Reality Check

Session 14. Counting Crows
When the crows come home to roost

The party is awarded 900XP each for roleplaying.

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Session 14. ¡Bad Piñata!
That's not chocolate

[This is how far I got before my brain fried:]

Closets filled with fabulous costumes. Rotary phone. 3rd floor inventory and bathroom. Woman with apron bangs on door and yelling in Chinese. When she sees the window open, she asks, “Where Maury?” Agent Weed comes to door and greets her in Mandarin. She explains in rapid-fire, heavily accented Mandarin that black birds with red eyes have been pecking the fruit at her produce market next door. Agent Weed brings Agent Nico and Agent Amy to investigate. They find two enormous black birds with glowing red eyes perching above them. One of them drops a pebble from its beak, and a 5-foot sized area of impenetrable darkness appears below them. The birds fly off to the awning of the chocolate shop across the street. Agent Leela picks up the pebble of darkness and throws it at the crows. They duck. She throws a piece of rotten fruit, which hits one. It hisses at her. Agent Leela hisses back. She asks Agent Amy to walk over and grab a crow. He does so, and it hisses and pecks at him. He bangs it against the ground. The other bird flies away. Agent Holly takes a picture and a blood sample with her phone and sends the info to [D-7 HQ]. [Agent Steele] ordered her to destroy the body. They discover more pebbles of darkness inside. Agent Peyote incinerates the body in the alley. Agent Holly collects up the pebbles in a bag while Agent Weed finishes installing surveillance microcameras.

Everyone is watching the surveillance feeds through their phones. Except Agent Nico, who’s watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers—until Agent Peyote notices and whacks him upside the head. Poison Wing retires for the evening. Agent Holly notices something in the monitors and texts everyone. Agent Peyote notice the doorknob to the alley begin turning and knocks the door

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Session 13. Mr. Ti says, “I pity the Fu.”

Agent Steele puts a small lead box on the table in front of Agent Holly. “We enclosed the entire birdcage in lead to keep out prying eyes. Take this to Maury Ti in Chinatown on Stockton and California. Also take these copies of Agent Weed’s sketches of the heiroglyphs,” he says, as he places an envelope beside the box. “He will have something to give or tell you as well. He doesn’t like modern devices like mobile phones.” He twiddles with his smartphone and a picture of an eccentrically dressed Asian man appears on their screens. They go down to a storage room to find a cloth birdcage cover and use it to conceal the lead box.

Poison Wing goes over to Chinatown and Agent Amy frees up a parking place. They walk down the block to Maury R. Ti’s Ti Shoppe. Inside are a large number of shelves and apothecary boxes, bins with dried herbs, delicately fashioned room divider screens, jade carvings, fine porcelain, paintings, books in Chinese and languages from shadow, antiques, curios, uncategorizable objets d’art. Wary of the creaking wooden floor, Agent Amy remains outside. The ogre ogles the chocolate shop across the street. A small puddle of drool begins to collect on the sidewalk.

Maury Ti flings open the draperies behind the counter and flounces through them. He is dressed in flamboyant steampunk apparel. “Why, hello, my dears! You must be from Department-7. Mr. Steele said you had something for me to look at.” Agent Holly hands him the lead box. “I’ll just put this in back for now,” he says as he carries it back though the draperies.

Several of them notice the front door open briefly, but only Agent Nico sees an Asian man enter the store with very long straight black hair tied in a pony tail, black leather jacket with a fu dog on the back with Chinese writing underneath. His skin is very gray. He examines one of the display cases. “Get out!” yells Mr. Ti.

“But we just got here,” says Agent Holly, puzzled.

“I didn’t mean you, I meant that thing,” says Mr. Ti as he points at the man in the jacket. Now that he’s pointed him out, everyone can see the man walking away. Agent Nico snaps a picture with his phone. As the interloper saunters out the front door, Agent Weed reads the words “Fu Dogs” written in Chinese on the back of his jacket.

