Nightrealms

Trouble in Beantown
Chapter 1 - To End All Wars

Brent and his friends are sat in the window of Ma’s Diner, a small café on the east side of town. Only an hour ago, Jim Black, an old college friend that Brent hadn’t seen for years, telephoned to arrange the meeting. He said he had something important to tell, something he dare not say over the wires. Intrigued, you agreed to meet him.

As the waitress pours you all a third pot of hot java, you see Jim crossing the street. It looks like he gained a few pounds since Brent last saw him. He recognizes Brent, and waves, quickening his step.

Suddenly, there is the screech of tires and a car swerves round the corner. As it pulls level with Jim, it slows slightly. A back window opens, and a burst of automatic gunfire cuts Jim down. Without stopping, the car speeds away. People begin to scream and panic.

Jim’s eyes flutter open. He smiles at you in recognition. He tries to lean forward, coughing as he does. With his dying breath, he speaks two words to you, “Starkweather… Nazis.” With that, Jim slumps back, dead. You hear screech of tires as the shooters’ car turns the corner at the end of the street. Amelia’s roadster is parked nearby.

Doc Daveport donned his rocketeer disguise and quickly flew after the gunman, while Amelia jumped into her roaster with Jimmy and Brent perched on the running boards hanging onto the side. As Amelia rounded the first corner of the intersection, the chase almost came to an end as a man driving from the opposite direction turned directly into her path! Quick reflexes followed by an exclamation about male drivers quickly brought the heroes back in pursuit of the assassins.

Luck did not hold out for the gunman, however as a delivery truck pulled directly into their path, causing them to crash headfirst. Three of the assailants jumped out of the crashed vehicle rather dazed, only to be rained down upon from above by Doc! The two remaining gunman turned to aim tommy guns at the the pursuing vehicle, only to be summarily gunned down by Brent while Amelia drove over another, lithely commenting on how the butler will need to buff that out.

Upon inspection of the bodies, Jimmy found a business card of one Valerie Braveheart, reporter for the Boston Herald, as well as a slip of paper marked “Help load tanks at 4 pm Starkweather Labs”. With this further information the entourage begin to research more into the accusations of Nazi activity and Dr. Starkweather. They began by following the lead on Ms. Braveheart. Arriving at the Boston Herald, little Jimmy tried to convince the receptionist that has a fan of Ms. Braveheart’s nascent writings. The only information he was able to obtain as that she was on assignment researching a lead on a local business with scientific dealings. With little more to go on the team proceeded to convene at Amelia’s residence, which was stocked with the best amenities.

While there, Doc contacted an army general friend in D.C. about one Dr. Starkweather and any military dealings he may have had. He learned that Starkweather had recently approached the government about a new weapon designed to end all wars, a deadly gas that if given to all sides would create a military stalemate. Believing him to be either a quack, a raving madman, or a homicidal maniac, he was summarily dismissed, along with his invention.

At this point our intrepid gang decided to inspect Starkweather Labs. Driving a more suitable vehicle, Amelia raced them across town with the windscreen down, fueling Brent’s paranoia of bugs as they flew at his face from their rapid pace. Upon arrival to the labs they noticed a tan coupe in the car park as well as six individuals loading three trucks with crates.

starkweathertruck.jpeg

Doc was able to notice the crates were marked “Medical Supplies” which seemed dubious as Starkweather Labs was not known to produce any medical products. The party decided to watch and follow the trucks. Shortly after loading was completed a large, ugly man dragging a gagged woman appeared from the labs and entered the lead truck, which proceeded to leave leading the convoy. Our heroes decided their only course of action at this point was to pursue the trucks and rescue the damsel in distress. Doc once again donned his gear and gadgets and took to the skies to provide air support as the rest followed on ground.

Amelia nonchalantly pulled up along side the lead truck, while Doc landed on the rear vehicle in the convoy. Glancing over and seeing the woman in distress, Amelia immediately positions the vehicle for little Jimmy to make a leap and try to take over the steering. Brent prepared the way by wounding the driver with his dual handgun technique while Jimmy smashed his head into the steering wheel rendering him unconscious. Seeing the actions of the heroes the kidnapped woman placed a serious elbow into her assailant, distracting him enough to allow her to slam on the brakes of the truck.

This sudden stoppage came unawares upon Doc, who was trying to find a means of determining the content of the loaded trucks. Flying forward he landed on the back of the lead truck. Sensing an opportunity to try out his latest gadget, LADDI, he fires at the engine of truck, seriously underestimating the weapons potential, melting almost the entire front end! Between Jimmy steering and the sudden lack of motivative power, the lead truck began to drift sideways. Sensing that the situation was becoming tenuous for Jimmy, Amelia pulls off an amazing maneuver of her car, causing him to fall gently into the rear facing and into safety.

The second truck did not stand a chance; unable to react in time it plowed into the lead vehicle, with both passengers flying hurtling through the wind screen to their grisly deaths. Jarred by the impact of the second truck, the lead vehicle spun around to face its pursuers. The brutish man once again help the woman close as a means of protection. However, a skilled shot from Brent sent him to meet his maker. Amelia pulled up and offers the woman a ride to freedom and safety.

Meanwhile the remaining truck, able to react to the situation before it had slowed and turned around to escape the carnage. Not wanting it to escape and sensing it would take Amelia some time to turn around after rescuing the hostage, Doc sprung forth using the last of his rocket packs resources to land on top of the remaining truck. Dialing back the power on his LADDI, he once again erred on his settings, reducing the strength of his weapon too much. The drivers of truck were startled by a flash of light grazing across the hood of their vehicle, but continued to retreat to safety and hopefully make a rendezvous with the remaining “medical” supplies. Once again, Doc adjusting settings and this time inflicted some damage on this engine of the truck, however it was not enough to stop it. Third time being the charm, Doc disables the vehicle and after grinding to a halt two of the loaders jumped out of the vehicle, startled to see the “rocketeer” on top of their truck looking down at them. They start to pull their weapons when Doc makes a gamble. Knowing he only had enough energy left in his LADDI to make one more shot, he aims at the sky and fires a massive outburst, and shouts down to the them that if they want to live, run, run like their lives depended on it.

