(Needless to say, this is a report on my Night’s Black Agents RPG session last week, put here mostly for my players’ information. Links to real places, businesses, or entities does not mean I’m claiming werewolves and vampires are running around in them murdering people. Use some common sense, people…)
Session: 11 October 2013
Locale(s): Brussels, Belgium, then Bratislava, Slovakia
Active Case: MAGENTA YARD
Scene 1: A Meeting in a Pub
Following the individual invitations, the newly assigned GHOST STATE field team arrived one by one at O’Duibheamhna’s Irish Pub, whereupon they relinquished all electronic devices and were shown into a private back room. Greeted with an array of pub appetizers (all fried, of course), the agents engaged in conversation while waiting for their handler to appear. Agents ZD/EAGLE and KU/RED LYNX noted the existence of an unbroken line of wood ash outlining the contours of the room and took samples.
Agents then met European Internal Action Service (EIAS) Asst Director Gregor Baumann, aka QU/CANVAS, who thanked then for coming and implored them to maintain operational secrecy at all costs. He also warned them of the disturbing nature of what he was going to show them. An aide brought in a secured laptop, and CANVAS played them the Video.
Scene 1a: The Video
Stitched together from CCTV and traffic camera footage, the Video displayed a late-night underworld meet in a parking garage in Bratislava, Slovakia, between a little under a dozen individuals. Identified participants included: Dr. Jürgen Fassbender, a Swiss researcher who up until recently had been considered deceased, along with his colleague Dr. Jens Kellermann, also believed dead; Juraj Cermak, head bouncer for the Bratislava nightclub La Verne; and Ctirad Kolesar, a disheveled-looking instructor with the Goethe Institute-Bratislava. Apparently, Fassbender was attempting to sell an unidentified substance in a freezer case to Kolesar in a deal apparently facilitated by Cermak. After some tense chit-chat, the deal was concluded with a monetary exchange for the unidentified substance. As the meet was about to break up, one of Cermak’s bodyguards moved over to a nearby car, complaining of a strange smell, whereupon a huge, clawed hand reached out from behind the car and ripped the bodyguard’s head clean off. All hell then broke loose.
A hairy, bestial creature over 9 feet fall, with a snarling canine visage, huge claws, and wearing an iron pendant in the shape of a swastika, lunged out from behind the car. Designated WEREWOLF-1, the creature made to attack Dr. Kellermann, the closest prey to him. In his panic, Kellermann dropped to his knees, soiling himself, and WEREWOLF-1′s slash went wide. Several bodyguards pulled guns and unloaded into WEREWOLF-1, including a straight shot to the groin. Riddled with bullets and blood and gore spraying everywhere, WEREWOLF-1 remained standing. Cermak pulled a TEC-9 and peppered the car next to WEREWOLF-1, puncturing the gas tank. Then the bodyguard in a Free Hugs t-shirt holding the freezer case took off running, as did Kolesar, although he moved with such speed it’s difficult for the grainy footage to track his movements.
WEREWOLF-1, its injuries seemingly knitting themselves back together on the spot, sped off after the bodyguard with the freezer case, as other bodyguards took wild shots at the beast and Drs Fassbender and Kellermann took off in another direction with their money. WEREWOLF-1 chased the fleeing bodyguard out of the parking garage onto the streets of Bratislava, disrupting traffic and creating a panic. Its uncanny speed too much for the bodyguard to outrun, WEREWOLF-1 caught up to its prey, whereupon the bodyguard tossed the case in the air and kept running. Before WEREWOLF-1 could react, Kolesar appeared out of seemingly nowhere and snatched the case out of the air. Then, with lightning speed, WEREWOLF-1 tracked over to Kolesar, and with a load snarl grabbed Kolesar’s arm holding the case and proceeded to rip it clean off in one pull! With blood shooting from his mangled shoulder stump, Kolesar said something not picked up clearly by the footage and ran off. WEREWOLF-1, still holding the case and the arm, transformed back into a naked Caucasian man and got in an escape car that pulled up. The Video then ended.
Scene 1b: Digesting
Field team members reacted viscerally to the Video, but no one so much that clean up was required. CANVAS then laid out the parameters of GHOST STATE:
- Project: GHOST STATE is a black operation within J-Section of the EIAS that shall report only to CANVAS through a secret protocol;
- Main mission is to investigate the scope and scale of apparent supernatural conspiracy (including connections and/or threats to EU and Europe as a whole; how far it is embedded into European society) and, once identified and labeled as threats, dismantle the conspiracy networks with extreme prejudice;
- Field agents will maintain their current covers as EIAS J-Section operatives;
- CANVAS has set up protocols to keep agents’ J-Section duties from conflicting with Ghost State operations;
- GHOST STATE shall have operational independence to follow leads wherever they go, and once said leads bare fruit, to raise to a coordinated case level;
- GHOST STATE shall work out of a safehouse/HQ located in the Ixelles neighborhood of Brussels; and
- Funds for operational activities shall be provided through a specially set up Black Vault administered by a special contact in a local branch of the British betting firm Ladbrokes.
