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: June 5, 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.
The agents looked up information on STS-107, the space shuttle Columbia's final mission. They downloaded an official list of experiments, but nothing in the list suggested anything of strange or extraterrestrial origin. They did not find any reference to the number on the canister. They did find a picture of a large canister that looked like the one they saw being recovered by the men in blue berets. Further searching found that the canister was mounted on something called FREESTAR, a machine that was part of the shuttle's payload. FREESTAR is a frame for holding experiments. The canister is known as an HHC (Hitchhiker Canister), which is used to hold experimental packages or launch small items into space. The FREESTAR rig was mounted near the rear of the shuttle's cargo bay.
It seemed unlikely to the agents that an explosion in the cargo bay could have brought down the shuttle and created the small breach recorded by NASA. MICHAEL thought it was more more likely that some sort of creature got on board the shuttle through the breach and hitched a ride in one of the HHC canisters.
MORGAN really wanted to do an autopsy on some of the victims of the Colour. MAYA pointed out that the creature didn't actually kill the woman, just pulled the life force from her. As far as they knew, the woman was still alive. MORGAN still wanted into the area to do more investigating.
They discussed getting back into the quarantine area. MORGAN suggested that he and MICHAEL wear the two uniforms and bring in MAYA as a captive.
MAYA objected, stating that they would simply feed her to the creature. "Then I could be the one you do the autopsy on. Here, take some tissue samples now. Then you'll be able to do a 'before' and 'after' comparison."
The agents needed more equipment. "Whenever we go up against NRO Delta we go on a shopping expedition. It's traditional," said MICHAEL.
"Let's go shopping," said MAYA. "We're right here near Houston. The Galleria is here!" She realized the time of day. "Okay, we can't go shopping. It's too late. Let's make a list."
They wrote up a list of equipment they needed to pick up. MORGAN added GPS units to the shopping list. He tried to figure out the location of the pond where he saw the Colour hide, but he couldn't place it on any of their maps.
MICHAEL perused the e-mail about the blasted heath again, and came to the conclusion that they would have to slip into the quarantine area, track the creature, and observe it for weaknesses. From a distance. They noted that the creature seemed to avoid the well lit area where the Blue Fly operation recovered the canister. Also, the sample MORGAN took from the field was invisible by day. MICHAEL suggested that the creature might be hurt by light. They needed bright lights. They checked the phone book and found that Crockett, Texas, had a Wal-Mart Supercentre. They went shopping after all.
At the Wal-Mart they picked up three 3-million candle power spotlights, three GPS units, and a couple of bottles of "skunk scent" from the sporting goods section. They selected a Sony DVD recordable video camera, and a police band radio scanner from the electronics department. They filled the remaining space in the shopping cart with light sticks, duct tape, super glue, spray cans of marking paint (white, orange, and purple), three Zippo lighters, three laser pointers, blacklight bulbs for the spotlights, some ziplock freezer bags (to replenish MORGAN's supply of sample bags), several firework "smoke bombs", batteries, one can of oven spray and some beef jerky. MAYA saw MORGAN's beef jerky, and ran back for snacks of her own. MORGAN looked over their goods and said, "It looks like we're stoners on the way to a rave. All we need is hair dye and we'd be set."
The agents packed their purchases into the Armada. They drove back to the motel to get the rest of their things. MORGAN put batteries in the GPS units and turned them on. The group stuffed the Armada and headed back toward the quarantine area.
MICHAEL pointed out their intended route on their map. They would travel north along the road to Gove, but turn off to the west before they got to the military checkpoint. They would hide the Armada off the road and then hike north about a mile and a half through the woods, heading for the suspected area of the pond.
"I don't mind the aliens, the monsters, the floors that aren't there. But nobody told me when I signed on for this that there'd be so much exercise," complained MAYA.
They drove from the motel through Latexo and turned west at the Independence Church. Soon they came to a dirt road. Looking around, while MAYA slowed down the Armada, MICHAEL found an area where they could hide the large SUV. MAYA supervised the hiding of the Armada. When they were done, the vehicle was almost impossible to see except close up. They moved into the woods.
