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Old 02-28-2016, 11:51 PM   #201
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

The boat was a small runabout, expensive but otherwise not unusual. The craft was approaching the area where the warehouse district fronted the water, but carefully not getting very close to the site.

Sitting in the craft were two men, one shorter, one taller. The taller man was operating the craft, the shorter man sat beside him, both were clad in expensive but otherwise ordinary clothing. The shorter man was heavily built, muscular in a way that his clothing did not entirely conceal, muscular with the build of a man used to hard physical work. His face was not unpleasing, but there was a hardness to his expression, an expression that appeared habitual.

The taller man behind the controls was less distinctive. He would have blended in readily in almost any crowd, there was nothing particularly distinctive about either his features or his manner. He was not so heavily built as his companion, but his frame game the impression of a lithe strength.

“So, is the basement still concealed?” the shorter man asked.

“As far as we have been able to ascertain, yes,” the taller man replied. “But keep
in mind, Mr. McCord, that we can not be certain. I have some good contacts in
the local police force, but the State authorities and various insurance companies
are another matter.

“For what it’s worth, though, I suspect that the storage site remains hidden.”

“For now,” Henry McCord said sourly. “With people pouring all over the area,
though, they could stumble onto it at any time, Davis.”

“That’s true,” Davis replied. “But I don’t think it’s immediately likely. Keep in
mind how well we concealed it, sir. It’s well below street level, below the level
of the original basement. The fire appears to have left the access covered by the
rubble as well. It won’t stay hidden forever, of course, but I think we have some
time before anyone is likely to find it.”

“But what can we do in the meantime?” McCord asked. Davis could hear the
frustration in his voice, Henry McCord was not a man used to feeling helpless, and
at the moment he was in that unpleasant state. “We might have some time, I grant
you that, but we don’t appear to be in a position to do anything with it!

“I can get in, as the owner,” McCord went on, “but not alone. There are always
people around if I do, now. Police, fire inspectors, insurance inspectors, crowds
on the street. Certainly there’s no way I could sneak anything out, even if I could
get into the storage vaults myself at the moment. That rubble may be keeping out
vault hidden from them, but it also keeps
us cut off, too!

“What can we do except sit here and wait for somebody to stumble over the secret?”

“Sir,” Davis said, “I gave some thought to this, when we were setting up the vault.
I took some precautions when we installed it, there
is another way in. It’s not
easy to use. I made it hard on purpose, as a security precaution, but it’s there.”

McCord looked hard as his employee for several moments, and said, “And you never
thought it necessary to inform me of this?”

“It never came up,” Davis said blandly. “It was simply a precaution, and one that
looked likely to never be needed.”

“Well, if it pays off now, it was a good move,” McCord conceded. “Tell me about
this other entrance.”

“Below the level of the storage vaults,” Davis explained, as he steered their small
boat past the waterfront. It would not do to linger without any obvious reason, “is
a tunnel. It runs from the warehouse site under the streets, and out to the west,
where it connects to a natural cave above the river.

“It’s a very
small tunnel,” Davis went on. “For obvious reasons, we had to
cut it in secret, under the city streets, using only a few reliable men. It’s large
enough, though, to pass many of the items in the vaults out, if we plan carefully
and organize it properly.

“The hardest part is the security precaution,” Davis said, as he guided their small
boat past a small cargo barge moving down the river. “There is a layer of hard
concrete between the tunnel and the vaults proper, with no actual door. That was
meant to make it all but impossible for any accidental person in the tunnel to find
the vaults. It does mean, though, that we have to cut through that concrete to get
to the contests ourselves.”

“How thick is this concrete?” McCord asked.

“Two inches,” Davis answered.

McCord was silent for a moment, pondering what his man had told him. Then
he asked, “How long is the tunnel?”

“About a thousand feet,” Davis replied. “It connects to a natural cave, as I said.
The hills outside Harrystown are riddled with caves and natural passages. The
entrance to the cave is over a mile outside the city, to the west.”


For now, we can turn our attention from McCord and Davis to another relevant party in our story. We find them in an office in Washington, D.C.

MORE LATER.
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Old 02-29-2016, 09:55 PM   #202
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

Even as McCord and Davis were boating up the river, and Conners and Lake were staking out the cemetery, Robert McLaird was sitting in his office in Washington, D.C. The early morning light poured through the east-facing windows, giving a discordantly cheerful aspect to the room.

The discordance was between the cheerful dawn light and the dark mood that haunted McLaird. He had returned to the capitol city after his visit to Miami to set the Seven Aces on the bizarre matter in upstate New York, and he had found yet more trouble brewing almost from the moment of his return. The sun was only just now rising above the eastern horizon, but McLaird had been in his office and busily at work for over four hours already.

Among the problems facing him were matters of politics, matters of money, and matters of tradecraft. All of these matters interconnected intricately in a Gordian knot of difficulty.

The budgetary problem was the smallest, but a painful nuisance. Many of the myriad off-the-record, under-the-table operations that McLaird supervised and directed required substantial amounts of money. In absolute terms, the sums were not so huge, perhaps. Certainly they would not have been particularly noticeable compared to many of the everyday expenditures of the Federal Government.

