Dresden Files: The GreatNorthwest

Weird Science, Part 2
From the Case Files of Roland Harper

Case File: Weird Science, Part 2

Everyone but Ms. Sullivan had gathered at my apartment to gear for our investigation of the secret lab at OSHU. I spent the morning preparing a thaumaturgy ritual to mask our identities. It was a simple psychic blurring spell, ensuring our likenesses would be hard to remember. From there we went to Smithe’s place to load some ammunition with obsidian dust. The others put on vests of protective material. I unfortunately don’t have one of those. Ghosts and demons don’t usually shoot at me.

After we had prepared as best we could, we waited for night fall to drive up to OSHU. Using the key card on a side door, our first stop on the way to the basement was the laundry room. There Smithe talked a worker into giving us five lab coats. So adorned, we quickly made our way to the lab. I double checked with everyone that they were ready, and knew their roles, and then slipped the silicon replica of Grossman’s finger over my own. I placed it against the biometric lock, and….. Nothing. I was an idiot. Such a high tech device was sure to malfunction as soon as I touched it. I concentrated on holding back my disruptive energy, and tried again. This time it worked, and we heard the click of the lock opening. Stark pushed the door open and we entered.

The lab was much as I saw in my scrying, but empty of researchers, and bathed in the dim red light of the back up power. On both sides of the room were cages, each containing a semi-developed Wendigo. The beasts were all in various states of mutilation, much like I had seen. Some were missing arms, others legs. A few unfortunate ones were nothing more than a head an torso. I felt bad for the humans they might have once been, but these were monsters now, and I have little sympathy for those.

Stark mentioned he remembered this lab, from when he escaped. I imagine much has changed in the last 20 or 30 years, but the layout appeared to be as he recalled. We split up to investigate the areas off the main lab. Stark led Starling and Smith over to where he thought his old tank had been, while Smithe and I went to look where Stark said the offices should be. As Smuthe and I approached, we saw light leaking out from behind the office blinds. Someone was home, after all. Drawing our firearms, we entered the office. There, at a cluttered desk, looking through paper after paper, was Dr. Grossman. At first he didn’t hear us, or, at least, was ignoring us. Smithe tried talking to him, but got nothing until we walked over and I snapped my fingers under the doctor’s nose.

“You’re still here?” he wheezed. Maybe the lab coats threw him off, and he thought we were his lab assistants. To get the point across we were not I place my .357 on the table in front of him. That seemed to get his attention for a second. Smithe was asking him where he had procured the Wendigoshe was experimenting on. Grossman’s vague and dismissive answers seemed to indicate there was one “Alpha” Wendigo, and he had received it as a gift (this was, in fact, the case. Stark and the others had discover the Alpha in a high security pen in the old tank room). When pressed about the details, like who had given him the Wendigo, and whether or not the Society knew about his experiments, Grossman became even more dismissive. Seeing that we were getting no more answers out of the good doctor, and that his work was an abomination of both science and the arcane, Smithe raised his Pistol. We exchanged shrugs, and Smithe put a hollow-point into Grossman’s face.

What occurred next is a confusing jumble. I’m putting some of the pieces together from the accounts of the others, trying to make sense of what happened. As soon as Smithe shot Grossman, the lights went out. All electronic functions in the lab ceased working. I immediately cast my light spell, holding my hand up to shed the blue glow around us. I could hear clicking as Smithe attempted to fire his automatic again. Hexed. The damn thing, along with everything else in the lab, was hexed. And I didn’t do it. In the pale blue light I could see that the doctor’s body was gone. Shouts and horrible howling could be heard coming from the area the others were in. That must have masked the sound of foot falls, because the next thing I know, we were beset by the juvenile Wendigos from the cages. I was bitten on the shoulder, and I could feel the muscles shred. Whirling around and back-peddling, I raised my pistol and fired. The Wendigo who had sunk his teeth into me collapsed, his head missing from my shot. I guess the good news was that mundane rounds had an effect on the half developed beasts.

I heard shotgun rounds being fired across the lab. Stark was fighting off other Wendigo, it seemed. I could also detect a loud banging and cracking, as the Alpha tried to escape its holding pen. Smithe fired once, twice, three times, dropping the Wendigo in front of him, and two others that were menacing Smith and Starling. Always the gallant knight, that one. I could hear Starling shouting at the Wendigo, trying to assert her authority. It seemed to work on a few, as a couple of the beats were cowed back into their cages. It wasn’t enough to save me, though, as I found myself swarmed by legless Wendigo, who had clawed their way over to us. Everything was blinding pain, then all black as I passed out.

