Section 2 - Aftermath

Operation Karbala
Caracas, Venezuela

Leader: Sawyer
Operator: Mitchell
Transport: Caravaggio
Operatives: Aamir, Kwasniewski, Lynch, Oliver, Townsley, Vasquez

Primary Objective: Capture or Kill Esfandiar Rahim Mashai

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: In the aftermath of the riots and protests of the Green Movement in Iran, the conservative factions in that country were forced to close ranks to successfully crush the protesters. This placed the Supreme Leader, Grand Ayatollah Khameini and his faction in a position of overt support for President Ahamdinejad and his faction notwithstanding tensions between the two. One source of these tensions is President Ahamdinejad’s brother-in-law Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, named as Vice President only to have himself removed from that post by Khameini only to then be instated as the President’s chief of staff. Mashai has expressed the belief that he hears the will of the occluded twelfth Imam of Shia theology and therefore needn’t pay any heed to Iran’s clerical establishment which rules under the principle of the “Guardianship of the Jurist,” the notion that so long as the occluded Imam remains hidden by God, that clerics should rule the state.

Such statements from such a high-ranked and powerful person have fostered splits in the conservative factions of Iran and permitted President Ahamdinejad to further his own ambitions and parallel power structures to the Guardianship Council and the clerical establishment. All of this would remain an internal matter of little more than political or diplomatic concern until Mashai showed flashes of extreme Talent manifestation. The pattern of these manifestations, however, were extremely odd. At most times, Mashai appears to Talent observers to be entirely mundane. Occasionally, however, Talent power on the level of an Omega class Talent fills him for brief moments as he speaks with the “voice of the Occluded Imam.” At the conclusion of whatever statement he makes, the power vanishes and he appears to be entirely normal once more.

Israel is already aiming nuclear weapons at Iran in preparation for a pre-emptive strike should Iran achieve nuclear capability. The sudden re-appearance of the “messiah” of Shia Islam within the political faction of the President would be disastrous. Operations Team was sent to Caracas, Venezuela where Mashai, as Chief of Staff, was due to continue diplomatic negotiations on behalf of President Ahamdinejad with President Hugo Chavez. Their orders were to investigate and monitor Mashai, learn all they could about his unusual “mad” Talent manifestation, and capture him. If capture was deemed impossible, they were to ensure his death. The diplomatic outcry was deemed an acceptable risk to the alternative of Talent and nuclear war in the Middle East.

Operations Team arrived in Caracas in advance of Mashai and his Talent bodyguard. Operations Team set up a base of operations and, with the help of Nephilim Operative Hanna Kwasniewski, initiated surveillance on Venezuelan computer systems to monitor local knowledge of Mashai’s intended movements and itinerary. Operative Vasquez and Operator Mitchell narrowed down those elements of Caracas’ underworld likely to be tapped in supplying Mashai with the necessary entertainments in the evenings after his official duties. Operatives Kwasniewski and Townsley then monitored Mashai and his bodyguards and their movements, along with President Chavez’s own resources delegated to security.

In the evening of Mashai’s first day in Venezuela, he was taken to a high-end club where entertainments had been procured. Upon entering the establishment, his Talent filled him for about thirty seconds. In that time period, he spoke to one of his Talent bodyguards. Within moments of that, one of the young women in a back room getting ready was struck by seizures and taken to the hospital. Operative Townsley determined that she was HIV Positive, and Operations team surmised that the “Hidden Imam” somehow warned Mashai that one there was a threat to him. This changed the Team’s plans, knowing that mad-Talent level prophecy might interfere with their plans.

Team engaged in a “snatch and grab” from Mashai’s limousine at 2am as he was inebriated and heading home. They brought him to their base while simultaneously sabotaging the limousine and otherwise distracting his bodyguards. Mashai’s mad Talent manifested immediately, but not in any defensive or offensive fashion. He, in fact, did nothing more than speak in classical Arabic to the Operations Team, specifically Operatives Aamir and Oliver, who had assumed her Samael persona, as his body was filled with lethal amounts of bullets. He continued to speak long after he should have died, but ultimately relinquished the body as an “unworthy vessel.” His statements in those few seconds were mostly religious references to the historical Battle of Karbala where Sunni Muslims ambushed the Imam Husayn and assassinated him. Operative Townsley sensed small flares of Talent activity flitting from one to another of his otherwise-occupied bodyguards, but settling in none of them. Operations Team then evacuated via Transport Operative Caravaggio.

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Operation Middle Kingdom
Xiao Hinggan Ling Mountains

Leader: Pyatt
Operator: Ivanoff
Transport: Ivanoff
Operatives: DeLuca, Fischer, Keenan, Petrov, Redinger

Primary Objective: Investigate catastrophe of covert Chinese Talent production facility

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: The Chinese New People’s Council was operating a secret facility in the Xiao Hinggan Ling Mountains north of Harbin dedicated to a complex process that had been found to reliably create not only Talents, but Omega class or “Mad” Talents. The proof of the facility’s success was the use of two mad Talent “dragons” to exterminate the daughter Hive in North Korea. After gaining a great deal of intelligence on the facility and the process behind the dragons, Section 2 and MI7 engaged in a joint espionage operation into northern China in an attempt to surveil the facility. This operation ended in catastrophic failure as a hitherto unknown “Project Z” mole within MI7’s operatives on the mission activated and killed many of his fellows before being put down by Section 2 Operative Hope Landon and MI7 Operative Vincent DeLuca. Both were extracted under heavy Chinese military fire by Section 2 Transport Operative Ivanoff. Due to evidence left on the MI7 corpses, MI7 has temporarily disavowed Operative DeLuca who is now on indefinite loan to Section 2.