The problem was that the money had to be invisible. This was difficult because money tended to draw attention. One of the basic rules of off-the-record activity were that inexplicable flows of money could be damningly noticeable. The funding for his operations could not simply be entered into the Congressional budget bills openly, even if the actual sums might have looked small amid the other expenditures there.

Some of the operations could be made to self-fund. Much of the activity carried out by the Seven Aces, for example, was funded by an actual, functional shipping company that served as their first layer of protective coloration. These monies were blessedly independent of the regular budgeting process in his department.

Some of his other operations could be funded by ‘innocuous’ items planted in open budgets. Sometimes, a judicious cost overrun on a procurement tender could be used to supply funding to a concealed activity. Sometimes, less savory sources had to be cultivated.

McLaird was no naďf and understood the necessity of such things, but he disliked them nevertheless, for reasons both moral and pragmatic. Morally, such funding had a way of involving illicit and illegal activities of various sorts, and even with the best of intentions could end up twisting what it touched. Pragmatically, illegality was best avoided where possible, even in secret activities, any such connections were potential sources of trouble.

Right now, money was especially tight. Several operations had been necessary of late, all of them expensive, and all of them with bad side-effects. To many of them, unlike those involving the Seven Aces, had no independent sources of funding, meaning that his hidden budgets were strained to the breaking point.

He had to scour his various funding sources with an avaricious eye, seeking to squeeze every last dollar out of every last source, with as little moral or legal compromise or tactical risk as possible.

That alone would have been enough to put him into an unpleasant mood.

Along with the money issues, however, McLaird now had to deal with another and even more pressing problem. He was increasingly convinced that that his organization had been penetrated of late, yet again. This issue had been a running sore for years now, ever since that nasty business in Brazil two years before. He still did not know how those prisoners had disappeared from their cells so completely, and the dragging necessity of being on the watch for penetration was adding expense and difficulty to all of his operations.

He was fairly sure that they had managed to keep most of their operations quiet, but at the expense of a level of paranoia and precaution that was extreme, even for their shadowy world. It was draining, expensive, and could not be kept up indefinitely.

On top of that, there was the ongoing effort to deal with what seemed to be becoming the bogeyman of their entire organization, the matter of the mysterious man that the Seven Aces had encountered in Germany, Russian, Chicago, and the remote depths of the Brazilian jungle.

It was this last matter that had put McLaird in his office so many hours before dawn.

For two years, McLaird had worked his sources, spread around the world, for information about the mysterious man, and come up with a significant amount…all it at least two years old. The huge gift of information from their British counterparts in SG-7 had added an enormous amount of information to that total, albeit much of it difficult to credit.

Or at least, McLaird mused wearily, it would have been difficult to credit a few years before. Now, he believed it all too completely. Somewhere in the world, there was a ‘player’ who had been in the game for an impossibly long time, a man who had to be at least a century old and still active. A man who had caused an enormous amount of trouble in recent years, only to apparently vanish off the face of the Earth for the previous two years.

It was always possible, of course, that he was dead, but McLaird did not believe that for a moment. Somewhere, that man was hiding, keeping out of sight, but McLaird was sure that he was still active and busy.

Now, it appeared that they might have a hint about some of what he might have been busy doing.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-01-2016, 07:46 PM   #203
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

In 1927, the United States Government had only a limited number of active assets in place in other countries around the world. Army Intelligence had access to only some of those, and McLaird had access to only some of those open to Army Intelligence (plus back channel links to some others, of course). This forced McLaird to work through other channels, including the various intelligence organizations of other governments, and various private sources, some of which were well-connected indeed.

McLaird had long been using this network to look for any trace or indication of the mystery-man who had given them so much trouble in Chicago and Brazil, and for two years had come up with nothing. It was as if he had simply disappeared off the face of the Earth. Now, though, an unconfirmed report had come in, at third hand, that put a man, who matched one of the alias-descriptions they sought, in Rome in July. Then had come another report, again at third hand and again unconfirmed, but from a different source entirely, putting a man matching a different of the known alias-descriptions, in Venice that same month.

That was enough to draw McLaird to a closer look, and now a third sighting had come in, this one from one of his own people, who had actually managed to get good, if distant, look at a man closely matching one of their descriptions, this time back in Rome and only four days earlier.

There was no clear reason why he might be in Italy just then, but it looked like a viable lead, their first possibly serious one in two years, and they could not ignore it.

So it was that Robert McLaird began directing what personnel and assets he could spare toward Italy in the last part of September, 1927. At the time, he could have had little inkling of how significant this action would prove.

For now, though, we must turn our attention forward in time by some few hours, and northwest to the outskirts of Harrystown, New York. There, we find Nathan and Lake, waiting near a small rural cemetery.

Nathan sighed, as he wiped the moisture from his face yet again.

The hint of rain in the dawn breeze had given was to the actuality, a light but steady
fine mist had been falling for over two hours. It was so fine that it was almost more
of a heavy wet fog than rain, but it was sufficient to make everything quiet wet. The
necessity of staying hidden and still made the discomfort worse.

The glamour life of an agent, Nathan mused to himself in rueful amusement, as
they waited for their quarry, assuming he was going to show up.

They had arrived and taken up their positions, Lake across the cemetery from where
Nathan was hidden in a thick growth of scrub wood. Other Aces had arrived as
well over the course of the previous hours, and were hidden in strategically located
positions around the area, waiting in the chilly rain for a man who might or might
not show up. They were, after all, only assuming that he would be there based on
an educated guess.

