Scenario Author: William A. Barton (modified for Delta Green after the Columbia disaster by Allan Goodall)
Scenario Publisher: Chaosium Inc., in the Cthulhu Now sourcebook
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: April 17, 2004
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, codename MAYA (Alana Goodall)
Spoiler Warning: "The Killer Out of Space" was originally published in 1987 in Cthulhu Now, Chaosium's first modern day sourcebook for Call of Cthulhu. If you are a Delta Green player or modern day Call of Cthulhu player you may wish to ask your Keeper if they intend to run any scenarios in Cthulhu Now before reading this write-up, as pertinent scenario information will be revealed.
Some changes have been made to the scenario to make it compatible with Delta Green and to reflect changes in the world in the 17 years since the scenario's publication.
Dedication: This write-up is respectfully dedicated to the memory of Michael Anderson, David Brown, Kalpana Chawla, Laurel Clark, Rick Husband, William McCool, and Ilan Ramon, the crew of STS-107 — the final mission of the space shuttle Columbia. Columbia broke apart on reentry on February 1, 2003.
Agent MORGAN had a good couple of months since the events in Groversville, Tennessee. He successfully learned the "Bloat" spell in the scroll he recovered in New York. Mentally, he felt better than he had in a long time. Work had been thankfully uneventful. He was catching up with reports in his office at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, when David Bristol, a colleague, knocked on his door.
MORGAN motioned him to enter, and Bristol closed the door behind him. "Do you remember when you asked me to tell you if I came across anything strange?" asked Bristol.
MORGAN couldn't forget. It was Bristol that first brought to MORGAN's attention the strange deaths that propelled MORGAN into Delta Green. After the deaths were solved, MORGAN asked Bristol to inform him if he found anything you would consider "strange".
"Well, I'm not sure this qualifies, but I thought I should mention it." Bristol explained that Dr. Jim Johnston, a CDC researcher, had been called out to eastern Texas on Sunday, May 9 to investigate the outbreak of a strange disease. He had no sooner arrived and got the quarantine zone set up when he was replaced by Dr. William Hudson. Hudson was a new investigator at the CDC, having spent most of his career working for pharmaceutical companies. Johnston was angry at being replaced by a man with less seniority.
Johnston told Bristol that the army was involved in having him pulled. He told Bristol that army soldiers were all over the quarantine zone. MORGAN asked if he was sure they were members of the army.
"Well, you know Johnston. If it isn't microscopic, dying of a strange disease, or female he just doesn't pay much attention to it. He saw a uniform and assumed it was the army. For all I know, he saw a boy scout troop."
MORGAN thanked Bristol for bringing this to his attention and Bristol left.
MORGAN did a check on the CDC database. There were six victims of an immune system breakdown in Gove, Texas. There was no correlation, as yet, between the victims other than the fact that they all lived in the eastern Texas town less than two hours away from Houston, near the town of Crockett, in Houston County.
Beside Johnston being replaced by the junior Hudson, MORGAN found it strange that the military could take control of a CDC investigation. He picked up his Delta Green cell phone and called Agent MICHAEL via a Delta Green calling card and a secure router in the Caribbean. He told MICHAEL all he knew, but MICHAEL was skeptical. It wouldn't be unheard of for the CDC to call in the Texas National Guard, which Johnston could have easily mistaken for the army. If that was the case, the rest was just internal CDC politics and a disgruntled employee. He would need more information before activating M Cell. He suggested that MORGAN contact ALPHONSE.
MORGAN called the A Cell leader, but ALPHONSE echoed MICHAEL's appraisal. He told MORGAN that this wasn't critical enough for A-cell to be contacted directly by cell phone. He suggested that MORGAN e-mail him when he received more information.
Undaunted, MORGAN checked his pay records. Apparently MORGAN had almsot a month of sick leave accumulated, though he was certain that he'd used up most of his personal time. He suspected someone affiliated with Delta Green had doctored the records. With this happy revelation, MORGAN e-mailed his boss, Dr. Peter Dern, that he needed to take some time off due to a family emergency. He booked a flight to Houston and a rental car. Before leaving, he pawned off his reports on a couple of underlings. He left to the office to pack for a trip to Texas.
MORGAN found himself in a gold colored Toyota Echo five miles from Gove, TX, when he came to a military checkpoint. The checkpoint was manned by pimply-faced soldiers and a couple of Humvees. The soldiers were, indeed, members of the Texas National Guard. One of the soldiers approached MORGAN and told him that the town was under quarantine. MORGAN flashed his CDC badge and told him he wanted to see Dr. Hudson. The soldier asked MORGAN if he was on the list. MORGAN argued that he didn't need to be on the list. This wasn't good enough for the young soldier, who pulled out his radio and called for permission.