In the early morning hours of September 12th, Odal Rune satellites picked up an immense flare of Talent power at the site of the Chinese facility. The power levels were consistent with either a single extremely powerful “mad” Talent or a number of “mad” Talents, and the Talent effect persisted in a radius of 30 miles from the epicenter at the facility. Intelligence sharing agreements resulted in immediate Section 2 and MI7 notification and a team was assembled on short notice. Their mission was to infiltrate the affected zone and determine to the best of their ability what happened to the facility. The mission was deemed suitably critical to necessitate blanket permission to use all necessary force on any Chinese military personnel or Talent operatives who may seek to compromise the mission.

Operations Team transported in outside the affected area. Initial recon revealed that the fairly low, dry Xiao Hinggan Ling mountains gave way immediately to dramatic mountains, steep cliffs and gorges, and antiquated stone stairs leading to a sequence of monasteries. Such topography was utterly out of place in this part of China, but resembled the sort of idealized geography of Chinese movies. This imposition of a fantastical reality seemed stable and the border appeared completely permeable, although the temperature within the zone was dramatically lower.

Operations Team took the ancient stone-work stepped path up to the first monastery-shrine where they encountered powerful Talent manifestations in the form of meditating Buddhist monks. Unable to overcome the language barrier, the monks summoned another Talent manifestation who appeared like an idealized Hong Kong cinema assassin or hitman. This new interlocutor spoke English and brought the Team across the ravine to a modern cityscape run by a crime “Syndicate.” The Team met the “Boss,” An old man and the first actual Talent encountered, and represented themselves as “ambassadors” from barbarian lands to the “Middle Kingdom.” The Boss informed them that the “Celestial Lords” were in conference in the highest heaven and by presenting the Boss sufficient gifts and flattery, obtained his permission to continue through this realm. The Boss provided Team with a gift of his own, elaborate silk robes, which when touched by Operative Keenan revealed that the Boss was, most likely, originally a ten-year-old child who had been subjected to extensive chemical treatments and complete sensory-replacement experiments designed to inculcate a completely fantastical perception of reality with the purpose of creating a controllable “mad” Talent assassin and crime lord.

Team passed back across the ravine and progressed up to the next monastery where they encountered more monks who, once again, summoned an interlocutor. This time, a horde of Talent manifestations in the form of anthropomorphic monkeys dressed in fanciful clothes flocked to the monastery. Team Leader Pyatt ate a fruit given to him and was turned himself into an anthropomorphic monkey, and was therefore capable of communication. They sought permission to pass from the ruler of the second “layer” of this warped reality, the Monkey King. At this time, Team became aware of violent pursuit from another team of Chinese New People’s Council Talents. The prompt arrival of the Monkey King, however, the second Talent encountered, and one clearly within the “mad” Talent range of power, precluded continued hostilities. The Monkey King used a golden dust to facilitate communication for all present. Both teams presented their case to the Monkey King who pronounced a duel of champions for “honor, glory, and passage.” Operations Team chose Operative Redinger as their champion. Chinese Team chose a Talent capable of growing to roughly 20 feet tall and manifesting swords of light. The duel proceeded, with Operative Redinger gaining an early upper hand, but devolving into a tactical dance. Operative Fischer opted at that time to conclude the fight by attacking the Chinese duellist. The Monkey King stopped the fight, declared foul, healed the Chinese Operative and permitted the Chinese to pass through his realm while detaining Operations Team and neutralizing Fischer’s Talents.

Team Leader Pyatt drew upon what he knew of Chinese mythology of the Monkey King to attempt to placate the mad Talent. The Monkey King indicated that he could be placated if Fischer were given to him in eternal slavery. Team Leader Pyatt opted against this option. The Monkey King then suggested that the Team could tell him a joke that he had never heard before and which would give him a “belly laugh.” Team Leader Pyatt gambled that the Monkey King would appreciate an attempt at trickery, and promised him a joke in the form of a skit. Placing Fischer in the center of the path in full view of the Monkey King, some of Pyatt’s copies surrounded him. Pyatt informed the Monkey King that he must watch Fischer carefully to see the joke unfold while the Team retreated into the shrine to “prepare.” Once out of sight, they merely attempted to sneak into the Monkey King’s realm by stealth while the King was otherwise distracted. This gambit worked, more because the King appreciated the ruse.

