Interlude to Episode 16

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JEAN: "I'm sorry, I couldn't reveal my source even if I wanted to. The source has always remained anonymous." She hands you a 3d chip and says, "I had the same idea and ran a report on all stolen cars with an M in the license for the past year. I couldn't find any correlation's. All the info you requested is on the chip, but I don't think you're going to find anything. I got the feeling what we're looking for hasn't happened yet."

JEAN: Jean visits your pod-sector; "I wanted to let your team know that was really some good work on the FON case. Those bastards give me the creeps, and no doubt they would have been up to something big. However, I just had a communication from my source, which tells me this isn't what we were looking for. I'd like you guys to stay on the case if you would."

ELLSWORTH: "Jean, of course we'll stay on the case. We will keep our 'real time' notification system in place for letting us know when a car with 'm' in the license plate is either stolen or recovered, and we'll keep on top of the situation."

"But, Jean, did you get any information from your source about WHY we are looking at cars with 'm' in the license plate. We don't want you to spoil your source, but if you have worked with this source for awhile, as you indicated...could you ask the source simply, 'Why are we looking at these cars...even obscure hints or tidbits of information would give us at least some direction?"

RUSTY: "Ugh! Jesus H. Christ....oh, forgive me lord, I am weak...(pause)...first I have to work with this freakin' wirehead-alien-freak, and now more riddles! I've read some of the team reports from before I got here...and the conspiracy morons this group has been up against are just brimming with riddles...but now our own boss is tossing us riddles!"

"Jean, you'll have to forgive me, but you won't turn us on to your that we can talk to him or her ourself...and we asked you to talk to your source about WHY we are looking at cars with the 'm'...and now you come in and tell us you've talked to the source since we last spoke...please...tell me you didn't forget to ask the 'why' question!"

JEAN: "Rusty, why don't you ask the wirehead freak. You've had him sniffing around my Grid-Box for the last three days! He knows as much as I do. I won't give you riddles if I don't have to, but that's what I've got to give you. What I can tell you is that the riddles have never let me down yet."

Crimson Steele was able to track the Grid-Box that Jean received through 348 different Grid sites on 18 different secure servers including the Orion DOD secure site and the Arasaka site. The trail led to a machine in the Investigative Services Division (ISD) office, on the Evening Star. ISD is the law enforcement division of the Pax Combine.

STEPHANIE: Jean, I have no problem with staying on the case for as long as needed, just keep
me posted with anything your source has and any info you get. Thanks, Stephanie

(Jean has just said, "Rusty, why don't you ask the wirehead freak. You've had him sniffing around my Grid-Box for the last three days....)

RUSTY: "I wouldn't have that alien fuck sniffing my shit, let alone your grid-box...."

ELSWORTH: "That was me Jean, I asked Crimson to sniff around a bit...."

"I AM in your proximity...please cease referring to me as though I were not present...."

RUSTY: "Shut up, freak. Don't you all see this alien is a spy!?! Jesus! ...oh, sorry Father...This group has been looking into alien activity in the Terra-Sol system for a couple of years now...and you let this wired-up-6-foot-tall-walking-vibrator waltz in here and have access to everything you know!?! Francios said you guys were awesome, but how can you just trust this alien in our midst? Jesus-Pete! He's an alien with wires and shit stickin' out of his friggin head...(Rusty then imitates Elsworth's voice...)'Well, nice-ta-meecha Mr. Freakin' alien...please invade my boss's personal grid box and retrieve all her secrets for us!' (and then back in his own voice...)where did this alien come from? At least I have references, and have been temporarily transferred to your unit from another law enforcement agency...where did this toaster-with-legs come from, and WHY?!?!"

(After Rusty's tantrum, there is a moment of silence while everyone considers Rusty's question...and them someone speaks...will it be your character?)

CRIMSON: Crimson is his own man. Aleerians were once human. They are just further down the cybernetic path - "that humans will surely follow." Billy is a prime example.

As far as my loyalties go, I am an Orion citizen, KBI agent, ranked first in class. I believe in a higher power, who is so technologically advanced that even the mechalus can not comprehend. Your Catholic religion is much like our own. It is our belief that in the persuit of technological advances, we will be able to one day reach a point where god will accept us. "We were made in his image." However, we must not lose site of our own humanity.

Unfortunately, there are some Mechali that do not understand this quest and have deterred down a path that I fear is truely the devils work, which will be our downfall. I appologize, I digress.

Steele reaches for his liquour, a filament emerges from his left forearm and sucks the class empty.

BILLY: Alright guys , I think we need a team building night and go over the fine points of working together and respecting the orders of our superiors within reason . Why don't we go to the local pub and get to know our new family members and rehash what we've dine as a team. And Rusty if you don't start respecting our team members a little more we,ll let Stephanie show you the finer points of hand to hand from the weaker sexes point of view. Jean if you'd like to join us first rounds on me.

STEPHANIE: OK, Everyone I have about had it from all of you. Yes I am pissed I didn't sign up for running with a bigot a toaster and a gun theif but I have tried to make the best of it. The next person that gets out of line will have to deal with me in the gym and we will see who walks out of it with the most bruise's. We were put together as a team and my life will at one point or another be in each of your hands. I will not have this anymore. If you can't get along I suggest that you request a reassignement. If you don't want to be reassigned then start acting as a team.

Billy I will make my own decision's on who's ass I will kick and who's I will not. Just make sure before you tell someone that I might kick their ass that your name isn't on that list also.

