Pattern Repeat

The Set-Up

Programming wunderkind Aaron Paretsky has been missing for three days. He was reported missing by his employer, processor manufacturer Fischer Integrated, and police performed a wellness check on his apartment. They haven’t found Paretsky, but they have found CCTV footage of Paretsky in multiple places at the same time. This anomaly has caught the attention of Delta Green, via a friendly in the San Francisco Police Department, and the agents have been sent to investigate further.

The police believe that Paretsky is alive and well, and has simply left his job. Locating him is not a priority for them. Fischer Integrated are extremely keen to find him. Paretsky is part of a team doing cutting-edge research on quantum computing and since his disappearance the company have discovered that one of the team’s prototype quantum processors has also gone missing. Fischer Integrated suspect Paretsky of corporate espionage and have a private investigator searching for him.

CCTV footage

The SFPD have three pieces of CCTV footage from the second day of Paretsky’s disappearance. He used an ATM at 09:34am, visited a hardware store at 9:42am, and stopped in an electronics store at 9:57am. Although the times are staggered the three locations are too far apart for him to have travelled from one to the other in that time. The SFPD’s solution to the problem is simple: the times on the footage must be wrong. If the agents can access the cameras they’ll discover that all three cameras show the correct time.

Fischer Integrated

Paretsky’s manager, Brian Torres, is paranoid and uncooperative, but not because he knows anything. Torres is afraid he will lose his job if Paretsky has done something illegal. Paretsky’s coworkers speak highly of his programming skills, but don’t like him very much. They don’t know where he’s gone, although several people did notice he was distracted before he disappeared.

Fischer Integrated’s private investigator, Michael Collins, should cross paths with agents at some point in their investigation. Paretsky’s house is a likely spot for them to meet; Collins will have the apartment staked out. If he sees the agents looking around Paretsky’s apartment Collins will start tailing them. He will also contact friends at the SFPD and check any credentials the agents show him.

Paretsky’s apartment

If the agents enter Paretsky’s apartment they’ll find it messy, but there’s no evidence of foul play. In Paretsky’s office there are lots of printed, numbered pages scattered on the desk and floor. On these pages is a 128 column grid. When the pages are put in order there are thousands of rows. Every 32 columns is a thicker vertical line. Some of the grid’s squares are blank and some have diagonal lines in, apparently at random. Most of the pages have alphanumeric codes written alongside the grid in Paretsky’s handwriting. A programming skill check can identify these as hexadecimal, giving instructions in X86 assembly language.

For example, a section of the grid looks like this:

/ / / / / / / / /

This has the notation “66 83 c0 01” written next to it. In X86 this is an instruction to add a number to a register.

The agents will find most of the grid pages easily, but they’ll need to spend 1D4 hours searching to locate the important first page, which reveals that the grid is a knitting pattern titled “Leng Blanket”. The blank squares represent knit stitches and the squares with lines represent purl stitches. Anyone who can knit will see instantly that the pattern doesn’t make sense; the knits and purls are apparently placed randomly when they should be placed symmetrically to create a pattern. The vast blanket created by this chart would be incredibly ugly.

Cynthia Peterson

There is evidence of a second person in Paretsky’s apartment, (duplicate toiletries, women’s clothing in a drawer), although he is the only person on the tenancy agreement. This person is Paretsky’s girlfriend, Cynthia Peterson. Peterson is currently out of town at her grandmother’s funeral, but will be back in two days. She is upset that Paretsky refused to come to the funeral with her and plans to break up with him on her return. Agents can get Cynthia’s name from Paretsky’s co-workers or neighbours.

Cynthia is the source of the pattern. Her mother grew up in foster care and Cynthia had only recently reconnected with her biological grandmother, bonding over a shared love of textile crafts. Cynthia’s grandmother left her a collection of knitting patterns and she has uploaded several, including the Leng Blanket, to an online account that Paretsky had access to.