Operations Team arrived, then, at the “Highest Heaven” where they entered in upon a debate upon a celestial dais amongst the clouds. Two massive dragons coiled about the dais, the third and fourth actual Talents encountered, both clearly immensely powerful “mad” Talents. The debate was taking place amongst various fantastical creatures, all of them manifestations. The debate seemed to center on how the Celestial Lords were to respond to the sudden revelation that the world was not operating in a harmonious fashion, and was instead full of demons and other evils. The debate seemed to range between direct imposition of heavenly order upon the mortal realm to merely descending to the mortal realm as an “example” to be followed. Chinese Team was called forward as representatives of the “peasants” who had overthrown their Emperor and ruled in his stead. Chinese Operatives presented the case that the two Dragons were in fact an 8-year-old boy named Shi JiaoLong and a 6-year-old girl named XiaoShu Ren. They Chinese team leader made a persuasive case attempting to snap the “mad” Talents out of their delusion. The effort was insufficient, but Operations Team detected subtle disturbances in the celestial surroundings.

Operations Team was called forward to present their case as barbarian ambassadors. Team convinced the dragons to assume the forms of the two children to “understand the plight of mortality” and made their own case based on principles of freedom of choice and progress via conflict. These essentially Western values were skeptically received by the dragons who insisted that the most important cultural value was an ordered and harmonious society, and that tyranny itself was not evil, merely imperfect tyranny. A truly benevolent Order protected and aided the people who, in turn, supported the ruling order.

After extensive debate, however, the Celestial Lords chose merely to open the gates of their realm, permitting all mortals who wished, to view a perfectly harmonious celestial heaven, and to stay if they wished, as an eternal example of something to emulate upon earth. Operations Team and Chinese Team departed under a temporary truce, and Operations Team was extracted.

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Operation Maltese Cross
Island of Malta

Leader: Sawyer
Operator: Ivanoff
Transport: Ivanoff
Operatives: Han, Oliver, Petrov, Townsley, Vasquez

Primary Objective: Protect Director Ming during UNTDI conference

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Secondary Objective: Uncover details of Chinese Talent creation program by any means necessary

Secondary Objective: Completed

Summary: The recent appearance of a daughter Hive in North Korea has resulted in the North Korean government making a number of wild accusations against a number of countries. More disturbingly, China’s covert Talent agency, the New People’s Council, has echoed these accusations, specifically accusing Section 2 of orchestrating the creation of the daughter Hive as a weapon against North Korea in retaliation for stalled six-party diplomatic talks. The NPC is fully aware that Section 2 was behind the use of the Queen as a weapon against Assam, and called a meeting of the United Nations Talent Defense Initiative, an umbrella group under which the world’s official government Talent organizations meet, to formally accuse Section 2.

Director of Operations Ming would go to the Island of Malta to defend against these accusations and required a team to accompany her. Of more interest, however, was intelligence indicating that China’s New People’s Council had successfully developed a means of reliably creating Talents, including Omega-class or “Mad” Talents. Evidence for this lay in the suppression of the daughter Hive in which two “Mad” Talents in the forms of Chinese celestial dragons descended on North Korea to help destroy the Hive. These events were picked up by Odal Rune satellites. Operative Team was to covertly rendezvous with a representative of MI7, Giles Masterson, and a representative of the Odal Rune, Andrew Merit, to recover further intelligence on this Chinese program from the Chinese delegates to Malta. Team was encouraged to be discreet, but ultimately they had ultimate discretion to cause an international incident if necessary to uncover this information.

Complicating matters, the Director of the NPC himself was accompanying the Chinese delegation. He is known to have a personal antipathy for Director of Operations Ming, and felt the need to accuse her personally of malfeasance. It was rapidly determined that he was the primary target for information extraction, and also the most politically dangerous to assault.

Operative Team and Director Ming arrived in the resort hotel in Malta reserved for the meeting and established themselves in the villa set aside for them. They swept for bugs and established communication with Masterson, an MI7 agent with the Talent to detect minds, read minds, and network minds within a 10 mile radius. They also established communication with Merit, an Odal Rune operative with the Talent to edit his existence from the minds of others, even retroactively. Operative Team determined that the Chinese delegation was holed up in their own villa, protected by a powerful illusionist who had utterly recreated the interior, and an assortment of others, alongside the NPC’s Director.

After extensive discussion, Operative Team engaged in an indirect assault. Team fell back to guard Director Ming while sending Merit into the Chinese villa with a pda strapped to his head streaming realtime video and audio back. Merit was further armed with powerful tranquilizers in syringes, and the detached hand/eye combo of Operative Petrov. Team Leader Sawyer could therefore use his mind control Talents via the video feed on the Chinese targets to weaken their will, coordinated by mental invasion attacks from Masterson and Zed attacks from Petrov all while remaining at a safe remove maintaining their plausible deniability and ensuring Director Ming’s safety. Operative Townsley was kept in reserve as a backup tactic to forcibly remove the NPC’s Director to a location elsewhere in Malta.

The assault on the NPC Director went according to plan. The NPC Director, however, anticipated such an attack and had a standby team waiting to teleport into the Section 2 villa to assault Director Ming under the assumption that she would be left unguarded. Operative Team’s tactics, however, ensured she was well-protected and the teleported Chinese Operatives fled. The NPC Director’s will failed and Agent Masterson was able to sift through his unconscious mind to find the data on the Chinese Talent creation program. Masterson then relayed this data, as agreed, mentally to both Director Ming and Odal Rune Operative Merit.

