The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
CROESO I GYMRU
RHAN DEUDDEG (PART 12)
Lodge Farm, 4am March 20th
"Get to the van!" Ross shouts. He thrusts his end of the coffin at Michael who staggers under the sudden weight.
Coils of mist are working their way higher, stinging the eyes and the backs of throats, making it hard to breathe.
Sam and Alan both tense, their eyes on Vul. The madman turns him head at the movement. And then...
Four shots. Shattering the night in quick succession. Patrick Newsome jerks to attention. His mouth opens, his eyes take on a look of glazed surprise. A trickle of something black from between his lips and he slumps sideways.
In the silence that follows Ross calmly checks over his gun and steps forward. "Well done capturing that bastard," he tells Vul. "I owed him one." Flicking a glance in Russell's direction he mutters, "Get everyone away, I'll deal with Dragna."
Russell stands a moment, frozen in shock then moves to obey.
"He killed him," Maddy whispers, her voice outraged and squeaky with disbelief. "He..."
"I know. We've got to get out of here." Pale-faced, Russell goes to help Stewart while Sam takes half of the weight of the coffin from Michael. Stories of ex-soldiers gone berserk flash through his mind. "Bloody hell," he mutters to himself. "He thinks he's Rambo."
Behind him Ross is saying something about Newsome locking him up for aliens to experiment on. He leaves him to it. Head down, hoping the others are following, he begins to run.
Ignoring the first stabs of pain in his arm muscles, Alan picks up speed. Restricted by Sam and Michael panting along behind he concentrates of finding flat ground. Two more pairs of headlights turn in his direction. He ignores them both, hoping Ross or Maddy can deal with them. No, on second thoughts let it be Maddy. She might be weird but at least she's not the type to kill in cold blood. Black mist surrounds him as he runs.
The van is in sight. Risking a glance back, Sam sees that the jeeps are heading to the centre of the field. Another gunshot and he winces, wondering who is dead this time.
Maddy crouches down in the grass, following the others almost on hands and knees. "Echolalia," she mutters. But the sight of the dark mist drifting before her makes her smile. She pauses a moment, calling mentally to Snowdon while one hand fumbles in her pocket for her nail scissors. A quick intake of breath, she screws her eyes up tight and aims a stab at each wrist. Blood oozes out immediately. Wincing against the pain she makes guns with her hands, her gaze focusing first on the blood coating her fingers and then back at Vul and the other army jeeps. "Bang," she whispers, then louder. "Bang." A tyre explodes halfway across the field, making her scream in fright.
"Maddy, come on," Russell hisses. Tearing off strips of her T shirt to wrap around her wrists, she runs to join them.
The back doors of the van are wide open. Alan thrusts his end of the coffin inside and vaults in after it, hauling the rest of it in as Michael and Sam push from behind. Tanya is in the driver's seat looking pale and shaken.
"I heard someone shooting. Where's Ross?"
"Never mind." Sam scrambles over to her. "Here, I'll drive. Strap yourselves in everyone. This is going to be bumpy."
The van doors slam shut plunging the whole of the back into a darkness broken only by Stewart's howl of pain.
Headlights are converging on the centre of the field. Vul blinks around at them all. He looks confused, dazed. So much the better, Ross decides.
"Get in the jeep," he commands. "You drive, I'll shoot." He hauls Newsome's body out and spits on it before swinging himself into the passenger seat. His hands touch a patch of blood, still warm. Vul hesitates a moment then joins him, hauling the jeep viciously into gear. Ross sights on the nearest pursuer.
Then through the mist and roar of engines, other voices are heard.
"The truth! The truth! The truth!" Ross smiles thinly. Michael's diversion has reached the farm.
In the swinging headlights a garishly clad group of protesters climbs the fence and run across the field. Some of them are carrying placards, others have cameras and - if the flickering of flashlights is anything to go by - they are photographing everything in sight.
Vul laughs, his face lit up scarlet and white. With a final roar, he stamps his foot down hard. The jeep lurches forward, throwing Ross hard against the restraining seat-belt.