With the snap of twigs and the rustle of underbrush, the group slowly moved northward. After close to half an hour they came to the woods edge. In front of them was a creek, and north of the creek was a large hill. They headed west. The grass glowed with the strange phosphorescent radiation they saw the night before. MORGAN inspected the area with the Geiger counter and found that the grass was radioactive above background levels. MICHAEL noticed that the grass around them not only glowed but that the grass was moving as though there was a heavy breeze; the air was rather calm, though, and he could feel no breeze. Chills ran up their spines in spite of the evening's warmth.
The agents saw the Colour northeast of them, moving north by northeast. Looking around them, MICHAEL hit the glowing grass with the spotlight. He pulled it away and it still glowed, so the spotlight didn't destroy the glow. He did the same thing with the blacklight, with the same results. MICHAEL tried moving the grass around with a stick, and found that his movements and the movement of the stick did not interrupt the movement of the grass; it moved of its own volition. MORGAN dug up a grass divot, and it still moved. MORGAN dripped some of his own blood on the grass, but nothing untoward happened to the blood.
MICHAEL saw that part of the large glowing area was glowing brighter than the rest. The creature was leaving a trail. He suggested that they track the Colour, instead of doubling back to the creature's pond. As they debated the merits of following it, MORGAN pointed out that it was moving further away and that they should hurry up if they were going to follow it. MICHAEL and MAYA pointed out that they had to be careful, as they may be the town's only hope.
They followed the Colour at a brisk jog. They lost sight of the creature for a second. When they came through some underbrush they could see the Colour hovering a hundred yards beyond them. A middle aged man stood in front of the creature. They saw that the man was holding something out in front of him. MICHAEL heard him calling to the creature, "Begone foul spawn of Satan. May Lord God condemn thee to Hell!" The creature moved off to the east and gave the man and his house a wide berth. They could see the man was holding a cross, and probably a bible in the other hand. They looked at each other for a moment, made a note of the house using their GPS system, and continued to follow the creature.
As the creature moved along the eastern face of another hill, the agents heard humming off to their west. They looked that way and saw a barbed-wire topped chain link fence surrounding a junk yard. MORGAN thought that perhaps the fence was electrified. They got closer but the sound seemed to come from inside the fence. MICHAEL touched the fence with his hand, but nothing happened. The sound came from several places within the compound. Off to his left, MICHAEL saw a tracked crane. On the crane was an electro-magnet. The agents looked at each other once more. Was the magnet on? Was the creature repelled by magnets? They let the creature move off while they inspected the junkyard.
MICHAEL moved around to the front of the compound, near the crane. The humming was louder. He threw one of MORGAN's steel tweezers at the crane, but he missed. He threw a needle. The needle arced under the magnet, and suddenly jumped up onto the underside of the magnet itself. The crane was operational. The front gates of the junkyard were locked with a padlock. MAYA picked it, easily. As they walked into the junkyard they noticed that there were two other cranes, which were also humming. Each crane was built on caterpillar tracks.
"Three cranes with tracks! We could each drive one and trap the creature!" cried MORGAN.
"That would be stealthy," said MAYA.
The agents walked up to the office of Buddy's Best Wrex. The door was locked, and the lights were off. MAYA picked the lock. It opened after a few minutes of trying. The office looked like a typical junkyard place of business: there was grease on the most unlikely of surfaces, carburetors acted as paperweights, and oil company calendars of various years hung on the walls. MICHAEL put on rubber gloves. "Can we have booties?" asked MAYA. MORGAN handed out rubber covers for their shoes. They entered the office looking for signs of inhabitants or interesting paperwork. They didn't find anything of interest. MICHAEL noted that none of the junkyard dogs were around.
They left the office, took off their booties and gloves, and climbed into the cranes, one agent per crane. Each of them figured out how to make the crane move around the junkyard. The tricky part was the operation of the generators. After 40 minutes, MORGAN figured out how to turn off the generator. However another 30 minutes went by and the agents were unable to restart the crotchety generator. MICHAEL thought he heard something, but when he strained to hear there was only the sound of cicadas. MAYA tried her luck at starting the generator, but only managed to pull loose a thick cable. MORGAN tried to repair MAYA's mistake. MICHAEL looked around while occasionally watching MORGAN work. MAYA, also looked around, warily. She noticed an orange glow on the horizon to the north. Something was on fire.