As for you Elsworth, I don't like the idea for you checking someone's grid box without the rest of the team knowing about it first. And if I ever catch someone invading my privacy like that you will be the first to pay for it. Do you have that. Doctor or not I don't care.

JEAN: "I suggest everybody, CALM THE FUCK DOWN! If there's any ass to be kicked around here I'll do the kicking. DO I MAKE MYSELF CLEAR! Now I think Mr. Eagleclaw has an excellent idea, let's all go down to the Hope (the Forlorn Hope, a local neighborhood bar, and a hangout of the 14th marines) and hoist a pint. That may have sounded like a request but it really wasn't. You know I'm really a charming and lovely women, BUT DON'T PISS ME OFF!"

ELSWORTH: "Hey, I asked Crimson to look at her grid box after WE ALL talked about it. Now, Rusty was being aloof, and may not remember us all deciding to look at Jean's Grid Box traffic, but you guys are leaving me high-and-dry trying to claim we didn't discuss it. Stephanie, Billy, and Jason all seemed to think it was a good idea Jean...and I admit, I am the one who asked Crimson Steele to look at your grid box, but we made this decision as a team. It was a dumb decision, but it was a team decision. And, as a team, I think we need to go to that bar and talk out some issues. We really don't know a lot about Crimson, and maybe we need to know a little more about him."

RUSTY: "I'm never one to turn down a friendly invitation to a bar, Jean. I'll go, but by the end of night I expect to know a little more about this Crimson guy. And I'm not a bigot...I respect all races...all HUMAN races. I have worked endless hours helping the mutant population in the ganger parts of town...and who "mutated" these humans without even a thought to the consequences...fuckin' aliens. I'm no one freakin' GOOD ALIEN this group has ever one...of course, feel free to wait until we are at the bar, and I have a frothy beer in hand...." (and Rusty heads for the door...)

"A NIGHT OUT" (part 1 of 2...featuring Rusty Knuckols and Stone Mason)

Rusty Knuckols rubs his hand across the dark red stubble on the top of his head, and then tosses the last half of his beer down his throat. "I'm tired of the riddles...first with the Knights...and now this stolen auto crap. HEY SKIRT! GET US SOME MORE BEERS OVER HERE!"

Stone Mason looks hard across the table at his new teammate. "What do you care? You get paid to strap on a piece, and you have a license to kill. Can't get any better than that, man." Stone lifts his glass to his lips, but then notices that its empty. "You want more ammo, they give it to you. You want new armor, they give it to you. You want a friggin' sachel charge that will take down a building, they give it to you. We've got a sweet deal."

"Yeah, but that uptight bitch Jean comin' in...throwin' puzzles our way. And assigning a freakin' alien to our group. I mean, I've read every single one of those wordy-boring-ass reports that 'the esteemed Dr. Lloyd' has written since he joined this group, and one thing keeps jumping out at me...the aliens are bad. Its that simple...HEY LADY, WHERE ARE OUR FUCKING BEERS!...aliens are bad."

The waitress brings the beers over and slams them down on the table, spilling the foam across the table's surface. "Easy, easy, baby...I was just messin' with ya. You know I love ya." The waitress gives Rusty a dirty look and walks away. Stone laughs and shakes his head, taking a large mouthful of beer.

"Rusty, not everything is as it seems...ya know. I mean, there's all sorts of mutants and freaks in that shitty ganger neighborhood you live in...what about them."

"No, no, no...mutants are the victims, not the problem. All these mutations...caused by alien science...alien tinkering. They are trying to mess with our humanity. I'm dedicated to helping mutants...speakin' of which, you're some sort of mutant aren't you?"

"Ain't none of your business what I am, Alter Boy...but I ain't no mutant freak..."

"Come on, quit bullshittin' me! I saw the bullets you took from that F.O.N. operative, and I could tell...You are some sort of 'hard' mutant...and later, your wounds had knitted themselves closed already...clearly a mutant."

"Shut up and drink your beer, Rusty, I ain't no mutant..."

Stone's denial is cut short as Rusty whips his handgun out from under the table, points, and shoots all in one motion. The bullet strikes Stone center-mass of his chest...there is a loud thud...followed by the sound of the deflected bullet skittering across the table and landing on the seat cushion next to Rusty. Blood splashes onto the table, and Stone's shirt goes from grey to dark crimson. "You dirty mother fucker!"

The table between them flies sideways, and moving like a blur, Stone has knocked Rusty backwards...and is straddling him, his large hands wrapped around Rusty's throat. The few patrons left in the bar are all on their feet...half of them staring at the conflict in shock, the other half deciding its time to head home for the night.

"You smart-ass Catholic prick...fuckin' shootin' me to prove a fuckin' point! I am going to kill you!" Stone's hands squeeze tighter around Rusty's neck, and Rusty's face turns a deep shade of purple.

"(cough) Heh...(choke)...heh...Mason...does that (choke)...armor protect...your(gag)...tally-wacker..." Rusty prods Stone's privates with the handgun he still holds in his hand. "You (choke) (gag) take the...chance...(choke) it will grow...back? Decide...quickly...(cough)"

Stone Mason's grimacing face changes subtly...and he finds himself smiling. Stone lets loose of Rusty's throat and rolls off of him. Then both men sit on the floor of the bar laughing for several minutes, while the rest of the bar's patrons slowly take their leave.

"Hey, I'm sorry I shot were bullshittin' me! Look, you're already healing up." Wet sounds of flesh shifting and forming back together come from Stone's chest. "I'm buying the drinks for the rest of the night."

"You're buying the rest of this month, you gun-happy prick." Stone peaks down his shirt, watching his flesh quickly heal itself. "You're lucky I didn't just break your neck."

