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Old 02-14-2017, 10:25 PM   #21
Icelander
 
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by jason taylor View Post
The implication was not that it was not needed. It was that a sharpshooter was.
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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
Granted. This is a case where a sharpshooter is called for.
A sharpshooter is likely to be armed with an M14 Tactical if he's got anything longer ranged than an M16A2 at all.

Facing two observation towers, one 50' and one 80' high, armed with an M2HB .50 BMG machine gun and an Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher (both equipped with thermal targeting sights), I think that any sharpshooter on board ship would have to be suicidally brave, superlatively competent and shockingly lucky to make any difference.

That's not even getting into any ordnance that may or may not be mounted in the shore battery. Or the fact that eight of the 20 guards are trained as a Special Response Team and probably have full tactical gear available (of these, probably all are veterans and while they may not have shot as much ammo as Delta in the last year, they have been working there together for most of their adult lives and while their Warden is bughouse crazy, it's probably the kind of crazy which runs readiness drills all the time). Or that the other guards have access to at least tactical vests, M16A2s and Gen II+ night vision gear, according to our data.

The hope of our PCs is that the mutinous guards won't be far gone enough to fire on the Coast Guard responders to our distress call. After all, many of the guard force are former Coasties and about a third of them will be Coast Guard Reserve or Auxiliary. We're hoping that the loony-tunes Warden will try to bluff his way out and we'll have a chance to ruin his deception (say, by firing off a magazine of 5.56mm in the general direction of the cutter while King Crazypants is lying off his Heinie to sell whatever desperate cover story he'll come up with to justify no one being allowed/needed to land on the island to find the federal agents who allege that they were under attack and one of them has been kidnapped).
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Old 02-14-2017, 10:43 PM   #22
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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They'll be able to detect it, see High-Tech, p212. There isn't very much they can do to improve their ability to pick up a transmitter that's being jammed with white noise unless they can use a highly directional antenna from a position that lets it "see" the transmitter but not the jammer. The person operating the transmitter can try some things, see that page in High-Tech.
The page in High-Tech is pretty generic and, obviously, assumes a full-size military model radio where more or less everything is adjustable. Modern, user-friendly models of personal radios often seem to exchange that adjustability for simplicity, so that they are almost as easy for personnel with minimal training to use as a cell phone, but simply won't allow any operation that isn't in the preset buttons.

The person with the transmitter has skill 14 in Electronics Operation and Repair (Communications). He might have skill 11 or so from Dabbler in ECCM still remaining from his two year stint as a communications specialist in the Army, but I think skill in that area is very perishable (it's been like six years since then) and in any case, he spent his career mostly setting up comms networks and supporting IT people.

He's got a Motorola XTS 5000, Model III. Is that complex enough to use the rules in HT unmodified?
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:23 AM   #23
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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The Coast Guard does have personnel with (US Army) sniper training. They operate with the "HITRON" (Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron) unit based out of Jacksonville, FL, mostly in drug interdiction. There are also "Precision Marksman/Observer Teams" (PMOT), which are part of their Maritime Security Response Teams. Those would be available out of Boston, if needed.
Boston is 103 miles away from Jewell Island. Their response time would then be determined by how fast someone in authority could make the call that this situation merited such an extreme response,* plus the 30 minutes to two hours needed to prepare a helicopter or fast response boat for a night mission and gather a tactical force and the time it takes to travel 103 miles by the chosen means of transport.

Of course, the problem is that if the radio distress call was a stupid prank by an unusually well-informed prankster, any kind of immediate response on a Friday night is really too much, as the guard force on the island can deal with its own radio problems and the bored investigators who need to investigate the computer crime can visit the island on Monday, when the work week starts.

On the other hand, if Special Agent O'Toole was telling the truth about the guards themselves, under the command of the Warden, having attacked federal agents, kidnapped and tortured one (who is urgently in need of emergency medical assistance) and may have kidnapped or killed another federal agent, a single helicopter would be an ineffective response.

If the distress call was essentially truthful, there is probably a hostage crisis on the island, with potential hostages numbering around 45-50 (most of them criminally insane mental patients, which is its own kind of security challenge) and the OpFor is essentially a paramilitary platoon emplaced in a strong position, with heavy weapons support and small unit tactical equipment that matches top-of-the-line 1995-2000 US armed forces load-outs.

Responding with any force which does not have at least numerical parity, armed air support and heavy weapons of its own would be suicidal and as likely to harm hostages as help them. A really adequate response force to the situation as described in the distress call would probably number over 40 tactical operators, several helicopters, at least two armed boats or cutters and support elements, including logistics, medical and psychological suites, of at least as many again.

