Dark Matter

October 5-6th

Smith blasted through the roadblock and we were off. There were at least two trucks chasing us and I don’t know how many men. I jumped in the back between Nat and Mya and fired a three round burst at the driver of the truck immediately behind us. I don’t know if I killed him but I know I hit him high. Dickie fired a pistol and blew out one of their tires. That truck swerved and pulled over to the side of the road. Smith then started putting distance between us and the bad guys.

Eventually we came to Smith’s hidey hole only to find a couple of guys loading up a truck with what I assumed was Smith’s gear. I don’t know for sure because he didn’t say anything. Nex tthing I know Sal is yelling something about dark fire and I hear screaming up on a ledge above us. Some poor bastard up there apparently caught on fire. I have no idea who did that. It could have been Nat or maybe Mya but the way Sal was carrying on I am guessing it was him. I jumped out of the truck and ran to the guy on the passenger side of the other truck. I plowed into him just as he was pulling an AK out of the seat. I knocked him back about 5 feet and the gun landed in between us. I would have figured he’d give up right there but he went for the gun again. He wound up tied up on the ground.

Nat jumped out to secure the back of the truck. She blow out one of the tires with a knife she must have hidden on her. Good call. Last thing we needed was the bad guys managing to take off in the middle of this. Dickie ran out of the jeep and yelled something in another language and the guy on the driver side of the truck ducked for cover. As Dickie and Smith went after him the body of what I assume was the burning guy up on the ledge dropped right into the back of the truck. Ok. Then all of the sudden it’s floating 4 ft above the truck bed. Yeah. I keep thinking Smith is going to flip out or something. This is a little too much for most people. Took me months to get a grip on it.

As Dickie chases the driver around the truck he gets away and heads for a cave up ahead. Then as I am securing the guy on the ground I hear a shot and know I am hit. Not bad, but I still fucking hate getting shot. Nat pops off a couple of rounds and that’s it for the shooter. After that we secure the gear and pass it out. No one is going in that cave until we are outfitted and ready in case those guys chasing us show up. Mya healed my GSW. It’s weird when she does that but I am thankful nonetheless.

Once we get set up with some tac vests, night vision goggles and weaponry we entered the cave. We found the guy Nat shot bleeding out on the floor. Just then a guy comes running out at Dickie holding something in his hands and screaming. We light him up but not before he falls over on a live grenade. We got very lucky there and I don’t want to have anything to do with any more guys coming at us with those things.

After all of the shouting dies down we get set up defensively and wait for morning. Dickie says he can drive us out of here in the dark and I’m just too tired to object. I still keep waiting for Smith to go all “WHAT THE FUCK?!” but he doesn’t say a word. I take the first watch with him and ask him about it. He says he’s seen “lot’s of weird shit before”. Then he tells me he’s a tech guy who can use a gun or knife well enough. He doesn’t ask much about us if anything. This guy just seems “off” to me. I can Anna and tell her everything is fine. Nothing going on. We’re still on task and things are going smoothly. She probably knows I am lying but at least she knows it’s me talking to her. Maybe I should have Nat make the next call. Anna tells me to call her back in the morning and I do. Same lies. I feel bad but I figured it was better than telling her I’m on the other side of the world and have been shot and almost blown up. Yeah, Nat gets to call next time. I am no sort of smooth.

October 5th - October 6th
Natalie's Version

Jack climbs over the seat with a sub-machine gun that Smith had stashed in the car. He fires through our back window and scares the shit out of everyone, but one of the chase vehicles slows down and swerves. Dickie gets Smith’s firearm and also fires at our attackers. With the volley from our side we regain and increase our lead.