MORGAN finally repaired MAYA's damage. MICHAEL and MAYA could now hear small arms fire from the north. MICHAEL said, "It appears that the soldiers are fighting the Colour. I hypothesize that soon it will return this way." He turned to MORGAN, "No pressure."
With sweat beading on his brow, MORGAN pulled a lever, hit a couple of switches, and the crane's generator came back to life.
Now that MORGAN had figured out how to make the machines work, he tried to teach the others how to do it, too. MICHAEL was quick to pick it up but MAYA was not mechanically inclined and couldn't figure it out. "MAYA, you can act as bait!" suggested MORGAN.
"If we live through this," snapped MAYA, "I can and will audit your ass. Keep the snide remarks to yourself, Agent MORGAN."
MORGAN spent another twenty minutes figuring out how to make the cranes swing the magnets. MICHAEL also tried, but couldn't figure it out for himself. MORGAN eventually explained it well enough that MICHAEL could also do it.
MAYA was at the junkyard's eastern fence. She saw the Colour moving well past the junkyard off to the northeast, heading south. She ran back to the male agents, yelling and gesturing. MICHAEL and MORGAN couldn't see the Colour. MICHAEL grabbed one of the spotlights and ran out the gates, hoping to attract the creature. MAYA waited for him near the gate, while MORGAN ran to each crane, shutting off the magnets.
MICHAEL ran past a hill and saw the Colour. It was much larger than the night before. It had stopped moving to the south and was proceeding to the house where the man with the bible lived. MICHAEL shone the spotlight on the Colour. It stopped moving toward the house. It moved to the left then to the right, trying to get away from the light. MICHAEL played the light over it. It started, slowly, to move toward him. MICHAEL turned and ran for the junkyard.
M-cell's leader cleared a hill with the Colour gaining on him. MAYA quickly opened the gate and let him in. She closed the gate behind him. The Colour closed in on her. She turned her light on the Colour. It slowed to a halt and moved away from her. MICHAEL turned on his light. The Colour disappeared behind some junk in the western part of the junkyard.
MICHAEL ran to the crane in the southeast corner of the yard. MORGAN, sitting in the crane in the northwest corner of the compound, phoned MAYA. "Where is it?" he yelled. MAYA climbed up on top of the car crusher in the center of the yard. She looked around and saw the Colour. It was almost on MORGAN. She yelled at him, but he couldn't understand what she was saying. He felt the hair on the back of his neck stand up. He turned around and saw the Colour. With a start, he flipped the switch and turned on the magnet. The Colour retreated.
MORGAN raced for the crane in the southwest corner. MAYA ran to his location. The Colour was over top of the crane, and between MORGAN and the crane's controls. MORGAN shone his light on it, as did MAYA. The light drove the Colour away. MORGAN jumped into the crane and told MAYA to get back in the middle of the yard. She ran back to the car crusher and climbed on top of it. The Colour descended toward her, rapidly, from the north. As it got to the crusher she yelled. The other two agents turned on their magnets. MAYA jumped from the crusher, and backed away. The Colour hovered in the center of the junkyard, shifting and twitching, but seemingly stuck in the middle of the magnetic field.
MORGAN and MICHAEL got into the empty spots of the junkyard and shone lights on the creature. MAYA did the same thing, while videotaping the creature. MORGAN checked his watch. They had at least two more hours until sun-up. MORGAN pulled out the Geiger counter. The creature was radiating energy, but not enough to cause the agents any health problems, at least as long as they didn't spend too much time around it. They moved away from the creature, closer to the gate. MORGAN walked from crane to crane, making sure the machinery was working properly.
They heard the sound of a chopper off in the distance. MICHAEL sneaked out the front gate. MAYA ran into the shack, looking for a switch for the junkyard's floodlights. She hoped to hide the Colour with bright lights. She found an electrical panel with a switch. MAYA flipped the switch and the lights came on in the junkyard. MORGAN, meanwhile, stayed hidden in the cab of one of the cranes.
