17: Wardenclyffe Revisited

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When It Happened (Chronicle Time): February 26, 2003 - March 28, 2003

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

What It Was

Detective Alan Wingate asks Ken more questions about the attack on his apartment last spring. Then George, Ken and Mark have an unexpected meeting with the mysterious Tessa, who sends them on a quest to find the secret journals of Nikola Tesla. After a short, but intense, battle with three serpents at a place called Wardenclyffe, they recover the journals and a strange device.


Another note arrives from Lesek Czernin: TNI has lost contact with all fifteen operatives in Latin America . . . Yukio has been teaching Michel Borsavin how to control his Gift. He's also been writing his new book of poetry and spending a lot of time at Ground Zero, communing with spirits lost when the WTC collapsed. . . . Cassandra has also been busy. She's decided to stay at Jonathan's to keep an eye on Tamara and help her guard the orgone engine. She's also helping Yukio at Ground Zero and volunteering a lot at the Abyssinian Baptist Church. Shauntell Robertson was skeptical about having a full-blown Wicca working in her soup kitchen, even if she did have the Aces' seal-of-approval. But now that she's seen how dedicated and hard-working Cassandra is, Shauntell overlooks the amulets and herbal remedies (especially since they seem to work). . . . Cassandra is still worried that her former ties to TNI have put her in danger. Being near Mark and the Renny makes her feel a little more secure, but she isn't going out much, and she never goes anywhere alone. George usually drives her to and from the shelter. . . . On one of those drives, Cassandra says she saw Nicole at Ground Zero, preparing for a photo shoot to introduce a new line by the United Colors of Benetton. Knowing George likes Nicole, Cassandra tries very hard to be tactful, but she can't hide her dismay about the whole idea. George decides Nicole really can't be the woman for him-they really do live in different worlds.

On March 3, a message arrives at the Renny from Andrew Ben-Nevis (Demetrius Katsoulakis told him the Renny was the best place to contact you). He thanks you for attending his get-together, and asks if you would visit him at his NYC residence in April. There is a matter he would like to discuss, and possibly, an offer to make. . . . Another message arrives, on the Renny's secure email system. The email used several chain-remailers and includes a special code word that proves it's from the Reich Institute. The message is from the head of research, Ken Inada, who hopes the Aces will visit them soon. "We have much to discuss."

The Full Horror

On February 26, Ken gets a call from Detective Alan Wingate of the NYPD (the detective who was--and apparently still is-investigating the attack on Ken's apartment on May 25, 2002). Wingate asks Ken to come down to the station and to answer a few more questions. Wingate is professional and polite, but clearly frustrated that he's made very little progress.

Ken sticks to his original story-he was knocked out and doesn't remember anything-and Wingate seems to accept this. He notes that all the security cameras in the building were knocked out minutes before the attack, and that ballistics and DNA tests have had no luck in identifying the two men left dead on the scene. As for the white goo left on the floor-two samples were saved and sent to the crime lab, but both were lost en route and haven't been seen since. Wingate thanks Ken for his help and cuts him loose.

On the way back home, Ken feels a strong desire to go to Central Park, and wander there for a while. Then he picks up a blade of grass and blows it like a whistle. With that, the desire fades. Ken pockets the blade of grass, curious about what just happened.

He heads back to his apartment only to find kid sister, Kaori, asleep on the couch with a beefy guy he's never seen before. That's about the third guy in the past month. The boyfriend du jour gets up and takes a long (and expensive) hot shower. Kaori stumbles blurry eyed to the kitchen and starts making tea while she complains about the weird tentacle dream she had. Boyfriend emerges, clad only in a towel, grabs a beer from the refrigerator and camps out in front of the TV for a half hour before he finally leaves. As soon as the door slams, Ken confronts Kaori, saying her love life is her business, but that guy isn't welcome in his apartment again. Kaori, shocked and furious, stomps away to her room, slamming the door behind her.