While I was incapacitated the others shot and intimidated the remaining Wendigo. Smith had the presence of mind to find the breaker box and get the lights back on. This also powered up the Alpha’s pen, keeping it at bay for the moment. Stark ran over to me with a first aid kit he found on the lab wall. I guess the Canadians had taught him enough about field medics to stop my bleeding and stitch me up. I came to and found that the Wendigos were either cowering in their cages, or dead. With Stark and Starling’s help, I hobbled over to where the doctor’s body should have been. As I examined the black, sooty area, which smelled of sulfur, Smithe went from cage to cage, putting the juvenile Wendigo out of their misery, and Stark was on the phone with his ex-compatriots in Canada. He arranged for the Canadians to alert their American counterparts to the secret lab, and have the Alpha contained.

My examination of the remains of Dr. Grossman told me he had made a pact with a demon. It must have whisked him away before he could die. At least he was on this plane, and not hiding somewhere in the Nevernever. We had stopped Grossman and his experiments, and probably shut down the secret lab, but the doctor was still out there, somewhere. While I can shut the book on this case, I have the sinking suspicion we’ll see the good doctor again.

Weird Science, Part 1
From the Case Files of Roland Harper

Case File: Weird Science, Part 1

It seems there is unfinished business regarding the Wendigo. The clues we found on its body led to a secret lab at OSHU, and experiments on the Wendigo. I decided to investigate, and have enlisted the aid of the others. Since Stark came from a similar lab years ago, I figured I’d use him as the focus for a scurrying divination. I sent Smith and Sullivan to the hospital to ask around, and to procure a high level pass card. While they were up in the hill, I prepared the ritual, while Stark chatted with Earl. When the ladies returned from OSHU, I used the key card as a sympathetic link to the security of the hospital. Once I Completed the ritual, I was rewarded with a view of the secret lab. To my surprise, I saw that they were experimenting on more than one Wendigo. It seemed that the aims was to research the Wendigo’s regenerative powers, and possibly the implied immortality it could confer upon mortals.

Both Smithe and Starling dropped by my apartment shortly after the divination was complete. With the gang all there, we discussed the ramifications of the lab’s research. Most if the group seemed to believe it was something that needed to be stopped. I didn’t agree. We have no idea who is behind this, and to what end they are conducting the experiments. It could be a cure for cancer, for all we know. It just seemed like a good way to get noticed, and possibly end up in jail, or worse. Eventually I relented, and we agreed that more investigation should be done. It was about this time that Startk’s former Canadian colleagues called, saying they had arrived at the airport to take custody of the Wendigo. As we drove out to meet them, I rode in the back with Smithe, Starling and Sullivan. I explained to Smithe and Starling what had occurred out in the woods, and Starling to samples from the Wendigo. After the transfer had taken place, we all went our separate ways for the night.

Smithe and I returned to my apartment, where I took a long nap. Smithe had other plans, though, and combed OSHU’s directories, looking for any anomalies. He didn’t find any, but did familiarize himself with the ins and outs of the hospital’s staff. Smith returned early the next morning, as we had her case to discuss, separate from our Wendigo investigation. It turns out her boss at Benson and Hanford is a Red Court Vampire. It’s possible that her boss, Travis Benson, is none other than Chester Benson, the infected son of old Portland businessman, Simon Benson. Regardless, that’s another case, and another case file.

The others returned a bit later that morning, each with their own information. Starling had studied the samples from the Wendigo, and had deduced they were of human origin. This made no sense, as they are creatures from the Nevernever. It only confirmed for her what we’ve taken to calling the “Really Strong Junkie” theory, that the Wendigo isn’t a supernatural creature at all. I tried explaining to her that the spirit of the Wendigo is the supernatural portion, and that the flesh was indeed once human, but I have no proof to beat her skepticism. It did, however, lead me to postulate that the scientists at the secret lab are turning ordinary people into Wendigos for their research.

Stark returned with a story about spy planes, marshmallow fluff, and fruit cocktail. The more I get to know him, the more I believe he is mentally unhinged. Thankfully, Sullivan had more helpful information. Some of her contacts within the occult world knew who was behind the secret lab (again she intrigues me. Seemingly mundane, but definitely clued in. There is something to her I can’t put my finger on). They had told her it was a scientist named Esoch Grossman, a 90+ year old Eastern European heavy into gene research and possibly eugenics. It was said he had attempted to make a pact with some power of the Nevernever. We went downstairs to the cafe/bookstore to obtain more coffee, and avail ourselves of their wifi, which is definitely lacking in my abode. Starling logged into the FBI database, and did a background search on Dr. Grossman.

