Agents of HOST

Session Five
Family Matters

Where was I? Oh yes, back in Hong Kong.

We spent the next few days following up on the information we had and unwinding a little. The alternative was to launch a four-man, blind assault on Area 51 and we’re not that crazy. Well. Most of us aren’t. Dimitri is nuts enough for Kellog’s entire range of breakfast cereals.

… I seem to be drinking toilet water. I know you have American friends, but you need to train them not to drink bourbon, then you’ll have room for more of the good stuff. If you’re out of scotch, crack open something from your Russian collection, and not the bootleg meths you bought as a joke.

So. Nuts. We picked up a few tidbits about the late, but not so great, Adolf and put out a few hints of our own that suggested we might like a proper conversation. As you might expect it went something along the lines of Nina expression a desire for some straight talking, followed Lupus declaring that was a straight talking kind of guy before exchanging weasily words with us and leaving before the drinks turned up. About all we did discover was that he was “just obeying orders”, which isn’t something you really want to be claiming with a name like his, that he was ordered to watch the four of us and that he was also part of the program … claiming to be part of phases 3 (like Dimitri), 4 (Nina), 6 (the exploded clones) and 9 (whatever the hell that is).

Meanwhile Tommy was having troubles from his past rear their ugly heads. That is his business, so you can ask him if you want to know the details. I’ll just say that a bit of computer work from me landed the man in my debt, his escapades allowed me to discover just how crazy Luchenko really is — crazy enough to think that claymore mines make a great border for a combat arena — and that his demonstration of his personal combat skills made me six grand richer and very glad that he’s on my side.

Going back to the Cookbook and related eugenics mess, we decided that, slim thought the possibility might be, the lack of information we had about phase 5 might mean there is a generation running around that is younger then Nina and Anna’s generation but older than the 6 year old bodies from the lab. It took a bit of work to set up, but I put together a quiet, cloud based system that would run image recognition based on photos of the subjects at various ages (taken from Nina’s albums) against various databases ranging from the simple (crawlers with semi-random search terms hitting image search engines, Flickr, Tumblr and so on) to the private (airport security, various identity registration agencies across the world (passports, driving licenses, etc). No hits on that yet.

Then we went off of a little tour to the west. First stop Russia.

After Tommy’s personal business, we had a body to drop off, then we went to see Comrade Dimitri’s adoptive family. They had been relative senior in the government back in the day, and when they started pondering the possibility of adoption, they were directed to a particular orphanage by one Robert Pinket … and American defector. Not the first person I would have expected to be giving that sort of advice.

Since the orphanage was also home to at least one other known subject of the program, we paid them a visit, but found nothing interesting in the paperwork. Either no incriminating records were kept, or there was a good quality cover up after the fact.

And so to England.

It is, I assume, clear to you that with all these revelations about our pasts and the connections between them, we were planning to confront our families about them? Good.

England, or more precisely Nottingham. I was a bit disappointed in my mother, if you want a nice, big, quiet property then look to Cornwall or Devon, not Nottingham.

We parked up on a backroad behind the property and I tromped across the fields, hat down low, playing the lost hiker. I might have been gone for 18 months, but I wouldn’t put it past Keely to have someone watching the place in case I dropped in.

I rang the bell, for some reason Mother had gone with a pull style one. I wasn’t very comfortable, the weather was an improvement over Hong Kong, but dropping in unannounced 18 months after you attend your Father’s empty-casket funeral and then drop off the face of the Earth is always going to be awkward.

The door opened and I was greeted with “Hello Marcus, James Phoenix said you might drop by”.

That answered a couple of my questions “How do you deal with a mother going into shock?” “You don’t need to” and “Did Dad ever mention someone called James Phoenix?” “I know him well”, but opened up a book of new ones.

I think I need another glass of the vodka now.

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Session Four
Mulder and Scully would have a field day

Oh… balls.

OK, so maybe ‘balls’ wasn’t the word that was actually running though my mind at the time, it was a rather more colourful one accompanied by an impending sense of my life spiralling back out of control as I stood at my mother’s front door. Balls will do for this retelling though.

