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14 September 2015 @ 09:51 am
DELTA GREEN post-opera reports  
I ran a Delta Green game for three years (about eight months of which was active play time), and one of the things I did for the game was write a bit of flavor text after every mission that F Cell went on. They're all stored on a private Facebook group at the moment, but since I don't trust Facebook to keep them safe, I'm going to reproduce them all here for posterity.

I'm pretty proud of a couple of them, especially the writeups for Night Floors, Future/Perfect, Let's Learn Aklo, and Younger Than the Mountains. The names below are all the names of the scenarios, if you want to look up the context yourself.

1) PUPPET SHOWS AND SHADOW PLAYS
[Spoiler (click to open)]It was a simply missing persons case. But nothing is ever simple, isn't it? Ever since that horrible day and the even more horrible morning--the day where a man with half his skull blown away, his neck reduced to vertibrae and both his legs broken still fought on and the morning where a corpse say up in the morgue and tried to kill you--your worldview has been turned upside down. "Alien technology" is what the woman in the Fire Museum had said, but is that it? Is this what humans can expect, if they ever leave Earth and spread to the stars? Murderous corpses, cannibalism, madness and death?


When Sheriff Colorados invited you to attend the funerals of Officers Blackfoot, Sanchez and Young, murdered while on duty at San Carlos Reservation Police Station, you accepted. Though you were worried that it would bring up painful memories, the ceremonies were surprisingly peaceful. You were even more surprised when he invited you to attend the funeral of Emmanuel Santana. Though you couldn't tell Colorados what had really happened (and 15 minutes of footage from the hospital security cameras had somehow been erased...), he seemed to believe that the laughing madman who had crucified one college student on vacation, mutilated another and murdered three more had not truly been him. There was no body to bury, but the ceremony was held in the desert of the San Carlos Reservation, which Santana had loved and had spent his last years living peacefully in.

When the ceremony ended, you're positive you heard a coyote howl, somewhere in the distance.

And so the case ends, at least for you. For Blackfoot, Sanchez and Young, there will be no more cases. Of the two surviving students in the vacation house, you hear that one was hamstrung and will never walk again, and the other is still in the hospital recovering from severe injuries. The SWAT team members who Santana murdered. Kenneth Braverman, and his wife and children. And the dozens, or maybe hundreds, of others, stretching back in a bloody trail from Arizona to West Virginia, and before that, to the stars.

And what of you? What of your own injuries? You know now that what you thought about the world was a lie, and there are terrible things out there that you have no comprehension of. You lie awake at night, and wonder what was it that came in that sphere? What was the sphere in the first place? Who were those men who subdued the risen Santana and bore away the body?

You hope that in working for DELTA GREEN, you can find the answers. But a part of you, sometimes larger, sometimes smaller, is sure that you really don't want to.

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DELTA GREEN operation STARDUST TRAIL
Status: CLOSED
Notes: F-Cell restaffed to full strength. New assignments to begin shortly.


2) LAST THINGS LAST
[Spoiler (click to open)]This time, it was simple.


Clyde Baughman. Served with Delta Green 11 years. That, in itself, is comforting. After the abattoir of last mission, you had privately worried that you had signed your own death warrant when you agreed to join the organization calling itself DELTA GREEN.

The house was easy to get into, and mostly empty, except for the statue you found. It's there, in the glove compartment of FENTON's car right now, gazing malevolently at the engine block. The cabin in the woods was easy to find and easy to sweep, but you still wonder. What was it in the septic tank that required it be padlocked from the outside? Why wasn't there any actual sewage in there? What were all the notes in Baughman's footlocker about essential salts and calling things up and stones being changed in grounds?

What about the recording, with the church praying? Is "Saint Yig" the same Yig mentioned in the chapter FENTON found from Unaussprechlichen Kulten, on the webpage that was there one day and gone the next? What relation does that have to essential salts? Does it? What about the statue? Are any of them related to each other?

No answers, only questions. And maybe that's all you can hope for.

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DELTA GREEN operation REQUIEM

Status: CLOSED


3) NIGHT FLOORS
[Spoiler (click to open)]Le Roi en Jaune.

It haunts your dreams.

Danya Reid dreams of endless corridors, and somewhere in the distance, she can hear a child crying. As she runs after it, the crying changes until it's the unmistakable voice of her son, calling for his mother. But no matter how far or how fast she runs, the voice never gets any closer, and she finally collapses from exhaustion as she wakes. Every time, she hurries to her son's room to check on him, and every time, he's safe and asleep in his bed. And every time, the terror that he won't be is just as fresh as it was the first time.

Fay Hendricks dreams of doors opening onto rooms with doors onto more rooms, in an endless cavalcade. And as she searches for a way out, the number of doors in each room grows fewer and fewer, until finally she enters a room with no doors but the one through which she came, and when she turns to go back, she finds that that door has also vanished and in its place is the terrible Yellow Sign. She wakes in a cold sweat, and checks to make sure that the door to her bedroom is still open, and that the hallway of her apartment is, indeed, still on the other side.