There are other signs of protesters as Stewart's van makes its way along. Inside, slumped against the alien coffin, Stewart yells again.
"You have to stay still," Maddy instructs. "It's only a flesh wound. I know, cause Ross had one just like it." The mention of Ross makes her bite her lip. "He shot Mr Newsome," she says shakily. "Why'd he do that?"
"Newsome shot me," Stewart says, scowling. "Fair's fair."
"No it isn't. He killed him. I, like, saw his life go out." A tear rolls down her cheek. Michael slips a comforting arm around her shoulders and she sniffs and sighs, one hand reaching out to comb through Snowdon's thick fur.
Russell finishes tying off a bandage around Stewart's upper arm and sits back. "What's done is done," he says. "I don't mean that to sound callous but we still have a mission to complete. We need to get the alien, the fingers and Stewart here back to SITU. Let Ross take care of Dragna for now."
"What's he going to do?" Alan asks. "Shoot him too?"
No one answers.
Ross frees himself from the seat-belt and turns his head to glance behind him, raising his hand to scratch at his neck. "Bloody things are everywhere," he mutters. He winces and blinks hard. "Everywhere..." He stares at the madman beside him. "Does your head hurt, Vul? Mine does."
Vul doesn't answer. His attention is on the road ahead. Ross lets his head fall back against the seat. His blood-stained fingers twist tight together.
"Get out of my head, you bastards!"
His shout is loud enough to make Vul jump. The jeep swerves and rights itself. Ross falls forward, digging his nails hard into his temples. "Leave me alone..." the words die out into a whimper.
"Shut the fuck up."
Ross raises his head cautiously. Vul has a gun in his hand and he is smiling. "Thought you had me fooled, didn't you," he asks. "You and all that I'm-going-mad crap. Maybe if I was mad I've have believed you but I ain't so sorry but not a chance." Ross moves slightly and he raises the gun higher. "If you move again I'll shoot you, only I'm not stupid enough to kill you outright. I'll start at the legs and work up and what's left of you I'll swap with your friends for the alien." He grins. There is saliva glistening at the corners of his mouth. "Now I'll tell you what you'll do," he says. "You take out your gun, barrel first, and give it to me nice and slowly. And if I even think you're going to try something I'll shoot you, so there."
Sighing heavily, Ross reaches for his gun.
"I dare say he'll catch up with us," Sam says. "Can't see Ross having too much trouble. Oh dear..." He falls silent, staring ahead.
The road is blocked completely, cars and bikes jammed against army vehicles. A girl with green hair is arguing with a uniformed guard, arms waving angrily. Others are milling in uncertain groups. When they see the van they let out a cheer. A dozen of them swarm forward before the guards can stop them.
"Hold on," Sam warns the others. He puts his hand flat on the horn and slews the van sideways off the road. One sickening moment of skidding and then they are bumping over rough grass. Behind them a guard shouts and leaps into a jeep, but the moment he turns it in pursuit a group of the New Agers surround it, some trying to climb in with the driver, others laying themselves down right in its path. The sound of cursing fades away behind them.
Russell collapses back in his seat. To his embarrassment he finds he can't stop laughing. "Thank goodness for the New Age movement," he chuckles softly. "We've just found a use for them."
The jeep rolls over a rock in the road, the jolt shaking the whole vehicle. Ross, his gun half out, flips it round the right way. Vul grabs him before he can steady himself to shoot. His eyes are inches from Ross's own, his left hand clamped numbingly tight on his wrist. Ross gasps and punches him but the blow only makes Vul laugh harder. "This is where I start shooting, soldier." His voice is almost sing-song. Calmly, he releases his grip on the steering wheel and brings the machine pistol around, aiming low at Ross's legs. The jeep veers and shudders, gaining speed.
With a shout of effort, Ross wrenches himself free and swings both feet up into Vul's stomach. Not hard enough, he realises. The confines of the jeep work against him. He hits at Vul again and grabs for the gun, twisting the barrel aside as he readies his own to fire.
