Keeper: Doug Iannelli
Lt. Chance Boudreaux: Jared Fialkow
Saturday, December 20th, 1997, 0730 hrs. . .
Keeper: It is 0730 hours and cold as hell outside. Another Canadian blew in last night, dropping temperatures to a numbing -15 degrees Fahrenheit with the wind chill factor. With some luck, it’ll warm back up into the mid-20’s by midafternoon, but that may be hoping for too much. At least it’s not snowing. . .
Boudreaux: (Thinking to himself) “Great, and I left the SEALs for this???”
Keeper: You and the rest of the staff are huddled in the artificial warmth of the Exchange, eating breakfast and shooting the shit over coffee; capitalizing on every last minute you don’t have to be outside in that God-forsaken wind.
Keeper: Dwight Yoakum warbles over the jukebox, the final result of a near fist-fight between Doty, now obliviously inhaling a stack of pancakes, and Spacek, gone outside to cool off and nurse his wounded pride in a cloud of cigarette smoke.
Keeper: Suddenly, the door to the Exchange swings open and the lanky form of Spacek, comically dwarfed in his cold-weather parka, steps in, flicking a half-smoked Cool out the door and into the wind. He pulls back the hood of his coat and moves to the front windows.
Spacek: “Yo’ man, check it out. We got’s visitors.”
Boudreaux: Boudreaux gets up and goes to the window. . . “What?”
Keeper: Most of the others in the room rise from whatever they’re doing and move to the front of the Exchange with you to see what Spacek’s talking about.
Boudreaux: “Who’d visit this place on any day. . .much less this one?”
Spacek: (pointing out the window toward the North Gate) “Check it out.”
Boudreaux: Boudreaux looks.
Keeper: Through the fogged, wood-framed windows along the front of the Exchange, you see the object of Spacek’s attention. A black sedan and a large gray van with an extended body are pulled up to the North Gate. As you watch, the driver of the sedan, who appears to be alone, flashes an ID and a bundle of papers to the men on guard duty; Pleasant and McDermott, you think.
Keeper: One of the guards (McDermott probably, judging by his size), fights to keep the bundle of papers from blowing away in the wind, then returns them to the driver of the sedan and points emphatically toward the CQ. . .
Keeper: In a billow of wind-swept exhaust, the two vehicles enter the Station, drive down Comstock Avenue (the main road remaining in use), and park together in front of the gymnasium across the street from the Exchange.
Boudreaux: (Is the Captain with us?)
Keeper: (No. Cpt. Tauch and the two men finishing up guard duty are the only ones not present in the Exchange.)
Keeper: Fuller, wiping his glasses off and returning them to his face, turns to Galloway, who is himself observing the activity outside between sips from his cup of coffee.
Fuller: “Are we supposed to be expecting anyone?”
Galloway: “Tauch didn’t mention anything about it.”
Boudreaux: “Perhaps someone had better bring this to his attention.”
Galloway: (gesturing with his coffee cup to the parked sedan) “I think our mystery guest’s already on his way to do that.”
Keeper: The driver of the black sedan exits the car, draws the collar of up on his long dark coat against the cold air and briskly walks across the street toward the CQ. He carries a non-descript briefcase in his right hand. The men crowd the windows at the far end of the Exchange in an effort to follow the man’s progress.
Boudreaux: “Hmm. What do you think this could be, Marlon?”
Galloway: “Hell if I know.”
Keeper: Just as the man begins to climb the short steps of the CQ building, Cpt. Tauch opens the door and steps outside, cigarette draped from his lip. The man, upon seeing the Tauch, places his briefcase on the step beside him and again displays some sort of identification before exchanging a crisp salute with the CO. The two men then enter the CQ and disappear from view as the door closes.
Galloway: “Whoever he is, he’s official.”
Boudreaux: “Well, I guess we’ll find out soon enough. . .if they want us to know.”
