Kevin Gentiel sat in the X.D.C.T. Precinct 17 Deployment Bay and oiled his .88 Magrail pistol.
Cheeser, sitting in the cockpit of the heavy A.P.C. that Gentiel reclined on, had the commnet on speakers. The voice of an X.D.C.T. dispatcher droned on, echoing oddly off the walls. The bay had that smell that all vehicle bays and garages had had since the invention of the internal combustion engine. Gasoline and oil and sweat hung in the air. The walls and floor were bare concrete and all about them hover A.P.C.s and Hovertanks sat, lined and ready or upside down and stripped.
The barrel of his pistol, a long, lean heavy thing, was 'broken' and hung at a 90 degree angle to how it should be. He replaced the firing pin and the feed unit, and then oiled some more.
Cheeser sat with his head back, the sound of police life playing in his ears. They were both glad for this opportunity to do nothing. Such opportunities were rare, and even so they were both in their combats, soft Pilot's boots on their feet. Gentiel set the squared barrel back to its correct position, and released the catch. The body of the pistol snapped back into place with a heavy, metallic sound. Pulling back the low cocking lever on the top of the pistol, he chambered the first Magrail round. Checking the digital display, he noted that it displayed the correct number of rounds, a full clip, and that the magnetic accelerators were charged and ready. Powering it down and activating the safety, he placed it at his side, on the smooth dark top of the A.P.C.'s hull.
Suddenly the steady sound from the radio was broken by static and gunfire.
"X.D.C.T. 24 Theta, Intruder, 215th and Main, Upper New York district! Requesting full air and armour support! It's a bad one! There's -" the trooper's report was cut short. The dispatcher came on. "Units 345 Beta and 55 Ki, intercept intruder. Requesting air support."
Cheeser glanced at Gentiel, who bit his lip. They were off duty. Other people could respond to it. They were . . . the fear and panic in that man's voice festered in his soul. He hit the comm unit around his wrist. "666 Air Strike, Scramble!" Cheeser hit the comm control in the A.P.C. "This is 666 Air Strike, will intercept. En route, leaving Precinct 17, Upper New York District."
Gentiel grabbed his pistol and took the ladder down from the
A.P.C., as it was a good twelve feet tall. Cheeser used the
built-in handholds from the cockpit. The two ran from the bay.
At the deployment chamber, high in the Precinct 17 building, his team waited, suited up. He crossed to where his Avenger waited. Sliding the pistol into the hardened hip holster, he lowered himself into the lower pieces. Across from him, Cheeser suited up, while his team waited, looking particularly vicious in their Avengers. A lean power armour suit, the Avenger reminded Gentiel of birds of prey, complete with wings and angled faces.
He pulled on the upper suit. Over his shoulders were square intakes, the wings back behind. His suit went through the online startup routine, and thumbed on the power to the huge three-barrelled laser cannon attached to the underside of his right arm, its control joystick rising up into his gauntleted fist. As the suit certified all was well, he looked to Cheeser and saw that the man's Avenger was ready to go, complete with a wedge of cheese painted on the left breast, opposite the letters X.D.C.T. Extra Dimensional Combat Teams.
He ran the few paces to the exit door, which was sliding aside. The departure bay was on the 129th floor. The only thing higher was the comm aerials. The vast sprawling City stretched before him, darkness and twinkling lights, stretching to the horizon and beyond in all directions. The sky was dark and shadowed and the moon and stars were masked. As he reached the end of the bay, he leapt into space.
The wings slid out and locked, and the twin engines over his
shoulders churned into life. With a flaring blast of exhaust, he
flew into the air. His team followed just behind. The ten of
them streaked through the shadowed darkness.
The computerized rendering of the city led him straight to the scene. He dropped down to street level a block away. He turned to see his team settle to earth, engines cutting out and wings folding, cannon at the ready.
He led them on foot to where the disturbance had been reported. Huge dark buildings towered on every side, but no one was in sight. Figures. He reached the corner and slowly looked around it.
The scene that greeted his eyes made him shudder.
Cars burned by the sides of the road. An X.D.C.T. hover-A.P.C. lay on its side, smoke pouring from it. Grey-clad bodies lay strewn about, some in several pieces. X.D.C.T. troopers. This just got very personal.
The thing that stood in the center of the street was a monstrosity beyond imagining. It towered over forty feet tall, with three large, rough tentacular limbs supporting its bulk. It was a dark and formless thing, bedecked with rough, leathery tentacles and covered in glistening slime. Its maw was in the center of its chest, lined with sharp teeth. Several dark tongues whipped forth, as if sampling the air. Bristling thorns covered its body.
