Monday, June 1, 2020

Vignettes

With the activity, the heightened nanites have caused some nasty weather conditions... it's one week before the convergence, and there's already some weirdness going on. Early Saturday morning, a week before Convergence, the group awakened to a thick fog; unable to get back to sleep, they wander sleepily to Saga (sans Priya, who somehow was able to sleep in). Halfway through breakfast, Agent Kit Muller called them. As he explained it, he has been somewhat injured after an altercation with a group of loup-garous south of Shreveport, and his car had gotten a flat, and he can't travel in the pouring rain. Deana was knocked out, and since the group had such good connections to all things weird, would they mind determining if he was about to turn into a werewolf?

They traveled there in two cars; Alistair narrowly managed to outrun a cop, but got there in time for Will to give some first aid, and wake up Deana, even though rain was pouring down like it was preparing for another Biblical flood. Kit was actually fairly hurt, but Alistair was able to at least assure him that he wouldn't turn into a werewolf. Loup-garous were just angry people, nothing to worry about. James pulled up in Will's car, and hopped out to change the tires, managing to get it quickly fixed. And a good thing, too - Alistair got a call from a distraught Mrs. Dolouse, who begged them to come help.

Returning to campus for Priya, they headed to the church. The Risen Church was hit by a tornado; while the Rev. and Mrs. Dolouse were safely in the back bathrooms, Bob had gone to secure the front doors, and got trapped under a fallen wall. James, Will, and RC put their shoulders to the wall, and managed to lift it long enough for the Reverend to shove a board under it. Crawling under, they pulled Bob out; he had a nasty bump on the head, but otherwise seemed ok. Mrs. Dolouse showered them with praise (in addition to the heavy rainfall). "I knew you boys would be able to help, with the tornado doing all this damage the police couldn't even get to us and the fire department is backed up and you just got here so fast, thank you, thank you!"

Next, they got a call from Officer Jones, the fellow who investigated them after the incident with the pedophile; it seems he was pinned down by "some weird stuff", and one photographer named Leslie begged him to call them for help. He was near the train tracks on 5th.

Arriving, the group managed to get up next to the officer, who confessed that he had no idea what was going on, but whatever they did, this seemed to be in their wheelhouse, and nobody at HQ would believe that he was fighting... well, whatever it was. Leslie, of course, was overjoyed to see them. As they spoke, a blast of lightning zinged into a tree, and another onto the path!

Priya and James, working quickly, put together a lightning-rod lance, and chucked it over the train car they were hiding behind into the path of the lightning blasts; it stopped the lightning enough for James, Will, and RC to get over to the creature - a huge lightning demon! Dodging bursts of lightning, RC went for the knee, and managed to trip the huge monster; unable to get it, Will and James were able to beat it to a pulp. And then Alistair nearly blew himself up touching its corpse.

All's well that ends well, though, and the group got out without any new injuries. Officer Jones thanked them, and Leslie couldn't stop beaming about the pictures she took.

Finally back on campus, little damage was done, apart from the flagpole being flung, spear-like, into the student center.

RC and Alistair each had a package waiting for them; RC was gifted a baseball bat, the first metal Louisville Slugger to come off the assembly line, in 1978; through its illustrious history, it had been a collector's item in several collections, but each time it was used as a weapon against intruders, and each tiem it knocked the burglar out in a single hit. The bat has two properties; first, the first time it causes a non-lethal wound, it automatically causes a second. Second, when doing agility-based tricks, it lends a +2 to the roll. Bob insisted the Reverend bring it over; he had purchased it a few years prior for his sports memorabilia collection, but felt it was a useful gift for the people that saved his life.

Alistair's package came from Kit; it was an old manuscript, a leather scroll upon which was written, "Hadrian's Form For Scroll". The 2 power point shield ritual requires a chip of a tombstone older than 100 years and chalk; its effect was to subtract 2 from an attacker's roll, either ranged or melee (or 4 on a raise). Alistair immediately did a little more research, finding an old grave site and getting a handful of chips. Additionally, a member of the ROTC crowd contacted him; having heard of their exploits, a few cadets were willing to lead a little extra time to the cause, given enough notice.

One week until finals...

