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Boot camp, affectionately referred to as “Camp Cocytus” by the rest of the staff, turned out to be located in the sticks of North Virginia. It was a two hour drive from HQ in D.C. that finds the five of you being carted off towards the middle of nowhere after dropping off all your main necessities in the main base.
You didn’t bring much aside from a month’s worth of clothing, toiletries, your college textbooks and the recruitment package. You had a separate bag packed for boot camp that’s currently in the trunk of the black, non-reflecting windows SUV along with the others’ bags and kits.
Apparently, one of the agents back in the mid-60s owned property in the countryside before signing on with the Task Force. When he died, his will stipulated that the organization would receive the property as long as it would be used to train future generations of Devil Summoners. Rumor had it that the guy’s descendants were still butt-hurt over the loss of property.
You can’t exactly blame anyone for being angry about losing the property. The place looks like something out of a Bob Ross painting. Aside from the obvious residential buildings and red barn house, the only landmarks of note were the sprawling forests and golden plains that reach all the way to the base of the distant Blue Ridge Mountains. This is the kind of landscape that both goes on a summer calendar and has tourists from East Asia swarming all over it.
The car ride itself isn’t too bad. You all have a chance to catch up with each other in the seven days since you’ve last been together. Victoria gives you the stink eye when you clamber into the van. A waggle of your eyebrows sends a light shade of red across her cheeks before she makes a “hmph” noise and turns her head away.
MacKay looks out of place without his black cassock and white collar; Brady, even more so with the absence of his suit. Victoria’s change of attire doesn’t trouble you as much. In place of their respective clothing, the trio is more or less dressed in what could’ve passed for hiking clothes: plain t-shirt, khaki pants and sneakers.
Fitz looks like she walked right out of an army recruitment advertisement: grey cargo pants, combat boots, and a t-shirt with the words “In it to Win It” underneath the insignia of the Fairfax Police Department. Her hair was back in that tight ponytail that it was in on the day you met in the basement.
Combined with that, the name of the camp, and the prospect of backbreaking physical activity does nothing to assuage Brady’s nervousness. Victoria and MacKay seem to be used to some sort of extraneous physical activity, with the former being a car mechanic and the latter doubling as a construction worker for charity projects.
You have a slight premonition that you and Brady might feel it harder than the rest of them when the time to sweat comes.
A few minutes have passed since you've all entered the countryside. If you have anything to talk about before the car makes it to the destination, the GPS indicates, now's the time to say it.
>Make small talk. “So how’ve you all been?”
>Reassure everyone. “We’ve got this in the bag.”
You may as well make some small talk before things hit the fan. It’s been a relatively silent ride. It isn’t awkward as much as it is pensive and introspective. But you may as well get a group dynamic going. “So how’ve you all been?”
MacKay is quickest to respond. “Quite well, thank you,” he replies with a smile on his face. “I received express permission from the Vatican itself to pursue this avenue of employment, as well as a farewell party from my local parish. I daresay that I’m physically, mentally and spiritually prepared for what’s to come at this Camp Cocytus.”
“You look the part too,” Fitz observes, looking up and down the man with an approving nod. “If I’d run into you on the street, I would’ve assumed you were a football. You’ve got some serious muscle under the robes, Father.”
He laughs in embarrassment. “Believe it or not, I used to play football for my high school before I decided to become a priest. I haven’t been to the gym as much ever since I’ve been ordained, but I think I’m still in relative enough shape to complete our training.”
Victoria taps a nearly-sleeping Brady, who jolts to life at the touch. “Who, wha…oh. Yeah, um…things…” It takes a few seconds for the man’s brain to reboot fully. “Things’ve been going well, I guess. Managed to get the landlord to cancel my apartment’s lease without extra charge, but my old job is steadfastly stubborn in givin’ me my last paycheck. Didn’t take too kindly to me handin’ in mah resignation.”
“At least you had the luxury of getting a last paycheck,” Fitz shoots back. “All I got from the chief was a nod and a certificate of service. On the plus side, Smith somehow managed to convince the brass to let me keep my gun. I only put that in the request box for shits n’ giggles, but it actually came through.
“Still,” she shrugs and pats the aforementioned pistol on her belt, “I’m not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. This thing’s been with me for four years keepin’ the beat and streets of the county safe. Now it’s gonna help me hunt monsters.”
“Not all of them,” Victoria quickly jumps in. “Remember how Pixie-chan said that we can negotiate with demons? I want to collect as many friendly demons as I possibly can!”
