The classic team role-playing game of conspiracy and strangeness
The Three Faces Of God
To: Agents, Martin Keyes, T.R. Warren, Eric Alnes, Belle-Marie Prior, Martyn Aberg, Steven Smith, Sean.
From GM Blaize
Subject: Direct attack against Mexican Ylids.
We suggest you read the following background material carefully. It contains all the relevant information we have amassed so far. Your mission is not a fact-finding one, so we do not want you to waste your time researching facts we are already aware of.
Report 1 Mexican myth and history.
Mexico mythology centres around the activities of three gods:
Tezcatlipoca, Chief god of many Mexican races. The mysterious god of the night sky, linked with the constellation 'The Great Bear.'
Quetzalcoatl, also known as Cukulcan. 'The Feathered Snake.' God of the wind and associated with the planet Venus, typified by the 'might makes right' ideology.
Ahuantepec, or Coatlicue. The quiet goddess of the Zapotecs. 'One who Wears a Snake Skirt.' Less powerful than her two male counterparts, she tends to work through her followers rather than by means of direct intervention. She has the advantage of being clever.
The legend is that Tezcatlipoca expelled Quetzalcoatl from Mexico by means of black magic. Quetzalcoatl wanders to the coast of the Atlantic, where he immolates himself and emerges from the fire as the planet Venus.
In 1000AD, after centuries of playing second fiddle to Tezcatlipoca, Quetzalcoatl emerges as the chief deity of a tribe called the Toltecs, based in northern Mexico. The Toltecs quickly establish themselves as the new military power and proceed to invade and subjugate Tezcatlipoca's people.
1200 AD - The Toltec empire disintegrates in violence. Meanwhile the Mayans gain importance. They worship a god called Cukulcan - who is identical to Quetzalcoatl in every respect.
1400 AD. The Mayans fall into decline. The Aztecs arrive on the scene soon after, naming Quetzalcoatl as their god, becoming a people even more violent than the Toltecs. Worship of Tezcatlipoca declines steeply - it is believed that Quetzalcoatl banished him some time around 1450.
1500 AD. Cortes arrives in Mexico. Ahuantepec takes advantage of the new confusion he brings, infiltrating the Catholic beliefs being spread by missionaries. The Spaniards become convinced that Quetzalcoatl is a force for evil that must be destroyed and set out to eradicate the Aztec empire. They succeed and Christianity supersedes worship of other gods. Worship of Ahuantepec continues as part of the Mexican Catholic religion.
SITU has proved that the three gods are, in fact, the beings known to the organisation as Ylids. It is almost certain that Mexican mythology and history is the story of the power-struggle between these beings. Ylids are not human and count mankind as the enemy and, as such, we must consider ourselves at war with them.
Report 2 Investigation 'Las Cabezas de Muerte' Date: November 1997. Location: Merida, East Mexico.
A number of crystal skulls had come to light, all seemingly possessing strange powers. A number of these skulls were to be used as part of a televised occult ceremony. The operatives' briefing was to disrupt the ceremony, discover who organised it, and to obtain one of the skulls for SITU examination.
Following the success of the mission, three skulls were recovered for SITU. They were found to have distinct personalities and each worked to some extent by harnessing the consciousness of the owner and projecting that consciousness onto a specified target. The ceremony was found to have been organised by a Jaime de Reconvaco, leader of a cult known as the Black Madonna. His motives at the time were unclear, however he was in possession of a skull and he was seen talking to it on several occasions.
Report 3 Investigation 'The Hour of the Jaguar' Date September 1998. Location: Merida, East Mexico.
Several important Mayan artefacts had been stolen. The operatives' briefing was to find out who was responsible, and what their motive was, and to recover the artefacts.
It was discovered that the thefts were carried out by a Mayan group, in conjunction with a Merida political group known as the Zapastista. The intention was to stage a ritual, involving the sacrifice of the mayor's thirteen-year-old son, in order to summon the spirit of Cukulcan. Thanks to the team's efforts, the ritual was stopped.
An interesting point to note: during the investigation, the team happened across an old Mayan man who possessed a crystal skull with strange powers. The man has since died, whether of natural or unnatural causes we do not know. The skull has not been recovered. Jaime de Reconvaco was also involved, trying to convince the team to let the ritual go ahead and then work with him to kill Cukulcan when he appeared. His crystal skull, which he intended to use against Cukulcan, was smashed when the ritual was halted.