The jeep chooses that moment to turn over.
There is the impression of heat scorching his face, the smell of petrol, and the world rolling over and over, trees, road and sky blurring together in one sickening haze of movement.
When he opens his eyes, Vul is gone.
The beach is almost deserted. Only the remains of camp fires and the shadows of empty tents to show that anyone was here. Sam eases the van onto the first slope of sand. The tide is full in and right on the edge of the white line of foam a boat is waiting.
"Do you think we've really lost them?" Maddy asks, opening the back of the van a crack to peer out.
Alan pulls her back in. "It looks like it - for now. Sam, can't you go any faster?"
"If you want to drive, be my guest," comes the growled reply.
The others are silent, still recovering from the shock of the killing and the bumpy ride to the beach.
"Do you think the Army will have the sea covered as well?" Michael asks anxiously.
Russell shrugs in reply. "Who knows? We'll just have to take our chances."
The van rolls to a halt.
"Neil Chapman," the boat captain introduces himself. "I promised Ross I'd be here and I... Where is he, by the way?" he adds, looking around.
"He's coming," Russell assures him. "We need to get something into the boat first."
Chapman's eyes widen when he sees the coffin. He looks at the group hard then he shrugs. "It'll be something to tell the grandchildren at any rate. None of us are any too happy with this quarantining nonsense - like we've all got the plague or something. So if you want out I'm happy to take you."
Getting the alien container into the boat takes only a few minutes. The sky is beginning to lighten and Alan looks around, worried. "Are we going to wait for Ross or what?" he asks.
"Of course we are!" Maddy interjects. No one takes any notice. She turns back to Snowdon, whispering a farewell to him. "Now, you be a good dog and I'll come and visit you soon." No one else notices when he pads away, leaving a trail of prints towards the nearby research centre.
Michael shakes his head, staring at the sand. "I think we should go," he says at last. "The important thing is to get the... you-know-what away."
Russell nods agreement and turns toward the boat.
Footsteps stop him, pounding over the sand. "Hey! Wait up!" Everyone freezes.
The voice is Vul's.
Dragna's face is half covered in blood and he limps as he runs, stumbling from side to side. "... Jeep turned over..." he explains between gasps. "Had to steal a bike to get here. Others not far behind."
Alan steps forward. "What about Ross? Where's Ross?"
"Holding them off. He - he said to go on without him."
Alan spits into the sand. Surreptitiously, Maddy unwinds the binding from one wrist and picks at the scab.
Vul's face changes. "Give me the alien," he demands. He advances on Alan, threatening. A gun appears in his hands. He swings in round, grinning at the whole group. "Who shall I shoot first?" he wonders.
"Bang!" shouts Maddy.
A shot cracks across the sand. Vul arches back, the pistol falling from his hand. Red blossoms across his chest. Maddy stares at her hand in astonishment.
Then Ross appears, also hurt and limping, his gun swinging casually from the fingers of his left hand. He comes to a stop, looks around at everyone's shocked expressions and allows himself to smile.
"Well," he says. "Shall we go?"
... Behind the boat, sunlight creeping over the dunes and Vul's body, arms outspread, rising and falling, rising and falling with the movement of the tide.
From A.R. Stafford
To Operatives: Russell Osbourne, Sam Trend, Ross Myers, Micheal A. Williamson, Alan Morrison, Madelaine Hook.
Subject: UFO Activity in Pembrokeshire, S. Wales.
Achievement of aims:
The whole group is to be warmly congratulated on its achievement. It appears that the reports of alien activity were partly hoax, organised by the hotelier Gwyn Montgomery, and partly linked to the Clachantyre incident of 1977. This was something that SITU had not anticipated and therefore your discovery of the Clachantyre alien and the recovery of the 'Old Man's Fingers' was more than the organisation could have hoped for.
