd and brought the assassin down with use of Red Thermal. By the time Dark Finders and Shivers arrived on the scene at 02:28 the assassin was dead, Outrage having finally finished him off with his own Panther."

"The assassin was found to be wearing a SLA identity card, which explains his presence in Uptown. Dental records and karma coding confirmed his identity as Oswald Lee, aka Damage, Death Squad trained, SCL 8C.5. Up until his explosive exit he had a clean Operative history"

"There is no history between Mr Lee and Miss Vickers, or indeed any of her guests. No obvious explanation for his actions. Whilst such a singular and suicidal act of assassination is hardly enough to warrant us to call in a Cloak Division squad we must consider DarkNight recruitment amongst the possible explanations. Miss Vickers was currently acting as Project Manager on a method of intersecting Channel Resistance broadcasts. Where one Operative has been turned we must consider that that the corruption spread further amongst his squad."

"We are not in the habit of dragging Operatives in for full interrogations without some evidence. That is your assignment, shake them up, Cloak will vacuum pack any subversives that fall out, it's a shake and vac operation. Details of Mr Lee's Operative Squad "Poignant Subjugation" will be provided, they have not been informed of your visit but I'm sure that they will be only too happy to assist in your enquiries. You also have access to their personnel records as required."

In fact the Operatives will be aware that there are rumours of Cloak dragging Operatives from their beds at night or snatching them off the street for random interrogation incorporating physical and psychological abuse threshold tests. Of course that could just be a way of explaining the sudden disappearances of Operatives from their Uptown apartments behind a locked security door that makes Ops feel happy.

Poignant Subjugation

The Operative squad has had a steady career over the past eight months. In that time they have carried out 8 Blue, 6 White, 3 Yellow, 7 Red, 2 Jade and 1 Black BPN. The current line up is five Operatives, two of whom are from the original line up of six operatives.

Current Members

Solicitude - Ebon male, Investigation, SCL 8C.5

Damage - Human male, Death Squad, SCL 8C.5

Doctor Bob - Human male, Medical, SCL 8A.3

Raven - Human female, Kick Murder, SCL 8A.3

Kobold - Stormer, Death Squad, SCL 8.9

Ex Members

Deliverance - Human male, Medical, killed by Manchine Deathloc during Black BPN.

Warrior - Human male, Strike Squad, killed by Deathloc during Black BPN

Reflection - Ebon female, Scout, disappeared during Black BPN, no corpse found, presumed dead

Zephyr - Frother female, Kick Murder, died on White BPN against Soft Company "Ubermench".

Ultron - Human male, Death Squad, shot by unidentified sniper during routine Blue BPN.

Curio - Ebon female, Investigation, killed by Serial Killer (Mr Simpkins) during a White BPN.

Obviously if the players want family histories, school records or full details of the BPNs then you will have to make some up (after all I've only got 5,000 words). If the players are beneath SCL 8 then withhold details of one of the Whites claiming that the Operatives are not cleared for that information under Sector 1.3 of the Handbook but that it has no bearing on this investigation.

Mr Benedict informs the player that the Operative Squad are not currently assigned a BPN having completed a Yellow in Upper Downtown two days ago. All the Operatives addresses are provided along with valid Search & Seizure warrants for the apartments of all members of the Squad. Although they do not of course have the security codes for the door locks they are authorised to gain entry, as long as SLA equipment is not damaged.

Solicitude

Solicitude lives in an Uptown apartment block which houses Ebons exclusively. Tranqulity Heights is a clean and peaceful block whose hallways and plazzas house lush greenery (bio-engineered of course). The peace is at times complete as the Ebons present often use Ebb Communication to talk to each other. Non-Ebons will be noted immediately and kept an eye on. Operatives bearing heavy weaponry or dressed in high-grade armour will be particularly watched, although obviously no-one will impede the Operatives in the pursuit of a valid BPN.

Solicitude is not at home, at least no answer is received. Records show that Nicole Alvanoir (Solicitude) shares the two bedroomed apartment with two other female Ebons. Andrea Colanura (Prophecy), a Foldship pilot, is currently employed for a three-month tour of the outer planets on the pleasure ship "Ethereal". Lilith Childs (Fate), an Ebon Medic, was logged on a Yellow BPN in Downtown with her Squad "Krazy Puppies" but this was logged as complete three days ago by the Squad financier Norman G. The Departments of Enquiries, Communication or Records can get the players Solicitudes telephone number but they will receive no answer. If they think to ask, and quote the BPN reference, there have been no calls logged for a day and a half with the last few being to a florist, a laundry, a cleaning service and an off licence. The florist and off-licence will confirm that they were telephone orders and were collected the same day by Miss Alvanoir. The laundry service collected a number of items from the apartment's manager for dry-cleaning. The cleaning service are due to visit the apartment the following day for a complete sanitation.