How long to put together something like that from Boston, Air Station Cape Cod, Portsmouth, NH, and the local Coast Guard stations in Maine, such as Kittery, Rockland, South Portland and whatever others may apply?

*Remember, after the initial radio distress call by Special Agent O'Toole, which contained limited, if alarming, information, the Coast Guard has not been able to reach anyone on Jewell Island by radio. Calling the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane or the number for the mothballed Coast Guard facility on the island (still minimally serviced by Coast Guard reservists or Auxiliaries among the guard force) will probably result in the Warden or someone working for him answering, however. And they are unlikely to admit that they kidnapped a federal agent or two and attacked some others. They'll probably make up some story about a prank and/or 'hackers' messing with their radio equipment.

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Taking the word "sharpshooter" literally, they do have a markmanship course where high scores earn you a Sharpshooter or (better) Expert marksman ribbon. Graduates of this course are probably more common than the specialized anti-terrorism units. It's a skill in addition to your regular job, rather than a full-time task like the units in the first paragraph, so I'd think a GM could get away with assigning a decent rifle skill to a Coastie as needed.
I will certainly be arguing to my GM* that one or two of the crew of the nearest Coast Guard Vessel should be decent rifle shots and that even an unarmed coastal buoy cutter might carry an M14 Tactical rifle or two.

Unfortunately, the flip side of that is that I'll be making the case that out of 8-10 former Coast Guard among the guard force, most of whom were Boarding Team Members in their service and at least half of whom now belong to a private security SRT with special law-enforcement privileges due to being commanded and partially manned by part-time federal law enforcement officers, there will probably be at least one and maybe more people who are even better shots.

After all, the bulk of the guard force is composed of people who were already on Jewell Island at the end of the 20th century, back when the Coastie and Army contingents on the island were guarding an ultra-secret DoD black site where you needed a TS-SCI clearance to even know it was there and unauthorised personnel were shot on sight.

Twenty years later, probably none of them are in the same kind of shape that they were as twenty-two to thirty-five-year-old ratings/enlisted chosen for sensitive guard duty which demanded the most trusted men, able and willing to shoot intruders, but it's not like age 39-55 is too old to retain shooting skill. Especially if you make some effort to maintain it. And the Jewell Island SRT might have grown into a lazy, entitled group of undisciplined rabble as their commander slowly grew more insane, but I've got a sneaking suspicion that his insanity took the form of increasingly frequent and elaborate training drills, not their abolition. And as he's been stockpiling survivalist equipment worth at least several tens of thousands of dollars, I'm going to guess he bought pallets of ammo as well, so the guards might well have been enthusiastic range shooters in their copious off time.

*My role, in addition to player, is Assistant GM for research assistance, background, worldbuilding, plausibility, consistency and GURPS-rules compliance.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:46 AM   #24
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Originally Posted by Icelander View Post
He's got a Motorola XTS 5000, Model III. Is that complex enough to use the rules in HT unmodified?
I'm not sure. His best bet, given all the bands that radio can use, is to try to find one that the jammer doesn't cover. The question will be if the Coast Guard are doing the same. I'd expect this to be part of the radio procedure within an organisation, but I don't know if there's a shared procedure across US federal agencies. Getting further from the jammer is a fallback if it covers all the bands he can use, but has obvious tactical problems.
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Old 02-15-2017, 06:59 AM   #25
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Of course, the problem is that if the radio distress call was a stupid prank by an unusually well-informed prankster, any kind of immediate response on a Friday night is really too much, as the guard force on the island can deal with its own radio problems and the bored investigators who need to investigate the computer crime can visit the island on Monday, when the work week starts.
The longer it takes to raise the Warden (Step 1 in determining the level response required) the greater the likelihood the response is escalated from "send someone out tomorrow to investigate the prank" to "send parity force and contact the Navy, we have a serious situation". Depending on the time of day this time could be as short as 30 minutes to as long as one hour (the operator on th island doesn't want to wake the Warden, etc).


Regardless, there would be no "waiting until Monday" to send investigators. Proper code clearance words were used, other operations might be compromised depending on the level of the leak that got this 'prankster' those code words.
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Old 02-15-2017, 07:22 AM   #26
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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The longer it takes to raise the Warden (Step 1 in determining the level response required) the greater the likelihood the response is escalated from "send someone out tomorrow to investigate the prank" to "send parity force and contact the Navy, we have a serious situation". Depending on the time of day this time could be as short as 30 minutes to as long as one hour (the operator on th island doesn't want to wake the Warden, etc).
There is no reason that the Deputy Warden cannot be contacted immediately. He's bug-house, yes, but he's also sitting in the operations center / Warden's office of the Manhanock Asylum, directing his men through the intercom (so he doesn't have to leave a channel open in the jamming).