It’s not going to make any sense if I start at in the middle though. I don’t want this to be one of those Americanised stories where they have to start with the exciting bit at the end to get the audience to watch in the first place. So… America. Damn, I need another drink, pour me a scotch will you?

America. I told you about getting the cookbook and being sent back to give the facility where it was “in use” a good poking, didn’t I? We’d been unlucky enough to stumble across a patrol and ended up in a firefight. I was lucky enough to be able to bluff their radio contact into thinking that nothing was wrong.

What came next was the general sort of messy 80s style spy craft that Dimitri likes so much. Uniforms taken from dead bodies, a nasty mess made with the insides of dead patrol dogs, tracking their footprints back to their vehicle and making out we were their men having just been savaged by a bear.

Yes, I poured blood out of a dead dog over myself. Give me another finger of that scotch.

Four of us, about twice as many of them, and a few snipers on the roof. Great position to be in, but we had the element of surprise and had them worried by some panicked screaming over the radio — maybe I should go on stage, the pay’s not so hot, but I could still travel and at least the blood is artificial — but I digress.

We had the element of surprise, and we’re rather better trained then the typical soldier, not to mention that modifications — no, better not get ahead of myself — so it after about a minute or two we had got past the main entrance and dealt with another round of guards. There were a couple of moments when things looked tight, not least when I was reeling from a bullet and they decided to zipcuff me. Don’t bother trying to use those things on someone who is trained if you aren’t going to put them on properly. They left me with plenty of leverage to snap them with.

Where was I? Oh yes, tight moments. The balance was tipped in our favour by a bullet or two from Adolf.

Adolf… again, I get ahead of myself. This is the problem with this life, everything turns into tangled webs of other people’s agendas. It makes finding answers difficult. At the time we just had a couple of bullets kill our opponents that we couldn’t account for in the heat of battle.

A battle we came out of intact and with a prisoner.

At that point we noticed that there seemed to be an evacuation underway. The possibility of a scorched earth policy had occurred to us, so we figured we had a couple of minutes at best before they blew the facility sky high. We split up.

Luchenko and Mellor headed for one wing, while Nina and I took the other.

She and I grabbed as much in the way of materials and data as we could. Slides out of microscopes, disks out of RAID arrays, the usual stuff. Then we heard the sound of approaching planes and pegged it out of there at top speed.

The others had stolen a truck on their way out and we rendezvoused an hour or so later. We laid low for four or five days, travelling across country on foot to avoid creating a large heat signature before arranging a pickup and transport back to Canada with HOST.

On that flight we were finally able to take a look at the data. We’d recovered. I set to work seeing what I could recover from the hard disks while the Ruskie shared his holiday snaps. He and Tommy had had an interesting time in lab and had some pictures of some very familiar children.

I’d been thinking about having a “So, are you a generically engineered superfreak?” conversion with Nina for some time, but it was a difficult subject to bring up. The photos of six year old versions of her and her sister, among others, floating in jars made that conversation rather easier — especially once you combine it with what we already knew about The Cookbook having something to do with genetics, and with the numbered tattoos that Nina and her sister shared.

The disks were disappointing in how little they showed and shocking in the content of what I was able to extract. First up was conformation of the people involved in the the experimentation. There was a nice list of subjects, a list that matched quite closely to the people who appeared in a certain wedding photograph. The only person who appeared in the picture but not the files was me, and I was off to one side with Dimitri who the files marked as being part of “Phase 3” while the others were “Phase 4”. The subjects who had just been blown up were marked as “Phase 6” and had identification numbers … young Nina and Anna had numbers that matched the tattoos of their counterparts.

The only other information of interest I was able to retrieve was a kill order targeting Marcus Kade Senior.

No, I didn’t think that would shock you. My glass is empty again, top her up will you?

So, private plane lands back in Canada and we transfer to a commercial flight for the trip back to Hong Kong. Operating out of Chinese territory simplifies matters rather a lot when you don’t want to attract the attention of the British. I still can’t quite believe I was driven to go rogue by bureaucracy.