Back From The Grave

As graduation draws nearer, so do the ley lines. Last-minute project failures aren't exactly uncommon, but it seems much worse this year; even the ultra-prepared are having trouble getting software and hardware alike working. Last week, the campus transformer blew out... twice. It's still 4 weeks until Convergence, and looming finals aren't helping anything.

Friday, the 8th of April, 2022, four weeks before graduation. It's midnight on a Friday; for once, everything seems to be working as it should be, so the group decided to blow off some steam at a Greek St. frat party. Just as the group met up, James caught sight of a shadowy figure, lurking in the darkness between two houses... He charged in, with Alistair right behind him, and the others trailing a little more cautiously. As James drew near, the creature snarled, then dashed... through the wall? James didn't recognize the creature, but Alistair did - Shadow, from Paccu Mansion!

The two dashed around the corner and in the back door, then headed upstairs... which looked suspiciously like a Pac Man maze. They wound through the passages until they came to the creature, standing at the end of the hall. With a shriek, it rushed towards them, but was rapidly bludgeoned into mist. The room returned to normal.

Regrouping outside, Priya spotted another creature - a hideous, bug-like monster - Eddie Ruiz! But wasn't he dead? James charged ahead, though the creature seemed intent on heading for Priya. Will passed James, and managed to land a blow; RC splatted a large number of bugs it summoned, as did Priya; James managed to get a couple blows in before Priya finished it off. This time, it seemed a whole lot tougher than before... and a lot more... moldy?

They didn't have long to contemplate before they heard a scream, just up the road. Some quick investigation revealed a were-tiger! It leaped out, but coordinated efforts put it down, hard.

Panting, they looked around, waiting for the next big nasty to jump out at them. They jumped when Will's phone rang - it was Leslie, once again asking for help. She was in her office, and a man was holding her hostage, and forced her to call.

At the offices of Cryptid Underground, everything seemed normal, except a crack/scrape in a hallway wall; once they opened the door, however, Dr. Miller, freshly in his werewolf form, bared his teeth... as a hulking frost demon crashed down behind them!

Will and Alistair fended off the werewolf, as the others attacked the frost demon; it beat James fairly severely, and handed out one or two wounds to the others as well. Will, finally, managed to chop through the werewolf, and turned to help just as the huge demon collapsed into ice and ash.

Priya managed to bind some of James' wounds, but only time would heal the rest.

Back To The Future

The laptop data recovered from EyePhi's silo had a fair amount of information about the plans set in place, but one piece of data stood out - some anomalous energy signatures near the loop. Three different locations, in fact. After a little prep, the group decided to start searching the various locations. That Friday, Jan. 28, they headed out - after getting an invitation to a party of some sort.

The first location revealed... nothing. They weren't able to find anything out of the ordinary. Further investigation near the second site - a school - revealed a blobby, man-sized shape, barely visible to human eyes - though Alistair's ley-line-revealing eye-drops showed it as a bluish cloud of dust-like particles. The next location revealed even more - a field full of blobs! Some seemed recent, others less so. Confused, they headed back to the first location, widening their search to a park in the middle of some very, very nice houses. Alistair spotted a couple fellows in white polos, as well as another person-shaped blob - this one more recent still, and intact enough to make out some basic details. It was definately a man, wearing a jacket, apparently looking at his watch.

They spent a few hours poking around before the party - only to realize the party was at the house with the polo-clad frat bros! While LeTourneau isn't exactly a preppie kind of place, the residents of the house were, in fact, ultra-rich, and in some cases forced to go to LeTourneau as a punishment of some sort. They served a lovely snack bar, next to their heated pool; a few students were already there, and others drifted in. Those the group recognized were fellow adventure-hunters; Leslie, from Cryptid Underground, a few survivors of the Burn, and others they had at least met in passing.

After some hanging out - and realizing that the rich frat boys were stereotypically snobby and condescending - they noted a party-goer who didn't seem to fit in. Fairly average looking, wearing a leather bombers jacket, and staying off to one side... Any time someone tried to approach him, they were intercepted by one of the frat members.