Starling’s check revealed that the good doctor had some radical ideas about DNA and genetics, dating back to the 60’s and 70’s. His bio goes further back than that, but is muddy before his arrival in the States in the 50’s. He may have ties to Nazi occult research. His bio after the 70’s is equally murky, as he seemingly dropped off the radar. He did resurface again a decade ago, as a resident researcher at OSHU. What he does there vague, at least according to the official record. One odd thing, though. It is believed that Grossman is a member of a secret fraternal organization, something like the Illuminati, or the Masons. Smithe bristled at the implication about the Masons, as it seems he comes from a long line of members. Perhaps he is just ignorant of their true origins, or the work they do. If not, I need to keep an eye in him.

In a separate search, Starling looked into Diodyne, the company that manufactured the diode we found on the Wendigo. Not much stood out, but she did notice that the company’s local corporate head, one Mr. Bates, was also a suspected member of the same secret society that Dr. Grossman belonged to. The pieces were starting to fall together in this case. If the Doctor and the Executive were both Illuminati, and given the doctor’s advanced age, it is certainly logical that they were working together to unlock the secrets of immortality. Such power in the hands of such a group would indeed be devastating. Despite my bad feeling about this investigation, I came to agree that the lab’s research needed to be stopped. Not that I think it would stop people like Grossman and Bates, but it may slow them down a bit.

Once Starling’s search was complete, we returned to my apartment to discuss our options. Smithe announced he was going to confront Bates, and make him believe Smithe was a candidate for membership in the secret society. Sullivan grew bored, and returned home. Stark decided a swim in the green waters of the Willamette was a good idea (unhinged, I say), to look for possible tunnels leading to the hospital. Perhaps that’s how he escaped in the first place. Starling, Smith, and I sat around my apartment, awkwardly, until I decided we should visit the hospital ourselves. We had the two key cards, one of which still worked, and Starling had her FBI badge, so we figured we could go almost anywhere inside OSHU.

Arriving at the hospital, Starling took the lead, looking for the secret lab, while Smith and I helped in our own way. I followed the mystical energy lines of the building, and Smith used her familiarity of the ins and outs of OSHU to assist Starling, who quickly deduced the location of the lab. Soon we found ourselves facing a strong, solid door, locked with an advanced biometric security system. I mentioned that with a bit of the good doctor, like hair or blood, I could conjure a small simulacrum of his finger to bypass the fingerprint biometrics. Smith went off in search of a sample, sure that there had to be one in a hospital, given the man was in his nineties. I found a supply closet, and picked the lock. Inside I cleared space, and set up a ritual circle, waiting for Smith to return with the blood. Starling kept watch for me, outside the door.

A little while later, Smith appeared with a vial of Grossman’s blood. She is a very resourceful lady. A few minutes, and a few chanted incantations later, and we had an ectoplasmic copy of the doctor’s right index finger. We briefly toyed with the idea of opening the door to the lab right then, but decided to wait for everyone else. We returned to my apartment, which was fast becoming the base of our operations, and I called a thief I knew. A thief who could make a silicon replica of the ghostly finger, so we would have a permanent “key” to the lab’s biometric lock. We also put in calls to Smithe, Sullivan, and Stark, asking them to meet us as soon as it was possible. Once everyone is back together, probably tomorrow, we have a bit of preparation to do, then we can return to OSHU, and the secret lab.

The Forest Killer, Part 2
From the case files of Roland Harper

Case File: The Forest Killer, Part 2

I called Stark about the Wendigo, and got an earful of bad news. These things are damn near immortal. They can be taken out, but given enough time, they’ll heal, or return from the Nevernever. They must be contained afterward to prevent them from causing further destruction. Stark has dealt with Wendigo in Canada, when he was working with some sort of Canadian paranormal defense force. I guess there’s a lot I don’t know about Wendigo, or Stark. Regardless, I told him we needed to hurry, so he agreed to pick up a Uhaul and meet us at my apartment. Agent Starling decided to stay behind, as did Smithe. I think he’s still trying to get lucky. I tried talking the other civilians, Ms. Smith and Ms. Sullivan, into staying behind as well, but they both seemed to think this is a grand adventure. I’ll never understand normals. They know so little.

We grabbed what we could, and piled into the Uhaul. Stark had his Glocks, and he even brought an AR-15. Stark continues to surprise me. I gave Ms. Smith a baseball bat, while Stark provided Ms. Sullivan with another automatic. She claims she’s a practiced shot. I, myself, had my usual duffle full of odds and ends, and my engraved .357 Colt Python. I’m a decent shot on the best of days, so when I do hit, I try to make it count. I also managed to round up an obsidian knife and a bag of other small pieces of the volcanic glass. Volcanic rock of any kind is the Wendigo’s only physical weakness, it’s catch, if you will. Quickly equipped, we headed west out of town, toward the Wendigo.

