You can read about the third session of play here by following the link, but let's get on to the action of the finale of this story...
Ghosts in the Machine
by John M. Kahane
As the elevator plunges downward, Edward Blake, Gayle Tarrant, and Thomas Magnuson are thrown to the floor. Just as all seems hopeless, the elevator starts to slow, and then grinds to a halt. As the characters breathlessly recover, the surveillance camera sparks, and the phone rings. Blake painfully gets up and answers it. He hears the voice of Jason Harper, the first technician to have died during the original thunderstorm, who tells him that "we are sorry," and that "we have prevented he who found us from doing this bad thing." The elevator resumes normal function, and descends to the floor that is closest to its current location, where the doors slowly open. It tells the player characters to come to Sub-Level 2, Junction 14. All will be revealed.
Elsewhere, Kelasa Vostune opens her eyes to find herself lying on a small cot in a storeroom. David Anderson III is lying on a cot nearby. Hauling herself up, Kelasa assesses the situation. It's not good. Waking David, the two look around and determine that his weapons have been taken, and they are both unarmed. She realises that she still has two items on her - an electronic tool from her tool kit, and a small hairclip that she usually wears [she spent 2 Story Points to have them on her]. It takes Kelasa just a few minutes to pick the lock of the door, and the two cautiously make their way into a hallway.
Blake, Gayle, and Thomas make their way down to Sub-Level 2, and are attacked by several of the Nordstrom security guards, using electronic guns of some sort. While Thomas takes a serious burn, the three are able to deal with the four security guards and make their way to Junction 14. Thomas notes the irony of the situation, as this is the junction where the steel and concrete doors near where the security guard and technician's bodies were found. The two surveillance cameras activate, and the player characters are horrified to see the images of Jason Harper and Ellen Halvors on the screens. Halvors and Harper explain to the three that they are trapped in the monitors and electrical systems, victims of the Usuangir, an alien race. The story emerges in full: the Usuangir arrived on Earth the night of the terrible thunderstorm, and their damaged vessel crashed and became trapped on the roof of the building. Wintervane and some of his technicians, at the behest of Eric Hale, helped the aliens into the electrical systems of the Nordstrom building, and then trapped them there, their minute space vessel being taken down to the sub-level and placed in the chamber behind the steel and concrete doors. Through a means they do not understand, Wintervane and Hale have obtained knowledge from them of certain "matter devices" that channel the ionic energy fields of the Usuangir. Literally prisoners in the building, the Usuangir have been causing the disappearances and deaths of individuals as they try to fight against Hale and Wintervane to win their freedom. The Usuangir literally beg for assistance through the images of Harper and Halvors, and Edward Blake says that they will do what they can to assist them. While the Usuangir admit that they can be harmful to humans, they merely wish to leave the planet with their technology and equipment, and see that Hale and Wintervane are "punished".
As Blake, Gayle, and Thomas make their way cautiously back to the conference room where their base of operations in the Nordstrom building is, they come upon Kelasa and David. The two groups exchange details of recent happenings, and then continue on to the conference room. They arrive there unimpeded, and Blake wonders whether this is due to the help of the Usuangir, or if there isn't something else distracting Hale and Wintervane. They gather what equipment they need, and Blake calls UNIT HQ in London and asks them for immediate reinforcements. He is told that assistance is on the way.
The player characters depart for the surveillance centre of the building once more, Blake deciding they need to take the room and hold it, so that Kelasa can get a better idea of what's going on, and to determine if they can free some of the Nordstrom people trapped in the system. They manage to surprise the personnel there, and acquire three of the electroguns in the process. When the UNIT personnel take charge, several of the technical staff decide to switch sides, having had enough of Wintervane's high-and-mighty approach to matters, and Kelasa is able to get a decent explanation of how the technology works, and is able to take some guesses about the Usuangir and how they might be freed.