One of the frat guys called for the party's attention. The reason for this little get-together was a treasure hunt, for a prize of $5,000; given a small number of clues, they were expected to find the location of a... watch-like object. Almost immediately, about half of the party headed off, some to the field where the group had found the blobs of ley-dust (or nanite-clouds, as it were), and others to various locations around the city. The rest stayed behind, hoping for more clues. Priya and Alistair managed to corner the jacket-wearing fellow, and demanded to know if he was mind-controlling the rich snobs. He laughed, and managed to excuse himself.

The group initially followed the students heading for the blob-covered-field, but Will got a phone call from Leslie - she said she was trapped in a closet, but had discovered something, and... then the line went dead. Quickly, they hurried back, and crept in a side door; searching the rooms, they found a bow and some other weapons, as well as a fresh-as-a-daisy nanite-blob in a closet, in exactly the shape of Leslie...

Just then, two of the snobby frat guys stepped into the room - one with a bow, the other with a sword. As it turns out, not only do you have to be really rich to join their frat, you also have to have an amazing skill. Granted, no matter how good your skill with a rapier is, if you have five angry students with spears, baseball bats, and pipe-wrenches, you're going to have a bad day. It didn't take long before the two students were knocked unconscious. Just down the hall, the group found the jacket-clad man, and engaged him in battle; he kept trying to slap Alistair and the others with a weird glove, connected to an odd backpack, but was knocked out before he could.

While Priya was making sure the students and the unknown man didn't bleed out, the others rifled through the man's pockets. They uncovered a watch, a single penny, a rectangle of clear plastic, and a heavy gum-pack-sized thing. Alistair put on the backpack and the watch, and... vanished. For about 15 minutes.

After some creative interrogation, the jacket-clad man introduced himself as Artemis, a time traveler from 3082 AD, sent to recover a dangerous time device. The various objects were a time machine (the watch and backpack), a communication device (the clear plastic rectangle), a battery (the gum packet), and... a gun (the penny), which he gifted them, in exchange for their help in finding and destroying the watch. He'd spent too long here already, and being from the future, he'd know if the watch were destroyed, so he was confident they would be able to do it. He mentioned it was known to fall into the hands of a number of people - one of which happened to share a last name with Alistair's roommate. Coincidence? No, actually; allowing the man to return to his own time (though keeping the penny that could turn into a gun), they went to Alistair's frat, and found his roommate, who grabbed the watch for them - it was smashed from holding up a wobbly table. Alistair, of course, instead of destroying it to keep the future intact, carefully repaired what he could, resulting in what was effectively a fancy holographic cell-phone.

Their adventure over, it was midterms week, and happily, they managed to pass. Only one more set of tests before the end...

Friday, May 8, 2020

Old Friends

Early in January, Alistair had the gang help him out in gathering more materials for damage potions. After managing to get a few prepared, Will received a text message from an unknown number: "i have answers. Meet@lutes lk on 2204 W of airport 10pm. Don't b seen"
After a few seconds, a second message followed: "Bring Pizza King lrg Everything"

The students grabbed their gear, and headed to the airport, parking there and walking to Lutes Lake. As they neared the lake, a shadowy figure stepped out of the trees and beckoned to follow. Swiftly and silently, he lead them down a trail through the trees. Just as they lost sight of him, they caught the rumble of an engine. Fearing an ambush, they crept up on the vehicle. Behind the wheel, carefully scanning the trees, sat a (rather bedraggled) Jackson Green! He was wearing ripped camo clothing, worn boots, and a ragged beard. Even his cowboy hat was crumpled. Even so, his eyes lit up as they approached. "'d you bring pizza?" he demanded, and tore into the pizza, moaning happily. After scarfing three pieces in quick succession, he waved the group into his jeep, shoved the box back into James' hands, and roared off down the power line clearing, dodging stumps and puddles. On the way, across the roar of the engine, he shouted out what was going on.

The night he was attacked, he was at a dinner thrown by Monica Dragic, as a guest of GlenMac. After wandering around trying to find the bathroom, he stumbled across Monica's study, and uncovered a photo - the same photo he mailed to the group. It linked her father, Morgan Dragic, to both Rodya (the Russian man, whose brother is looking for information about) and Crayton White (the man who invented the ghost-portal-machine), and most dangerously, to Jake Busar (the bank robber). Realizing the picture was important, Jackson swiped the picture. Monica realized it was missing, and sent the Needler after him. When it broke in to his home, he fought it off with his shotgun, but realized if Monica was going to send monsters after him for a simple photograph, she was willing to do anything. He fled, and got help from - well, from someone who turned out to know a lot more about the current circumstances than expected - and was set up at his new base camp, from which he spied on EyePhi and Monica's various plans, from the Fenris virus and undead apes to chupacabras and the Burn.