A familiar face caught my eye as we approached the departure lounge. Mr. nondescript-except-for-a-scar-across-his-eye from the wedding. He tipped me the nod for a dead drop and walked away. It was a simple note, one which directed us towards Area 51 if we wanted more answers.

Sometimes I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to pack it in, and go and camp out at Dreamland pretending to be a UFO nut and selling cheap tat to gullible tourists.

It would be a couple of days before anything else happened of note. We did get a bit of information out of HOST. Our mysterious scarred man was Adolf Lupus, American born, joined the US army at 16, “died” four years later, still walking about today. He was ideal black ops fodder, no real connections to sever and with the military being the first real “family” he had.

The other bit of information we got was the name of the man who issued the kill order I’d found mention of on the hard disk. James Phoenix.

… What do you mean, “not enough sex”? Death, destruction, betrayal, science-fiction levels of eugenics and the name of the man who ordered the death of the the great, late Marcus Kade don’t do it for you? Fine, I pulled an air hostess on the way home. Happy now?

Now my throat is dry, open the next bottle and I’ll tell you what happened a couple of days later.

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Session Three - Rockies Four

In the aftermath of the terrorist attack in the Mandarin Oriental hotel, the CIA moved in and secured the area (after the danger had already been dealt with, in good American fashion). Paul Phoenix emerged and smoothed out any potential issues between D14 and the Americans; Williams asked that he share any intel gained from interrogating the terrorists.

With the wedding cut short and the guests whisked away, D14 also separated. Williams and Naama Admoni hired a hotel room to clean up and agreed to meet up with Mellor and Angela Wong later, for dinner (in the meantime, Williams went off to speak to former CIA Deputy Director James Phoenix, her, ‘Uncle Jimmy’). Cade played Paul Phoenix at squash and won.

Luchenko decided to get ‘drunk and naked’ and when asked with whom, coined the now classic phrase, ‘Does there need to be anyone else….?’ Appallingly, it later turned out the there would be others present, though, as Phoenix joined him for a night with hookers.

The next day, D14 reported to HOST headquarters for their next mission. Williams took the opportunity to sit down with an identikit artists to generate a likeness for the man she had seen in the hotel foyer just before the terrorist attack. It turned out he was linked to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), and potentially to a rogue element within that organisation that had become involved in assassinations.

D14’s next mission was to be to locate Facility 12, a secret military base somewhere near Helena in the North-West of Montana, USA. This was the site that has been discovered to be using the Cook Book during the mission in Fort Dietrick; the objective was to move in and shut the operation down, removing any elements of the Cook Book plus any research materials found therein.

Luchenko’s former contacts in Russia came through and the team was able to find the base’s location via satellite intel. With a definite location, D14 decided to dispose with aliases and treat the mission like a straight black-ops military operation. Williams suggested Luchenko take the lead on the mission as it was essentially a soldiering exercise. Deploying to Alberta, Canada via a commercial flight, D14 picked up their equipment and two off-road vehicles and headed up into the Rockies. Across four days, the team travelled down through Canada, across the border into the US, and down to within thirty miles of Facility 12, staying within the concealment of the tree-line throughout.

With fatigue starting to tell, Williams scraped the side of her vehicle and not to be outdone, Luchenko wrote off the transmission on his vehicle, reducing the team to one vehicle for the eventual extraction. The team moved across the final distance on foot, planning on conducting surveillance initially, and then making the decision as to whether to attack. This choice was taken away from them, though, when they encountered a patrol consisting of three dogs and four soldiers.

Realising the need to take the soldiers out as quickly as possible, D14 deployed accordingly. Williams went up a tree and established a sniping position with Mellor guarding the base of the tree below her; Cade took up position behind the remaining vehicle, and Luchenko moved off to a flanking position.

D14 kicked off the proceedings by launching gas grenades at the patrol (with limited success). Williams injured all three dogs in her first volley. The soldiers returned fire and Mellor elected to charge them, confused as they were by the gas cloud. Williams cleared the dogs from his path, with a bullet to each of their brains, as he ran, and deposited a fourth into one of the soldiers. With the advantage of surprise, superior firepower, and gas, Mellor, Luchenko, and Cade overcame their opponents, binding the survivors.