And Jason Cooper dreams of climbing stairs. Going up and up, through landings and hallways and stairwells, on and on until finally he stands in front of a door with the word SUPERINTENDENT written on it cursive yellow script. And as he throws open the door, he sees a giant chamber open to the stars, with three moons shining down on a pyramidal series of steps. On top of those steps is a throne, and on that throne is a man wearing a yellow robe made of a thousand streaming tatters and a pallid mask.

You can't tell your therapists about it, of course. What would you say? So you dream, and fear, and hope, alone.

Abigail Wright's case will probably never be solved. She's still listed as missing, but you know that's not true. You know exactly where she is. Up on the sixth floor, where the party never ends, with that asshole who sells encyclopedias.

David Langford spent some time in a mental institution, but he has since returned home to his wife. He quit his job as a cable technician and now runs a small business out of his home, where perhaps, the architecture won't prove quite so mutable.

The tenants of the Macallistar Building were also committed to a mental institution, you've heard. By day, they are confused and listless, but by night they are regal and composed, demanding to know what has happened and ordering the staff to return them upstairs. It is uncertain that they will ever be released. Something of Carcosa, if indeed that it was it is, seems to remain inside them.

And perhaps, inside you. Despite your dreams, you still experience a small thrill every time you open an unfamiliar door. Maybe this time you'll find the smoking lounge on the other side, with its champagne and hors d'oeuvres on tables and the Night Manager, smiling, telling you that your room is ready. Even as you know you can't leave everything behind, and even as you've seen what happened to the people who did, a part of you still wants to.

And you wonder if death is really the worst thing you have to worry about when you work for DELTA GREEN.
Songs that the Hyades shall sing,

Where flap the tatters of the King,
Must die unheard in
Dim Carcosa.

Song of my soul, my voice is dead;
Die thou, unsung, as tears unshed
Shall dry and die in
Lost Carcosa.

-“The King in Yellow,” Act I, Scene ii

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DELTA GREEN operation FUNHOUSE ASYLUM
Status: CLOSED
Outlays: Funds sufficient to purchase the MACALLISTER BUILDING.
Notes
  • Cell reports indicate WONDERLAND scenario may be due to influence of designate TATTERDEMALION. MACALLISTER BUILDING should be monitored every two (2) months for six (6) months to confirm removal of influence. F-Cell will not be assigned to any known TATTERDEMALION-related operation for at least one (1) year following operational close.

  • Friendly ANTHONY SANTORELLI proved extremely helpful in swift containment of MACALLISTER BUILDING after F-Cell's initial reports. Including his performance in operation PUZZLE PALACE, recommend that he be promoted to full Agent to fill current vacancy in K-Cell.


4) WATER/RETENTION
[Spoiler (click to open)]Danger is part of your job description, but not danger like this.


FELICITY remembers the face of David Yeung as he threw his hand out toward her and how, just for a moment, she felt a little larger--a little rounder, a little bloated--before a short burst of bullets sent him lifelessly to the ground. FIONA remembers driving the crane and and how effortlessly easy it was. One moment the cultist was alive and chanting from The Goddess of the Black Fan, and the next he was lying in a crumpled heap on the ground. From life, to death, in the blink of an eye. And FENTON, well...

FENTON will bear the scars from that encounter in the alleyway for the rest of his life. If FIONA hadn't been so fast with her first aid, or if the thing--the thing that FELICITY still insists on calling the "pterodactyl"--had been just a little tougher, or faster, FENTON wouldn't have any more life to be scarred. His new nickname at the office is "hero" now, and Jenny on the third floor has been giving him more than passing glances since he came back, but none of that really matters. In the grand scheme of things.

It is one thing to have a dead body rise and try to kill you. One awful thing, it's true, but zombies are well-known in literature and film. Whatever that monster in the alleyway was, you've never seen anything like it before. And the other monster in the warehouse, horribly silent even as it fought for its life...well, perhaps it's better than FENTON wasn't there.

The ending was far more of a fireworks display than anyone expected, but at least it was neatly wrapped up. An entire gang basically eliminated, its source of power broken, the leader killed, the murders stopped. Open, and shut. Pack the file away in the drawer in the far corner and forget about it.

But one question remains. Who is Stephen Alzis?

FENTON has done some digging in the months since operation EASTERN CONNECTION. From what he's been able to find out, Stephen Alzis does not exist. There is, literally, no record of him at all in any database FENTON has access to, but of course, he was indisputably there.

A month after you all returned home, FELICITY noticed an article in the paper that she clipped out and sent to FENTON and FIONA. It was about one Jacob Morsley, a promising stockbroker in his early 30s who died unexpectedly after a fall from his 31st story apartment through windows which weren't designed be opened. It seems that Alzis was sincere that Morsley would be "dealt with."

At the time, you were far too busy to think about those words you had heard in the nightmare hallways above the Macallister Building, but on the ride home, the words come flooding back. Words that, at the time, were meaningless to you, but now make you wonder just exactly what they portend.

Alzis believes the Emperor is missing.

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DELTA GREEN operation EASTERN CONNECTION
Status: CLOSED
Notes:
  • Agent FELICITY's report highly praised friendly SAMUEL KWAN of the NYPD for his discretion and helpfulness. FELICITY suggests KWAN be promoted to active field agent. KWAN will be promoted to fill expected vacancy in M CELL following RETIREMENT of AGENT MURRAY.

