(2018-11-01) The Briefing
Olivia offers the CPD, and other responders, some theories on cult murders in the area.
Players:
elizabeth..erik..franklin..gordon..jameson..julian..kris..laura..olivia..

A deputy steps out from the meeting room. "Everyone gather in here, I think this specialist lady is ready for ya'll!" He steps out, holding the door open for people gathered.

The meeting room is filled with whiteboards and there are a lot of pictures, evidence and interviews placed on them. The long table has more than a few chairs set out so that the meeting can be conducted comfortably. Two suited men stand near the door, obviously with Olivia who stands near the head of the table. Elizabeth takes a seat near the woman, leaning back to cross her leg at the knee. "In case ya'll didn't know, this lady came down from somewhere to share her knowledge that might help us with the murders that have been going on. I'm not running this meeting or anything. Sheriff, anything to say?"

Calaveras' resident Warden makes his appearance just in time, dressed in layers that include a terrain jacket and thick hiking boots, all worn and weathered from use. The ranger's belt sports his gold on a black leather case U.S. Fish and Wildlife badge as well as a really big desert eagle that is definitely not standard issue. Though his demeanor is professional, Julian Walker, a known local who works closely with the PD and other response systems also has an easy going, relaxed vibe about him. The familiarity of someone who has been doing what he does for a long time. The ranger's boots thud heavily as he enters the meeting room and offers up a wordless nod of greeting to the ones he knows as he finds himself some real estate in the back of the room.

Kris makes her way into the station, this time in uniform and on duty. Her hair is done up and she takes off her Smokey as she walks in. She finds a spot in the back of the room and stands straight, hands behind her in parade rest. Her eyes scan the room as she takes note of those in attendance.

Laura nods in understanding at Erik, then leans in slightly to add. "But they can always get better, too!" She brings up a hand in a fist and tries to look bright and full of gumption, though there's something a little doubtful about her grin. Then she looks over one shoulder towards the meeting room. "I think I'll leave the speculation to you Detective types. And there's a specialist and everything." The officer flashes Erik a smile, then starts heading towards the meeting room herself.

The department doors opening, Sheriff Bennett steps in carrying a steaming cup of coffee. His eyes scan the office and then turn to his watch to check the time. He's right on time. Good. Lifting the cup to his lips for a quick sip, he sees the deputy ushering others into the meeting room and turns to head that way. Nodding to the deputy as he steps in, Gordon takes a look around at the whiteboards and photos littered throughout and alters his course to take a place towards the side of the room, opting to rest against the wall instead of taking a seat when he's addressed. He pauses and glances around at everyone with his mouth slightly open before he nods and smiles, stepping up towards the front of the room and giving everyone a few moments to file in. "Thanks, everyone, for coming." He pauses and looks around the room once again, "I know we're all working hard to provide answers to the community and it hasn't been easy." His gaze turns to some of the photos of the crime scenes, "It never is." Glancing towards Olivia, he nods, "But we're going to explore all possible avenues and make sure this violence comes to an end and the citizens of Calaveras feel safe again." He turns to regard the room as a whole again, then simply steps back towards the side of the room and stuffs his free hand into his coat and takes a sip of his coffee.

"True," Erik replies to Laura, before he makes a quick detour to his desk to deposit the paper bag he was carrying, bringing the coffee cup with him as he moves inside the meeting room and finds a place near the front of the room. There's a nod offered to Olivia before he pulls out his trusty notebook, leaning back as he sips his own cup of coffee.

"Thank you for that fulsome introduction, Deputy Rothschild" Olivia smiles politely to Elizabeth before a nod of thanks also to the Sheriff. She surveys the assembled and taking a deep breath. Public speaking is not her forte. "I am Special Agent Lopez from the Denver office." A nod to the men in suits, "Special Agent Rodriguez and Special Agent Smith." Olivia is not in a suit. She has taken the boots, jeans, and tank top route - semi-undercover. "I want to make this clear from the outset, we are not here to take over this investigation. We are only here to assist. I would even prefer if our presence was not made public…though that horse has already bolted." Damn TV crews at the Chavez murders. "My specialty is in cult or supernaturally motivated crimes. And what you have here certainly meets the criteria."