"I was counting on your reputation as a reasonable man, Stone." And with that both men begin laughing again...."HEY SKIRT, WE NEED SOME MORE BEERS OVER HERE!"

(To Be Continued! -Mark L. Stinson)

JEAN: Jean walking into the Hope with Elsworth and Jordan just as Rusty's gun goes off. A look of utter fatigue comes over her face and she leans over towards Elsworth and Jordan and says; "Hard men, for the hard job that lies down the road. I know you guys want answers. But I can't give you ones I don't have. Crimson obviously has found out more about my source than I know. All I've ever gotten from it, are anonymous grib-boxes. I tried to ignore them at first but they always turned out to be right. I learned early to never look a gift horse in the mouth."

Watching the touching little exchange between Stone and Rusty she waits a moment for the scene to conclude and the new bosom buddies to right the table and return to their chairs. Then almost to quick for the eye to follow Jean is at the table, a 15mm Krupp-Martin in her hand, the muzzle of which is nestled on the base of Rusty's skull. Her other holds an A. M. Industries 9mm leveled at Stones head. "I trust that your brain matter doesn't heal so well. I could blow both you fucks away right here and now and their wouldn't be a witness in this bar who would live to testify against me. The only reason I don't is I can use both of you. I tell you everything I know about every case I assign you. At least as much as won't get you killed. There are some things that I'll only reveal to you over time. I know more than you bastards can imagine, and I'll decide when I can trust you with the information. If any of you pricks don't like those arrangements, you better walk your pansy asses out the door right now, cause I'm one bad ass bitch. One you don't want to fuck with."

Billy comes walkin back from the wash room " I see you all have come to an understanding , Ive given the waitress a generous up front tip with the terms being we wont have any empty pitcher, Jean , It will be kind of hard to drink with your hands full and Rusty will just be wasting beer with it running out the back of a hole in his head . Elsworth, should Stone be drinking on top of the medication your about to give him? Stephanie want to dance?

I've takin a anti drunk dose , and will be keepin an eye out for one of our contacts at the bar or anyone scoutin us out .Yes I am paraniod and we need somone to keep things calm.

Rusty slowly turns his head, careful not to make any moves that will cause Jean to fire, and makes eye contact with Stone. They look each other in the eyes for a moment...and both obviously choke down some additional chuckling. "Jean, it's cool...we're cool...everything's cool...Billy's right...I would waste a lot of beer if it kept running out a hole in the back of my head."

STONE: Stone laughs out loud, but quickly gets control of himself. "Jean, no harm - no foul. We trust you...the riddles just get a little thick sometimes...sometimes we don't know who to trust...."

Rusty interrupts, "If wire-head did find anything out about your grid-box, he sure didn't tell us! And where'd the alien come from anyway? No one seems to know a thing about him. I mean if they do, no one's said a word so far...."

STONE: Stone returns the favor and interrupts Rusty, "Hey, Jean...put up the got the drop on us...we got the message...have a beer...lighten up...I just took a round in the chest, and I'm still in a good enough mood."

ELSWORTH: Elsworth steps forward, "Stone that euphoria you are experiencing is a combination of alcohol and the psychotopic drugs I have prescribed to level your emotional status. A few more beers and you'll either be flying home under your own power, or that mutant healing ability of yours will fail your liver and kidneys, and we'll be carrying you out in a zippered bag."

RUSTY: With that, Stone and Rusty make eye contact again, and fall back in the puddle of beer their scuffle created on the floor, and the laughter begins all over again...."God, you're a fuckin' wind-bag Doc!"

STEPHANIE: Stephanie tells Billy that she would be honored to dance, and both go out onto the dance floor. Billy's hands go a little to far down Stephanie's back and Stephanie has to remind Billy on more than one occasion that it would be very hard for him to go back to work the next day, with a missing hand. Billy seems to be a quick learner and removes his hand and becomes a perfect gentleman. As amazing as that seems.

JEAN: "Good! Now that we've all come to an understanding perhaps we can continue the conversation. Without guns!"
Bending over in front of Rusty, Jean picks up a fallen chair from the beer lake that Stone and Rusty have made. For the first time since he met her Rusty (and the rest of the male team members) realize just what a fine ass Jean has. At 5'11'' she's pretty tall. At about 145 or 150 pounds, she's not to heavy or to skinny for her size. Her medium length blond hair is back in a ponytail. She usually wears it in some similar demur fashion. She doesn't wear make up which Rusty decides is probably a good thing, because it would just call more attention to her perfectly formed face. Obviously something that she has made an art of hiding. Leaning over the table to continue the conversation he also notices that the untypically tight white turtleneck she is wearing doesn't do a very good job of hiding a good-sized set of hooters.
" Rusty, at least you were smart enough to use that shitty low power VoidCorp .32. Mr. Mason's regenerative abilities are not absolute by a long shot. And, although Mr. Mason chooses not to call himself such, he is considered a mutant. Specifically he is what we here in the ROP and across THE REST OF FUCKING TERRA-SOL call an Elf! In the future just look at the ears Church Boy, they're a dead give away."
"Now, how about we do what we came for and discuss just what it is we know about, as Mr. Knuckles so eloquently put it, "these conspiracy morons"."

BILLY & STEPHANIE SEE: About halfway through their dance, Billy momentarily takes his attention off Stephanie's butt long enough to notice that two men have entered the bar and taken a booth along the back wall. He recognizes them as KBI agents in Jean's Counter Es. Division.

