Ashingham Talents

Questions and Gamma Base I

The Paranoid Death Chart of Doom

One of our players took a bit of time and using GraphViz, drew a diagram showing: all the organizations, their relationships; all the major characters and their relationships with the organizations and each other; and as much of the events and activities as he had time for. This pointed out a large number of areas that we simply have not properly investigated, which caused the first part of the gaming session to be a “ask the right questions” session.

Human or Android?

We’ve come to believe that Harmony, and possibly others, are androids. Now we try to answer those questions. Part of this data comes from direct physical examinations performed by Dr. Felix, other parts come from examination of intelligence data gathered from Qatermain’s submarine base and the subbasement laboratory under Harmony’s house.

Beauty Black (Full Human/ATE)

Beauty is full human, no embedded devices, nothing unusual other than her ATE powers.

Harmony Puckle (Cyborg/Full Human/ATE)

Harmony is considered a Cyborg with full human status and some as yet unspecified ATE powers. She is believed to have a very limited wish ability similar to Harry’s.

Due to an unusual reaction to ATE, her body has been experiencing a long term degenerative process. As a parts of her body became ineffectual, they have been replaced with cybernetic parts. The subbasement laboratory in her house is where the old parts, and planned new parts as she continues to grow, were stored. There was a full surgical setup, so this is also where the operations were performed.

Her blood, skin, brain, and cardio/pulmonary system are all human biological tissue matching her DNA prior to her exposure to ATE. The blood is generated from an artificial bone marrow substance since her entire skeleton has been replaced with mechanical parts. Some musculature has also been replaced. Her eyes have been replaced. Without the replacements, she would already be dead.

Projections show that in time she will be fully artificial, with full continuity of consciousness throughout.

While the original cybernetic modifications are performed by a surgeon, her ATE is allowing her to both adapt to, and assimilate, the cybernetic replacement parts.

While Dr. Felix continues the examination, Gwen passively listens in to Harmony’s thoughts. They’re primarily worries, and thoughts about Harry. Is he okay, and other thoughts related to him. Worry for “Uncle Allan” (aka Quatermain), and Nana Beauty. She knows they’ve been captured. She’s also worried about “everything going wrong”.

Examination of past medical records show a litany of odd illnesses prior to ATE. Somehow, the question of her baby teeth came up. Tevin recovered them from the parents, and noticed something else. While they have plenty of loving parent doodads from before the ATE exposure, they have nothing since.

From her baby teeth, Felix determines that there is indeed a genetically based, inheritable, degenerative disease active in her body prior to ATE. This almost certainly explains her unusual reaction to ATE.

Data from the laptop also recovered from the subbasement laboratory show the completed surgeries and that the next round of surgery isn’t scheduled to happen for “several years”. Since she is presently 17 years old, she seems to have reached most of her growth, so subsequent surgeries will be primarily to replace parts as the degenerative process continues.

Small Android Body Examination

The android body recovered from the subbasement of Harmony’s house appears to be comparable to Harmony at an earlier age. The parts were made at different times, and have seen use. They are apparently old parts for Harmony, reassembled into a body. They were apparently made on-site, by a hyper-mind.

Fingerprints are found on the parts. Harmony’s, Beauty’s, Alister’s, and a fourth that we do not recognize. Passing those prints to the NTA, we have the ATE victim’s database scanned for a fingerprint match, and get back: Doctor Steven Prince.

The parts were manufactured in the same subbasement laboratory under Harmony’s house. Since the initials ‘S.P.’ appear repeatedly in connection with the parts, we are presently assuming that Doctor Prince is also responsible for their construction.

Doctor Steven Prince

  • Reconstructive surgeon and bio-chemist, specializing in exotic degenerative diseases, from the point of view of reconstruction of damage due to those diseases.
  • Age: mid-30’s, early-40’s.
  • Has done Peace Corp work.
  • As he is one of the seven people in the archaeological group photo found on the Quatermain submarine base, he was believed to have died during the initial ATE explosion.
  • Had a reputation for being a young, cocky, snarky, as***le, with a terrible bedside manner. He was in it purely for the money. He was tolerated only because he was among the best.
  • His records show that he was truly a professional. The job had to be done right the first time, and he made sure it was. No ethics charges. No malpractice claims or suits.

Harmony’s Position

To our dismay, we discover that Harmony is on the submarine base organization chart, as the “Director of Intelligence”. She is their primary analyst, and has been for about three years. She is aware of, and has taken part in, illicit activities. Her last report says that she’s “inviting Harry on her vacation”, and planned to recruit Harry to the organization. (Harry is of extreme interest because he is potentially the most powerful meta on the planet. He basically can Wish things into existence or to happen. His power is presently limited, but expected to grow.)

She has been researching the K.S.R., N.T.A. and other major government agencies of a similar type. (The NTA now has names for organizations that it didn’t have before, and is very happy with the intelligence take from the submarine.)