Olivia gestures to the photos of the bloody crime scenes. "The Jiminez and Morris murders, and the attempted bombing of the television station, are all connected. The Chavez killings does not have the same M.O. as the other incidents, which suggests either a copycat mentality - the father assumed the murders would be folded in with the others and he could blame it on someone else - or there is a second cult in the area as there were definite ritual symbology being used. However, today I want to speak about the connected murders primarily. As any of you who have spoken to the suspects know, the crimes were in preparation for a forthcoming event. 'He' was coming. Unfortunately, he is already here." She pauses for a mouthful of water.

Elizabeth raises her eyebrows at the 'He', shaking her head back and forth slowly. "Heard a lot about this He person who is coming. I think my question is, who is…He?" She pulls out a pad and a pencil, deciding that notes might be in order.

Kris raises a brow as she hears for the first time about a bombing attempt at the station. She makes note to speak to Heather about that later. When they mention cults and supernatural, Kris makes a face. "How do we know that these are actual cult killings and not someone trying to cover up bad deals and making them out to scare the locals? Drug cartels have been doing this for years down in Mexico."

Seated in the back, Julian is relatively near to Kris as she raises questions from the back of the conference room. He leans back, taking note of the woman and not only providing respectful attention as she speaks up, but also nodding in agreement as he turns to gauge Olivia's response. Being the only two rangers to cover all four regions of Calaveras, even if they don't work together much, there's certainly a level of familiarity there. He's not taking any notes but the man is certainly attentive, though he takes a moment to spare Kris a quick greeting nod.

"I can't tell you who 'He' is exactly" Olivia replies with a faint smile, "But 'He' is the leader of the cult behind these incidents. You may then ask, 'if he was around all the time, then how was he coming?'. I'll try to explain. When they talk about 'He is coming', what they mean is that a transformation is about to happen. The leader, thanks to the efforts of his followers, will ascend to a higher level and be 'possessed' by the spirit of whatever higher power these people worship. It is probably even the same God that many of you worship…but hopefully not in the same way. The cleansing of the path, in other words butchering others, bestows power to the leader to allow this transformation. To allow that higher being to descend and bring Paradise to Earth."

Olivia nods to Kris's question. "Another good question. The identity of the perpetrators seems to preclude this. Young. Unconnected to crime. No common racial characteristics. In family situations where they did not feel they were appreciated. They found their personal salvation in what 'He' was able to offer them. 'He' most likely contacted them first through social media or the internet…or even existing followers meeting them in the street. The perpetrators at least believe they are in a cult. Does this mean that the leader is not working for the cartels?" A shake of her head. "Nope, but I consider it unlikely on the evidence we have. And many of those cartels /do/ believe in the cult persona they adopt to scare others. Ah…I'm glad that we have Rangers here because, sorry to say, 'He' is most likely making use of the areas you patrol."

Laura slips in towards the side of the room, where she parks herself, taking out a little notebook. She looks interested and focused on the speakers, occasionally look down just to take a few notes, a small frown working its way onto her brow as the talk progresses, at least mildly perturbed by all the cult talk. She bites her pen, lightly, then holds it up. "Are they all being recruited locally?"

At some point Sergeant Frank Payne slips into the conference room. Never mind he's one of the biggest, if not THE biggest person in the room and looks quite intimidating, and hence difficult to miss, Frank still tries to sneak in without raising too much attention. He crosses his tree-trunk-like arms over his chest after sneaking in, finding a spot next to Laura, but as he leans against a chair, his gigantic bulk pushes the chair over with a loud crash. So what does he do? He slowly looks around the room, then frowns at the knocked over chair. "I'm just gonna…" He points at it, and leans down to right it, all nonchalant-like.

"So can we try to get someone to trace where these messages might be com.." Elizabeth jumps and glances back as Frank knocks over the chair. "Jesus, Lieutenant. Scare the shit out of us why don't you?" She makes a note on her paper and then furrows her brow, repeating. "So is there any way to trace any of these messages if he's recruiting them locally, or is that like looking for a needle in a fucking haystack?"