We get to the site and Sal points out a guy on one of the cliffs. Then decides to start screaming and generally going fucking bananas again, this time screaming about fire. I try to make it bigger but I don’t notice a god damn thing from my end. Jack gets out and tears off, body checking the guy attempting to enter the passenger side. I climb out of the car and activate a psy blade. Dickie runs off. The guy on fire drops into the bed of the truck. Before I can put the fucker out he floats up. I assume that was Mia but I am happy I don’t have to waste the effort. Sal yells out that there are more up front. Dickie and Jack seem to have the two by the truck covered so I run up behind the truck and pop a tire, then rummage around the back for some gear. I find armor, some pistols and flashlights first. I don’t know how I managed it but I got the vest on fast as hell. This damn vest better stop a round, seems hard as shit to move in. Happy as shit I got it on quick as not too long gun fire sounds out and I manage to catch the location of the muzzle flash. I rip off two rounds just expecting it to be covering fire, but my trigger pulls are quickly followed by some screams. After a few beats Smith yells out in a few languages. Dickie lays down a full magazine into the cave.

Mia and Sal let us know the area is clear. I go to hand Jack two of the pistols and notice he’s hurt. I check the truck and find a med kit. All I can really do is bandage it up. Mia heals him up. Not sure if Smith caught that or if it even matters.

Jack, Smith, Dickie and I gear up and head into the cave. Dickie calls out in a English and what the fuck ever middle east thing he knows. We get yelling back and it doesn’t sound like he gives a shit he is cornered. Dickie walks up closer as the rest of us go to cover. The guy stands and lunges at Dickie, Jack fires off a few rounds and I run to tackle Dickie. I think I yell “get down” or some other action movie sounding bullshit. He figures it out quick and moves with me. We hit the ground prone. I keep scooting around a corner and hear more gun fire. Just when I think I may have over-reacted it detonates.

After a bit Mia enters to see if we are ok. Other than a bit of splatter on the guys, we are surprisingly fine as the poor son-of-a-bitch landed on his grenade before it exploded. Smith and Dickie advise we head off at first light. We divvy up the gear and setup watches for the night. I pass the fuck out in the cave until I get woken up for my shift.

We take off for the town to meet up with the local guide to lead us to the compound. It’s slow going as there are so many god damn explosives. Dickie gets the ones disarmed we can’t otherwise bypass. We finally get close to the tiny village and Smith halts us since apparently no activity is odd. Smith gets his toy out and recons the area and Jack looks through the sniper scope.

The Babysitting Begins

Today I spent the morning in Kabul’s International Airport sipping Afghani sweet tea. I was waiting for a flight from Cario with a team from the Hoffmann Institute. They needed a guide for a rescue mission. Strange, since when does an organization that is supposed to be fostering the spread of green energy conduct rescue missions? Usually that’s CIA, FBI, or special forces; not tree hugging organizations. Figuring that, I did some research and lo-and-behold; its not just a rescue mission, but a rescue mission for somebody who knows about extremists with possible WMDs. Awesome, gotta love it when they don’t mention the little details.

After several hours and several cups of tea, the flight from Cario had arrived. Now, normally I don’t accept such babysitting contracts, but the Hoffmann Institute was paying well and had assured that they were experts. Experts all right, expert misfits from LA. They’re not even through customs and they try causing trouble. After I bribed the guard, we came across a blockade. Most likely just a local gang looking to get some bribe money. Ended up plowing through it, cause apparently the experts were getting agitated, instead of just letting me work things out.


We finally got a real mission. It’s a follow up to a previous mission we weren’t allowed to go on. Some video of a guy getting chased by some people and torn apart. I know Hoffmann thinks this is textbook “supernatural” and I admit it looks that way. But I have seen too many of these videos posted to youtube that wound up being hoaxes. Either way, we’re getting on a plan and heading to the Middle East. Anna has been very nervous about something ever since this came through. I finally asked her what was bothering her. Turns out she’s just very worried about this mission and is afraid we may not be ready for it. We’re never ready for it. We just take it as it comes.

We get on the plane and 24 hours later we’re in Stanstanistan or wherever. I know I should pay more attention to the mission briefings when it comes to places and names but at this point it’s all “Get person A away form Situation B in Place C”. It could be a mission to get Jimmy Hoffa’s body out of Detroit. It’s all the same. Get there and start asking questions. everything before that is just a guess. When we got to Dubai we met up with Graham from Hoffmann/Egypt. I remember him from when we picked up his political refugee in Minneapolis, the guy that turned out to be a “zombie” according to Jade before she went full blown ape shit and shot the guy in the head as he was dying on the floor. For the record, I don’t miss her. If by any chance she hacked the database and reads this, Jade, put the gun down, sweetie. You’re a danger to humanity.