Special Note: Warn Kelvin Shores Refuge that Quatermain has been gathering intelligence on them. While their motto may be “you leave us alone and we’ll leave you alone”, it won’t stay that way if Quatermain subverts them.

Her motivations appear to be that she is a meta-supremacist. She believes that metas will eventually become the majority of the population of the earth, and that present governments are simply going to be incapable of dealing with the changes. How does a policeman deal with someone who has powers beyond his ability to comprehend? Existing government meta organizations are purely attempts to seize control for the non-metas.

She is not a terrorist. She would like to achieve their goals without violence, but is prepared to accept a necessary degree of violence if there is no other way. After Felix spends some time examining the records from the point of view of a criminologist, it is apparent that while Quatermain may have been using her, she was also using him. It’s just a question of who was doing a better job of using the other.

How Dangerous Is She?

First, she’s wicked smart. There’s a good chance that while we’ve been learning things about her, that she’s been learning a lot more about us. Think about the ‘interrogation scene’ in the Avenger’s movie. Black Widow was supposedly being interrogated, but in the process was pumping the General “interrogating” her for all the information he had.

On another level, she’s like Miles Vorkosigan. Who when drummed out of the equivalent of the Naval Academy, went on “walkabout”, ran into a blockade, took over the blockading force, and rolled it into a significant mercenary force with connections to imperial intelligence. And when dropped naked into the middle of a POW camp, he took over the camp and liberated it. She’s that dangerous.

Submarine Intelligence Not Covered Elsewhere

  • Armament included torpedoes, rocket escape craft, and intermediate range surface launched missiles. (Good thing that Ben flipped it over.)
  • The Marine oriented hyper-mind talent that was captured on the sub is responsible for much of the technology. Each example of the technology is a significant improvement over the state of the art prior to ATE. This includes:
    • the torpedoes,
    • The rebreather SCUBA sets,
    • the submersible Zodiac-like craft with the convertible tops,
    • the flying submarine escape craft,
    • the power plant and anything else one can think of to make a super-city-sized-submarine-base possible.
    • The reason they didn’t have Trident/Polaris style missiles is that while he’s a marine hyper-mind, he’s not real good with rocket guidance systems that have to deal with being turned any-which-way after a subsurface launch.
  • The remaining people in the archaeological picture?
    • The father/son pair are Luciano(father) and Drake(son) Melifidel. While the Melifidel’s were never proven to be connected to the Mafia, the relationship is widely believed true.
      • Luciano is in the ‘Donald Trump’ realm of richness, and is at least as rich as Mallory used to be.
      • Known to have made their money in smuggling of all sorts, including drugs, but especially for having cornered the market on exotic drugs. (Example: A special rose that only grows in limited portions of Nepal is rumored to have unusual recreational properties if treated in a specific manner. They have the complete supply tied up potentially forever.)
      • They were private backers of the expedition, explaining their presence on the dig, but it is believed that they were primarily on a ‘business trip’ to survey Guatemala for opportunities for the family business.
    • Drake’s fiancee [[Pallas A. Parkinson]]. She’s blond, short, with a pug nose. Known to be a party-girl with a cruel reputation. She’s also known to have “kept up” with Drake while he was “doing things” for the family business. Of course, the courts have never proven anything. She is also an expert botanist, which may explain some of the families recent “successes”.
    • Doctor Steven Prince (see above).
    • The picture was taken about 2 weeks prior to the ATE explosion.
  • Submarine Medical Files
    • Plenty for the crew. More than 10% were ATE metas. The pregnancy rates for females on board the submarine are normal for the population size involved.
    • Quatermain is pursuing a eugenics program for metas. According to the data recovered, he has been slowly following the paths, including dead-ends, that government ATE researchers have already looked at and discarded as unworkable. His problem is that the people he has working for him on this project simply don’t have a clue. There are no hyper-minds involved that have the right background.
    • Dr Prince occasionally makes a suggestion that advances them slightly. He might be a hyper-mind, but he’s not focused on the eugenics program and therefore cannot aid significantly in the research.
  • No new information on Alister Quatermain.
  • Bases other than the Submarine:
    • Beta and Gamma are listed. Strangely, Alpha is not listed.
    • All of the camps, medical, administrative and logistics support for the bases related to the West Virginia camp. (This permits recovery of the other 7/8ths of the missing children.)
    • A list of Safe Houses, which while it overlaps the government’s present list, both lists have houses that are not on the other list.
      • There is correlation between the cellphone usage in India and safe houses in the same area.