Finally, he pulled up near what appeared to be an abandoned farmhouse. After inviting them in, he let them look over the maps and photos he'd collected in the last few years. His spying on the missile site uncovered a systematic program for creating larger and stronger chupacabras. And with that, he opened the door and waved a shadowy figure towards the building - his friend, Paul, a chupacabra! Paul is humanoid, with fewer spikes and quills, but a drastically improved camouflage. Jackson found him, dumped in a mass grave, and nursed him back to health. Together, Jackson and Paul found out about thousands of incubation tanks, installed in an abandoned missile silo, filled with growing chupacabras. Jackson tried to blow the whistle twice before, but the lack of response most likely means someone in the government is protecting it. A direct fight would only get people put in jail, at best - instead, he proudly reveals his master plan: sabotage!

He explains:

There are two ways to disable the incubators: poisoning the water system, and tampering with the temperature regulators. The facility is staffed with a skeleton crew - the fewer in the know, the better - a total of nine operators. In three shifts of 8 hours, one tech monitors the control center, one the power house, and the third inspects the incubators, top to bottom, twice per shift.

Jackson ends by saying that he plans to pull off this mission in the next few hours, at shift change. He'll take some advice on nuances, but is adamant that the plan must be soon. He'll send Paul into town to pick up any supplies the group left behind - which ends up being Alistair sending Paul to break into a medical storage area and steal 40 cc of morphine.

After some rituals and planning, the group split into two. First, the "poison" group, with Alistair, his girlfriend Michelle, and James; and second, the "temperature" group, with RC, Priya, and Will.

The poison group needed to break into the power building, and pour a two-gallon jug of potent poison into the post-purifier water supply. A camera watches the door.

The second group needs to crawl through a vent on the side of the building, infiltrate the heating/cooling area, and either destroy the machines, or get into the control room and turn everything to "dry/cold" instead of "hot/moist".

Alistair, using his sling, expertly broke the light near the camera, and after sneaking up to it, tilted it just enough so it was no longer watching the door. James snapped the lock off the door, and after stepping inside, laid out the tech with a single blow to the head.

Meanwhile, the other group crept up on the rotating camera, staying out of view, and with RC boosting Priya, managed to disconnect the motor and leave the camera pointing at the parking area. After removing the grate on the vent, Will climbed inside and slipped past the spinning fan. A little amature electrical work later, and the fan stopped spinning, allowing Priya and RC to slip past. Together, they crawled down the vent, opening an access panel and utterly surprising the tech working on the AC. Will jumped down and thumped him over the head before he even realized what was happening. He and Priya looked through the laptop, and realized they would have to break into the control room if they wanted to shut things down - and that taking things apart might alert the guards. After a little indecision, they headed towards the control room.

Back in the power building, James and Alistair followed the pipes around, and found he place they needed to pour the poison. Alistair attempted a bit of sleight of hand, sticking a mirror into the reflector securing the purified water cistern.

In the control room, RC eased the door open, and Priya crept up behind the tech, who had just noticed a warning light go off - one marked "purification tank". She smacked him with her spear, knocking him out.

With no alarms going off, Alistair nodded to James, who dumped the poison in the the tank, then slapped the bolts back on. They, with Michelle's help, followed the camera feed, but only came to a pipe that sank into the ground. The camera lead somewhere else...

In the control room, the Will expertly set the AC to its coldest setting; they watched the temperature drop until it was low enough, while downloading some files onto flash drives. Just as the files were wrapping up, one of the computer screens flashed a message: "Convergence simulation 9,361 complete. Play now? Yes / No"
Of course, they pressed "Yes", and watched simulated ley lines crisscross over Gregg County, warping and converging over LeTourneau. The map detail wasn't precise enough to show the exact epicenter, but it lined up with what they knew from the dream. The running date in the bottom corner ended in May, three days after graduation.

