Twelve Months to Midnight

insert clever title here

2/16/12 More children are aging and dying everyday, in an area that is slowly spreading beyond the northeast United States. Pockets are bubbling up as far away as London, apparently carried via international flight. Vivian has figured out that, at the very least, once a person has contracted the strange aging virus thing and has been a carrier, the foreign bodies die and the person appears to be immune. So if the children of the world could be cured – or incinerated – it seems as though the illness would die with them, as many adults have already carried and developed antibodies. Governing bodies come to a similar conclusion, minus incineration. Still, a cure is not within reach.

Rey has moved in with his new buddy, Zakhar.

The supernova is starting to die down. It get’s decently dark at night now. Still, no official body has announced what star exploded. Independent scientists are suggesting that there was never a start there to begin with. At first, reports are abruptly redacted without explanation – conspiracy theorists believe the scientists are being forcibly silenced (by whom?) – but over time, the theory never picks up much steam (the people have dying children to be concerned with), and the initial reports are republicized and, in general, ignored.

Zeus heard back from his contact about the decrypted hard drive. He learned a bunch of stuff. Based on this information, the team departed for Toronto to track down Magnus, but not before calling up Breanne, who was back in Germany taking care of “personal business.” She agreed to meet them in Toronto, even paid for their plane tickets. Vivian’s flight from NY featured an old friend – Lineas was apparently tagging along.

2/18/12 Everyone met up in the airport and listened to Rush. At this point in time, Viktor solved the mystery of Magnus’ notes which read “Why? Why, Zed?” realizing that it was not a question being posed to a man named Zed, but in fact a reference to the Rush hit “YYZ,” which in turn is a reference to Toronto’s airport call letters.

They moved to the location of the coffee shop and asked the barista to meet the building owner and/or manager, who was not available even by phone. Lineas flashed his FBI badge to try to storm in, but was promptly taken out by Zeus and put on security detail. Some snooping around the back located what appeared to be a secret entrance, although this time the security code did not work. The lock was picked, the team entered, and was met at gunpoint. Magnus took his niece aside to speak privately and sent the others downstairs to the prison cells.

Magnus came down to talk things out, but first wished to check behind everyone’s ears to see if they had been tagged by EGF. He foolishly chose Rey, who decided to grapple with him while being surrounded by armed scientists. They fired at him, landed a few slugs. Meanwhile, a stray bullet unlocked Viktor’s cage, and he pulled a sword out from a secret compartment in his guitar. As he lunged to Rey’s defense, the bleeding wrestler managed to disarm Magnus, who found himself simultaneously with a gun at his head and a sword at his neck. The Mexican standoff, appropriately started by the Mexican ex-pat, was diffused and everyone talked it out.

Magnus acknowledged that he was afraid the team had been marked by EGF as potential weapons. Based on his abandoned research at the HGP, he believed that human DNA could be altered / enhanced to make true biological weapons like nothing ever seen before…he just didn’t know how exactly, and was afraid that EGF did. The Everymen’s goal was essentially the same as the team – to save Earth. The team offered to allow themselves to be studied in order to advance the Everymen’s research, if they would be let go and be free to continue their own way of solving Earth’s problems. Rey and Viktor took jobs as Boston security agents, having proven their worth. Vivian was allowed access to the labs to assist in creating a cure for the aging virus.

2/23/12 The team decided that between Texas’ research and Sash’s personal knowledge, they might be able to located some of the Living Artifacts needed to fight off the Fraal. Sash, eventually having been convinced that the Everymen might be a safe place to turn, contacted them through a video, explaining that he was EGF and wanted to turn himself in, because he too was on Earth’s side. His son had caught the aging virus, and needed to be cured. He would be willing to answer all questions about his people and aid the resistance against them if Zakhar could be healed. After some deliberation, the Everymen agreed to invite Sash and Zakhar to their monthly meeting, to be held in Boston this month.

The Everymen called in the team as security, thinking that the event could be an ambush. Meanwhile, Sash asked the team to watch his back, suspecting the Everymen of an ambush attempt.

2/26/12 Sash came in and met with the Everymen, answering questions politely, and setting a tone for a good relationship. Zakhar was enroute, separately, so as not to infect his father. Also, Sash wanted to make sure he trusted the Everymen before allowing his son to be captured for a second time. Zakhar eventually joined them and the scientists started running tests on him with Vivi.