Nathan had decided that they would maintain their ‘stakeout’ until mid-afternoon.
If LeMoine had not shown up by then, it was probably safe to say that he would not
be showing up at all. That would leave them with the question of where they had
guessed wrong about his intentions, or if they had somehow given themselves away
and warned off their quarry.

The cemetery itself was old, a square of land on top of a ridge, sheltered by a higher
ridge to the north. The fence was old and made of wire, running from fieldstone
post to fieldstone post. The stones were mostly older ones as well, this cemetery
was now little used, most burials were done in newer cemeteries nearer the town.

To one side of the old cemetery were the foundations of what had once been a
small church, but they had heard that it had burned down thirty years before. On
the opposite site of the cemetery, to the west, was scrub woods and patches of
thick overgrowth in what had probably once been farmland, a century or so earlier.

The cemetery had not seen any of the sort of damage that had been seen nearer
the city. Or at least, it had not happened yet…

The rain was starting to intensify, rising from a mist to a steady drizzle. Nathan
was debating whether he should risk adjusting his position when a sudden sound
caught his entire attention.

Nathan saw a motion near where the old gravel road emerged from the wooded
hillside leading up to the cemetery. Then an old, battered car appeared, pulled
up to the gate, and a man that Nathan knew by the name Phillipe LeMoine got
out from behind the wheel and walked toward the gate, his gait and manner calm.

Or were they? An amateur observer might have thought so. Nathan Conners was
not an amateur. As he watched more closely, he saw things that spoke volumes.

LeMoine was dressed in a business suit, with a rain coat over it and a hat with a
wide brim for protection against the drizzle. That was natural enough, but there
was a tenseness to his stride that spoke of nervousness, and the exact way he held
his right arm spoke to Nathan of a holster against the side of his body.

Makes sense, Nathan mused, seeing as LeMoine is left-handed.

Nathan watched as LeMoine looked around him, obviously making sure he was
alone. Nathan drew a breath, hoping everyone was as concealed as he had intended.
If LeMoine spotted any of them, the operation was blown.

After a moment, LeMoine pulled out a piece of paper, and what was clearly a rolled-
up map of some kind. As Nathan watched, wishing he dared use the binoculars in
his pack, but not daring to risk the motion, LeMoine made some notes and looked
back and forth between paper and map. Then he walked through the cemetery,
clearly looking for some specific stone.

Could LeMoine be the one doing all the grave desecrations?! Nathan mused
as he watched. The thought had occurred to him before, after they had learned
that he was interested in the cemeteries around Harrystown, but only to be dismissed
each time. Nathan still tended to doubt it. The idea simply made no sense.

It took LeMoine a few minutes to find what he was seeking. The old cemetery was
small, but even so it held at least a couple of hundred graves. LeMoine paced up
and down through the grounds, from row to row, trying to shelter his map and slip
of paper from the falling drizzle as he did.

At last, he paused near one stone, dropping to one knee to look at the engravings on
the rock more closely. He was now across the cemetery from Nathan, but he ought
to be under the eye of the men on that side. Nathan just hoped they had their eyes
open and were paying attention to what they were seeing.

The marker was old, made of the kind of soft white stone that had been popular for
graves in the previous century, but which tended to erode quickly. It looked rather
to Nathan as if LeMoine were trying to compare the writing on the paper to the
markings on the stone, and was having trouble with the eroded carvings.

Finally, LeMoine seemed satisfied. He stood up, and with more confidence and
speed crossed the old cemetery, going from stone to stone, clearly using them as
indicators of something. Finally, he reached the north side of the cemetery, stood
in front of an old grave marker that was almost as tall as the man himself, and
seemed to sight along the top of it, toward something on the higher ridge line to
the north. At last, Nathan saw a look of satisfaction appear on his face.

LeMoine walked to the fence on the north side, easily climbed over it, revealing
that he was in better physical shape than his slightly round frame would indicate,
and strode toward the wooded slope where it began to rise to the north.


What did Phillipe LeMoine see when he looked across that last grave marker? What is he looking for and where is he going? How is this connected to the vandalized graves in Harrystown? We shall see.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-07-2016, 09:16 PM   #204
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

For those who might be wondering what all this is all about, and what has been happening in Harrystown, New York in the early autumn of 1927, perhaps this would be a good time to shed some light.

The two men in the boat, mentioned above, were named Henry Sheridan McCord and, at least publically, 'James Davis'. Henry McCord was a wealthy businessman, maintaining profitable interests in oil, agriculture and the meat industry, the burgeoning automotive industry, general manufacturing, shipping, and high finance. [1]

Henry Sheridan McCord was also something of a collector. He collected art, old weapons, horses, and cars. Some detractors said of him that he collected women, certainly he did not limit his interest in the fairer sex to his wife.

More relevant to us, however, is another collection he maintained: a rather extensive collection of Antediluvian artifacts. Unlike his other collections, this one he kept very quiet, for very good reasons. His collection was eclectic, including ancient books, devices, a bit of anything and everything. As such collections went, however, it was extensive.

Far too wise to store his prize possessions anywhere close to his New York City residence, McCord had purchased land in Harrystown, and constructed a warehouse there. This warehouse was exactly what it seemed, McCord used legitimate business as a cover for his real purposes.