Fooled by his bluff, they take off into the wooded area close by. After a few moments, Amelia pulls up to the remaining truck, drawn like a moth to the light of Doc’s last weapon discharge. She watches as the older gentleman takes off his mask, plops down on the rough of the truck and mutters, “I’m getting to old for this shit…”

View
Plot an Intercept Course
The Distress Signal

You are all part of the 151st Expeditionary Force and are stationed on the HMSS Labyrinth Dawn – a frigate flying the colours of the Three World Empire. There are over 200 people on board, though only about 100 or so are front-line soldiers (marines and officers). You are part of a 5 man squad under command of Corporal Charles Larkins. (He’s a bit of a prick.)

You are currently en route to check out a distress signal from the USCSS Montero, which itself was checking out a distress signal sent by the USCSS Cronus, a science exploration ship that has been missing for three quarters of a century. The journey is a relatively short one – about 21 days in hypersleep for the trip.

Awakening

The team was awakened to a dark and chilly ship. There was no sign of activity, and as they worked out the kinks of wakening from hypersleep, they noticed the pod for Corporal Larkins had been breached by micrometeorites. The team quickly discovered that they were alone on the ship; all escape pods and drop ships were long gone, and their squad had been clearly abandoned.

Even worse, the short hypersleep had turned into over 10 months of stasis and travel. They did appear to be on a parallel course with the two ships they had been sent to investigate – the Montero and the Cronos were tethered by a docking umbilical, and were about 1/4 km off the starboard bow. All ships were travelling around .14c based on current readings.

They were in no danger of collision, as all three ships were headed to deep space, so the crew started to assess the situation. MU/TH/UR was unresponsive, so they headed to the core and discovered that the mainframe had been sucked into space, likely due to the meteorite strike.

!!!COLLISION WARNING!!!

Somehow the Labyrinth had veered off course and was now heading towards the Montero. Luckily, the team had a pilot (“Bugnuts”) who was able to use manual thrusters to gently easy the ships back into parallel running.

They decided to check out the Montero. Like their ship, it was deserted. More peculiarly, the ship appeared to have never been used, even though it’s records show it was commissioned 10 years prior. The mainframes logs and history were clean – new in fact. MU/TH/UR was unable to reconcile this fact and addressed the team as the only crew it had ever had. Some serious trouble shooting was needed, but first they crew headed to the Cronus to check it out also.

It was cold and the air was fouled, so they split up to focus on getting the mainframe and power back online as well as changing out the air scrubbers. A few hours work and the ship was up and running, and they found a few survivors coming out of hypersleep. They were hugely disoriented, as they had been in stasis for over 75 years.

At this point, someone discovered that their ship was gone. It had apparently veered away and was nowhere to be seen in the immediate vicinity of the ships. Which made no sense unless the ship was under power? If so, then it would definitely show on the infrared scanners, but there was nothing.

Then things got worse.

DISPLACEMENT DRIVE MALFUNCTION!” droned MU/TH/UR on the Montero. “CASCADE FAILURE IMMINENT. FISSION REACTOR OVERLOAD IN T MINUS TEN MINUTES."

Brooks, the roughneck, headed over to the military frigate and attempted to shut down the core, but was stymied by the computer, who intoned “I can’t do that Brooks.” Something had overridden it’s command core.

The rest of the crew watched in horror as they cut the tether and maneuvered away from the doomed vessel. The blinding explosion came shortly thereafter, vaporizing the Montero and Brooks.

Shortly thereafter there came a fan failure in the air scrubber shaft. Bugnuts went to fix it and discovered a gun jammed in it. He cut the power and removed the blockage, but somehow the power came back on and the blades severed his right hand at the wrist. Crooks, one of the Marines, was able to retrieve him and took him to the sickbay. He soon had a bed companion, as one of the Cronus scientists was having a terrible migraine. Or so he thought.

Because it wasn’t a migraine.

Bloodburster

Bugnuts was awakened by the commotion.

Blood seeped out of Cooper’s nose and ears. Bloody eyes rolled over white as the scientist convulsed and writhed against the wall. In the depths of a seizure now, Cooper flailed about at everything.

With a sickening pop and a bloody splash, his eyeball launched from his face and mashes into Bugnuts before bouncing across the floor and rolling under a cryotube. He paused, trying to process exactly what he was seeing.

A slender, gore-covered arm pushed its way out of Cooper’s empty eye socket, reached around, and tugged at his distended mouth. As spindly white fingers yanked his teeth back, Cooper did not scream—it was clear that he wasn’t in his own head anymore. Something else was, and it wanted out.

Flesh tore and tendons snapped as the thing inside his splintering skull pulls his face open right at the jawline. Finally, a thick gurgling sound welled up inside Cooper as his head was ripped from his body, his neck gushing as whatever was inside him plopped to the floor in a burst of blood. The translucent-white thing on the floor sloughed off its placenta, struggling to stand on all four wobbly, fawn-like legs. Shaking brain matter from its spiky hide, the creature turned its bulbous, eyeless head towards Bugnuts and attacked.

The pilot grabbed a heavy metal tray and lunged forwards, smashing the already ruined face of Cooper but missing the creature. It responded in kind, and latched onto the pilots face. Teeth and claws tore his face open as the creature burrowed into his skull. The rest of his team arrived to find his body thrashing in agony as the monstrous thing finished him off. Crooks pulled his service pistol and blasted the creature into bits, but Bugnuts was as dead as Cooper at this point.

The crew tried to make sense of what was happening, and had been joined by Dunn and Big Willy, a roughneck and pilot from the Cronus. They were still coming out of their long sleep and their memories were off, but they were otherwise functioning normally. Disturbingly, their appearance superficially resembled Brooks and Bugnuts. It was as if they were older versions of those men, but they clearly were not related to them, being over 125 years old at this point, counting their stasis time.

Then everyone heard the commotion coming from the mess hall. It sounded like a fight, so the team hustled over to see what was happening now…

View
Assault on the Eyrie
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 2, France: 2, Russia: 3, Turkey: 3
, Greece: 4


The Mother of Maladies

The team followed the Conspiracy launch, keeping a cautious distance away to ensure they would not be spotted and possibly targeted by the elder vampire. Soon they found themselves approaching a familiar-looking yacht – it was Sebastian Vallejo’s El Asasino once again.

More disturbing was the fact that the superyacht sat in the middle of a preternaturally calm circle of water – for about 100m around the ship that water was completely calm – no waves, no movement, but clearly not frozen. Then they spotted a massive shape swirling in the water below. It was like nothing anyone had ever seen or imagined. Whatever it was, approaching the ship by water was clearly a bad idea.