This is when things got hazy. Everyone remembers things getting kinda blurry, then blacking out. According to Sandra’s hypno-therapy (thanks to Viktor) and the hacked traffic camera footage, it seems that the entire team blacked out and started attacking anyone and everyone in the EE lair. The scientists ran screaming into the street, and were chased by the team, who were soon joined by two other men – appearing to be, well, let’s just call them the Elves. As the bloodshed began to spread to the street, more people got involved. Innocent bystanders were shot, stabbed, otherwise harmed…of interest, fireballs were launched. Cars exploded, some buildings received structural damage.

Of note: When the party came to, no one remembered anything. No survivors in the area around them seemed to recognize them, although they were in significant shock. While the traffic cameras did show the team progressing through the streets, no camera functioned while the team was near it. Whenever the team came within a certain radius of any camera, it went out, and came back online as they moved farther away. For this reason, it is not easy to see who launched the fireballs, if any other extraordinary things happened…and it would be near impossible to tell their faces from the footage.

Also of note: Zeus called his uncle upon waking, and found that these attacks had occurred elsewhere. Similar occurrences of random, strange violence occurred in a number of cities across the country.

Meeting back at the EE lair, the team searched for survivors: a few dead low level scientists, no signs of any of the head scientists, or of the friendly Elves. The security room had been ravaged, but Sandra thought she could salvage some of the footage from inside, and the team is waiting on the results.

Not knowing whether they are fugitives of the law, wanted dead by the Everymen or the Alimovs, or some combination thereof, the team split ways: Rey and Viktor returning to the bunkers to find the Alimovs, Vivi and Zeus traveling to NY to check the Manhattan Everymen lair, and Sandra – I think? – following Rey and Viktor.

Sandra is going to try to hack the police mainframe to see if they’ve got anything on the party, and she is also interested in making contact with anyone else who was involved in the attacks in other cities, thinking that maybe they, too, are being used as puppets by the Fraal and would join forces with the team.

points: despite what i wrote in my email, everyone is at 160 now. some of you picked up a bonus for figuring out my plot ahead of time. some of you got points for doing basic OP characters, some of you got more for having more filled out ones. some of you got points just for being milf of the year. please add to the 160 whatever you’ve gotten through training.

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It's Called a Changeover
The game goes on, and nobody in the party has any idea.

(1/14/12) Leaving the Boston warehouse, the team heard a voice around the corner, in the parking lot, sounded like it was a man on a cellphone. He said something to the effect of, “New York? No, I – what?! Shit. Ok, call the others. Tell them I’m here now – if they don’t hear back from me soon, bring heat.” The team decided not to be confrontational and escaped to their vehicles and ran. It was time for Viktor to get his answers.

Except Alimov wasn’t there.

Viktor skillfully picked the lock, and they descended into his bunker. There was no sign of struggle, just a quick getaway with no clues as to his whereabouts (even his computer, hacked by Sandra, yielded no information, however it was understood that he was trying to keep a low profile). The brothers, at first thinking that perhaps the team was taking them into the middle of the woods to torture them, decided that this fit their father’s personality quite well. He had ran away from them. As they told it, Olexandr never wanted kids, or any sort of family commitment, and while he loved them very much, the prospect of having to live in seclusion (now that he’d abandoned his people) and protect them might have been too much responsibility for the free bird to handle. Zeus wanted nothing to do with more Russians staying with him (even though he had no Russians living with him to begin with, the brothers and Viktor were quick to point out), and so the brothers stayed in the bunker under Rey’s watchful eye until they could find their father.

Viktor and Zeus returned home and made out a little. Viktor moved out, and turned out he had a place waiting for him next door. In a strange turn of events, the two buildings (which share an owner) had been neglected quite a bit over the years, and during a February downpour

The brothers made use of the hacked computer and decided that one of his outgoing emails might have been addressed to their mother, and put themselves into contact with her. Timur, wanting to get away from a possibly contagious Zakhar, left to find his father.