The Conference met and Director Ming effectively deflected the accusations of assault on both North Korea and the person of the NPC Director. The seemingly random emergence of “Project Z” moles in the organizations of nearly every delegate agency was dealt with also. Director Ming took responsibility, promised that Albright was acting without sanction, and gave the delegates a reasonable means to discover additional Project Z moles and neutralize the threat. Director Ming and other delegates also pressed the Chinese delegation about their supposed Talent creation program, which the Chinese delegation admitted existed, but downplayed the potential power and danger.

The conference concluded, and the Operative team escorted Director Ming back to the Operations facility.

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Incident Report
Classified: Grade 1

Flagged Personnel: Caravaggio, Fischer, Lincoln, Lynch, McIver, Mitchell, Pyatt, Redinger

To: Members of the Section 2 Oversight Panel
From: Code Name – Cherpakha, Oversight Panel
Re: Protocol Enforcement

Ever since Oversight chose to execute Dr. Anthony Albright as a dangerous, destabilizing element we have seen the proof of our convictions. Mad Talents began to move erratically, Albright’s brainwashed “Project Z” moles in other organizations began activating apparently at random.

In evaluating world events, however, one incident stood out as anomalous. The rise of the second Hive in North Korea didn’t add up. When Albright’s conditioning of Operator Mills resulted in the collapse of Containment, it was revealed that a high-priority prisoner, Mr. Christopher Larson, was missing and had been for some weeks. A review of the Directorate of Security’s protocols led me to the near-certain suspicion that one or more members of Oversight were engaging in operations without consulting the entire panel, or the Director of Operations. It occurred to me that Dr. Albright’s mental conditioning may well have extended even into the minds of Oversight. I did not consider myself immune. I, after all, spent twelve years believing I was someone else thanks to Albright. I entertained the possibility that even I might be the mole, and may have ordered Larson released and set loose upon North Korea and then conveniently forgotten the matter.

I engaged a small team of Operatives. I selected them carefully based on their psychological profiles. Each of these operatives holds a reasonably firm conviction in ideals above and beyond mercenary gain. Fischer’s profile indicated to me that he was one of the very few operatives resistant to Albright’s blandishments, and seems to adhere to a strict code of behavior that others find repulsive but is at least consistent and resistant to manipulation. Lincoln’s sense of self is heavily influenced by his desire to protect those he perceives to be “innocent” from the evils of the world that he considers to have long-ago corrupted him. Lynch has a simple patriotism transplanted from the 1940s that even his subsequent criminal activities haven’t replaced. Pyatt has consistently made moral decisions based on his Mormon faith. Redinger values human life and the ideals of the United States of America in an unironic fashion. I assumed that these Operatives, once set upon the trail, would not hesitate to make moral decisions no matter what they discovered, even if they discovered that I myself was the rot in the heart of Section 2.

I contacted these Operatives and informed them that Larson had been missing for up to two weeks prior to the computer crash and containment breach, and that the rise of this second Hive, while it seemed to coincide with the rash of apparently random “Project Z” moles activating, was most likely something planned, and not planned with the approval of the Directors or Oversight. Since other Talent agencies were fully aware of Section 2’s manipulation of the Queen during Yama’s Apocalypse, this second Hive, in light of Larson’s recent incarceration with us, was evidence in the eyes of the world that we had once again played a very dangerous game with a Mad Talent, evidence that even now Director Ming is attempting to refute in Malta. I gave these operatives the most obvious lead I had on hand, the disappearance of Directorate of Security Information Extraction Specialist John McIver, and let them get to work.

Their investigations turned up the co-option of members of the Directorate of Security that I was already aware of. In the course of speaking with Deputy Director of Security Ramirez, however, they discovered the name of the member of Oversight pulling the strings on the Larson operation, namely The Secretary. They also discovered the Transport Operative that McIver used to move Larson and the neo-natal Daughter Queen into North Korea. McIver used this transport operative, Caravaggio, to deliver him to Palmyra, New York. Palmyra struck me as the location of one of Albright’s homes. While this team, supported by Mitchell, went to Palmyra to investigate, I did some checking of my own.

It occurred to me that only one member of Section 2 was foolishly confident enough in his ability to manipulate Mad Talents to enact such an operation, and that member was Dr. Anthony Albright. If, in fact, Albright had subverted other members of Oversight, it would have been entirely within his resources to provide me with a false Albright to execute. As I cross-checked the data, it became more and more obvious that Albright was still alive.

I contacted Operative Dasgupta, who had already made it known in certain circles that he sought vengeance upon the individual within Section 2 responsible for the Hive’s decimation of his homeland. I asked him to accompany me for a chance to see this vengeance enacted. I then teleported myself and the invisible/inaudible Dasgupta into the home of Albright in Palmyra.

There, I discovered my operatives currently in discussion with both The Secretary and Stella, alongside a fellow who did not look like Albright but resembled Albright in body language, vocal stylings, etc. I opted for a “crazed gunman” approach to ascertain the tactical situation. It would seem that this “Albright” claimed to be the Center, and wished for my operative team to subdue me so that he could “debrief” me and bring me into line. A number of past implications clicked into place for me. I had never met “Center” and had assumed that my compatriots on the Oversight Panel were similarly ignorant of his identity for security reasons. It seems our decision to execute Albright forced him to reveal himself to the other two members of Oversight and play a game of double-blind with me in hopes of eventually luring me into his clutches for a mental scrubbing.