Luckily, Burroughs had a strong sense of Preparedness, and had acquired an aerial torpedo for the helicopter. It would not do critical damage to the yacht perhaps, but it definitely would sink the launch.

Varoutte launched a drone and did a flyby of the ship. There were a few guards present, but not much activity otherwise. Then they saw a familiar figure hard at work in a makeshift laboratory on the main deck. It was Morgane LeCorre.

Morgane.jpg

She was working on a large metal cylinder festooned with biohazard warnings- the MAR-VX virus!

At this point, the elder vampire appeared and disembarked back into the smaller launch, it’s semi-corporeal chest still at hand. The team watched as the small boat made it’s way towards the Grecian coast, and when it was out of the radius of the still water, they launched the torpedo, and immediately dove towards the helipad on the yacht. As a large explosion echoed over the water and the launch began to sink, guards swarmed the helipad. Burroughs kept the rotors at full speed, blinding and staggering the guards as the rest of the team opened fire. In short order they were down and Burroughs landed the copter.

The Agents made their way to the lab, and confronted Morgane. They Interrogated her, and she revealed that the cylinder on the table was one of the only two remaining stores of the virus. She was attempting to create more at the behest of the Loyalists, and was using one of the mysterious pomegranates as the viral base. She explained the science, as Burroughs smashed the hated fruit.

She went on to explain that the Conspiracy had taken the first cylinder a day or two ago, but she didn’t know their destination. However, she did know that the main base of the Conspiracy was located nearby, hidden in plain sight amongst the famous Monasteries of the Meteora. The one mentioned was not on any maps however, and was well off the beaten path – a hidden monastery.

Approaching the Eyrie

The team landed their heli near the small village of Avro. The monastery could be seen in the near distance, standing alone atop a large pillar of stone. There were no power lines or cables to the site, meaning it was unlikely to have electricity or working comms. However, the village seemed to be nicely appointed with high-tech satellite relays and hardware.

Approaching the village, the team could feel the eyes of the villagers on them, but most of them either stayed inside or avoided their gaze. These people were clearly afraid. Luckily, the team stumbled across a young scientist. Nini Antoniou was a chiropterologist (bat expert) from the University of Athens. She was a talkative sort, and was able to provide some insight into the workings of the monastery as well as the fact that the pillar seemed to contain numerous caves and caverns – they were the home for bats. It seemed there was a curious gathering of bats from nearby to this site. Nini explained it was as if they were being summoned here for some reason.

The team hunkered down for the night, heading up the rocky trail to the monastery an hour before dawn, passing a number of Conspiracy SUVs parked at the trail head. There were visitors at the summit apparently.

Ditching the bikes a safe distance away, the Agents got their first close look at the ancient building.

Eyrie.png

The only obvious egress was a solid rope bridge that spanned the gap between the cliffs and the pillar on which the monastery stood. There were some guards patrolling the gatehouse at the end of the bridge. The gates were closed, but the team could pick out a few buildings inside – a dormitory, workshop, and church at least. But how to get inside without being seen?

The obvious answer was a sniper rifle.

Burroughs waiting until the guard was in perfect focus, and then she noticed the second guard. Two shots then. The first was dead on target, but even silenced, the shot and impact caused the second guard to react, and Burrough’s next shot was wide of the mark. However, her teammates were quick to take down the threat before he could react further.

The Agents made their way across to the gatehouse, where they ambushed an additional pair of guards making rounds in the courtyard. There was no sign of any others, so the team cautiously investigated the monastery. The living quarters and dormitory were empty, but the small workshop was an abattoir. A long, heavy blood-stained marble trough dominated the space, and its purpose was quite clear after all this time.

That left the church as the only remaining structure. Sure enough, there was sounds inside of people moving and talking.

“Fuck it” was the response from Henley, as the team opened up the doors and she hurled her supply of C4 grenades into the foyer; surprise and shocked faces turned to the commotion and then their world was flame and sound. The stained glass windows shattered, the doors were torn from their hinges, and the courtyard swayed a bit as the thunderous explosions reduced the Conspiracy members inside into shreds.

There was nothing standing in the smoky ruins of the church, but a metal trapdoor in the floor was easily spotted. A sense of deja vu came over the team as it was opened, as a set of stone steps descending into a stone passageway was revealed. Another plutonion.

Steeling their nerves for another harrowing descent into the underworld, they descended once again into the earth.

This time, no poisonous fumes filled the caverns, however, and this site showed no signs of being used currently. The passages ended in a large cavern, in the center of which sat a gleaming silver cylinder festooned with biohazard markings – another MAR-VX container. But this one was wired to release it’s lethal payload into the air, and into the systems of the thousands of bats that covered the ceiling of the cave. If those bats were infected, come nightfall, Greece would be ground zero for the death of the human race. Even worse, the cylinder seal appeared to be leaking!

Fist of Bats!

To make matters worse, a giant figure came striding forward out of the darkness of the cavern. The King of the Dead was here and now the thorns in his side were in his grasp.

King_of_the_Dead.jpg

As Henley rushed forward to attempt to defuse the MAR-VX, the rest of the team pulled weapons on the ancient vampire king, but his tremendous speed gave him the advantage. Balling up his hand into a fist, he gestured at Varoutte and a swarm of bats flew from the darkness and hit him with the force of a car. He fell on the verge of unconsciousness as the rest attacked him. But he was already moving again with unhuman speed, rushing forward to smash Burroughs with a fist as she shot him with an armor-piercing round. Burroughs fell to the bone-shattering blow.

Henley was able to quickly disarm the cylinder, when Ali came running forward, screaming at her to get out of the way. He flung a phosphorus grenade and threw himself on it, hoping to somewhat shield the others from the white-hot blast. The explosion staggered everyone in the room, and they desperately crawled away from the burning embers that fountained into the air. The King of the Dead was not so lucky, however, and had taken the full brunt of the blast. Amazingly, he was still standing, but was roaring in pain and confusion as his flesh burned.

Burroughs let the pin drop from her hand as another grenade went off as the burning vampire staggered past her, and an explosion once again rocked the cave.

When it was over, the King was dead and the last supply of MAR-VX had been destroyed.

It took a while to get Varoutte patched up and back to the surface, but once there Henley and he collapsed with exhaustion and relief in the courtyard.