Suddenly, there was a muffled thump from outside, and a klaxon began to blare!

In the power area, the sound of an explosion echoed above the noise of the generators. James raced for the door, with Alistair and Michelle right behind. They bounded outside, and turned to see some familiar faces! The Russians were coming! Or rather, the Russians were there; several men with guns were firing at the front door, which was blasted off its hinges. More gunfire echoed back from inside. Watching the battle was Vladislav, goth-emo-ritualist. Alistair contemplated sniping at the guy, but decided against it, and instead waved the others away. They fled towards their rendezvous location.

Inside the main building, however, RC, Will, and Priya were not having nearly as nice a time. Four chupacabra halted their escape; after narrowly avoiding some serious wounds, they finally managed to bash them down, Priya finishing off two, and RC and Will ending one each. Just as they took down the last creature, they heard a shout behind them - they bolted for the exit, but stopped when they realized it was Jackson Green! He waved them towards the back way. As they passed row after row of incubators, the eggs inside already beginning to blacken, Jackson explained that he had, possibly, lead a certain old Russian guy to believe that some lantern and maybe his dead brother were inside the building. Once they rejoined the others, Alistair was highly amused.

Jackson drove in silence. After a while, he nodded firmly, as if coming to a decision. "I'm done here, I think. I'm going to move camp, and hopefully not have to show my face until after the Convergence thing. Take a look at those lines, and let me know where you think the Convergence is going to be. Oh, and please... don't tell GlenMac, ok? Don't let him figure out you know, about me, or about all this. Use him to get to EyePhi."

As he left them at the airport, he gave them a final warning: "Hey - it's not over. The worst is yet to come, you know that, right? Stay tough."

Snow Time Like the Present

A couple weeks before Thanksgiving break, Joe Jordan (who you may remember as the speedy fellow who ran for help during the fight at the Burn) offered an all-expense-paid ski trip. Well, almost all expenses, as they needed to buy their own plane tickets. The resort, as it turns out, is owned by Joe's grandpa, Horace "Horse" Jordan, and was shut down due to damage from terrible weather and possibly a bit of sabotage.

The group moved into one of the large, luxurious cabins just off the slopes, then Joe took them on a tour of the place, pointing out a rival resort, just on the other side of a valley, and showing them were the various equipment for skiing was kept. As they headed over to the main lodge for an amazing Thanksgiving dinner, they saw a large, angry-looking man, looming over Horse, who didn't look particularly upset. The man was screaming screaming something about how "he'll be sorry!" - but when he saw the others approaching, he stopped short, then stamped away in the snow.

Over dinner, Horace explained the various troubles he'd faced, and admitted that the slopes were do for a complete overhaul, and he'd been putting it off. The ski lift was out of commission, and there was some damage to a number of safety rails. He warned them to avoid hiking in the nearby valley, as heavy snowfall resulted in the death of a guest earlier in the season - the snow around trees is very soft, and it's possible to tip over into the soft snow, get a load of snow dumped from the branches above, and suffocate. Not a great way to go.

After dinner, James took a look at the ski-lift, and found some scratches near the door, as if it had been forced. He wasn't able to fix it - Horace mentioned he was waiting on a part for it.

That night, they set up watches, just in case the saboteur returned. Will dreamed of a train full of people, all enjoying their vacations. As the train passed through a tunnel, it suddenly slammed to a stop! Looking around, you realize the train car in front of you is covered in a thick layer of ice... and the people inside aren't moving. Will snapped awake, just as Alistair caught sight of a hulking creature, and chased it away. It took off through the valley, towards the other resort.

The next morning, the group went hiking, following the creature's footprints. They followed it all the way to the other resort - where they found the bloody corpse of the owner. Blood coated everything except a single book... Alistair later read through it, and found not only a ritual for summoning an ice-demon, but it's name: Bralgronnith.

About that time, RC showed up, presumably having taken a slightly later flight. He joined in searching the immediate area. Suddenly, they heard a scream, and ran back to find a woman pointing at the corpse; the police were called, and the students allowed to leave. They took a little more time, and found a raven's feather near the faintest traces of a chalk circle.

