In early 1985, the research vessel R/V Atlantis II and its associated submersible DSV-2 Alvin were dispatched on classified missions to the Marianas Trench area near which the Mount St. Helens disturbances had originated. Operating under strict DEEP BLACK supervision, the team made tentative contact with PRIOR TENANT entities below the 3,000 meter line and managed four nine-hour dives during which rudimentary communication was possible. PRIOR TENANT evinced no interest in rising to depths shallower than approximately 3,000 meters, and Alvin could only remain at those depths for a nine-hour period. PRIOR TENANT was equally unwilling to use electronic or hydroacoustic communication. Contact operations with PRIOR TENANT were code named BENTHIC OUTREACH.

A large volume of data was exchanged without realtime translation, the 'live' exchange being limited to a dictionary of sorts. Atlantis II returned from the Marianas as the only human vessel confirmed to have communicated with PRIOR TENANT, and DEEP BLACK began deciphering the delivered data with the aid of the dictionary. Around July of 1985 it was determined that PRIOR TENANT was willing to enter into a treaty concerning the deep oceanic regions (the Bathypelagic below 2,992 meters; the Abyssopelagic and all Hadalpelagic trench regions) in return for one (large) demonstration of goodwill, which required several days of work to properly decode the transcription for.

Essentially, PRIOR TENANT made clear to DEEP BLACK and its sister agencies (and PRIOR TENANT was explicit in their knowledge of the various surface players) that they had for some time (in geologic terms) been working on the reacquisition of a space travel capability lost to their kind. They had reached a point where they were relatively sure that they had deciphered the metabolic and physical changes that their forms required to survive in vacuum and the radiation environment of deep space, but they as yet had not rediscovered their means of access to space. They requested a single PRIOR TENANT entity be transported to LEO to continue their experiments; they were vague as to how it was to be recovered, but all signs indicated that they expected to recover the 'explorer' alive on their own.

DEEP BLACK and LAUNDRY interceded with NASA and managed to secure an emergency cargo space aboard the next Shuttle flight; a 'classified' cargo module was placed into the Cargo bay of the orbiter for 'launch' during regular orbital operations. In reality, the contents of that module were one estivating PRIOR TENANT entity and miscellaneous supplies or equipment, verified by DEEP BLACK to be inert. They had been recovered off the Florida coast during a regularly-scheduled drill of SRB recovery vessels and transported by DEEP BLACK personnel. In the final days before launch, there were several extremely isolated storms off Hawaii which were later determined to be BENTHIC OUTREACH communication attempts; however, at the time they were taken to be thunderstorm cells and dismissed.

Subsequently, an unseasonably cold weather pattern was observed around the Shuttle where it waited on the pad. After some deliberation, the flight was approved, and mission STS-51L was launched. The shuttle was lost seventy-three seconds into flight. The PRIOR TENANT cargo was not recovered from the Orbiter wreckage, and no indications are available as to its survival or destruction.

Following the loss, urgent BENTHIC OUTREACH operations to re-contact PRIOR TENANT were undertaken in the Pacific. When contact had been re-established, PRIOR TENANT indicated to DEEP BLACK communicant Feynman that the loss of the Shuttle was in fact due to the cold temperatures experienced prior to launch, and that the cold front had been manufactured with precisely that intent. During the course of these discussions, PRIOR TENANT revealed the existence of a second benthic force hostile to PRIOR TENANT (and, by its action towards the shuttle, to homo sapiens). PRIOR TENANT advised that this force, also subsurface, consisted of the remnants of Shoggoth systems which had been allowed to roam rogue and escaped the great wars of subjugation fought to re-establish control over the Shoggoths some millions of years prior (NOTE: Ref. Document WEAPS-D/Y-MISK-054). These forces (designated by agent Feynman as HARPER'S FERRY for the purposes of communication) were of mid-level independent Servitors in command of a host of non-sentient Servitor plasmid systems. HARPERS FERRY were attempting to prevent PRIOR TENANT from regaining space travel. DEEP BLACK designated HARPERS FERRY as threat level CHARTREUSE BACKFIRE.

In April of 1986, DEEP BLACK called an emergency session of the Dresden/Yalta signatories. ELDER DRAGON sent an observer. DEEP BLACK briefed all other organizations of the existence of HARPERS FERRY and of the new intelligence on PRIOR TENANT and advised extreme caution in dealing with representatives of either force, and recommended full information sharing between agencies to prevent either benthic bloc from setting surface organizations against each other. All agencies save ELDER DRAGON agreed.

