Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: September 20, 2003
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Nicholas Connelly, codename MICHAEL (Jason Gallagher); Joshua Frost, codename MORGAN (Jimmy Pope); Carson Kovac (Alana Goodall)
After receiving a phone call about yet another hyper-hydrated corpse, the team headed down to the New York City morgue for their third autopsy in two days.
The body was that of a woman, but it took MORGAN's forensics ability to determine that she was young (early 20s) and Asian. She was dumped in the East River, but even the river couldn't make her swell up the way she had. Obviously she was the victim of another "bloating". A thorough investigation of the body revealed a tattoo under the woman's left arm pit. It was hard to get a good look at it considering the woman's expanded appearance, so the group decided to wait for the fluid to evaporate. MORGAN tried to extract some fluid, but his luck with needles continued. The needle broke and fluid shot out like a geyser. "Next time use a railroad spike," quipped Kovac.
MORGAN collected his water sample from the fluid pooled around the victim, as she quickly deflated. Within the hour, MORGAN could get a good look at the body art. The tattoo was of two stylized dragons in a Taoist ying-yang configuration, but they were eating each other. None of the group knew the significance of the mark, but MICHAEL managed to take an excellent photograph of it. With the body drained of most of the excess fluid, they managed to take fingerprints from the corpse. MICHAEL sent the prints to the FBI for identification, while MORGAN forwarded the picture up the Delta Green e-mail chain to see if anyone could help. MORGAN cleaned up, and the team went back to the hotel.
The next morning, MICHAEL contacted the FBI and got the victim's name, Michelle Lee, aged 21. She had a couple of minor offences as a juvenile: pot possession and battery (gang related). Her last known address was with her mother, in Chinatown. They tried the girl's phone number, but got a cell phone's voice mail. MORGAN received an e-mail from ALPHONSE. The tattoo is some sort of triad (Chinese organized crime gang) symbol. For more information, he was directed to contact Sam Kwan, a Delta Green friendly who is a NYPD detective specializing in Asian gangs. MORGAN phoned Kwan and set up a meeting for noon in the hotel's restaurant. There was a short discussion about whether or not their combined expense accounts could afford to eat there, and then they were off to the woman's apartment.
Kovac drove the two Delta Green agents to a shabby apartment building in Chinatown. There, they met Michelle Lee's mother and broke the news that the woman's daughter was dead. The woman wept for a long while, before telling the investigators that she suspected something like this would happen. Lee only stayed at her mother's house very occasionally, living for the most part with her boyfriend and hanging out with her boyfriend's gang. The boyfriend was Jerry Wong. Searching the girl's room, they found a photograph of her and some other Asian kids. The mother could only identify Wong in the picture, the well muscled guy sitting beside Lee. In the picture was a tall, thin oriental, but Lee's mother couldn't identify him. She did, however, provide Wong's phone number. MICHAEL phoned in for Wong's address while the group went back to the hotel to meet Kwan.
Sam Kwan was a powerfully built Korean-American, with a firm handshake and an engaging personality. He eagerly helped the agents. He couldn't identify any of the people in the picture they took from Lee's apartment, but he did recognize the symbol as belonging to a fairly new triad. The recent troubles in the Middle East had caused local drug dealers to get their supplies from the Asian market. This gang had been reaping the benefits of this "new economy". Unfortunately, Kwan hadn't been able to make a dent in their activities. Their method of bringing the drugs into the country was a mystery, and they left very few clues to their activities. Other than the mark, Sam knew very little about them. Lee's photograph was one of the best leads he had on the case. He asked Morgan if he could get a copy of the photograph.
Kwan was of little help directly, but he did know that the tattoo was some sort of occult symbol. He handed over an address to MORGAN, Club Apocalypse at the corner of 99th Street and Lexington. He told them to ask for a guy by the name of Will Price, or — as he's better known — "The Price". He could tell the investigators anything they want to know about the occult. Price was at the club almost every night.