Later on, Mark, George, and Ken assemble at O'Malley's. While they're talking, Michael the waiter swishes by with a hand-written message-"Central Park. 3:14am"-but when asked, says he can't remember who gave it to him. The Aces start sobering up. They reach the park at 2am and begin scouting out the area, looking for a likely place for a meeting. Oddly, the park is very deserted, even for a March evening. No cops or homeless in sight.

Tessa Returns

Then at exactly 3:14am, in the light of a nearby halogen lamp, a figure suddenly appears. She is blonde, wearing a long cashmere coat and white turtleneck sweater. The Aces are shocked to see it's the mysterious Tessa. She waits for them to notice her, and then walks quietly up to them, making eye contact with Mark and George to let them know she's aware of the gun and deck of cards they have close to their respective hands.

The Aces are at a loss for words, especially George, who had been imagining this moment for months, but now finds the meeting is not what he expected. Tessa appears confident and assured, and seems to know all three men now have the Gift, though she herself appears Mundane.

Tessa says she arranged the meeting because there are questions needing answers which can no longer wait. She's avoided meetings before because they might allow her enemies (using the Law of Contagion) to find out about the Aces, but they'll have to risk that. No doubt they have questions for her too, so she suggests they go back-and-forth.

Her first question is whether they know where Thomas Donnelly is. When they say they haven't seen him since the orgone-engine demonstration in New Jersey, Tessa looks worried. "We've lost track of him too."

That prompts the Aces' first question: who are her people? Tessa apologizes, but says it's not safe for the Aces to know that. "There's information you need to know to stay alive, but there's also information that right now would get you killed."

Mark cleverly asks her if the Aces have met any of her people yet, and she admits they have not.

That suggests Tessa is not a Sleeper. In fact, she doesn't seem to consider the Sleepers a serious threat, at least to her. She also doubts the Sleepers are taking down TNI. Her people aren't sure who is responsible, but their short list of suspects isn't pleasant.

Tessa asks about Yukio Ohta, and if they trust him. When they say they do, she nods and accepts their word. In return, she says that there may come a time when they are approached by a man named Aglie. If that happens, they should consider him a man they can trust.

She also suggests they learn as much as they can about the confrontation that took place in 1913. When Ken asks what relation it had to World War I, she replies that the Great War happened because 1913 left no one who could prevent it. Tessa's description of 1913 is different from Lesek's-in her version, the Sentinels and the Order of St Cecil were on the Black Hand's side.

The conversation shifts to the serpents, and what a threat they are, especially since Mark was nearly killed fighting just one of them. Tessa says, "Actually there were three of them, Mark. There usually are three. I-well, I did what I could, but one got past me." Mark just stares at her for a moment, and then starts grumbling.

Tessa decides that's a good time to give Mark something she brought for him. She pulls out a small box and hands it to him saying, "This is for you. I was told it's something you should have right now." Mark opens the box to find an amulet on a chain. The amulet bears the Latin "TEMPLI DEFENSOR" and depicts a onion-domed building. The building is the same one he's been seeing in his dreams. Mark is impressed, and then realizes Tessa is watching him, waiting. He hesitates, then meets her gaze and puts the amulet on. He feels a moment of warmth as the amulet touches his chest, and Tessa cautions him to wear it but keep it out-of-sight.

George asks if he might talk to Tessa for a moment, and she agrees. They step away, and he confesses he's felt a special bond between them since he first saw her. Tessa says George has to understand that he doesn't really know her, and adds, as gently as she can, that he may feel a bond, but she does not. Someday he will understand why that's true. George is definitely not happy about that.

Finally, Tessa has a request. She tells them that six months before, in September, Jonathan visited a place on Long Island called Wardenclyffe, which once belonged to Nikola Tesla and was the site for one of his most important experiments. Thanks to that visit, Tessa's people now know that the serpents of the black faction are investigating the site. That's a problem, because there is something at Wardenclyffe the serpents must not find.