The question remains, what was Jaime's interest in this? He believed absolutely that the ritual would resurrect Cukulcan and his intention was to kill him before he regained full power. This suggests a keen knowledge of Mexican history and its gods, and maybe too a knowledge of who these gods are. Given that the three 'gods' are still at war, it is reasonable to assume Jaime was working for either Tezcatlipoca or Ahuantepec. Of these two, Ahuan is the most likely.
Report 4 Recent events.
It has been discovered that the Ylids have some sort of weakness that will cause them to quite literally spontaneously combust if they come in contact with another of their kind. There is, however, a compound that will overcome this effect - a mineral we have called dubhium. An Ylid injected with this compound may meet face to face with other Ylids in safety, the presence of the dubhium, in one of them, protecting them all. Certain Ylids have been trying to synthesise dubhium with limited success. The compound is very rare and it is this rarity that has prevented the Ylids from forming themselves into larger, and necessarily powerful, groups.
It is SITU's intention to use this dubhium as a weapon. The proposed sequence of events works something like this:
a) A group of Ylids gain control of a synthetic dubhium.
b) They use it to enable themselves to approach each other to form an alliance.
c) They are injected with a compound that counters the dubhium effect. The results should be explosive.
SITU researchers have developed a synthetic dubhium that works perfectly, and a counter-agent that will drive all dubhium instantly out of the body. Both are ready for testing. Mexico, being a closed area with three known Ylids, seems the ideal testing ground.
However, in our attempts to introduce the dubhium compound to Ahuantepec, another interesting development has arisen.
Report 5 - Debriefing of Agent George Kellsal (transcript)
"Well ah, where to start? My mission was to get myself captured by de Reconvaco in Mexico. Not too hard - I'd already managed that once in the Cabezas affair. Once he had me, I had to let slip about the dubhium and hope that SITU's suspicions were right - that he was working for Ahuan, and that she would immediately grab the dubhium.
"Well, so far so good. Everything went to plan for once. Mind if I smoke? I arrived in Merida just after midday, went straight to the hotel and started making myself obvious, asking loud questions, poking about on the shore where people could see me " (a long-winded description of capture by Reconvaco's men followed, cut for the sake of brevity.) " I suffered a few bruises, nothing too bad, and kept my mouth shut most of the time. Reconvaco found the dubhium straight away, of course. He took it away and then a couple of days later a woman turned up. Tall, well-spoken. I couldn't see her face. But she was carrying - wait for it - a crystal skull. Odd thing. If you stared at it too hard (which I did, of course) you could see the face of someone, like one of the painting of Greek gods that you see. The strangest thing about it was that it always seemed to be facing the same direction, whichever way the woman turned it. She called it Quetzie so no prizes for guessing who it was supposed to be, I guess.
"Where was I? Oh, the woman. Right. She asked me a few questions, who I was, where I was from, who I was working for. Then she got onto the subject of dubhium. She didn't call it that, she just referred to the 'chemical I was carrying.' Wanted to know where I'd got it from, how it was manufactured, who had given it to me, what it was for. All sorts of things. I stuck to our plan of telling her it was an experimental drug and I was taking it to London when Reconvaco caught me. Reconvaco started asking me questions about Quetzalcoatl but the woman told him to shut up.
"She didn't say anything else to me, but as she was going out, she was whispering to Reconvaco. I didn't catch it all, but I did hear her mention Quetzie again. Something about not wanting him. Reconvaco asked her what to do about me and she said 'kill him, he knows too much already.'
"I was pretty scared by then, I must say, and I can't tell you how relieved I was to see you people again. Another day and I don't think there'd have been anything left of me to rescue. We didn't get Reconvaco or the skull, more's the pity, but I think we can count my mission a success. Ahuantepec has the dubhium and has no doubt already injected herself with it. Who do you think she'll try and contact first? If she was trying to kill Quetzalcoatl before, it'll probably be Tez, won't it? So we'll be able to wave goodbye to those two anyway."