REMAINING QUESTIONS

  • Information on other significant individuals. E.g. If Harmony was their Director of Intelligence, who was the Director of Operations? We have their organization chart, and their medical records, there’s a good chance that the NTA and/or federal government can roll up a large portion of their intelligence branch.
  • A general staff along the Continental Staff System adopted by most NATO countries has the following positions:
  • (1) Personnel and Administration
  • (2) Intelligence and Security
  • (3) Operations
  • (4) Logistics
  • (5) Plans
  • (6) Signals (Communications and/or IT)
  • (7) Training
  • (8) Finance and Contracts (aka Resource Management)
  • (9) Civil-Military Co-operation (aka Civil Affairs)
  • Information on prior, present, and future, intelligence and counter-intelligence operations. E.g. Moles, double agents, hit men, black ops teams, hardware support available, encryption codes known, THEIR encryption codes, taps into supposedly secure communications, their secure lines of communications, methodologies, etc.
  • Methods of influence on other individuals/organizations. Blackmail, common interests, etc.
    • We know Quatermain has four cat’s paws that Mallory’s secretary has identified, as well as a pawn. By what means is he controlling them?
    • What other individuals or organizations does he have influence over?
  • Alister Quatermain’s powers and/or vulnerabilities.

GAMMA BASE STRIKE

(RetCon: Gamma base is actually 3 miles under Washington Dulles International Airport, and covers a diameter larger than the airport plus grounds. That’s something more than 5 miles in diameter.)

Note: Since the base is 3 miles underground, it is highly unlikely that even if their power plant did explode, that it would have any effect on the surface. This is corroborated by existing underground nuclear tests. If the test is close enough to the surface, you will have a subsidence crater, but at three miles deep the odds are highly against anything other than seismic effects at the surface. Still, there’s no telling how the base personnel will react, or exactly what surface defenses they have, so we plan to evacuate the area anyway.

Mallory is continuing to dance with Death. He thinks about emulating Beauty Black, walking up to the big shiny steel door, with the big plasma cannon turrets, and knocking. The big plasma cannon turrets that are just begging to say “Boom, you’re dead”. “Oh, well we’ll try something else then.”

Felix thinks the tactics of drilling down into the base is a good idea. We’re aiming to come into the base close enough to the power plant to take control of it. (A) So they don’t blow it up, and (B) so we can shut it down if we want.

Before starting, we arrange a major natural gas leak in the airport. Actually, we have agents release a suitable amount of the compound(s) used to give natural gas that unplesant order that tells you there’s a leak. This allows us to evacuate the airport and surrounding areas against the possibility of a MOAB sized explosion at the airport.

Ben comes up with a brilliant idea (which your humble author missed) that allows us to drill down 3 miles together, and enter the base near the power plant. Unfortunately, the base had seismic sensors that detected the digging and are waiting for us when we break through.

Since we’re down 3 miles, the ambient temperature is about 100 deg F, and due to the water table, the relative humidity is about 100%. When Ben knocks a hole through the ceiling, there’s a rush of cold air that causes a sudden fog and instant rain to occur. Ben jumps in, and Mallory decides to follow him.

The corridor we’ve drilled to is about 20’ wide and high, and a hundred or more feet in each direction. On each side of the hole, there is a heavily armored and armed SWAT team of 10, plus a crew of 5 to operate a plasma cannon. (Think field artillery.) They have arranged themselves so that they’re outside the blast effect of the plasma cannon. The blast radius is 30’, which puts those of us still in the tunnel 10’ within the blast zone. Fortunately, we have the bunker-concrete ceiling providing partial cover, and Lance has provided his Shield to all the other team members.

Unfortunately, one of the cannon gets its shot off before we can stop it. Ben takes serious damage from the blast, but not enough to stop him. Those of us in the tunnel take stunning damage from the blast, but due to the Shield, and our various armors, we don’t take much killing damage. Felix is kind enough to have prepped us with extra wound boxes, and eventually regeneration that takes care of the damage.

Before the other cannon can get it’s shot off, Lance hits it with a full power blast. Despite it’s armor, Lance manages to hit it’s computer controls hard enough to “knock it unconscious” (the damage is enough S/K to fill all the ‘brain’ boxes it had).

Ben picks up the other plasma cannon and starts using it as a baseball bat to whup on the SWAT team on that side of the hole. (See House Rule: Sweep) In several swings (and much discussion amongst the gamers on how to avoid slaughtering all the mooks due to Knockback), Ben renders the 15 mooks on that side unconscious, without killing them.

Gwen’s planned attack was to crush the cannons, but since they’re not in play any more, she switches to a double sweep attack against the 15 on the other side of the corridor. With Sweep 3 on her TK, and two attacks due to Spray, she shoves 8 of them far down the corridor.

By this time, Mallory finally hits the corridor, and unloads with his shotgun. This lames five of the remaining 7 mooks, and the last two faint. After all, 28 of their compatriots and two of their field artillery plasma cannons were disabled or destroyed in 2 seconds; you might faint too!

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edwinwiles

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