Speaking of contagions – as time passed, young children in the northeast United States began falling ill. They seemed to be aging. Not growing up and physically maturing, but decaying. It was not a terribly fast process in most, but it was noticeable (crows feet, arthritis, graying and balding hair, memory loss, etc). The symptoms, like the real aging process, was different for everyone. The youngest and weakest died quickly. Zakhar appeared to be affected, as was Sandra’s son, Peter. Doctors found no cure, but were certain that this was NOT progeria – this did not appear to be a disease, but a viral infection (cases were found to be radiating out of central points of New York City, Boston, and Stamford). With doctors at a loss, the need for large scale testing and experimentation was recognized, and so the government set up treatment centers to study large quantities of children for prolonged periods of time, even going so far as to run van services through major cities to pick up children who wanted to be studied (in a state of national emergency, parental consent has been waived) or whose parents wanted their children to be saved. Anyone in the camps would be given first treatment of any possible cures. Sandra denied subjecting her son to a government she did not trust, instead opting to utilize the lesser expertise of Vivian, who was able to determine that her son’s blood contained a sample similar to that within their own blood. It seemed that the aging virus had been released by the team.

Meanwhile, widespread panic and hysteria is mounting. Legions of insane doomspeakers, endtime christians, hippy environmentalists, etc are all amassing in great numbers to give their contradictory opinions and advice on matters.

(2/15/12) In the midst of all this confusion, Olexandr and Timur returned to the bunker. The team assembled and listened to Olexandr’s interesting history lesson, and tried to devise a plan to save the planet (or in Sandra’s case, just to save her son). In the middle of the confusion, in burst Inna, revealed to be Olexandr’s wife, furious with him for leaving her and for leaving her sons, but eventually acknowledging that she missed him and was happy he was safe, and that they could be together.

The team left themselves unsure of what to do, Olexandr says he has been working on a plan, but needs some time to think. For the mean time, he has offered them the use of adjacent bunkers (he’s been saving his money on this planet for over a hundred years) as a sort of makeshift headquarters. It’s secluded and secure in case of emergency.

He currently owns three large, suite style bunkers. One will be occupied by himself, his wife, and Timur. One he suggests be occupied by Sandra and Vivian. A third he has given to Zakhar, Rey, Zeus, and Viktor – it seems that the latter three are immune to whatever this virus is. No one is obligated to do this, however he is keeping tabs on things and fully expects to be paid back rent in the event that they save the world, at a rate of $900 per person per month. If anyone wants to bring their friends or family along, they are expected to pay up as well.

Character points: 149, George 150

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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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When It All Goes to Hell
Will you be able to tell me you're sorry with a straight face?

The group was emailed by Olexandr Alimov, whose wearabouts could not be traced. (1/7/12) He asked them to meet him in an apocalpytic bomb shelter where he appeared to live. He explained that he and the party each had problems that they could help each other with. He claimed to be a former EGF agent, prematurely retiring to save his sons, Timur and Zakhar. They had been kidnapped by a group of people who seemed to be the same as the one who atached the CDC van.

The team would help him because he showed that they had been branded with the “Mark of the Initiate,” a small mark surgically engraved into the backs of their right ears. Not easily visible, it would serve as a marker to those who knew what it meant. He told the party that he would ensure they would be turned in and imprisoned if they did not comply. He sent them to NYC to meet his contact there, who had a lead.

The team had earlier also received an email from Breanne Kopfschuss. She apologized for not being there sooner, but she’s been experiencing some personal issues at home, and said that she would be waiting for them at the meeting. Didn’t make much sense since they’d never heard of her. Soon after, they were approached by FBI agent Canard Lineas, who explained that he was working with Breanne, and apologized for not being able to visit them sooner, but he had been experiencing some professional issues. Sara found that the email came from Berlin.

(1/9/12) The team met with Breanne. She explained that she was the neice of missing scientist Edward Magnus and that she was in the United States to reopen his case. Eventually the team realized that she was not in the country on official business, but was privately and unnofficially opening the case (explaining her use of a personal email for contact purposes). Lineas was not around for comment.

Breanne explained that her uncle’s work and disappearance may, in some way, be linked to their being contacted and attacked at the CDC, although she offered no hard evidence to support this theory.

After the meeting, a man covered in BBQ sause ran by. Rey was convinved it was a Zombie. Vivian tried to stop the man, in effect only distracting him long enough to get hit by a car and die.

The party left Breanne without making any promises to help her find her uncle.

Character points: 133

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Do You Know the Enemy?
Overthrow the Effigy

The group arrived at the CDC office in Hartford and met Dr. Pearson. They asked some questions that weren’t really answered directly; some would believe this to be a form of government conspiracy at work.