Operative Pyatt acted according to his psychological profile. I argued my position that Albright, who has clearly been in charge of Section 2 as the “Center” for decades, clearly believes himself to be working for the good of the nation and the world, but that his supreme confidence in his ability to manipulate entities that represent the single largest threat to life as we know it was, itself, a threat that should be removed. I was able to convince Pyatt that “Albright’s” very words were his weapons, and Pyatt effectively prevented “Albright” from speaking. In gauging the room, I saw that Lynch evinced body language indicating he did not trust “Albright.” We were in a standoff. Pyatt attempted to gauge the opinions of my fellow members of Oversight. Stella effectively hedged, indicating that she had the utmost respect for Albright’s work, but that she did not consider him indispensable. The Secretary answered merely by telling Lincoln, whose hand was on “Albright’s” shoulder, presumably to heal him should he be wounded, that the fate of the world hung in that very hand. I saw in Lincoln’s eyes his decision before he removed his hand. Lincoln shot two bullets into “Albright” just as Dasgupta came out of invisibility with his own gun, and Pyatt and his various copies opened up with gunfire.

The Center is dead, but The Secretary informs me that the Center will Hold. This has something to do with the mysterious woman upstairs in Albright’s house, the Talent who, I am told, was The Center’s personal secretary. I formally request a full dossier at this time of this woman, as well as Albright’s activities as Center for the decades that he maintained his ruse as Deputy Director of Personnel of the Directorate of Operations. I also formally request the protocols for the selection of a new Center, as well as the protocols of checks and balances that presumably prevent Section 2 from operating as a Talent tyranny. Albright may have subverted protocol for his own ends, but I have every interest in seeing this organization return to some semblance of order.

~Cherpakha

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Operation Shackleton
Antarctica

Leader: Pyatt
Operator: Pelton
Transport: Keffer
Operatives: Cross, Oliver, Petrov, Redinger, Sawyer

Primary Objective: Investigate fate of Odal Rune Antarctic base, resolve hostilities if any

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: The Odal Rune recently lost contact with an Antarctic base and requested Section 2 provide a team to investigate. In return for this investment of manpower, the Odal Rune would permit Section 2 to investigate the base itself and return with whatever information on its activities the Operatives saw fit. Section 2 analysis speculated that the loss of contact was likely due to the sporadic activation of a number of “Project Z” agents within a number of organizations worldwide, and that two Odal Rune agents active in Antarctica, who had previously been Section 2 prisoners returned via a prisoner exchange, were likely to be the Project Z moles.

Team arrived in Antarctica to find the situation in the facility to be complicated. Most of the Odal Rune Talents were dead with the exception of Sasha, an ice and weather control Talent who remained outside the facility; Theodore, a telekinetic; and Hans, a ghost-summoner, and one of the Project Z moles responsible for the deaths of his fellows due to some apparent mental conditioning. Further complicating matters was the presence of “Olaf”, a machine-intelligence powered by Father’s unusual “etheric plasma” technology, who exhorted the Section 2 Operatives to kill everyone left in the facility as traitors and restore control of the base to him.

Investigation revealed that the Odal Rune’s project in this Antarctic facility was investigating alternate dimensional realities. They had built a functioning portal to an unusual alternate dimension and were working on building another portal elsewhere in the world that would tap into that same dimension. Investigation further revealed the mysterious activation of deep mental conditioning in the two “Project Z” moles that sparked civil conflict in the base resulting in a standoff between Hans and Theodore. The Section 2 Operatives, after some standoffs and tense negotiations, entered into a bargain with Theodore to aid the Odal Rune against Hans and his army of summoned ghosts. The violence was reasonably short-lived and Hans was destroyed. Section 2 Negotiator Amelia Cross interceded with Father via Olaf while the violence commenced to ensure that Father and the Odal Rune did not… misinterpret Section 2’s interest in Project Z. Some Operatives utilized the portal to investigate the Odal Rune’s alternate dimension before leaving the base to Olaf and Theodore.

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Operation Ancestor
Amazon Rainforest, Brazil

Leader: Lincoln
Operator: Mills
Transport: Andreson
Operatives: Fischer, Lynch, Townsley, Vasquez

Primary Objective: Investigate Amazon disappearances in Joint Operation with Brazilian Da Agência

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: The Amazon Rainforest is home to at least 50 indigenous groups who speak hundreds of languages in up to 30 distinct language families. Many of these tribes have avoided all contact with the outside world and remain virtually unknown. The Brazilian Talent Agency, known as Da Agência, requested aid from Section 2 to investigate a string of disappearances in a large section of the rainforest. Anthropologists, researchers, smugglers, missionaries, and other foreigners were disappearing. Da Agência had sent in a team who escaped reporting that seemingly countless “spirits of the indigenous dead” had arisen. Section 2’s interest, in light of recent Swords of Naciketas activities, was clear.