Back at the resort, they blew off a little steam; James did some amazing ski tricks, wowing the group with his prowess and complicated (though possibly accidental) flips and jumps. They also contacted the priest of the little Catholic church in town, and after a bit of back-and-forth, the priest admitted that he donated a few drops of blood to the "pious woman with brilliant blue eyes" that visited him. Realizing what he had done, he nearly had a breakdown...

Alistair collected the various ingredients for the banishing ritual - 22 strands each of blonde, brunette, and red hair; a pine-cone; and a bunch of human saliva. Once again, they set watches, and once again, it was Alistair who saw movement on the ski slope. This time, Priya and James slept quite a bit heavier, and took a little longer to wake up, but they managed to stumble out of bed to face the creature. This time, however, the creature wasn't a hulking ice-demon, but a woman with striking blue eyes! She laughed, and in the blink of an eye, transformed! The ice demon, meanwhile, dropped down from the roof, grinning at them.

RC rushed the shape-changer, only to realize that it was immune to his twin bats; he skipped out of the way, heading back for the ice demon, where James was gearing up for a fight. Alistair and Priya started casting the banishment ritual, while Will went toe-to-toe with the shape-changer. In fact, he realized it was the same shape changer from years before, that was released from a chalk circle!

The ritual completed, creating a tear  and sucking the ice demon into it. The shape-changer laughed, and reached out to grab hold and get a free ride back to... wherever it was going... but Will swung his axe, chopping the creature open from jaw to tail. Its laughter died with it; after a few moments, it shriveled up, falling into ash. Alistair made sure to call the priest and tell him the evil was dealt with.

Sunday, the students headed home, and finals were not long after. James and Ed impressed Joe Jordan quite a bit; for the next semester, he'll be a contact for them. Priya, meanwhile, managed to get herself banned from Walmart...

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Blue Shyster Cult

Something was brewing; strange effects began occurring on campus, and before long, the group caught wind of something heading south from Oklahoma. Whatever it was, it left a trail of cultists and freakish magical - I mean, nanite - destruction in its wake.

Their suspicions were confirmed when they were contacted by Kit, from the FBI, and by Chelsea Gloster, photographer for Cryptid Underground. Kit suggested that the reports that the thing responsible was the antichrist may be true, while Chelsea was absolutely sure that it was due to the same aliens she thought had abducted her before.

As it turned out... Kit was a little closer to the truth.

Two very familiar faces showed up on campus, trying to cast a ritual that would harness the growing ley line energy: Xulián Bruxo, leader of the BlueStar cult, and his right-hand man, Raoul Tolemo.

Raoul was struck down by James before he could cast more than a single spell; the cultists were quickly dispatched, though the group realized that they seemed to control the shield protecting Bruxo. As James pounded away on the shield, the others took out the cultists, with Priya knocking out the last man... and Bruxo zapping him with lighting to finish powering up his shield. Not that it did any good; the constant barrage of wrenches, spears, rifle, and katana tore through the energy protecting him in short order. As he screamed out-of-context Bible verses to "prove" that he was the anti-Christ, James gave him a new head wound. Screaming in rage, Bruxo's skin crackled and charred, as he was consumed from within by blue flame. His screams faded into nothingness as the last of the cold flames flickered out on James' favorite wrench. Lightning flashed down as everyone dove for cover.

A little medical assistance from Priya set everyone right, though the crispy cultists were far too long-gone. About that time, Kit showed up. Recognizing the body of Raoul Tolemo, he promised to leave the students' names out of his report, and spin it as one last ritual gone wrong for the cult - already in the news from the massacre last year.

All's Well That Ends, Wells

Amy Wilson was at home when the group dropped by. After they explained that they were there on the request of Peregrine Cycle, Amy invited them in. She offered some cookies, and gave them the condensed version of events.

In 1983, shortly after the events of the Tempus Frigate, Amy Wilson was dropped off in her own time. In 1986, Peregrine Cycle returned. "Amy Wilson. I bring sad news. A group of Agents known as the Texas 13 stumbled onto… an Event. They mobilized two days ago. While they were able to stop the Event, all but one of the Texas 13 perished. The result of the Event has left a scar that I believe will never fully heal. Little remains but ash. Your new assignment, effective immediately, is to replace the fallen Agents. You are to move to the city of Longview, Texas immediately."