The chief administrator of the Manhanock Asylum for the Criminally Insane actually prefers not to use Warden as his title. We call him the 'Administrator Formerly Known as the Warden'. Our PCs don't have any idea what has happened to him during the takeover of the asylum by Deputy Warden Tyrrell's men. He might have been killed, detained or simply fed some prepostorous lie that seems to justify the actions of the guard force. In any case, I'm sure Deputy Warden Tyrrell will not allow him to talk to anyone unless the AFKatW is a willing participant in his crazy mutiny.

Deputy Warden Tyrrell has a lot of advantages when it comes to bluffing his way through despite the distress call, in that he is intimately familiar with Coast Guard procedure and the specific emergency plans that apply to Jewell Island and Manhanock, mostly because he wrote a fair bit of it. He's a former Chief Warrant Officer in the Coast Guard and has been in charge of this post from all the way back when it was still an active Coast Guard outpost.*

He also has some major weaknesses in his bluff. A huge one is that he can't produce Special Agent O'Toole to explain the distress call and he probably can't allow anyone other than himself or his trusted men to speak with the Coast Guard. If Warden Tyrrell hasn't already killed him, he might have Special Agent Banks in his power, but putting him on the line while holding a gun at him is a pretty high risk tactic.

Agent Banks is a former O-4 (LCDR) of the Coast Guard himself, so the Coasties will not just brush off Agent O'Toole's claims that he has been kidnapped by Warden Tyrrell without wanting to speak with Banks himself. And as Banks was a successful Counterintelligence Officer with deployments in the GWOT and seems pretty tough-minded, it's probably not safe to assume that he'd play along even at gunpoint, without managing to warn the operator at South Portland that things were not okay at all.

The Coast Guard commander at South Portland is perfectly aware that Agent O'Toole arrived on the island earlier this day along with Special Agent Banks, both of them from the Department of Homeland Security OIG. The Coast Guard also knows that they were accompanied by a DHS lawyer, one Jonathan Townsend, two other DHS employees and a senior officer from the DoD as a liaison/observer, a Colonel Andrew Burr. The fact that none of these people can be produced to come to the phone is a pretty huge indication that Warden Tyrrell, regardless of how plausible he seems and how many of the Coasties might have professional and even personal relationships with him, is not on the level.

The PCs aren't exactly sure of the extent of the cover story given to anyone who might be briefed on their visit to Jewell Island, but the basics are that they are investigating potential liability concerns and the possibility of professional misconduct relating to the case of Inmate Sherilyn Bell, which might relate to either her time as a DoD employee, workplace safety or to physical conditions in buildings that now belong to the DHS.

This has the virtue of being close to the truth, as if the DHS really did care to hold anyone accountable, Inmate Bell was actually exposed to hazardous materials while enlisted in the Army and she did briefly also handle materials that belonged to FEMA, making it difficult to determine the chain of responsibility for the workplace related accident.

*Though I suppose he might have been theoretically second to an officer from time to time, either from the Army or the Coast Guard, as sometimes they'd be assigned there as Chiefs of Security to a given research project.

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Regardless, there would be no "waiting until Monday" to send investigators. Proper code clearance words were used, other operations might be compromised depending on the level of the leak that got this 'prankster' those code words.
Probably fair enough, but the Warden will be doing his best to convince the Coast Guard that his men are handling the situation, that the extent of the leak is known and can be easily dealt with and anything else that they can think of to prevent someone from coming to the island right now.
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Old 02-15-2017, 07:41 AM   #27
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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I'm not sure. His best bet, given all the bands that radio can use, is to try to find one that the jammer doesn't cover. The question will be if the Coast Guard are doing the same. I'd expect this to be part of the radio procedure within an organisation, but I don't know if there's a shared procedure across US federal agencies. Getting further from the jammer is a fallback if it covers all the bands he can use, but has obvious tactical problems.
It seems to be a pretty major jamming operation, affecting any and all channels anyone might be listening on. It's got to be fairly short-ranged, though, otherwise it would be alerting all kinds of people in Portland to strange happenings, though.

Best guess is a small, but fairly high powered 'dumb' jammer, set to affect as wide a range of bands as possible, located within Manhanock. It only needs to cover some 500 yds at the most (and really, much less) to affect any location we could be sending from as long as we don't dare to go outside and remain within the complex or the tunnels beneath it.