After several skirmishes with Nordstrom security personnel, the UNIT back-up force requested by Sergeant Blake arrives. The Nordstrom security personnel are no match for the UNIT soldiers, but the electroguns give them a bit of an advantage. Eventually, the UNIT personnel take over the complex, and make their way to the surveillance centre and the conference room that Blake has been using as his base of operations. Blake brings Colonel Sarah Claines up to speed, and a search begins to find Eric Hale.
After several hours work, Kelasa tells Blake that she may have figured out a way to free the Nordstrom employees trapped as ghosts in the machinery. Blake decides that it's time to go and confront the Usuangir directly, and leads the player characters down to Sub-Level 2, Junction 14, and the area where they are located. And they find that Hale and four of his security men are waiting for them. Hale is obviously not exactly sane any more, the bid for power that he has aspired to having been countered by the UNIT forces and the betrayal on the part of many of the Nordstrom personnel who were formerly loyal to him.
Hale tells the player characters that UNIT has interfered with his plans for power once too often, and that he intends to kill them once and for all. At that moment, the power goes out, the emergency lighting comes on, and Blake and the other player characters find themselves with the advantage as they begin a skirmish with the men. Blake goes after Hale personally, and the madness of the head of security of Nordstrom is all that gives him any chance against the military-trained Blake. David and Thomas give a good account of themselves against the four security guards, but Gayle takes a nasty wound from the electrogun, and Kelasa is intelligent enough to leave the physical combat to those who can handle it competently. She does hit the Nordstrom guard fighting with Gayle over the head, distracting him long enough for Gayle to deliver the knockout blow.
The arrival of the UNIT soldiers that were called in as back-up assures that the Nordstrom facility is under UNIT control, and Eric Hale and Edwin Wintervane are taken into UNIT custody. Meanwhile, Kelasa and the others manage to gain entrance to the Generator Room where Hale and Wintervane imprisoned the Usuangir. The aliens explain via the image of Jason Harper, who died during the the initial incident with the Usuangir, when Hale had them "captured" in an ionic interference net, after promising them assistance in repairing their craft and leaving the planet in exchange for technological information, that they did not mean to harm anyone, but they were desperate. They do not know if there is a means to return all those who have been "electronically stored" to corporeal form. Kelasa tells the Usuangir that there is a means of doing so, which she discovered while working in the surveillance centre, and something she remembered reading about in the files on UNIT's scientific advisor, The Doctor.
After many hours of work and travail, aided in large part by the Usuangir themselves, Kelasa and several of the UNIT technicals and some of the Nordstrom technical staff inform Colonel Claines and Sergeant Blake that they are ready to work some "scientific magic", and bring the ionized personnel back from their electronic form. The process seems to work fine, and the various Nordstrom personnel are brought back - minus their clothing - all appearing in the same locations where they vanished from. A profoundly grateful Ellen Halvors thanks Gayle Tarrant and her UNIT teammates for rescuing her. Kelasa explains that the process obviously needs some...refinement.
With some assistance from other UNIT technical staff, and the Usuangir themselves, Kelasa is able to finish the repairs to the Usuangir rhomboid ship. The Usuangir are able to transfer themselves back to the vessel, and appropriately enough, during a severe thunderstorm, the Usuangir depart the planet. Colonel Claines tells the UNIT team that the technology that remains at Nordstrom from the Usuangir will be removed to a UNIT facility for examination and possible R&D. The characters are told to report to UNIT HQ in London for debriefing.
Several days after the debriefing, Colonel Claines summons the UNIT personnel to her office. Claines says that Sergeant Blake and his team did a very good job in the Usuangir affair, and as a result they are being promoted to a position in the new UNIT efforts being set up - the Crash Teams (see the document pertaining to this on the GMS page at http://gmskarka.livejournal.com/540811.html). Blake is surprised when Claines tells him that this also comes with his promotion to Lieutenant. The team is told to take one week's leave before reporting back for duty. Claines promises them that things will definitely be livening up for them.
As can be seen, the players did a bang up job of playing in the DW: AiTaS game, and really managed to capture the feel of the game. The next post adds a series of game notes and observations about the running of the game.