“He’s from some new gang called the Fu Dogs. They’ve been harassing me and some other shopkeepers lately, stealing things. I hear they’re pushing some dreadful new drug called Bad Blood.”

Agent Holly asks what he knows about the crystal. “Oh, the crystal!” he exclaims as he dashes through the curtain. There is a noise of scuffling and a sharp cracking sound, so Holly and Peyote vault the counter and follow after him into the back room. Mr. Ti is lying on the floor with the broken stub of his cane still in his hand. “The ruffian out front was apparently a mere distraction so that a second thug could sneak in here and steal something. Fortunately, he didn’t have time to grab the crystal, or anything else. I gave him a good thrashing with my walking stick, and he absconded out the door. This makes me think I should take the artifact back to Department-7 and study it there. ”

As other agents help Mr. Ti, Agent Holly moves to the door that leads out to an alleyway. The door lock has been broken. The hallway is cloaked in an unnatural darkness. Agent Holly phones Agent Steele, who agrees that bringing Mr. Ti and the artifact back to D7 HQ is best. Agents help Mr. Ti board up the door.

Back to D7.

After dinner, Poison Wing is summoned to Multipurpose Room 1 by Agent Steele. Mr. Ti is still studying the artifact in back. More info on the Fu Dogs and Bad Blood. Another strain of it. Causes addiction and physical changes on third exposure.
Steele shows them photo of Fu Dogs, long hair and jackets. Were in L.A. until relocated to SF.

Ben Hu: Convenience store thug from L.A. missing, seen with Fu Dogs.
Lu Huang: leader of Fu Dogs.

Solid amber eye in Nico’s photo, teeth all pointed, otherwise appears to be Ben Hu. Been harassing Maury. Fu Dogs trying to acquire ‘herbs’ (spell components).
D7 needs more info, assigning Poison Wing to staff and surveil the Ti Shoppe, gather info.
300XP

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S12. We all float down here.

When Agent Wander escaped, he apparently used explosives to block Poison Wing from following him back into the abandoned building next door. Therefore, Poison Wing heads to the other exit: the stairs to the lesbian section of the club. On the way there, they hear an explosion from that direction and they find the way blocked by large chunks of broken stone. Agent Amy easily removes a massive fragment, but it is replaced by two others falling down. Poison Wing is now trapped in the basement. Agent Holly asks Agent Peyote to assess whether the passage can be blown open, but Peyote concludes anything powerful enough to clear the passage would also bring the roof down on the wing. Agent Holly heads to the passage leading to the abandoned building (to see if they can get through that blockage more easily), and notices the carvings in the gold-flecked quartz wall include one that appears to depict Isis facing back towards the way they came. Agent Weed examines it, and presses it in. A button! They hear a click and a deep whirr from within the wall. Retracing their path back toward the room Agent Wander was tied up in and beyond, they encounter a series of Isis buttons, and press each in turn.

Eventually, a section of wall slides away to reveal a room decorated not with Celtic patterns, but covered in symbols resembling Egyptian hieroglyphs. Although Agent Weed cannot read Ancient Egyptian, he recognizes that there is something strange about these hieroglyphs, and attempts to consult D7 for deciphering. At this time, the party realizes their eldritch phones have become non-operational, unable even to snap pictures. Agent Weed sketches the hieroglyphs in his notebook. Pressing a final Isis button in this room reveals yet another chamber, this time with completely blank walls of the ancient gold-veined quartz and incongruously a rather modern looking 5′ × 5′ × 5′ concrete cube in the center of the floor. Hoping that this might hide an exit, Agent Amy shoves the block. It shifts more easily then expected for a solid concrete block, and an eerie green glow shines through the crack. (Has Poison Wing discovered a cache of Kryptonite?) With help from the other agents, Amy topples the block, which is actually hollow revealing a strange sight indeed: a double-terminated crystal the color of green calcite glowing brightly, floating a few feet off the bare ground, and contained within a levitating antique-looking golden birdcage with an Isis motif running around the upper band. Mustering her courage, Agent Holly reaches around the cage and feels a tingly force underneath it and a slight resistance to touching it. Tying some rope through the loop at the top of the cage, she tugs the caged crystal after her.