WHAT BILLY AND STEPHANIE DO: After a little planning on the dance floor Stephanie and I will casually stroll by their table and she will notice them and we will invite them over for a drink , I acted somewhat inebriated and if they decline Stephanie will feign stumbling against one I will use my dexterous ability ( my strong point) and plant a bug in the most advantageous spot before we head back to the table .

I will take out my phone impute the code for my computer Gauntlet in the trunk hooked up to the special antennae in the car to record and transmit (Im a skill level 3 in surveillance).My gauntlet will transmute to my ear peace their conversation . ( Is that using advance technology per suggestion?;-))

BILLY & STEPHAINIE STUMBLE BY: Approaching the table Billy recognizes one of the guys. What was his name…Tim, Tom? No you're pretty sure it was Tim. "Hey Tim, join us for a drink? We've got the big table over there", Billy wobbles as he points towards the table Jean and the rest of the team is sitting at. "Thanks guys, but we're just going to sit and bitch about work. Don't need the boss listening to that you know", Tim replies winking at Steph. Steph smiles and leans a little too far forward slowing keeling over towards Tim. Billy uses the opportunity to act like Stephanie has knocked him off balance and grabs the edge of the table placing a K96 model holo device on the underside. The video feed won't do much good, but the audio should be just fine.

Tim reaches up to catch the falling Stephanie, his right hand accidentally closing on her breast. As she is leaning over him, he whispers something in her ear. ("I didn't know you cared darling. Why don't you meet me in the bathroom in a few minutes" he says squeezing your breast.) Steph rights herself and she and Billy make their way back over to the table.

CRIMSON: Crimson tells the party what he found sniffing around the grid boxes:
"I was able to track the Grid-Box that Jean received through 348 different Grid sites on 18 different secure servers including the Orion DOD secure site and the Arasaka site. The trail led to a machine in the Investigative Services Division (ISD) office, on the Evening Star. ISD is the law enforcement division of the Pax Combine."

JEAN: "Why don't we start at the beginning and try and figure out what we know. Some of you guys got started with the bureau working on the Kercinkov case. A real cluster fuck that was. But let's boil it down to what we learned form it.
1) We know Kercinkov had information he was selling to VoidCorp on alien bio-technology.
2) While we don't have any evidence on this I think we should assume that the technology was stolen from our friends at the OSS. Specifically this Majestic group you guys have uncovered.
3) Next you guys stumbled onto the Dreaming Man drug and found some connections with the OSS. Again I think we can lay this at the feet of Majestic. They appeared to be doing some field trials of the drug on hapless junkies and recreational users.
4) What we don't know on this is; Whatever happened to those bald-headed freaks? What were they called, Warriors of the Eye? Warriors of the Third Eye! That was it, wasn't it?
5) On Dreaming Man we know it was a Psionic enhancing drug.
6) Down in Panama I don't know what we figured out. The Aztecs are an oppressive government and would be a good place for these Majestic pukes to try out some of their shit. But we don't have any evidence one way or another on that. What we do know is there was some weird shit going on there. Dead men walking, and all the villagers seemingly dead from the exact same cause of death! And Keepler has never come clean about why he shit his pants and launched a cruise at that pillar.

"Am I going to fast? Any of you guys have any thoughts on this stuff?

ELSWORTH: "Jean, your speed is just fine. We'll catch Stone and Rusty up later. Actually, I appreciate you bringing some focus to all of this!"

RUSTY: "Later, egg-head. Me an you will talk later. Please continue, Jean. I just recently read the reports since Elsworth joined up and began writing his book-length reports...I'll try to offer an outside perspective."

STONE: "Huh?"

JEAN CONTINUES: "Don't worry Stone it'll all be clearer once you're sober". Looking at Elsworth she asks, "He does get sober sometimes, doesn't he? HEY SKIRT, we need some shots over here", she says, winking at Rusty. "I like the Doc's reports. They keep the bastards upstairs happy. I guess he speaks their language. Anyway, where was I? Six or seven? OK seven it is";
7) We got lucky when you guys went to the Evening Star and had that run in with that associate of Kercinkov's. That sick fuck gave us the disk that Kercinkov had the stolen bio-tech on, to save his own skin. You guys also ran into something in the tunnels of the asteroid, but we'll get back to that in a minute.
8) We set up that VC bastard Dulvolchet with the info. That didn't break my heart any. Son-of-a-bitch was always trying to get in my pants. I think when you set him up though you ran into VoidCorp's pet aliens. The ones Stone ran into just the other day. Those tall freaks...

She says, nudging Stone in the side. Stone however is face down on the table and isn't moving. "Jesus, I sure as hell thought he'd be able to take his liquor better than that". Elsworth quickly comes around the table to check on Stone. After a second he announces, "He's ok, just a little overmedicated. Probably best he dropped off for a minute anyway." OK then, I think nine was next. Rusty, get that bitch over here for another round. Anyway;
9) Our horny chummer Dulvolchet then proceeded to talk some shit to you guys on his way out of town. He gave you the VC spin, but trouble is he may at least have been partially right. Certain elements within our government are playing with Alien tech. I think that scares the hell of the Corpses (VoidCorp). They want us to do their dirty work for them and get it shut down. I don't have any trouble with our buys looking into the tech, only the way they're doing it. Fraggin, testing on the general populace and a bunch of helpless nut cases, besides all the secret shit. That ain't the Orion way. Makes me think they've got a reason to keep everything dark. Nobody'd put up with it if they knew the truth.
10) That reminds me of something else. Your little lovefest with Concord. Didn't think I knew did ya! Well it's drive, you gotta play this how you think is right. But I'm gonna tell you now, you got no cover from me on that one. If the Feds come down on you there's nothin I can do. You made this decision unilaterally, I wasn't consulted otherwise I'd of told you that up front. I don't blame you, but you need to know I can't do anything on that count.
11) Dulvolchet did give you guys a lead, which confirmed the source of Dreaming Man as someone or some group in the government. Going to that sanitarium, and following the drug back from there through the dummy drug company and on to Fort Clark. It seems pretty clear we can call this Majestic work as well, and can assume that they have a base of operations in the ROP at Fort Clark.