Erik takes a few notes as he listens, letting out a bit of a breath. "The Morris family came…" he begins, before he looks over towards Franklin as he knocks over the chair. Shaking his head a bit as he looks forward again.

Julian climbs out of his seat, clearing his throat to draw attention from Olivia. He starts to say something, but Franklin's entrance has the man trying extremely hard to maintain his composure, though a smirk does break his otherwise professional expression. "Welcome to the party, Gunny." Julian just chuckles and shakes his head, shooting the big man a wordless greeting before turning his attention back to the agent at the front.

"Agent Lopez, if you refer to the topographical maps I sent in to be included in the report, I've marked some likely locations that we could potentially discover them. I think we can rule out some areas for obvious reasons - and others will require a lot more manpower than I have at my disposal."

Glancing back at Kris, Julian presents the room with a rather easygoing smile. "There are only two of us after all. If you have resources, you could allocate them to us and we can split off and guide your teams through the highest risk locations I've marked on the maps provided in the report. We're at your disposal, of course."

Jameson's has been here the entire time, just quietly (and furiously) writing down notes on a pad that was starting to get full up with scribbles. He looks up to Elizabeth as she asks her questions, nodding to himself as though he were in agreement. He leans over to murmur something to Elizabeth before he sits back in his seat.

Olivia shakes her head to Laura's question. "No. The Morris boy came from New Mexico. Not far, but not local. These days, despite following archaic belief systems, these cults are surprisingly adept at using computers. A great way to get your me…" And then there is a loud crashing that has her reaching for the pistol that she isn't carrying at the moment. A forced smile for the culprit before she continues. "Which is why it is also hard to track them, Deputy Rothschild. And he has moved to a new level. Whatever he is planning to do, he has enough recruits now to do it. Any further recruitment will be through more direct means. The violence has escalated and, as representatives of the law in the current dominant society, you are all in danger. They tried to bomb the television station since it can offer alternative viewpoints. They will try something with all of you because you offer alternative security. If you fail to provide it, then people will turn to them for it. Make no mistake, these people are using violence to influence political choice…which is the definition of terrorism. Most cults will hide away in their compound, these guys are coming out of their shells to change things."

Olivia nods in thanks to Julian. "Thank you. As Ranger Walker notes, they will be based outside of the city. Somewhere protected and isolated where they could nurture their strength and draw in recruits. We have evidence of a truck at the crime scenes so we can also assume that roads are not required. They use social media, which means they need some kind of internet access, most likely satellite. Phones could do the job but they might be more old school than that. So, we can expect walls, fences, satellite dishes, aerials, and guns. It is going to take all of us and I am fully aware that this is not the only thing on your plates."

There's a pause again as Erik listens, taking a few more notes. "Walls and fences, and all of that seems to suggest it would be relatively large. Perhaps it would be possible to spot from the air?" he suggests, a bit thoughtfully.

"One of the neighbors of the Jiminez family mentioned seeing the daughter coming and going in a brown truck," Jameson offers after clearing his throat. "They mentioned the family didn't get out much. That they got a lot of deliveries. It could be that the perp was doing some of these delivers. Got to talking to the daughter," he lifts a shoulder. "But if you say they're adept at using computers now, well," he looks to Olivia, brows raised. "Have we gotten ahold of any computers at the crime scene? Can we get browser history, see what they were looking at?"

Kris nods as Olivia explains away her more immediate concerns. But then she mentions that they're hiding… in her forest… This does not sit right with her. She steels herself and swallows, nodding taking in the information before asking. "Can you ask for satellite help? Infrared, thermal imaging, that sort of thing?" She knows the government has that sort of thing. All the conspiracy nuts say so. She looks to Erik as he possibly has the same idea.

Franklin acts all casual about the chair-crashing, shrugging a shoulder at whoever looks his way as if nothing is amiss. His attention is then fully on the briefing about a cult… COMPOUND. With walls, fences and all. The big cop turns his head in Julian's direction, and muses to the ranger. "Sure can use a coupla Harriers right about now." He doesn't dwell on it though, as he straightens up and holds a hand up. "Agent Rodriguez, you Feds seem to know quite a lot about these crazies. What can you tell us about their numbers? What kinda manpower, experience and hardware are we talking about here?" The questions are posed in the tone of not a police officer, but a military veteran. A MARINE, in fact, if anyone were to ask for clarification.