As he prepared to leave, Kwan wished the investigators good luck on their "DG operation". It was at that point that MORGAN and MICHAEL realized that they hadn't warned Kwan that Kovac wasn't in the loop. As Kwan left, the other two explained to a now greatly intrigued Kovac that they belonged to a secret organization within the United States government, known as Delta Green. They told her that they do, indeed, work for the FBI and CDC respectively, but that they are also called at times to investigate things of a... paranormal nature, things that you might see on The X-Files or the sleazy, late-night syndicated cable series, Phenomen-X. "You mean, like little green men?" asked a now credulous Kovac. "Have you seen anything paranormal?"
"What, in this case?" replied MORGAN, who had seen more than his fair share of strangely deceased corpses.
Kovac remained skeptical, but seemed to maintain an open mind. She had to admit that while she figured the hyper-hydrated bodies had a scientific explanation, they were indeed strange. The group piled into Kovac's rental car and she drove them to Wong's apartment.
They rang the buzzer at the front of the apartment, but Wong didn't answer. With little discussion, Kovac whipped out a set of lock picks and easily opened the building's front door. They went up to Wong's apartment and knocked on the door. No answer. Out came Kovac's picks again. "This is extra legal," commented MICHAEL, "and you're doing it without being asked."
"This is the IRS," replied Kovac. "We thrive on this!"
She tried to pick this lock, but it proved to be far more stubborn. After about seven minutes, just as MICHAEL was ready to quit and simply kick in the door, the lock gave up and the door opened. MICHAEL was first in the door.
The apartment had a short entrance way, a kitchen to the right, and then an open living room/dining room area. It was here that MICHAEL found Wong, or rather part of him. He was dead, but all MICHAEL could see was the top third of Wong's torso, his arms, and his head. He looked like he had fallen through a hole in the floor up to his armpits, but there was no hole. MORGAN inspected the body, and it looked like it had merged with the floorboards and subfloor of the apartment.
MORGAN called Kwan and asked him to seal off and evacuate the building on the CDC's orders. He also asked Kwan for a chainsaw, but thought better of it and requested a large circular saw. Kwan and a couple of squad cars full of uniforms arrived within a half and hour and cleared out the apartment. MICHAEL tried to phone the telephone number they had for Wong, but they only got his voice mail. It must have been a cell phone number. If it was on Wong's person, it wasn't surprising it wasn't working.
Kovac picked the lock on the downstairs neighbour's apartment. MICHAEL went in first. Sure enough, there was the bottom half of Wong hanging from the ceiling. MICHAEL and Kovac tied off the body and MORGAN cut out several layers of flooring from around Wong's corpse. Once free of the floor and ceiling, they lowered him gently through the hole. MORGAN trimmed off more of the wood so that the body would lie relatively flatly on the gurney. He quickly came up with a cover story of Wong falling through a whole in the ceiling and dying from a blow to the head as he fell. They lifted the corpse onto the gurney and covered it with a blanket.
The three investigators wheeled the gurney out to the ambulance, and gave instructions to the drivers to take Wong to the morgue and hide him away in one of the freezers. While they stood outside, MICHAEL noticed a tall, thin Asian standing half in and half out of a red Lexus coupe, watching the proceedings. He pointed the Asian out to Kovac and MORGAN. The Asian jumped into the car and drove off with a squeal of tires. The investigators ran for Kovac's rental. They took up the chase, but not before the Lexus managed to get several car lengths ahead of them.
Kovac rushed through the New York traffic, trying to catch up to the Lexus, while MICHAEL called in the car's license plate number. The Asian noticed he was being followed and started to evade. They drove recklessly through city streets and narrow alleys. The Asian tried desperately to shake Kovac's rental car, but she was too good a driver. At one point she did sideswipe another car in the heavy traffic, but she maintained control throughout the chase. MICHAEL made a note of the license plate of the car Kovac hit in order to call it in. The Lexus drove through an impossibly narrow alley that added a few more scrapes to Kovac's rental, which was a few seconds behind the sports coupe. The lead car burst out of the alley and almost made it across the road. Another car couldn't stop in time and t-boned the Lexus in the rear quarter. Kovac skidded to a stop and the investigators piled out of the car.