"Why don't you guys talk for awhile. I'm getting thirsty. Hey Billy why don't you go fuck that waitress. Then maybe she'd bring us some beer".

BILLY POINTS TO JEANS LEFT: Uh, Jean .. she put a pitcher down next to you while you were on #7.

ELSWORTH: "At a time when we did not know who to trust...when we had no idea who was in on the conspiracies...we DID turn to Concord. I don't regret it...I won't cease contact with them, at least on a casual basis. Concord is our insurance policy. When your own government contains factions willing to kill you for what you know, you have to have some sort of trump card in your pocket. You may consider us completely advised that you won't back us up in that area."

RUSTY: "When its all said and done Jean, you can't promise us you will protect us from Majestic, or any of these other...."

ELSWORTH: (interrupting Rusty) "I got the feeling the other day, that had we not gathered the information we did on Majestic...Agent Smith would have been able to take us into custody. Let's say for a moment we didn't get the info we did...let's say that we didn't get the scoop on Majestic...would you have been able to protect us? Assuming for a minute the answer is NO, I think that is an excellent example of why we need Concord as an option. Don't get us wrong, we appreciate your efforts on our behalf. But, you have to admit you can't protect us when we stick our neck out for something important...."

BILLY: You know Jean , I wouldn't put it past those arrogant OSS fucks to use their alien tech to bug our office on their last visit . If I called in would you OK me checking out some equipment to sweep the area around where they had access ?

JEAN: "Doc, those bastards weren't going to walk out of there with you, no matter what. We all might not have liked the alternative, but I wasn't going to let'em walk off with you, rest assured. I don't blame you for going to Concord. I still think you're Orion patriots. Hell, I believe in what Concord stands for. But that said, what I'm tryin to tell you is the bad guys get wind of it they could use it against you and there's no way I'd be able to cover for you. It looks bad. Talkin to another stellar power. They could do a lot with that. I guess what I'm tryin to tell you is; watch your ass!"

Jean takes another shot glass from the table and quickly knocks it back, slamming it down on the table next to four others, lined up in front of her.

"Hey, keep an eye out for Wild Bill, guys! He'll probably be in later. Hangs out here at The Hope. He used to work down on Rayburn Ave. and might have some interesting insight to share, as long as we keep the cold ones coming. What? Sure Billy. Do whatever you want on the conference room. Can't hurt any. I have the place checked out every time those pricks come to visit."

ELSWORTH: "Jean, you were sort of on a roll there summing up our investigations. If you wouldn't mind continuing your analysis before you do a few too many of those shots...."

RUSTY: (interrupting Elsworth) "So if Jean here knows you guys went to Concord for a little help, then how hard will it be for the psychic-alien-clowns to find out? Seems like this little group's activities are an open book, perhaps we should publish a fuckin' schedule of our day-to-day shit in the Star of the Plains!"

ELSWORTH: "Well, Stone did most of the foot-work establishing our Concord contacts...let's see...a little STIM injection ought to do it........There! He's coming around. Perhaps he can shed some light on how Jean found out about our contact with Concord...unless Jean feels like sharing...."

BILLY: " Hey Jean Wanna Dance " lets see what our friends at the back table have to say about this. I'll wait to see if Wild bill shows up and then go back and sweep the whole floor and if I find any thing I'll try to triangulate location and contact group.

STONE: "If Broken Knuckles hadn't-of shot me, I would'a been fine! Panzy-Assed Butt Munchers, the lot-of-em! "As much as those goat-herder's are good for, they seem to have us where they want us: Wandering around, let'n us find something here or there, but nothing substantial. I don't know if they know about the GC. If they do, it should scare em, a little. What are they going to do? Just because our own crap for brains department can't seem to support us, the unifying gov'ment (GC) might just be the leverage we need. AND...we just might want to advertise what we know. Then, Jean, when they kill us all, you might be a little sorry for not giving us the support we need!

There should be around the clock full force mission, dedicated to cracking these cases or case or whatever.

Stone sniffs the air for any sign of unwarranted attractions, nayerdowells, etc. -2 bonus for enhance senses: 16/8/4

ELSWORTH: "Stone, I'm not saying that Jean hasn't helped us. But considering what we believe is going on...perhaps the KBI should be focusing more resources on this whole Majestic/Orion/Alien connection."

RUSTY: "In the name of survival, I think we should either go after these fucks...investigate them, persecute them, prosecute them, or we should just forget about them all together. Its all or none. Nothing is more dangerous than 'dabbling' in these matters without a real commitment to getting to the bottom of it. I was surprised that Stone and I were the only ones to go after the FON leader we ran into. He knocks the shit out of us, then makes his escape down an elevator shaft...I yelled over the COMM, 'Let's get this guy!' But no one backed me up except Stone. Makes me wonder about what you guys are willing to risk to stop these fuckers."

ELSWORTH: "The FON leader you spoke about was one tough son-of-a-bitch. He just about killed Stephanie...perhaps we were a little out-classed there...."