The Pale Agenda had been stopped, but what would now become of the vampiric conspiracy?

And where was Dr. Green?

View
The Harvest
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 2, France: 2, Russia: 3, Turkey: 3
, Greece: 4


The Island of Gyaros

The Agents set out to Research the lead provided by the Greek Dissidents – the island of Gyaros.

Gyaros_Luftbild_01.jpg

Gyaros was an uninhabited island about fifty miles south-east of Athens. Infamous as a place of exile – the Romans used it to imprison important prisoners, and for much of the latter half of the 20th century, the Greek government used it as a prison for political prisoners.

When the prison was shut down, the island was briefly used as a firing range for the Greek navy. The only extant structures on the island were the remains of the old prison.

Gyaros was arid and inhospitable, although there were some archaeological traces suggesting it was once farmed. These days, it’s a nature reserve for the monk seals, birds, and rare snakes. It’s effectively closed to the public, to protect the endangered species and because the island is still littered with unexploded ordnance.

History recalled that Pliny the Elder claimed that there was a city on this arid rock, but the inhabitants were put to flight by a plague of mice.

Varoutte called in a few favors and got some surveillance of the island, but it was completely occluded by a severe thunderstorm that was above the island. Peculiarly, the storm only covered the island area; otherwise the skies were clear. Also, the storm did not appear to be moving along the prevailing wind. It wasn’t moving at all.

Remembering what had happened back in Norilsk, the team realized that a vampire was controlling the weather, and as the thick clouds would be a perfect shield to direct sunlight, that meant something was going down on the island right now.

Ali headed to the docks and hired a charter boat to get to Gyaros, and Burroughs made some adjustments and improvements to her stolen helicopter. The plan was for her to be a distraction while the others landed on the side of the island that had no docks, and then make their way inland to see what was happening there.

They headed out shortly thereafter, and were soon approaching the isle.

The Battle of the Island

Burroughs reached the island first, and began her flyover. The island wasn’t large, about nine square miles, and soon found a number of heat sources in the island’s interior. There were at least a dozen men as well as one who was substantially cooler than the others. This figure gestured at the helicopter and Burroughs was in a sudden fight for her life as gale-force winds buffeted the vessel. The heli spiralled down towards the rocky surface, and it was only her experience and reflexes that enabled her to avoid a crash. As it was the heli was much worse for wear, but still flyable. Barely.

By this time the rest of the team had landed and soon met up with Burroughs. As they made their way across the island, they suddenly came across a lifeless body lying at the base of what appeared to be a small pomegranate tree. The body was of a Greek male, not known to any of the Agents, and had a gruesome slash across his throat. It looked as if his blood literally soaked into the ground by the small tree. Burroughs noticed a small fruit budding on the plant, and reached out to take it. It felt wet and slippery, and she started when she realized that her fingers were bleeding where she had touched the fruit. There were no wounds; the blood just seemed to well up through her skin.

Somewhat shaken by this, she smashed the fruit underneath her heel and the team moved on, only to shortly come across another body. This one was female. As the Agents turned the body over, there came a start of recognition from Varoutte. It was his Solace, Marie. She also had her throat cut at the foot of a small pomegranate tree. All could see how deeply this affected Varoutte, but he bravely soldiered on.

Cresting a small rise, the team saw the Conspiracy members in a grove of trees. Some were harvesting fruit while others stood guard, armed with submachine guns and even flamethrowers. In the center of the area, a robed monk stood, flickering slightly into and out of reality. It was a vampire in spectre form. By it sat an large ornately carved metal chest, into which the harvesters were depositing their fruits before going back for me. Like the monk, the chest was only semi-corporeal. The monk seemed preoccupied somewhat, perhaps concentrating on the storm clouds that continued to roil overhead.

Bodies could be seen laying among the pomegranate trees, and where each body lay a tree was bearing fruit.

The team had acquired a number of RPGs back in Athens, and put them to good use here. Henley had modified one to spray blood instead of high explosives, and blasted this into the densest group of guards, in the hopes of forcing the vampire into solidity.

Burroughs followed up with a standard rpg, targeting the monk and the chest. The guards fell before the explosive blast as chaos reigned amongst the conspiracy. The rest of the team opened fire, taking down guards as they stumbled after the blast. Another rpg round took out a flamethrower, causing even more chaos in their ranks.

Suddenly, everyone’s attention was caught by a rapidly approaching ship – it appeared to be an Elli-class Greek frigate.

F451-Limnos-04.jpg

The team all knew the sound and hit the dirt – there was no mistaking an incoming shell. The heavy round burst in the middle of the grove, blasting the remaining men into bits. But the monk and the chest remained. The robed figure lifted his arms to the sky, and all watched in astonishment as a massive tsunami reared from the island surf and slammed into the frigate. The massive wave overwhelmed the ship, as it listed to the side as the wave continued to build. The frigate was lifted along the wavefront, beginning to roll. Electrical flashes could be seen in the watery wall as the ship was rent in two by the devastating force. The wave continue out to sea as the pieces of the ship disappeared from sight.

With that, the monk dropped his arms, reached down and effortlessly picked up the massive trove of pomegranates. With inhuman speed he began to move away from the now-devastated grove. The team would not be able to catch up with him at his current pace.

But they knew where he was headed – the eastern docks on the island. They made their way back to the helicopter, and a few minutes later were following a ship as it left the island. Burroughs was careful to stay out of easy detection range, as the heli couldn’t take another wind blast, as they slowly made their way back towards the coast.

View
The Enemy of my Enemy
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 2, France: 2, Russia: 3, Turkey: 3
, Greece: 4


The Melinoe Gambit

Burroughs and Ali heard the approaching sirens as they waiting parked in the shadows backing up the infiltration team. At the head of the pier, five vehicles pulled into view – two police cars and three civilian SUVs. They relayed the information to the team inside, who now had to decide what to do with the Greek Dissidents as well as the inhumanly beautiful and terrifying vampire.

The Dissidents said that they had information that would help the Agents, but they needed to help convince the vampire, Melinoe, to leave this place before the Loyalists arrived. Their intention was to recruit her as another vampire in the Pale Agenda, or destroy her, while the Dissidents wanted her on their side, as they were outnumbered and outgunned. They seemed sincere in their desire to stop the Pale Agenda, as they were quite happy with the status quo – little vampire interference and much money for everyone on the inside.

