Reality Check

S6. A bite of seafood
Expense accounts are glorious things.

Food

Poison Wing converges at Fisherman’s Wharf to compare notes, interrupted by a delicious lunch of crab and cioppino. Present are Agent Holly, Agent Amy, Agent Peyote, and Agent Nico. Over chocolate cake and espresso, they assemble a timeline for sightings of Agent Wander over the past couple of weeks:

  • 3 am Fisherman’s Wharf
  • afternoon Mission Bart
  • Cirque des Moitié
  • 2 erotic dungeons owned by Content Not Found: larson-culling

They discover that the silver-painted mime is in fact shadowkind, with indistinct features; perhaps a doppelganger.

They notice a short woman with red hair and a Cuthbert’s beret nearby and go talk to her.
“Hi, we’re with Department-7. We’re looking for this man,” says Agent Holly, showing her a picture of Agent Wander on her phone.
“I haven’t seen him, but I think he did ,” she replies, pointing to an Asian man nearby also wearing a Cuthbert’s beret.
“Thank you very much.” They walk over to the man she indicated.

Drink

“Hi, I’m Agent Holly, and we’re with Department-7. We were told you saw this man coming out of the water.”
“My name is Bob. I saw a guy come out of a submersible, but I didn’t see his face, so I can’t tell if this is him or not. I took a picture and sent it to headquarters, that’s all I know. I got a whiff of him though.” Bob is a moreau with features reminiscent of a Pekingese. “If you bring me something this guy wore, I can tell you if he was the one I saw.”
“We may be able to do that. Let’s exchange numbers so I can reach you after I’ve spoken with headquarters.” Bob exchanges digits with Agent Holly. “Can you show us the location you spotted the man emerging from the water?”
“Sure. It’s down this way.” Bob leads them to an old, unused pier.

“Down there.”
As Agent Holly leans over the edge of the pier to peer down at the pilings, she hears a knife opening behind her. “He’s a traitor!” she yells, and jumps to the water below.
“What traytor?” asks Agent Amy. “It means he’s a bad guy,” says Agent Peyote. “Grab him!”
“Ooh-kay.” Bob brandishes his knife, but Agent Amy easily envelops him in a bear hug. “Urk!” Agent Nico unsuccessfully attempts to grab Bob’s knife.

Meanwhile, Agent Holly swallows some San Francisco Bay water as well as some unnameable floating solid. She swims to the nearest piling, and her hand strikes something she does not see. She reaches the ladder rungs on the piling, and climbs up them, slipping once on the slimy rebar.

When Agent Holly reaches the pier, she is cold, shivering, thankful for the unusually warm weather, and relieved to see Bob restrained. She calls up Agent Steele, and informs him of the murder attempt. “Bring him in. I’m calling Donny right now.” Agent Nico runs off to bring the van. “Why did you do that?” she asks Bob.
Bob stares at her silently.
“What shall we do, Agent Steele?”
“If he won’t talk, kill him,” says Agent Steele loudly enough for Bob to hear. “Excuse me, I need to have a discussion with Donny. See you in a few minutes.” He hangs up.
“You heard the boss,” says Agent Holly. “We can do this the easy way or the hard way.”
“I ain’t gonna say anything, they’ll kill me!”
“You might last longer if you cooperate.”
More silence.
“Squeeze tighter, Amy.” Bob’s eyes go wide and his face flushes.
“Arright, arright!” he gasps.
“Stop squeezing, Amy. You were saying, Bob?”
“It was some of Culling’s goons,” he whispers in a tiny voice. “A few days after I sent in the pictures, they told me to keep my mouth shut about what I’d seen. And that I’d better not let anyone poke around down there if I wanted to keep on breathing. Can I leave town now?”
“You’ve just attempted to murder an agent of Department-7. I don’t think we’re quite done with you yet.”

Afters

Back in a briefing room at the Presidio, Agent Holly recounts the events to Agent Steele. “I also felt some kind of invisible submarine thing.” Everyone but Agent Amy raises their eyebrows.
“Very interesting. I’ll send a crew to retrieve it immediately so that our forensic team can analyze it. In the meantime, you have a couple of new additions to the wing,” says Agent Steele, as he does something with his phone. The door opens, and two people step through it and close the door behind them. “Agent Leelawadee, Agent Jimsonweed, you are now members of Poison Wing. Meet your new commander, Agent Holly. I understand you all have a bacchanal to attend tonight, so you should get to know each other rather well.”

After a round of greetings, the members of Poison Wing begin to plan their attire, including Kevlar corsets, garlic grenades, and holy water pistols. Chocolate-covered garlic seems a good choice for Agent Amy.

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S5. Loose Agents
Agents go different ways.