Cynthia has the original pattern, but won’t mention this to the agents as she won’t see it as being relevant. If asked what the pattern makes she can explain that it doesn’t make any sense. Attempting to take her dead grandmother’s possessions from her will, understandably, make her hostile. If the agents don’t realise that Cynthia is the source of the pattern she will eventually upload all of the patterns from her grandmother’s house to a knitting website where they can be downloaded by anybody.

If the agents miss Cynthia’s arrival she will leave Paretsky a note informing him that they’re finished and will remove all of her possessions from the apartment, including his print-out of the pattern. Agents can still find Paretsky without the notes from the partment, but they may not be able to undo his plans.

What’s Going On

The knitting pattern hides a binary computer code. A knit stitch represents 0 and a purl stitch represents 1. Paretsky had translated the binary into hexadecimal before writing a program using that code. He ran the program on the prototype processor stolen from Fischer Integrated. Anyone with programming knowledge can replicate the Leng Blanket program from Paretsky’s notes.

Unfortunately, the pattern was originally created by devotees of Atlach-Nacha. There are some who believe that Atlach-Nacha is weaving a web that connects our world with the Dreamlands, but the Spider God’s web connects more than that. There is also a theory that quantum computing is made possible because of the existence of parallel universes, that these universes parallel to our own are where qubits go when in a state of quantum superposition. Unfortunately for the agents this is true and the Leng Blanket program weaves parallel universes together, speeding up Atlach-Nacha’s work.

Anybody who replicates Paretsky’s program and runs it on one of Fischer Integrated’s quantum processors will see the air split open. They will briefly see the infinity of the multiverse, each iteration of existence a shining thread in an impossibly vast web. At the centre an immense spider sits, its body deforming time and space like a black hole. 1d20 SAN loss to behold Atlach-Nacha. This vision quickly fades and the hole resolves itself into a reflection of our universe. A different parallel universe can be seen depending on where the viewer stands. 1d6 SAN loss for seeing a parallel universe self looking back.

Paretsky’s mind was ripped apart by what he saw. He is now working with several of his parallel universe selves to improve the program, all of them obsessed with this goal and unable to see beyond it. Improving the program will speed up the weaving of Atlach-Nacha’s web, collapsing contradictory parallel universes into each other.

Unraveling the Universe

Finding Paretsky shouldn’t be difficult as he isn’t making any attempt to hide. He is in an abandoned building roughly in the centre of the three CCTV locations. He was able to be in multiple places at once because of the parallel universe selves working with him. Their workspace contains the computer with the quantum processor, miscellaneous components and several laptops. On one wall are detailed plans for breaking into Fischer Integrated. By the main computer is a tear in the fabric of reality with wires and cables running into it from different angles. The Paretskys have extended their workspace into other universes, but differences between these realities are slowing down their work. Software compatibility is proving to be an issue.

Agents can destroy Paretsky’s computer, but then they will have to deal with any parallel universe selves trapped in this universe. Delta Green may have an opinion as to whether the duplicates should be killed or brought in for debriefing. Identifying the original Paretsky might be possible if the agents bring someone who knows him well, although he will be hopelessly insane.

If they can program, the agents could rewrite Paretsky’s program in order to undo the damage and return the duplicate Paretskys to their home universes. It’s possible that duplicates of the agents might show up to help, although they may be following different instructions to the player characters.

Regain 1d4 SAN for destroying Paretsky’s computer. Regain 1d6 SAN for rewriting his program. Regain 1d4 SAN for destroying the original pattern before Cynthia puts it online.

(This scenario was inspired by Amelia Gorman’s 2015 short story “Bring the Moon to Me”).


This was an entry to the 2019 Delta Green shotgun scenario contest, written by Helena.

The intellectual property known as Delta Green is ™ and © the Delta Green Partnership. The contents of this document are © their respective authors, excepting those elements that are components of the Delta Green intellectual property.