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SRM-05: A Dark and Stormy Night
It was a dark and stormy night - traveling near Glow City in the Redmond Barrens during a hail storm is not your idea of a good time, especially when things go bump in the night!

Part One: A Dark and Stormy Night [180KB]
Part Two: Player Handouts [112KB]
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SRM-05: Dark and Stormy Night - "It was a dark and stormy night..."
Introductory fiction by Rich Osterhout

...the chill of the night air could be felt even down here on Level Four, even though the lab was completely sealed and the facility had its own air circulation system. Maybe it had something to do with the room's inhabitants. Kat almost jumped off her stool as her cell phone began vibrating. As one of the leading mages working here in the depths of the latest research lab of Ares Arms, she was not supposed to have her cell phone on her - a security violation that could get her dismissed from the project. As an independent consultant for Ares, she was awarded some degree of latitude, but security was something that could not be dismissed, especially here, especially now. But she knew that Stella worried about her, and would often call to check up on her - like she really needed checking up on.

It's just that Stella couldn't understand why Kat couldn't talk about her job; she just didn't grasp the concept of classified projects and why people needed to hide things. That's a Dog shaman for you, always trying to be one big happy family. As a follower of the hermetic tradition, I cared only about one thing - money; and Ares was offering plenty of it. Classified jobs paid even mo re, and this one was just through the roof, and with good reason.

The large insectoid form now on the table in front of her looked just like a 2 meter tall carpenter ant. Its large black mandibles shone under the harsh fluorescent lighting of the lab. Kat was not in the least bit worried - the abomination was strapped securely to the table with Kevlar woven straps, and it had been stunned senseless by her mana based magics. And the wards - a quick glance to the left revealed the glowing cartouche that indicated that the ward was holding and strong.

Her attention was once more drawn back to the vibrating cell phone. She turned and addressed the two scientists in the lab with her, "I need to prepare a further binding ritual on the subject to ensure its complacency during the testing. Why don't you two go and get a cup of coffee or something before we begin the testing." It seemed like a good enough excuse for the two mundanes to leave the lab and the insectoid form on the table behind them. They quickly left Kat alone in the lab.

"Stella, I thought I told you to call me only in an emergency! You don't realize how much trouble I could get into by talking to you right now!"

Stella's voice sounded frantic across the wireless gap between them; "But I was worried! It's been nearly 14 hours since you left the house! You've never been gone this long before without calling!"

Kat's calm voice reassured the shaman; "I told you I would be working late today. We're on the verge of some important experiments, and I'm very busy. Stella, I promise I'll call you as soon as I'm done and ready to come home."

The scrape of chitin on metal raised the hackles on Kat's neck as she turned back around to the subject on the table. The large ant-like creature had awoken and was straining at its bonds.

"Stella, I'll have to call you back!" she hoarsely called into the phone and dropped it on the counter, not thinking to push the disconnect button.

The ancient tongue came difficult to Kat, but she continued her chant, building the astral energies and preparing to release them into the creature.

An unholy screech sounded from the insect as it focused all its power into the formidable limbs, cutting through the tough Kevlar that held it down. Another screech to celebrate its progress, and it began the fight for freedom.

Kat began to release her spell, but was distracted at the last moment as the two scientists rushed through the door of the lab, intent on discovering the source of the alien noises they had heard. They stood frozen in the door at the sight before them - the ant-creature sitting upright on the table, its mandibles and forelimbs working on cutting its remaining bonds. Kat stood off to the side, and spun at the entrance of the scientists, releasing her spell energies prematurely.

"Don't just stand there!" she shouted, "get the sprayers!" But it was all too late - the abomination severed the final bond and broke free, leaping off the table towards the scientists at the door. It grabbed the one on the left, and ripped the scientist's body in half, dropping the legs to the ground as it flung the upper torso towards Kat. She quickly cast another spell, this time a bolt of powerful energy. But her attempt to dodge the bloody upper half of the scientist caused her to miss, and the bolt struck the transom above the door. The insect turned back to Kat and released another shriek as it leapt towards her. Kat screamed one final time as she tried to turn the fury of the insect, noticing almost ironically before being rendered apart that the glyph above the door had flickered and died...