While he waited, MORGAN saw another Humvee approach. He could see that it was painted in a slightly different camouflage pattern, suggesting that it wasn't part of the same unit. MORGAN squinted. The soldiers in the Humvee wore blue berets. The blue berets suggested Air Force personnel. The last time MORGAN had come across guys like this, a clandestine government agency was trying to capture aliens. MORGAN called MICHAEL.
"MICHAEL, this is MORGAN. We have blue berets."
"What, at a discount? The kind you find at a second hand store?" replied MICHAEL, paraphrasing the artist once known as "pretentious squiggle".
MORGAN explained in more detail that he was in Texas, and that he saw men in camouflage with blue berets at a military checkpoint. MICHAEL said that he would inform Agent MAYA and ALPHONSE that he was putting M Cell on alert. They hung up.
MICHAEL quickly called MAYA and told her that there was a potential "majestic presence" in Gove, Texas, and told her to pack her bag in case they were called in. He then e-mailed ALPHONSE and told him the same thing. MICHAEL called MORGAN. MORGAN answered just as a pimply faced soldier came up to the car and knocked on the window. MORGAN told MICHAEL that he would give him a call later, and hung up.
The soldier escorted MORGAN to a National Guard Humvee. He was taking MORGAN to the CDC headquarters in a trailer on a ranch about two miles from Gove. They pulled past the Humvee with the guys in blue berets and headed north. A couple of miles up the road, a small convoy drove past, heading south. The convoy consisted of two Humvees in front, a strange eight-wheeled Armoured Personnel Carrier, and two more Humvees pulling up the rear. MORGAN recognized the APC from the operation in Maine. He now suspected that Operation Blue Fly — Majestic-12's alien recovery team — was engaged in eastern Texas. The Humvee carrying MORGAN continued up the road and then drove onto the ranch where the CDC command post was located.
MORGAN got out of the car and was greeted by Dr. William Hudson. Hudson was surprised to see him, and asked him why he was there. MORGAN answered that he could ask the same question, and immediately began grilling the other CDC investigator. Hudson claimed that he couldn't tell MORGAN much, that he was under orders to keep things quiet. The military were calling the shots.
"Last time I checked," argued MORGAN, "the CDC was not under military jurisdiction."
"In this case, it is," replied Hudson.
MORGAN's Delta Green cell phone rang. It was MICHAEL, again. MICHAEL forgot to ask, earlier, if MORGAN had brought any of the leucopararosaniline, the substance that could detect the presence of the strange tissue that had infested Groversville. MORGAN said that he did, in circumspect terms so that Hudson didn't know what MORGAN was talking about. MICHAEL asked if M-cell should be activated. MORGAN made an executive decision and said that they should.
MICHAEL hung up. He e-mailed ALPHONSE and he phoned MAYA. They made preparations for MICHAEL to fly in to Houston. MAYA would drive from New Orleans.
Meanwhile, MORGAN excused himself and walked away from Hudson. He used his regular phone to call Byrne, his boss. Byrne wasn't in the office, as it was after business hours. A couple of soldiers walked around the ranch carrying Geiger counters. MORGAN could tell, from the sound of the clicking, that they were only picking up background radiation, but it was significant that they were checking, anyway. He swapped cell phones and contacted MICHAEL one more time. MICHAEL was packing when his cell phone rang. MORGAN told him to try to slip into Gove "under the radar". They hung up, and MORGAN walked back to Hudson.
MORGAN tried one more time to get officially involved in whatever was happening. MORGAN was Hudson's superior, but Hudson wouldn't budge. Hudson said it wasn't up to him. It was up to Colonel Coffey, the commander of the military operation, and that Coffey was unlikely to allow more people into the operation.
"You're alone, aren't you?" asked MORGAN, realizing that Hudson was the only CDC official on site.
"Except for the specialists from the Air... uh, military," replied the junior CDC investigator.
Disgusted, MORGAN told the pimply soldier to drive him back to his car.
On the way back to the gold Echo, MORGAN struck up a conversation with the National Guards. He mentioned the disease that the CDC and military were investigating. He began by sowing paranoia, asking if they were drinking water from bottles and eating food that came from outside the containment area. The soldiers said that they were, but they were clearly getting nervous. He asked them if they were showing symptoms. They said that they weren't. MORGAN asked them to run through the symptoms, just to make sure that they didn't have any. The Guard that first talked to him ran down the list of symptoms they were told to watch for by their superiors: itching, weakness, dry mouth, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea.