Outside the vehicles pulled up. A number of cops emerged and began to cordon off the area, while a gang of what appeared to be neo-Nazis, along with a number of Orthodox monks exited the SUVs and headed towards the customs house. Burroughs spotted the bag of homemade incendiaries one was carrying, and popped open the trunk. She dashed outside and extracted an RPG-7 she had acquired from a “friend” in the city.

SWOOOOOOOOOOOSH!

The explosion rocked the pier. Half of the customs house collapsed inward, and the area was strewn with burning debris, rubble, and the remains of over a dozen police, gang members, and monks. Ali made a quick call to the police to let them a bomb had exploded in the hopes of creating more confusion.

Unfortunately, it seemed to somehow backfire, as within a few minutes the police bands were full of chatter tying the explosion to the perpetrators of the recent Paris bombings – the Agents themselves!

Meanwhile, the team below was now trapped in the grotto underneath the collapsed customs house. They suspected that there was a way out through the seawater pool, but weren’t sure how best to proceed, especially with the Dissidents involved.

Finally, Dr. Green spoke to Melinoe and had a brief conversation. Green nodded and offered up her hand, which the semi-corporeal vampire took in hers. A long nail bled a line down Green’s palm, and the nymph lapped at the coppery blood. It smiled at Green as it seemed to be pulled into her shadow, leaving only the Agent behind.

Green was now a philomeni.

Next Steps

The Agents were able to make it out through a sea passage and rendezvoused with Burroughs and Ali. Henley suggested making for the Regency Casino Thessaloniki, the most luxurious casino in Athens. She booked them a large connected suite under an old Cover identity, and the team sat down for a discussion.

Regency_Casino_Thessaloniki.jpg

There were a number of issues that had cropped up, including the sabotage mission on the El Asasino and how the police targeted them as the cause of the explosion on the pier. Varoutte’s previous discussion about Burroughs came into question, and she was quite upset to be accused, when she had received information herself that there was a mole on the team.

The arguments continued, and Varoutte finally opened up about the kidnapping of his Solace, Marie, by sharing the messages he had received. It seemed that Varoutte was a mole, if inadvertently, having given away the underwater mission to the kidnappers. Additionally, the Greek Dissidents were able to confirm that no one on their side had kidnapped anyone in Paris, leading everyone to conclude that the people behind the kidnapping were the Loyalists.

By this point, the Dissidents wanted to leave. They had accomplished their mission in keeping Melinoe away from the Loyalists, but had to get back to their companions at Eurydice Greek to see what more they could do. They did have an important lead for the team. The Conspiracy was currently planning something big on the deserted island of Gyaros, about 50 miles southeast of Athens. They didn’t have an intel on just what was going down, but it seemed to be something crucial to the Pale Agenda.

Gyaros_Luftbild_01.jpg

View
Hell in Hellas
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 2, France: 2, Russia: 3, Turkey: 3
, Greece: 0


Escaping the trap

Henley quickly assessed that the C4 was set up in a series of radio-controlled relays, meaning there were additional caches of explosives further up the cavern. She quickly dismantled the set in front of her, and exhorted her companions to press on with all haste, as there was no way to determine when the explosives would be triggered. And being trapped down here with rapidly depleting oxygen reserves, along with being in an area populated by vampires, was not a plan for success.

Two more series of explosives were found as the team moved back upwards towards the entrance, the last of which was just inside the passageway leading outside into the excavation site. Henley knelt and began snipping cords. And just in time, as the trigger turned to green as the last wire was cut.

Since there was no good vantage point to see what opposition awaited outside, Varoutte signaled his drone to do a flyover of the site. A few minutes later he reported that there was no sign of anyone lying in wait. The fleeing monks and vampire hosts appeared to be heading towards the coast in a number of vans. Burroughs popped open one of the work trucks and soon they were headed after them. It seemed likely they were headed to Vallejo’s yacht, where a surprise awaited them.

Concerning Burroughs

Meanwhile, Varoutte had a sidebar conversation on a separate channel. In it, he explained to the others that he was suspicious that Burroughs was actually a philomeni and was working with the Conspiracy Loyalists at this point.

When questioned about this, Varoutte revealed that one of his dearest friends (and Solace), a widow of an ex-Agent, had been kidnapped by a group calling themselves the Dissidents. His friend Marie was fine, and they were able to prove such, but they were using her as leverage to get Varoutte to listen to them.

The others discussed the accusation, and while Dr. Green seemed eager to try out his new formulation of truth serum, it was decided to see if they could discover a means to test Burroughs and see if she was indeed host to a vampire.

At this point, the team had reached the dock and as they rounded a corner the empty pier came into view. The El Asasino could be seen perhaps a kilometer away, already out to sea and moving with speed. The Agents intricate sabotage of the propeller shafts had somehow failed.

They switched gears and decided to see if they could trace the route of the superyacht. Luckily it seemed that they did report a port destination. They were headed for the port of Piraeus, in Athens, Greece.

Athens

Varoutte called up an old Network contact, Mikis Kostides from the Greek National Intelligence Service, and he was able to verify that the yacht was headed there. In ancient times, Piraeus was a great sea-port; after a long decline and reconstruction, it rose again and today is the largest port in the Eastern Mediterranean and one of the biggest container ports in the world. The main port caters for huge freighters and cruise ships, but there are smaller, quieter harbors for other vessels.

Vallejo’s ship seemed to be headed towards one of these – an old customs house, a crumbling structure long since sold off to a private company. Mikis explained that it was not unusual for the rich and famous to use it or others when they docked, as they tended to be more secluded and private.

Determined to arrive at the customs house before the ship, the team headed back to Instanbul, where Burroughs was tasked with stealing a helicopter from the airport. It took her a few hours to find a suitable target, but shortly thereafter the Agents were airborne and headed towards Athens.

They did a fly-by of the Asasino and discussed the merits of dropping Henley’s C4 on the ship, but she quickly dismissed that idea as patently ridiculous. It would take hundreds of pounds of C4 to significantly damage such a large craft.

Pushing on, the team arrived in Athens and set down outside of town in a remote area and then made their way to the the port. The customs house was easily located and soon under their surveillance.

The Nereid

Infiltrating the customs house was easy. Almost too easy. The inside reflected what the story the outside told. Dust covered old crates, rusted machinery, and rotting pallets. There was a few offices sectioned off, but all seemed deserted and abandoned.