  • To be appended to record: F-CELL was forced to contact PARIAH during course of OPERA.



5) FUTURE/PERFECT
[Spoiler (click to open)]It's nice to have things go the way you expect for once, even if that way is still horrible.


You knew that there was something there from the past who killed those two people. You were expecting some kind of giant prehistoric bird from the tracks you found...but come to think of it, that is a technically accurate description of a dinosaur, isn't it?

When that thing appeared, it was terrifying, but it wasn't the same sort of terror that the "pterodactyl" or the "demon" inspired. Dinosaurs are a known quantity, even if they don't usually appear in Death Valley. And it bled when shot, and tried to run. You even, just for a moment, felt a little bad.

What must it have thought in those last moments? Hurled 150 million years out of its element, forced to survive in a world totally alien to it. Sand instead of lush jungles, and small pink things with terrible weapons. It was an animal, of course, and so hunting was its in nature, and it just as certain had to be stopped if no more people were to die, but if you were in a situation so alien to you, what would you do to survive? You like to think that you'd be calm and collected, but you aren't so sure.

FIONA goes home bitter. Any of those discoveries--the meganeura, the strange fern-like plants, and especially the recent dinosaur body--could have permanently forged her a place in the scientific community...as long as no one asked where she got them. That's the triumph, and the tragedy, of DELTA GREEN, she thinks. You work in the shadows so that people can live their lives without fear, but they'll never thank you, and you can never show them what you've learned.

FENTON remembers the brief instant of horrific pain as the teeth shattered his ribcage and carved through his lungs, but he also remembers diving out of the way at the last moment and the clacking sound as the jaws closed on nothing. What really happened? Obviously he's alive...or is he? Is this, as cliche as it sounds, all a dream, or some kind of hallucination before death? Was there some lingering effect on time from the Gate? He plunges himself into his books, and tries to forget, and--mostly--succeeds.

FELICITY is the least scarred. Her job is done, and while it was unnerving operating UNDER THE RADAR, she didn't have to do anything that could come back to haunt her. But when her son develops every child's fascination with dinosaurs, she passes the responsibility of feeding that fascination off to her husband. The television shows where dinosaurs hunt each other hit just a little too close to home for her to be comfortable watching them yet.

You wonder if whoever (or whatever) built the Gate underneath the ruins of Hunt Electrodynamics was planning when they made a connection 300 million years into the past. What really happened during the accident that destroyed the plant? Was the Gate active this whole time, or did Potter activate it when he took the golden cube out of the Gate?

Those are questions for A CELL now. You'll have to do your best to put it out of your head and get on with your lives, at least until the invitation comes for another Night at the Opera.

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DELTA GREEN Operation DRY HEAT
Status: CLOSED
Notes
  • Agent KENNY will investigate opera location at three (3) month intervals to be sure no aftereffects remain and that no NORWEGIANS have discovered gate location.

  • S CELL will investigate further reports and make sure no PANDORAS survived the opera's FINAL ACT.



6) A FALL OF MOONDUST
[Spoiler (click to open)]Well, that was horrible.


You keep thinking about all the things you could have done differently. What if you had waited until nightfall to go to the farmhouse? What if you had had your guns drawn in the basement instead of having to take time to draw them? What if you had done a better job securing the location?

What if, what if, what if.

It is, perhaps, a matter of how much you've learned, and how much you've changed, that you do not ask yourself how Stephen Alzis appeared in the middle of a heavily-guarded military encampment and secured your release. The more important question is why. Why would he bother to let you out? Is he working with MAJESTIC? A CELL did call him PARIAH, and they said he was dangerous, but they didn't say why.

Alzis believes the Emperor is missing.

Five seconds before you asked that question, you had been sure that he was going to leave you to die. Three seconds after asking it, you were half-sure he was going to kill you himself. But then there was the walk out, and the guards who never noticed you no matter how obvious you thought you were. And, of course, the favor...but you'll have to deal with that when the time comes.

In the face of all this, the lights in the sky seem almost trivial in comparison. You already knew, after all, that there other beings out there, among the stars. You had seen the handiwork of one, in the dismembered bodies of four Apache shamans, three San Carlos Reservation police officers, four university students, Kenneth Braverman, the body by the lake (whose name you never learned), and all the others you had read about. If these visitors were anything like that one, lurking in a body it stole from humans and dedicated to terror and death, it is perhaps for the best that you didn't get too close.

You're sure that's not the last you've seen of MAJESTIC, though. They have the military on their side, and that's far more than DELTA GREEN seems to have. At least next time, you'll be more careful.

You'll have to be. You doubt Alzis will be there to rescue you next time.

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DELTA GREEN Operation FLYSWATTER
Status: OPEN / EARLY TERMINATION
Notes
  • F CELL was forced to exit the opera before the FINAL ACT. L CELL will return and continue investigation after Operation GEORGIAN RENAISSANCE is completed. Due to MAJESTIC presence, this Opera will take place a minimum of two (2) weeks after the receipt of F CELL's report.


7) WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN
[Spoiler (click to open)]The car was still warm--she obviously had been there only recently. You can imagine her pouring over the maps and diagrams in her car, going back and forth with the containers of chalk and iron and ytterbium, building a design in the snow and then...


...and then, what? Gasping on an alien world, her lungs burning as she breathes poisonous air? Floating in the cold void of space? Vanishing instantly in the heart of a star?

You'll probably never know.

Whatever it was that came through afterwards was awful, but you can't help but feel a little pity for it. Ripped out of its element, struggling to breathe, dying alone as bizarre smooth pink things stared at it in horror. The thought crosses your mind that it could have been you, if you hadn't thrown that rock across the border of the circle. May be you, if you aren't careful next time.

Professor Magdalena Valladares' credit card info will turn up soon enough, and the Galesburg police will treat it as a missing persons case, or a kidnapping, or whatever it is they decide. It doesn't matter. You're positive that she'll never be found, and in the end, her only memorial will be a file sitting in a drawer with the tag "whereabouts unknown."

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DELTA GREEN operation BROKEN BIRD
Status: CLOSED
NOTES
  • Agent ANDREA will retrieve relevant documents from GREEN BOX and send them to XIAN to catalogue and determine any extra-mundane capabilities.



8) CONVERGENCE
[Spoiler (click to open)]Billy Ray Spivey. Johnny, at Mabel's Shut-eye. Anne, at the diner. The waitress. The mass that was once the aldermen. The people lying the streets in pools of their own blood on the way out of town. When you shut your eyes at night, they're looking at you. Silently. You tell them that you didn't know that would happen, that you were trying to save them, that it was the fate of the world...but somehow, your pleas don't seem enough.


The CDC internally indicated that it was an outbreak of Ebola, or a previously unknown virus with Ebola-like symptoms. Try as she might, FIONA can't find any mention of it in the press. It seems that MAJESTIC covers its tracks well.

And what were they doing in Groversville? Or were they doing anything at all? The inside of the barn looked a lot like the strange column of flesh that had attacked them in Adams' hotel room, and the base the greys had set up had been very close to the water supply. Aliens performing experiments on humans with the government's tacit acquiensce was so cliche that it seemed unbelievable, but even in situations like this, Occam's Razor still applied.

That still left questions, though. Just what was that horrible flying thing, like a cross between a crab, an insect and a plant, that had attacked them? Were those also in league with MAJESTIC? Was MAJESTIC a human enemy at all, or...something else?

A question FIONA also asks about herself, as she slowly runs out of tests to perform. Something has essentially replaced the entirity of her digestive tract. Or possibly coated it, but there's no way to find out for sure without bringing in someone else to perform the surgery. Every time she considering asking someone--anyone--she gets as far as the word NORWEGIAN and then stops. Some things are better kept to oneself, she thinks over her single daily meal in the morning. Talking too much will just leads to trouble for everyone.

As she puts the dish in the sink and gets ready to head to work, it hits her just how appropriate that really is.

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DELTA GREEN operation STEEL HOUND
Status: CLOSED
NOTES
  • Professor Emerson has been sent an active sample of the ODDBALL from STEEL HOUND. Expect the report in two (2) months.



9) THE REPAIRER OF REPUTATIONS
[Spoiler (click to open)]They were cultists, you say to yourself. Victoria vanished to another world. They were planning to destroy the world, or change it so much that it makes no difference. There were no world wars in that other world, but no Civil Rights movement or decolonization either, and the "Imperial States of America" is certainly an ominous name. And regardless of its quality, tearing down the entire world and replacing it with something else is exactly the sort of threat DELTA GREEN exists to fight.


For FELICITY and FIONA that is enough, but FENTON lies awake at night wondering if they were really such a threat. The last cult F Cell encountered had murdered multiple people with eldritch sorcery, kidnapped a woman and sacrificed her to the Goddess of the Black Fan, had tried to kill F Cell itself with monsters summoned from God knows where, and had been involved in the drug trade, though bad as that is it seems small potatoes compared to their other crimes. The Brotherhood of the Yellow Sign was guilty of...making people's lives better. Like Javier Trujillo, or Danny Walczak. Like that high school student who was being bullied.

What if he had been in the house? F Cell was too far away to see everyone who went in. They were all members of the cult, but who were "they"?

It was too late to find out now. Unless Monsieur Castaigne is willing to talk, but first you'd have to find him. ANDREA had said you were to consider the Opera complete, but you can't. Not as long as Castaigne is alive. Even beyond whether he's related to the Night Manager of the Macallister Building, he was obviously the center around which the Brotherhood turned and the wellspring of their sorcerous power. What's to prevent him from gathering another group of malcontents around himself and trying again?

You only hope A Cell has an answer to that, because you certainly don't.

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DELTA GREEN operation MIDNIGHT SUNDANCE
Status: CLOSED*
NOTES
  • Sent a note informing FRIENDLY ALEJANDRO VARGAS about the FINAL ACT of MIDNIGHT SUNDANCE. He will need to keep his OPERA GLASSES ready.