A check-in call was heard from one of their radio’s, and Cade extra-ordinarily managed to persuade Facility 12 that he was the patrol soldier and that the ruckus had been an encounter with a bear, despite not being able to provide the day’s codeword.

D14 were left to consider their next move.

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Session Two
Cook books and weddings

Williams, Luchenko, and Kade (using FBI aliases) were left in the reception area, in Fort Detrick, having successfully inserted their colleague, Mellor, within the interior of the facility. With no further business (per their cover story) to pursue, the three of them left and returned to their car, outside. Williams was reluctant to leave Mellor completely without back-up, but all agreed that they had raised some suspicion with their visit and remaining on the base any longer would only increase that suspicion.

Williams texted Mellor to ask if he required anything further from the three of them, and received the reply, ‘Groovy.’ Taking this to be his peculiar way of saying he was fine, Williams, Luchenko, and Kade withdrew from the base, drove to Washington DC, and swapped to a back-up car, using a multi-story car-park (on the basis that they were likely being followed).

Mellor got in touch by text the next day, and it was agreed that since it was likely he would come under extreme scrutiny as a result of the action on the base, communications between him and the rest of the group were to be conducted via the cover of personal exercise sessions with William’s cover, the American model Sian Cariou. The precautions were proven worthwhile, as Mellor’s home was turned over by the FBI within a day.

Mellor revealed to Williams that he had obtained the Cook Book (a massive stack of folders and files, plus a hard-drive) but had not been able to remove them from the base, having been forced to bury them, in a hold-all, instead. The group developed a plan that Mellor would start teaching Paracise classes (in his role as a fitness instructor on the base) so that he could be seen with a heavy hold-all on his back without arousing suspicion. Once this was established, the group arranged to physically extract the hold-all, covered by a temporary surveillance blank-out engineered by Luchenko. The Cook Book files were subsequently scanned and transmitted, the originals destroyed, and the hard-drive fedexed to HOST.

Tying up the details of their covers, Delta 14 then made their way separately back to Hong Kong. The rest of February was quiet, with no mention made of the Cook Book.

On the 27th, all of Delta 14 had coincidentally been invited to a wedding.

Michelle Chang and Sergei Dragunov, two childhood friends of Williams, were getting married in Hong Kong. Chang is an operative in China’s CSS organisation and Dragunov a major in the Russian Spetznaz. Kade had been invited as William’s plus one; Mellor as Angela Wong Mei Wah‘s plus one; Luchenko had been a colleague of Dragunov’s, in the Spetznaz, and was also acquainted with his father, Dmitry. It was also revealed that it was William’s thirtieth birthday; she received gifts from Kade and Luchenko.

The wedding was a mixture of Chinese, Native American, and Russian traditions, with gifts of money being given to the bride in traditional red envelopes.

Also present at the wedding were:

The Phoenix’s: Paul Phoenix (a CIA section chief; there was clearly some friction between him and Williams) and James Phoenix (a former Deputy director of the CIA).

The Calderons: Javier Calderon (William’s godfather),Franceso ‘Cesc’ Calderon, and Antonio Calderon. Williams had a friendly, flirty relationship with the sons; Kade had met them before, while stationed in Madrid in 2006.

The Mishima’s: Heihachi Mishima,Kazuya Mishima, and Jin Mishima. The group witnessed the Mishima’s formally present a beautiful katana to Williams, engraved in Japanese along the blade.

The Irvins: Gregory Irvin (William’s Muay Thai instructor) and Bruce Irvin.

The Kurmanns: Oliver, Anneberth, and Andreas.

The Changs: Wu Yeo Chang (father of the bride and William’s Kung Fu sifu), Jennifer Rainbird (mother of the bride) and Michelle Chang (sister of the bride).

The Admoni’s: Nahum, Hila, and Naama Admoni. There were subtle signs of a romantic relationship between Naama and Nina.

The Fox’s: Ben Fox, Steve Fox, and Anna Fox (nee Williams) (William’s sister).