Pavliska: “Hey you guys, look!”
Keeper: Pavliska draws your collective attention back to the van left parked across the street. Two figures dressed in cold-weather BDUs, heavy flack-jackets and helmets and armed with CAR-15s with M-203 rifle-mounted grenade launchers emerge from the side door of the van and take up position to each side of the vehicle, facing in opposite directions. The door to the van slides shut, apparently closed by someone from within, but not before you observe that the interior is illuminated.
Pavliska: (whistles under his breath)
Boudreaux: “Someone came ready for bear.”
Pavliska: “Man, they look like badasses. Do you think they’re SEALs or something?”
Keeper: From behind your small gathering at the windows, Gonzales pipes in. He drops his boots to the floor from their former resting place atop one of the tables and rises.
Gonzales: “Shiiit. They’re a bunch of pussies.”
Keeper: Despite Gonzales’ expressed sentiments regarding your alma mater, he moves to the windows to take a peak at the me Pavliska seems so impressed with.
Boudreaux: Can I make out any markings on their BDUs?
SPOT HIDDEN for Boudreaux: (1d100) = 16 [success]
Keeper: Both figures are dressed identically in woodland-motif BDUs, without any visible insignia. They also wear heavy olive-drab body armor and exceptionally bulky helmets of a dull, grayish-black material that appears to be slightly reflective in the early morning sun. Although their faces are obscured by black balaclavas, they appear to be very alert; their heads pan the area around them, encircled in a haze of expired breath.
Boudreaux: Do the helmets or body armor resemble anything I’ve seen before or read about?
MILITARY SCIENCE for Boudreaux: (1d100) = 57 [failure]
Keeper: The helmets strike you as familiar, but at the moment, you can’t recall where it is that you think you might have seen them, or something like them, before.
Boudreaux: “Well, guys, they mean business. . .and look like they know what they’re doing.”
Keeper: Degrassi stares for a moment at the two figures standing out by the van in the freezing wind, clucks, then washes down the last of his cup of coffee before moving away from the window toward the industrial-size coffee urn at the serving line.
Degrassi: “Now dat’s a freakin’ bullshit detail, I don’t care who dey are.”
Keeper: Pavliska hurriedly takes Degrassi’s place at the window. From the other end of the Exchange, Spacek again summons your attentions.
Spacek: “Yo, yo, check it out. Homeboy’s leavin’.”
Keeper: Turning your attention again to the far windows, you see the man with the briefcase step down the stairs of the CQ and again walk briskly across the steet toward his parked car near the van. As he approaches, the two guards snap to attention, drawing their weapons across their chests.
Keeper: The man stops briefly before the guard nearest his car and speaks, the guard’s helmeted-head nodding curtly in the affirmative. The man then returns to his car, places his briefcase inside, and himself gets in. A fresh cloud of billowing exhaust issues from the rear of the car and in short order, the sedan is making a U-turn on Comstock Avenue and heading back toward the North Gate.
Keeper: There is an abrupt crack, followed by the squeal of feedback over the Station’s PA system, followed by the tinny voice of the Station Commander echoing the installation:
Tauch: “Attention on the deck. The vehicle parked outside the gymnasium is not to be disturbed. Station staff are hereby directed not to interfere with visiting personnel or their classified operations. Until further notice, use of the Station gymnasium is prohibited. That is all.”
Keeper: There is a murmur among the men and, by the time the CO’s announcement is concluded, the sedan is past the North Gate and disappearing up Highway 811.
Boudreaux: (What are the recreational facilities like here? Anything other than the gym?)
Keeper: (The gym and the Exchange are about it. There is a pool, but its currently filled with empty above-ground storage tanks awaiting proper disposal.)
Keeper: Gonzales turns from the window and heads back towards his lounging spot among the tables.
Gonzales: “S’fine wit’ me. S’long as they stay the fuck out o’ my way. I don’t know, tho’, Doty here might start havin’ steroid witdralls an’ shit.”