RUSTY: (interrupting Elsworth) "FUCK THAT! It is all or none when it comes to this sort of shit! These people are terrorists...they kill innocent people...INNOCENT PEOPLE! We are all that stand between these monsters and little children and their mothers. You ever see what one of these bombs does in the middle of a crowd of children and their hard working commuters on their way to a church congregation! Next time we have a chance to catch a terrorist leader...we go all out...we put it all on the line to catch that leader....IS THERE A PROBLEM WITH THAT? I mean, let me know now if we are just here for the cool armor and guns...if we are just here for a paycheck...if we aren't willing to really risk it all to bring these monsters into custody...I WANT TO KNOW NOW IF THAT IS HOW IT IS!"

ELSWORTH: "That is NOT why I am here, Rusty. I will put it all on the line every single time to catch these fuckers...I'm just sorry I was acting as support personnel on that mission. How about the rest of you? On the video it did seem like some of you got distracted from the task at hand, and didn't go after the terrorist leader...."

JEAN: "STONE, you ungrateful SHIT! If it wasn't for me you'd still be drinking your own piss is some London nuthouse. I give you assholes every GOD-DAMMED BIT OF SUPPORT YOU DESERVE! I'd like to see you do better. You think every breeder on Terra-Sol gives a shit about what we're dealing with? Do you think even 10% of em would even believe any of this shit in the first place? The ones that would are probably Stone quality nut-jobs anyway. How can you guys trash the KBI? How the hell many agencies of a state government would give you the kind of cover from the Feds you get at the KBI. I appreciate your enthusiasm but you best think about getting the fucking job done and a little less about blaming everybody else because it ain't easy."

"Well Doc, I know a lot of people and they tell me a lot of things. I just listen. That's how I find out what's going on."

"After that outburst I think I need another one of these to get back on track" Jean says belting back another shot. "Anyway, lets get back to something constructive. What number was I on? 12, OK.

12) What did you guys do next? Oh yeah. Your little archeological dig. I think we learned a lot from that, I just don't know how much is relevant to the other stuff we know. I'm sure it'll all get clearer with time, but anyway, we found out that Majestic knows about the origins of E. Ex. Goblinus. It appears they may have been experimenting with the virus and their Dreaming Man drug. Next a Gray ship shows up. Then a Majestic team shows up right afterward. That would indicate to me they're getting help form those little gray fuckers. I think The Dreaming Man is just more alien tech.

You know I was thinking. Why the hell does VoidCorp get the big tall aliens for their pets and we get the little pussy ass looking ones? That just sucks.

13) Next you guys got in touch with the voice on The Evening Star. You know I've got a theory about that voice. If it's true it would indicate that E. Ex. Goblinus and The Dreaming Man don't come from the same place… I think the voice is an AI… Even beyond that I think it's an alien AI! I got from your conversation with it, that either it or its creators are responsible for E. Ex. Goblinus. We know the gray fucks tried to attack it. They're behind Majestic having The Dreaming Man. Ergo the E. Ex. Goblinus belongs to this now third group of externals. Christ, it's hard to tell the players without a scorecard. I think the key to understanding this whole thing might be in finding out why E. Ex. Goblinus was introduced onto Terra-Sol.
14) I haven't got a clue what we learned from that fat bitch at the whorehouse, other than there's some very strange shit out there. I wouldn't be surprised if she has some peripheral connection to all this shit but dammed if I can figure it out. We do know that the Yakuza knows a little something.

"Ok Billy lets dance, I'm getting tired of talking for awhile".

ELSWORTH: "Hey, I just got a message on my med gauntlet. Earlier, I ordered a video analysis of the video from the fight scene at the FON hideout. Analysis of the video reveals that there is some unusual bending of light around the terrorist leader. It also reveals that when Stephanie was missing the leader with her attacks, those misses were consistantly equal distant from the terrorist. This suggests the leader was possibly wearing a displacer field that made him appear at a location where he was not. I suppose this sort of effect could also be produced using paranormal means, but the second part of the information I received seems to rule that out."

"I also ordered a DNA analysis of the FON leader's blood...I gathered the samples from Stephanie's knife. The identify of the individual is clear. He is one Emile Esterbon, without a doubt the most highly wanted Terrorist in Known Space. He is completely notorious...practically a terrorist celebrity. The video images of Esterbon look nothing like the last autheticated picture we have in the KBI files...but I had it checked twice and the DNA is a perfect match. Further testing reveals that Esterbon had some form of stimulant in his system. The experimental test looking for the DNA marker that can denote Psionic abilities showed a NEGATIVE for Esterbon. This suggests it was some sort of displacer field that made him so hard to hit, and not some sort of mind trick."

"This guy would have been a good catch...perhaps the Catch of the Century. I guess we should sort of lay off Jean...I think she is doing what she can."

STONE: We have our answer friends. We are on our own. I'm done arguing. We have all the evidence anyone would ever need for full task force. I'm done playing. Let the fucking fuckers fuck the fuckers!

Number one rule of any ground pounder: Get the right tools for the right job or not at all. I'm not here to save the fucking universe. You think any of this is good for my knoggen? If it's a state job they want, then it's a state job they're gonna get. And by the way, what is the "fucking job?" Why is a state agency worried about Federal affairs? Shouldn't we be focusing on stolen cars and shit?

Hey, where is everyone? Did I pass out again? Shit... Hey punk! were you talk'n to me?

BILLY: On the dance floor With Jean, " Well Jean , I don,t think whoever is the real enemy is is going to have a chance against us , they will never know what to expect from us because we have to be the most dysfunctional squad ever brought together but I think it works. How ? Sigman Fraude couldn't answer that ."