The Asian limped out of his car and down an adjoining alley. MICHAEL and MORGAN ran quickly in pursuit while Kovac checked for injuries among the occupants of the other car. The tall Asian climbed a fence and ran down the end of an alley. It appeared to be a dead end, with the door leading into a dilapidated building off to his left. He turned around to confront the Delta Green agents. MICHAEL climbed the fence skillfully and pulled out his identification. As MORGAN cleared the fence less skillfully, MICHAEL caught sight of something moving toward him from a point 20 or so feet above the Asian. MICHAEL dodged out of the way just in time to avoid the claws of a large winged creature, the cross between a reptile and an insect.
MORGAN and MICHAEL pulled out their guns. MORGAN fired at the Asian while MICHAEL shot at the creature. MORGAN missed as the creature raked his side with three sharp claws. MICHAEL's shot hit, but bounced off the monster's thick shell. Both Delta Green men fired at the monster as the subject of their pursuit ran through the doorway and into the building. MORGAN missed, but MICHAEL connected. A spray of ichor accompanied the creature's shrieking cry. It lashed out at MICHAEL but missed. MORGAN fired into the creature's head and MICHAEL karate-kicked the monster in the thorax. It collapsed in a steaming pile of twitching goo.
MICHAEL ran after the Asian while MORGAN hobbled behind, calling for Kovac on his cell phone. MICHAEL ran into the building. It was utterly dark, except for the occasional stream of light that broke in through cracks in the sealed-up window frames. MICHAEL pulled out a flashlight and looked around. He considered heading left, but just managed to see a set of fresh footprints off to the right. He cautiously followed, gun in front of him. The footprints ended at a wall. MICHAEL pushed against the wall for a secret opening, but there was none. Shining the light around, he saw that there was an intricate pattern of lines drawn in the shape of some kind of a portal. Whatever opening the Asian ran through, it was now closed.
Kovac caught up with the Delta Green men. They told her what happened. She remained skeptical. The dissolving ooze that was the creature looked like, perhaps, the body of a homeless person, she suggested (though the look on her face showed that the sight of the "body" disturbed her at least a little). At any rate, Kovac found the name and address of the car's owner on the registration slip in the car's glove compartment. They were chasing David Yeung, 33 years of age.
They drove over to Yeung's townhouse. It, too, was in Chinatown but in a much more affluent area. It didn't look like anyone was home. They walked around to the back, opened the gate, and broke in through the back door using Kovac's lock pick set. No one was home, though it looked like someone had left the place in a hurry. Something was missing from the living room. Upstairs in the bedroom MORGAN discovered that clothes had gone missing. On a wall near the bed was another one of those portals made from intricately drawn lines. The lines, however, looked like they had been smeared out and drawn over recently with a different pen or marker. Apparently Yeung had just left, though how he managed to get to the house before they did — when he was on foot and they were driving — was a mystery.
"Come on," said MORGAN, "I have another autopsy to do."
"Oh, right, the plywood hoola-hoop," replied Kovac.
"Yeah, explain that one, Scully!" retorted MORGAN.
MORGAN conducted his fourth autopsy in three days. Wong had died of heart failure, caused by the molecules of his body merging with those of the floor. The same phenomenon occurred to Wong's clothing and the cell phone in his pants pocket. While conducting the autopsy, MORGAN sent the other two back to Wong's house. They looked at the floor and cut pieces of wood, but no squiggly lines were found. Presumably Yeung escaped through some sort of magical portal, but that wasn't what was used to kill Wong. Who killed Wong, and how, was still a mystery.
