Dead on Arrival


A thin, wiry man in his 50s steps into the interrogation room holding a maglite and a styrofoam coffee cup in one hand, and blood-crusted axe etched with winding heiroglyphics in the other.  He plays the light over you for a few seconds and then seems to exchange glances with whoever's on the other side of the one-way mirror before taking a seat. 
"Six bodies have gone missing from 3 different morgues around the city, all homicides, and the disappearance of human remains has triggered something the higher-ups call the Pickman protocols.  That means trust no-one; not friendlies, not agents, not sweet little old ladies.  Try to shake hands when you meet anyone who has any connection to the mission, and if they don't take you up on it, call it in.  I also want you to watch the shadows closely.  If you see anything that shouldn't be there, call that in too."

What's going on

Something has crawled from the bottom of lake Michigan and begun living out it's strange life cycle within the bodies of Chicago's human population.   
It follows a nutrient gradient of despair to seek out lonely prey, and "keeps them company" by burrowing deep inside.   Once another human has acknowledged the host as dead it is able to take control of the corpse to seek out the next victim.  
Once it's moved on to a fresh body, the old host quickly dissolves into a tar-like substance alien to modern science. 
Among Chicago's hundreds of yearly homicides, the actual killings are barely a blip, but fortunately missing bodies are something the Program pays close attention to. 
James Neymar 61 y/o Male Died approx March 3rd, found March 15th 
Imran Heath 52 y/o Male Died approx March 18th, found April 6th 
Paris Daulton 44 y/o Female Died approx April 7th, found April 9th 
Sabrina  Bannon 58 y/o Female Died approx April 10th, found April 21st 
Phillip Cross, 67 y/o Male Died approx April 22nd, found May 8th 
Victoria Daley 72 y/o Female died approx May 11th, found May 24th

The Morgues

County Coroner Reports- James Neymar's death was still unconfirmed at the point his body was "stolen".  The other 5 were all ruled homicides by strangulation.   (The bruising is consistent with an attack by the previous victim in terms of height and grip size in each case.) 
Fortunately for the medical examiners, no autopsies were carried out.  Maybe they got a bad feeling and put it off for the next night (by which time the body had already walked out), they were overloaded with more pressing homicides, or maybe they're incompetent goobers who have a youtube cutest animals compilation running on their computer and use the lab equipment to cut up their lunch. 
Physical Evidence – The drawers that contained James Neymar and Imran Heath were dented during the corpses' escapes.  The deformation of the hatch strongly suggests that the doors were beaten open from the inside, and there is evidence of scoring and corrosion damage, though (improbably) there is no trace of the acid that caused the damage in either case. 
CCTV footage:- 
Mitchell-   Exterior footage of the front of the building is indistinct, but seems to show a single figure leaving via the fire escape. There's nothing better available 
St Bernard's- After the first body went missing, the hospital had a CCTV camera installed on the basement level.  he footage is missing for the period in which Sabrina Bannon and Phillip Cross vanished from their drawers.   
One of the hospital's Night watchman night watchmen, Dean Basquill hit a breaking point when he saw them, cut the footage, and kept it to obsess over.  If questioned about the footage he will appear nervous and badly sleep deprived. 
Security at Holy Cross Hospital were distracted by the windows in the gift-shop exploding for seemingly no reason.  They haven't checked the footage in relation to the lost body yet, but a camera does catch Victoria Daley walking quite calmly from the building in a patient's gown.

West 75th Street

Due to the nature of the victims, quite a lot of time tends to pass between the creature burrowing into a victim, and the authorities taking them away.  As a result, all of the apartments have been sold to new owners and thoroughly cleaned, with the exception of the most recent.   
Victoria Daley lived alone in a dingy single-storey home down one of Ashburn's dead-end streets. There are no signs of forced entry, and no evidence of any significant struggle.  
The main clue comes in the form of a dark, oily stain on the carpet, soaked through to the floorboards that constitutes the earthly remains of Phillip Cross.  An agent with an active imagination might pick up that the stain is vaguely man-shaped, and lab tests will reveal that the substance includes complex carbon nanostructures, and is reacting chemically and biologically with substances that aren't visibly present in the sample.   
(Costs 1d6 SAN, gain Unnatural  1d4)

The map

The creature's path through the city is guided by fairly consistently Southwest.  It needs hosts, but it also wants to move further from lake Michigan, where something worse has stirred in the depths, driving the creature from its home. 
The path isn't especially straight, but the trend is consistent enough that  agents who plot out the murders on a map should be able to work out that it's next victim will be taken somewhere south of midway airport, probably on the North side Burbank.

Running to ground

At this point the agents can either gather the resources to chase down the thing inhabiting Victoria Daley and confront it, or take the easy option and wait a week or two for the next strangling victim from Burbank to wind up in the morgue and examine it there before they are pronounced DOA. 
Choosing the latter option poses no significant difficulties when the next victim is collected in 8 days time, but costs 1/1d10 SAN in HELPLESSNESS. 
If they choose to track it down, the now disguised remains of Victoria Daley are depressingly difficult to distinguish from the city's homeless population, which tops 7,000 at least.  If they can arrange assistance from the police and assemble an appropriate cover story to put out an APB then it should be possible to track it down before it claims it's next victim, roughly 40 hours after the briefing.   
If they work alone, the search is arduous.  Every 6 hours spent searching costs 1d4 WP earns the agents a luck check to spot it. 
STR 15, CON 15, DEX 7, INT 13, POW 10 
HP 28, WP 10 
SKILLS: Alertness 40%, Grapple 70% 
Strangle 40% 2d6 
HIDING PLACE: When this undead vessel is damaged beyond use, the slick, black tangle within is forced to emerge.

Disposing of the Body

If the agents wait for the next body to turn up and conduct an autopsy, the creature emerges immediately.  If they skip the autopsy and attempt to burn or dissolve the corpse somewhere secret, the creature emerges to escape the from the acid or flames screeching horribly, and attacks. 
If they throw the victim into a shallow grave instead and don't accidentally declare them dead, the creature will gradually dwindle and die as the host body rots.  (But as far as the agents know, it might just wait down there forever.) 
STR 27, CON 11, DEX 15, INT 13, POW 10 
HP 44, WP 10 
SKILLS: Alertness 70%, Grapple 70%, Stealth 50% 
INHABIT 50% 1d10+2 
INHABIT: Once an agent has been successfully grappled, the creature may attempt to force itself into them. On a successful attack, the creature is once again safely hidden and begins dealing 1d6 to the agent from within on each of is turns. 
RITUAL GESTATION: Once the creature burrows into a body, it can gain control and animate the host as a zombie once they have been acknowledged as dead, either verbally or in writing.  
SAN LOSS 1/1D10 


This is an entry to the 2018 Delta Green shotgun scenario contest, written by Nicholas Brown.

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