It is unfortunate that the arrival of Vul Dragna put your cover story in jeopardy. Full marks to Russell for his efforts to maintain cover in very difficult circumstances. It was unfortunate but inevitable that Margaret Ferris decided to contact the police after your disappearance and we understand that several of you have already been called for interview regarding the break in at the primary school and the presence of Vul Dragna in the area. It appears that the police have accepted the probability that Dragna was responsible for the break-in and are therefore taking no further action.
As for Air Staff 2A, you were all unfortunately seen and recognised at Lodge Farm. Had it not been for Ross's shooting of Patrick Newsome, Air Staff might have been persuaded that you were working under Stewart's direction. As it is, however, the organisation is likely to be carrying out its own checks on all of you. We must stress how disappointed we are for this to have happened. Despite the apparent success of the mission, we cannot and will not condone the killing of Newsome. We understand that Ross had the best interests of the mission at heart and was forced to make a decision under a great deal of pressure. Yet it is actions of this sort that will bring us as an organisation into the greatest jeopardy and we stress that the using of lethal force must only be considered when there is no other option. Our policy clearly states that we will not support the extra-legal activities of operatives and, as such, agent Myers must bear full responsibility for his actions should there be any further repercussions.
The boat captain, Neil Chapman, having been told he was part of an undercover government operation has returned to work in the area. As far as we know, Air Staff 2A are unaware of his part in the escape. We have sworn him to secrecy on the events and as long as he keeps his promise he will be safe from investigation.
Tanya Green has is now living and working in Southampton. She reports that her dreams have ceased completely. Her application to join SITU is under consideration.
Chief Inspector Stewart is thought to have suffered a partial breakdown due to stress. After a brief stay in hospital he relocated to London where he is undergoing voluntary therapy.
Peter Gray was taken to Manorbier General hospital. After receiving only minimal treatment for gunshot wounds he vanished without trace. His current whereabouts is unknown.
Vul Dragna's body was never recovered. His is currently listed as missing presumed dead.
The alien - thanks to you, the alien and the fingers are both in SITU's possession. This may open up further avenues of investigation for us in the future which may, or may not, concern you.
Media reports - the official stance is that the alien sightings were the result of a clever hoax and the temporary quarantining of the area an unfortunate result of a chemical spillage. Substantial compensation has already been paid to several parties. Unofficially, there are reports of everything from real aliens and a government cover-up to a failed military experiment. There remains sufficient confusion to ensure the real story does not emerge. As yet there appears to have been no investigation into the death of Patrick Newsome. It is hoped that, due to the circumstances of the shooting, Air Staff 2A have decided to pretend the incident never happened - officially, at least. Family of the deceased, however, are demanding an open enquiry.
The Orielton Research Centre - After accepting a more than generous compensation package, (prompted, no doubt, by the scientists' threats to publish the results of soil analysis of the area), the centre is set to extend its laboratories. Phil Lake is continuing his investigations into the mutation of sea life.
Analysis has shown the metal recovered from the stomach of the giant squid to be part of a Samoyed-class Soviet nuclear sub. Long obsolete, all these were supposed to have been disposed of at the time of the breakup of the Soviet Union. It is unlikely that the squid would have attacked the submarine, and even less likely that it would have caused significant damage if it had. Most likely the metal was part of an existing wreckage. There is a very definite link here to the wreckage reported by Martin Hughes and it is entirely possible that the submarine could have been used to transport the comatose aliens. Who was transporting the aliens at that time, and how the submarine was destroyed remains a mystery.
From: Alistair Thwaite, Debrief/84
To Operatives: Russell Osbourne, Sam Trend, Ross Myers, Michael A. Williamson, Alan Morrison, Madeleine Hook.
Subject: UFO Activity in Pembrokeshire, S. Wales.
Many thanks for your help in the recent investigation of matters alien. You will be pleased to learn that following your successful completion of this mission, you have been promoted from the rank of Investigator to that of Agent, meaning that your Illumination level is now 2.
Now that you have reached a higher rank within SITU, it is right that we should share some facts with you. Please note that these are strictly for the knowledge of Illumination level 2 or higher, and must on no account be communicated to, or even hinted at when with, persons of lower Illumination. In fact, you should not even let them know that a Level 2 of Illumination exists.