Upon being transported to the actual field labs, the bus was attacked by two vans full of armed men. After a brief firefight, one called over a bullhorn to cease fire. He stepped forward and was identified over his radio as “Alpha.” He mentioned a riot at Bushnell Park and a fake bomb threat at a hospital, which could have been inferred as acknowledgment that he was part of their causes (hence no police response to the attack). He encouraged the group to join him and his men, vaguely stating that there was more than meets the eye to their CDC visit, and that if they desired truth and safety, they should follow him. The group was split on this decision, Zeus solved the problem by way of a tazer, the bus driver solved it more by shooting the downed man in the back…he survived and was brought to the field labs.

Some tests were run and results are not in yet. Everyone had blood drawn and everyone was put out for passive and active brain scanning. More questions were asked and more or less dodged. Viktor said “hello” and introduced himself many times. Everyone went home, or somewhere like it.

The next day, anyone in or around Hartford might have caught a newspaper article about what happened. No one in the party was mentioned by name, but witnesses nearby did describe hearing a guitar and the actions of the busdriver. Additionally, there was brief mention of a captured EGF agent, however no official comment was made by the government as to the man’s status within any organization. Witnesses again described that all the attackers seemed to be wearing the same style and color of jacket, and the party was lucky enough to see a logo emblazoned on the prisoner’s, which looked like ___ (I don’t know, what did you guys think it looked like?)

Over the next week, the national newsmedia started taking notice of the event, as it became linked to two similar events that had been reported locally but had not received any widespread attention.

10/6, Spokane WA: a van heading to a local hospital for tests disappeared. The driver and its 7 occupants have not been found; the van has since been located but no sign of any struggle was found. There were no armed guards aboard.

11/24, Pittsburgh PA: a similar attack was launched on a CDC van. This time, the attackers were scared off and ran early on. No casualties, and none of the people being tested have reported feeling in any continued danger related to the attack. Eyewitnesses (both on the van and bystanders) also reported noticing that all their attackers seemed to be wearing a uniform of sorts.

The FBI is investigating, and has since responded to the public outcry for information about the (now captured) uniforms by stating “it’s a somewhat popular logo…effectively, it’d be like saying all the attackers were wearing Yankee hats; that might be interesting to someone, but it’s not a solid enough lead to go on. The jackets might be some sort of gang affiliation or they might not be. We don’t want to release what it is and see a witch hunt for everyone wearing it.” Witnesses have described it as a torch, the head of the statue of liberty, and a mountain range. What do YOU think it was?

Oh and good news! You get your results back in the mail (wherever your mail is sent) on 12/27. In essence, the letter congratulates you and says that everything seems pretty normal, and hopefully you won’t be hearing from the CDC again. Your now updated and very complete data will be kept on file just in case anything changes so you won’t be inconvenienced again. They apologize for what happened on your test day and “because you’ve helped keep us informed, let us help keep you informed! Please enjoy our gift of a free one year subscription to the NY Times!”

character points: 129

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Welcome to the Jungle
You're Gonna Die

12/06/2011

Dear citizen,

On behalf of our government, I wish to personally thank you for complying with the National Genetic Directive in a timely fashion over the past few years. In analyzing your submission, one or more anomalies inconsistent with what is normally found in healthy men and women of your age were found. While it is entirely possible that this is due to an error on our behalf, you may be at serious risk of a fatal disease, susceptible to particular chemical agents, a danger to those around you, or possibly something far worse. In order to properly diagnose whether a condition exists, you are required to come to one of our field offices to undergo additional tests.

The nearest office to your home is in Hartford, CT. We must see you as soon as possible, therefore your test date is two weeks from today, 12/20/2011 at 11am. I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience of this occurring during the holiday season, but in accordance with the NGD any and all vacation plans must be postponed, and I ask that you be prompt. While I can understand your frustration with this, I will remind you that an absence on this date short of being admitted into another medical facility will result in full legal prosecution, as you could potentially be a national threat. Feel free to drive, take a train, or fly into nearby Bradley International Airport. According to your distance from our offices, you will find an appropriate transportation voucher included with this letter.

Remember that participating in these additional tests is a civic duty and as such, your employers are prohibited from disciplining you. Paperwork has already been sent to alert them of your absence.

To assist us in double checking our record, please verify that the following information is correct:

System: GURPS Points: TBD, figure 125 Name: Age: Occupation: Basic Biography / Special Skills to assist GM in forming campaign:

Thank you and God bless America, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Administrator, Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry

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