McDaniel is riding a motorcycle west in NW Kansas. He has an unexpected encounter on the highway; he has to abruptly slow down as an aircraft shrieks through the air and slams into the ground not far ahead of him. As he pulls to a stop, a fleet of helicopters arrives moments later, sweeping towards the wreck, followed quickly by a host of lights coming down the road and passing him: black SUVs with FBI marked on the side. Then the National Guard—and every one dressed in MOP-4 biohazard gear.
A roadblock is set up, manned by a couple of Army MPs. They take his ID, run it, ask him to stick around for a while.
Two of us see a man sitting on the front porch with his feet propped up on the rail; Carstairs sees…a strange android-looking thing. He calls himself Victor Donatti, says he’s a debriefing officer. He’s operating a Sensionaut, which everyone but Carstairs sees as a man.
Apparently, we’ve been pulled into a “standing wave event” of history, generated by the incursion in Operation: SLAUGHTERHOUSE. We now appear to have stabilized.
SANDMAN satellite was hit by a US reconnaissance plane. It was in a decaying polar orbit. The black box on the aircraft may have recorded a transmission; this may have been the irruptor’s escape route. Infective irruptors, strictly memetic, but capable of physically infecting people.
The pilots may or may not be alive; if they are alive, they may be carriers. Scorched-Earth protocol is authorized if absolutely necessary. The US military and the Blackwood Institute is on site. Military has quarantined the site, cover of an anthrax outbreak.
We need to take the black box or destroy it. Definitely keep it out of the hands of the Blackwood Institute.
In Kansas, the MPs have received an order to turn off their radios and not to talk—to each other. They offer to let him leave, pass the checkpoint, and fuel up his motorcycle, where he heads back toward Goodland. He’s driving away, and an 8-foot-tall blue monster wearing rags lands on a cow and starts devouring it.
The airport is buzzing with activity—a half a dozen Blackhawks and a Chinook all around, and a modular command center. One of the bigger rental hangers has one of the doors open; there’s another helicopter in there. It’s a French military transport helicopter. Used by China, France, and South Africa. (Which means Witsander.)
Emergency Broadcast System claims a KC-135 went down. Announcement by a Major Reineger, with a classified branch of SOCOM. He’s close to 50, has been involved in black-ops for at least a decades. Takes his orders and shuts up; he’s been on the sharp end a lot. Did Pittsburg SWAT for 4 years, then got reactivated. Significant experience operating units in civilian populations. Currently rumored to be on a beyond-black operation.
Oddly enough, the Army mobile base is completely ignoring the people from the Fralon, who are unloading a number of military-style boxes from the chopper into a number of SUVs. They all wear windbreakers with an odd symbol on them—memetics, ensuring that they’re ignored or accepted. Definitely Witsander. However, we reason that if we head out to the crash site now, we can beat them to the punch; we still have our National Intelligence Council covers from the Avilla job.
The lights go out in McDaniel’s motel room; a man named Kavanaugh calls his cell phone and asks him to step outside quietly. McDaniel does, and Kavanaugh asks him what he saw on the highway. McDaniel tells him. Kavanaugh requests that he come with him: do not say anything, do not write anything, do not touch any of the men. It’s a short drive, perhaps 20 minutes, and they end up at a mobile command center. There’s a woman inside, a Dr. Melissa Kendall, heading up a task force.
She asks McDaniel a number of questions about his experience at the checkpoint. They also want to run a number of medical tests: some blood draws, a skin biopsy, X-rays and an EEG.
Two unmarked SUVs and a Ford van, all up-armored, roll up into the command center. A man that doesn’t look military gets shuffled out of the van into the command center.
As we’re finishing up our preparations, we see two Witsanders heading into the medical area. We decide to ambush them, and Alec’s sharpshooting takes them down. In addition to the briefcase weapons, they’re carrying garottes, hidden spikes, and other weapons of assassination. We decide to ensure that the probable target of the assassination, likely the civilian that was brought in earlier, is taken to safety.
After an intense discussion with Cavanaugh, we take custody of McDaniel and get him out of the airport area. Cavanaugh is pissed at it, and promises that we’ll meet again. And we may, indeed.
After some disclosure, McDaniel decides to join us.