- Any potential intelligence transitioning through EIAS that seems pertinent to GHOST STATE shall be flagged as LOOSE DOSSIERS in the GHOST STATE database, and agents can follow up at their leisure.
CANVAS finished by emphasizing the need for operational security, noting that agents of the conspiracy or conspiracies could already be embedded deep within the European state structure and security apparatuses. As evidence, CANVAS called up on the secured laptop images of a tidy office marred by the eviscerated corpse of a middle-aged man in a suit. CANVAS identified the man as Broos Fortuyn, Deputy Director of the EIAS Counterintelligence Center. The cover for his murder was that he had been transferred back into the Dutch General Intelligence and Security Service (AIVD in Dutch) for a secret mission. CANVAS noted than Fortuyn had been murdered in this most foul way only days after he had tasked Fortuyn with the very mission that GHOST STATE would now carry out.
Field agents asked a series of quick questions about the reasons for the ash in the room (CANVAS suggested it was for protection, but he was not more forthcoming); the nature and disposition of the safehouse; and other operational details, which CANVAS answered curtly. The meeting then concluded, agents went on their separate ways, eventually convening at the Ixelles safehouse the next day.
While RED LYNX installed hidden caches of vampire kit (e.g., crosses, silver, stakes, holy water, etc) and SM/IMPACT, a former army chaplain in the British Army, made holy water, the agents took a day to strategize their next move. After some research on the principal players of the Video, agents decided to move operations to Bratislava to better investigate the MAGENTA YARD network. Agents agreed to rendezvous in two days and that QU/BLACK HAT was operational leader for this mission.
Scene 2: Black Ops in Bratislava
Field agents set up shop in a downtown Bratislava hotel and put their surveillance plan into motion. On Day One, it involved:
- BLACK HAT, SA/GORGON, and XP/SABER set up a surveillance van outside the Bratislava branch of the Goethe Institute, a German language and cultural mission that also happened to be the place of employment for Ctirad Kolesar. GORGON hacked the Institute network, which was much more secure than a simple cultural mission network should be, and downloaded considerable data that she spent the next few days going over. BLACK HAT infiltrated the Institute as a prospective student and placed a bug in Kolesar’s office (which later overheard a call referencing a shipment), discovered Kolesar’s home address and, more intriguingly, found a black handled ceremonial knife secreted in the desk. SABER spent the day in the van monitoring various bug feeds as agents placed them, but also noticed some teachers from the Institute taking a smoke break in a nearby park seemingly going over note cards each of them brought.
- ZD/EAGLE, BF/PREACHER, and DA/FISHHOOK visited the La Verne nightclub, where Juraj Cermak is the head bouncer. With a brush pass, EAGLE lifted Cermak’s phone and planted a bug in it before slipping it back. Intel from the bug noted Cermak received a series of short calls all night where people provided 3-4 digit numbers. FISHHOOK then spent the rest of the night on a street bench outside the club, whereupon he noted an unusual number of bag men coming to and from the club after hours.
- RED LYNX canvassed the bar scene, looking for a sense of how the werewolf attack was being perceived in Bratislava, but came away with the odd notion that nobody was talking about it at all.
- IMPACT looked over the various police reports from the parking garage incident, noting that the local police were perplexed by the strange blood found at the scene.
- IO/WIZARD, having forged some antique Germanic knives back in Brussels, used his fence connections to let it be known that that they were for sale to the right buyer.
On Day Two, field agents continued their investigation:
- EAGLE, PREACHER, and BLACK HAT canvassed Kolesar’s apartment in a working class neighborhood of Bratislava. PREACHER noticed there appeared to be heat already watching the place (two men sitting at an outside cafe table with a military air about them). EAGLE slipped Ambien into their drinks, and once the men were out, lifted their wallets (seem to be Germans) and signaled the others to enter. BLACK HAT and PREACHER entered the messy apartment. In the process of tossing the place, they discovered a Tupperware in the fridge containing severed fingers (PREACHER fingerprinted them all); a dried bloody mess in the bathroom that included a strange fatty tissue substance in the bath (agents sampled it); and under the bed in the box spring a box with index cards in it (had names, sometimes pictures, and blood types of seemingly random people).
- FISHHOOK cased the parking garage attack crime scene, looking for clues missed by local police. He eventually found in a crack in the retaining wall (where WEREWOLF-1 had vaulted into the street chasing after the thug) a broken-off claw, seemingly from WEREWOLF-1.
- GORGON, continuing to shift through network data, discovered that one of the Goethe Institute teachers had a number of emails with embedded code to and from a nurse in the pathology lab at the University Hospital in Brno, Czech Republic.
- SABER obtained plans for the Goethe Institute, La Verne, and Kolesar’s apartment from the local city planning office. Working with RED LYNX, they discovered a secret, reinforced room in La Verne.
- WIZARD, following up his forged knives bait, obtained the name of an archaeology professor at the University of Vienna known for moving oddities in the region, Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Rusch.
END SESSION #1