Operative Team transported to Brasilia where they met Adriana Lopez, a linguist and agent of Da Agência. She arranged transport into the rainforest where the combined team began moving toward the area of the disappearances. Team encountered a hunting group from an indigenous tribe that indicated that another group, 30-strong, of smugglers had preceded them by a week investigating their own disappearances. The smugglers had two “warlocks”, or Talents, among them. After additional travel, Operative Townsley detected the slow but steady approach of a perimeter of ghostly Talent manifestations. As these manifestations approached, they appeared to be chanting quietly tribal hymns to the dead, which Lopez understood. Lopez taught the Team a simple refrain in that chant by phonetic memory, and they stood to await the ghosts, reciting the chant.

The chant apparently worked, as the spirits merely surrounded the Team, and entered negotiations with it. Sufficient respect gained the Team transport via a ghostly spirit-anaconda to the village of the “Great Shaman.” The village had a couple dozen living tribespeople, the two Talent smugglers that had apparently be captured previously, the mad-Talent-level Great Shaman, and another shaman, of Mongolian ethnicity, who had apparently gone utterly native. Operations Team suspected a Swords of Naciketas plant, but subsequent communication with the Great Shaman and with the Mongolian, who claimed the tribal name of Olawe, seeded doubt. Team relayed a comprehensive physical description to their Operator, Cecil Mills, who was surprised to report that the Mongolian was a former Section 2 prisoner named Bataar. Apparently Bataar had been captured in the same operation that had captured the defectors Lee Ann Ming and Han Xiao Ping, as well as a few others. Unlike the defectors, Bataar had been determined by Dr. Albright to be mentally unstable and unsuitable for Operative status. He had been sent to a secondary containment facility where he was reported dead a year later by Section 2 medic Anthony Murphy. Subsequent investigation, and direct conversation with Bataar/Olawe, suggested that perhaps Bataar/Olawe had been programmed by Dr. Albright and was acting as a contingency to foster and encourage the mad Talent toward certain isolationist goals.

A few hours after these discoveries, the Team lost communication with their Operator. This prompted certain defensive actions in case of attack. The Odal Rune contacted Operative Townsley offering to trade intelligence for a future favor. Upon his acceptance, they relayed the fact that a Section 2 Operative had apparently journeyed to Louisiana and activated Reverend Carpenter, who had subsequently traveled to Leavenworth to speak with Private McGrath, aka Jesus Christ. This coincided with press statements from Kim Jong-Il of North Korea decrying the arrival of a new Hive, and threatening nuclear retaliation upon the nation that smuggled / infiltrated the Queen’s apparent daughter into his country, and a statement by Pharaoh Gamal Mubarak stating that the destruction of an Egyptian military installation would be fully investigated by the Egyptian authorities.

The Team opted to confront the Great Shaman and his advisor with information about the wider world. Bataar/Olawe posited a cascade of events set up by Albright. The Team extracted along with Lopez where they encountered Andreson who brought them to a Section 2 backup facility. Team discovered that there had been an unexplained computer failure resulting in a lack of communication at the primary facility and that the Containment field had dropped, releasing a number of Talent prisoners. Team aided Security operatives in regaining control and transporting all personnel and prisoners along with material to the second facility. Subsequent investigation revealed that Dr. Albright had implanted a number of subconscious mental commands in the small staff of Operators under the assumption that all information from field operations pass through them. When certain trigger information was learned, Operator Mills activated certain computer routines which resulted in internal chaos while sending messages to Operative Summers and others who had been compromised by Albright’s deep-conditioning. Operative Summers, under cover of the confusion at the facility, flew off to activate Reverend Carpenter, and is still at large. Operative Edwards was also missing, having left the facility during the chaos.

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Operation Marinette
Haiti

Leader: Pyatt
Operator: Mitchell
Transport: Keffer
Operatives: Edwards, Fischer, Lincoln, Petrov, Townsley

Primary Objective: Investigate and stop Whitfield Syndrome outbreak in Haiti

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: Operations Team was activated moments after the United States military and intelligence services became aware of a virulent Talent outbreak centered on Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Civilians had been infected with a Talent condition that made them crazed killers intent on force-feeding their blood to others through which the Talent infection was passed. By the time Team was briefed and assembled, thousands of victims had been infected and were infecting more in a geometrically-increasing rate in a radius from the city. Operations Team was instructed that they had access to every available resource, including the cooperation of the UNTDI team on the ground led by Section 2 Operative Raoul Destino. Their mission was to investigate the outbreak and attempt to stop it, if possible.

Team arrived at UNTDI beachhead where they exchanged intel with Destino. The UNTDI team was working to evacuate uninfected citizens to a cordon of hospital ships via teleportation, as well as hold infected at bay while civilians made it to the beaches for conventional evacuation. An initial flyby of Port-au-Prince allowed Operative Townsley to determine that the relative power of the Talent manifestations gripping the infected increased as one approached the Carrefour commune / neighborhood. This implied a “ground-zero” style event, with diminishing returns as successive generations of infected would infect more. Operative Petrov discovered that utilizing a Zed talent on an infected kills it. The Talent manifestation is apparently all that permits its sudden and constant adrenaline levels to function without the body dying. Operative Team Leader Pyatt, in utilizing his copies to defend fleeing civilians, discovered that they are capable of being infected, and retain their distinctive Talent powers, and a basic grasp of tactics. Furthermore, he discovered that attempts to mentally synch with infected copies risked infecting him. Finally, Team discovered that an infected individual can eat the flesh of another and increase their personal power.