Below the surface warehouse was a deep basement, with thick walls and floor of concrete, heavily waterproofed, and carefully concealed behind various disguised entrances and access doors. The largest such door was an elevator that enabled them to lower entire vehicles from the main warehouse above ground down to the hidden part of the basement for loading and unloading.

For some years, the most valuable elements of his collection had gone into this hidden storage site, known to and accessible to only McCord himself and a very small inner circle of employees. The collection included books and writing dating back well over seven millennia, items of art, statuary, and machinery quite unrecognizable to the engineers of the Twentieth Century.

Unknown to Henry McCord and his men, some of those items were not entirely inert. Some of the oddities that the locals associated with the area around the warehouse derived from those still-active devices and items. To make matters more complex, all unknown to McCord, the warehouse lay within the pathway of what a later age would call a 'Flux channel' or a 'ley line'. [2]

McCord and his men would not even have understood what that meant if they had known about it, they had no slightest suspicion of the existence of such things as ley lines in 1927. Nevertheless, the ley line was there, and its influence had long been interacting with some of the Flux-active devices in the stored in the hidden basement of the warehouse.

The ley-line in question ran roughly east-west through the warehouse district of the city of Harrystown, and on westward into the hill country. It ran very roughly along the line of the river for a stretch, but the river twisted southward and north again, cutting across the straight ley-line more than once (or vice versa, depending on how one looked at it). The ley-line intersected two others in the hill country to the west of Harrystown, then ran onward to strike a cluster of lines and nexus points still further west, before terminating finally over fifty miles from Harrystown.

The explosion in the warehouse had come about in part because of a previous triumph on the part of McCord in the secret struggle that went on over the Antediluvian artifacts. Over the course of the previous three years, McCord had managed, by dint of a combination of cunning and hard work, clever planning, well-placed agents, and luck, to lay his hands on one of the most elusive and desired Antediluvian artifacts rumored to exist in the hidden world that concerned itself with such things.

In that hidden and secretive community, there had long been a story, or a legend, about a particularly rare and special artifact surviving from the ancient pre-Cataclysmic world. The story went that it had been discovered in Australia, supposedly in the 1870s, by an individual or group mysterious even by the standards of these circles. It had supposed changed hands several times over the course of the subsequent decades, accompanied by murder, theft, skullduggery, betrayal, and other unpleasantness along the way.

The stories were unclear on the nature of the item. Some said it was a huge machine of some sort. Some said it was an artwork, or a huge gemstone. Some said it was a collection of separate items. Most of the stories did maintain that it was yellow in color.

There were also many in the 'community' of Antediluvian antiquaries who maintained that it was in fact colorless rather than yellow, because it was purely a legend, a myth. Certainly even within their circles, not every tale was true, not every rumor factual.

McCord had long been inclined to agree with their view, but he had been interested enough to investigate the matter, and he had discovered that the legend was in fact true, there was such an artifact, and he had finally managed to gain possession of it. He did this by means that might best remain out of the light, but he did it, and the item was brought to his warehouse in Harrystown, and stored in the hidden chamber.

MORE LATER.


[1] For more about Henry McCord, see: http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.p...85&postcount=5

[2] For more about ley lines, see:
http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.p...&postcount=103
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Old 03-09-2016, 09:28 PM   #205
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

Normally, this might have been the end of the matter. Unfortunately for 'Iron Henry' McCord, the artifact in question was one of the most dangerous things left over from the Antediluvian Age. It was, in fact, a surviving paralens, one of the ancient devices used by the Atlanteans to amplify and stabilize the Flux, making it more readily and safely useful.

Unfortunately for McCord, and others, this one was one of the 'tainted' ones created by the Unity in the last years of Atlantis. These devices normally worked much as a proper Flux-paralens did, but under certain circumstances they could and did produce catastrophically bad effects.

Even more unfortunately, this particular paralens had subsequently been changed and modified and put to particularly exotic use, in the time immediately prior to the Great Cataclysm. This had made its 'tainted' nature both more unusual and more dangerously portentous. We will learn more about why this specific paralens was so important later. For now, suffice it to say that there were reasons why it had been found where it was, in the remote outback of Australia, and why is had become so simultaneously so infamous within the restricted circles of Antediluvian antiquaries.

Even with this dangerous item stored in the warehouse cache, normally it would not have been likely to matter except subtly. Two additional factors had combined to make the presence of the device so important.

One was that the device was mechanically damaged, both by the use to which it had been put in the ancient times, and the events of the Great Cataclysm. The orichalcum-alloy 'caps' that should have been present upon it were also long gone, removed for their precious orichalcum content.

The other factor was external. Recall that a ley line ran through Harrystown, not far from the warehouse district, and the hidden cache was well within its area of effect. This, too, might not normally have mattered. The high Flux activity associated with the ley line stimulated more activity from some of the items in the cache, but nothing normally spectacular.

However, on the evening of the explosion and subsequent fire, there had been a tremendous surge of activity in the world-wide network of ley lines, for reasons that we will come to soon enough. (In fact, the triggering event for the Flux-surge along the ley lines had happened in Germany.)

For now, suffice it to say that that this surge of activity stimulated the dangerous artifacts in the cache, especially the new addition that had been discovered in Australia, initiating a chain reaction that culminated, over the course of several seconds, in a tremendous explosion that literally blasted the aboveground warehouse apart.