10) THE EMPEROR IS MISSING
[Spoiler (click to open)]The fire still burned in the brick fireplace, sending a bright red glow over the sparsely-appointed room. In front of the fire was a high-backed chair and an end-table covered with densely-scrawled papers and a single half-empty wineglass. The hands of the antique grandfather clock in the corner were slowly ticking their way towards two in the morning. A mahogany bookcase groaned under the weight of books on psychology, sociology, military strategy, criminology, and stranger things. A book with no title, just a stylized snake or worm on the spine. "The Calaeno Fragments" by one Professor Laban Shrewsbury. And in the center, a book with the volumnious title, "Ye BOOK of ye MAD ARAB, translated into ye ENGLISH by JOHN DEE, with divers COMMENTARY."


In the chair, phone in hand, sat an old man. He was in his 70s or 80s, in an elegant dressing gown over understated pijamas, with a cell phone held up to his ear. His hand shook occasionally as the conversation continued, but his eyes were bright as he stared into the fire.

"Yes, of course, I'm just unclear why-" He paused for a long moment. "No, you are correct, that was the deal, but this isn't one of our operations. I understand that you're doing this as a favor, but..." There was a moment of silence and then the man in the chair chuckled. "Very well, if you insist. Goodbye."

As he placed the phone on the end table, there came the sound of a key in a lock, followed by heels clicking on the wooden floor. The man turned towards the door to the room and waited.

He had only waited a moment when a woman entered. She was immaculate, even severe. Her suit was pressed to a knife edge, her bun didn't have a single hair out of place, and her face was unlined by smiles. She might have been in her mid-thirties, but her expression made her look older.

"Is Agent JARED enjoying his retirement package?" the man asked.

The woman nodded. "There may be some difficulty from JEROME, but I can deal with that when it comes. Who were you talking to?"

"PARIAH." As the woman's eyes narrowed, he raised a hand. "He called me. He wanted to discuss some business F Cell had with him."

"F Cell again." She sniffed. "You're getting soft in your old age."

"As a personal favor to an 'old friend,' " it might have been amusement in the man's voice, but it was so faint as to be nearly undetectable, "he informed us that he had called F Cell to New York to repay a favor they owed him, and that he was satisfied with their performance and commended me on finding such capable assistants."

"They're approaching retirement age, then?"

The man nodded. "Perhaps. You can't deny that they have been effective, though, other than that cock-up with FLYSWATTER. And they're tied for lowest mortality rate with Y and E cells."

"It might be best to separate them," the woman said. "J Cell will need a new leader. So will T Cell, if that report that came in is accurate."

"Make them all cell leaders? You must be joking."

"If they are that effective, we'd do better spreading them out to cover more areas."

He shook his head. "And have the leaders of three cells who all know each other? What happens if MAJESTIC gets a hold of them?"

There was a long pause. "I want to keep a closer eye on them, then," the woman said. "Let me deal with their assignments for the next few operas. Anyone who draws PARIAH's interest is someone we need to watch like a hawk."

"Very well." He chuckled. "Just make sure the coals you drag them over aren't too hot."

The cell phone rang three times, loud in the sudden silence, then stopped. The man looked over and frowned. "Excuse me." As the woman walked out, he picked up the phone and dialed a number. The phone had only been at his ear a moment when he said, "ALPHONSE."

Unattended, the fire slowly died down until only coals remained.


11) SPECIAL AGENT
[Spoiler (click to open)]How do they do it? How can we stop them?

Those are the questions that keep echoing through your mind. Whoever--whatever--it was that had looked out at FENTON from behind Dale Meadows' eyes, it had made a mockery of DELTA GREEN's security protocols, had intimate knowledge of your own missions, and managed to get away without a trace.

You recognize the signs. It happened before, in that far future of the Land, in the great library of the Last Redoubt. The thing that had talked to you had been unable to speak the Master Word--the true, uncorruptable mark of humanity, a fragmented memory adds, even as it adds the capitalization--even as it sounded human. The other had barely managed to masquerade as human at all. Agent ORPHEUS, however, had been perfect, other than those few slips, and those didn't raise enough suspicion.

Could you be next? Can you stop it if it happened? How would the other cell members even know? And what would A Cell do to you if they found out? Just one more thing to keep you up at night.

------------------------------

NOTES
  • Agent XAVIER will check in at one (1) month intervals for two (2) years to remain sure that PANDORA remains a PHILISTINE. We don't need any modern-day Dr. Peaslees.



12) A VICTIM OF THE ART
[Spoiler (click to open)]MAJESTIC. Motherfucking MAJESTIC. Every opera they even remotely touch turns to pure shit.


First was that mess in Arizona, with the sphere and the helicopter explosion and a Captain Thorne who's been dead for nearly a decade. Then the disaster in Maine, where you fled with your tails between your legs and lied your asses off to A Cell to avoid being hauled out behind the chemical shed. Then Groversville.

When you close your eyes, you still remember walking into the diner. The half-eaten food on the plates. The orange juice splashed across the floor. A single shoe, kicked off and lying a foot away from its owner. The horrific stench, and the buzzing of flies in the hot summer air.

