13: Neviscorp

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): November 5, 2002

Who Was There: George Phillapoussis (Storn), Jonathan Wertham (Matt), Mark Donovin (Eric), Nemura Kentaro (Chris)

What It Was

The Renaissance Renovation Project reaches the halfway point, and the laptop stolen from the ACO divulges its secrets. Then comes an unexpected request from Alex Abel to investigate an office building owned by one of his old business associates, Andrew Ben-Nevis. The Aces agree to explore the site, but what they find is a Sleeper agent with a (somewhat) friendly warning.

The Full Horror

About four weeks have passed since the raid on the American College of Orgonomy, and things have been quiet, though the Aces do sometimes feel they are being watched.

George continues his occult studies. Katsoulakis is having him study Latin, and on his own, George is exploring sikh traditions and other serpent cultures throughout history. He and Mark also keep supplies of antivenin #1 & #2 at the Renaissance and in the trunk of Lucy, George's taxicab.

George has also been trying to charm his way into New York's insider parties, still hoping to find the mysterious Tessa.

Yukio has been spending a lot of time at Ground Zero, communing with the Japanese victims of 9/11. Lately, he has also been meditating in different places at the Renaissance. Now and then, he goes to George's cab to talk with James Oleson, but Jim has not been around long enough yet to answer most of Yukio's questions about the spirit world.

Mark remains on guard after the attack by the serpent man, but the orgone engine has made a difference. He seems less paranoid, and has a renewed hope that there may still be good things in the world.

Ken returns from his visit to San Francisco feeling exhausted and more tired than when he left. He hasn't been sleeping well, and he can't remember when he last had a dream. A few days ago, he began waking up in different places in his apartment, finally waking up one morning in the hallway outside his front door. Since then he has tied his toe to the bedpost, and this has put a stop to his sleepwalking. But Ken can sometimes hear the spirit of Jennie Creighton calling to him from somewhere deep inside.

On a happier note, the Renaissance renovation is halfway done, on schedule, and even under budget, despite Mark's security expenses. Jamal shows up on the exact day with a bottle of expensive champagne and a toast to the Aces for their contributions to the community.

Jamal tells Jonathan that his aura has shifted in a way Jamal has not seen before. Jonathan has indeed been feeling different ever since Tamara handed him the package from Thomas Cartwright, just before their visit to Wardenclyffe. But Jonathan feels all right, and Jamal says that's good enough for him.

Jonathan then gives Jamal a demonstration of the orgone engine. Jamal is very quiet after that, and he leaves deep in thought.

Rourke's Laptop

Jonathan has made it through most of the files on Paul Rourke's laptop, though some of them were very technical and took a while to figure out. The files cover all his research and mention other ACO-related locations, including the Jackson Laboratories in Maine and the Orgone Biophysical Research Laboratory in Ashland, Oregon. But there are no mentions of Curtis Book, Defense Solutions, Inc., Thomas Donnelly or Grand Rapids.

In general, Rourke is smart but hasn't a lick of sense. He can't keep his mouth shut about his work, which makes (ACO director) Gerald Carlyle nervous and (Oregon labs director) Victor DeMeo apoplectic.

The orgone engine demonstration in Newark was Rourke's idea. Carlyle didn't like it at first, but he changed his mind when he realized it would be good publicity for the ACO. DeMeo, however, had a meltdown. Rourke was cc:'d on several emails that suggest there was a tremendous flame war between the two directors. DeMeo's last email ends saying, "You had better be prepared for the consequences of what you two are doing. You are both innocents in a very dangerous world." Carlyle sent a private email to Rourke after that, saying not to worry, DeMeo's just been paranoid lately.

The rest of Rourke's emails are the usual chatter, announcements, and forwarded web jokes. A few emails refer to "the Michigan group", usually as a joke whenever someone runs into a difficult problem. ("I bet the Michigan group knows all about it. : )"). But some of the references were serious, and almost every one of them got an irritated reply from Rourke, insisting the group doesn't exist.

Rourke also kept a personal research log on his laptop (definitely not posted on the net). His last entries describe a problem he ran into with the orgone engine. While no one seemed to feel its effects as immediately as he did (something else Rourke could not understand), it nonetheless had a definite, positive effect on small groups of people in small rooms after several hours. And he could generate small amounts of electrical power. But no matter what he did, Rourke could not get the engine to affect the entire ACO complex.