Continuing to search for an exit, Poison Wing investigates a hole in the wall near where Agent Wander was tied up. It leads outside the quartz to a passageway that appears to be cut through the conglomeration of dirt and rocks one would expect to be used for filling in the South of Market area. Agent Leela is bored and decides to poke her sword at the wall. Some water trickles through. The trickle builds. They try to shove a piece of stone debris in to block the water. This works for a few seconds, then the briny bay water begins gushing in faster and faster.

They run through the basement desperately seeking another egress. Someone notices banging and scraping sounds from debris-clogged lesbian play space door. Nobody knows Morse code, so they bang a shave-and-a-hair-cut cadence on the ceiling. The noise from above stops, there is a two-bits reply, and after a moment the scraping and banging sounds resume, more loudly and quickly this time. The sound of the rushing water drowns out the noise of the scraping and the water level rises past their ankles. A small hole through the debris opens, and Agent Steele calls out to them, “We’ll get you right out of there. Hold on.”

Agent Holly replies, “We have something you need to see, boss.” The workers above widen the hole enough to get everyone out (though Amy does present a challenge). Agent Holly shows Agent Steele the birdcage, floating at the end of a makeshift leash. “We tried to call you earlier; is that crystal blocking our phones?” “No, Agent Wander deployed a disabler. When we lost your signals, we figured you’d gotten in over your heads. Anyway, cover that up now.” Agent Nico lends his jacket to hide the artifact, and they walk back to their vehicles. They notice a blond man in a golden suit talking with Agent Steele. The blond man seems to have eyes that are completely white. Once everyone has left the building, there is a loud thunderclap, and the club collapses in on itself. Poison Wing rides back to HQ in the Presidio. At HQ, Agent Steele takes possession of the crystal as well as the silver letter opener and the cash-filled envelope recovered from the adjacent building. He debriefs the wing and learns that the wing has discharged its duty to make contact with Wander, as well as Wander’s refusal for fear Larson Kulling will harm Ann Marchment, whom he is currently holding hostage. He informs them that the basement was from a Shadow analog of Egyptian culture, and had somehow been magically teleported South of Market, and has now been sent back through Shadow [along with all its flecks of gold :(]. The crystal is one of five parts to a Shadow artifact coveted by Kulling and believed when fully assembled to provide a vampire with a number of invulnerabilities. The Wing disperses for some well-earned R&R (Agent Peyote discovers that Chemise has the evening free!) before their next mission.

1000 XP each for escaping from basement with clues and crystal.

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S11. Boom Boom
I totally meant to do that

Nico hears noise from rubble in corner, also spots 3 camouflaged forms in room, alerts wing
Nico and Peyote assaulted by nauseating smell (Nico sickened for 10 rounds)
Nico steps into room and shoots one of the forms around the corner
Holly and Amy shoot and kill the one they can see straight ahead
2 surviving enemies move closer to Nico and vainly throw javelins at Nico and Peyote
Leela attempts to taser one of the enemies.
Peyote finishes off last 2 with grenade
After creatures (troglodytes?) are eliminated, wing searches room.
Holly finds size 14 shoe and broken zip cuffs
Two passageways blocked by rubble, Holly sees a shape movie beyond one
Nico investigates opening on opposite wall
Leela places a concussion grenade in partly-filled passageway as a trap, but accidentally detonates it (clearing passageway)
Holly sees a T intersection through passageway and a paired shoe/sock print leading away in the dust
Nico hears a chuckle of contempt from the room beyond
Holly asks Amy to block the cleared passageway until that room may be safely cleared
Party pursues source of chuckle
Nico hears someone fleeing and notices that only one foot is shod and concludes it is Agent Wander
Nico calls out to Wander, tells him wing is there to establish contact, not attack him
Wander responds, “Leave me alone. They have Ann and they’re going to kill her if you mess this up.” then runs away; party chases after
Holly attempts again to get Wander to communicate with Agent Steele
Wander seals entrance with some sort of explosive

Email from GM:

I’m sorry. I figured out your xps to bring you current a few days ago
and forgot to send it. Oh dear. Just for that I’ll give you a bit
extra. Each character that was involved in the Undermining dungeon so
far gets 1,600 xps. That includes everything. Let me know if you feel
slighted, so I can prepare a special encounter for your character.
Muahahahah!