Team took Destino and re-entered Port-au-Prince, setting up a defensible position on a rooftop. Between Operative Townsley and Operative Destino, Team discovered that there was a group of 12 infected individuals of significant power, a level that was steadily growing as constant streams of infected would pass corpses in to the building in Carrefour where they dwelt. These twelve appeared to be building power for some purpose. Contact was made with UNTDI advance scout Mtolo who provided details permitting the theory that the “loa” fueling this Talent outbreak was Marinette Bwa Chech, a notably fierce and violent spirit also known as a freer-from-bondage. The presence of twelve apparently mundane screech owls in the “temple” location seemed to confirm this theory. The twelve were feasting on corpses with the exception of a single, perfectly unharmed corpse in their midst. Team theorized that this was the body of the Talent who initially manifested the plague. There continued to be no sign of an actual Talent in the area.

Team Leader Pyatt requisitioned an fuel-air bomb dropped from US Air Force assets in the area to take out the temple whereupon Team advanced into the molten rubble. The accumulated power of the now-destroyed twelve entered into the remains of the suspect-Patient-Zero whereupon he returned to life in perfect health, and as a full, potent Talent. Combat ensued resulting in his re-death and complete disintegration by Operative Edwards. The infected, however, remained infected. Team held the hordes off long enough to ensure the lack of another rebirth then retreated to another secure location.

Without the corpse of the original Talent providing a focal point, infected began feeding on each other at random. Team remained in Port-au-Prince for a week and, with support from UN and US military assets, suppressed any clot of infected who accumulated enough power to risk another resurrection of the initial Patient-Zero. By the end of that week, the population of infected individuals had been reduced to insufficient numbers to permit such a resurrection and Team was returned to base, leaving further cleanup in the hands of the more usual agencies.

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Operation Sutekh
Red Desert, Egypt

Leader: Redinger
Operator: Mitchell
Transport: Caravaggio
Operatives: Aamir, Kwasniewski, Lynch, Nielsen, Oliver, Tomoji

Primary Objective: Infiltrate Operative Tomoji into Swords of Naciketas facility

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Secondary Objective: Recover all possible data from facility systems

Secondary Objective Status: Completed

Summary: Yama’s Apocalypse hit Egypt particularly hard. The high population density of the Nile River Valley made it a prime target. Only the rise of the mad Talent Osiris has permitted Egypt to recover as quickly as it has. With a newly-small population, and all manual labor handled by the nocturnal spirits of the dead that rise at the bidding of Osiris and his “Pharaoh” Gamal Mubarak, Egypt is following the “Dubai model” of economic growth in an attempt to turn Cairo into a center for financial services and other high-skills high-technology industry. Unlike Lord Yama, Osiris takes no interest in politics except to provide unnatural power to his chosen pharaoh. Section 2 analysts have been monitoring active infiltration of Egypt’s military and political classes and noted a divergence of resources and material for the construction of a top-secret facility deep in the red desert. Evidence pointed to Swords of Naciketas meddling with the suspected agenda of someday co-opting Osiris’ blessing and power.

Operative Team was assembled an introduced to Operative Shingaki Tomoji, a Japanese Talent with the ability to explode with the force of a small neutron bomb (see Operation Fat Man). Operative Tomoji’s rather jumpy talent was temporarily neutralized by Zed Talent Remza Hazdi for the purposes of this mission (see Operation Z). The operation was to infiltrate the mostly-finished but theoretically off-line facility to utilize Operative Lynch’s ability to shunt Operative Tomoji a week into the future. Upon emerging into a hopefully fully-operational facility, Operative Tomoji was expected to use his Talent, neutralizing a significant Swords of Naciketas investment.

Upon arriving in a collapsed access tunnel, Operative Team encountered the external vault door to the facility which had some unanticipated zed-like qualities of a yet-undetermined nature. This effectively undid certain backup preparations that required Section 2 transport operatives to be able to teleport into or out of the facility. After extensive cautionary measures, Operative Team opened the door and infiltrated the facility with the aid of Operative Kwasniewski’s ability to control and neutralize the security systems. They canvassed the facility to discover a number of Egyptian special operations operatives who had been turned into solid metal statues of varying varieties. Operative Lynch shunted Operative Tomoji into the future at a location calculated by Operative Aamir to be structurally optimal.

As they prepared to leave, speakers throughout the facility activated and a voice identifying itself as Hassan addressed them. Hassan claimed to have been monitoring them with his Talent the entire time, and took credit for transforming the Egyptians into stone. He seemed interested in a dialogue wherein he expressed membership in an organization known as “Project Z” with the stated aim of neutralizing mad Talents worldwide. Hassan claimed that the rebel elements within Egypt’s military and political structures were loyal Muslims who wished to rid Egypt of the influence of Osiris. At no point did Hassan reveal any Swords of Naciketas loyalties. Hassan was quite interested, however, in removing whatever threat the Team represented. After some negotiation, Team Leader Redinger opted to take a hostage offer, leaving Operative Aamir behind in exchange for safe passage out of the facility (and the continued subterfuge as to the now-vanished Operative Tomoji’s purpose). During the negotiations, Operative Kwasniewski collected the entire contents of the facility’s main computer.