Polite enquires with the neighbours will gain the news that Solicitude and Fate left yesterday morning with overnight bags packed. They were apparently going to get away from it all for a couple of days because Fate had just returned from a very unpleasant BPN in Downtown. Fates car is also missing from the basement parking lot.

If the players attempt to gain entry then an ELECTRONIC LOCKS roll will be required to hotwire the security keypad. Inside the players will find that but apart from the fact that Solicitude and Fate are lovers (and recently got through two tubes of deFlower Adult Lubricants) there is little information to be gained. However an oyster terminal is present and if players make a COMPUTER SUBTERFUGE roll then they can gain access to her records. Checking her E-mail account will see that she confirmed a booking for two persons with the Serenity Zone salon in the Baxters hotel, Central. A check on her Credit account will gain details of recent payments tying up with her phone calls as well as the payment to Baxters.

Doctor Bob

Doctor Bob (Targen de Vekt) lives in a single bedroom Uptown apartment in a mixed block. He will be at home watching television regardless of when the players call, it's (mostly) what he does between BPNs. If talked to via telephone or intercom he will ask what it is concerning and be unwilling to open the door. If the players talk nicely (Persuasion) or not (Intimidate) he will eventually open up and let them in. This may raise the player's suspicions and a thorough search of the apartment will uncover a still for cooking up his own pharmaceuticals. If pressed he will admit that they are merely for personal use, or gifts to close friends and neighbours, only Damage in the Squad partook. They can't be the reason he takes it himself. A MEDICAL or FORENSIC examination of the drugs he still has present will confirm that they have no ill side effects and a check of his accounts through BUSINESS FINANCE will confirm that he has no unidentified source of income.

Other than this little sideline he will be able to offer little useful information. He will be shocked at the events and be able to offer the players little information. Their last BPN was a Yellow, a Downtown factory got broken into and they had to retrieve the stolen goods, a shipment of computers. Turned out that the residents of Rust Alley had raided the place for spare parts and they managed to recover some of the shipment and point the SHIVERS at the remainder. Whilst a lot of their opponents were missing the odd limb or organ some of them were powered up enough to make a fight of it so the squad was taking a couple of days off. Then Solicitude would look for a BPN. The other Squad members should be at home awaiting her call, they all have mobiles. She generally used the BPN hall on the Avenue of Remembrance.

Raven

Raven (Ravenna Leshka) lives in an Uptown semi-detached house in Uptown which she shares with her boyfriend Christian Oder, an employee of Slaughterhouse Six Studios. Both will be at home, and will speak to the players once they have explained the situation. Both are however under the influence of a dose of Personal Interest and so the interview will be punctuated with them flirting with the Operatives (slyly rubbing against them, leaning in close, using touching as punctuation, sucking ice cubes, that sort of thing). Christian is concerned that IA should be investigating him, although obviously he has nothing to hide and will attempt to answer most of the players questions on behalf of Ravenna, he believes that he understands the legal process better. Of course the concern is a little muddled by the PI. He will, on her behalf, deny any knowledge of Oswalds actions (indeed a PSYCHOLOGY roll will see that Ravenna is surprised by the news, but not saddened, he made a pass at her once and they didn't get on).

She can also inform the Ops of the details of their last BPN, and the BPN arrangements. She has little further information of note except that she will mention in passing that "Oswald underwent his 6 monthly psyche test only a couple of months ago and he was fine then".

Kobold

Like Solicitude, Kobold lives in a single race Apartment block. Kobold doesn't have a mobile phone as it was cut off due to non-payment of bills so a personal visit will be called for. The players will again find themselves under a great deal of scrutiny and "gentle ribbing". Kobold lives alone, he is not in and the door is locked. Also his immediate neighbours appear to be missing as well. If the players ask further afield they will learn that several tenants went out on the town the day before, it's a common event if they are all between assignments at the same time. Unfortunately the Stormer they speak to was still working. They haven't been back since, again not an uncommon occurrence.

The neighbour can give a few names of Uptown bars to try (including The Pit) and the players can spend the better part of a day trawling through the bars before finding Kobold slumped over a bowl of pretzels in The Throttled Thresher, a basement dive catering mostly to the lower end of the Op market.

In his Sloshed™ state the Ops can get little information from him, and if they try to intimidate or rough it out of him he will be driven to brawling (and don't forget that the five Stormer mates he's with will of course join in). Ops should note that killing a Stormer because he got a little feisty will call for a great deal of paperwork.

Remembrance

Several hours ploughing through the crowds and cues of The Hall of Remembrance BPN hall will fail to locate Solicitude. This isn't surprising as she's not there.