>“…you do know that we’re going up against demons, not Pokémon.” [Snark]
>“Well, make sure you can protect yourself if negotiations turn south.” [Straight]
>>“Well, make sure you can protect yourself if negotiations turn south.” [Straight]
So in traditional SMT fashion, how long until we meet Lucifer and which silly completely see through disguise will he be using?
You give her a wry smile. “Well make sure you can protect yourself if negotiations turn south.”
She looks at you for any sign of sarcasm or quip, but only finds genuine honesty and concern in your face. With a smile of her own she replies, “Oh, I know that much! That’s what we’re here for! I spent a lot of my time watching war movies and documentaries on what to expect. Let me see…there was ‘Full Metal Jacket’, ‘Tigerland’, ‘G.I. Jane…”
As she eagerly lists off popular Hollywood blockbusters, Brady seems to be looking progressively more nervous. You can’t exactly blame him. You’ve only seen at least half of the movies Victoria is listing off, and the boot camp sessions in those movies gave you phantom aches and pains.
Fitz doesn’t seem disheartened as much as she’s agreeing with the movies Victoria is going over with approving nods and “mhms”. And MacKay is respectfully waiting for the mechanic to finish.
>Assure Brady. “Brady, this isn’t the military. We’re gonna be fine.”
>Change the subject. “I’m still getting used to how…Pokémon this feels. Aren’t demons sapient?”
>"Brady, it going to be worst than any movie can possibly make. real military training or even SEAL training would not be enough for what we about to face. Steel yourself." [Straight]
You quickly decide to change the subject. “I’m still getting used to how…Pokémon - for lack of a better term - this feels. Aren’t demons sapient?”
MacKay tilts his head in a pensive expression. “Sapient? Given what we’ve seen so far, it is more than likely that every demon is capable of rational thought to a certain extent. Those Pretas demons from the other day are little more than scavengers, but they were still able to lure us into that trap.”
Brady shudders. “Eugh. Don’t remind me. I had a nightmare of their teeth getting a little too close to my neck.”
“Remember Knocker-san and Pixie-chan?” Victoria interjects. “They were able to converse with us in a very human and civilized manner.”
“Still doesn’t make them any more than demons,” Fitz is quick to point out. “Sure, I’ll give them intelligence that’s at least as much as the average human bein’, but they’re still demons at the end of the day.”
You shake your head. “None of you didn’t have Smith pull a literal goddess out of his phone? Because he did that while I was in the hospital.”
That gets everyone’s attention. “A goddess?” MacKay says in disbelief. “Inside of a cell phone?”
“Yeah. Mnemosyne, I think. Greek Goddess of memory, and what the ‘Force uses to mind-wipe witnesses. I know what it sounds like, guys. I’m not shitting you in any way, shape or form. It was in the manual…”
>Roll d100 to see if you remember what the Orientation Manual says about COMPs.
There's a COMP with a glove, but it's wrist keyboard too.
Most COMP designs are unusually bulky. Like the GUMP and the Risers from Devil Children. IMAGINE had a few more modernish ones, but you had to type on them too.
I assume once you get use to it, like typing on a normal keyboard, you get super fast and without looking.
You frown. “You guys didn’t read the manual? The one that they gave you when you got discharged from the hospital?”
Everyone looks sheepish, with Brady raising his hand. “I mean, I read a little bit of it on the bus ride to D.C. Can’t say I remember too much about it, though. Kind of got lost in the various codes and conducts.”
You decide not to make any sort of exasperated noise before explaining: “COMPs are what the Task Force uses to keep demons on their person in the field during missions. Remember how Knocker said that in the old days, magicians had to use grimories or talismans? With the use of the Devil Summoning Program, demons can now be digitized and kept as data on storage devices.”
That certainly puts everyone through the loop.
“ …so those far-right fundamentalists were right all along about Pokémon being demonic?” MacKay tries to make a joke. It does the job of setting most of the group at ease, with smiles and chuckles breaking out.
“Well fuck me,” Fitz mutters, eyes wide in disbelief. “I’m torn between saying ‘hell yeah that’s cool’ and being immediately suspicious of everyone with a cell phone.”
“Not necessarily...hey, Brady,” You say. “Can you reach for my bag? Get the teal book from the front pocket…thank you.”
You flip to the page that goes over COMPs and point an image to the group. “Not all COMPs are cell phones. Remember the armor those guys at the hospital were wearing when we got out? That’s the elite D.E.M.O.N.I.C.A. armor that’s both combat armor and an advanced computer unit.
"Some agents take these…wrist-mounted ones into the field, but that’s an older model. Nowadays, touch-screen models have replaced the ones with keyboards. And visors tend to only go out in combat operations and cell phones are for more subtle approaches.”