Tessa can't tell the Aces how she knows this, and not having Jonathan with them means their task will be harder, but this is not something that can wait. They'll have to get whatever information they can from Tamara Westcott and then go to Wardenclyffe and find a metal box. A box containing the last journals of Nikola Tesla.

A Tesla Lesson

With that, Tessa starts to leave. The Aces ask for a way to contact her, but she says right now that would be too dangerous for them. She walks back to the lamppost-and then just isn't there.

After all that, George, Ken and Mark are feeling just a little tense. It's 4am, but fortunately, George knows about a very inside party happening deep in Spanish Harlem. It turns out to be just the place to get stupefyingly drunk. Mark even gets lucky with a drop-dead gorgeous Latina.

Most of the next day is spent recovering from the night before, but that evening the three men take Cassandra and Tamara out to dinner at an excellent and little-known Italian restaurant. Tamara doesn't know the technical details that Jonathan would, but she's able to fill in some details about Wardenclyffe.

The site is near the small town of Shoreham, on the north shore of Long Island, several miles east of Winfield. There were 200 acres when Tesla bought it, but today only 16.2 acres remain. The site was recently bought by a group called the "Friends of Science East", who are planning to turn the place into a science museum and memorial to Tesla's work. Last Tamara heard, the renovation had been delayed for some reason.

Back in 1903, the site included a 94-foot-square, red-brick laboratory, and an enormous transmitter tower, which soared 187 feet above the ground. At the top was an iron-and-steel cupola, fifty feet wide and weighing 55 tons. At the base of the tower was a "hollow" which went 120 feet down into the ground, making the effective height of the transmitter 300 feet. All around the tower were sixteen stone-lined tunnels that curved out from the bottom of the hollow, back up to the surface, where each one was capped by a small brick structure 300 feet from the tower.

Tesla needed the hollow and the tunnels because his transmitter wasn't for sending signals through the air. Instead, it would send them through the earth itself, a far more efficient path for radio signals. Unfortunately, the tower was very expensive, and Tesla was relying on the financial resources of J. P. Morgan, who was losing patience with what was starting to look like an enormous boondoggle.

Morgan refused to finish funding the tower, but Tesla decided to go ahead and try to perform what experiments he could. For two weeks, in July 1903, people as far away as the Connecticut shore could see spectacular flares of lightning shooting from the top of the tower nearly until dawn. And then suddenly, the experiments stopped. A few days later, crews arrived at the site and began carting off the heavier, expensive equipment.

Tamara isn't sure exactly what happened, or why the experiments stopped. But the loss of Morgan's funding left Tesla frantic. He spent the next two years in a ceaseless, desperate search for new funding, and when that proved futile, he became increasingly unstable. Finally, in 1906, he had a complete mental breakdown.

By 1917, he could no longer protect the site, and tower was demolished, leaving only the lab and the hollow. The site had different owners until it was bought by the Peerless Photo Products company, who used it as their headquarters for fifty years. When Peerless went under in 1987, and after the site had been cleared of toxins, the Friends of Science East bought it.

Tesla himself died in 1943 after spending his last years as a virtual recluse in a room at the Hotel New Yorker. He claimed to have invented all kinds of amazing things, including "teleforce" rays which could destroy planes at 250 miles and create force fields. The coroner listed his death as a heart attack and made a point of saying there had been "no suspicious circumstances".

Yet within hours of his death, the FBI were going through his papers. The papers went to the little-known Office of Alien Property, because they were expected to go to Tesla's nephew in Yugoslavia. Most would end up at the Tesla Museum in Belgrade, but first, in 1945, records relating to Tesla's experiments in beam weapons were sent to the Air Force in Dayton. They never arrived, and haven't been seen since.


The next day the three men set out with Cassandra and Tamara in Mark's van and George's taxi. Wardenclyffe is an easy drive out I-495, but that takes them past Winfield, and the men can feel the place as they drive by. Ken can feel Jennie's dread and anger within him.