Behind an overturned car, X.D.C.T. troops poured fire into it, to negligible effect. Not thirty feet before it, a pair of warriors fired for all they were worth, cut off from escape. As Gentiel watched, a spray of thorns streaked from the thing and lancing into one of the troops. His partner screamed and tried to pull him away, firing madly. Gentiel wasn't sure if she wasn't wasting her time; the man was bleeding profusely, with dozens of four to five inch darts plunged into him.
He felt a rush of rage and hatred. He thumbed his cannon to life and the barrels began to spin.
"Gomez, Cheeser, Thorndike, circle right. Charleston, Eko, Momafet, circle left. The rest follow me."
The six named unfurled their wings and shot into the air with a glow of exhaust. The other three followed Gentiel as he streaked toward it.
The six had moved a second before him, and the beast was confused. It opened fire with thorns at Cheeser's group, spearing one of them with several thorns. They returned fire, their cannon framed by a circle of red as ruby light streaked toward the beast. It roared and flung a startlingly elastic tentacle at Eko's group, catching one Avenger in its grasp. The engines continued to glow, propelling forward a body with a radically different flight profile when it had a thick tentacle wrapped around it. The suit careened into a building, shattering through glass and steel. Then the hole the suit had left exploded outwards with a brilliant light. The other two had managed to get clear and the beast now had one severed tentacle, bleeding bright white blood, but he had lost ten percent of his force. That he had lost a friend would be dealt with later.
His team streaked right towards it. With its attention elsewhere, they had free fire. Bolts of red light tore into the beast, ripping into its hide. White soon flowed freely down its body as Gentiel and his group pulled aside and flew around it.
The nine regrouped at the other side, and turned to hover. The beast began to turn, and they fired into it with all they had. Gentiel fired the two missiles nestled between the wings and intakes of his suit, and others did likewise. The missiles slammed into the thing, tearing great rends in its hide and severing tentacles.
As it came around, the tentacles on its side whipped out. Two of his men were snared before they could pull aside. The remaining seven flew upwards and back. The tentacles constricted and the suits were crushed. Red dripped from the torn steel.
With a cry, Gentiel opened fire. Cheeser had been one of the two, whose twisted armour dropped to the pavement.
Gentiel felt a strange ripple pass through him. He was prepared for almost anything to come from the beast when, suddenly, its form was masked in a horrible grey nothingness, and then it was gone.
Just like that . . .
The world was a beautiful place, once.
That was before the Holes came. Before reality itself began to part to allow past horrors dredged from the pits of hell. Things that defied explanation began to crawl forth.
Society adapted to deal with it. The impact, the shocks of psychological adaptation shifting through society, have yet to see their full potential. The immediate changes were profound enough for anyone. Faced with this threat, governments around the world agreed to supply funding for the creation of combat teams dedicated to holding at bay the tide of the monstrous and obscene which threatens to overwhelm the Earth.
Technically, the X.D.C.T. operate under the auspices of the U.N. In
truth, they operate under the horrible truth that the alternative to their
continual readiness and perpetual sacrifice is too terrible to bear.
At A Glance
It is the year 2094.
Extra Dimensional Combat Teams are highly trained and highly motivated defenders of humanity. The are given huge budgets and have access to the technological wealth of the planet Earth. They go through rigorous screening and brutal training. They are given free reign and are not responsible for the destruction their actions may cause. They are asked to put their lives on the line and wage war against things which the human mind shudders from; one cannot place conditions on that.
The planet Earth is connected to the Accessible Dimensions by one reality tunnel. However, it is also linked to all of the realities and many more besides.
Picture interreality as a wedge of cheese. Each bubble of air is a pocket of realities; accessible to one another, but cut off from all of the other little clusters of accessible dimensions. This Earth sits in one of the bubbles, but it can open tunnels anywhere.
Creatures from dimensions accessible from X.D.C.T. Earth are pulled in via a Portal, like on leading to a Rift. However, this tunnel can appear anywhere and is uncontrollable. Beings from other worlds are snatched into these portals, disappearing into nothingnesses which suddenly appear on the floor or in walls. These beings are dropped into The City. After a period of time, five minutes to a few hours, a tunnel reopens to the home dimension. If that tunnel closes again, it will not return to that dimension again for quite a while. The traveller must be ready, for the tunnel only opens for a few minutes and always at the spot it first appeared.
How this might come to be is unknown. Certainly, it would seem to
violate most known laws of paraphysics. Theories abound; to the people
of this Earth, who have no grasp of paraphysics whatsoever, theories
range from the fury of a malignant God to the chance happenings of
The X.D.C.T. was conceived to protect humankind from the interdimensional threat. For some reason, the Holes always appear in the City. The City is a monstrous metropolis, stretching along the eastern seaboard of the U.S.; a vast technological jungle which was formed by cities from Toronto to New York to Miami all growing into one another. It has a population of one and a tad billion.