Graham has a limp and a cane now. New since I last saw him. Hoffmann had trouble with Arab Spring in Egypt and he paid for it. Tough hop. He seems like a good guy. At least he’s still in the game. He briefed us on the where/when/who stuff and we get on a shitty little plane to Afghanistan. I say shitty little plane because that is what it smelled like. I am a little concerned about the backwards ass laws here. It’s going to be tough on Nat. She has to be all demure and subservient and that’s not her. She not going to look for trouble but she can only be pushed so far. And the jackasses this country seems to be filled with like to push. Best of luck to them. It didn’t take long either. We got off the plane and met our contact, a merc named Jon Smith. He’s been here a while and is going to get us out in country and geared up. But when we got to customs some jerk starts pushing Nat’s buttons asking what color her hair is. I told him to leave my wife alone and it got a little sticky. Smith paid the guy a bribe and we walked on through.

We took Smith’s Hummer through some checkpoints. He’s not real talkative but he seems to know his stuff. The only mistake he made was trying suggest we may not know what we are doing based on the little bribe he had to pay the Customs guy who quite frankly is lucky to still have arms. I told Smith I’m not going to go for this let-me-tell-you-something-son kind of bullshit lecture from some guy who we don’t know. I don’t know what he’s done, can do or won’t. But I know our team is as good as it gets. I’ve dealt with biker gangs, werewolves, vampires, drugged out commandos with full arsenals, “spider-cats”, Dickie Baldwin and Luke Sterling. There’s going to be very little we can’t handle at this point.

October 3rd - 5th

Finally get a text today about a major operation. At first it was nice to have some extra time for the gym, but as much as I love training the missions lately haven’t really been a challenge. Not that I want things to go badly for people, but helping, really helping people…

Anyway, we are off to Dubai to meet with the Cairo Branch’s Field Director Benjamin Graham. One of his agents Waharu Fazul has gone missing after finally tracking down more info on that drone transmission. That whole Arab Spring thing really fucked up their investigation. It’s good to hear they have it back under control.

The flight to Dubai takes a long time. I mainly just try to sleep, re-read the mission briefing and focus on how the hell I am going to survive some backwards ass bullshit in armpit of the world. The only bright spot is their crack down on booze. Maybe drying out a little will be good for certain members of the team.

We meet up with Field Director Graham. He seems quite progressive and maybe even a little ashamed of the situation in regards to Mia and I, but I fear my being on edge about the whole culture has me looking a bit like a bitch during the meeting. He suggests a place to get a headdress and after dinner Mia and I head over. The lady at the shop is pleasant enough and I got to admit I kind of like the whole hair covered and no make-up deal. That just seems like a time saver. I will just ignore the ignorance that is the reason for it and focus on it’s practical benefits.

Of course just as I start getting to a good head space we are thrown into a smaller terminal for our flight out to Kabul. It smells… bad… really fucking bad actually. Like a stale gym bag somebody shit in then left in the sun for a week. Jack seems to be finding it impossible to hide his disgust. Sal tried to help with some little magic deal that fizzles out, then just gives the guy some of that obnoxious breath spray.

On the plane we get separated into men and women. Mia and I get a row together and she insists on the isle seat, which I don’t really care. I just want to stare out the window and try to ignore the rest of the passengers anyway. My daydreams of a fresh cool breeze are interrupted by the voice of little girl talking excitedly at us. I turn and try to give her a polite, but dismissive smile but the little thing just gets more excited. Chatting away. I have no freakin’ idea what she is on about at first, but soon and to my horror I realize she is talking about how we are dressed and our… assets. I fold my hands in my lap and stare down at my feet.