And now, three teenagers and two adults are dead, a town is in an uproar, and MAJESTIC swooped in and buttoned everything down long enough for Bush or Gore to say something and the media to jump on that and forget about Del Mar completely. There'll probably be something in the paper in a few months, buried on the inside pages next to a used car advertisement, and everyone will forget about it.

"Watch the Skies!", indeed.

You're as sure as you can be that Thomas Dengler was the source of all the deaths, but the question you don't know is whether he was responsible for them. Was he the mastermind, cruelly plotting to kill the librarian who slighted him for talking in the library and the girl who turned down his request for a date, or was it all unconscious, and a dentist who was only trying to help fell victim to the whims of a teenage boy? With the amulet destroyed (at A Cell's direction...) and the boy dead, you'll never know for sure.

There's a familiar refrain.

FENTON pores over the documents he swiped from the San Diego Green Box, and after hours of study, he's struck by the similarities he finds between the rituals of the Chimu, the ritual in the Goddess of the Black Fan, and the descriptions of the way to call the "winged demons" in the Revelations of Hali. But there are huge differences, too. Each ritual has major components that aren't mentioned at all in the other rituals, and which is right? Are any of them? Or would he be putting his life in danger because of the ravings of madmen if he were to try any of them.

Sometimes, when he's walking home at night, he finds himself glancing upward towards Aldebaran and the Hyades, even when they aren't visible against the city's glow.
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DELTA GREEN operation COBALT SHADOW
Status: OPEN / COMPROMISED
NOTES
  • Agent RAJIV will continue to monitor the situation and send reports to A CELL every two (2) weeks until OPERA ENDGAME. He will also schedule recovered documents to be sent to XIAN for correlation and study.

  • F CELL seems to have a talent for attracting MAJESTIC. Perhaps we can use that to our advantage. -J


13) DARKEST CALLING
[Spoiler (click to open)]When you die--and the longer you're a part of DELTA GREEN, the more you are that it'll be when, not if--you want to go out like John Takoda did. Head held high, doing what you have to do. One last bonfire lit against the darkness.


But in the end, you can't escape the feeling that he died in vain. Those...things...were invisible, and you can still feel the pain of your eyes trying to understand the color of their blood, but in the face of modern human weaponry, they fared no better than anything else. But only two of them died. Three of them are still alive, bound under the earth by whatever rites Takoda's ancestors had passed down to him, but the ones you had to fight were released by an earthquake. You don't know how long Takoda's rites will affect the remaining creatures, and even if you did, it requires human sacrifice.

Not that you think that would bother your superiors, if it came to that.

FENTON goes home troubled. He is the only one of the Cell who would have actually liked to get a clear look at the things, and he can't remember anything. He was outside the well, manning the machine gun they had salvaged from the green box, listening to the horrible sound of dozens of legs scrabbling on stone, and then...the sky, and FELICITY standing over him with murder in her eyes. In war, they shot people for desertion in the face of the enemy, and for several nights FENTON wonders if there will be a knock on his door and a visit from another member of DELTA GREEN. But in time, as nothing happens, he puts it out of his mind. He has plenty to think about--Nyogtha, and Cthugha, and Hyperborea, and all the German dictionaries he's checked out that he doesn't seem to need to consult as often as someone who doesn't know German should.

FELICITY keeps turning the scenario over and over in her mind. What if FENTON hadn't run? What if one of Takoda's tribe members hadn't dropped his own gun? What if they had spread the C4 around more effectively? What if she had manned the machine gun herself? All in all, the creatures were contained with only a single civilian casualty, and after STEEL HOUND that's nothing, but Takoda didn't have to die. And after the last few, she could do with an Opera where no one died.

FIONA feels like a weight has been lifted from her shoulders. She didn't think that FELICITY would react badly to knowing that the Groversville water had had lingering effects on her, but there was always a nagging doubt in her mind. Now, she can finally lay it to rest...only for something else to take its place. Every time she catches the inner monologue of her interns, or hears the comments of people she passes in the halls of her apartment building, she withdraws a bit more into herself. The people who want to read minds are complete idiots, she knows now. No one would want to learn half of what she has about humanity in the last few months, and there's no one she can tell.

Not that that's a problem. After all, keeping secrets is the main reason for DELTA GREEN existence.

--------------

DELTA GREEN operation FURIOUS SANDSTORM
Status: CLOSED
NOTES
  • I CELL will return to Organ Pipe in six (6) and twelve (12) months to check up on the PANDORA(s) discovered during FURIOUS SANDSTORM. As CLEAN SWEEP was performed with NORWEGIAN involvement using ONYX PROTOCOLS, further information is necessary to ensure containment.

  • Contact Richard Takoda and find out what he knows. We may be able to make a Friendly out of him with a light touch, or figure out what his father knew. -R



14) LET'S LEARN AKLO
[Spoiler (click to open)]Six dead and no reason why. The reports said it was a new strain of rabies because that was the only thing that could fit the symptoms, but having seen the actual recording burned into the mirrors around the room, FIONA knows better. Before bed, alone in her apartment, she takes out the mirror shards and looks at them, willing them to show her something else. If a mirror doesn't have to reflect what's around it, she thinks, maybe it can reflect somewhere else. Maybe it can reflect anything.