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Operation Legion
Shenzhen, China

Leader: Townsley
Operator: Mitchell
Transport: Sandoval
Operatives: Edwards, Fischer, Lincoln, Summers,

Primary Objective: Remove Talent infection from Shenzhen

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Secondary Actions: Captured Talent source of infection

Summary: Section 2 was contacted by The Squad, a Talent gestalt consciousness working primarily as an international investigative journalist. The Squad had deduced a potential serious threat to world security in the Chinese city of Shenzhen. Section 2’s own surveillance and analysis came to some preliminary conclusions that led them to believe that large amounts of money were being funneled into cover organizations for terrorist groups such as the Swords of Naciketas out of Shenzhen and so Operative Team was dispatched to rendezvous with the Squad and receive a briefing on the situation.

The Squad, a hyperintelligent gestalt entity containing the memories and knowledge of every person who had ever been a part of it over the last 70 years, had deduced that a Talent was in operation in Shenzhen capable of infecting others with a copy of his or her personality. Henceforth, those copies would act in tandem with one another to set up elaborate embezzlement schemes across companies and across the legal divide. This Talent was apparently targeting Shenzhen’s business and criminal elite, and The Squad had uncovered financial ties between disparate groups that should not have existed otherwise. Furthermore, certain sources had become compromised and The Squad had noticed a Talent effect in operation on those sources. Attempts to subdue an infected individual revealed that in addition to infecting others with a parasitic psyche, the unknown Talent could transfer a certain reservoir of psychic power and some minor Talents, including psychically-damaging touch and increased toughness.

Operative Team set up in a hotel suite in the heart of Shenzhen and Operative Townsley began a surveillance. Nearly two hundred infected individuals were detected operating in the Shenzhen city center. Other Talents were detected, including a team in another hotel. This other team sent a written message to Operative Team indicating both the knowledge of their presence and their own identity as Odal Rune. Operative Team opted not to engage in further contact with Odal Rune team. Eventually the infector-Talent manifested, infecting a new person. Talent was revealed as a local massage girl, with access to a wide and varied clientele. As soon as she utilized her Talent, Odal Rune team began moving. Operative Townsley successfully abducted the target and combat ensued. She revealed the ability to summon her infected victims to her side. Operative Fischer eventually suffocated the target to unconsciousness whereupon Operative Team made their escape before Odal Rune team could contest them for the prisoner.

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Operation Wolf Rescue
Cut Bank Creek, MO USA

Leader: Redinger
Operator: Mitchell / Mills
Transport: Andreson
Operatives: Aamir, Dasgupta, Nielsen, Oliver,

Primary Objective: Protect Denice Wolf-Collar

Primary Objective Status: Completed

Secondary Actions: Captured 1 Sword of Naciketas infiltrator

Summary: George Begay, an important figure in the Native Nations movement, contacted Section 2 with some precognitive visions of danger to an important young Talent, Denice Wolf-Collar of the Blackfoot tribe of Montana. Wolf-Collar has the ability to summon forth the spirits of the Blackfoot ancestors via their connection either to sacred land or a particular person. She gathers the spirits into herself and speaks with their voices. It was suspected that the Swords of Naciketas were seeking to collect her so as to contact the spirits of the millions of Assamese who died in Yama’s Apocalypse, or perhaps even contact Lord Yama himself. Operations team was dispatched to rendezvous with Begay for a more detailed briefing and to arrange the defense of Ms. Wolf-Collar until such a time as Begay indicated the danger was over, or until recalled by the Director.

Operations team strategized and determined that Operative Oliver should be changed to appear identical to archive photos of Ms. Wolf-Collar to potentially act as a decoy. Operative Nielsen changed her appearance to Native American as well. They made their rendezvous with Mr. Begay who performed a ritual to determine additional details before taking them to Montana to meet Ms. Wolf-Collar and the Blackfoot shamans who looked after her. Team procured Bureau of Indian Affairs ID and were introduced to the council of elders to discuss the nature of the threat and the means by which to defend Ms. Wolf-Collar.

Team and the four available shamans set up a shift-rotation to ensure constant protection of Ms. Wolf-Collar. Four days later, the attack came. Operations Team and two shamans encountered an assault team consisting of a transport talent who could create and control storms and sundry others. One of the attackers split off to attack the two shamans not guarding Ms. Wolf-Collar. Operations Team fought off the others and forced the storm-transport talent to flee. From the secondary fight, one shaman appeared to survive and rejoined the main group. Mr. Begay did not sense that the danger was over, and so they resumed their rotation. Operative Dasgupta noticed, at one point, that the surviving shaman had vanished. Subsequent investigation revealed the body of a second shaman, one who was at that moment helping to guard Ms. Wolf-Collar. Correctly surmising that one of the enemy had, in fact, successfully replaced a shaman only to murder and replace the second, they cornered the infiltrator and captured him. The threat lifted from Begay’s sight, and he collaborated with the surviving Blackfoot shamans to take Ms. Wolf-Collar to safety while Team returned to the facility with their prisoner.

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