While these tunnels only appear in the City, if they were not controlled the beings would rampage through it, killing millions, and soon the world would be consumed by wandering ravenous monstrosities. So the valiant men and women of X.D.C.T. fight.
The standard tactics of the X.D.C.T. are to hold the
intruder at the location of its arrival. That way, if a portal
appears, it will be persuaded to leave. If it came by itself, it
will not go far or destroy too much before it leaves. The men of
this age realize that there is a difference in how they come and
go ("Class One and Class Two Transitory Effects"), but they are
not aware of the nature of alternate dimensions and so have not
had the information to conclude the reasons behind the
differences. The men and women of X.D.C.T. regularly (usually
every few days, though sometimes there are months of inaction and
sometimes there are several a day for weeks) throw themselves
into danger against inhuman monstrosities. They realize that
they are the last barrier between these beings and mankind.
Lists Characters from this dimension use the Advanced Skill and Gear lists. Tunnels The main language of this world depends on the locale; any earth languages are available. In the City, the main language is English. Panlingua exists as an international tongue. The world of X.D.C.T. Earth is only linked to one other by Reality Tunnels. That tunnel leads to Daemonica, the homeworld of the Vakraen (see InterMercs). Seeing that world and its denizens would most likely make these people swear off interdimensional travel for good. Of course, there are always the Holes. Threats The dominant threat to this world are the things which come through the Holes. Any creature from the first Twenty Dimensions is available as a threat. Because this world is often invaded by an infinite variety of interdimensional nasties, and I have neither infinite time nor infinite room, a series of tables have been devised to work up interreality nasties. Providing specific rules for each of these general descriptions would prove impossible. Equivalent rules can usually be found among the Psychic Powers or under the Powers sections. INTER-DIMENSIONAL CREATURE CREATION TABLE This table uses a series of d20 rolls. Roll on the following tables: 1. Body ROLL RESULT 01 bird 02 maggot 03 formless 04 man 05 spider 06 scorpion 07 snake 08 centauroid 09 reptilian 10 amphibian 11 mass of tentacles 12 iron 13 rock and lava 14 crystalline 15 canine 16 humanoid 17 jellyfish 18 wing-armed humanoid 19 crab 20 dragon-like 2. Limbs ROLL RESULT 01 human arms 02 bear paws 03 tentacles 04 crab claws 05 fins 06 wings 07 clawed arms 08 flippers 09 tongues 10 spiked tentacles 11 none 12 flat tentacles 13 snakes 14 heads on tentacles 15 sharp blades 16 human arms 17 maggotlike 18 chains 19 stick-arms 20 superheavy arms 3. Special Attacks ROLL RESULT 01 fire breath 02 ice breath 03 telekinesis 04 sound 05 blinding flash 06 toxic gas 07 stench 08 generates cold 09 generates heat 10 thorns 11 aging attack 12 pressure waves 13 light rays 14 electrical attack 15 stream of acid 16 arm blades 17 claws 18 teeth 19 lashing tongue 20 whip arms 4. Paranormal Powers ROLL RESULT 01 none 02 mental psychic 03 none 04 necromantic 05 sorcery 06 enchantry 07 physical psychic 08 clerical 09 one religious spell 10 wizardry 11 one spell magic spell 12 druidic 13 none 14 sorcery 15 one psychic power 16 any focus spell magic 17 any focus religious 18 any focus psychic 19 none 20 knows all powers 5. Natural Abilities ROLL RESULT 01 none 02 metamorphosis-unlim. 03 thermal vision 04 enhanced hearing 05 none 06 metamorphosis-lim. 07 enhanced strength 08 weakness: silver 09 weakness: fire 10 enhanced speed 11 immunity: damage 12 calamity 13 charm 14 immunity: toxins 15 enhanced reaction 16 none 17 weakness: sunlight 18 fire breath 19 none 20 regeneration 6. Technology ROLL RESULT 01 none 02 none 03 clubs 04 spears 05 swords 06 bows 07 gunpowder 08 pistol 09 rifle 10 L.M.G. 11 plasma sword 12 magrail pistol 13 laser rifle 14 magrail cannon 15 missile launcher 16 none 17 none 18 none 19 none 20 none 7. Size ROLL RESULT 01 4" 02 6" 03 8" 04 1' 05 2' 06 4' 07 5' 08 6' 09 8; 10 12' 11 15' 12 20' 13 30' 14 50' 15 70' 16 100' 