This detonation had been a Flux reaction, similar in nature to psychokinetic phenomena. In fact, it could be compared to a spontaneous 'PK blast', though on a vast larger scale than most psions could hope to duplicate. Most of the force had been manifested radially, and initially it had been a 'cold' event, with very little immediate thermal energy release. [1]

The fire had been triggered when a metal shard from the shredded warehouse structure had been blasted through the wall of a neighboring warehouse, struck a metal shelf, and sparks had been produced. The sparks had touched off a fuel tank that had been opened up by shrapnel, initiating the huge fire that had raged through the warehouse district after the initial blast. Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, it so happened that there been a soaking rain falling that evening, which had spared the city much harm.

The collapsing warehouse from which the initial blast radiated had buried the entrances to the underground cache under a large mass of rubble, some of which had subsequently been heated and softened by the heat of the fire, producing a difficult-to-penetrate barrier. To make matters worse, from the point of view of Henry McCord, the blast had blown a rough channel that had enabled the rain-swollen river to pour into the site as well, partly flooding that part of it that had not been buried under rubble. That water remained in the depressions produced by the blast, not yet drained or evaporated.

The surge of activity in the ley lines that had been trigger for the event had lasted no more than a few minutes, perhaps ten at the most. The source of that surge, however, lay far away in Germany, and rooted in complicated events that do not immediately matter to the events in Harrystown or the mission of the Seven Aces at that time.

What did link them, though, was that the men involved in the events that triggered the ley surge had detected the interaction in far-away New York, and as a result, several men had come to Harrystown over the following days.

MORE LATER.


[1] For more about 'PK Blast', see:
http://forums.sjgames.com/showpost.p...01&postcount=1

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 03-09-2016 at 09:58 PM.
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Old 03-11-2016, 11:59 PM   #206
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

In order to explain what is happening in Harrystown, we must make a brief diversion to Germany, to learn about the events there that triggered an explosion a third of the way around the planet.

In the foothills of the German Alps, in a small town, a secret project had been underway for over a year. It had no connections to the Weimar government, and though a very few officials (mostly mid-ranking ones) had some connections to the organization behind it, the German high officialdom could have truthfully claimed to know nothing about the whole thing.

The project itself was being carried out in a factory complex, under the cover of manufacturing machine tools. This manufacturing operation was quite real, it made an excellent cover for the secret activities. Most of the workers in the factory had no idea of what was going on, the plant manager, the supervisors, and a few other key personnel were in on the project.

We need not go into detail (right now) about the origin and nature of the project, or who was carrying it out. Suffice it to say that it involved work on machinery designed to interact with psionically-active individuals, based on design work from a military project undertaken in the last days of the Great War, just before the collapse of the Hohenzollern monarchy.

There were two relevant things of which none of the scientists, engineers, or other personnel involved in the project were aware, however. One was that, although the German authorities had been kept mostly in ignorance of the entire business, the same was not true of the French intelligence arm.

The French agents did not know exactly what was going on in the factory, and suspected (wrongly) that it was a project backed and carried out by the German state. They did, however, have men watching the area, and had made some unsuccessful attempts to infiltrate the operation site itself.

This, in turn, had brought the whole matter to the attention of the Russians, who had no idea about the project (yet), but were aware that the French were interested in something in an otherwise unremarkable small town in southern Germany, which drew some low-level agents of the Bolshevik state into the area as well, to ascertain in what the French were so interested.

The other factor unknown to the men carrying out the project (and the agents trying to observe them) was the fact that the town chosen for the site lay atop a cluster of significant ley-line nexus-points. None of the individuals involved would even have had any idea that such things existed.

Nevertheless, there were no less than four significant nexus-points within three miles of the site of the factory, and there a major nexus-point, comprising four ley-lines intersecting each other, at the site of the factory itself, actually underlying the complex.

Thus, though the men of the project had no suspicion of this, or even of the existence of such a thing, the Flux pulsed with higher than normal intensity and focus on the very site they had chosen to carry out their work. Invisible, intangible, in detectable to ordinary senses, the background Flux- field was nevertheless very real and very strong in that place.

The psionic work carried out in the factory would normally have been too weak and too minor to interact with the Flux enough to matter. On a clear, sunny morning in September of 1927, however, they activated one of their 'special' machines, designed and built using the knowledge from the earlier military project. This machine was intended to amplify the strength of the three psions linked to it. Instead, it caused their native psionic power, amplified and altered by the crude machine, to interact with the strong Flux field permeating the factory site. It so happened to be a time when that Flux-field was especially active, and the combination sent a 'shock wave' of activity outward along the linking ley-lines, through them through other nexus-points and into other lines, spreading around the world at the velocity of light, like some vast world-wide network of plumbing suddenly subjected to a surge of pressure.

That surge had little visible effect in most places, but when it passed through the ley-line in Harrystown, New York, we have seen what resulted.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:27 PM   #207
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

The same reaction that triggered the explosion in Harrystown, New York, also produced a reaction in the factory complex that concealed the hidden project in Germany. Instead of a massive explosion, the result was a surge of thermal energy that literally melted the machine itself, killing one of the psions trying to use it and seriously injuring the other two.