Except for the high-tech electrical panel that Varoutte spotted. He examined and explained that there was likely a very expensive and extensive array of comm equipment on the roof, because this was some cutting edge work.

Further examination of the area revealed some faint footprints leading to one of the office, where the team found a trapdoor that led to a flight of stone steps leading downward to a large ornate iron door.

It’s intricate locking system was no match for Henley, however, and she opened it to reveal another flight of steps leading down. The smell of salt water was strong here, and it seemed like the steps were more natural here, possibly leading down to a small grotto of sorts at sea level.

It was a grotto as expected. The three Greek men in suits talking to another figure was not.

She looked like a classic illustration of a sea-nymph – nubile, strikingly beautiful, with long hair and wearing a gossamer-thin shift – the color of sea-spray and wave crests. Her wickedly sharp teeth were pearls, as were her eyes.

Nereid.jpg

The scene unfolded as the Agents crowded into the grotto. The men explained they were from the Dissidents, and were trying to convince the resident vampire, Melinoe, to leave before the Loyalist arrived. They were hell-bent on capturing every outstanding vampire and adding it to their cause, presumable because the Agents were the proverbial flies in the ointment who had so disrupted the Conspiracy’s plans these last few months.

Meanwhile, Melinoe was creeping the team out, peering into everyone’s faces and clearly not knowing much about the concept of personal space. When it was Henley’s turn, she reacted by blasting out a spray of snowdrop mist in the creature’s face. It recoiled in anger and lashed out. There was a brief blur of motion, and then Henley’ throat spouted blood and Melinoe hissed, “Do not do that again.”

Any responses were cut off when they heard the sirens approaching the customs house.

View
The Trap
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 2, France: 2, Russia: 3, Turkey: 3


Katabasis of Orpheus

Henley wasn’t the only one having visions.

Burroughs looked down and saw a harp in her hands. At your feet, her three-headed beast lay slumbering. Behind her, there is running water; she appeared to have just crossed a river. Two other rivers met and joined before her, one of them a river of flame. On the other side, she saw the place that could only be described as paradise.

A voice whispered, “Through the weightless throng, and the ghosts that had received proper burial, she comes before the lord of the shadows, he who rules the joyless kingdom. And the bloodless spirits weep to see her grief.”

Suddenly she found herself in the back of a car. Her friend lay bleeding out in her arms and the creature was trying to get into the vehicle. In a burst of shattered glass, a clawed hand smashed inside, tearing at Burrough’s flesh as she strove to save her friend and save herself. And then the creature was inside…

Katabasis of Demeter

Ali looked down and saw that his hands had turned to torches. In the distance behind him was a river with an old man and a horrible three-headed beast standing at its shore, looking towards him. The world all around him was a barren desert where nothing grew, a frozen tundra like Norilisk-21. Wind whipped past his face.

A voice whispered,“They turned their hands into torches and searched nine days and nights, the parent who lost their child”

Ali saw a building in the darkness ahead. His squad was already moving to infiltrate the site, and breached the front door, clearing the hallway inside. A number of closed doors awaited them, and Ali motioned for them to continue left-right, left-right. Deserted and clear. It was the room at the end that held the hostages. As his team entered, the screaming started. Something was in there, and it was killing Ali’s team.

The voice whispers, “The bright sun never shines down on them with his rays neither by climbing the starry heavens nor turning back again towards earth, but instead dreadful Night looms over a wretched people.”

Katabasis of Odysseus

A voice whispered to Dr. Green, “Beach your ship by the deep swirling waters on a level shore, where wrapped in cloud and mist, the sun never shines. Then go to the moist House of Hades. There is a rock where three roaring rivers join, and one is a river of flame.”

He found himself near the swirling waters where three rivers meet, and one seemed to be momentarily a river of flame. Before him was a trench filled with milk. Stretching before you is the meadow of gently waving flowers, and on the other side of the river of flame, fields stretched as far as the eye could see. Fields filled with the tortured dead, screaming and moaning in their misery.

Natalie was in the clutches of the vampire, and from the corner of his eye, Green could see Morgan making a move. His pistol came up in a flash, but he continued the movement and placed the gun barrel against his own head. Green moved, grabbing his arm, as the gun discharged and Natalie screamed as the vampire exsanguinated her.

A Trap Sprung

As the camera goes from one Agent’s individual moment of anguish or wild hope to another, the mist around them became denser, and denser.

But the mist was not just mist. And the shapes in the mist were speaking.

“Hungry…so hungry…I am parched with thirst and death…Give me to drink of the water of memory…Like a ram you have plunged into milk…”

As the Agents looked around, coming out of their individual reveries, they could see the shades growing more distinct. They were definitely individual vampires now.

Outnumbered was an understatement.

Past the crowding vampires, the team could see a cage sitting further down the beach. Nearby, a boat was landing, and a swarm of Turkish gendarmes and robed monks disembarked. They looked at the Agents and then the cage before heading to the cage at the urging of what appeared to be the leader of the monks – the local Archimandrite. And now they could see people in that cage – standing listless and staring into the darkness. They were clearly drugged.

And then the vampires rushed the team. Dr. Green told the team to use their snowdrop dispensers, and a thin floral mist spread around them. The half-solid spectres recoiled as the spray touched their forms, hurriedly rushing away from the sprayers. But many more vampires still surrounded them.

The pitched battle continued against the vampires, as the monks led the first set of people out of the cages. They marched them to a nearby trench. And proceeded to forced them to their knees so they could slit their throats as their rich red blood began to fill the trench.

And from the darkness of the far cave came more vampires to the feast. They swarmed over the cage victims as they were led to the trough. These ones were not drained of blood, but only given a cut on the arm – fresh blood as offering to the vampires who began to merge into the victims, creating new philomeni.

The Agents had driven off or killed a number of the swarm by now, but they seemed endless, so Ali pulled out a grenade, blowing a number of vampires to shreds. The monks were now leading the new philomeni to their boat, as they emptied the cage and moved to leave. The team switched tactics and decided to make for their boat as well. They rushed through the vampires and boarded, pushing off into the river and paddling hard upriver.

The Cthonian King

With a triumphant shout, the Archimandrite cried out:

“Your hot blood calls him forth! Announce yourselves to the Chthonian King.”

