Scenario Author: Allan Goodall
Write-up Author: Allan Goodall
Run Date: February 19, 2005
Game System: Chaosium's Basic RolePlaying (BRP)
Keeper: Allan Goodall
Characters: Oberleutnant Johann Kimmel (Alana Goodall); Feldwebel Dieter Mather (Jimmy Pope); Agent MICHAEL/Major Werner Speer (Jason Gallagher)
The spinning stopped and the fog around Agent MICHAEL lifted. He stood in a concrete room. It was cool and dank. The acrid stench of European cigarettes filled the air. Before him were two men in gray-green pants and rolled up gray shirts. They wore boots just above the ankles. Their pants were held up with suspenders. Each had short, severe haircuts. They stood on either side of a board mounted on a saw horse, and the board stood in front of a large bucket. Strapped to the board was a man. The board had been elevated so that his head was in the bucket. The bucket was full of water.
The man on the board thrashed around. After some twenty seconds of this, the two men tipped the board back up. The man gasped for air, having come close to drowning. The man coughed and cried as he tried to drain his throat and lungs.
MICHAEL looked down. He was wearing a gray-green uniform. He recognized it instantly: it was a World War II German officer's uniform. He expected the boots to be taller, the uniform to be more gray. He suspected that these were late war uniforms. He shifted as he stood. A dull pain shot up from his left leg.
Thoughts slipped into MICHAEL's conscience, thoughts from the body he inhabited. He was Werner Speer. He was born in Munich, Germany in 1909, but spent most of his life in Frieburg. He was a major in the German Wehrmacht , commanding 1st Battalion/169th Panzergrenadier regiment.
Speer's battalion had been relocated to the Cotentin peninsula in France a couple of months earlier. It had been on the Russian Front, where it had bled down from a full-sized battalion to less than company strength. Their location was considered a plumb assignment, a reward for the battalion's hard fighting and high casualty rate. MICHAEL thought about the date and the location. It was February 19, 1944. They were 4 months and only a dozen miles from the invasion beaches of Normandy.
The regiment kept its edge by patrolling the area. The night before a squad crossed a stone bridge in a truck after conducting a patrol through a handful of small towns. Just before the truck left the bridge, a mine exploded sending shrapnel through the back of the truck. Submachine gun fire raked the truck. The Panzergrenadier veterans counter attacked, driving off the French partisans. Four of Speer's men were killed. They managed to capture a single Resistance fighter. He was the man two of Speer's soldiers were "interrogating" at that moment.
Two additional men walked into the room, Oberleutnant Johann Kimmel, and Feldwebel Dieter Mather. The two soldiers at the board dunked the man again. He thrashed a moment then stilled. Less than two minutes later he thrashed again. The soldiers pulled him out. He was gasping and crying. In French, he pleaded for them to stop. MICHAEL was surprised that he understood the man. Apparently Speer was fairly adept in the language. It made sense, considering he grew up near the French border.
The man started babbling to the Germans' questions. MICHAEL/Speer stood back and listened, silently. The man's name was Jacques Lalonde. He was from the town of Toureau, a tiny hamlet thirty kilometres away. With additional "persuasion" Lalonde admitted that the Resistance cell was centered in the hamlet. Time had mostly slipped past Toureau. The streets were overgrown and many houses were abandoned. Few German patrols have gone anywhere near it, and no German troops were stationed within five miles. He added that there was a single road into Toureau, and it crossed a bridge over a small creek. MICHAEL/Speer believed Lalonde.
MICHAEL/Speer called his men over after Lalonde was removed from the board and tied to a chair. The two at the board both lost friends in the attack, which is why Speer had selected them for the interrogation. MICHAEL told them to leave the man alone for two hours while they "checked the information". Then, quietly, he explained that they would not bother checking the story. Instead, they would begin interrogating him again to see if he changed his story after he had a chance to rest. Meanwhile, two others would watch him while those present caught up on their sleep. They had all been awake for over twenty-four hours. Although mentally aware, MICHAEL/Speer felt physically exhausted. He told Kimmel and Mather to grab some sleep. He, too, went for a nap.
MICHAEL/Speer woke up a little more than two hours later. He went back to the room, and found that they were interrogating Lalonde again. MICHAEL/Speer was joined by Kimmel, and Mather. There was no change in Lalonde's story, so he was probably telling the truth. He ordered a halt to the interrogation and told them to throw Lalonde into a cell in the manor's basement.