It was a dark and stormy night. The rain was beating a deafening crescendo on the window to her left. Stella sat in horror as she listened to the strange alien shrieks and the frantic yelling of Kat on the other end of the line. What seemed like an eternity took only seconds, and by the time she could respond, only silence greeted her through the ear piece. She had the presence of mind to keep the line open, and went to the telecom to contact a close friend. She had known Manny for many years, and she knew that she could turn to him for help. The fixer picked up on the second ring, and Stella immediately started crying into his waiting ear. "Manny its Stella I don't know what's happened but something terrible has happened to my friend Kat I just know it I just know it I was talking to her and then I heard some screams and something awful oh just awful that I've never heard before oh I don't even know if she's still alive oh Manny you've got to help me you've got to help her!"

"Whoa, calm down Stella, calm down. OK, Manny is here to help, where is Kat now?" the fixer calmly asked, hoping to calm down the frantic woman.

"I don't know she just wouldn't tell me I've asked her a lot but she just says she can't tell me it's classified and oh I don't know but I was on the phone with her and I dropped the phone and kept the line open..." the shaman responded.

Manny used his many years of experience to quickly assess the situation and responded "Don't worry Stella, I'm contacting an associate of mine right now and feeding him your cell phone number. Don't worry, this guy is good, and he'll be able to lock down a position if the phone is still open and has a strong enough signal." His fingers flew across his telecom unit as he dialed up one of his star deckers and put him in another window on the screen. The data flew across the bottom of the window as he relayed Stella's cell phone number and the request for tracking it down ASAP. A few moments later, and Manny had his answer - he knew he could depend on this console cowboy. "OK Stella, you can hang up the cell phone now, we've got should hang it up so that nothing can track back to you. Let me handle things now and you try to get some rest."

The shaman visibly calmed as she responded, "Thanks Manny, I knew I could count on you - I'll pay whatever it takes - just get Kat back to me..." Manny immediately began scanning for who was available and ready to take on a quick rescue mission into the heart of the Redmond Barrens and The Glow...

It was a dark and stormy night. But here, in this underground facility of Ares Arms' research division, the sound of their footsteps on the tile floor was the only thing anyone could hear. Sergeant Colby had only another 20 minutes to go before the end of his shift. Both he and Corporal Rachovsky had been tasked with making the security rounds on Level Four - where the main labs were. Everyone had their own ideas of what was going on down there. As security guards, they were only cleared for patrolling the hallway and not allowed in the labs themselves unless an alarm was triggered. That was fine with Colby. Talk of everything from mutants exposed to The Glow to space aliens recovered from the crashed suborbital to even stranger tales of things that go bump in the night...

He pushed the button to call for the elevator, and alarms above his head sounded their claxon roar. "What the hell is going on?" he asked Rachovsky. The corporal could only shrug as the elevator opened before them. They waited for a second as the speaker system activated; "Attention all hands, Attention all hands, This is NOT a drill, This is NOT a drill, There has been a breach in Laboratory B, Level Four, Hostile subjects are extremely dangerous, Activate protocol CHARLIE, All security teams report to duty stations and load chemical rounds!" The speaker continued to bark out orders as the two nervously got into the elevator and proceeded to the bottom level of the facility. Colby was not happy! "Why does this drek have to always happen when I'm about ready to get relieved??" Both of them checked their magazines and ensured that the special chemical rounds had been loaded. They had no idea what the chemicals were, but they had been told that it was necessary to use such ammunition rather than standard lead bullets here in the facility. It didn't matter to him, as long as they worked, and they had better work!

The elevator doors opened, and the two Ares Arms guards immediately reacted to the combat scene before them. It was readily apparent who the bad guy was - one of the scientists had just finished firing one of the special spray weapons, little more than a fire extinguisher, at what could only be described as a giant carpenter ant! The black body was covered in white foam, and it let loose with an alien screech that caused the two warriors to respond with screams of their own. The scientist could only stand by helpless with the empty dispenser as the ant swept sideways with a powerful forearm and pinned the human to the wall. The guards opened up their weapons on full automatic mode, emptying their clips in mere seconds. With luck on their side, the insect finally collapsed as green ichor oozed from its mouth. A few moments later, the elevator opened behind them and a squad of guards poured forth, quickly securing the area. Another of the facility mages moved forward and inspected the lab and the surroundings, paying particular attention to the door at the far end of the lab. "Everyone! We need to secure the facility! We'll need to go into lock-down until backup can arrive! Sergeant Colby, you and your partner oversee the lockdown efforts. The rest of you, proceed to the entrance of the facility for further orders. We need to hold the fort for about an hour before the pros get here. And Colby, make sure you reload..."

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