Boudreaux: Boudreaux walks over and gets another cup of coffee.
Keeper: Doty squints at Gonzales over a mouthful of food (not even the excitement of unexpected visitors is enough to make him miss a meal).
Doty: “Fuuuck yew, wetback.”
SILENT GROUP LUCK ROLL for Keeper: (1d100) = 41 [success]
Keeper: Taking advantage of Doty’s preoccupation with Gonzales, Spacek makes his way over to the jukebox and within seconds the driving bass of Ice-T or Ice Cube (you can never tell the difference) is reverberating the walls of the Exchange.
Doty: “Jesus-H-Christ, Spacek! It ain’t even eight o’clock in the mornin’ yet!”
Keeper: Degrassi, returning to his table with a full cup of coffee, nearly spills the hot liquid all over himself when the CD suddenly starts at maximum volume. He places the now half-empty cup down on the table and makes exhaggerated motions between the jukebox and his coffee cup in a manner that has made Italians the butt of a thousand jokes.
Degrassi: (hollering over the music) “What the fuck?! You stupid mulate`, turn that shit off!”
Keeper: Spacek just breaks into a broad, toothy grin – straw slowly churning in his mouth – and flips Degrassis and Doty the bird while walking away with a “straight out of Compton” swagger.
Keeper: Degrassi looks to Galloway, then to you, still gesticulating in a most emotive manner. Galloway just breaks into that shit-eating grin. . .
Boudreaux: I sit down and down the cup of coffee.
Degrassi: “What da fuck, LTs?? Dat goddam jungle music’s shakin’ the freakin’ coffee right out o’ my freakin’ cup!”
Keeper: Doty looks to you and Galloway, then to Spacek, and finally to the jukebox. Slamming his syrup-drenched fork down, he rises.
Spacek: “Hey, were da fuck you think you’re goin’, Gran’ Wizard?”
Keeper: Doty, ignoring Spacek’s taunts, moves toward the jukebox. Spacek moves to intercept him, but Degrassi cuts him off.
Keeper: Spacey, with a sudden rush, spins away from Degrassi. The rest of the enlisted men come to their feet, smelling a fight. . .
Boudreaux: I look to Galloway.
Keeper: Galloway arches his eyebrows as if to say, “Not again” and, setting his beloved coffee-cup down, begins to rise as well.
Boudreaux: I stand up and start walking toward the jukebox.
Keeper: Abruptly, the music stops as Doty yanks the jukebox’s cord from the wall outlet. By the time he turns to gauge Spacek’s reaction, the wiry black kid is on top of him.
FIST/PUNCH for Spacek: (d100) = 43 [success], DMG (1d3) = 3
FIST/PUNCH for Spacek: (d100) = 90 [failure]
FIST/PUNCH for Doty: (d100) = 23 [success], DMG (1d3+1d4) = 6
CON x 5 for Spacek: (d100) = 67 [success], remains conscious
Keeper: Spacek’s attack catches Doty off-guard and he lands a wild haymaker punch to Doty’s temple, but his follow-up is parried by Doty’s instinctively-raised left arm. Recovering from the shock of the initial assault, Doty returns the honor, drilling Spacek directly in the face with a sickening thump, sending him reeling to the floor. Doty then proceeds to kick the prone man who has drawn his knees to his chest in an effort to fend of the attack.
KICK for Doty: (d100) = 76 [failure]
Boudreaux: “Stop that shit, Doty!”
Keeper: Before you can reach the melee and intercede, Pavliska is on top of Doty’s back, attempting to pull the man away from the fallen corspman. Degrassi moves to prevent Pavliska from interfering with the fight, obviously of the impression that Spacek’s getting what he deserves.
Pavliska: “Stop it man! You’re gonna hurt him!”
Keeper: Galloway, as if suddenly realizing the growing severity of the situation, begins barking orders.