Report 6 - Message from Dr Hernandez, Mexico
Regarding Mr Kellsal's description of the crystal skull:
From the fragments of Mayan legend that exist concerning the skulls, my belief is that this one does indeed represent the god Quetzalcoatl. The holographic image Kellsal saw is most unusual; I have found no reference to this. However, there is a belief that religious artefacts point people to their god. I wonder if this is meant literally in this case, the face on the skull always turning to face towards the person of Quetzalcoatl. Of course, this presupposes Quetzalcoatl is a physical being, and that he still exists, which is nonsense. Most probably the skull would have been used in ritual to convince the people their god was standing close by.
On another note, Kellsal reported the skull was in the possession of an unknown woman. However, I have heard through my sources here that Jaime de Reconvaco has resurfaced and he has been seen with a crystal skull identical to the one Mr Kellsal describes. Could there be two of them?
1. Our original plan remains unchanged. It is safe to assume that Ahuan will have injected herself with the dubhium and made contact with Tezcatlipoca by now. We gave her just enough dubhium for herself and no more so she and Tezcat will be relying on the dubhium in her bloodstream to protect them both.
What we need you to do, then, is to uncover the identities of the two Ylids, keep them under surveillance until they meet and then, using the dart gun we shall provide, inject Ahuan with the anti-dubhium compound. This will, in theory, result in both of them spontaneously combusting. If you could record this event on film or still photographs it will help us greatly.
This is the first time we have taken direct action against the Ylids, certainly the first time we have sent agents with explicit instructions to kill one or more of them. However, we believe the time for direct action has come. These Ylids would enslave the whole of humanity if given the chance, remember. We must eliminate them before more of them gain access to dubhium and combine their talents against us.
We have entrusted Sean with the dart gun and there are several back-up capsules of the anti-dubhium compound in case of need. We cannot stress strongly enough that these must not fall into the hands of the enemy. For this reason we cannot supply you with further quantities of dubhium. We must hope that the amount Ahuan took from Mr Kellsal proved sufficient bait.
2. The opportunity to track down and neutralise Quetzalcoatl as well as the other two is too good to miss. You should locate and steal the skull 'Quetzie' which is believed to be in the hands of Jaime de Reconvaco. Use the skull to track down Quetzalcoatl and eliminate him by any means possible. He is thought to be slowly waking from a state of suspended animation. If you can locate him before he wakes fully, it should be possible to deal with him by mundane means.
We suggest that you concentrate on this objective in the first instance. Stealing the skull may well bring Ahuan into the open which will make the primary mission objective far easier to achieve.
3. When the above objectives are met, bring the skull 'Quetzie' to London for SITU to study.
This should be a straightforward mission. There is very little investigative work, other than discovering the identities of Ahuan and Tezcat. If the mission proves a success we will be able to use similar means to combat other Ylid groups. Some of you may be uncomfortable with the notion of killing, so let me say again: these being are not human. On the contrary, they have always worked to enslave humanity. If they knew of our existence they would kill us all without a second thought. Some of them have already developed their own dubhium compounds and if they begin to co-ordinate their efforts against us to any extent at all, we are lost. Our only hope is to strike back now.
You will rendezvous in Merida, east Mexico. This is where Reconvaco is known to have his base. A small town, poorer than its neighbouring tourist spots, the main attractions are cliff-diving, cave-diving in the underground lakes, and the local archaeological sites. The political situation is, for the moment, stable. The Zapatistas, representing the traditional way of life, lack to power to effect any real change. The main trouble comes from the criminal group, the Cuervo Cojaente. The cult of the Black Madonna has been silent of late.
Given the nature of your assignment, we cannot afford to provide a local contact for you. George Kellsal will meet you at the Hotel Esplendido. He speaks enough Spanish to be able to act as translator for you should you need him, and he will fill you in on any other background material you need to know. Our operatives have used the hotel as a base in both the previous Mexico assignments. The manager, Mr Arsenio Vizcaya is dishonest and easily bribed.
Your cover: You will be posing as a group of academics on a study trip of the area. Please dress and equip yourselves accordingly, and try to act the part while you are there. You have been booked into the hotel for a period of two weeks initially.
Usual rules about expenses and extra-legal activities apply.
The Three Faces Of God
Martin Keyes, travelling alone from Heathrow, passes the time pondering the briefing package he received from SITU. Ylids, dubhium, talking skulls He stubs out a half-smoked cigarette and watches the final coil of smoke vanish. He joined SITU to meet people not to kill aliens, he thinks. On the other hand, stealing a skull sounds as though it could be interesting. Far more his thing. He pushes a hand back through his short, blonde hair and grins to himself.