There was a great deal of security at the wedding, presumably due to the presence of many current and former high-ranking intelligence service agents and operatives.

Various photographs are taken during the day and at one point, one is composed of Paul Phoenix, Nina Williams, Anna Fox, Steve Fox, Julia Chang, Michelle Chang, Sergei Dragunov, Andreas Kurmann, Anneberth Kurmann, Kazuya Mishima, Jin Mishima, Bruce Irvin, Naama Admoni, Hila Admoni, Cesc Calderon, and Antonio Calderon (all childhood friends). Curiously, Kade and Luchenko were asked to join the group for the photo.

Mellor was apparently acquainted with some of the Russian guests and was seen exchanging contentious words with them, at one point.

Noticing some activity in the security personnel, Williams intuited that there might be a situation developing. Alerting the rest of Delta 14, she (and Naama Admoni) followed them outside, where they were seen dragging a man out of a car. Suspecting a decoy, the group returned rapidly to the wedding, where Luchenko and Mellor noted a suspicious change in the waiters. Faking a stumble, Luchenko tackled one of the men and caused him to spill his serving tray, revealing a MK5 assault rifle.

This led to a short, brutal encounter between Delta 14 (with Naama Admoni) and twelve armed terrorists in the corridor outside the wedding room. The good guys were victorious and suffered no casualties, although Kade was knocked down by gunfire.

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The Cookbook
Infiltrate, annoy, steal.

Objective: Retrieve “The Cookbook” from Fort Detrick in Virginia

Secondary Objective: Avoid discovery of our acquisition

Backup Objective: Destroy “The Cookbook”

Strategy: (Determined after two weeks of intelligence gathering in the area). Using FBI ID, gain access to Detrick and convince John Hopler (NSA) to arrange access to the USAMRIID facility we were interested in and contact with Jay Larson (who runs it).

Tommy Mellor to remain out of sight while rest of team elicits information to locate The Cookbook and keeps staff occupied.

Results: FBI credentials gained very low level access. Cover identities with more authority may have reduced red tape and sped up the mission.

Hopler convinced and provided us with access.

However, we were fobbed off with a low level functionary. After gaining some basic information about the structure of the operation from him, Williams convinced him that the situation deserved the attention of a superior.

Jay Larson was less helpful. Efforts to gain access to secure areas raised his suspicions. Hinting of knowledge of the Cookbook did raise some alarms with him. We expect to be tailed when we leave (counter strategy to be determined).

Mellor followed Larson back to his office where he made two phone calls. One arranging for us to be monitored and one that indicated that part of The Cookbook was in use at “Facility 12” in Michigan.

Current expectations are that he will check up on the status of The Cookbook providing Mellor with an opportunity to access it.

The rest of the team is currently enjoying Larson’s hospitality with a couple of babysitters. We will be avoiding raising further suspicion until such a time as Mellor completes his part in this mission or requires assistance.

Additions – N Williams:

My initial assessment was that this mission was next-to-impossible; what has facilitated it is the extra-ordinary resources HOST appears able to bring to bear. Three solid FBI aliases that (apparently) pass muster even when checked internally by the US authorities.

HOST has also been able to change the biometric details that the Americans have on record for me. WTF! Just what level of money and influence is behind HOST?!?!?

Marcus ommitted details of the covers we used during our observation / research phase in situ in Maryland: mine Sian Cariou (American model); he Mike Johnston (?), my manager; Tommy ‘Biff’ (British personal trainer); Dimitri ‘Dimitri’ (chemistry teacher). Frankly, as covers go, lounging around in sauna’s and getting my nails done is one of the better ones.

Note – we need to start thinking about potential ‘tits up’ outcomes. It remains possible that our cover will be blown by the suspicious Larson and we could end up with a fight on our hands. Our chances of surviving that would clearly be low; the only option I can see is to run a bluff – claim to have left a significant explosive charge somewhere in the building, which is linked to one of our mobile phones. Let us go or we blow it – do you want to take the risk of what might then be released into the cool Maryland air….?

Unlikely to be successful, but might be worth a go if we end up with our backs against the wall.

Hopefully it won’t come to that!

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Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.

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