You will be aware that SITU sends Operatives to investigate Unexplained events all over the world. What you will not have known before now, but do as of today, is that these events are not as scattered and unlinked as they may at first seen. In point of fact, SITU has evidence that there exists today and has done throughout most of human history a wide-ranging global conspiracy, inimical to humanity. Therefore part of SITU's duty is to ascertain whether individual Unexplained events fit into this pattern or not: and to learn more about it and those responsible. So you can be sure that your investigations have helped all of humanity!
You have been contacted separately with the details surrounding your particular mission, and if you wish any of you wish to prepare a report to go into our magazine 'SITUation Report': this is far from compulsory, but may provide interest to other members. Your report will of course be censored by SITU HQ, so you need not fear giving too much away.
Thank you again, and I hope that you will wish to continue serving SITU on further missions.
AT / D / 84
Congratulations on successfully having completed your second investigation with SITU! As a mark of the respect and trust we place in you, you are now to be admitted to Illumination Level 3 and the rank of Executive. As stated previously, the information herein is highly secret and must on no account be communicated with those of lower security clearance.
You already know that SITU exists to thwart an ancient, evil conspiracy against all of humanity. This is not the whole story, though. The members of the conspiracy, known as Ylids, are independent persons or beings each with their own geographical area and sphere of operation. We estimate there to be no more than 40 or so of them worldwide. Individual Ylids appear to be extremely long-lived - they may be functionally immortal. They are also extremely powerful, both temporally and 'magically' / 'psychically'. An Ylid is an extraordinarily dangerous adversary. Fortunately, although they are in conspiracy together, they appear never to be encountered other than individually. We do not believe that an Ylid was directly involved in the investigation you have just completed, although we suspect strongly that one has a strong interest in UFO activity over Britain. However, the being known as Nefertiti, whose agent Abdel Essawi some of you encountered at Branston Hall, is an Ylid, as is the being known as the Black Madonna whose cult one of you encountered in Mexico. Each Ylid seems to have a number of human agents, such as Abdel Essawi and Jaime Reconvaco: these are also dangerous adversaries. We believe that there is an organized group of Ylids working towards a common end. What that end is, we do not yet know, but we can only surmise that it has to do with the eventual enslavement of all humanity under the Ylid yoke.
In general, low-level SITU investigations aim to identify the areas of influence of Ylids, to establish their locations, and to ascertain which unexplained phenomena are attributable to them and which not. Now that you are more highly Illuminated you can be expected to be working more closely on investigations we believe central to the Ylid scheme, and the targeting of particular Ylids and their agents.
Thank you again!
Out of character note from the GMs:
I hope you enjoyed that adventure, and are now keen to take your character on to bigger and better things in the ranks of SITU! In general we try to put characters of the same Illumination level together, so that if you wish to adventure again the game will probably mostly be of experienced people and will therefore probably shed light rather deeper into the conspiracy that threatens humanity!
If you would like to continue playing, just write to us - assuming you don't need another startup pack, it's just £3.00 per turn, or a special rate of £35.00 for the whole twelve turns (you can put any credit you've got left from the current game towards this, of course). You should say whether or not you would like to continue with any or all of the other characters from the investigation just finished - assuming they are of like minds, we can probably keep most of you together. These rates also apply if you'd like to start a second character - whether to replace your current one, or just so that you can have double the UNEXPLAINED fun.
Inbetween adventures you may wish to give us some indication of what your character is up to - training, research, ordinary work, whatever - and how he or she has responded to the events of the just-finished investigation. This should help develop the character a bit, and give us some pointers for what to lay on next time out.
You might also want to think about joining the Flying Squad, which denotes those investigators who are prepared to drop into existing investigations, should operatives be lost in the field (as occasionally happens) and need replacement.
And if there are any bits of the game just finished which weren't explained properly and aren't clear, just ask!
Mo + Claire
Undying King Games