Introductions

The members of Poison Wing are called into multipurpose room 1, where they see Agent Steele and a woman in a dark blue business suit, dark hair, who appears to be a feline moreau.

Steele: “Good morning everyone. This is my counterpart from Los Angeles, Agent Howling. We have a situation. We appear to have a rogue agent on our hands. Last week, Mystery Wing from LA disappeared. Their remains were found, torn up and drained of blood. All of them except for one, Agent Wander, the lead agent for the group. He may be working for another agency now.”

He directs everyone to examine the picture he has brought up on their cellphones, security camera footage of him from 16th St. Bart station.

“He has abandoned all his traceable gear, including his phone. His girlfriend also appears to be missing. Ann Marchment.” Everyone’s phone switches to a new picture.

“She disappeared shortly before the destruction of Mystery Wing, and Agent Wander was investigating her disappearance. Get this cell phone to him if you can. We want to talk to him, to find out what happened to Mystery Wing, and what he’s up to. Don’t directly engage him unless absolutely necessary.”

“He used to work here at the San Francisco Claw, though I never worked with him. He seemed very dedicated to D7, very resourceful, stubborn, tended to piss off people, worked with some questionable individuals to get things done.”

“He likely still has contacts in the area from when he used to work up here. Talk to people around Fisherman’s Wharf. A number of the homeless are actually Shadowkin. He has been sighted in the Mission District and one dock at Fisherman’s Wharf. Check with the Displaced, the Church of Pelor, St. Cuthbert’s House, the Cirque Des Moitié.”

The party splits up: Agent Nico and Agent Peyote decide to head to the Mission, while Agent Holly takes Agent Amy to spread word around the Castro.

Mission

Agent Nico and Agent Peyote are assigned a black 1967 Dodge Charger lowrider with pink shag carpeting lining every square inch of the interior and a horn that plays “La Cucaracha”. Agent Peyote facepalms when she sees the car. Agent Nico is stoked because he thinks the snazzy wheels will help him pick up some hot latina lesbians. [After all, Nico is a straight boy with penalties to Int and Wis.] As they park, they notice a guy in a Cuthbert’s beret. “Lemme guess, you’re from D7? They need to dump this old clunker.” Agent Nico and Agent Peyote show him the pictures of Agent Wander and Ann Marchment. “Nope, I haven’t seen either of them, but follow me and ask around.” He leads them to the House of St. Cuthbert—a former church, now more of a beat-up community center—and they follow him up the stairs.

A number of beret-wearing figures are gathered around the table chatting about the weather. The Agents introduce themselves and ask if anyone has seen the figures shown in the pictures. All the berets shake back and forth except one attractive woman smiling at Agent Peyote.

“I saw him entering a bondage club South of Market. Stripes.”
Agent Peyote asks her, “What can you tell me about this club?”
“Entrance is by invitation only. I’m going there Thursday. Would you like to come with me? My name is Chemise
“You can call me Peyote. Thank you, I would like that.”
“Oh, good. It’s vampire night,” she replies, with a twinkle in her eye.

Draining the last drop of information

Meanwhile, Agent Amy and Agent Holly visit the Castro to flash around images of Agent Wander and his girlfriend. They get a table at Cafe Flor and order some mocha latte. While they wait for their order to arrive, Agent Holly opens up her laptop and brings up the photo of Agent Wander, then turns the screen around to display it to passers-by.

“Oh, who’s that doll?” asks a short man wearing green combat boots and a half-length T-shirt.
“I was hoping you could tell me,” says Agent Holly. “His girlfriend is looking for him. He’s been seen with this woman, ” indicating Ann Marchment, “but he may be playing for the other team.”
“If he were my boyfriend, I wouldn’t let him out of bed. But tell me about your strong, silent friend here,” he says, grinning at Agent Amy.
“He’s obsessively fond of chocolate.”
The short man snaps his fingers and shouts at the waiter, “Garçon, one Death by Chocolate Cake, stat!” He takes Agent Amy by the hand and leads him towards the back. “Did you say chocolate?”, asks Agent Amy.
“Oh, honey, we’ll get along fabulously.”

Another man mentions to Agent Holly, “I saw him chasing someone coming out of the Bart station. I was so distracted I hit my head on a signpost.” He rubs a mark on his forehead.
“Which Bart station?”
“16th Street.”
“Who was he chasing?”
“Weird skin and hair. Dunno, I wasn’t really looking at him. But the guy you’re looking for was angry, like he was wanted to kill the guy he was chasing.”
“Ok, thank you very much.”
Agent Holly gets up to go look for Agent Amy. She finds him zipping up his pants. “That was real good chocolate,” he says.
She smirks and says, “I bet it was.”

[Something about strip club kingpin Content Not Found: larson-culling I can’t remember. Does he also own Stripes?

