This scenario is best set during or just after the Iraq War, though it can be adjusted with Handler creativity. Events kick off about a year before the start of the scenario, when a US Army squad stumbles across a negotiation between Iraqi insurgents and a Sand Dweller tribe. The subsequent firefight resulted in the death of five US soldiers, dozens of insurgents and the capture of a single Sand Dweller, which they took to be a mutant.
Squad Leader and ex-DG Friendly John Kirkman knew of and distrusted the Special Access Program. He swore the three surviving men under his command to secrecy, then ordered them to subject the creature to enhanced interrogation. The creature died of hyperhydration after being waterboarded, but not before spraying the men with a foul musk. They burned the corpse.
The musk marked the men as enemies of all Sand Dweller tribes. The smell never went away, which led to them being honorably discharged or washing out of the military. Sand Dwellers can pick up the scent from up to 20 miles away, and will immediately set out towards it with murderous intent. Despite being a long way from Iraq, two of the soldiers have already been devoured.
The Agents are briefed that they are to investigate the murder of a former US soldier, PFC Paul Clark, just back from overseas. They are told the crime scene bore unusual and occult characteristics, and are given cover as Federal Agents.
The crime scene is an large adobe style house on the outskirts of Albuquerque. Local cops are loitering outside, suspiciously eager to hand the investigation over to the Feds.
The newly built home is filled with faux Pueblo Indian designs. The windows in the kitchen and living room have been smashed in from the outside. Forensics reveals a weird oily substance on the kitchen counter and some walls, which tests reveal to be some kind of organic lipid. There are small sandy footprints everywhere.
The living room smells so pungently of urine it causes gagging and burns the eyes. The carpet is covered in blood stains and gnawed bones arranged in symbolic patterns. Forensics or Medicine identifies them as a mix of human and canine bones, and Occult or Archaeology recognizes the symbols as resembling undeciphered petroglyphs found throughout the American southwest.
The house is furnished as a family home but has been treated like an oversized bachelor pad. The fridge contains only beer, yogurt and wilted green vegetables. On the dining room table are divorce papers indicating Clark's imminent split with his wife Karen and a box of photographs of the couple in happier times, some dating back to high school.
In the bathroom cabinet is a staggering number of different soaps, anti-bacterial washes, deodorants, colognes, perfumes and essential oils, as well as hydrogen peroxide, coconut oil, apple cider vinegar, tea tree oil, cocoa butter and baking powder.
There are only two photographs on the wall, both in the living room. One shows Clark with his massive Newfoundland dog. The other shows Clark in the Iraqi desert with two other soldiers.
Karen is staying with friends downtown, who can vouch for her whereabouts over the last week. She is distraught when informed of her husband's death, and HUMINT reveals she still has strong feelings for him. She will be initially cagey about her reasons for divorce, but careful questioning will reveal two things.
- Ever since he came back from Iraq, he smelled horrible. She tried to put up with it, but it was nauseating.
- She felt like she was being watched at night in the new house. She once saw red eyes gleaming outside the kitchen window.
Military contacts or Bureaucracy can uncover records of Clark's deployment in Iraq, a sanitized official story of the firefight with insurgents, and the identities of surviving members of his squad, Corporal Randy Lacroix, Private Lucas Jackson and their squad leader Staff Sergeant John Kirkman. Lacroix was honorably discharged for undisclosed medical considerations, while Jackson was dishonorably discharged for insubordination. Kirkman is now a Master Sergeant deployed in Germany.
Medical records will show Lacroix was unsuccessfully treated for bromhidrosis (acute body odor) at several hospitals after being discharged. Social media images show Lacroix subsequently backpacking throughout the world and his marriage to Australian woman Sharon Woodgrove.
Further research uncovers an article in the Sydney Morning Herald about the disappearance and suspected murder of an American tourist identified as Lacroix, attacked in his vehicle just outside the central Australian city of Alice Springs. The article mentions Woodgrove as being catatonic and placed in a medical institution, as well as rumors the couple were attacked by dingoes based on the urinestink around his car. The article has been cross-posted to content aggregator sites and generated hundreds of comments arguing about dingo behavior.
Getting more information on the case requires dealing with Australia's Northern Territory police: Bureaucracy to make the right calls, and Persuade to win over the reticent locals who are embarrassed about the ridiculous attention the still-open case garnered online.
The crime report notes the strong smell of urine near the vehicle, the non-responsiveness of Woodgrove and the discovery of scattered human bones on the roadside near the site (placed ritualistically on the highway by the local Sand Dwellers, but disturbed by passing trucks before discovery by police). The NT police have no leads but theories ranging from an outback serial killer to a "blackfella cannibal cult".
They also send a recording of Woodgrove's 000 (Australia's emergency services number) call, which contains screaming from Lacroix and Woodgrove and weird sounds in the background resembling dogs panting.
Further Bureaucracy checks reveal his wife's medical records, which diagnose her as suffering from PTSD-induced catatonia. Her few lucid moments are limited to singing or humming the theme song to "The Adventures of Blinky Bill." The records also mention she suffers from permanent anosmia, the lack of ability to perceive odor.
Jackson is harder to track down, the only child of deceased parents with no close family. His last known address is in Hell's Kitchen, New York. Asking around the neighborhood, it becomes apparent Jackson fell on hard times after returning from Iraq, being unable to hold down a job and eventually evicted from his house. Neighbors mention his distinct odor and erratic behavior.
Following Jackson's trail takes as long as the Handler wishes. He became homeless and wandered the country before running afoul of 'Greyhound therapy' and ending up in El Paso, Texas. When he tried to leave under his own steam, he was attacked by local Sand Dwellers and fled back to the relative safety of the urban jungle. The Sand Dwellers won't enter the city but can smell him in there somewhere. Jackson is terrified to leave by land and is starving himself trying to panhandle enough money for a flight out.
Jackson is notorious in the El Paso homeless community and shelter workers, described as a penny-pinching paranoid who believes in 'Sand People'. He is most easily tracked down through fellow homeless veterans.
Jackson is paranoid but desperate, his first instinct when confronted is to flee but Persuade or Psychoanalysis can calm him. If he believes he can trust the Agents, he will offer to trade what he knows for a flight out of the desert climes.
Kirkman will only talk through a member of the Cell he used to work with, which is now defunct. He also won't assent to an interview unless the Agents come to Ramstein. For the Group, this requires convincing A Cell about the urgency, and the Handler may make such an intermediary willing, unwilling, insane, desperate, paranoid, off the reservation or turned.
For the Program, one option is to make up national security flim-flam to get Kirkman into an interrogation room, but he is resistant and has the support of his superiors. Another option is having a former Cell member in Federal custody, but only willing to cooperate in exchange for release with time served.
When convinced or coerced to talk, Kirkman admits to what happened in the desert and gives his own theory: jihadists are allying with folklore creatures called Al  who give intelligence on enemy operations in exchange for human flesh. He's not far off.
While Jackson just wants to get the hell out of the desert, Delta Green has other plans. They have uncovered records of old operations
luring Deep Ones into ambushes with summoning rituals, and wish to replicate them. Poor Jackson is going to be driven out into the desert and used as bait to either capture (Program) or kill (Group) some Sand Dwellers. Since the Agents are already there, they're probably going to be the ones given the assignment.
This is an entry to the 2016 shotgun scenario contest. Written by David Tormsen.