We can spend some time tonight raising characters if need be.
Remember, if you add in these xps, and your character is within 300
xps of raising, you can raise them, and subtract the 300 from the next
bunch of xps. Make sure you keep track of it. You’re on your honor.
Any more, ask first.

We left off with you in the quartz and gold dungeon of mostly empty
rooms. Agent Wander has escaped the dungeon and collapsed your
initial entry. As you are all pondering leaving through the door that
exits through the women’s ‘dungeon’, you hear a small explosion, then
the sound of rocks sliding. Your hearts sink into your stomachs. Once
the noise stops, you hear the drip, drip, drip, of the stalactite into
the cistern in Room 2. Amy farts loudly.

Lycanther’s notes for S12:
BT = “Buster” Toombs

1000 XP escaping from basement.

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S10. Really Old Rock in SF Underground Scene
Older than Dick Clark

Armed with new intelligence that Larson Kulling had kidnapped Ann Marchment in an effort to blackmail Agent Wander, and that he in turn had abandoned D7 and come to San Francisco in an effort to rescue his girl friend, the Poison Wing arrives at the building adjacent to the sex club, its entrance secured by an electronic lock, in search of him. Gaining access with the universal key function of their D7 identification card, Agent Peyote sets off a flash grenade as they enter the building. Inside they discover 3 homeless sleeping (or unconscious since the grenade fails to rouse them) and that the ground floor has a second entrance by way of a loose board in the wall. Agent Amy notices (!) a pair of footprints leading down the dusty stairs to the basement. A closer inspection reveals them to be of men’s 14 shoes with pointed toes. A texted query to D7 informs the party that Agent Wander wears size 14.

The wing proceeds down the stairs announced by Agent Nico’s squeaky gait. They arrive in an empty and long disused boiler room occupied by rats who scurry away. Their map indicates an adjacent maintenance office and a utility closet hiding a tunnel leading to the sex club. The wing chooses to search the office before proceeding to the sex club basement. The office is also empty and long disused, containing a badly damaged desk missing its drawers topped with a rotary phone and surrounded by empty whisky bottles. Agent Nico spots a shiny object on top of the desk that appears to be a tarnished but very sharp silver letter opener monogrammed BT and pockets it. Agent Holly searches under the blotter and finds a fragile envelope addressed “from LK to BT.” Carefully opening it she finds 10 $10,000 Gold Certificates from approximately 1930 in uncirculated condition. She places the envelope in her extra-dimensional pocket for safekeeping. The wing speculates that this was a bribe and that LK might signify Larson Kulling. The identity of BT remains a mystery.

Agent Peyote is disappointed to discover that the tunnel from the utility closet is significantly wider than the map indicates and does not require shaped charges to accommodate Agent Amy. The tunnel leads to a rough-hewn stone corridor approximately 15’ x 70’ with a dusty but very well-worn floor. Agent Nico follows the footprints into a 25’ x 45’ stone room where the footprints become confused. This room has a carved design running along its walls reminiscent of Celtic knotwork, a very old stone cistern in the corner, a worn stone bench on the opposite wall, and two exits. A spigot with a stalactite hangs over the cistern, which is filled with unwholesome water. The corridor and room present a puzzle to the wing: they are carved from solid rock in an area South of Market that should be bay fill and have a feel of antiquity to them, as if they were already ancient in pre-Columbian times.