He turned to the Agents and further called out before heading towards the waiting boat:

“Tell the folk of the city, send seven young men and seven girls, unarmed, to be served as food”

And something emerged from the darkness. A human figure, but of massive size, easily 9 foot tall or more. Seemingly cast from pure ivory like a statue, the figure strode past the vampires who knelt before him. His countenance was beautiful but cold. Human-like, but not human. And the eyes. Cold as death.

King_of_the_Dead.jpg

The King of the Dead had arrived and moved with inhuman speed toward the exit. Ali took a shot – it was a direct hit. And it never even registered. It was like shooting a marble statue. And he disappeared from sight, following the Archimandrite as they headed towards the surface.

The Agents made it to the river start a few tiring minutes later, having to row back upstream against the current. They landed the boat and moved into the passageway out.

It was then they noticed the C4.

View
The Underworld
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 1, France: 1, Russia: 3, Turkey: 2


Dungeon Crawl

Deciding that they were ill-equipped to be checking out the cave, the Agents strategically retreated, to regroup and prepare.

The next day was spend acquiring some new equipment, including a drone for Varoutte to probe inside the cave. Green would accompany him. Meanwhile, the rest of the team would be working to hobble El AsasinoSebastian Vallejo’s superyacht, curiously berthed at a port near the monastery.

Returning that evening, the teams split up. The dive team made their preparations while the drone was sent in for reconnaissance.

Sadikan_monastery.jpg

The initial entrance led into a small room, where a small waterfall emerged, flowing over the floor and down a passageway further into the ground. A second, larger room was seen as the drone continued on, but at that point Varoutte was beginning to lose signal, and brought the drone back out.

The dive team was imminently successful in their work, wrapping some chain around the twin props of the yacht and making it look like an ordinary, if unfortunate, accident. They wrapped up their work and swung by the monastery to meet up with the rest of the team.

The site seemed deserted, and they decided to infiltrate it, following the same path as previously, and avoiding any of the wandering patrols or the archeological team.

The cave mouth was actually below ground level; the foundations of the monastery were built higher and higher over the centuries, burying the original Ploutonion from prying eyes. It was surrounded by an outer ring of ropes and caution tape, and by an inner ring of the tumbled-down walls of the chapel that was built over it. Nearby, a backhoe blotted out the moon.

Pluotonion.jpg

Looking down upon the ruins of the Ploutonion was a strange experience – their eyes kept trying to join the heaps of rock into some sort of order, and no order was to be found. It looked like an M.C. Escher painting. Or as though it was constructed without reference to Euclidian geometry.

It was strangely silent. The air carried a faint smell of rotten egg, and from within the cave came the sound of running water.

Architecture noted that it is laid out exactly as was the Ploutonion at Hierapolis. That tumbled stone over there was what remained of the Ionic columns that held up the temple. The temple floor would have been here. There, perpendicular, were the auditorium
steps carved into the hillside, where the crowds would have watched the sacrifice of bulls, killed by the vapors in the cave from which only the priests could emerge alive.

The closer the Agents got to the cave, the stronger the air smelled of rotten egg, and they began to have moments of lightheadedness.

The ruins continue to match the description of the cave of the Ploutonion at Hierapolis. Entering, the team found a chamber about 3 meters by 3 meters, at the back of which was a gushing waterfall. The water flowed from a deep cleft in the rock overhead; it followed along the left-hand side of the steps that led down into the darkness; and it smelled sharply of rotten egg.

It reminded the Agents with of the Orphic tablet reading:

“enwrapped with darkness
descend pace by pace
as soon as the soul has left the light of the sun,
journey on the right-hand road
to holy meadows and groves of Persephone
dig there a trench”

Archaeology confirmed that this Ploutonion was genuine, built at about the same time as the one at Hierapolis.

Chemistry confirmed the gas they were smelling was hydrogen sulfide, and that carbon dioxide, odorless, was probably also present.

Pay Homage

As they descended the stairs, mist lapped over their feet, then their knees, then their waists, then higher. By the time they reached the bottom of the stairs all were breathing heavily, hearts pounding faster than was warranted by the exertion, skin flushed.

Diagnosis said this was the beginning of carbon dioxide poisoning.

Luckily Dr. Green’s Preparedness extended to some compact oxygen masks, so they were able to proceed.

They emerged into a chamber perhaps 5 meters across, with a floor tilted slightly downward (they currently stood at the highest point). It was utterly dark. Their nightvision goggles saw thick mist and four stone busts at regular intervals along the wall, all on high shelves with steps leading up to them.

Orpheus_bust.jpg
Demeter_bust.jpg
Dionysus_bust.jpg
Persephone_bust.jpg

Art History recognized the busts as belonging to Dionysius,Demeter, Orpheus, and Persephone \respectively. Human Terrain made the connection between this and the Orphic fragment reading:

“Take the ever burning taper from the Twice-Born
Who went into the earth and returned.
Pay homage to the Chthonian Queen
Who went into the earth and returned.
Pay homage to the Mother
Who went into the earth and returned.
Pay homage to the Poet
Who went into the earth and returned.”

Chemistry discovered it was possible to light a candle (or another flammable object) above each statue. The relevant point was that there is enough oxygen near the ceiling of the cave to allow the flame to burn. The ancient initiate climbing each set of steps in turn to light the tapers therefore would have been able to take a few clear breaths to counteract incipient carbon dioxide poisoning. This is what the Galli were doing at the Hierapolis Ploutonion , when they descended and emerged unharmed. History remembered that the ancient writer Strabo thought they were holding their breaths as much as possible, but acknowledged there might be some physical antidote to the poison fumes also.

There was no taper lit above Dionysius now, but the Agents were able to Notice other disturbances: traces of mud from the ground outside, a smudge of blood on the walls, maybe a tiny drip of wax. Someone had been through here.

The mist was oppressive now. The stream of water that accompanied them down the stairs was deeper and wider here; it rushed through the room, gaining speed as it goes. At the far end of the room, a domed exit led to a more extensive cave system. The water stream joined with other water streams to become a rushing river.

The Crossing

There was a boat tethered on the river side of the domed exit.

Waiting for them.

It was a perfectly river-worthy boat. Ali thought he saw an old hooded man beckoning to him from the bow, but there was no one there. They entered the boat and began to make their way downriver.

“Sit upright with pride
You who will rule with the other heroes.
Go not humbly
But hold your head high.
Like a kid you will fall gloriously into milk.”