And outside is where the observation towers are, with their heavy weapons and the thermal optics mounted on the heavy weapons. Stealth is pretty difficult to achieve against that, especially if one has no military-style camouflage and reconnaissance training, just civilian Stealth skill without familiarities for avoiding military sensors.

I suppose Taylor could go outside, try to find a spot outside the jamming to transmit. He has gone through the Strategic Reconnaissance Course and the Special Operations Target Interdiction Course (now Sniper School). He certainly has the Camouflage and Stealth skill, along with the appropriate familiarities, to make it at least possible for him to stay out of sight (and thermal detection) from the observation towers.

It's been more than five years since Taylor used a radio, though, and while he does have high Soldier skill and the basics of Electronics Operation (Communications), as a practical matter, most of his radio use didn't even require a skill check. There were two 18Es in his ODA to do the fancy communication stuff when it was needed and they had expert support personnel at the home base to help them. Taylor is certainly not going to be amazing anyone with his expert level ability to defeat jamming.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:06 AM   #28
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Best guess is a small, but fairly high powered 'dumb' jammer, set to affect as wide a range of bands as possible, located within Manhanock. It only needs to cover some 500 yds at the most (and really, much less) to affect any location we could be sending from as long as we don't dare to go outside and remain within the complex or the tunnels beneath it.
Time to go hunting for the jammer and kill it, I think. Using the radio should be able to help with locating the jammer.

The other way you might be able to get out of the complex is the sewage system, but that depends on how it's been set up on this island, and how well it's been secured.
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Old 02-15-2017, 08:18 AM   #29
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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How long to put together something like that from Boston, Air Station Cape Cod, Portsmouth, NH, and the local Coast Guard stations in Maine, such as Kittery, Rockland, South Portland and whatever others may apply?
Insert the usual caveats... I didn't see any specific numbers cited for MSRT response times. But given their mission, organization, and they way they're stationed in multiple places around the country (unlike HITRON), I assume they're intended to have the same "immediate response" timeframe as other similar units, like the FBI's Hostage Rescue Teams, FEMA, or National Guard's CBRNE / Civil Support teams -- that is, nominally four hours. As you've said, the part that's going to slow that down is the decision-making by relatively high-level officials as to whether they're necessary.

Speaking of National Guard, Maine has both helicopter air assault units and a mountain infantry regiment. Those will be slower. (If the '92 LA riots are relevant, they can probably get a company or two together in around 8 hours, and most of the unit in about 24 -- again, once the local law enforcement admits that the problem is too much for them to handle and the governor decides that the NG is needed.) I suppose part of that decision is whether the powers-that-be know that there's something special about Jewell Island that demands they intervene. But there's certainly enough force at hand to put a stop to about 50 armed insurrectionists in a matter of a few days, if someone's willing to start all that shooting (and they're not worried about, say, their troops having their minds taken over by special powers...)
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Old 02-15-2017, 09:24 AM   #30
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Default Re: Coast Guard response to distress call on Jewell Island, ME

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Time to go hunting for the jammer and kill it, I think. Using the radio should be able to help with locating the jammer.
I was wondering about that. O'Toole's player is an electric engineer (and a software engineer) and he didn't seem very confident that there were any settings on a hand-held radio like that to get any useful directional data. On the other hand, he didn't look over the specs before he said it and it's not as if anything he has done professionally has had anything to do with deliberate radio jamming.

If Electronics Operation (Communications) will give us any data on the location of the jammer, though, Taylor and Col. Burr both agree that taking it out is the most sensible plan. O'Toole is still hesitant, mostly because Taylor made a huge deal out of informing him that there was no reliable non-lethal option available if we decided to resist the guards. Deciding to attack a post where armed guards are going to be was effectively a decision to kill those guards, because Taylor was not going to promise any magical solutions that didn't involve shooting hostiles holding guns.

This bothers Agent O'Toole, whose military service was in an air-conditioned comm center and whose short law enforcement career has so far proceeded amicably without him ever firing his weapon except in qualification. He says that there is no way to know whether all the guards are equally guilty and in any case, they are all American citizens, not enemy combatants, and deserve the right to let a court decide questions of guilt or innocence.

To which Taylor replied that killing armed hostiles wasn't a matter of their guilt or innocence, it was a matter of cold necessity in the real world.* Waiting for them to aim at you before deciding to shoot them changed the situation into a race between your reaction speed and a bullet. Not good odds.