Solicitude Again

Whilst her mobile is switched off the Operatives can get a message to her via Baxters or through a personal call. If they haven't made the connection with Baxters then she will ring them after speaking to her apartment manager about the cleaning company and being told that they were looking for her. Either way she will ask the players to meet her there as she is in the process of a pore cleansing process and going out in the rain will ruin it all. If the players disagree then a PERSUASION or INTIMIDATE roll will be required to get her to leave and meet them at their chosen location.

If they go along to Baxters she (and Fate) will arrange to meet them in the hotel restaurant. The doorman of Baxters will not permit any operative to enter in armour heavier than Blocker, explaining that the weight of powered armour would crack the marble floor of the lobby. If the players insist he will refer them to Sections 1.6.2 and 1.8 of the Operatives Handbook and ask for their corrected sanctioned SLA Industries Release and agreement to meet replacement costs, which since it requires import from Sallangal currently runs at 480 Credits per square meter (it's a speech he performs many times). If they are armed he will also request that any guns be left with the cloakroom for similar repair concerns.

The restaurant is of high quality, both Solicitude and Fate are eating, and a waiter will ask for the Ops order. A glance at the menu will see that if they wish to eat it will cost them upwards of 10 Credits. The Ebons will not offer to pay, after all they are aware that the players are investigating the for something and that could be seen as a bribe. Nicole will be devastated by news of Oswalds death, they have been friends since Meny. She cannot believe that he would be turned by DarkNight, they have seen the devastation caused by DarkNight too many times to believe a recruiter.

If asked about the Black BPN that killed half of their Squad she will be upset and inform them that they were foolish and took a gamble, they wanted a boost to their SCL and didn't believe that they were really as bad as the media made out. They soon found out that they were. They found the manchine they were looking for in Lower Downtown and it ripped the Squad apart. After it had killed two members and wounded all those that were left they destroyed it by burying it under an explosion, one which buried them too. They spent two days under it before Shivers dug them out and confirmed the death of the manchine, never did find Reflection though. She and Oswald got hospitalised and didn't work for three weeks after that what with therapy and osteopaths.

Mind Games

If the players check for details of the medical records on this recovery they will find that they have not been provided with any. A few calls around the departments (or to Control) will have the records send by courier to their apartments after a few hours to locate and retrieve them (ah Bureaucracy). Otherwise COMPUTER USE will be able to locate the same records, once authorisation has been received (the same calls required). Of course they could always use COMPUTER SUBTERFUGE to gain access which will save time, but hacking SLA databases is never a good idea.

The records one copies are received or printed out speak of routine mind and body works, talk of posttraumatic stress and fractures which are all signed off as healed. In deed both Operatives had their statutory six month mental health checks a couple of months ago and were verified as perfectly sane. Both the Doctors concerned (Dr Lieberdaum and Dr Surillian) will talk to the players by telephone or E-mail and confirm no lasting ill effects (after a long wait of course, they are busy men).

Hello

By now the investigation has probably taken a couple of days and the payers are about due to wrap it up with a clean bill of health for the Squad (well apart from that Drugs thing). Which is about the right time for someone to shoot them.

The attack will take place on the entire group when they least expect it, perhaps when stopping for a bite to eat or relaxing in a sauna. The attacker is Jordge, an Operative, although I leave the details and abilities entirely up to you in order that you can arrange a fair match for your Squad (but it can't be an Ebb User). The attack should make full use of the Operatives skills and weaponry, sniping and grenades should be preferred though a melee assault will work if the players are few in numbers.

Note that any attack in Uptown or Central will soon attract the attentions of SHIVER teams and Dark Finders, and to the untrained eye a melee will seem to be a case of a Squad attacking a single Op and they may side with the assassin.

After the assault the assassin can be inspected, identification is as easy as checking his SCL badge, which with a few enquiries will reveal his name and that of his squad "Suger Rush". Jordge will be a complete unknown to them although one of the Operatives will have a vague memory of seeing him walking in the hall outside his apartment/street outside his home this morning. This will be whichever Operative gave his details when requesting access to the medical records. In fact their assailant has been following him, waiting for the group to gather and be off guard.

If Jordge is taken alive he will faint into some form of coma. Use of MEDICAL skill will find no physical reason for this. Ebb users making use of a Mind Read ability of Ebb Communications will find that his mind has regressed to childhood, this can be cured but only after long sessions of psychology putting it outside of this BPNs scope. If the Ebb user is skilled enough to have a really good dig around in there (Rank 13 - Mind Read 3) then they will find that this regression was caused by a deeply planted post-hypnotic suggestion. It has been done very well and any attempt to work their way through his mental barriers will cause Jordge to go into a life threatening spasm.

Checking with his fellow squad members (Brutal, Paragon and Raze) will learn that they are currently looking for Jordge as he wandered off in the middle of a BPN. They were engaged in a White in Uptown when he received a phone call, next thing they knew he was disappearing in a cab without a word of explanation.

