Twelve Months to Midnight

He who fights monsters must take care lest he become a monster.

When you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss gazes into you.

(1/13/12) The team was given directions by Olexandr to travel to NYC and meet with his associate, Inna. She was a barista at Everyman Espresso – a company whose logo matched the jackets worn by the men at the CDC attack. Located at the same address was the Classic Stage Company. Olexandr’s codewords were oddly sexual and adolescent, but it seemed to get the point across, as Inna followed suit and gave the team instructions to infiltrate the CSC.

A password was needed to enter the hidden basement, “ABBABZAB,” which Rey later realized could have been an alphanumeric code for “12212012.” Level B1 contained a security office (both officers were easily handled), a number of small offices, and one main office belonging to a Dr. Bell. The small offices seemed to each have a theme, based on the books on their shelves (many stolen by Rey) and scattered notes on chalk boards. The themes were psionics (studying a wide variety) , biochemistry, genetics, xenobiology, cryptography, and archaeology. Besides being located in the same building, no connection was established. Dr. Bell’s office seemed to also have a focus on psionics.

Sandra, having legally changed her name to Sara and then back to Sandra, stole a bunch of information off of assorted computer harddrives in the hopes of being able to figure out what was going on, but it was all highly encrypted. Zeus later made a copy and mailed it to someone who he thought could help.

Viktor found envelopes in the garbage bearing addresses for Everyman Espresso locations in: Chicago, Boston, Spokane, Toronto, and Dallas/Fort Worth. It should be noted that EE has locations around the country, but these same addresses were found in these offices’ garbage repeatedly, and no other addresses were found.

Level B2 appeared to be somewhat of a dormitory – 4 bunk beds, lockers with clothing, a large communal bathroom, kitchen, dining area, rec room, and half court basketball court.

B3 had the prisoners. Named Pierre and Jeff, they were found with shaved heads and pointy ears. They seemed to expect the group, but were confused as to why they had come so early. After much deliberation, they decided that they didn’t trust the group’s motives and that they weren’t talking, and eventually ignored the group and went back to sleep. Their cells were outfitted with both key locks and electronic locks. At this depth, cellphone service was very spotty, although at some point it came back suddenly. In an adjacent room, the group found a slew of experimental equipment designed to test for various psionic abilities. Nearby were found some results of experiments. Group A was shown to have had some positive results, then significantly decreased results after being given some “Veritas Novus” syrum. Group B was shown to have much less positive results initially, and similarly low results after being given Veritas Novus…although most in Group B mysteriously had no secondary test scores.

The team left to find themselves basked in sunlight…no, they hadn’t time traveled. A star had exploded. Oops.

Realizing that Alimov’s kids were probably brought to the Boston E.E., the team went home to rest and agreed to meet in Boston the next morning.

There was of course, a fair bit of international panic setting in. A star had exploded, and no agency had said which one or why. Cults and websites around the globe instantly sprung up dubbing it “Wormwood.” They prevailing ideas, if anyone takes the time to sift through the crazy, is that either (1) the star shot off some sort of neutrino burst which is going to poison Earth’s water supplies, (2) the shockwaves sent through the interstellar medium will result in Earth’s axis shifting and/or its magnetic poles reversing, (3) the gravitational differential that the nova has caused will result in throwing planets, comets, asteroids, entire galaxies off course, further resulting in a catastrophic impact on Earth (some groups actually refer to this as “the REAL Wormwood,”(4) that it was the result of an alien invasion making a show of power, (5) it’s a sign from God that the human race must repent, (6) generic 2012 stuff, (7) some combination of the above. I would really like it if Rey could take a stand on this phenomenon. All else are welcome.

(1/14/12) The address was for a shipping warehouse. The team arrived in the late afternoon; if the building had been open for business this day, everyone had gone home already. The front door was picked, and inside they found Rey’s dreamhouse. Endless supplies of beds, I mean cardboard boxes, and inside the boxes, brand new clothes! Specifically, Everyman Espresso store supplies and clothing line items: tshirts, sweatshirts, track jackets, baseball hats, beanies, coffee cups, napkins, cup stirrers, and “cupsters”... Even a forklift!

Nothing else was found inside, but a backdoor revealed a hidden hallway and a set of stairs leading down to a familiar setting. B1: offices (cubicles studying the same topics, many of the same books and research, a main office that this time belonged to a “Bishop,” which was not broken into). No security present, Sandra hacked the system again and deleted the footage of the team upstairs, and set up a loop on the cameras for the time being so they could walk around without being recorded. Later on she also set up a backdoor to the system, so the team could monitor any activity there.

Here it was noticed that the two security guards were playing basketball downstairs. It raises the question that, with all the crazy shit that’s obviously going on inside these urban dungeons, can they seriously not hire more competent security?

Apparently not, as they were easily handled again.

Down below, immediately after coming downstairs the team found a sanitation chamber and cleansuits, which they donned, and entered into a stacked biochem lab, complete with two prisoners – Timur and Zakhar!

Spaced out, shaved, and pointy eared just as Pierre and Jeff had been, the two young men tried to answer questions as to what they’d seen there. They could only recall scattered details about an antidote, or maybe a vaccine, which had been administered to each of the scientists by use of a large tank in the lab.

Based on some investigation by Vivian and Zeus, it was determined that the “vaccine” was likely a virus or bacteria of some sort, which appeared to have some effect on cell growth or reproduction, but they couldn’t find much else. It was determined that it was NOT Veritas Novus, and the team could only find two vials to take home with them to hopefully analyze and reproduce (or not).

Zakhar was adamant that they all become vaccinated. He recounted that the scientists taunted him, saying that the compound would be what kept them alive, while killing he and his people. He volunteered to be first in the tank. While the others debated what to do, Timur and Zakhar began to argue (the sock puppets will make a reprise in the future) about how they should handle the situation. They were in disagreement, Timur saying they should be prudent and find out more about the compound, and Zakhar favoring action before it was too late. Scientific Method be damned, the entire rest of the group followed suit, except for Timur.

The team left, to head back to Alimov so that Viktor could finally figure out what EGF stood for.

Character points: 141. Plus bonus points to be assigned later.

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