MICHAEL could see the helicopter. It was doing a grid search and was flying east-to-west about a quarter of a mile north of the junkyard. Further away was another helicopter. He headed for the flat area north of the junkyard, where he expected one of the helicopters to land. MICHAEL hid and then called MORGAN on the Delta Green cell phone. He told MORGAN to grab MAYA and join him north of Buddy's Best Wrex. The other agents grabbed their gear, locked the junkyard, and ran toward MICHAEL.
The helicopter flew over the junkyard. MORGAN and MAYA hid. The helicopter hovered for a second, swung back past the junkyard, and then headed off to the north. MORGAN and MAYA met up with MICHAEL. MICHAEL told them that he feared reinforcements were heading in. He told the other agents to follow him, that they would find a vantage point to watch what the military were up to. As they headed south, he noticed the farm house south of junkyard. MICHAEL had a new idea: they would commandeer the farmer's house.
They knock on the door, impersonating soldiers. They asked him if he knew anything about the junkyard across the street. The man answered that the one thing he knew was that he was having trouble sleeping because of the generators on all the time. MICHAEL asked if they could show him something. The tired, puzzled farmer agreed.
"Private," said MORGAN addressing the ghillie suited MAYA, "bring the video camera."
MAYA pulled out the camcorder, and shot a dark look at MORGAN. They showed the recording of the Colour to the man. He prayed under his breath.
They asked him if he'd seen it before. He said that he saw it every night for the last few nights, and that it was the spawn of Satan. He drove it off every night with his cross and bible. The agents said that they caught it in a magnetic field, but he said he was just a humble farmer and didn't know about such things. They asked him if they could set up an observation post upstairs to watch the creature. He obliged. As they set up, he played host and brought them coffee. They introduced themselves with fake names. The gentleman was Vincent Wordsworth, a God fearing widowed farmer. He seemed happy to have the company, and was definitely relieved to see that the "demon" was captured.
The agents settled in for a long day.
They watched through the telescope and video camera as men in camouflage began to surround Buddy's Best Wrex. Humvees and trucks arrived. Soldiers jumped off the trucks. Guns were pointed at the Colour. A couple of squads of special forces men ran forward, cut the padlock, and burst into the junkyard. Men swarmed over the equipment, but no one shut anything off. In 30 minutes some officers arrived, including Colonel Coffey.
The sun rose around 6:00 a.m. By 7:00 a.m. full sunlight hit the Colour. It seemed to shrink but the sun did not kill it. The soldiers continued to watch it, and the equipment.
MICHAEL picked up his Delta Green cell phone and contacted ALPHONSE. He told the Delta Green leader about their mission and the captured creature. He explained that he was afraid the soldiers wouldn't maintain the electro-magnets, or that the diesel generators would break down or run out of fuel. ALPHONSE told him that he would handle it. ALPHONSE asked MICHAEL if the agents were safe where they were, or if they could/should sneak away. MICHAEL told him that they would stay where they were for now. They hung up.
The rest of the day was spent watching the operation at Buddy's Best Wrex, while the agents took turns sleeping. They informed Mr. Wordsworth that they would be staying most of the day, and told him that — for his own safety — he should stay in the house that day. He did as he was told, and spent the time doing chores. By late afternoon military trailer transports arrived with electromagnet cranes similar to those in the junkyard, but in far better condition. Soldiers practiced moving them in unison, and then posted them to positions where they could cover the creature. It seemed to MICHAEL that they were preparing to move the Colour.
The sun set and the creature appeared to gain size, though it was still smaller than it was a few hours before. After it got fully dark, the agents thanked Mr. Wordsworth for his hospitality, and they sneaked off to the south. Using their GPS equipment, they backtracked in the direction of the SUV. They came out of the woods near the hill where they saw the creature less than 24 hours ago. They looked around. The grass still writhed and glowed. Further south, around a football field-sized pond, the glow was greater. The agents warily moved in to investigate.
MORGAN recognized the pond as the Colour's lair. He hypothesized that the creature had drained this area because this is where it lived. The investigators looked around the water's edge. They didn't see anything immediately. They moved further along the bank and peered in with the bright spotlights. They saw nothing. MICHAEL switched to blacklight. With the bright lights turned off, he could see strange, shimmering globes in the water. Were these eggs?