Jordge still has his telephone on him and they can check the number of the last caller by using a laptop, a chippy lead and a COMPUTER SUBTERFUGE roll (or a call to the Department of Communications with the BPN number). Once the number is gained contacting the Departments of Architecture, Construction & Planning or Enquiries will learn that the number (897-433-81251) is listed as an external line to 24 Antediluvian, offices registered to The Department of Psychology & Psychosis. It is an external line and could originate from any of 80 internal extensions. Tracking down the exact one will take a COMPUTER SUBTERFUGE roll with a -4 penalty. The exact extension is registered as the office of a Dr Lieberdaum.

Checking their records will reveal that Dr Lieberdaum carried out Jordge's last psychology examination. He is also given as the doctor who carried out tests on Oswald Lee, the original assassin.

If the Operatives don't think to check up on the telephone call have them chase loose ends for a number of hours before they are contacted by Surgeon-Lieutenant Havers of Shiver station 24 to inform them that a thorough autopsy of Jordge and have found traces of PDPS114 a psychotropic drug which has the effect of making the recipient highly susceptible to suggestion. It was in the advanced stages of being breaking down into the body and would have been administered some weeks ago. It's a heavily licensed and policed drug and the only legal uses of such a drug are in research, treatment of psychological disorders and military purposes.

Checking Jordges records at this point will discover that he underwent his 6 monthly check up with a Dr Lieberdaum four weeks ago and the connection to Oswald's check up.

The Doctor will see you now

If telephoned Dr Lieberdaum will agree to meet them at his office to discuss the matter, or they can just go there immediately. The doormen at the offices on Antediluvian will again hassle Operatives for warrants (the offices are SLA property and all) and will also dissuade them from trapsing through in Heavy Powered armour.

When they finally confront Dr Lieberdaum they are confronted with a well presented man in his fifties who appears calm enough, He is sitting behind his desk and will enter into a conversation calmly. He will attempt to bluff it out offering a number of incomprehensible explanations for his legitimate use of the drug on Jordge, any Operative without the PSYCHOLOGY skill at level 6 or more will have great difficulty understanding half of what he says but it "sounds" legitimate. Those with the skill will, on a skill roll, realise that about 80% of it is true but it just doesn't quite add up. If they threaten the good doctor or try to take him away he will inform his secretary "Sandra, could you rearrange all my appointments booked this today, and you'd better cancel Mr Shikelgrubber". At this point with a "Yes, of course sir" Sandra will draw a GA47 10mm from her desk draw and open fire on the Operatives.

Sandra is also acting out a buried suggestion, and is no combat monkey, use standard civilian statistics with no Pistol skill. However in the confusion the doctor will press a button on his palmtop before attempting to escape.

PUNCH - STAB - SHOOT - CAPTURE

The Palmtop appears to be running a complicated procedure, it is e-mailing a number of files and as it sends each one it runs an editing programme then appears to delete the file. A COMPUTER SUBTERFUGE roll at -2 will stop the process. The files appear to consist of Operatives psychological files along with key phrases to trigger the psychconditioning installed during routine 6 monthly checks, it appears to have been going on a couple of years. The files that have already been sent have been deleted and cannot be retrieved (no there's no Rubbish Bin). The editing programme was taking the medical history and altering the name of the Doctor who inspected the Operative, in other words removing Lieberdaums's name and replacing it with a random valid psychiatrist. This prevents simply finding the identities of implanted Operatives by checking caseload.

If a trace program is run on the e-mail an address for the receiving Oyster terminal will eventually be found, but by the time any one arrives it will just be an empty apartment in suburbia with little trace of the previous owners (though that could be a follow up BPN).

As long as the programme is stopped before it finishes then some Operative names will be recovered. Also if the good doctor is taken alive he will undergo thorough "de-briefing". This will gain a number of names of Operative, although the good doctor can't remember them all, there has been a lot. They will learn that he normally waits until the drug has completely left their system by after ringing around Jordge was the only one close enough to intercept the players. When Cloak pull in any Operatives named for deprogramming they will clear up a number of assassinations attributed to DarkNight over the past year or so. The Operatives don't remember these actions, having just killed someone Darknight wanted dead and gone home, but its locked in their minds somewhere and Cloak will eventually drag it out.

Of course somewhere out there are a number of Operatives with a trigger phrase still active, and someone in DarkNight has the trigger. The doctor if taken alive will reveal his Darknight associates but again this will lead nowhere.

However the Operative Squad have completed their BPN for today.

NOTE 1: Yes it should have been called "Tell me about your mother" but that would have given it away.

NOTE 2: Of course I would never suggest that a player Operative has a DarkNight trigger.