Naturally, confusion followed, and the damage was sufficient to draw the attention of the French and Russian agents spying on the project, as well as bringing in the German authorities. The men who had been supervising the project, however, learned a great deal from the failure, and some of this information came into the hands of first the French, then the Russians, and lastly the Weimar authorities, in fairly short order.

This happened because the French and Russian operatives were sufficiently motivated to risk fairly direct action to get information. The Germans became aware of something strange here when fire fighters discovered many oddities in the remains of the factory as they fought and suppressed the fire.

One of the things the men running the secret project had learned from their instrumentation, which they had been studying closely at the time of the event, was that the power surge had been 'echoed' in the readings from far away, and they were able to narrow down the source of the echo to Harrystown, in far-away America. Before the men could make their escape from the area (which they successfully did), some of this information had fallen into the hands of French, Russian, and German agents of various sorts.

This, then, was what had brought agents of Paris, Moscow, and Berlin to the peaceful rural community of Harrystown, New York. Inevitably, when carrying out secret activities in such haste, errors were made, slips happened, and the United States Government became aware of the presence of these men in Harrystown. Their presence in New York City, or Chicago, or Los Angeles, would have roused interest, but not been seen as utterly strange.

For these men to turn up in backwater Harrystown, however, had been odd enough to bring high-level attention quickly, and in turn had led, among other reactions, to the arrival of Nathan Conners and his men.

The nature of the hidden project in Germany, and the identity and intentions of the men executing it, can wait until a more convenient moment. For the nonce, now that we have examined the triggering event for these event, let us return our attention to Harrystown.

Conners and his men followed Phillipe LeMoine through the wood slopes to the north of the old cemetery, doing their best to stay hidden. This was easier than one might expect, because Conners and his men were both intelligence personnel and also familiar with wilderness combat and similar work, and LeMoine was more purely an intelligence man. He was not utterly helpless in the countryside or the forest, but he lacked the skills that would make it easier for him to detect the presence of the small group shadowing him.

The old cemetery had sat atop a long ridge that ran approximately east-west. The slope on the north side was short, descending only a slightly before rising again toward the higher ridge to the north.

The trees covering the descending slope were uniformly thin, revealing that this region had been cleared not so long before. When the slope turned upward again, however, the trees suddenly became thicker even as the slope became steeper, and Conners doubted this side of the ridge had been cleared at any time in at least the previous century, or longer.

It soon became clear, as LeMoine moved up the steep slope, that their quarry might know where he was going, but that he was not perfectly clear on the best way to get there. He often doubled-back, sometimes moved to one side or the other, clearly seeking the best pathway up the steep slope. Sometimes he slid or slipped in the thick carpet of new-fallen leaves, sometimes he had to cling to trees or outcrops of rock to get up particularly steep grades.

Still, LeMoine eventually made his way to the top of the higher ridge, and Conners and his men stayed with him, shadowing him just closely enough to keep track without giving away their presence. Conners was grateful that their quarry lacked the necessary skills to evade them, and did not have a dog or other means of warning with him to give an alert.

Finally, LeMoine emerged onto the ridge-line, and with greater confidence now, made his way eastward along the ridge top until he came to a clearing.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-12-2016, 08:46 PM   #208
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

The clearing turned out to be an oval-shaped area, full of grass turning brown and pale with oncoming autumn, though broken here and there with patches of still-green growth. The grass was easily thirty centimeters deep or more, but it lay relatively flat against the ground, and LeMoine crossed the clearing confidently, brushing leaves and dirt from his nice clothing as he did.

On one end of the clearing was a ruined foundation, clearly the site of a house at one time, though the stone foundation was now all that remained. Scorch marks on the stone told the story of the fire that had consumed the house.

Behind the foundation, near one end of the cleared oval, stood...something.

Conners was not quite sure what that something was. They dared not get too close, of course, for fear of giving alarm to LeMoine. From their vantage point at the edge of the clearing, it looked to Conners as if someone had put a large grave marker, or something along those lines, all by itself in the clearing. It was made of stone, multi-sided and rising to a pyramidal peak, but it seemed improbably large. Conners guessed it to be about eight yards tall.

On a sudden thought, Conners considered how far they had come, and where this clearing on the ridge-top would be from the vantage point of the old cemetery below. In that direction the ridge dropped sharply, and Conners was suddenly sure that if one knew just where to look from the cemetery, a viewer could just about spot the top of the stone object from down there.

LeMoine paused at the object, examining it carefully, then continued on, following the ridge line and passing into the woods again on the far side, and Conners and his men continued their pursuit. They covered another mile or so through the wooded ridge-top, until they came to a small open pool of water.

The pool was a small pond, actually, and about twenty meters long and five meters wide. A small rivulet drained it on the north side, and LeMoine turned to followed the past of the rivulet, still trailed by his watchfully quiet observers.

Before long, the ground began to slope downward again, as they reached the north side of the great ridge, and then suddenly the slope grew sharp, and through the half-bare trees of autumn, the river became visible, the same small river that ran eastward until it passed north of Harrystown, and then on eventually to join the Hudson River.

The rivulet did not descend the slope, however. Instead it vanished, as did LeMoine.

At first, the Seven Aces team was flummoxed, but their confusion did not last for long. They tracked the rivulet to its point of disappearance, which proved to be a small cave entrance, a long dark shaft into which the stream of water vanished, to continued its path down toward the river by an underground route.

