After completing the Alpha Training Arena on their first attempt, the squad are informed to be ready tomorrow morning at 1000 for a graduation ceremony. Not only are their mentors on base (and have been watching their performance in the ATA) but also Major Whitlaw and Sergeant Williamson of Epsilon Group.
Williamson lets them know to drop his name at the mess and they’ll be sorted out, but not to get so wasted that they cant stand up and get promoted tomorrow.
Drunkenness ensues, with the company of Lieutenant Reese and The Mean Girls, Mira drops by for a shot, and Li-li is in fine partying form (to Freddie’s pleasure). By midnight most of them are slowing down, with KD already thoroughly passed out.
The squad are promoted to field agents at a ceremony on Alpha Base, which Novakova, Reese, Eitel, and Li-li attend, along with Major Roberts of Alpha Group, Major Whitlaw and Sergeant Major Williamson of Epsilon Group.
They are then informed that they are being deployed, along with Penfold, to Epsilon Group to act as their Response Squad.
Wils makes his farewells to Corporal Stone, and they agree to keep it casual due to the violent nature of their occupations.
They fly back with Major Whitlaw and Q-Ball, who fill them in on changes to Epsilon’s staffing since they were there two years ago.
The current staff of Epsilon (after being renewed in the wake of Operation PANDA STEEL) is found here.
Penfold makes some calls to see if he can start development on a nullifier device, that magnifies his magical resonance field and enables him to interfere with the power of other technomancers devices at range.
A few months pass, in which Freddie makes new contact with the base AI, Aaron works closely with sherry, mather, and douglas on pushing forward his learning of surgery and advanced medical techniques, Khady scouts around on his motorbike and generally starts to master more advanced driving, and Wils works out almost constantly (often in weight vests or full armour, joined by Khady) and reviews small unit operations and reads up on small unit tactics.
Major Whitlaw calls them into a briefing in late October of 2009, and introduces them to Ms Hardy of Clarion Corporation, a supplier and research partner of the Device Management Group.
Ms Hardy is the official Clarion DMG Liaison, and she has a problem that Clarion are requesting the assistance of RS-E with.
One of their ex-employees has gone rogue, and is holding several key research staff hostage within one of their facilities in northern England.
Major Whitlaw gives the squad clearance to use whatever equipment they feel is fit, and Staff Sergeant Stone informs them that the code-name for this operation will be GRASSHOPPER IRON THUNDER.
Ms Hardy will be happy to share whatever information she has with the members of RS-E in exchange for their assistance, and their understanding that a low profile is essential to the success of Clarions work for the DMG. They must resolve the situation quietly and efficiently, and the containment of the situation is the primary objective. Safe rescue of all hostages is a secondary priority.
The squad determines that they should take mostly suppressed weapons, leaving only a few larger calibre weapons with the containment crew should they be needed (assuming that if they are, any low profile approach is already ruined).
This message is reinforced by Ms Caldwell of Clarion Corporation, who is their Public Relations officer and is introduced to them at Clarion HQ in the City. Clarion is based in a moderately tall tower of glass and steel in the heart of the City of London, and the squad are escorted by Ms Caldwell and Security Officers of Clarion directly to level 27, the third to top floor.
While at Clarion HQ, they are granted access to their personnel files on both Professor Berry (the rogue employee) and the hostages being held by him within Clarion Research Royston.
Berry was made redundant as part of a Clarion-wide restructure taking place as a result of the financial crisis.
Co-workers have described Berry as being exceedingly paranoid, and a conspiracist. Given the top-secret nature of their work, conspiracies are something of a given, but Berry is worse than most. He believes the government, in co-operation with enforcement agencies and technomancers, is plotting against him.
It’s been reported that he has been getting progressively more and more wild in his theories over the last several years, and that the restructuring was simply the last straw.
Given the nature of his research and the fact that Clarion has asked for RS-E assistance with the situation, it’s safe to assume that there is a device related emergency at Royston.
They are also given a copy of the blue prints to the facility.
The hostages being held are:
Professor Felix Blumer (Device Research Lead)
Doctor Chandra Egner (Audio Engineer)
Doctor Torrie Neihoff (Device Mechanic)
Professor Greg Faulks (Mammalian Researcher)
Doctor Sheree Larimore (Tissue Technician)
Doctor Manie Spahn (Chemical Technician)
Mrs Naomi Lehto (Human Resources Manager)
Ms Danika Aguila (Administrative Assistant)
They are also told that Professor Berry was working in both device development and mammalian research for the last twenty five years. His work was into physical enhancements for soldiers and emergency personnel, but was rife with unmanageable side effects which eventually terminated the project. It only went on so long (fifteen years in development) because the upsides were so powerful, but the side effects proved insurmountable.
While at Clarion HQ, the particularly laser-focused notice that there are several slightly off-colour rectangles on the walls of the otherwise flash office, as if pictures have been removed before they arrived. When Freddie investigates Clarion, he finds no comprehensive records, and a block on requests to the governments companies register. He does establish that Clarion has been around since being founded as a maker of automated manufacturies in the mid 19th century, and has been quietly successful ever since, particularly as a contractor to the government and defence forces of the United Kingdom.