MORGAN pulled out the leucopararosaniline. He used the same cover story he'd used in Groversville, TN, that the fluid would appear clear or purple if there was no disease present but would turn bright red if they were infected by the disease (this was a lie; the fluid turned purple in the presence of the strange tissue in Groversville and was clear if no tissue was present). The soldiers eagerly allowed MORGAN to spray them. The fluid stayed clear. Happy with his social engineering, and the fact that there was none of the strange tissue present, MORGAN gave the soldiers some advice. "Stay away from the public water supply. Check your boots. Foot care is always important."
They arrived at the checkpoint. MORGAN got into his Echo, waved at the soldiers, and drove south to Crockett. He checked into the Crockett Inn.
MAYA and MICHAEL were en route to Houston. MAYA would arrive first, then MICHAEL, who was flying in. They originally planned to go straight on to Crockett, but MORGAN phoned MICHAEL and suggested that they check out the "green box" in Houston. MICHAEL contacted ALPHONSE and made arrangements for the A Cell leader to overnight the key to a FedEx store in the Texas city. MICHAEL and MAYA stayed in Houston overnight.
MICHAEL and MAYA arrived at the FedEx store in time for them opening. A small package waited for them. MICHAEL opened it and extracted a key and a handwritten note with an address. They then drove down to Houston Public Storage, a typical multi-storey air conditioned storage facility just off the I-10. The "green box" was unit 231, inside the facility and on the second floor. The door was sealed with a good quality padlock. MICHAEL opened it, and the two agents entered the 10 foot by 10 foot locker.
There was quite a stash in the Houston "green box": a Barrett sniper rifle and 50 rounds of ammunition, five cases of MREs (Meals, Ready To Eat), two ghillie suits, three sets of Houston Astros caps and t-shirts (two XL, one L), a can of Deep Woods Off, a Timex digital watch with the crystal fogged over and pitted, three sets of night vision equipment, a rusted footlocker, a cheap adult sized coffin (the kind made of essentially heavy duty cardboard), a three-person tent, a dental hygenist's set, a snow cone maker, a Coleman cooler, a Coleman stove, a case of Moosehead beer with three cans missing, and a pneumatic nail gun. The agents decided to rent a bigger vehicle.
MORGAN woke up and went online with his laptop. He searched the net for information on the outbreak in Texas. Surprisingly, there was nothing about it.
MICHAL and MAYA returned to the storage locker, having rented a silver Nissan Pathfinder Armada. They loaded up a dolly with the Barrett rifle, the MREs, the Astros hats and t-shirts, the Off, night vision equipment, ghillie suits, cooler, stove, and beer. They placed the rifle and military equipment in the footlocker. They locked the storage locker and headed back to the Armada. With their stuff loaded, they headed north to Crockett.
There was a knock on the door. MORGAN grabbed his gun and called, "Who is it?"
"It's the Easter Bunny," came the reply, "now let us in, damn it!"
"Ah, MAYA," said MORGAN as he opened the door. "Nice to hear your pleasant voice. Come on in."
MICHAEL slipped in behind MAYA. "We brought beer."
"It's good for your hair, too," added MAYA.
MORGAN told them everything he knew. The agents planned their operation. They would slip into Gove after nightfall. Before they could do that they needed maps. They got into MORGAN's Echo and drove down to the the county courthouse. There they were able to get maps of the county, and Gove in particular. They drove back to the motel and plotted their entry route.
MICHAEL thought to check for "no fly" zones in eastern Texas. Normally one isn't necessary for a disease outbreak. He did some checking with people he knew in the FBI and discovered that, indeed, the airspace was restricted in a large circle centered just west of Gove. The restriction prevented anything flying over the area at an altitude of less than 15,000 feet.
While MICHAEL was checking out flight restrictions, MORGAN contacted Jim Johnston, the man at the CDC who was replaced by Hudson. Johnston was steamed at being replaced by the junior Hudson. The order had come from Dr. Byrne. Byrne replaced Johnston with Hudson due to orders from people "on high". Apparently before he worked for pharmaceutical companies, Hudson had been in the U.S. Army. It was felt by someone in the chain of command that Hudson would be a better fit with the military than Johnston, an avowed civilian.
MORGAN hung up and MICHAEL relayed his news about the air restrictions. By this time it was supper, so the agents ate, and then took a nap.
After waking, the agents decided to find out all they could about Colonel Coffey before slipping into Gove. What they found wasn't much: he was an Air Force officer who was currently unattached to any particular unit or operation. They did manage to find an out of date picture of the colonel. He didn't look familiar to MORGAN or MICHAEL, but MAYA recognized him in a flashback of recovered memory: he was the man in charge of the Blue Fly operation they investigated in Maine. This shocked MAYA, since her memory of the incident had been wiped out by the blue fluid.
"We have a Blue Fly in the ointment," said MICHAEL.