The tunnel entrance was small, large enough to pass a man if he was willing to crawl, and there were marks in the muddy ground that showed where LeMoine had gone inside.

Conners was now in a quandary. Though they did not wish to lose track of LeMoine, following him into the dark tunnel was simply out of the question. Secrecy would have been impossible, there was no way to know if the passage had other openings or side passages, they did not have the proper equipment for caving (though that had appeared to be so of LeMoine as well), all in all the risk was simply too great.

Conners assigned men to watch the entrance, in case LeMoine reemerged, and he and Lake backtracked to the clearing, to take a closer look at the stone object LeMoine had studied.

MORE LATER.

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 04-02-2017 at 10:42 PM. Reason: incomplete
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Old 03-12-2016, 09:56 PM   #209
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

After leaving men to watch the cave entrance, and sending another couple of his men into town to see if there was a quiet way to get some information about the caves and other features of the ridge-area, Conners and Howard Lake made their way back to the clearing with the burned house.

Let us take a closer look.

As Nathan and Howard emerged into the clearing again, a faint mist resumed falling.
The on-again, off-again rain was more annoying than anything else, but it did add to
the general disgruntlement Nathan felt about losing track of LeMoine.

“I don’t like this clearing,” Howard said softly, as he and his chief walked over to
the remains of the house and its odd stone companion. “I don’t know why, I can’t
put my finger on it, but there’s something about it that gives me the creeps.”

Nathan looked in surprise at his friend. Howard Lake was the last person that he
would have expected to hear express a thought like that, in that tone. The chief
science and engineering man of the Seven Aces tended, if anything, to being more
pragmatic and prosaic than necessary.

Still…“I sort of know what you mean,” Nathan admitted. “It’s not quite…right.”

The old stone foundation was normal enough. It looked much like the sort of
work that underlay houses from the Colonial period, or before. Nathan had no
doubt that the house had been built at least a century or more before he was
born, possibly a century and a half before his birth.

Heck, it might go back to Dutch times, Nathan mused. Still, this is kind of
an odd place for it. All by itself on top this ridge, this would be a poor place for a
farm, the soil is shallow and rocky and the house would be exposed to the elements
here. I could maybe see somebody coming along later and building the house here
for the view, but there isn’t much view from this spot, either. You can’t see over
the north side to the river from here, and on the other side it’s not that impressive.

Nathan shook his mind out of his musings as he and Howard approached the stone
object. It became obvious that whatever it was, it probably was
not a grave marker.

The object was a six-sided obelisk or tower, cut out of local stone, and sunk into
the shallow local soil. The sides were not quite polished, but someone had worked
on them to make them relatively smooth. Nathan realized that his first guess about
its height was probably an underestimate, he now guessed it to be at least ten yards
in height, and about two yards thick where it went into the ground.

“Somebody went to an awful lot of work to put this thing up,” Howard observed,
as the two men reached the base, which simply rose out of the ground. There was
no sign of a separate foundation or wide underlying structure, it was as if someone
had simply driven the stone object into the ground like some huge spike.

“I’ll bet they cut a hole for it, in the bedrock, too,” Howard added. “Otherwise, I don’t
see how this thing could stand for long, and it’s been here for a long time. So that’s even
more effort.”

“What makes you so sure it’s been here for a long time?”

“Look at the markings, Chief,” Howard replied. “They’re worn down, eroded, I
doubt they were cut to look the way they do. This thing is made of kind of soft rock,
but it would still take a long time for wind and rain to soften the marking the way
they are. I can’t imagine this thing has been standing here for less than…oh, maybe
a century. Something like that, anyway.”

“Unless somebody moved this thing here from somewhere else,” Nathan pointed
out. “It could have eroded before it was brought here.”

“Could be,” Howard replied, sounding doubtful. “But look the ground around it.
It’s settled, tightly packed and overgrown with grass. This thing has been standing
here for years, at least.”

“If so, then somebody’s at least been keeping this clearing open,” Nathan replied.
“Otherwise it would be overgrown with young trees.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Howard replied, as he examined the markings on the tower.

All six ‘sides’ of the object were marked, incised deeply with symbols that were
like no letters familiar to Nathan. The language (assuming the markings meant
anything at all, he reminded himself) were not only not in English or any other
language Nathan could read, but did not even look like any alphabet he had seen.
The markings were in rows and columns running up and down the sides, apparently
all the way to the top, where the six sides gave way to a four-sided pyramidal peak.

“Can you make any sense of it, Howie?”

“No,” Howard replied. “It’s not language I know, including the Atlantean forms
I’m familiar with. Not that that proves anything, I only know a little bit of the
Atlantean written language. There are some shapes that look sort of familiar,
though. Not enough that I can say anything useful about.”

“Surely whoever carved on this thing didn’t expect it to be read from the ground,”
Nathan observed, as he walked around the base. “But we need to make a few
discreet inquiries with the locals, before we get carried away. They
have to
know about this, it might be no mystery at all if we just knew who to ask.”

Nathan paused, because he had found something different on the western side.

“Howie, take a look at this!”

Howard came around, to see what Nathan was pointing at. There, at about eye level, on the west-facing facet of the obelisk, someone had carved away the original writing and replaced it, over an area of about one square foot, with much newer markings, in familiar lettering. It was not in any familiar language, however. Still, at the bottom of the new writing was one quite readable marking, cut into the rock: ‘3-8-1903’.