MORGAN put on gloves and slipped a hand under one of the spheres. It was about 3 inches in diameter. He carefully pulled it out of the water and placed it in a large ziplock bag. He bagged a dozen globes. The agents looked around and found another two dozen globes. MORGAN carefully placed these in bags, too, though he had to double up due to a lack of bags. They continued to search and found yet another dozen. MICHAEL took over the job of bagging globes. "I'm getting pretty good at this forensics stuff," he said when he was finished.
The agents had checked the banks of the pond and didn't find any other spheres. They still hadn't checked the middle of the pond, though. MICHAEL stripped out of his uniform and waded into the water. It was up past his neck, and he was not a good swimmer. MORGAN joined him, but he wasn't much better. Finally MICHAEL found an area that wasn't as deep. He shone a light around in the water. He saw more spheres... and estimated that there were, perhaps, a couple hundred more spheres. MICHAEL and MORGAN left the water in stunned silence.
MICHAEL grabbed his Delta Green cell phone and called ALPHONSE. The two talked briefly for a few minutes. ALPHONSE told MICHAEL that he would get the military to clear up the pond. He did want some samples, though. He told MICHAEL to take some of the globes and meet an agent at Bush International Airport in Houston the next day at noon.
MORGAN picked up some of the bags and placed them in an ice chest. He picked up one bag, but it slipped. MICHAEL lunged for it, but couldn't catch it. The bag bounced off one of his hands. The sphere popped... and totally disappeared. The bag looked empty, and flat. The sphere was gone, and it didn't appear to leave anything behind. MORGAN tried to be more careful, but he dropped another bag, this one with two spheres in it. MICHAEL and MAYA both lunged for it, but they weren't quick enough. Both spheres popped. The agents were surprised, and bewildered, at the spheres not leaving anything behind when they broke. MORGAN loaded half a dozen spheres into the ice chest without further incident. The rest were left for the military to deal with.
They got back to the hidden Armada, and drove back to the Crockett Inn. They collapsed for a well deserved sleep.
The agents woke up, quickly showered, and loaded their prospective vehicles. CNN had a story about a military helicopter crashing in eastern Texas, killing all on board. The agents surmised that this was the light — the fire — they saw the night before.
MORGAN drove the gold coloured Echo, and MAYA drove the Armada with MICHAEL riding shotgun. They got to Houston in time to meet agent BRENDA at the airport. BRENDA, a short, serious brunette in her late thirties thanked the agents but said little else. She boarded a private plane and headed for parts unknown with the spheres.
It was time to put equipment back in the Houston "green box" and for the agents to head home. MICHAEL gave the Barrett sniper rifle to MAYA for her to take with her, as he was flying out of Houston. MAYA made a mental note not to speed on her way back to New Orleans. They put a lot of gear in the "green box": the fireworks, glow sticks, skunk scent, duct tape, cable ties, marking paint, the Geiger counter, oven spray, spotlights, superglue, one laser pointer, blacklight bulbs, oven spray, beef jerky, 3 cans of Moosehead beer, ghillie suits, baseball caps and t-shirts, half of their supply of 9mm ammunition, and the military issue Glock. MORGAN added a note that said, "From 'M', with love".
The agents divided the rest of their gear. They each kept a GPS unit and a Zippo lighter. MORGAN took the Sony DVD recordable video camera, while MAYA put the police band radio scanner in her car. They warmly said their goodbyes and split up. MORGAN drove MICHAEL back to the airport. He checked in his gold Echo, and the two male agents flew out to their homes in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., respectively. For once in her life, MAYA drove the speed limit along the I-10.
The agents received an e-mail from ALPHONSE. The government cleared up the town of Gove. They moved the remaining residents out of the quarantine zone. Gove had truly become a ghost town.
Apparently the creature had been contained, and the spheres had been collected. At least nothing like the blasted heath appeared in the Gove area. In fact, nothing appeared in the Gove area at all, as nothing was left but derelict buildings. Within three weeks of the close of the operation, all references to Gove, Texas were removed from the Internet.
Editors note: to this day, you will find no reference to Gove, Texas...