It was after 9 p.m. when the autopsy was completed, so they decided to head to Club Apocalypse to talk to "The Price". The bouncers at the club were not about to let the investigators in until they flashed their badges. They walked down the steps and into the noisy club. In the back of the main room, in a booth partially protected from the ambient sound, sat "The Price". He was well dressed, but obviously twice the age of most of the club's inhabitants. He welcomed the players and then got down to business.
They showed him a picture of the tattoo. He identified it, but only after they handed over some money. The $20 from MORGAN wasn't enough, so MICHAEL added an extra $100. "The Price" pointed out that instead of just one set of oriental dragons eating each other, there were dragons within dragons within dragons. The symbol is called "the crawling chaos". It is associated with a cult that was all but wiped out on the Chinese mainland, but still survives in Hong Kong and elsewhere.
MORGAN pushed across the picture taken from Lee's room. "The Price" recognized Yeung as the tall person in the picture. For an extra $100, he explained how he talked to Yeung about "the crawling chaos" for most of the evening about four months ago. Yeung was particularly interested in the "Bloated Woman", a statute having a connection to "the crawling chaos". He asked "The Price" where he might find such a statue. He also asked "The Price" where he could get two silver sickles custom made, and where he might find a copy of the book, The Goddess of the Black Fan. "The Price" told him that he could get the sickles made at Moretta Silver and Gold in Brooklyn, and that the only copy of The Goddess of the Black Fan that he knew of in North America was at the Metropolitan Library. As for the statue, ceramic knock-offs could be found every now and again (he knew of one in San Francisco), but the original jade statue is probably somewhere in China. MICHAEL asked how much it would go for at auction. "The Price" said that it could go for as high as $1 million if the right parties were at the auction, but for a fraction of that if the "right parties" didn't show up.
MORGAN thought to ask "The Price" if he owned the club. He laughed, and said no. When asked who did own the club, he answered, "Robert Hubert". The three investigators immediately recognized that as the name under which Ng's cell phone was registered. Kovac ran up to the bar and asked to see the owner. She was told that Hubert wasn't in that day. Kovac left a message with Hubert and asked him to call her. With that, the investigators left the club.
Instead of going back to their own rooms, the investigators bunked in the one room and set a watch. MICHAEL stayed up for the first watch. He woke Kovac up for the second watch, but she fell asleep after an hour and slept through two hours of MORGAN's watch. She woke him up for the last hour of his watch. In the morning she admitted that she had, "...fallen asleep. I don't think anybody got us." The investigators got ready to go for breakfast.
The group wasn't sure what was happening, but they were sure that events were progressing to some sort of conclusion. They began diagraming what they knew, but all they could conclude was that they still didn't have all the pieces of the puzzle.
The investigators started calling phone numbers and comparing voices to the voice the FBI recorded in the van just before Ng's death. The person Ng began talking to as the van's power gave out was male and did not have a Chinese accent. His voice didn't match "The Price", Michelle Lee, or Jerry Wong. They phoned Murray Schwarz' apartment and got his voice mail, too. The voice wasn't his.
Kwan contacted them with the specifics of Lee's prior convictions, but there wasn't much more to add to what they already knew. Kovac phoned the IRS to discover what they could about Hubert. Hubert didn't own Club Apocalypse, but had the power of attorney for the true, anonymous owner. Hubert apparently didn't "live" anywhere, but he made more than $120,000 last year managing the club. The club's books appeared to be completely above board, which for a club in New York was strange in and of itself.
The group visited Moretta's Silver and Gold. Antonio Moretta, the proprieter, was happy to help. He identified Yeung in the picture. Yeung picked up a pair of solid silver sickles crafted to Yeung's own design. Both sickles were identical, about two feet long, and sharp. That was the first and only thing Moretta had made for Yeung. He picked up the sickles two weeks ago, a couple of days ahead of Yeung's deadline.