She moved, and after helping the lone surviving agent to clean up what they could, she began work full time for the Agency, keeping the area safe. The surviving agent was unable to explain what caused the Event, or what was done to locate or stop it; he knew only that the Event created a portal, of some sort.

Through the 80s and 90s, she helped the Agency maintain tabs on Longview, LeTourneau, and the surrounding area, keeping the higher-than-usual-number-of-threats under control. At this point, she is only on administration duties, being in her 60s.

Importantly, she admitted her part in "magic" as it is today. Back in the mid 1940s, she was on the crashed ship that caused the Roswell alien craze. Part of the crash resulted in the release of a swarm of self-replicating nanites, which apparently took the existing nanites in the atmosphere and multiplied them, resulting in a steep climb in magical abilities. Older "magical" items were powered up drastically as the tiny robots grew in power. Rituals, as it turns out, are less about magic, and more about stumbling onto the precise motions and components that sends a command to a bunch of nanites...

James mentioned the poem that Alistair had received; after looking it over, Amy filled in some gaps. "Obviously, I am the clockwork policeman's elderly friend / Who swam against time's dark sea - while Peregrine has never stated it outright, I am fairly certain he's an android of some sort. And I've time traveled, though I resent being called elderly. Eye of Phi surely refers to EyePhi - I know you've already have several run-ins with them."

Finally, she filled them in on the strange men (and woman) they encountered. They are the Men in Black - an organization that exists to keep knowledge of strange events under wraps, but why, no one knows. Amy works for The Agency, a group that is similarly shrouded in mystery, but not nearly as brutal in their cleanup methods. The MiB and the Agency are enemies, and clashes between them are bloody and devastating for both sides. Make no mistake - the MiB are evil, and incredibly dangerous. Members of The Agency are warned to never go up against the MiB alone.

After a few other tips and hints, she urged them to hurry - if Peregrine was willing to bend the rules enough to tell the group about Dr. Wells, he was surely important.

After a quick trip to their hideout in the bookstore for Alistair to make some sharpness potions, the group was ready to go. Taking James' "spooky" car, they met up with their new redneck buddies, and crept up on the old abandoned building. They spotted some tracks around back, and after disarming a rather shocking electric trap, opened the door... and immediately began combat! A quick crushing blow and a couple stab wounds later, and the MiB in the kitchen area was down. Another MiB, hearing the noise, poked his head in, then sounded the alarm. Will, sneaking a look, counted four MiB and two WiB (Women in Black) in the dining area.

After a moment to regroup, they charged together; the MiB took a few shots, but only succeeded in angering James. Will and the rednecks opened fire, injuring two of MiB; trading shots and blows, the MiB were worn down, and finally, James was able to break through and get to the WiB in the back as they cast their ritual. Too late, as the ritual succeeded, drenching the building in darkness. Even so, the group managed to take down the two WiB, as well as the last of the MiB, though Bobby Lee took a round to the gut. Priya, burning a black chip, resuscitated and stabilized him.

The fight wasn't over, though, as one of the MiB in the kitchen seemed to have healed up enough to crawl out - James ended him, again. Searching the building, they found Dr. Wells, surrounded by whiteboards and working feverishly. He ignored them entirely until he was knocked unconscious by Priya, and dragged outside. When he came to, he was more himself; he mentioned that while he was mostly out of it, he'd had the presence of mind to create some explosives, and rig them to a short-range dead-man's-switch. With Will yelling, "There's a bomb! Get to da choppa!" in his best (?) Schwarzenegger voice, they dashed for some construction waste bins nearby. Bobby Lee and Dr. Wells weren't quite hidden when the blast went off... As it turns out, Dr. Wells thought he had only been imprisoned for a few days, maybe a couple weeks, and had been preparing a small amount of explosives every few hours. As it turns out, his nearly-a-year experience resulted in a lot more explosives, and one very, very flattened building.

Kicking it into high gear, James and the others bolted for the vehicles, executing such an energetic escape that the police, only three blocks away, didn't even catch sight of their car.

Returning to campus, they found Peregrine Cycle was waiting for them. He offered to take Wells off their hands, keeping him safe with an Agent Peregrine knew to be trustworthy.