If nothing else, he's getting an all-expenses paid trip to Mexico. That's got to be worth something.
Further back on the same plane, Martyn Aberg is so deeply into a book that he doesn't notice when the 'fasten seatbelts' sign lights up. The couple sitting beside him are both dozing quietly, which suits him fine.
He is a big man, six foot tall and broad, light brown hair brushed straight back from his face. His short-sleeved shirt is open at the collar. He uncrosses his legs, knocking one foot against the portable PC shoved into the magazine rack in front, and sighs. Airline seats ought to be bigger, he thinks. Or SITU ought to pay for its people to travel first class. He turns another page.
The sharp jolt of the plane touching the runway surprises him.
Belle-Marie Prior bites hr lower lip nervously, turning the pages of her SITU briefing with her long, delicate fingers. She sighs and wipes sweat from her forehead. She's not used to this sort of weather. Her red-blonde hair is already hanging limp and dark around her eyes and her short cotton skirt is sticking to her bare legs.
Not for the first time she wishes that her fiancé, Daniel, was coming on this investigation with her. If you can call it an investigation. She bites her lip a little harder. Sounds more like a planned assassination than anything else. Still, she of all people should know how dangerous the Ylids are. She thinks for a moment of Daniel and their baby back in London. She's knows exactly what would happen to them should the Ylids get hold of them.
"It's them or us," she says aloud, startling the woman sitting next to her.
Eric Alnes and Theodore Warren arrive at the hotel almost together. Eric, white-haired, dressed impeccably in an Italian suit the colour of vanilla cream, smiles a greeting. His handshake is firm and he meets Warren's gaze directly, his eyes a bright, piercing blue.
"Good to see you again, T.R. Shall we go in?" He waves Warren on ahead. His accent is American, his voice warm. The sort of voice that makes you want to instinctively want to trust him with your entire life's secrets.
Theodore Warren is far younger than Eric though his tanned skin has suffered from too much exposure to sun and wind. He is dressed casually, beige slacks and shirt, and shrugs before walking on into the hotel.
George Kellsal greets them enthusiastically. "Good morning. Eric and Theodore, right? Steve's already inside, haven't got a clue where the others are yet. Lets go through to the bar, I'll buy you a drink."
The bar is stiflingly hot, a broken air-conditioning unit whirring uselessly. The appearance of the seventh member of the group, then, is all the more startling. Steven Smith looks like he's just stepped off the set of 'Men in Black.' A coal-black suit, white shirt buttoned to the collar and black tie. And - despite the fact that the room has only one window and that has a blind over it - sunglasses.
He stands up, pushing light brown hair back behind his ears.
Theodore's only reaction is a slight smile. "Steven. How are things?"
"Fine." Steven, it seems, is not big on conversation. He sits back down again, removing his sunglasses for a moment to reveal eyes that are a totally unremarkable mid brown.
Eric accepts a glass off George and pulls up a chair opposite. "I was surprised to see Keyes in on this," he comments, sitting down. "What about the other two - Martin Aberg and Sean. Anyone know anything about them?"
Theodore and Steven both shake their heads. Eric dismisses the matter with an elegant shrug. "No doubt we'll find out soon enough."
Belle-Marie arrives next, then Martin and Martyn, turning up in the same taxi. They greet the rest of the group cautiously. For a while there is an awkward silence, with Theodore watching the room constantly as if he expects Reconvaco to be hiding behind the bar. The others are equally tense.
"Maybe it's just this heat," Martin Keyes says, shifting position in his seat next to Belle-Marie. "It seems to put everyone on edge. Who are we waiting for now? Sean?"
George nods. "I don't know where he's got to. Maybe I ought to go and check."
But before he can stand up, the door opens and a man walks in. He's carrying a large, black hold-all over one shoulder and he dumps it on the floor before speaking.
"I had to go the long way around customs. Have I missed anything?" Sean's voice has a rough edge to it and the slightest touch of an Irish accent. His gaze goes to Belle-Marie's bare legs and he whistles appreciatively. "I can see I'm going to enjoy this mission."
George coughs uncomfortably. "We're all here then. Good. Why don't you start off telling me what you need to know and I'll do my best to fill you in."
Tuesday 13th July 1999, 2.15 pm
The bar of the Hotel Esplendido