They stopped by the Metropolitan Library and went up to the reference desk. They asked the librarian if they could see the library's copy of The Goddess of the Black Fan. The librarian regretted to inform them that the book had been stolen about two months ago. There were no other known copies in the United States, and no known copies in English at all.
MICHAEL called the city clerk's office and found that Yeung didn't own the townhouse where he lived. The group decided to go down to the clerk's office and do some poking around themselves.
They worked most of the day, and after hours, using their credentials to work past closing. Yeung didn't own his building, but Number 1 Eastern Investments did own it. Number 1 Eastern Investments is a shell company for a larger numbered corporation. Kovac's accounting skills allowed her to penetrate the web of deception that hid this fact, and the fact that the numbered corporation owned the company Number 1 Hong Kong Imports. This company owned four warehouses... two of which were down by the docks, near the East River, at piers 12 and 31. The investigators checked a map and determined that the pier 31 warehouse was the one closest to where Lee's body was recovered.
Just as they were about to leave for the warehouse, Kovac's phone rang. It was Hubert, returning her call. He was available if they wanted to drive to the club and see him. They went directly to Club Apocalypse.
This time, as they entered the club, they saw the photographs lining the entrance way. Somehow they had missed them when they came to see "The Price". A well-dressed gentleman appeared in every picture, in the exact same clothes and the exact same pose. In fact, he looked identical in every way in each picture. The pictures were autographed with their personal thanks to Robert Hubert. Elvis was in one picture, Janis Joplin in another, and Jim Morrison in a third. He was photographed with Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Sid Vicious, and Harry Nilson. Some recent photos of aging musicians included Jerry Garcia and George Harrison. There were pictures with Kurt Cobain, Michael Hutchence and Tupac Shakur. The investigators were shown to a booth. Presently they were joined by a well dressed man they recognized from the pictures.
Robert Hubert was not very informative. The phone that was listed in his name and used by Francis Ng happened to belong to the club. It had been reported stolen as soon as the club noticed it was missing. The rest of the club's phones are with Verizon, which is why only that one showed up belonging to AT&T. He admitted that he isn't the owner of the club, although he has power of attorney over the club for the owner, whom he refused to name. He denied any knowledge of Yeung or Ng, or any of the triad members. He attributed his looks to a very good plastic surgeon. The room was too dim for the investigators to tell if he was lying one way or another with regard to the surgery. As far as the other things he said, as far as they could tell he was stating the God's honest truth.
There was nothing left for the investigators to do but to check out the warehouse. They arrived at pier 31 around 10 p.m. A set of buildings blocked the view of the warehouse from the street, as it sat right on the waterfront behind the buildings. There were crates piled up near these buildings and near the warehouse itself, but the dock yard area between the buildings and the warehouse was clear of obstructions and cover. A pier out to the river lay beyond the warehouse off to the left. The night had become humid and misty. The sound of foghorns reverberated off the water. As they descended the steps to the waterfront, the investigators could see a light on in the warehouse.
Hiding in the shadows at the rear of one of the buildings was what appeared to be a homeless man. As they approached him, the investigators detected the stench of open sewage. MICHAEL shone a light on the homeless man, startling him. He wasn't homeless at all, but a city sewage department worker. The smell, and his clothing, suggested that he had come straight from work to this place. He had a piece of paper and a pencil in his hands. He was counting foghorn blasts.
The sewer worker was John Grimes. A week ago he was told to come to this location at 8:30 p.m. on the 21st of August and count foghorn blasts. The voice that told him to do this was on the other side of a blue door, at 96th and East 5th Streets. So far he had counted 23 blasts.
Grimes had seen people gathering at the warehouse since about 9 p.m. All of them, about a dozen in total, were Asian. One of them was tall and thin. He didn't know what they were doing, but they were doing something in the warehouse. Another foghorn blasted, and Grimes made another mark on his piece of paper.