Everyone else seems certain I will cause a scene, but fuck that. I will rise above this culture’s bullshit and do my job. The plane bounces suddenly and the little girl yelps and dives into Mia’s lap and grabs my hand. I just sort of.. quietly freak out. I know I am not supposed to touch men, but this one I have idea on this. I gently try to pull my hand away but she has that sort of death grip little kids can get. The little girl’s mother arrives and at first I am pleased, but this bitch lays into us. I don’t know what she is saying, but the tone is easy enough to get. She smacks the girls hand hard enough I am sure it will leave a bruise. I bite my lip damn near to the point of drawing blood and try my best to look apologetic to the woman. It’s impossible to read her reaction as her whole face is covered, but she keeps going off loudly in Arabic or whatever.

After that situation calms down, I notice an attempt at some sort psychic connection or attack. Mia seems to have noticed something but is oblivious to the extent. I focus try to push back a little and look around to see if i get a reaction. The little girl is staring at Mia and I. i look back at her, locking eyes and drop my defenses. I get sent s string of horrifying images that show her mother beating her for being inquisitive. Always making sure to not bring “shame” and leaving bruises where no one will see. Without think I ask Mia how to say “Allah knows you beat your child.” and Mia refuses.. which is probably the better course. But I can’t shake the feeling of needing to do something despite the danger it could place me and the team in. I focus on a victory in the ring and moments when the men in the team rely on me and try to use the little girls latent connection to send those thoughts to her. I think it works because after a moment of confusion she looks newly resolved. I try to take comfort in that.

We finally arrive in Kabul. The best way to describe this place is smelly, brown and hot. Our point of contact, John Smith, makes himself known quickly. We head to immigration. I am doing my best to just stare at the ground and being respectful, but the son of a bitch at the desk seems to enjoy abusing his moderate amount of power. He starts asking me what my hair color is, which I have no idea how to respond to in a way that doesn’t end up with me being stoned to death in the town square. Luckily Jack covers by putting his arm around me and giving a cover story of me being his wife. I just stare at ground and try to not make something nasty happen to this officer. The attention shifts to a bribe from John Smith and the guards focus goes to Mia, who manages an exit without a fight.

On the road we go through a couple of check points. It seems these can be somewhat identified by the consistency of gear and uniforms and bearing of the soldiers stationed there. Dickie kinda starts to lose his shit at one of them, but Sal works a little bit of his thing and we move on through. We pass a truck on the side of the road that seems to be having problems. Dickie and Smith seem to be on the same page about blowing past and I am relieved to not have to deal with more social interaction. Jack wants to stop and help and Smith points out that no-one is actually working on the truck even though it just appears to be a flat tire and there are numerous though seemingly unarmed men around it.

We go through a series of sharp turns and end up at another check point. This one seems far more haphazard than the rest and the soldiers are all dressed a little differently. Smith mumbles that this check point was not there on the way in.The tension in the truck grows as we are motioned to pull over. Sal tells him to step on it if the chain drops. I think we should slow play it and see what happens the safety briefing mentioned the terrorists or whatever up here are generally persuaded by money and bribe seems a lot better than a fight at this point. But the chain drops and Smith guns it. I look back and see the main guy kneeling and taking aim. I attempt to spark off a round in the magazine, but Sal starts going bat-shit crazy wailing about mother earth to help protect him and bullets smack into the side of the car. I start checking for hits and find I am alright… everyone is. The body of the truck must be armored and I duck down to take advantage of that. I look up quickly and notice a rock-slide has taken out one of the gunmen… Maybe Sal has learned some new tricks. I also notice the previously stranded truck tearing down the road after us, the men now visibly armed. Luckily Smith has gotten us to a bit of a lead.
- Natalie

The World keeps on Turning
Its been a while

Its been 18 month since you were told by the Hoffmann Institute that investigation of the intercepted drone communication was out of your hands. It would be conducted by the Cairo branch without your assistance due to an increasingly volatile climate in the middle-East and Pan-Asia. The Cairo branch had trouble enough trying to navigate the social/political upheaval without having American agents involved too. In spite of the best efforts of the assigned agents, the case has since gone cold.

The work load of the Minneapolis branch of the Hoffmann Institute has been inexplicably light in the interim and you have had time to work on you social life between a handful of unremarkable cases.
You’ve been able to pursue personal interests in the down time and have gotten better at some skills while losing a step in others that have gone untested.

But now there is a change in the air; everyone can feel it. The Dark Tide is rising and along with it, the stakes…


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