The boat slowed as they neared flat and level beach. It’s dark here, but not pitch-black. It was almost impossible to see through the mist, but they could see that it was mist. The noise of the water made it almost impossible to hear each other, and something seemed to be interfering with any electronics that might otherwise be used to communicate.

“to the city and country wrapped in cloud and mist
where darkness enfolds the wretched people
beach your ship by the deep swirling waters on a level shore
summoned forth by hot blood"

Through brief glimpses in the swirling fog, the Agents could make out trees – willows and poplars; a spring with a white cypress; and two, no, three rivers joining to encircle the beach.

Two of the rivers seems to be water; the third had an oily sheen to it. There is a trench dug in the sand, empty and waiting. And there is a cave – a cave within a cave, a passage to yet a lower underworld? Human Terrain makes a connection between this and Tartarus, as far below the Greek Underworld as the earth is beneath the sky, where the Titans were imprisoned. The rivers sped onward into the hole, far to fast to travel back upstream.

And Henley heard a voice whisper in her ear,“The road to hell lies open.”

View
By the Black Sea
The Persephone Extraction

Current Heat Levels:
Spain: 1, France: 1, Russia: 3, Turkey: 1


The Church of St. Mary of the Mongol

church-of-st-mary-of.jpg

The team decided to check out the church as it seemed to be a probable location for the meeting mentioned in the Post-It note found in Derya Kaya’s apartment:

  • “G St Marys after Compline”

The church itself was only open to the public for tours; the services and the monastery within were off-limits to visitors. The agents made their way their with the intention of joining the morning tour group.

There were a few other tourists waiting at the top of the steps and the team wasted little time in blending in with them. A youngish monk was greeting the group, moving from person to person and welcoming them to the church. He introduced himself as Brother Gerisiamos. He seemed friendly, if bland and indifferent. Perhaps too many impersonal tours given?

Brother_Gerisiamos.jpg

The tour covered the interior of the church proper, the highlight of which was their mural of the Last Judgement. Dr. Green, being interested in Art History, took a closer look and he noticed something odd.

Christ sat on a throne in the clouds in judgement. To his right hand, the good stood bathed in light; to his left, sinners stood in shadow, heading down toward an opening in the earth. So far so good – but there was also a figure who could have been holding a harp, and who seemed headed out of the opening in the ground instead of into it.

When asked about this point, the brother seemed nonplussed and mentioned that it was an older mural and sometimes the intention of the artist could be misinterpreted.

Continuing on, the tour group headed into the basement, where a blocked off tunnel entrance could be seen. Garisiamos explained that this once led to the Hagia Sophia mosque, about 5km distant, but that it had been closed off for many years.

As the tour ended, the team arranged for a diversion, allowing Burroughs and Henley time to explore the basement further. They were especially interested in the tunnel, but it was indeed solid, having not been disturbed for years.

Meanwhile, a scene unfolded upstairs, when Dr. Tekin appeared and confronted Brother Gerisiamos, demanding to see the Archimandrite about Derya Kaya. It seems that Tekin believed that Derya had scheduled a meeting here at the church a few days prior, about the time she disappeared. Tekin was adamant that she be allowed to talk to the Archimandrite, but Gerisiamos denied seeing her a few days past, and refused to allow her entrance.

Afterwards, the team spoke with Dr. Tekin about her accusations. It seemed that Derya had actively worked with the church previously in hopes of stopping the continued excavation of a monastery at Sadikan. She had concerns that the work being done was not taking into account the historical and religious importance of the sight, and was of the belief that the work there would devolve into another Sulukule (pdf link)

Tekin continued, mentioning Derya’s focus on the ploutonions, which led the team to investigate which of these “gates to Hades” were located close to Istanbul. The closest was the one at Sakidan, about an hour’s drive from Instanbul to the Black Sea. Varoutte did a quick search and his Research traced ownership of the government contractors back to Eurydice Investments.

The Sadikan Monastery

Sadikan_monastery.jpg

Sadikan was on the shore of the Black Sea, an hour’s drive from Istanbul over bumpy country roads. Unlike most monasteries of its kind, it is not built into the cliffside high up, but rather is built into the cliffside at ground level.

High white walls surrounded the site. The tips of excavation equipment rose above them. Further out was a ring of barbed wire, and guards with German Shepherds and machine guns patrolling in between. Past the barbed wire were signs reading “SADIKAN RESTORATIONHARD HAT AREAPUBLIC KEEP AWAY.”

On the cliff above, a little town of tents has grown up, as expected for archaeological dig.

A quick jaunt to the coast found some smaller towns and a larger port on the shores of the Black Sea. And what met their gaze at the docks but the sleek lines of the Sebastian Vallejo’s superyacht El Asasino.

Helicopter.jpg

Returning to the excavation site, the team set up a surveillance op and note a few salient points.

  • Architecture revealed that most of the buildings have been left untouched. Only the one nearest the rock face has been blasted apart, and a large hole leds down into the earth.
  • Traffic Analysis can inferred the number of guards and their routine patrols.
  • Archaeology knows how digs are usually managed, and could infer from the layout of the tent city that 90% of the people inside were probable-noncombatant archaeologists.
  • Notice spotted some of the shipping containers on the site bearing the logo of Heracles shipping. Tracing ownership of that company led straight back to Eurydice Investments. Also there were no signs that any of the other crumbling buildings were being used for anything – neither the guards nor the archaeologists appeared to be sleeping there.
  • History confirmed that the little rock chapel built into a cave in the cliff side was supposed to be the oldest part of the monastery. It might even predate the monastery.
  • Human Terrain suggested that since the Christians covered over Pluto’s Gate at Hierapolis, there may be a ploutonion here as well.

As night fell the team moved into action. Hiking around the cliff area, they ascended the back of the hill, moving silently and swiftly through the darkened tents on the crest, and descending with equal stealth down into the monastery.

They soon found themselves sneaking through the ghostly crumbling buildings, heading towards the main excavation site.

View
Handouts on Orphism
The Persephone Extraction

Hana’s book notes:

Hanas_Book_Notes_1.jpg
Hanas_Book_Notes_2.jpg
Hanas_Book_Notes_3.jpg

Orphic Dossier:

Orphic_Dossier_1.jpg
Orphic_Dossier_2.jpg
Orphic_Dossier_3.jpg
Orphic_Dossier_4.jpg

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.