It hasn't worked yet, but she knows it's just a matter of time.

FENTON thinks about Aklo. Merely trying to study Aklo drove those people murderously mad, but he's studied Aklo and he isn't mad. Maybe it was the words they were using...but what words were they? Aklo isn't like any language FENTON has ever heard of before. Saying even a single sentence is a struggle every time as he has to wrack his brain to remember the words. What if he gets it wrong, and next time it's FIONA clawing at his throat in a rage? With a sigh, he turns his attention back to the book in front of him. German, at least, he can understand.

And FELICITY hugs her son tight before bed, and though he's old enough now that he's slightly embarrassed by it, she insists. The image of that old woman keeps running through her head, and she thinks about another innocent, confused and afraid, lying alone on a hotel room bed, and a blond woman answering the door and telling her that the situation was in hand. The "Great Race," FENTON can called it when he told her what he had learned in those books he had. She had met them before in that nightmare tower in the far future--the Last Redoubt, lights shining alone in the endless night. But what did they want? And how can they be stopped?

She shivers as she thinks about that. About the man in the Redoubt who could not speak the Master Word. About an old woman leveling a garage door opener at them and pulling the trigger. The Great Race could be anyone. Anywhen. They could take her over tomorrow, making her dance to their strings in the service of their unknowable plans. Or her husband. Or her son.

Can they be stopped? Are all of them living their lives only at the incomprehensible whim of alien intellects? She cannot dismiss the thought as she might have once, so FELICITY climbs into bed and stares at the ceiling while her husband snores next to her, wondering how much of her mind is truly her own.

--------------------

DELTA GREEN Operation BLOOD DREAM
Status: CLOSED
NOTES
  • Keep an eye on the NORWEGIAN. ANDREA forgets that she's a representative's wife--RETIREMENT isn't the solution here.

  • Make sure Dr. Hsu follows up on the rabies cover to keep suspicion down. The PANDORA seemed to be contagious, but we're not sure how much or how far it spreads. It's not just a SMOKESCREEN here.


15) YOUNGER THAN THE MOUNTAINS
[Spoiler (click to open)]It's FENTON who finds it. After AGNES had mentioned that ALPHONSE was indisposed, he immediately suspected the worst and started scanning the obits in the Post. He figured that ALPHONSE would have to be a high-up government official, someone with access to a lot of information who was based in Washington and in a position to direct a country-wide "clandestine intergovernmental task force." Someone with a record of military service, based on what the Scions of Forever had told them about the organization's history and what he had experienced on the beaches of France. Someone with a record of the study of knowledge. But when he finds someone that fits those criteria, it's not what he expected at all, and he nearly skips past it before starting and peering closely at the newsprint.


Dr JOSEPH CAMP - (February 28, 1919 , September 1, 2003). Dr. Joseph Camp, a World War II veteran who later made a career in the civil service, most recently as Chief of the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress, died Monday after a sudden illness. He was 84.

FENTON puts down the paper and reaches for his phone, his fingers already dialing the numbers ingrained into his memory. FIONA and FELICITY need to hear about this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sky is bright and cheery as Dr. Camp is laid to rest. There was no service according to his wishes, and while the chaplain who speaks a few very short words about Dr. Camp's life says it is because he wanted to be interred as quickly as possible, the three members of F Cell are certain that there are other reasons. What is the point of hoping for rest in the arms of a loving god when all evidence they have is that what gods there are have no room for love at all?

As they wait in line to pay their respects, FELICITY notices a blond woman, her hair rigidly bound in a tight bun and dressed in unrelieved black, standing farther ahead in the line and talking to a man next to her. The voice sounds familiar, and as the woman half-turns and her profile becomes visible, her breath catches in her throat. She's heard the voice before, but always on the other end of a phone and always harsh. ANDREA.

She whispers to FIONA, and as the woman continues to turn, FIONA reaches out with her new talents. The ones granted to her by her time in the body of a hybrid, born half of Earth and half from the cloning tanks of the creatures that live on Pluto, rolling alone in the blackness on the edge of space. Or perhaps it was her time as the watcher in the Great Redoubt, gazing through the great lenses and waiting centuries for a brief twitch of a limb, a slight movement of an eyebrow. Or maybe it came from something else. She bares so many scars, now, and so many wounds that will never heal.

You cannot see us, she thinks as hard as she can. We are not here. We are part of the crowd. You cannot see us.

The storm-colored eyes pass straight over her and her friends and continue on, returning to the casket ahead of them as FIONA let out a breath she hadn't quite realized she was holding. There are always dangers, she thinks, lurking just under the surface. The world is an ocean with monsters swimming in the depths, and not all of them are inhuman. Not all of them are even on a different side.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Piotr Alexeivich Kazantsev looks down at the postcard that's appeared on the table in the middle of the barracks. The picture on the front depicts rolling green hills and shaded valleys, and he squints as he tries to remember his high school English. Something about...green? Green...it must be mountains, since that's what's on the picture, but he's so out of practice that he gives up after a moment and flips the card over, looking at the address. He sounds the letters out to himself, remembering what the general told him.

"Valentina!" he yells. "Your American boyfriend wrote to you!"