"Possibly" Olivia nods to Erik's ideas on the scale of any compound. "Though it will be camouflaged, and…maybe even underground." She nods over to one of the maps. "There are a few abandoned mines in the area. Not to mention some heavily wooded areas. And it is probably not the only compound out there." A nod to Jameson's comments. "I think Maria was recruited physically. She disappeared for a little while and I suspect she was at the compound then for final indoctrination. If we could get her to talk… And you can see how devoted these people are to Him by how she bit her own tongue off to avoid giving anything away. No computers at the crime scenes. The only phones we found belonged to the victims. The evidence suggests that at least one other person was at the crime scenes, they probably took away that evidence, yet left the perpetrators to their fate. And the perpetrators were willing to do that."

Olivia arches a brow at Kris before a slight smile. "Any assistance we can provide we will do so. Not sure we can include satellite in that, but I will do my best." Lopez will assume that Franklin is talking to her and will take the question aimed at Rodriguez. "Numbers are usually below a hundred. They will be very well armed and willing to die for their beliefs. And kill for them too. It is a religious based cult who are preparing this world for the next. They have no need to preserve their lives. Experience…I think it is safe to assume that some of them will be military trained. At the very least there will be some regular shooters who like to think they are."

"I have a feeling we're all going to find ourselves in heavy gear dealing with this, and that doesn't make me feel great." Elizabeth leans down to write some things down on her pad, frowning. "What can we tell the public in regards to keeping them safe? Are certain people being targeted? Is there something we need to look out for in general in that direction?" She blinks before she adds. "Recent missing persons might be a way to go as well, see if we can trace any of the adults who have gone missing to see if they might have joined this cult."

"The bootprint…" Erik mutters, mostly meant for himself, before he lets out another breath. Looking over at Elizabeth, he nods slowly. "That's the problem. It seems like most people could be walking around like some kind of ticking bombs…"

Frank QUIRKS A BROW at Olivia's information, before he glances around the room at all the officers gathered here. He can't help it — he's the veteran patrol officer and usually the one managing shift schedules. He turns back to Olivia and her fellow Feds, frowning unhappily. "A hundred heavily armed fanatics in a defensive bunker?" Pausing to shake his head, Frank continues. "Calaveras PD has 78 Patrol Officers, and 15 civilian deputies. Even if we include the 10 detectives, two rangers, and the three of you, that's barely over a hundred of us. And most do not have combat training or experience." OF COURSE he is thinking about where this is potentially heading.

Julian, after having shared all the information he had at his disposal, has remained mostly silent up until this point. He watches each person who speaks, studying them, some he recognizes and some he doesn't. It isn't until Franklin speaks, that the ranger again speaks up, though this time remaining in his seat.

"We've faced worse odds then that." The combat veteran reminds his larger counterpart, shooting Franklin an easy look as if he were trying to transfer some of his confidence and relaxed demeanor over to the man.

"From what we have seen so far, 'He' is concentrating on the young and disaffected. So, yes, check for missing persons but look more towards that group. Whoever 'He' is, he likes young things." Olivia shows some distaste as she says that. "As for keeping people safe and what you wish to tell them…that I will have to leave to Chief Chen and the Sheriff. And the mayor. Anyone in authority will be targeted. So keep your eyes peeled and stay alert for yourselves and each other. Don't expect logic from these people. Do they really think they can take over this city and establish some kind of independent nation under the cult leader's rule? Yes…they really do." Another drink of water. "Hundred tops" she assures Franklin, "Probably a lot less." There is a hopeful tone in her voice. No evidence to confirm this…but hopeful. "I think I've talked long enough. There were other things you needed to talk about…" A questioning look to the Sheriff before addressing the crowd again. "I will be around for questions and anything more I can give you. I don't think it will be long before we find them, because they will want to be found." A nod over to the Rangers. "If we can talk later? Thank you, all. I have no doubt that we will get through this together."