By late afternoon, they arrive at Wardenclyffe. It seems completely deserted. The grounds are overrun with tall grasses and bushes, and the ruins of small buildings. The Aces make short work of the locked front gate and drive around the main building-only to find the loading doors in the back standing wide open. Just inside the loading area is a large and very strange-looking tent.

Killing the engines, they get out to investigate the tent. Inside it they find strange and disturbing instruments and tools. One of them is a large glass orb with unearthly colors coruscating and flickering over it. Tamara recoils from the orb, stumbling back and gasping "Uranur!" The Aces quickly carry her outside.

There's no doubt now that serpents are there, and the Aces have probably been spotted already. The three men arm up and the group starts creeping toward the tower foundation, where now they can see a smaller tent has been set up, right beside the hollow.

Thanks to the tall grasses, the Aces have only a moment's warning before a blue-white blast of energy shoots past them. Mark is able to trace the blast and take the shot, and this time a serpent goes down fast. The Aces creep up to it, and Mark can see this one is about a foot shorter than the soldier he fought and has a lighter build. A scientist? He's wearing a long coat that feels like silk though it looks much tougher. It's already being ruined, however, because the serpent is starting to dissolve to goo.

They may not be soldiers, but they're still dangerous. The group falls back to allow Cassandra and Tamara to get away, but when they reach the vehicles, they find their tires slashed. Mark decides to return the favor with his assault rifle ("They trash our stuff, we trash theirs.") and sprays the large tent, destroying the instruments inside.

That provokes the last two serpents to attack. While Mark gets into a firefight with one, dodging its blasts, Ken closes for a hand-to-hand combat with the other. It's a fast but very intense battle, made worse because these two serpents are protected by their own kinds of Shielding. Unable to fight them directly, George runs into the large tent and, fighting waves of nausea, uses one of the instruments to smash the glass orb. It turns out to be harder than it looks, but on impact, the glass goes dark. Unfortunately, that has no effect on the serpents' Shields.

(For Ken fans, this time he used: Talons of the Celestial Eagle, the Silver-Mesh Entrapment Maneuver, Willow Weeps Blood, the Double-Sting of the Drunken Hornet, and finally, the Ivory Tortoise Incursion!)

Mark and Ken manage to kill the serpents, and the Aces quickly head for the foundation. The base is concrete and timber, but there is a steel-lined shaft surrounded by a spiral stairway heading down. Mark leads the way, but the group reaches the bottom without meeting other serpents. Sure enough, there are sixteen passages leading off from the lower chamber, though no instruments or controls. But when George casts an Insight Invocation, he can see a symbol on the wall identical to the one on Mark's amulet. When he points it out, Ken, Cassandra, and even Mark can see it as well. Were the serpents unable to?

With the help of a crowbar, they manage to remove the steel panel bearing the symbol from the wall. Sure enough, there's a metal box behind it. Inside they find an odd instrument, which Tamara suspects is a late-model design of an electrical coil, and six thick notebooks. Flipping through them, Tamara can see they will be very hard to understand, but there's no doubt these are Tesla's final notebooks, long thought lost.

The group quickly returns to the van and taxi, where they have to wait for a repair truck with replacement tires. Fortunately, no other serpents appear, and the Aces have time to round up all the serpent equipment they can find. The instruments look destroyed, but the Aces aren't going to leave it behind for anyone else to stumble upon.

A few hours later, the repairs are done, and the group is on its way back to New York. Mark says this is the first time he's been able to see the strange things the others have been able to, but he adds that for a while now, he's been having strange flashes of premonition and deja vu. What that means, remains to be seen.

For his part, George intends to spend the next few weeks deep in Katsoulakis' library, looking for anything he can find about the mysterious events of 1913.

Tamara simply flips through the notebooks, saying nothing.

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