Royston is a mixed functionality laboratory, hosting both core Clarion audio research(incl a wind tunnel), a small public face, and device and mammalian research laboratories further into the facility. When questioned, Ms Hardy confirms that the known animals within the mammalian research wing currently are several chimpanzee’s, ordinary domestic house cats, and a solitary Syrian brown bear.
There is a comprehensive security team on-site. Clarion HQs live feed of cameras in the research buildings has gone down, although they still have visibility and control of the main entrance building. Per Clarion standard protocols, all non-security staff have been evacuated and the classified research areas have been put into hard lockdown.
The local police have been told that the site is in lockdown, but ordered by Clarion’s government contacts to keep their distance.
The situation began when one of the security team was taken and killed near the device engineering suite at the back of the facility. Surviving security footage only shows a glimpse of a large wild-haired man (who Clarion confirm as being likely Professor Berry) dashing superhumanly fast out of the building, grabbing the security contractor, and disappearing back into the building. The limp corpse of the contractor is tossed out of the door shortly afterwards, followed by the hard lockdown of the device engineering suite.
Since the situation began, the security team onsite has lost one additional member of their staff in the wind tunnel building (which is now considered un-secured). This brings the total buildings considered un-secured to three out of the five structures onsite.
CRR Security Team
- Michael Simpson – head of security at Clarion Corporation’s
- Royston laboratories
- Liza LaRose – second in command of security
- Jack Maddock – a security team member
- Sam Ford – a security team member (Killed by Berry in the audio suite)
- Brandon Young – a security team member (Killed by Berry in the device lab)
- Julia Edwards – a security team member
While the players are investigating at Clarion HQ, Content Not Found: noah-stone-1 has arranged for a containment crew and flight path to CRR.
After exhausting their research opportunities at Clarion HQ, the team takes a chopper to the facility in Royston. Penfold has gone ahead to check out Professor Berry’s residence in the town, to see if there is anything suspicious or technomantic there, or evidence that he has been building additional devices to those involved in his research (there is not, he has not).
When they touch down in Royston, they are greeted at the gate by Mr Simpson, head of security at CRR, and Mr Maddock of the security team. Simpson informs them that while they were en route, they have lost control of the sonic suite directly next door to the administrative block, and that the admin block is now the last bastion of the security forces onsite.
The players move into the admin block to consider the situation, and Freddie, with the assistance of Corporal Upton, attempts to penetrate the blocks on the security system that Berry has put in place. Freddie and Upton easily break through the security on the CRR systems, and re-establish control of the exterior surveillance cameras.
They also establish that the locks on the compromised buildings have some sort of mechanical over-ride on them, which is reassuring in as much as it fits with Berry’s known skills profile.
Given the close proximity of the sonic suite to the administration block, the squad decides to proceed to clear that structure first, especially as they can do so while remaining out of line of sight of the Device and Mammallian research blocks to the rear of the facility (where Berry is assumed to be hiding with his hostages).
Freddie assists Penfold in removing the mechanical bypass that has been installed on the security door, granting the team access to the suite. Penfold pockets the bypass for potential use on one of the other compromised buildings.
Khady and Wils proceed with a sweep and clear of the building, but establish that the only inhabitants are a dismembered Mr Ford of CRR Security, and an angry, pooh-flinging, but otherwise unmodified chimpanzee. They leave the chimp locked in a lab and move on out into the wider facility (after reporting Ford’s death to Mr Simpson).
It is decided that the best approach will be to sneak up the side of the mammalian research block, and attempt reconnaissance via the animal holding cells at the rear. Khady and Wils advance down that side of the facility while Penfold, Freddie, and Aaron hold the ground they have established since clearing the sonic suite (and watch for any hostiles exiting the device or mammalian blocks through the main entrances).
Khady gets up to have a look through the high windows of Animal Testing Room 3 with his endoscope. He see’s a dismembered chimpanzee on a rudimentary bench slash operating table, and another chimp locked in a cage. He can faintly hear what sounds like a woman screaming, somewhere deeper into this complex.
While Khady is investigating the first lab, Wils advances to provide cover at the corner into the large animal holding area. He isn’t perhaps as sneaky as he needed to be, as when he glances around the corner to ensure their security, he see’s a large brown bear charging angrily towards him from within the standing-open doors into the main Mammalian Research building. Khady quickly moves to assist, as the bear crashes noisily through the first layer of chain link fence between it and the intruders.
The angry bear doesn’t quite get through the second layer of fence on its initial charge, despite charging hard enough to embed pieces of wire throughout its fur and flesh, clearly doing significant damage to itself on the way. As it thrashes at him from mere feet away, Wils can see a possible cause of its rage in the crudely attached biomechanical plating affixed to its chest and back, and roped roughly around the sides to join what was obviously meant to be a heavy vest for a human.
Wils and Khady both let rip with a spray of fire from their MP7’s, and the bear collapses bloodily to the ground in a tangle of fence, fur, and mechanics. While Wils ensures it stays down by planting a few more carefully targeted rounds in its head, Khady gets a closer look at the device attached to the poor beast.
The device appears to be attached internally to the bears spine on the rear, and through sockets in its torso tubes clearly go directly into internal organs from the frontpiece. What initially appears to be an R.R. marking on the plate turns out to be an R.B. that Khady has put a round through.