While Agent Nico (at the head of the queue) investigates the cistern room, Agent Weed (at the tail) searches the corridor, discovering that the walls are quartz veined with gold. He also finds a secret door a third of the way from the utility closet tunnel that apparently can be opened from the corridor side, but not closed. Agent Weed texts his discovery to the rest of the wing and is content to leave the partially opened door alone until the wing can regroup, but Agent Amy, ever hopeful for hidden caches of chocolate, pushes the door aside and continues into the secret room. Just inside the room Agent Weed spots a control mechanism for the door and closes it behind them. The mechanism is faulty, however, and he cannot open the door from inside. Realizing they are now cut off from the rest of the wing, he quickly texts for help.

Agent Holly leads the others back to the secret door and opens it again from the outside. Agent Weed jams the door open while the rest of the wing investigates this room. Made of the same ancient stone as the others, it contains little beyond two exits and a fire pit. Notably absent are size 14 footprints in the dust. One exit leads to a stairway back up. Agent Peyote climbs it to a locked door of Victorian vintage. Popping the lock she finds a barred door of antique solid iron, and behind that a black curtain and the women’s section of the play dungeon. Closing the door (but leaving it unbarred in case the wing needs to make a hasty escape), she reports back to the wing.

Although relieved that they have discovered another escape route, the wing collectively decides that this room is a dead end on the trail of Agent Wander and returns to the cistern room. Agent Amy notices that leading out of one the exits of the cistern room the footprints appear to resume. This exit opens into a 55’ x 25’ room that contains four 5’-tall purple mushrooms that begin to shriek when Agent Nico gets to close to them. Agent Peyote gestures the rest of the wing back and tosses a white phosphorus grenade which damages all 4 mushrooms. None of the wing are close enough for the mushrooms to successfully attack with their poisoned tentacles. Agent Peyote finishes off 3 of them with a thermite grenade, and Agent Weed shoots the last to death.

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S9. The Underbelly of Soma
Some new toys to play with.

Poison Wing and Agent Steele in multipurpose room, coffee & donuts. Agent Howling on videoconference says there is a secret dungeon underneath a sex club. Agent Steele brings up diagram of unused building next door. Found this information from old books that were dug up, now copied onto phones. Anyone who does vampire research at D7 gets +2 vs. vampires. Replenishment of items used previous night (holy water, garlic grenades, etc). Gear upgrades: Everyone now has one garment with two extradimensional pockets sewn in. Each member of Poison Wing issued mirrored sunglasses, crossbow, 6 sunlight sticks. Agent Peyote gets holy water grenades.

[Misc notes:]
potion of truth d20 Modern 376
2x D7 staff of psychic sun

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S8. This party bites.
Vampires suck.

Peyote’s path out of the Lesbian area toward the main exit is blocked by vampires. Chemise points at a curtain and Peyote runs through it and crashes through the emergency exit behind it setting off the door alarm in the process. Behind the building they see two bystanders smoking. Peyote tosses a garlic grenade at the emergency exit to cover their escape and carries Chemise around the building to where the Tesla is parked.

Holly, Amy, Nico, and Leela make it out the main door, but Weed is intercepted by a female vampire in a dominatrix outfit as he passes through the coat check area. Nico runs for the Tesla, while the others sprint to the van. Holly sees on her cellphone tracking system that Peyote has left the building in the other direction, but Weed is still inside. Holly tells Leela to drive the van up to the club entrance and tells Nico to take the Tesla around to the other side, pick up Peyote, and rendezvous with her in front. He zips around the building, and Peyote and Chemise dive into the car.

The vampire is prevented from closing on Weed due to the garlic he is carrying, but she dominates him with her gaze and leaves him mesmerized. As they drive forward, their path cleared by the synchronicity watch, Amy notices Weed just inside the door with a vampire blocking his escape and yells out “Weed in trouble!” Holly jumps out and fires her holy water gun at the vampire. The vampire, injured, gestures for Weed to follow and retreats into the club; Weed helplessly obeys. Holly orders Amy to grab Weed and Leela to cover them against a gaze attack by holding up her makeup mirror, then gives chase, gun drawn.