STONE: "Jean, hey, like, you know? I was just saying.... byegones..... the beer and all. You know my background with the RECON squad at Orion. A real good mind-fuck, that was. You've been good to me. I'm sorry. I just don't want what happened to me, happen to everyone else. We need to stick together and kick some alien ass! (no offense, Red)." As Stone slugs Crimson in shoulder, sending some sort of light to go off in the alien's head.

RUSTY: "Wow. Neat trick, for a freak."

BILLY: "Stone, you are off the charts, man! But, you're growing on us... a little sticky growth. The kind that keeps coming back for more. Here's to the team. Gulp."

All: Here! Here! Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp, Gulp........

JEAN: "Whoa Billy, I think I better sit down for a minute." Jean kind of stumbles back to her seat. Grabbing a shot out of Jordan's hand she knocks it back in one smooth motion. "Maybe we better wrap this up before I go bye, bye. Ok so number 17." Jean is drowned out by a chorus of 15! "Oh fuck you guys. 15, 16 just listen up."
15) I think we learned a couple of things from Doc's little trip down memory lane. First it confirmed everything we were suspecting. There is a secret organization within the Orion government that is having dealings with Externals. We even learned their name. Majestic or Majestic 12? Something like that.
16) We also learned that there's some other organization out there trying to do the same thing we are.
17) We'll have to do this again sometime. Maybe next time we can try and figure out some of the questions we need to get answers to.

With that Jean keels over face first into the table.

RUSTY: "Dumb broad..."

ELSWORTH: Elsworth rushed to her side. "Well, shit. Let's see...external analysis shows a high BAC well as slight neural suppression...but liver function is at sufficient levels that the only threat to Jean's life is a mild hang-over. One little dose of Detox ought to prevent the hang-over, and perhaps she'll come around enough that she can help us get her home...."

RUSTY: Rusty nudged Stone, just as Stone had begun nodding off again. "Stick around after the light-weights leave...then we'll get this show on the road!"

STONE: Stone lifted his chin off his chest, one eye open, the other just a glistening slit. "What...what about...about that Wild Bill...Bill guy? Think he'll...he'll show up...tonight?"

RUSTY: Rusty nudged Stone a lot harder. "Shake it off, Stone. Jesus Christ...(Rusty looks upwards) sorry, need to stop taking that medication. There's nothing wrong with you...fuck what Doc says...and these meds are fucking up your drinking!"

STEPHANIE: Goes over and picks Jean up. Looks at the boy's and say's don't get any idea's. I'll take Jean home. At this point Jean and Stephanie leave.

An Interlude Story (featuring Rusty & Stone:)
"A NIGHT OUT" Part 2 of 2
written by Mark L. Stinson

(the bar 'interlude' was started with A NIGHT OUT (Part 1 of 2) wherein Rusty and Stone hang out in a bar, and Rusty ends up shooting Stone...only to end up in a fight, and then having a rip-roaring laugh about the whole situation. That 'night out' continues below...the other members of the squad have long since gone home.)

"Talk about cramping my style...dancing? DANCING!?! Jesus...I thought we were going out for drinks...and then Billy's out ballet-dancing around...kissing the boss's ass!" Rusty sat on the other side of the booth from Stone Mason. His tirade fell on deaf ears, as they were the last customers left in the bar. "I can't believe we let some major terrorist get away. I was pissed enough when I thought it was just some FON terrorist-cell leader...but this was Emile-Fucking-Esterbon...a major player...THE guy to catch!"

"We did...we did...did what...Oh, fuck...I am ab...absolutely fucked up." Stone rubbed a rough hand down his forehead, smooshing his nose and then down...distorting his mouth. At the tip of his chin the hand fell abruptly off, as if from a tall cliff, and slammed into the table top sloshing beer foam on the table.

"Whoa, buddy. Slow down a bit. I think you've been up...then up need to stop taking that medication Doc has been shovin' down yer throat. You're a mess. You should be able to drink a lot more than me with that freakin' mutant constitution of yours."

Rusty reached across the table to slap some sense into Stone, but with a movement quicker than the eye Stone grabbed Rusty's hand...and began to squeeze. "I'm a...a little...drunk." Stone began laughing out loud. "Man, you are dumb!" Stone let go of Rusty's now beet-red hand, and smiled cool and calm across the table. "Did you really believe I was all fucked up. Shit, I've been puttin' on since about 10 minutes after Jean came in with all the attitude. There's a lot of power and freedom in lettin' everyone think I'm some sort of out-of-control psycho...."

Rusty was rubbing his hand and shaking his head. "Wait a minute! You've been straight up sober all night?!?"

"Well, I have a little buzz goin' on, but the passing-out thing...bullshit. The slurred words...bullshit. Acting all crazy, going off on every little thing...once again, complete bullshit. Its all about lowered expectations." Stone had a smug proud look on his face.

Rusty sat there a moment staring at Stone in complete disbelief. "What?"

"If everyone around you believes you are completely're basically allowed to do whatever you fucking want. You get an itch to sniper some casino-owning do it. On a whim you decide to cap some terrorist moron you're supposed to be whack him. You want to strap a anti-grav pack to your back and fly through a mission...well, I think you get what I'm saying...."

"Wait, wait,'re clinically nuts right? I mean you're a diagnosed mental case...on medication and shit, right?"

Stone shifted in his seat and looked uncomfortable. "Well, yeah...I am a LITTLE unstable, you know, here and there...but for the most part...."