MICHAEL tried to think about his predicament pragmatically. He was simply doing what Speer did in the original timeline. If he altered Speer's behavior too much he could miss his opportunity to save the Major Arcana cards of Madame Sosostris' Tarot deck. However distasteful, he had to maintain his persona as Major Werner Speer.
They laid out a map of the area. They found Toureau on the map. It was surrounded by woods. There used to be a couple of other roads into town, but they were overgrown. There was now just one operational road. In the center of hamlet was the town hall, and near that was a church. MICHAEL/Speer decided to use the entire regiment. They would drive to the town in their halftracks. They would detach two squads, led by Mather, to outflank the hamlet from the west. Once they were in place, the rest of the regiment would drive into the town, hitting the closest building with suppressing fire. Two halftracks would move to the west while the rest would go south at the first intersection. One of the first two halftracks would link up with Mather, the second halftrack would pacify the northern perimeter of the town. The three that went to the south would converge on the town hall, clearing out resistance as they went. They were to fire if fired upon, but MICHAEL/Speer wanted as many prisoners as possible. They would move out right away, attacking before dusk.
The regiment stopped before the bridge into town. Mather and his two squads jumped out of their halftrack and crept through the woods, heading for the western edge of Toureau.
About an hour went by before the battalion radio squawked. Mather was in place. MICHAEL/Speer and Kimmel were in the same halftrack, the third one in the line. MICHAEL spoke into the radio's microphone and told the lead halftrack to advance. The halftracks lurched forward one at a time. MICHAEL/Speer stood up in the halftrack, while Kimmel crouched down for cover. MICHAEL noticed Kimmel crouching and decided to do the same.
As the lead halftrack rumbled over the bridge, it fired on the first building with it's MG-42 machine gun. The halftrack ceased fire as it passed the front of the building, only to have the suppressive fire taken up by the second halftrack. As the first halftrack cleared the first building, gunshots rang out from a house, the one now directly in front of it. The halftrack opened up on this house while it continued on to the west. The second halftrack stopped, fired it's machine gun into the house, too, and disgorged its troops.
Kimmel heard from Mather that there was some resistance on the western edge of the town, but so far it wasn't anything they couldn't handle.
MICHAEL/Speer's halftrack turned at the house and drove directly to the town hall. The troops in his vehicle jumped out and burst into the town hall. MICHAEL/Speer, carrying an MP-40 submachine gun, followed his troops into the building. It was empty except for a cache of weapons and explosives. Lalonde had told the truth. When he came out of the building, MICHAEL saw that his men were rounding up townsfolk. Most of them seemed particularly poor: the children were little more than urchins, the women were haggard, and all were under nourished.
Gunfire from the west told MICHAEL that Mather's squads were approaching against stiffening resistance. MICHAEL saw movement near the church. Someone in a priest's hassock was running for the rear of the church. MICHAEL ordered the squad with him to rush for the church. He was pretty sure that this wasn't quite what Speer would have done, and hoped that this change would alter history.
When he reached the church, MICHAEL heard someone crashing into the sanctuary's rear entrance. MICHAEL/Speer and his squad immediately burst through the front door. Off to MICHAEL's right was a small office. Two soldiers, Schmidt — a corporal in one of Mather's squads — and Mather were at the door to the office. Schmidt jumped back, instinctively, at the sound of MICHAEL/Speer's squad rushing in. Shots spilled out from the room. A bullet passed a couple of centimetres from Schmidt's head. He and Mather both fired back into the office, then rushed in. MICHAEL/Speer followed.
In the room were two dead priests, one in his mid-20s and one in his early 60s. The younger priest was near the front of the room. The older priest was near the back of the room, where there was a fireplace. Scattered about the floor in front of the fireplace was a deck of Tarot cards. MICHAEL/Speer immediately recognized the cards as those belonging to Madame Sosostris. He moved into the room and gathered up the cards.
MICHAEL sorted the cards and put them in a wooden box that he found lying nearby. He quickly looked around, but there was no swirling miasma engulfing him. He was still in the past. Obviously he had more to do in order to secure the cards.
MICHAEL/Speer ordered the rounding up of the remaining townsfolk. He told his radio operator to contact the Gestapo and let them know they had captured a town of Resistance members. As unsavory as this order was, MICHAEL knew it was exactly what Speer would have done. He also ordered medical attention be given to the wounded, Germans and French alike.
Once the administrative tasks were done, MICHAEL/Speer searched the priest's study. The floor was made of slate slabs. One of the slabs was loose. He pried it open. Inside was a large, old book. He carefully opened it to the first page. The title was Cthaat Aquidingen. He took the book and replaced the slab. He shoved the book and the cards into a sack. He went back to the business of securing the town.
