Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Esoterrorism: Operation PARADE GROUND

This is a London-based modern day scenario outline.

The main ODE adversary is the Glistening, introduced and fully explored in the second edition main rules. I'm not going to reproduce that section here; for purposes of this outline all you need to know is that the Glistening is a spore-spread hive mind fungal infection, which overcomes its human host and turns the host into an unwilling servant. The infection is based around a sessile, an evolved version of the basic drone which becomes a kind of brain/mainframe for the infection. The sessile finds it very difficult to move or feed itself; its drones provide protection and food. Glistening infections can be very difficult to eradicate.

The main Esoterrorist adversary is a lowest tier cell, made up of Danny Seska (physicist/UFOlogist, exofetishist), Nakisha Welles (social media guru/electronics expert, attention seeker), and cell leader Petra Karra (black belt financial expert, dominant). Specialist skills include Driving, Astronomy, Data Retrieval (Seska), Electronic Surveillance, Flirting, Infiltration (Welles), and Athletics, Bullshit Detector, Scuffling, Forensic Accounting, Interrogation (Karra). This cell, codename EMPRESS, has discovered the location of the OV's London station, and is monitoring its movements, including any contact that the protagonists may have with Verity. At the start of the scenario it has no idea the Glistening infestation exists, but the Esoterrorists have in the past used Glistening infestations as spy networks; if EMPRESS finds out, through the player characters, where the Glistening is, an Esoterrorist heavy squad may move in to capture the sessile.

The Esoterrorist  heavy squad is comprised primarily of mercenaries (mostly Poles) hired for the job by Esoterrorist asset Leonid Constantinovich (sadist), aka Monkey, gun for hire. The mercenaries won't know what they're getting into; the Esoterrorists intend for the mercs to be infected by the Glistening as they collect the sessile, making them the first set of drones for the Esoterrorist's home grown fungal infection. For code purposes, this one-off cell is codename HANGED MAN. If the Glistening is not detected by EMPRESS, but EMPRESS draws too much attention to itself, then Monkey will be the one eliminating Seska and Welles - assuming Karra doesn't do that herself - and either extracting or eliminating Karra. If this happens there will be no Polish mercenaries; the mercs only get hired if there's a chance to capture a sessile.

The initial Glistening infestation was detected in 1978, during operation DANDY MAN. The Glistening was tracked to an 1960s-era East London tower block council housing development, Pegasus Point. Due to indiscriminate use of explosives, the veil-out involved claiming that defects in the prefab build contributed to structural weaknesses that led to partial collapse of the tower after a gas explosion. Five flats were destroyed and eight people killed, with another twenty two injuries. It was believed at the time that the infestation was completely contained.

Council building surveyor Thomas Whitborne had become infected during site inspections at Pegasus Point, before DANDY MAN took the sessile and its drones out. Whitborne brought the infection home to his wife Sandra and their two children; Sandra became the next sessile. However the Glistening knew this arrangement couldn't last, so it made sure Whitborne changed jobs, and joined the Goodbody Trust.

The Trust is a social housing initiative founded by American philanthropist George Goodbody in 1862. This housing association has over 25,000 properties all over London, many of them now historic or listed buildings, having been held by the Trust since the reign of Queen Victoria. Whitborne spread the infection to three Goodbody properties before he walked under a bus in 1983, his wife having worn herself out long before, and the children gone to mulch in the early 80s. Now five Goodbody social housing developments scattered across London are host to the Glistening, each with its own sessile and drones. From the OV's point of view, should it learn about it, this mass infestation in the heart of a major city is a potential disaster of the very worst kind.      

At the start of the scenario the OV is only aware of one Glistening outbreak in South London, and it can't be sure where the nest is based. Further investigation will establish the Whitborne link, and Whitborne is on the list of persons involved in DANDY MAN; the OV declared him infestation free, based on the report of one Nick Thomas, who left the OV under suspicious circumstances in 1979. [Whitborne got to Thomas, and the sessile controlling him, Sandra Whitborne, sent him into exile to die homeless in an Underground tunnel, thinking this was the best way to divert suspicion from the Whitborne infestation.] Thomas' section head was, at that time, a fairly junior OV staffer who has since risen to great heights. That staffer, now Sir Donald Soames, a senior civil servant in the Department for Communities and Local Government, will be very interested in anything the protagonists dig up. He may prove more of a hindrance than a blessing; DANDY MAN was a bit of a disaster, from a veil-out point of view, and nobody wants to see a repetition, least of all Sir Donald.


On a completely different note: it'd be really fun if there were to be an Esoterror supplement based on the Anarchist's Cookbook, a kind of how-to for the budding Esoterrorist. I think part of the problem I'm having is that everything's told from the point of view of the OV; it'd be interesting to see the story told from the perspective of the bad guys.

Anyway, hope you find the last few posts useful! I'll be banging on a different drum next time I post.

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