He places the note on the table as he hears the footsteps coming down the hall. These Americans are resourceful, he thinks, and if they're all like that group that was sent to the motherland, maybe a closer connection between GRU SV8 and this 'Delta Green' would be worthwhile. The general had certainly thought so.

He stubs out his cigarette as he thinks of the general. The incident with the Cold Man...it was bad business. But when he and Valentina had returned to Russian, Major Podovsky--General Podovsky now--was in command, the contamination had been purged. The general's ashes had been scattered and his grave contained another man's body. No corpse-gnawer would learn his secrets.

Valentina opened the door, the acrid smell of gunpowder preceeding her as she entered the room. Piotr wrinkled his nose. "Trouble?" he asked.

"A stupid man with more money than sense," she said dismissively. "Another fish for the general's hook. You called?"

He waved his hand at the table and she glanced over, blinking once as she saw the postcard. "This is-"

"I came in and found it there," he said. "Our friends are should be careful with fire before they get burned."

She flipped the card over, scanning it quick, and then smiled and tucked it into her pocket. "He left me his email address," she said. "And an invitation to dinner. I think I will take him up on it. I have always wanted to try Mexican food."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Thank you for agreeing to meet with me. Though I didn't expect you to be so young. Or a woman."

"Straight to business? Very well--yes, I do. We want to ally with you. To help you with your goals. We know, maybe better than you do, what the threat is and exactly how dangerous it can be. My subjects--my family--found that out, to their sorrow. In our own way, we have been defending this country since before its founding.

"Those files we've showed you aren't the entirety of what we've collected on MAJESTIC. We keep them in multiple places, multiply-redundant, but every place has only a portion of the total archive. We wanted anyone who managed to break the encyption and saw them to know that we knew enough to ruin them, but not all of what we knew. We are willing to share that knowledge with you. Project OUTLOOK. FEVER DREAM. The BLUE FLY operations. The Cookbook. We'll help keep you one step ahead of them, because they are leading this country to ruin and yours is the only objective worth pursuing.

"We offer our language as well. The tongue of Sarnath, unrelated to any of Earth's waking languages. Unbreakable to any who don't speak it. Not all of my people know it--only the inner circle. The royal family and the royal guard who could pass the Test of Waking. Only those who cannot traverse the Seven-Hundred Steps of Deeper Slumber were taught the language of Nargis-hei. We used codewords and military-grade encryption on our conversations in communication with our other agents, but you wouldn't need to take such drastic steps. Your messages would be indecipherable.

"Yes, agents. For generations, the people of Sarnath have went out to the military and the civil service. We have people in many places, mostly around Nargestown and Washington D.C., but some further afield. Even some abroad, who entered the foreign service. They are loyal to the line of Nargis-hei, a loyalty down to the bone that has survived more than one calamity. I can give you that loyalty.

"Only scant magicks remain to us, and most of what lore we know is only of academic use. Few of the old incantations are more than empty words outside the Dreamlands, but what little we know we can give you.

"That is what I can offer. We have nearly come to ruin, and the Detested One's vengeance will not be complete until the line of Nargis-hei is wiped from the worlds, both Waking and Dream. There are few of us left now, and most of those are in the lines fostered outside of Nargestown. But what is left, we dedicate to you. And who knows--maybe someday, you can help us finish what we started so long ago.

"By the blood that has been spilled, I, Gillan-hei, Queen of Sarnath, pledge my own and my people's service to you. Ulok kchanx*em vadem kcheyny x*ane'et--I swear it on the life of my father and mother. And may it bring fire and destruction to our enemies.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

A sudden flash flood is how the news reports the destruction of Nargestown--and in a way, they're right. The flooring plant closes, and most of the people move away, following their queen, except a few who stay behind to keep an eye on the mine.

Farringham Manor is demolished that spring, a local company paid to perform the task through a long trail of several deniable assets. Some of the workers swear they can see a woman watching them from the windows as they do their work, but there are no accidents and when they're finished and the debris hauled away, flowers grow in the field. If there is such a thing as peace after death, perhaps Rebecca Tree has found it.

And the world moves on, unaware of how things have changed. The great mass of people live in ignorance of what lies just out of reach, beneath the earth or the waves, beyond the sky, or on the other side of sleep. But that is the reason why the organization does what it does--to stand with fire between humanity and the universe, to do whatever is necessary to maintain the people's innocence. A billion small stories, little triumphs and little tragedies, shelter in the shadow of Delta Green and other organizations like it.

Time continues on, inexorable. There will always be another crisis, another moment when the balance hangs on a knife's edge. But for now, the dead and the living can sleep in peace.

Somewhere, in dreams, a woman climbs an impossibly tall mountain, her feet sliced by the jagged shards of rock, thinking of the bite of whips at her back and years lost to hard labor.

Somewhere, in dreams, a woman falls through endless shrieking winds, clutching the green soapstone idol and scratched dogtags to her chest, thinking of home.

Somewhere, in dreams, a woman falls no more.

Somewhere, in dreams, the scent of daffodils.

--------------------

DELTA GREEN operation ANGEL CRATER
Status: CLOSED

FIN


One last Night at the Opera.
 
 
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