Rourke found this tremendously frustrating. There must be some limitation in the engine's design, but he could not figure out what it was.

Looking for an answer, he went back to Reich's works, and had started to wonder if an answer might be found in Reich's "cloudbuster." Reich claimed the cloudbuster had been able to create orgone on a large scale, enough to affect local weather patterns. But there was a problem: no one at the ACO had ever been able to replicate the cloudbuster or any of Reich's other late inventions.

Rourke knows Reich's work as only a true believer can, and he has never understood how the man could have run dry in his last years. Here in his personal log, Rourke will admit Reich had his unstable moments, "but he was always scrupulous about the work." Rourke refuses to believe Reich became delusional, or even worse, a fraud. But if he didn't, then why can't the ACO make the experiments work like Reich insists they once did?

One of the last log entries (dated a week before the Aces' break-in) is misspelled and rambling, almost as if Rourke was drunk when he typed it. He's angry, frustrated, wildly speculative. He raves that maybe DeMeo is right to be paranoid, maybe those bastards, the Michigan group, really do exist. Maybe they did steal the "real" papers, "the last secrets" of Wilhelm Reich. "My life's work sits here DEAD because of oppressors and TRAITORS, terrified of a great man's brilliance!!! Terrified of FREEDOM!!"

As for the ACO itself, after the Aces' break-in, the college closed for two weeks' "renovation" and has since opened again on a limited basis.

Trouble at Neviscorp

On November 5th, Cassandra Moon calls Jonathan at the Renaissance to say that a TNI agent named Andrew Ryder has just showed up at Jonathan's apartment with a message from Alex Abel. When the Aces arrive at the apartment, Ryder says Abel is asking the Aces to look into a problem at the New York branch office of Neviscorp.

Neviscorp is owned by Andrew Ben-Nevis, a gifted inventor and businessman. He was one of Abel's best partners back in the 1980s, when Abel was building his fortune. Now something strange has happened at Neviscorp's New York branch office, and Abel is worried it may have something to do with the siege of TNI. Abel would take care of the matter himself, but with his people under lockdown, he's forced to put himself in debt to the Aces-something he is not doing lightly.

Ryder is different from previous TNI agents. He's much less assured and not comfortable with violence. It's hard not to think he was sent because Abel didn't have anyone better at hand-or because Abel considers Ryder expendable. But Ryder does have the Sight, and that might be helpful.

Basically one week ago, on Thursday, October 31, at precisely 4:39pm (i.e. at twilight), the fifty people who work in the New York branch office of NevisCorp left the building as quickly as they could, and since then have refused to go back.

Ryder has transcripts from fifty interviews conducted by the Neviscorp corporate HR department, and he talked to ten of the employees himself. The results were the same every time: everyone refuses to step foot back inside the building, but no one can remember why. They all suffer from total amnesia about that day. Even Ryder's careful use of Mindsight turned up nothing, because there were no memories there to read.

The New York branch is a small, stand-alone, two-story complex in Brooklyn. When the Aces go in, they find most of the fluorescent bulbs are out, leaving the complex deep in shadow. Ryder starts becoming terrified for reasons he can't explain, and Mark and Ken hear whispers in their minds, addressing them by name. Then as they enter a large, open room, they see a man(?), standing in cloak and hood, waiting for them.

At first, the man claims to be with TNI. Ryder challenges him on that, and then falls to the floor unconscious. Irritated, the man admits he is, in fact, a Sleeper.

His cover apparently blown before he intended, he makes his message short and direct: the Sleepers respect their efforts to combat the paranormal and their efforts to keep such matters out of the public eye. But Mark's encounter with the serpent man suggests they may be getting sloppy, and if that continues, the Sleepers will be forced to take steps against them. The Sleepers don't want that to happen any more than they do, so he has been sent to deliver this warning.

Abel got similar warnings and ignored them, and now TNI are paying the price. They would be wise, the man continues, to keep their distance from TNI. Abel and his people won't be around much longer.

His message delivered, the Sleeper disappears in a blinding flash of white light, and the office building returns to normal.

Previous Recap | Next Recap | Updated 3/19/12, by the Croupier