Firestarter (archive)
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Delta Green story: Firestarter

Contributed by Donato Ranzato on Wednesday October 23, 02, @ 10:33AM

There always been a bit of lively rivalry between the police and the smoke-eaters; we have mutually exclusive missions which overlap occasionally, forcing cooperation without mutual objectives. Still, we get along with our FD pretty well. We even play paintball with them now and again.

In the wee hours of this a.m. our entry team ran a search warrant for the narcs. The house was a farmhouse on the edge of town, built around 1920 or so, and recently sheathed with galvanized tin sheets for unknown reasons, even over the windows.

Our informant reported that there were small children in there, so Top ruled out flash-bangs; the honcho we were after was known to be a crazy dude, so a full assault team and max firepower was laid on. A 1am raid was considered best for secrecy and surprise.

We blitzed the front door off its hinges; I was point man in team 1, and two steps into the house I knew things were screwed; the house had been remodeled many times, and had no rational layout; there were kids everywhere, and the flooring was rotting out, with holes a foot across here and there.

I broke left as per policy and cut down a hallway. A big, ugly doberman bailed out of a box, and attacked my slack, Dumplin, who is hated by all animals large and small. Since the dog was between me and Dumplin, I raced ahead to clear his line of fire, darting past a closed doorway and around a old chest freezer.

Dumplin blew the dog away with his shotgun, and just as the smell from the freezer registered on me, the door I had passed opened and the guy we were looking for popped out and started weaving his arms around, screaming some kind of weird language, all hissing
sibilants and phlegmy gargling sounds. The guy was all covered with burns in disturbing paths across his chest and arms. Something emerged from behind the man. It looked like some kind of ball-lightning but with a hellish intelligence. I know that no intelligent balls of fire exists, but that is the only explanation. The living fireball first flew in the honcho's hand, after which he tossed it into the inactive freezer. The guy's hand was badly burned and there was the smell of cooked meat.

WHAM! It looked like a nuke went off, the freezer was a vat of flame and the wall behind it was ablaze. The honcho ran to Dumplin, hands up; his wife, two steps behind him, had her hair catch fire and her face badly burned.

I was cut off; the hall I had come down was now closed by a wall of fire, and there were sounds of hissing and small explosions from the freezer. I ducked through the door at the end of the hall, and found myself in a room with no windows. I kicked the wall a bit, but behind the sheetrock was hardwood planks nailed across the studs, with sideing and tin sheets beyond that.

Meanwhile, the team was pulling back, reporting that a propane bottle had just ignited in another room and was whipping around.

I was shining my flashinglight around like a rat in a trap, which I was, and found a little girl about four years old hiding in a corner. Just to make things a bit better.

The smoke was building up fast, so I kicked a hole in the floor, dumped my helmet, and wrapped the kid and my MP-5 in a comforter. I tucked them through the hole and crawled in after them, figuring to get out through the crawlways. The house was built on piers and
beams, the whole enclosed by about a 5" thick concrete foundation wall. There was about a foot between the dirt and the floor, about six inches between the dirt and the beams. I had to take off my assault vest and drag it after me to move. Normally, there would be openings in the foundation wall to allow access to the plumbing running under the house.

Except that the house had been built without plumbing which was added later, and the only hole in the concrete foundation walls was a small square hole covered with mesh. They got into the pier and beam area from a trapdoor in the house. I kicked out the mesh and radioed; with help from outside we squeezed the kid through and I passed out my MP-5 and assault vest, but there was no way I was going out that hole.

The guys outside split once the girl and my weapon was clear; the house was fully involved, and the guy had welding tanks and more chemicals inside, and a propane tank snuggled up against the outside of the house, The place was literally a bomb. Behind me, the red-hot freezer had falled through the rotten floor, so trying to circle around the fire, if ever possible, was out.

I started digging with my Gerber, in the feeble hope that with the gap afforded by the hole I could gain enough clearance to squeeze out.

Then the FD arrived. The red Rescue truck screamed up and guys in light blue shirts bailed out. I heard an air compressor's engine rev, and then a fireman we called Ninja, a husky guy with a Fu Manchu mustache and a shaved head swaggered up to my hole, lugging a big rotary saw.

"Duck 'n cover, Jake, have ya otta there in a second." Something went off in the house like a bomb, but Ninja never hesitated. He flipped a safety visor down, revved the saw, and cut two angled cuts on either side of the opening; his partner used a Halagan tool to pry out triangular blocks away from the cuts, opening the hole big enough for me to squirm out.

I came out like a rocket-assisted gecko. I didn't stand up till I was halfway across the lawn and didn't stop moving until I was half a block away.

I watched the smokeaters in bunker gear and breather units humping hose into the shack, ignoring the explosions and chemical gas to fight the fire and look for any more persons trapped by the fire. Routine courage. Absolutely amazing.

I got home at 3am. Was back for my shift at 6am. I arranged for every FD Rescue member who responded to get a steak dinner for two at a very nice restaurant in town, on me, at their convenience.

From the time we hit the front door until the time I got out the hole was slightly more than ten minutes. It took me longer to type this. The radio this morning reported a residential fire in which one woman was injured.

I spent half of today in a cold chill, the other half feeling like a million bucks. The world seems like a different place. I saw something in that house that shouldn't have existed. I know that it wasn't an ordinary residential fire but I don't know to which I can report this.

This evening I got a phone call from somebody calling himself Agent Matlew. He told me I can share my experiences with him. He claimed to be from the Office of Homeland Defense.

I think I can trust him.

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