The Geheime Staatspolizei, popularly known as the Gestapo, showed up in a staff car, with a series of trucks operated by Waffen SS men following behind. The leading Gestapo officer greeted MICHAEL/Speer with a hearty "Heil, Hitler!" MICHAEL gave a half-hearted salute back. The Gestapo officer seemed rather jovial, completely against the Gestapo stereotype he was used to from Hollywood. He introduced himself as Obersturmbannführer Gunther Hearn, and shook MICHAEL's hand.
MICHAEL/Speer explained all that had happened. Hearn was pleased, and told him that there would be a commendation for him and his men. The Gestapo would take the prisoners, including Lalonde. MICHAEL/Speer agreed to post a guard of 20 men to watch for more Resistance fighters. After assigning a guard and the order that they would be relieved, MICHAEL/Speer had his men load up and head back to their base.
In spite of being exhausted, MICHAEL took the time to study the cards.
The full set of Minor Arcana cards were present, but so were 14 Major Arcana cards. MICHAEL found that he could understand the French words Le Mat (The Fool), Le Bateleur (The Magician), Junon, L'Imperatrice (The Empress), Jupiter, L'Amoreux (The Lovers), Le Chariot (The Chariot), La Force (Strength), L'Ermite (The Hermit), La Roue De Fortune (The Wheel of Fortune), La Justice (Justice), Le Pendu (The Hanged Man), La Mort (Death), and Temperance. From what MICHAEL knew of the Tarot, Junon represented The High Priestess, and Jupiter replaced The Heirophant. The Le Mat card was unnumbered. The others were numbered 1 to 13, respectively, in Roman Numerals.
He put down the cards and looked at the book. It appeared to be 200 years old. The text seemed to be older than that, written in what appeared to be Middle English, the language of Chaucer. The margins were covered in footnotes written in Latin.
MICHAEL/Speer closed his eyes. The cards were safe, surely he could go home now. He opened his eyes. He was still in 1944. He cursed Alzis. He thought about what to do with the book and the cards. The book was extraneous. It was unlikely that keeping the book had anything to do with saving the cards. In fact, he was pretty sure he had saved the cards, for he was almost certain that the priest destroyed the Major Arcana cards in the fireplace in the original timeline. All MICHAEL had to do was make sure they were put somewhere safe. He would hand the cards, and the book, into brigade headquarters the next morning.
MICHAEL drove to Toureau in a staff car. He pulled up to the church, and went inside. There was something he had to try before he handed the cards over to brigade headquarters. He pulled up the slab and placed the cards in the hole. He covered the hole with a slab, then walked out of the church. Nothing happened. He was still in 1944. Cursing, he went back in and picked up the cards. He drove back to battalion headquarters.
MICHAEL/Speer summoned Schmidt. Schmidt had been the first soldier in the room. He saw the cards first, and presumably he was the first to see the priest and the cards. When Schmidt arrived, MICHAEL/Speer pointed to the cards and the book on his desk and asked Schmidt what he thought they should do with them. Schmidt, surprised at being asked, suggested that the major keep the items, or turn them in to brigade headquarters. MICHAEL agreed and told Schmidt to get his car ready. MICHAEL called for Mather and Kimmel to accompany him.
The four soldiers drove to brigade headquarters, which was 5 miles away. They were eventually ushered in to see the brigade commander, Oberst Sigel. MICHAEL/Speer gave a full report about the attack on his squad and the battalion's pacification of Toureau. He handed over the cards and the book.
"Obershutze Schmidt found them," said MICHAEL/Speer, making it clear that he had nothing to do with the book or cards.
Sigel was very pleased with his performance. He said that he would put in for a commendation. He thanked Speer for the book and the cards, and said that they would be sent to the proper authorities. He dismissed Speer and his men.
They left the brigade headquarters building, and climbed into the staff car. MICHAEL was still in 1944. Apparently he didn't save the cards after all.
Damn, thought MICHAEL, now I have to go back and kill the oberst! They drove back to battalion headquarters.
MICHAEL — acting as Speer — spent the next few weeks running the battalion. MICHAEL learned a lot about the inner workings of the Wehrmacht, letting the Speer part of his mind fill in the details. In his spare time, he read as much as he could to see if he had missed something. He searched for reports of anything smacking of occult activity, but he didn't find anything. When he wasn't reading reports, he was reading the news.