Nico and Peyote reach the main entrance in time to see the vampire luring Weed away, and Peyote quickly garlic bombs the entrance as they rush out of the car. Amy charges in, grabs Weed, then heads back out. Several vampires attempt to surround Amy and dominate him, but he avoids their eyes and hauls Weed to the garlic-clouded door. The vampires grumble as Weed is removed from their clutches and breaks out of their domination. Several suggest pursuing through the men’s play space (perhaps the site of another exit), but the dominatrix subtly shakes her head, suggesting she may be in charge.

The party reach their vehicles and speed back to D7. Nico activates the Tesla’s built-in synchronicity timepiece, and Leela follows in the wake of green lights. Agent Steele debriefs the team and grants a waiver to Chemise to stay at D7 for the night. Agent Peyote escorts her to the hot tub in anticipation of a special hero’s reward.

XP earned per character:
900 XP for dealing with npcs/monsters
300 XP role playing
300 XP partial completion of assigned task
–––––
1500 XP

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S7. Bacchanal
What does “mundane” mean in this context?
Cast:

Agent Holly: pigtails and a cheerleader’s uniform (Buffy)
Agent Weed: Spike with neon red hair
Agent Amy: leather harness and chaps, leashed to Holly
Agent Nico: black mesh shirt, leather pants and jacket
Agent Leela: leather catsuit
Agent Peyote: leather jacket and pants
Chemise: spike heels

On the way to the garage, a Department-7 employee hands us a key and says Agent Steele wanted us to take this and points at a sleek black vehicle in the corner.

Nico and Peyote get in, the rest take the van. All head to the Mission District to pick up Chemise.

As they approach the Mission, the car says to Nico, “Stealth mode activated.” Exterior color changes, looks more beat up.
Nico and Peyote pick up Chemise near St. Cuthbert’s House. Chemise is dressed skimpily and Nico is distracted [-2 to Drive].

On the way to the club, Weed tries to hack his phone and gets an electric shock. He eventually succeeds in jailbreaking it.

They park in back, a number of people in various stages of dress and costume. Some are quite pale; while most of the party can’t be sure based on what they see, they assume that these are vampires, given their prior information. Peyote is certain that some are indeed vampires. About half of the patrons they see are dressed in vampire theme. About a tenth of the people are undead, some vampires have zombie attendants.

Chemise talks to a (bugbear) bouncer and discreetly passes him some green, he lets the group into the club. At the entry is a clothes check room that smells of leather and cigarettes. Many patrons are checking each other out in the lobby.

Holly texts D7 for info and picture of Larson Kulling and examines it. Chemise tells her, “Don’t show that picture around in here.” Holly forwards the info to the other phones for Poison Wing, with a note not to flash around the picture of Kulling.

Chemise and Peyote head into the women’s section and Chemise pisses off a bunch of people there. Leela asks a couple of staff if they’ve seen Agent Wander or Ann Marchment. Wander was there a couple days earlier looking for a door in the basement. Leela talks to another staff member who indicates that the basement is accessed from the women’s section.

Holly talks to a coat check girl, Lolly. She saw Agent Wander a couple days earlier, he was looking for a basement door. She flirts quite brazenly with Holly, but abruptly turns cold and aloof when Holly inquires about Ann Marchment. Lolly withdraws to make a phone call.

Holly texts that it’s unsafe to inquire about Marchment or show her picture and that doing so seemed to arouse suspicion.

Peyote sees a pale woman, a vampire, listening to an earphone at the back of the room start scanning the room and then staring at her and Chemise.

Weed hears something and sees a vampire listening to an earphone scan the room and focus on him. Weed texts “pale 1s hv earph n r lookin for sum1; we shd leave”

Holly activates the “EVAC NOW!” app, tosses chocolate garlic to Amy to eat and sprinkles herself with holy water, then activates both of their watches and they head for the door.

Peyote activates watch, grabs Chemise, and boogies out. Weed activates his watch and heads for the door, noticing there was a vampire right behind him. Leela grabs Nico (a bit addled due to staring at bouncing boobies) and they activate their watches and head for the door also.

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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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