“Well, well, well,” Howard said. “What have we here?”


For now, we must leave Howard Lake and his question and turn our attention elsewhere.

MORE LATER.
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Old 03-12-2016, 10:06 PM   #210
Johnny1A.2
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default Re: The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

LATER.

After leaving men to watch the cave entrance, and sending another couple of his men into town to see if there was a quiet way to get some information about the caves and other features of the ridge-area, Conners and Howard Lake made their way back to the clearing with the burned house.

Let us take a closer look.

As Nathan and Howard emerged into the clearing again, a faint mist resumed falling.
The on-again, off-again rain was more annoying than anything else, but it did add to
the general disgruntlement Nathan felt about losing track of LeMoine.

“I don’t like this clearing,” Howard said softly, as he and his chief walked over to
the remains of the house and its odd stone companion. “I don’t know why, I can’t
put my finger on it, but there’s something about it that gives me the creeps.”

Nathan looked in surprise at his friend. Howard Lake was the last person that he
would have expected to hear express a thought like that, in that tone. The chief
science and engineering man of the Seven Aces tended, if anything, to being more
pragmatic and prosaic than necessary.

Still…“I sort of know what you mean,” Nathan admitted. “It’s not quite…right.”

The old stone foundation was normal enough. It looked much like the sort of
work that underlay houses from the Colonial period, or before. Nathan had no
doubt that the house had been built at least a century or more before he was
born, possibly a century and a half before his birth.

Heck, it might go back to Dutch times, Nathan mused. Still, this is kind of
an odd place for it. All by itself on top this ridge, this would be a poor place for a
farm, the soil is shallow and rocky and the house would be exposed to the elements
here. I could maybe see somebody coming along later and building the house here
for the view, but there isn’t much view from this spot, either. You can’t see over
the north side to the river from here, and on the other side it’s not that impressive.

Nathan shook his mind out of his musings as he and Howard approached the stone
object. It became obvious that whatever it was, it probably was
not a grave marker.

The object was a six-sided obelisk or tower, cut out of local stone, and sunk into
the shallow local soil. The sides were not quite polished, but someone had worked
on them to make them relatively smooth. Nathan realized that his first guess about
its height was probably an underestimate, he now guessed it to be at least ten yards
in height, and about two yards thick where it went into the ground.

“Somebody went to an awful lot of work to put this thing up,” Howard observed,
as the two men reached the base, which simply rose out of the ground. There was
no sign of a separate foundation or wide underlying structure, it was as if someone
had simply driven the stone object into the ground like some huge spike.

“I’ll bet they cut a hole for it, in the bedrock, too,” Howard added. “Otherwise, I
don’t see how this thing could stand for long, and it’s been here for a long time.
So that’s even more effort.”

“What makes you so sure it’s been here for a long time?”

“Look at the markings, Chief,” Howard replied. “They’re worn down, eroded, I
doubt they were cut to look the way they do. This thing is made of kind of soft rock,
but it would still take a long time for wind and rain to soften the marking the way
they are. I can’t imagine this thing has been standing here for less than…oh, maybe
a century. Something like that, anyway.”

“Unless somebody moved this thing here from somewhere else,” Nathan pointed
out. “It could have eroded before it was brought here.”

“Could be,” Howard replied, sounding doubtful. “But look the ground around it.
It’s settled, tightly packed and overgrown with grass. This thing has been standing
here for years, at least.”

“If so, then somebody’s at least been keeping this clearing open,” Nathan replied.
“Otherwise it would be overgrown with young trees.”

“Can’t argue with that,” Howard replied, as he examined the markings on the tower.

All six ‘sides’ of the object were marked, incised deeply with symbols that were
like no letters familiar to Nathan. The language (assuming the markings meant
anything at all, he reminded himself) were not only not in English or any other
language Nathan could read, but did not even look like any alphabet he had seen.
The markings were in rows and columns running up and down the sides, apparently
all the way to the top, where the six sides gave way to a four-sided pyramidal peak.

“Can you make any sense of it, Howie?”

“No,” Howard replied. “It’s not language I know, including the Atlantean forms
I’m familiar with. Not that that proves anything, I only know a little bit of the
Atlantean written language. There are some shapes that look sort of familiar,
though. Not enough that I can say anything useful about.”

“Surely whoever carved on this thing didn’t expect it to be read from the ground,”
Nathan observed, as he walked around the base. “But we need to make a few
discreet inquiries with the locals, before we get carried away. They
have to
know about this, it might be no mystery at all if we just knew who to ask.”

Nathan paused, because he had found something different on the western side.

“Howie, take a look at this!”

Howard came around, to see what Nathan was pointing at. There, at about eye level,
on the west-facing facet of the obelisk, someone had carved away the original writing
and replaced it, over an area of about one square foot, with much newer markings,
in familiar lettering. It was not in any familiar language, however. Still, at the bottom
of the new writing was one quite readable marking, cut into the rock: ‘3-8-1903’.

“Well, well, well,” Howard said. “What have we here?”


For now, we must leave Howard Lake and his question, so that we can turn our attention elsewhere.

MORE LATER.

Last edited by Johnny1A.2; 03-13-2016 at 07:56 PM.
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