The driver grunts in surprise, causing all of you to jump. It’s the first noise he’s made ever since D.C., aside from “we’ll be there in X minutes” and “get in”.
You don't quite remember what his name is. It was either Denis, or Shanon. Either one of those as his last name, or some other combination of his entire name.
“You’re pretty well-read for a rookie,” he says with a tone of approval. “There aren’t that many folks that are that ahead of the game and read the manual before showing up to boot camp. Normally, it takes the instructors at Cocytus to drill all that information into your heads in-between suicide runs through the fields.”
>“What can I say? You gotta be well-informed before doing something.” [Pride]
>“I make it a point to read the fine print very carefully.” [Neutral]
>“Nah, it’s nothing special. Anyone could’ve done it.” [Humble]
>“I make it a point to read the fine print very carefully.” [Neutral]
It's reading a book. Jesus christ guys, just skim it a bit or something, not just forget it for the last damn second.
“I make it a point to read the fine print very carefully,” You say with a pleasant tone of voice. “You have to be well-informed before doing something. Kinda got drilled into me during med school.”
You can hear Fitz roll her eyes. “Well, good for you, sawbones,” She says with a very dry tone of voice. “But thanks for the heads up. I can only handle so many revelations in a short amount of time. I have no desire to have reality yanked underneath my feet again so soon.”
“He has a point,” MacKay muses. “It was probably egregious for us to go into the camp without any sort of prior knowledge. It’s a valuable lesson to learn for future occasions, and even operations. Lack of knowledge is what could spell the difference between life and death.”
Victoria sighs. “I’m not much of a books person. I like a more ‘hands-on’ approach.”
“Well, it looks like you’re gonna get it.” Brady interjects. “Because I think we’re here.”
The driver laughs. “Indeed we are. We’re gonna pull up to the main housing unit. You’ll drop your stuff in the barracks and await further instructions from the staff on site, understood?”
You all respond with a wave of “Yep”, “Yes, sir” and “Gotcha”.
The car pulls up the dirt driveway, going right past the sign that reads “PRIVATE PROPPERTY – TRESPASSERS WILL BE SHOT” in big, bold black letters. It’s quite the long driveway, taking at least five minutes before you see the first sight of the housing unit.
And wow. It isn’t as much as a residential area as much as it looks like a countryside hotel. This is property owned by Task Force 666?
>“Looks can be deceiving…” [Straight]
>“The Ritz, this ain’t.” [Joke]
“Looks can be deceiving,” You mutter, just as much to yourself as it is to the others. “From what we’ve come to expect of this organization, I’m expecting another underground base, X-COM style. We’re never going to get to actually enjoy this, are we?”
Denis/Shannon doesn’t as much laugh as much as he rumbles. “Depends on your definition of ‘enjoyment’, rookie. And before you ask, no, aliens do not exist. We’ve got enough on our hands as it is without extra-terrestrial life forms running around.”
Brady still looks nervous, but not as jittery as he was before. “Thanks for the heads up. But promise us that you’ll be the first to let us know if aliens exist.”
“Only after Smith, and even then, I can’t make promises.”
After unloading your stuff from the car, Denis/Shannon puts the reverses the direction of the car. With a final wave and a last mention of “good luck”, the SUV takes off down the dirt road, leaving all of you sputtering in the wake of the dust cloud the tires make…
…only for the cloud to die down and reveal the person standing at the front door.
Major Alger, wearing fatigues in the coloration of Task Force 666 and a perpetual frown on his face.
There are times when you can be a smartass and there are times where you can be straightforward.
Now is certainly the time to play nice, especially towards the boss.
“Morning, boss,” You say with a slight wave. “…hold on. Is it alright if I call you that? Or would you prefer ‘Major’. I’m being genuinely honest here.”
He snorts in amusement. “I will respond to either ‘Commander’ or ‘Sir’ as long as you’re under my command, Brown. That goes for all of you as well. Anything else will result in either insubordination or a flat-out lack of response. Well, what are you waiting for? We’re burning daylight. Follow me.”
You all pick up your bags and head indoors, following your commander at every step of stairs and turning hallway. The interior looks like what you would expect of a rural country home. Foyer, kitchen, family room, dining room, the place had everything stacked out for a family to live here. A few staff members give polite waves as you pass by.
It’s at the secret door in the basement where all the resemblances stop.
“Your IDs,” Alger says, as he swipes his inside of a key slot, “Are what get you into the barracks and through the front door. Keep them with you at all times.”
A panel of cinder blocks opens to reveal a grey hallway dimly lit by overhead light bulbs. After descending a flight of stairs, you can see various doors that run along the walls.