During the very bumpy drive to the coast range I rode in the back, drawing the best binding circle I could under the circumstances. Hopefully it would be enough to keep the Wendigo in a stasis after we brought it down. Stark thought his ex-colleagues up north would be able to permanently contain the beast, if we were successful and managed to transport it back to town. My main concern was finding Jennifer Ball, hopefully alive, so I’m leaving plans for dealing with the Wendigo to Stark.

Once we arrived in the area of my vision had indicated was the lair, we set off on foot. Surprisingly, Ms. Sullivan was able to find fresh tracks, indicating the Wendigo had passed by very recently. Armed and cautious, we set out following the tracks. Soon we came to a deep overhang in the side of a hill. Recognizing it as the lair, we set up on the side of a hill opposite the overhang. Our plan was to observe the entrance, and hopefully catch the Wendigo leaving. Little did we know, it had been observing us the whole time. The first indication we were not alone was when the monster attacked out of the shadows, rending the flesh from Ms. Sullivan’s back. She shrieked and quickly backed up against a tree. In a moment of reflexive panic, I tried casting a rote blinding spell on the Wendigo. It was to no avail. The Wendigo just shrugged it off. In response to my attempts to blind it, the beast leapt at me. A searing pain filled my world, as its claws tore shreds out of my chest. Stark then fired a burst from his rifle, wounding the Wendigo. Ms. Sullivan continued to crouch against the tree, and I was sure she was near death. Ms. Smith took a swing with the bat, hitting, but barely causing the beast to flinch.

My next spell was more effective. Using my walking stick to focus my energy, I unleashed a blast of force, sending the Wendigo flying back. It landed in a sprawl, carving a rut in the dirt. I tossed Ms. Smith the bag of obsidian pieces, and told her to crush them into the wood of the bat. The Wendigo struggled to get up, as Stark unloaded another burst into it. Ms. Sullivan finally decided to act, firing her pistol, but missed. I drew my own pistol and shot the Wendigo in the gut. I blew a fist sized hole in the bastard, yet still he got up and charged Stark. Luckily, the strange fish-man is made of tough stuff, as he practically shrugged of the Wendigo’s attack. Stark dropped the AR and drew his Glocks, for what I guess he considers “close quarter combat”. He stuck them directly up against the beast’s ribs and unloaded. By all the powers both dark and light, that monster was tougher than I could ever imagine. It was still standing, even after all the rounds we had pumped into it. What happened next came as an even bigger surprise. Ms. Smith, wielding the now obsidian encrusted bat, shoved it into the gut wound I had given the Wendigo, and tore it out with ferocity. With its guts spilling out onto the forest floor, the Wendigo finally collapsed.

Leaving Stark and Sullivan to watch the beast, Ms. Smith and I went looking for the lost hiker, Jennifer Ball. It only took a short few minutes searching around the lair before we found her, hurt and dazed, but still alive. We carried her and the Wendigo back to the Uhaul, wrapping Ball in a blanket in the front seat, and throwing the beast into the back. I rode with the Wendigo to make sure the binding held, and Stark drove us back to Portland. We dropped Ms. Ball off at the hospital, and called Earl the redneck. He agreed to meet us at Ms. Smith’s apartment, so we could confirm the job was done. When Earl arrived, and we showed him the “dead” Wendigo, he noticed something we had missed. A single diode, attached to the Wendigo’s chest. The kind used for medical research and observation. Upon further inspection we found a strange brand on the creature’s shoulder. Strangely, it matched a brand that Stark had on his flank. Stark explained it came from the lab he awoke in, years ago. A secret lab at OHSU. The mystery deepens. Did the Wendigo escape? Or was it released? What is the purpose of the secret experiments being conducted at OHSU? We will have to investigate further, but for now I’m closing the file on the Forest Killer.

The Forest Killer, Part 1
From the Case Files of Roland Harper

Case File: The Forest Killer, part 1

It’s been a year since I returned to Portland, and this city certainly proves the old adage " the more things change, the more they stay the same". The City of Roses is still deeply steeped in the strange. I have to chuckle every time I see one of those “Keep Portland Weird” bumper stickers. Some one in the know has to be behind that one.