Rusty interrupted, his voice a little loud and angry, "SHUT UP! Quit fuckin' with me. I read the psych-evaluations that Doc Elsworth wrote on you...he says you're 'extremely emotionally volatile...lack social boundries...and have borderline psychopathic tendencies.' YOU ARE FUCKING NUTS!"

Stone sunk down a bit in the booth, and then in a quiet voice, "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, I suppose...."

There was a long period of silence as both men's thoughts turned inward. Rusty's face seemed grim, and he wondered to himself why he was drawn to friends like this. People at the end of their rope...people that always seem to have death on their mind.

As the waitress walked over to check on Rusty and Stone, the door of the Forlorn Hope flew open, swung its full arch, and slammed into the wall behind it. Through the doorway came two men, one holding a gun to the other's head with one hand, his other hand around his victim's throat. "NOBODY FUCKING MOVE!" The waitress screamed and ran. Rusty's hand slid inside his coat and onto the handle of his gun. There was a small hum and a click as his bio-lock holster released.

Rusty focused on the two men...the one with the gun to his head looked familiar. "Terry, is that you, damnit!?!"

The man with the gun to his head spoke, and his voice cracked with fear. "Yeah...Rusty, it's me...I'm sorry, man...."

"SHUT UP!" The man with the gun clearly wanted to run the show. "Both of you, SHUT THE FUCK UP! Listen close Templar...this worthless fuck means nothing to me...but, he's been braggin' about how much he means to you. He owes me money...lots of money. You want to keep your're gonna pay."

This man had it pegged. Terry Kelly was a childhood friend of Rusty's, back in the old neighborhood. Despite the fact that Terry was now a worthless acoholic and drug-user, he was still Rusty's friend. There were just too many good memories to ignore. "Yeah, I'll pay. How much did he stiff you for the drugs...I assume it was drugs...." Rusty slid out of the booth and stood, his sabot handgun pulled up and obscured in the folds of his coat sleave.

"It doesn't matter what the fuck it was Templar! The only thing that matters is that I get my MONEY!"

Rusty sized up the man with the gun. He was clearly a 'ganger'...with pale greasy skin and four days of beard growth. His clothes were visibly stained and dirty...and his gun...a 9mm Charge Pistol...showed rust and a lack of care. This was an amateur...hardly even a threat. One shot and Terry would be fine....

The man with the gun became suddenly agitated, "DROP THE GUN...did you think I wouldn't notice a fucking gun...DROP IT OR YOUR BUDDY GETS IT!" The man gripped Terry around the neck even tighter, and he jammed the end of his gun into the side of Terry's head so hard that blood trickled down his neck.

Rusty hesitated for only a moment and then dropped his sabot pistol to the floor. "I'm tellin' you now, dirtball...he dies, and not only will you not get your money...but I'll make sure you die real fuckin' slow...I hope I'm clear." Rusty flexed his left hand. He knew he would have to go for his back-up gun. The man with the gun had his finger tight on the trigger. 'That's a really bad sign,' thought Rusty. 'Terry may have gotten himself into some trouble that I can't fix this time....'

BLAM! BLAM! Two shots...But Rusty only heard the first one. The bullet hit Rusty in the center of his back, throwing his body sprawling to the floor. The second shot...the one Rusty didn't hear...whizzed over him, entering the ganger's face on the inside corner of his left eye. Blood sprayed out the back of the ganger's head as the bullet made its exit wound. The man's expression went blank, his knees buckled, and his arms went limp. He slid off Terry Kelly's back and hit the floor arms and legs going this-way-and-that. Terry stood there with a 'I just shit my pants' look on his face, not knowing whether to cry, scream, or laugh.

Stone, still sitting in his booth, holstered his smoking handgun. He drank the last of his warm beer down, wiped his mouth with the table napkin, and then slid out of the booth. "Rusty, you still breathin', or what?"

A groan came from Rusty's prone form...a groan that sounded suspiciously like foul language mumbled breathlessly.

Stone walked over and squatted down next to Rusty, feeling around on his back. "Nope, didn't penetrate your'll be fine...well, in awhile. Feels like shit though, don't it? You were blocking my I took you down as gentle as I'll be glad to know I made that second shot count, though."

Terry slumped down onto the floor, his hand coming to rest in the expanding red puddle that was emanating from the ganger's head. "You stupid fuck...he had a gun to my head. If he'd flinched...I'd...I'd be dead right now!"

Stone walked over, and reaching over the bar he filled a mug of beer for himself. The waitress had long since run from the room. Stone took a big drink off the top of his beer, coming away with a white frothy foam mustache. "Nope. Shot the left shoot the inside corner of the left eye...makes the right side of the body go limp. As long as I made a good were fine. I think I ought to add that I don't know you from fucking adam, and could give a shit less whether your worthless-drug-addicted life ended today, tommorow, or the next day. Get the fuck out of here, smoker."

Stone put his hand on his holstered handgun and gave Terry a long look. Terry scrambled to his feet and out the front door of the Forlorn Hope in what seemed like one quick movement. Stone chuckled to himself. 'No balls.' He took another drink of his beer, and walked over to where Rusty was still face down on the floor. The large man sat down on the floor next to his breathless partner.

Rusty turned his head to the side, looking in Stone's direction. Through all the pain, he managed to struggle out a question. "What makes you...(pant)...think you...(uhhhgn)...can just shoot me...(pant) the back...and then...(ugh)...everything's cool between us?"

Stone offered his mug of beer to Rusty. "I was counting on your reputation as a reasonable man, Rusty." Stone smiled, "Plus...I owed you one, didn't I buddy?" Rusty laughed, and then winced with pain....

GM: Michael Cross (e-mail)

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