Each morning he hoped that this would be the day he would return to the future, and each day he was disappointed. He had no idea what he did wrong, if anything, nor how he could save the cards. At the same time, he knew that there was an important date looming: June 6, 1944, D-Day. He did not want to be in this position on that day...
Two Opel trucks and a Mercedes staff car rolled into the drive way of the battalion's headquarters. MICHAEL/Speer, and some of his men, came out to meet the new arrivals. The men in the trucks were Waffen SS.
The commanding officer, who did not introduce himself, was an SS Oberführer. MICHAEL/Speer greeted them. In reply, the no-nonsense Oberführer told Speer in a gruff voice that his men needed rooms for the evening, and that he needed an office.
MICHAEL/Speer gave the necessary orders to comply with the Oberführer's order. He then went back inside to finish some paperwork, while watching the SS men to find out what they were up to.
Speer was summoned to the office now used by the Oberführer. MICHAEL/Speer knocked on the door and was told to enter. The Oberführer sat behind a desk. Lying on the desk were the Tarot cards! MICHAEL tried very hard to look disinterested.
The Oberführer noticed some of MICHAEL/Speer's interest nonetheless. He asked Speer if his men found any other items in the town of Toureau of a similar nature. MICHAEL answered that they hadn't, and then MICHAEL/Speer asked if the cards were special or important.
"They are of no consequence," answered the Oberführer.
The Oberführer asked him some more questions about the town and the priests, but MICHAEL/Speer wasn't able to add any additional information. The Oberführer then gave MICHAEL/Speer orders. The SS were conducting an operation down at the beach that evening. They had additional supplies arriving by train, which they would transport to the beach in trucks. Speer's men were needed to seal off the roads to the beach behind the SS. No one, including Speer's men, were to approach the beach while the operation was being conducted. It was all very "hush hush", the orders came from the Führer himself, etc., etc.
MICHAEL/Speer said that he would comply with the order immediately. He was dismissed. Once downstairs, he issued the the necessary orders to his men.
Over the next couple of hours the Waffen SS left the battalion headquarters, and most of Speer's men moved out to comply with Speer's order. The headquarters was quiet. Only those few men who were not needed for guarding the roads were left in the building.
When he thought it was safe, MICHAEL/Speer sneaked up to the room used by the Oberführer. He picked the lock and slipped into the study. After fifteen minutes of searching he was unable to find the cards. It was possible the Oberführer took them with him, but he didn't want to make that assumption. He needed help.
MICHAEL/Speer went downstairs and got Kimmel and Mather to join him. Neither had any great love for the SS, and they were safe choices for him to search the room. He brought them upstairs and all three searched the study. After ten minutes, Mather found the Tarot deck. It still contained the Minor Arcana and 14 Major Arcana cards. They searched some more, but they were unable to find the book.
MICHAEL/Speer said that they had to find out what the SS were up to. The other two agreed, but Mather suggested that they hide the cards first. Mather found a loose stone in the surround of the study's fireplace. Mather pulled out the stone. There was just enough room for the cards' box to fit. He slipped the box into the opening and pushed the stone back into place.
The three men left the building. They found one of the battalion's Kubelwagens. MICHAEL thought it looked like one of the old Volkswagen Things from the 1970s. They climbed into the car, with Mather driving, and set out toward the coast.
They came to a roadblock consisting of a wooden barrier and a couple of soldiers guarding it. Grenadier Paatz ordered them to halt. The private moved up to the driver's door, and then recognized Speer and the others, and saluted. MICHAEL/Speer said that they were just checking on the men to make sure the roadblocks were in place. He told the private to move the barrier in order to let them pass. The private did as he was ordered.
Mather drove quickly down the winding road. They could smell the salt in the air as they got closer to the sea. Mather turned a corner. Suddenly a truck loomed in front of them. He slammed on the brakes, but wasn't able to stop in time. The Kubelwagen collided with the truck, badly denting the car's fender and lightly denting the truck. None of the occupants were harmed. The soldiers grabbed their weapons and got out out of the car. They inspected the truck.
The truck was not a standard military transport. The back consisted of a metal box with a reinforced door. In the door was a small, barred window. The door was padlocked on the outside. MICHAEL/Speer looked inside. There were two metal benches, and a barred window so that someone in the cab of the truck could look inside. MICHAEL looked down the road. There were perhaps a half dozen of these trucks taking up half the width of the road.