I can’t remember who it was that saw Agent Wander getting out of the water at the wharf.
—Lycanther]
Agent Nico calls up Agent Holly and suggests they all converge at Fisherman’s Wharf to exchange information over lunch and do some more investigation there.

XP earned per character:
300 XP

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S4. Bugging out
making smores

campground

Agent Nico tries to grab the thing off the back of granny’s neck, but fails. Granny opens the lid on the box she’s carrying, and inside is a tick-like thing identical to the one on the back of her neck. The businessman opens his briefcase, turns to the party, runs over to them. Streetwalker does the same, opening her purse to let out a giant tick. Agent Peyote shoots at the streetwalker, but misses. Agent Holly shoots at a tick but misses. Agent Nico and Agent Peyote are dominated. The ticks attach themselves to Agent Nico and Agent Peyote. Agent Amy takes out his sword and kills one of the ticks. Agent Holly shoots Agent Peyote with her taser, knocking her unconscious and killing her tick. Agent Holly takes a picture of the tick with her phone and sends it to Agent Steele, who orders her to withdraw the team. Agent Amy grapples Agent Nico, then grabs his tick and kills it. Agent Peyote comes to and shoots the streetwalker, only causing a minor injury.

More ticks come out of the containers. Agent Holly orders a retreat, and everyone heads back toward the van. Ranger Browne shoots at someone but misses. Agent Peyote activates a white phosphorus grenade and drops it as she runs. Back at the van, Agent Amy notices (!) some kind of bag under the van and points it out. Agent Nico looks it over; it seems to be a burlap sack tied to the undercarriage of the van with zip ties, moving as if something alive is within. Agent Holly cuts it away, and everyone gets into the van. As the team drives down the road, they see some D7 jeeps come barrelling up the opposite lane.

back at D7

Agent Holly drives back to the San Francisco Claw headquarters at the Presidio. Everyone in Poison Wing is required to enter through the Decontamination Unit. After a couple hours of being stripped, searched, hosed down, scrubbed, immunized, and otherwise probed, they are given hospital scrubs and released to talk to their boss.

“You did very well on your first assignment. Those things that attacked you are called puppeteers. We have encountered them before, and would not have sent you to deal with them as your first mission. At least, not without special equipment. You did the right thing in alerting me promptly and in withdrawing when ordered to.”

Agent Steele tells the team, “All of your clothes have been incinerated, along with the sack of puppeteers you found. They are a threat that emerges occasionally from Shadow, and can become devastating in large numbers. The Tail team has sanitized the area, and we have alerted fire departments. You may hear this reported in the news as a deadly explosion at an elderly woman’s meth lab hidden at the campground. When the park rangers began to investigate, they were attacked by the operator of the lab, together with a distributor and his companion. In the ensuing gunfight, a bullet hit a piece of laboratory equipment, causing a large explosion that killed everyone present. You will, of course, not disclose the true nature of these events to anyone outside of Department-7.”

Agent Steele becomes even more somber than usual. “Speaking of the media…we have not found Kimberley Scott yet. If she was first ridden the day of her disappearance, her personality is gone by now. This is most unfortunate; she was quite useful, and her loss will require us to establish other contacts.”

“Your clothes will be replaced, and your equipment cleaned and inspected. Since you performed acceptably in your assignment, we are issuing you these.” He hands each member of Poison Wing a small box with an embossed D7 logo. Inside each box is an attractive wristwatch also bearing the image of a gold dragon. “These are synchronicity watches. They will enable you to move up to a minute each day without hindrance due to traffic or crowds. Use them only for Department purposes, and only when necessary. Now get some rest, and we’ll talk about your next assignment tomorrow morning.”

XP earned per character:
1000 XP

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S3. Going camping
This one time at camp....

apartment

The party opens the door to Kimberley Scott’s apartment.

living room

There is a sofa, TV, books,
Point Bonita Campground pamphlet.
Which camping sites are open, hours, fees.
Kitchen to the right, bed/bath to the left.

kitchen

Oven, stove, refrigerator, sink, microwave. Fridge has misc. groceries, mostly still good. Some normal-looking contents of garbage can. Blinking answering machine:

  1. “Hey, Kim, it’s Bob at the paper. Are you feeling ok? Let us know how you’re doing.”
  2. Campground information line callback.
  3. Bob again: “It’s been two days, are you coming back?”

bedroom

Agent Peyote finds computer in Computer document, turns it on, it comes back with a To Do list open to

check out campground in the headlands

folded piece of paper next to computer: computer printout of campground map (driving directions, parking lot, walking trail, facility with chain-link fence)

bathroom

bathroom window open, looks onto alley

full litter box and food/water dish

Agent Holly calls Agent Steele to report on the leads and ask for more info on Kimberley Scott’s car. Return to base shortly and he’ll have the info.