Galloway: “Degrassi! Stand down!”
Boudreaux: “Everybody just cool off!”
Keeper: The uninvolved men seem momentarily stunned by your combines outbursts, but the main combatants are oblivious to you. In fact, Degrassi’s preparing to forcefully remove Pavliska from Doty’s back. Meanwhile, Spacek is still crumpled on the floor, balled up in a fetal position to protect his abdomen from the hails of Doty’s fists and kicks.
KICK for Doty: (d100) = 82 [failure]
Boudreaux: I will attempt to grab Degrassi and forcefully move him away.
Keeper: Degrassi is within range of Pavliska just as you close in on him and takes a broad-side swing at the oblivious man’s head. . .
FIST/PUNCH for Degrassi: (d100) = 64 [failure]
Boudreaux: I try to grab his arm. . . if not possible, I try to grab him after he swings.
Keeper: Degrassi’s punch barely misses Pavliska, who is saved only by virtue of the fact that he is riding Doty like some insane bronco, heaving upward and downward as the man jockeys for another good strike on the prone Spacek. You are able to grab Degrassi and restrain him before he can attempt a second punch.
Keeper: Then Pavliska, realizing how close he just came to being sucker-punched, does something completely out of character: he kicks the restrained Degrassi in the balls.
KICK for Pavliska: (d100) = 32, DMG (1d6) = 2
Keeper: Degrassi howls in pain and himself begins to crumple to the ground.
Boudreaux: (raising my voice) “STAND DOWN!!!” I attempt to force myself between Doty and Spacek.
Keeper: Galloway wades in beside you, and over the hooting and hollering of the crowd of onlookers, you hear a plethora of obscenities issue from his mouth as you both dodge Doty’s punches and kicks to separate the two men.
Galloway: “I said that’s enough you stupid motherfucker’s! Doty (pant). . .Pavliska (pant) . . .Degrassi (pant)! You’re all on gate duty tonight. . . you, you, dumb ass dickheads!”
Keeper: Doty, backing off Spacek at the sound of Galloways words and the presence of two superior officers in his adrenaline-reduced field of vision, runs his fingers through his sweaty hair.
Doty: (pointing at Spacek) “What about this tar-baby piece of shit?”
Boudreaux: “You secure that racist bullshit, Doty! He’ll have his turn.”
Keeper: Doty averts his eyes from you, rubs his temple, and nods silently.
Keeper: As the combatants and peacemakers separate, breathing labored breaths and wiping sweat and blood from their faces, Spacek slowly rises to a semi-standing position, arm cradling his chest. He spits a mouthful of saliva and blood into a nearby coffee cup.
Galloway: (in a calmer tone) “Now, do you think you morons can maintain if we let you go? ‘Cause the CO’s gonna be here any minute now and I for one do not want to spend the rest of my fucking day stuck outside freezing my ass off greasing canopy’s in the graveyard.”
Keeper: The men nod in unision. Gonzales and Sparks snicker in the background.
Boudreaux: I look Spacek over. . .make sure nothing’s broken.
Keeper: Hard to tell. Doty was really wailing on him with those kicks. Make a Medicine roll.
MEDICINE for Boudreaux: (d100) = 67 [success]
Keeper: Well, his nose is obviously broken, but that’s nothing new. It looks like it’s been broken several times before. It’s the way he crumpled after that first punch that concerns you – concussion perhaps. Lifting his shirt, you observe some bruising in the thoracic region and he’s guarding it pretty good – maybe some bruised or fractured ribs. Abdomen’s not rigid though, and he seems to be breathing alright. He’ll live, but he’s going to be sore for a while.
Boudreaux: (to Galloway) “It’s like babysitting friggin’ kids.”
Galloway: (smiling) “Yeah. Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Romper Room.”
Galloway: (raising an eyebrow as if in deep thought) “Or Caesar’s Palace.”
Boudreaux: “Oh yeah. . . complete with all the ammenities.”