As far as Taylor could tell, everyone else was in favour of killing them all and letting God sort them out. As a player, I know that Dr. Anderson is a Reluctant Killer, but he didn't demur any in play. Townsend seems nervous, but willing to accept that Taylor knows what he's talking about when it comes to surviving the night. And Col. Burr is remembering long-ago days when he was a junior infantry officer, positively chortling with glee at getting to kill the guards who've been chasing him around, now that we've got guns of our own.

Taylor is assuming that Sherilyn Bell wants the guards dead, but actually, she has been surprisingly** indifferent to them and expressed no desire for vengeance or retribution. She did help Taylor subdue one of the two armed guards we've encountered by making him believe that his holstered pistol was a viper, which made him extremely unwilling to draw it and actually led him to frantically try to remove it from his belt without touching it directly, weeping and whimpering loudy.

Actually, Taylor would prefer not having to kill anyone. He probably likes it even less than O'Toole does. But as it seems he has to kill in this situation, guards with guns trying to kill him right back certainly don't trigger his Pacifism (Cannot Harm Innocents) and it turns out, Sense of Duty to a wide variety of things including friends and all innocents does not actually include men who are certainly complicit in violence and kidnapping and possibly guilty of much worse crimes.

If one of them were to surrender and beg for mercy, forgiveness or help, Charitable would come to his rescue, but killing them in the heat of action, while they are a threat to others, isn't forbidden by Charitable. Trying to engage multiple trained men with longarms using less-than-lethal hand-to-hand techniques isn't high moral principles, it's Delusions, On the Edge and Trickster.

If Warden Tyrrell tries to surrender, I would probably roll against the Self-Control for Charitable. And not roll for the more-or-less Quirk-level Bloodlust that only operates during combat, not before it or after it. Broad-mindedness, emotional maturity and Christian values only go so far. Taylor hates bullies, those who prey on the weak, and someone who'd abuse a helpless patient in his care for years fits the bill pretty well. And, yeah, of course the identity of the apparent victim matters; no matter how enlightened he tries to be.

*I'm hoping we'll revisit this debate next session, because I forgot to maneuver the conversation around to whether the guards deserved to die, so Taylor could quote Eastwood: "Deserve ain't got nothing to do with it."
**Well, maybe not that surprising. Anyway, Taylor would be pretty surprised, if he were to consider it dispassionately and he might revisit some of his assumptions. Then again, he might not. After all, the fact that Natascha Kampusch cried when she found out that her kidnapper and abuser had died does not make what he did any less of a crime, nor her in any way complicit or responsible for anything that happened while she was in captivity.


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The other way you might be able to get out of the complex is the sewage system, but that depends on how it's been set up on this island, and how well it's been secured.
It is an option. It opens up directly into the sea, however, and during in-character discussion, Taylor claimed that the Atlantic in February would kill us before we could reach shore.

Actually, it's not impossible that someone very fit could reach Cliff Island, only about a mile away, but as the sewage exist is on the other side of Jewell Island from Cliff Island, it would mean a swim of some 2.5 miles in the Atlantic. The first half mile of which would have to be mostly underwater, coming up briefly for air, to avoid an eagle-eyed guard with a thermal imager spotting a swimmer and using the M2HB to ventilate him with a .50 BMG round. And you'd never hear the shot that got you. All the way, you'd feel a burning sensation in your back, just knowing that this second would be the one your spine was severed with a huge bullet.

So, Taylor wasn't quite telling his fellow PCs (and three NPCs) the truth when he said it was suicide. It's actually just an insanely scary and dangerous plan that pretty much no one but Taylor could attempt and which would require him to leave everyone* else behind, probably to a gruesome fate if he failed. And he really, really doesn't want to try it.

Agent O'Toole's player has another, alternate plan that they could try if they use the sewers. He can use his psychokinetic powers to make a bubble with DR 2, Sealed and Pressure Support 1, which would enable someone (or all of us) to walk on the bottom to Cliff Island. Cons are that there is no new air produced, so maybe we would suffocate, and that Agent O'Toole is keeping his powers secret from his superiors in Onyx Rain, so he didn't mention the possibility to Taylor or anyone else.

*No, that doesn't refer to any specific person. Taylor would also be sorry if Agent Danny O'Toole (PC) were killed. He'd even feel briefly sad and perhaps a little guilty over not feeling sadder if Dr. Michael Anderson (PC), Col. Andrew Burr (US Army Counterintelligence) or Jonathan Townsend (polished legal bureaucrat) died. Though Dr. Anderson could be described as an understudy for Dr. Mengele, Townsend is a charming-but-amoral representative of our unfriendly handlers and Col. Burr is only there to play jailer to Taylor, not to mention that he might now be plotting to have poor little Sherilyn Bell murdered because of her mind-control powers.
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