“These are the barracks,” He continues, “And further down the hall are the showers and cafeteria. There’s a room set aside for the more literature-inclined exercises we’re going to be doing here. Of course, there are other rooms here aside from those ones I just mentioned, but you all don’t have access to them at your current clearance level.
“At this time, I will now take any questions if you have any to ask.”
“How long is training, sir?” You ask.
Alger snorts. “When we deem you proficient enough to carry an operation. I spent eight weeks in the Navy, followed by six months of SEAL training. My training lasted four weeks. Most Devil Summoners that come here tend to either wash out or make the cut in twelve weeks. Shorter if they’re prior military or law enforcement. Try not to disappoint. Next?”
Fitz is the one to go. “Is there an emergency exit of some sort? Doesn’t look too safe down here in case a fire starts…”
“In the event of such an emergency, your 666 Phones will guide you to the nearest exit. Disclosing emergency escape routes to rookies in the event of a non-emergency is against the rules. Next?”
“What kind of training are we going to get that’s unique in here?” MacKay inquires. “Is there any information of demon biology here, or is there a separate department on that?”
“What we teach you here is more suited for carrying out operations in the field, so more or less combat and tactical operation skills. The finer details of demon analysis and biology have a separate department within the Task Force.”
“Anything else? No? Good. Now drop your bags off and meet me upstairs.”
The barracks are separated by gender, with men having their own room and showers on one side of the hallway with women on the other. From the number of beds set up, looks like there were twelve recruits at one time. Each footlocker has every man’s last name stamped on it with a sticker. You drop your belongings in the footlocker and sprint back up to where you last saw Alger.
“Nice of you to respond so quickly,” He observes with a smile that’s sinister in all the right places. “Welcome to Camp Cocytus. We hope you enjoy your training...starting now. Those that fall a mile behind me get KP tonight..”
With that, he takes off into a moderate sprint towards the forest.
>Roll d100 Agility to keep up.
Fitz is the one that immediately responds, taking off like a rocket. You’re quick to follow behind her. Out of the corner of your eyes, you can see Victoria and MacKay behind you, with Brady tailing behind them.
Alger’s path takes you through the forest, past the whipping branches and rich smell of nature. As far as you can see, the trail that your commander is taking is well-worn, and has no clear end in sight. The foliage of the thicket isn’t too obstructive, but there are a few instances where you have to avoid an errant stick or rock a little too close to the middle of the path.
Fitz has closed some of the distance between her and Alger. She’s at least a good thirty feet behind him. On top of having the strength to wield an Oni cleaver, she’s got the agility to keep up with a SEAL? She’s too stronk.
At your current pace, you manage to keep the distant figure of Alger within sight as you bob and weave through the twisting trees and forest trail. You’re fairly certain that you’ve traveled three miles. You’ve managed to keep yourself in shape in medical school.
But you’re no long-distance runner, and you can feel your body showing early signs of tiring out...
>Roll d100 for Endurance to keep your position.
What are we at 4 or 5? Not all of them counted like above but still.
Whats funny is I think over in London Quest we've rolled about that many but over like 70 threads.
And we roll a shit ton of d100s in that quest.
Fuck YHVH and Fuck Chaos.
Neutrality is the best choice for humanity. It either lose free will or become slaves permanently to demons or get eaten.
Stop being a wannabe messiah and kill both sides.
You manage to pace yourself a little better. There’s an acceptable margin for you to fall back a little bit without losing sight of Alger or your place in the run. The lactic acid build-up in your legs should slow down a bit. Hopefully enough to make it through the end of the run.
Give or take a few extra hundred feet, it’s another three miles before you can see Alger stop in a clearing in the forest. You can see Fitz leaning against a nearby trunk, gathering her breath in huge gulps of air. You decide to follow her example and suck in as much oxygen as you can.
MacKay comes in a minute later, barely looking winded at all, with Victoria coming in two minutes later and Brady rounding out the rest of you in another five. The mechanic looks winded, but otherwise alright, while the computer programmer flat-out collapses on the ground.
Alger stands up and claps his hands, gathering everyone’s attention at him as he holds out a hand for Brady to grab. “You’ve got KP tonight, but I will give you credit for not giving up. Shape up there, son.”
“*Haaah*…*wheeze*…yes, sir…” Brady says in-between breaths as he shakily pulls himself up. “Thank…thank you…*gasp*…sir…”
“Now that we’re all nice and warmed up,” Alger continues, setting himself down on the ground. “With the blood flowing through our bodies, I want you all to drop down and give me one hundred pushups, one hundred sit ups, and one hundred squats. Go.”