The party decides to visit the Squat and Gobble downstairs for crepes and coffee. Excellent Nutella and strawberry crepes.

Agent Nico tries to flirt with the waitress, supposedly to find out more information about Kimberley Scott. She slaps him.

Agent Holly notices an elf sitting nearby and chats him up, calling herself Lana. His name is Lescher. He knows Kimberley Scott slightly. They talk occasionally; she doesn’t seem to be aware that he’s not human. Lescher gives Lana his cell phone number and tries to find out what gender the ogre is. He is uninterested in the mundane humans (‘mundies’).

Party returns to D7 and reports their findings to Agent Steele in greater detail. He tells the party that Kimberley Scott picked up a Zipcar that hasn’t been returned yet (gives info). “Get some rest while the crew sees to your van. Tomorrow morning, go investigate this campground she was looking into. Try to bring her back if possible, call if you find anything interesting.”

To Point Bonita Campground

Friday morning, off to Marin.
2.5h ride to campground. Competing music in the car, Nico vs Peyote.
Drive into campground. Ranger Stewart talks very slowly, hardly blinks, charges $12, gate closes at 10pm, tells where to park and gives a map.

Ranger Browne also behaves strangely (drugged? hypnotized? magically charmed? robotic?)

Drive into empty spot. One car matches the description of Kimberley’s Zipcar.

Businessman comes walking slowly down trail, stops to talk with Ranger Browne…yet neither actually says anything.

There’s a trailhead leading away from the campsite.

Two sites with tents. Quiet. Lots of camping debris.

Find a digital camera, transfer its files to phone. Pictures from 3 days ago. Tall cylindrical building with no windows through chain link fence. People coming and going, mostly on foot, a few non-ranger vehicles. Lots of pictures of one woman (does not look like Kimberley). Every person goes in empty-handed, comes out with a bag, purse, backpack, or other container. All have vacant looks.

Agent Nico notices a small canid, maybe a fox, standing nearby, staring at them vacantly, before it walks away. Looks like something on the back of its neck.

Some people walking down trail, vacantly. Older woman in nightgown and slippers, young woman dressed like streetwalker, businessman. Businessman walks to guard booth and stands face-to-face with Ranger Browne, both silent. Agent Nico and Agent Holly talk to the older woman, asking about the weather and her nightgown. Agent Holly reaches to look at the back of the woman’s neck, sees some insectoid thing there, all walkers stop, scream weirdly, point at Agent Holly. Roll initiative.

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S2. Here's the keys
Pizza Delivery

Agent Steele tosses a keyring to Agent Peyote. “You’ll use this van unless you need something special. This is the address of Kimberley Scott’s apartment on Haight, over the Squat and Gobble.” He hands Agent Holly a slip of paper. “Go check out her home, and find out any information indicating where she might have gone. Report back as soon as you’ve finished.”

The members of Poison Wing go to the garage, and drive the van to the Haight. Agent Peyote parks around the corner from the Squat and Gobble. They buzz all the apartments and a bleary-eyed stoner looks out the window and asks, “Pizza?”.

“Yeah, pizza,” says Agent Nico, and the stoner disappears. A few moments later, the door buzzes upon, and the teams enters into the apartment building’s lobby, an old, moldering room that reeks of stale weed, then climb up the stairs to Apartment 303. Agent Peyote digs through her gear to unlock the door.

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S1. Orientation
In which our heroes find themselves.

You have all graduated and are full-fledged agents of Department-7. You have been summoned to Multipurpose Room 1 by Agent Steele who greets you as you enter. ‘Congratulations, you are now D7 Agents. Your Wing designation is Poison.’ He hands each of you a box and an envelop card. Both are marked with an embossed gold leaf image of a dragon’s head in a circle. When you open the envelope, there is a card that looks like a credit card with your photo and agent name. ‘You will use this name in all public interactions. It functions as a company credit card. Save the receipts and don’t use it for personal purchases.’ He slides out a part from it. ‘It also includes an eight-gigabyte USB drive. It will give you secure internet access on any computer and encrypted wireless. It is also a digital master key. Waving it in front of most electronic locks will deactivate them.’

‘The next item,’ he says, pointing to a box, ‘is your department smartphone. It has a small wireless headset, GPS locator, internet access, et cetera. It is keyed for your retina, fingerprints, and blood. It can securely access any network in existence. You are the only individual who may use it; if anyone else attempts to use it, the device will self destruct.’

‘Today you will begin your first assignment. A reporter for the Guardian, named Kimberley Scott, has been missing since last Friday. She does some freelance work for us and we suspect foul play. The last we heard from her, she told us she was on to something. Your assignment is to find out what’s happened to her.’

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