MICHAEL/Speer pulled out a map. They were near the cliff edge, which ran parallel to the beach. There was grass and scrub along the top of the cliff. They could sneak along the cliff edge and watch the SS.
The three men quietly moved across the top of the cliff, near the edge. As soon as they got a good view of the beach, MICHAEL/Speer halted them. He pulled out his field glasses. The Oberführer was on the beach, holding a book. There were two other SS officers standing beside him. Before the Oberführer were a group of civilians, numbering between 50 and 60. The rest of the SS troops were guarding them.
The Oberführer was gesturing toward the sea. Suddenly the surf began to churn. Figures appeared out of the surf. At first it looked like divers, but as they proceeded out of the water MICHAEL recognized them. They were Deep Ones, the same fish-men that unhinged him when he encountered them on Plum Island. A few of the civilians on the beach shrieked. Several stood up and tried to run away, only to be gunned down by the SS. The rest cowered away from the SS and the Deep Ones as best they could.
Mather had much the same reaction to the Deep Ones that MICHAEL had on Plum Island. He started to freak out at the sight of the creatures. He pulled out a knife, looked around wild-eyed, and lunged at MICHAEL/Speer, who was nearest him. The two wrestled. Mather hit MICHAEL/Speer. Kimmel got behind Mather and hit him hard, stunning the sergeant. Kimmel then bandaged MICHAEL/Speer's wound, and treated Mather. Mather came too. MICHAEL/Speer took away Mather's gun and knife — just in case Mather had a relapse — even though Mather seemed to be recovering.
Off to their left was the hollow thumping sound that the Speer portion of MICHAEL's consciousness recognized as a mortar. It was accompanied by three other, similar sounds. Mortar rounds detonated on the surf and on the beach, killing Germans and Deep Ones alike. Gunfire erupted from the top of the cliff, aimed at the Waffen SS.
MICHAEL/Speer gave the other two soldiers hand signals, indicating that he would lead them to investigate the shooting from the top of the cliff. They crept along the cliff edge. The Waffen SS were firing back at their assailants, but the cliff was too steep, with most of the bullets hitting the edge or flying past them. MICHAEL/Speer risked a glance down at the beach. The civilians were running for the cliffs. Some of the civilians were shot by the SS as they ran away, but most of the SS concentrated on their attackers on the heights. The Oberführer was lying face down on the beach, a victim of the first mortar attack.
They got closer to men at the top of the cliff. The guns that were firing didn't sound familiar to Speer. They weren't German or Russian guns. MICHAEL/Speer pushed aside some brush. He and Kimmel saw one of the attackers. He was wearing a khaki uniform, with a woolen cap. Speer had attended tactical lessons in France. He recognized the uniform as that of an American Ranger. MICHAEL/Speer caught site of something else. On the American's shoulder was a unit patch. The patch was a single green triangle. His eyes widened in understanding. This is a Delta Green op!
MICHAEL/Speer indicated to the others to withdraw. He wasn't going to stop the Delta Green men. Even the Speer part of his mind tended to agree with this. The Americans were stopping something that went beyond the conflict between Allies and Axis.
As they retreated, a short lull in the firing descended around them. At this exact moment, one of MICHAEL's companions stepped on a dry piece of brush. Suddenly bullets started zipping through the brush. Kimmel was hit multiple times. He collapsed. MICHAEL felt the thud of bullets slamming into flesh. His left leg gave way and he fell as another bullet hit him in the upper arm.
He looked up to see Mather continue toward the road. Bullets kicked up at Mather's feet. He jumped down onto the road, in relative safety. MICHAEL heard Americans shouting. The mortars had stopped but the gunfire had picked up again. MICHAEL/Speer felt no pain, but he was getting light headed. He closed his eyes.
It looked like Mather got away. Mather was the only person left, assuming Kimmel was dead, who knew where the cards were hidden. Mather was also one of the first two people to run into the priest's study back at the church. Had Mather found the cards in the original timeline, only too late to save the cards? Maybe originally Speer's plan had been different enough from MICHAEL's that Schmidt and Mather were slightly delayed by the young priest. This would have given the older priest time to destroy some of the cards.
Or maybe someone else entirely had come across the cards in the original timeline. For all he knew, Mather might not bother recovering the cards. Did he succeed, or did he fail? Perhaps he would simply die here on the French coast in 1944.
MICHAEL/Speer became very cold, and then he lost consciousness altogether. A fog formed around him. MICHAEL started to spin, clockwise, through a swirling vortex of cloud. He felt himself swirl up through the clouds. "Up is good," he said to himself.