Competition: Operation Marshall Shanty

Contest Rules

To win the contest prize, put yourself in the mindset of an investigator for the Ordo Veritatis. Examine the notes and documents, which will be provided in dribs and drabs over a period of days. Use them to construct:

  • A) A theory of the case, explaining the source of the supernatural threat, including a likely head of the Esoterror cell responsible
  • B) A plan for the Veil-Out: Assuming that you are right about your chosen suspect, how do you end his or her operation, and then cover up the facts so that the general public remains unaware of the mind-shattering truth? Remember, public fear and uncertainty weaken the membrane, making it easier for Esoterror cells to summon predatory entities from the horrific dimension known as the Outer Dark.
  • C) Submit your entry by 31st August to simon@dyingearth.com, in any format you like, for example, as a simple email or with attachments such as PDFs. You give us permission to publish your entry on our website.

For more on the Ordo Veritatis and their ongoing war against the supernaturally subversive Esoterrorist conspiracy, see The Esoterror Fact Book, new from Pelgrane Press.

Original Briefing

This briefing was conveyed to Agents Roark and Losada by their Mr. Verity on assignment to Operation Marble Shanty, Phase One:

You are tasked with an investigation into the deaths of self-styled guerrilla artist SELMA POOLE. POOLE was murdered in a courthouse confrontation by pool cleaner ZEKE KULA, in an apparently unmotivated incident. POOLE had been arrested for a disturbance created through an unauthorized art installation project held at the FAIRBORN GALLERY MALL in FAIRBORN, CT. Although we have no concrete confirmation of supernatural or Esoterror involvement, our media team analysis has flagged the case for the following reasons:

* Psychologically destabilizing nature of POOLE’s art installation

* Potential example of heightening anxiety surrounding a news event already generating considerable anxiety and cognitive dissonance

* Use of Esoterror keywords in POOLE’s press statements

* Shocking public nature of POOLE’s death

* Puzzling lack of motivation on part of KULA, opening possibility of arcane influence

You will be provided with identification & clearance as FBI agents following up details of case on a supporting basis. Like any case assigned as MTA work product, may prove entirely innocuous. Potential for Schrödinger backlash is high; observe requisite protocols and exercise extreme caution. Deflect and dampen case’s inherent drama, laying preliminary groundwork for veil-out throughout investigative phase. Do not allow your investigation to contribute to conspiracy theories or other psychologically troubling rumors. Avoid media attention!!

Your Briefing

This message was orally conveyed to you by Mr. Verity, your case officer. (As you know, your case officer changes from file to file, but always refers to him- or herself as Mr. Verity.)

You have been assigned to investigate the deaths of two of our own. Carol Roark and Robert Losada died in the line of duty during an operation. Personal information on the two agents will be made available on a need-to-know basis but for the moment is not considered relevant to the investigation. You will be provided with autopsy reports, the original briefing as given to Roark and Losada, and investigative notes recovered from the death scene. Many of these notes were found in severely damaged condition, either burned, soaked with blood, or both. For this reason they will be made available to you over a period of time, as technicians recover their contents. In the case of clippings from media sources, original articles have been or will be located and provided to you.

Operatives Roark and Losada were found by police officers at the scene. Officers were summoned by cleaning staff at the Smart Stay Motel, Highway 84, near Fairborn, CT, upon hearing apparent gunfire. Officers secured the scene before entering it. Approximate time from the 911 call to discovery of the bodies was eighteen minutes. Finding the operatives’ cover identification, which placed them as FBI agents, local police contacted the FBI. Our assets within the agency rerouted contact to us and will facilitate your insertion into the case. You will also operate under the guise of an FBI special agent.

The Esoterror M.O.

Esoterror cells seek to increase the level of negative magical energy in the world by weakening the membrane that separates our reality from the nightmare realm known as the Outer Dark. They do this by heightening human anxieties. Sometimes they manufacture events to increase general apprehension and cognitive dissonance. At other times they opportunistically exploit genuine events. Where the membrane grows thin, it becomes possible to summon the dread entities of the Outer Dark (ODEs), who either do the Esoterrorists’ bidding, or simply wreak distressing havoc, as their natures dictate.

The Death Scene

Operative Roark was found draped over the bathtub in room 206 of the Smart Stay Motel. Her head, arms and upper torso extended into the tub. She had suffered three bullet wounds to the abdomen. Two bullets exited through her lower back. The third lacked a corresponding exit wound. Superficial burns covered her hands, arms, face, and upper torso. The tub contained note books and clippings, heavily damaged by fire and in some cases ripped to shreds. Signs of accelerant use were found. A charred, melted plastic lighter was found amid the destroyed evidence. Operative Roark’s sidearm, a SIG-SAUER P226, lay on the bathroom floor. Six rounds were found in the clip and none in the chamber, indicating that two rounds had recently been fired by this weapon. Lying in the bathroom sink was a blood-covered 7” KA-BAR trench knife. Records indicate that both weapons were typically carried in the field by Operative Roark. Blood on the knife was mostly that of Operative Losada.

Operative Losada was found leaning against the wall in the hotel room itself, facing the bathroom doorway. His service weapon, a Glock 19, was found in his hand. Seven rounds remained in its 10-round clip, indicating that three rounds had recently been fired by this pistol. Losada had been shot in the right thigh and left shoulder. The shoulder wound was superficial but the leg wound severed Losada’s femoral artery. A deep knife slash to Losada’s throat cut his jugular vein and carotid artery.

Two 10 mm rounds corresponding to Losada’s weapon were found embedded in the bathroom wall. Preliminary trajectory estimates indicate that Losada shot from a sitting position. A pair of 9 mm rounds corresponding to Roark’s weapon were found in the wall behind Losada’s body. Shell casings were found for each shot fired.

A blood trail and considerable spatter led from the bathroom floor to the tub.

Reconstruction suggests that Roark slashed Losada’s throat, then moved toward the bathroom. For reasons unknown (perhaps prompted by a sound such as an utterance by Losada) she turned to face Losada, at which point he fired three rounds into her. It was most likely at this time that Roark fired at Losada. She then crawled to the tub and destroyed the documents contained therein, expiring shortly thereafter.

Autopsy Results

Autopsy results for Operative Losada confirmed preliminary reconstruction of the death scene: cause of death was massive bleeding from his throat wound. Had he not exsanguinated nearly immediately from this wound, the gunshot wound to the thigh would also have, given the eighteen minute response time, proven fatal.

Operative Roark died from blood loss as a result of her gunshot wounds. The burns played no role in her death.

A severe anomaly was discovered during examination of Roark’s brain. Inside the brain was found a rapidly deteriorating parasitic specimen. The parasite, which was immediately freeze-dried for purposes of preservation and has been studied only through MRI imaging, is two and a half inches long. Half of its body length is devoted to a bulbous skull structure dominated by bulbous ocular organs and a proportionately large mouth. The jaw contains two dozen fish-like, pinprick teeth. The rest of the skeleton in some ways resembles a frog, and in others a human fetus. Fibers leading from the ocular organs appear to have attached themselves into the victim’s occipital lobes (a center of vision processing) with tiny hook-like structures. Other fibers attach themselves to the frontal lobe, home of a vast array of functions including thought, problem solving, and inhibition. Although superficially resembling an unknown member of the animal kingdom, the specimen’s bizarre cell structure and apparent lack of DNA conclusively identifies it as an ODE (Outer Dark Entity.)

The entity matches no known entry in the ODE database. A historical team has been assigned to comb the archives for supporting references.

The Clues

Recvered Notes

Article Exerpts

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