>Roll d100 – 10 for Endurance.
I WENT UPSTAIRS TO GET SOME FOOD.
AND I RETURN TO THIS.
Let me guess, our arm is suddenly going to break off.
And then we're gonna be missing an arm.
and then we're gonna be missing an eye. And then we're suddenly going to be of slavic origin. And then we're suddenly going to get a sex change. And then we're...fuck it, you Ameliafags know what I'm getting at.
You somehow manage to make it to twenty push-ups before you completely collapse on the ground, out of breath and sore all over. It hurts your thigh when you strain your quads. You definitely pulled something. No matter how much you try and exert your muscles, you can’t pull yourself back up to complete the exercise, let alone the other things Alger wanted you to do.
Speaking of the commander…
“Well, your body had to give out at some point or another,” he muses as he squats down right beside your prone form. “You’re gonna be keeping Brady company in KP tonight. There’s always tomorrow, rookie. We’ll get some ice on that leg, and maybe you’ll have better luck next time…”
You’re too tired to make a straight remark or sarcastic quip. All you can do is not move your thigh as much as you can.
Out of all of you, Fitz and MacKay are the only ones who managed to finish Alger’s orders. Brady’s only able to finish fifty push-ups before running completely out of breath. Victoria fell down three squats before one hundred. She doesn’t get KP since she came very close to finishing.
“You know,” Alger says, “As far as I’ve seen, this isn’t the worst performance I’ve seen in the years I’ve been in the Task Force. You’ll get stronger, better, faster, more resilient as long as you’re willing to put in the effort. It’s all on you, not me.
“I was going to have us hike back…” He pauses to look at your twitching quad and the near-unconscious Brady, “But we’re gonna have to nix that.”
Ten minutes and one phone call later, a flatbed truck tears through the trail and parks right next to you. MacKay helps you up as gently as they can onto the benches, with Victoria and Fitz grabbing Brady. Alger declines riding. Something about hiking back himself. Too stronk.
For a solid five minutes of the drive, there’s no noise between the group save for your heavy breathing.
“…well that sucked about as much as I thought it would…” You mutter petulantly. “…there’s some sick force out there laughing at me…”
Fitz rolls her eyes and sits right next to you. “Well, sawbones, you should’ve probably spent more time in the gym instead of the library. Muscle injuries don’t happen to those that regularly work out and know what they’re doing.”
“I really, really want to go back to civilization…” Brady moans, clutching his stomach. “But I want to prove to that gelled bastard that I can withstand this kind of training.”
“Don’t…give…up!” Victoria says as she gathers her breath. Her legs are shaking the most out of all of her body parts. “Like the commander…said earlier…there’s always…tomorrow…!”
“In times like this,” MacKay says with a small smile on his face, “I believe that there’s a quote that's ideal for this kind of situation."
Fitz cracks a wide smile. “Is it what I think it is? Because if it is, you do not know how much pleasure I will get from saying it to someone else. Sick and tired of being on the receiving end."
“It most likely is.”
Both you and Brady shoot each other confused looks, while Victoria tilts her head in curiosity. The policewoman and the priest respectively clear their throats and, looking at all of you, say:
“Welcome to the first day of the rest of your life.”
>“…” [Extend middle finger]
There isn’t any malice behind the gesture as you raise your hand and flip them the bird. You swear it’s all in good fun and you aren’t feeling any ill intent behind it. No siree. Just a friendly ribbing response to being ribbed.
Fitz looses it, and starts cackling like a madwoman, with MacKay joining in with her in a series of soft chuckles. Victoria’s head is still tilted. Maybe it’s a culture thing that she never got.
“…I’d cuss…you wankers out…” Brady manages to exhale, “…if I had…the proper…breath…so I’ll…do it later…after I get…some sleep…and maybe…a cold beer…”
The sound of your companions’ intensifying schadenfreude at your expense continues to echo and ring throughout the woods and during the ride back to the barracks, where a pot of potatoes await your arrival.
You just can’t catch a break…
Good session guys. Let's call it a night before another Nat 1 causes the universe to implode.
I just felt like it.
but you should make certain good choices immune to nat 1. would help alot if the players are good but the dice is shitty. constant nat 1 like theses are going to kill the quest man. if this keep happening after a month or two, a system must be created.
You guys are actually guinea pigs for testing out my homebrew SMTabletop system.
Trust me when I say that there will be some choices down the line that are immune to the Nat 1. Not everything is going to be dictated by the dice.
At any rate, I think it's time we end the thread for everyone's sake.
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Hope y'all have a good night/morning/day/afternoon wherever you based anons are.