What little information I’ve been able to glean about Julian and my old cult leads me to believe they’ve only grown in power. While they’ve disappeared from view, I have no doubt they’re still operating behind the scenes. At least I’ve had no problem finding work in a city that almost takes the occult for granted. There are plenty of normals who are ghost hunters, Bigfoot experts, and new age mystics, so I don’t stick out too much.

Last week Smithe let me know that Agent Starling had someone who wanted to talk to me. When I returned her call, she let me know a woman named Debbie Smith had approached her about a violent murder she had witnessed. The circumstances involved led Agent Starling to believe this case would be up my alley. As usual, Starling refused to acknowledge that it may be supernatural, but insists I have an outside perspective that may be helpful. We agreed that we would all meet at the Third Eye Cafe, one of Portland’s neutral meeting places for the supernatural.

Once there I ran into that odd young woman from the train, again. Imagine my surprise when I learned that my new client, Ms. Smith, and the young woman turned out to know each other. Ms. Smith and Ms. Maureen Sullivan, as she was introduced, work together at a firm in the Pearl. I suspect there’s something supernatural about Ms. Sullivan, but I can’t put my finger on it. My attempts to discern her nature were clumsy, at best, and she turned aside my probing with charm and ease. I feel strangely connected to her.

While Ms. Smith and I were talking (and Smithe was hitting on Agent Starling), we overheard some redneck at the counter complaining about missing campers. While something like that would normally fall under the purview of the regular authorities, the Third Eye is not the demesne of anything “regular”. We invited the bumpkin over to explain the situation. I’m afraid that I let my usual charisma get the better of me, as I think I insulted him, and countless of his dentally challenged forebears. Luckily Smithe was there with his silver tongue. After he smoothed things over, Earl, the bumpkin, explained that three different groups of campers had gone missing in the last month. All the disappearances occurred in the -REDACTED- wilderness area. He said that the camps had been torn to shreds, and the only evidence left behind was copious amounts of blood, and the odd tuft of coarse hair, or fur. Apparently the authorities are using the usual “animal attack” explanation, but Earl believes it to be the work of a rogue Sasquatch. I’ve encountered a few of the other Skunk Apes that dot the country, and heard story of many more, some violent, some not. Our hometown version, though, is generally a pacifist creature. They are a rare type of shapeshifter, indistinguishable from human if encountered in an urban environment, but growing more and more bestial the further they get from civilization. Those Sasquatch who do show signs of violence are often “environmental terrorists”, such as the ELF (guess how many actual elves are part of that group? It’s called ELF for a reason).

I agreed to take the “case”, though Earl didn’t seem to care to pay for my services. Another pro bono job, then. Of course, Smithe wanted to accompany me, as he’s growing very accustom to the strange, as did Agent Starling who felt a representative from the authorities should be present. Oddly enough, Ms. Smith and Ms. Sullivan wanted to come along, as well. Having Ms. Sullivan along will give me the chance to observe her further, but I wasn’t so sure about Ms. Smith. There was no telling her no, though. She has a strong will, that one.

Asking around town led us to the name of one of the missing campers, a Jennifer Ball. If we could get our hands on a personal affect of hers, I could perform a divination ritual to try to track her. Agent Starling and Ms. Smith went to Ball’s house, while the rest of us tried to get our hands on some ammunition big enough, or mean enough, to take down a raging Bigfoot. Mundane ammo loads will hurt one, sure, but I didn’t want to take any chances.

Starling and Smith were successful in retrieving Ms. Ball’s favorite hat, so we met back up at my apartment to perform the ritual. As usual, my place was a mess. Normally I wouldn’t give a damn, but I feel oddly self conscious in front of Ms. Sullivan. I moved some old tomes off the couch, and cleared the floor of the living room for my circle. After inscribing the necessary sigils, and placing the various foci, I set the hat in the center and prepared to summon the energy to power the ritual. Once my incantation was complete, I instantly felt racked with pain. I was confused and scared, in a strange, dark place. I realized my spell was more effective than I anticipated, and that I was experiencing what Ms. Ball was seeing and feeling. Her heightened state must have strengthened the link between us. The biggest surprise was that we weren’t dealing with a Sasquatch at all, but a far more terrible entity called a Wendigo! Soon enough, though, I was able to control the divination, and determined her location. Now that we know where to look, all that remains is physically trekking to the Wendigo’s lair, and destroying The beast. I don’t know enough about the creature, though, so more information is needed. We are on a diminishing time line, but I know just the guy to call. If anyone can tell us the biology of a creature like this, it’s Ichthyan Stark. The plus is he’s a crack shot, too, and tough as nails. We’ll most likely need him along when we face the Wendigo.


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