17 200' 18 300' 19 400' 20 500' Races The dominant race on this Earth is man, though that position is constantly challenged. Mankind has learned to cope with the existence of alternate realities, as man is a fairly adaptable breed. C.C.P. List HUMAN C.C.P. HUMAN C.C.P. The X.D.C.T. is an elite organization dedicated to combating the various things which emerge from the Holes to wreak devastation on their world. Troopers fight on foot, patrolling the city in police aerocars; Pilots fly the deadly Avenger power armour. Investigators are streetwise detectives who hunt down extradimensional visitors who are more subtle than most; these dutiful detectives can be a source of consternation for extradimensional visitors, be they aliens or P.C.s. Race: Human Gender: Male or Female (50-50) Skin Colour: Any Human Height: 5'4"-6' Eye Colour: Any Human Weight: 110-160 lbs Hair Colour: Any Human Lifespan: 100 Attribute Base Levels Combat Table 1 INT 10 STR 10 PER 10 WIS 10 DEX 10 REA 10 FOR 10 CON 10 KMA 10 CHA 10 SPD 10 BTY 10 BP Total: 240 Automatic Skills: Streetwise, Defensive CT Automatic Gear: None Special Abilities: None Available Classes 15: X.D.C.T. Trooper (Gear: Magrail Pistol, Skills: 2 WTs of choice) 10: X.D.C.T. Pilot (Skills: Mecha/Power Armour, Skills: WT of choice) 20: X.D.C.T. Investigator (Special Ability: Streetwise Master, Skills: Law, Politics, WT of choice)
The X.D.C.T. use several rather cool pieces of kit, designed and funded with their nigh unlimited resources.
X.D.C.T. personnel are stationed in tall Precincts, scattered across the City. Each quickly responds to reports of Holes, so a given incident has several Precincts in range to send help.
The equipment designed here is maximised by its designers
to be able to bring massive amounts of firepower to bear for short
periods of time. As such, it can find extradimensional service
difficult, to say nothing of the complications of finding spare parts.
However, some people are willing to do anything for the right look.
PHANTOM HOVERTANK: this dangerous piece of hardware is widely used by the X.D.C.T. It is dark grey like all X.D.C.T. wargear, lean and angular. Crew of 3, Weapon: Heavy Laser Cannon (H15 damage, AR -8, AN +4, REA -6, Range 3000' 5000' 7000', unlimited ammunition). The Phantom can cruise at up to 200mph and fly at altitudes of up to 500'. Combat Table: ROLL LOCATION AR HEALTH 01-04 Turret 22 80 05-17 Hull 25 300 18-20 Engines 20 50 Counts as a Maneuverable Vehicle; Maneuvering Rating 3. TORNADO HOVER A.P.C.: The Tornado is a large, square-looking personnel carrier with great protection and superb maneuverability. Crew of 2 and can hold up to 20 Troopers or a full squad of 10 Avengers. The vehicle itself is unarmed. Can cruise at up to 200mph and fly at altitudes of up to 500'. Combat Table: ROLL LOCATION AR HEALTH 01-16 Hull 23 200 17-20 Engines 20 50 Counts as a Maneuverable Vehicle; Maneuvering Rating 4. AVENGER POWER ARMOUR: this dangerous piece of kit is bulky-looking, though in actuality is quite maneuverable. Thermographic imaging, environmental. Can fly at up to 500mph with an atmospheric ceiling. Adds 1' to user's height. Weapons systems: a three-barrelled rotary laser is mounted under the right arm (H5, ROF SA/FA, Range 1000' 2000' 3000', AR -5, AN +2, REA -1, unlimited ammunition). Two missiles are located above where the foldable wings join the over-shoulder thrusters (H15 to a 30' area, Range 1 mile 2 miles 3 miles, AR -8, AN +3). Combat Table: ROLL LOCATION AR HEALTH 01-02 Right Arm 23 60 03-04 Left Arm 23 60 05-06 Right Leg 24 80 07-08 Left Leg 24 80 09 Right Wing 20 30 10 Left Wing 20 30 11 Right Engine 22 45 12 Left Engine 22 45 13 Laser Cannon 20 30 14-19 Body 26 200 20 Head 22 30
This dimension can be fun to play in -- you don't have to look far for encounters -- but the most fun can come when a P.C. group shows up unexpectedly. Fighting off X.D.C.T. personnel and then eluding Investigators can be fun, if you have an odd understanding of the word Fun.
As an alternative, a group of terrified X.D.C.T. personnel dumped
unceremoniously in some foreign dimension by an unadviseable pursuit through
a temporary Rift can be a good foundation for a campaign -- adapt, survive,
and try to get home.