Galloway: (chuckling) “I was referring to the boxing, Lieutenant.”
Boudreaux: “Yeah, I know. We got the ring side seats. . . (looking to Spacek) and the blood. I’m going to take Spacek to the infirmary.”
Keeper: Galloway continues grinning and rubs his wrist.
Boudreaux: “Spacek, you okay?”
Keeper: Spacek has risen and moved to a nearby chair. He looks at the rest of the staff balefully.
Spacek: “Ya’ll don’t never pull that shit when other people’s be playin’ their shit. (looking directly to you) Yeah, yeah, I’m okay.”
Boudreaux: “Let’s get you checked out, make sure nothing’s broken.”
Spacek: “Naah, I don’t want none a that right now, awright? CO comin’ an shit. Later LT, later.”
Boudreaux: “Okay, but you find me if you need me. . . and gentlmen, let’s get this place cleaned up a bit. . . at least the blood off the floor.”
Keeper: Spacek gives that wide-eyed “no shit?” look. He obviously doesn’t want the CO adding him to the list of people that are going to miss out on poker night while they freeze their ass off out in the guard shacks all night.
Keeper: Everything begins to return to normal. The men begin returning their plates to the sinks and washing them. Pavliska takes a dishtowel and makes sure all the blood is cleaned up. Galloway goes to refill his coffee cup, followed by a still- limping Degrassi. As the Degrassi passes Spacek, the black man glares at him.
Boudreaux: I want to go have another look at the van outside.
Keeper: Are you going outside?
Boudreaux: No, just to the window.
Spacek: (barely audible) “Cracker-ass wop.”
Boudreaux: “If I hear one more slur, that man is going to be pulling alot of guard duty!”
Galloway: “Quit your crybabyin’, Julius. It was just a little early for Snoop Doggy-Style, or whatever-the-hell his name is. (giggles)
Keeper: As you approach the window, you hear Degrassi uttering more profanities.
Degrassi: “Now what da fuck is this?”
Boudreaux: (turning) “What? What is it Private?”
Keeper: Half-expecting to see Degrassi and Spacek squaring-off for another round, you instead observe Degrassi, cup perched inches from his lips, staring into his coffee.
Sparks: “That ain’t the cup old Julius hocked his teeth into a few minutes ago, is it?”
Degrassi: “Nah. . . . . .”
Keeper: Degrassi slowly places the cup down on the table before him and gingerly rises from his seat to lean over the table intently looking down at the contents of the cup.
Boudreaux: “What’s wrong?”
Boudreaux: I walk over next to him . . . and look.
Keeper: Peering down into Degrassi’s coffee cup, you notice an almost imperceptable movement across the surface of the black liquid. . .
Keeper: as if the fluid were vibrating.
Boudreaux: Is the ground shaking?
Keeper: No, not that you’re aware of.
Boudreaux: Does the movement increase or stay at a constant level?
Keeper: It seems to remain constant, but it’s barely perceptable. You find that you really have to concentrate to perceive it. Some of the others gather round to see what’s got to your attention.
Boudreaux: I turn to look out the window at the van.
Keeper: It is still parked across the street, unmoved. The two armed figures still hold their positions outside it. In the periphery, you see Cpt. Tauch and the returning gate guards approaching the door to the Exchange.
Boudreaux: “Gentleman, the Captain is approaching.”
Keeper: Boots propped up on tables come off just before the door opens and Cpt. Tauch enters, followed by McDermott and Pleasant. The three men remove their coats and immediately make their way to the coffee. On his way to his spot at one of the tables, the CO grabs a clipboard from the wall near the front door.
Keeper: Cpt. Tauch adjusts his faded ball-cap and removes a pen from the breast pocket of his khakis. . .
Tauch: “Alright people, gather ’round. Let’s hammer out what’s on the slate for the day so we can finish early. Tonight’s poker night!”