Laura settles back in with her little notepad, writing every now and then as the meeting advances. The pen between her fingers ends up tapping on her chin at intervals as she shifts uneasily at some of what she hears, nose scrunching up at the mention of a compound with potentially up to a hundred 100 heavily armed cultists. She scratches at her neck with the pen and shakes her head, then puts the notepad away as the session wraps up. "That was reassuring," she mutters.

Kris clears a throat when Franklin assumes the training of those collected. When Olivia speaks to herself and Julian, she says, "We're at your disposal, Special Agent. Just a head's-up, though. The weather's gonna get nasty soon, and even nastier out in the wilderness. If we don't get them now, they may hunker down for the winter, which will give them plenty of time to get bigger and badder… So time really is of the essence." She turns to the sheriff to see what he has to say.

Julian nods in agreement with Kris' observation and suggestion, piggy-backing off of her words with his own. "Which means that we should cover the San Juan and the Basin and work our way south - the winter tends to hit harder and earlier up there." A halfhearted gesture is made toward the whiteboard with all the maps and papers tacked onto it. "The community in Granja is pretty tight knit, rather than scouring every questionable area of land, it would be much more efficient to question the ranchers out there. There's no way group as potentially large as the cult we're dealing with could have snuck their way into that area unnoticed."

Julian speaks with the confidence and familiarity of a man who grew up in that area and says as much a moment later, following it up with an elaborate explanation on potential resources and the time frame required. "…the San Juan will be considerably more time consuming by comparison. I suspect they're holed up somewhere south, as my report suggests. In any case, we work around mother nature. She can be unforgiving."

Olivia nods to the rangers. "Good point. Not only is it a time cut-off for what we need to do, it might be a deadline for them too." She considers for a moment. "Unless 'He' is using the weather as an example of world transformation. If they all get snowed in, He could say that the world has changed. That it doesn't exist beyond the snow." A shrug. "All supposition." She heads off to let the locals talk.

"Sounds like we're going to have to step up our game. Do some actually searching instead of riding around aimlessly." Elizabeth gets to her feet, picking up her notepad. "So much to take care of." She brushes her blonde hair behind an ear, closing her notepad.

Jameson breathes out a slow sigh, closing his own notebook as he rises to his feet. "At least if they get snowed in, it'll be hard for them to get any bigger. Can't recruit in a blizzard," he says with a slow shrug.

Laura starts checking her gear as she prepares to head out, but pauses for a second to give Jameson a curious look, glancing between him and Olivia before commenting uncertainly, crooking her nose in an almost apologetic, worried expression. "If they're recruiting online, as long as they have internet service…" she notes with a small shrug before continuing on her way.

Julian climbs to his feet, gathering himself as he postures to head out for the evening. He turns to Elizabeth, "If ya'll can handle the Basin, we can reach out to the hunters out on the range and tap them for information. If there is a fortified group of crazies out there, someone has seen it or the traffic to and from. I'm confidant of that." He glances back at Kris, looking to her for input as the both of them actually -live- out there.

"Their large numbers is good news. It makes it very difficult for them to hide." He pulls his thick terrain jacket back on and sweeps his attention around the conference room, waiting to see if anyone else has anything for him before he leaves.

"Oh we can handle the basin. I'm sure the Chief and the Sheriff will be hauling out a map soon, giving us all shit to keep an eye on." Elizabeth, glances around and flashes a grin. "Until then, I've been here since five am, I'm gonna go home and snag a shower and some food. I'm sure I'll see all of you in the morning, be good."

Kris looks to Jameson. "Ever get stuck in a place for months with nothing to do but read and work out? I didn't necessarily mean bigger in numbers." She says, giving him something to think about. She nods to Laura. "Another strong point." She turns to Julian and nods. "I'm more concerned about the abandoned mines. They have a ready-built network and can always dig further into the city. They won't need roads in order to be mobile." She looks around, wide-eyed. "Seismologists! We can use equipment to see if there are any rumblings or explosions that we won't notice on the surface." She makes mental note, no pad needed. She nods to Elizabeth, glad to see her feeling better since the Fun House incident.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License