In the meantime, agreements with PRIOR TENANT had been established which allowed HOTEL SIERRA (aggregate Homo Sapiens) the use of the surface and all areas extending down to the BENTHIC LINE at 2,992 meters. In return, no encroachments below 2,992 meters would be permitted without prior consultation and advisement. PRIOR TENANT indicated willingness to allow benthic exploration by those parties not cleared for SPECWEAPS, PRIOR TENANT or HARPERS FERRY provided their dives did not encroach upon PRIOR TENANT installations, which would be determined by prior notification. HOTEL SIERRA representatives agreed in principle to the right of PRIOR TENANT to unilateral measures in the event an uncleared intrusion occurred. The one exception was for HOTEL SIERRA vessels in distress which survived transiting the BENTHIC LINE; in such cases, PRIOR TENANT was to notify HOTEL SIERRA forces as soon as practicable of the location of such incidents with an eye towards rescue and cleanup.

On 2 July 1988, during the Tanker War, U.S. Naval forces were escorting tankers through the Persian Gulf. The USS Sides (FFG-14) was prosecuting an unknown subsurface contact in the Persian Gulf under the auspices of the LAUNDRY, who had reason to believe that they had located a HARPERS FERRY installation in the Gulf from analysis of sonar and hydrographic data taken by various naval vessels over the prior two years. The installation was far above the BENTHIC LINE, which indicated either HARPERS FERRY or unknown HOTEL SIERRA actors. During the second pass over the target, the Sides detected five unknown targets separating from the Gulf bottom and transiting to shallow surface running. The Sides notified the other U.S. combatant in the area of possible shallow hostiles (USS Vincennes, CG-49) and began pursuit both itself and using helo assets. At the time, the Vincennes was involved in a running battle with Iranian gunboats and was moving to relieve its own helo, which was taking surface fire from those small craft.

Around 9:50 AM local time, July 3rd, the Vincennes was tracking an unknown inbound air target when the Sides detected the five unknown BENTHIC targets surfacing abruptly and vanishing from sonar. DEEP BLACK analysts aboard Sides assumed the targets had transitioned to airborne modes, and so advised the CO, who passed on the warning of potentially hostile unknown aerial targets to the remainder of the Surface Action Group - including the Vincennes, who had just received an (erroneous) IFF response indicating that their inbound track was a military aircraft. The Vincennes engaged their target, which turned out to be Iranian COMAIR. It was completely destroyed, hitting the sea 6 miles from the Vincennes. No contact with HARPERS FERRY was made, and the five shallow targets were never re-tracked. The installation over which the Sides had been passing was later found to return echoes of a rubble field - whether old or new was not determined.

On March 20, 1989, a routine sounding expedition in Prince William Sound off Alaska disappeared. Their vessel was recovered on March 21st by Coast Guard search assets. It was empty. When the vessel was boarded by Coast Guard personnel, it was found to contain several perfectly clean human bones, a quantity of unidentified protoplasm, and an area on the fantail which was completely stripped of organics - oil, grime, even anti-fouling paint which was reduced to metallic substrates. One of the Coast Guard divers on scene had been cleared and present on the Feynmann expedition, and immediately made covert use of his ship's transmitter to notify DEEP BLACK contacts in Anchorage. DEEP BLACK asserted authority over the abandoned vessel in the guise of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, claiming a heretofore unseen specimen of Architeuthis Dux had attacked the ship. During their examination, they positively identified SPECWEAPS materials. A BENTHIC OUTREACH consultation resulted in PRIOR TENANT stating positively that they had no operations or installations in Prince William sound.

Hasty examination of the benthic regions was done by commercial sonar - all that DEEP BLACK could commandeer on short notice. After approximately a day of scanning, a disturbed region of bottom with regular repeating outlines was found just off Bligh Reef, a local landmark. As the scanning vessel passed overhead, however, several targets separated from the presumed structures. The crew of the vessel (all DEEP BLACK personnel) were evacuated by helicopter moments before the vessel was intercepted and dragged down by unknown systems.

At this point, the local DEEP BLACK command authority determined that an immediate strike was necessary to preserve the large quantity of shipping in Prince William Sound and (for all they knew) nearby shorelines. When it was determined that the protoplasm recovered from the sounding vessel was severely damaged by complex carbon organics, the local DEEP BLACK installation received permission from DEEP BLACK headquarters to perform a covert strike. A DEEP BLACK cleared SEAL team was inserted onto the VLCC Exxon Valdez. Drugging the captain, they proceeded to set the tanker on course for Bligh Reef and pre-weaken one of its cargo tanks. The tanker struck Bligh Reef, resulting in a large-scale oil spill around the area.

After the several months of cleanup were complete, DEEP BLACK resurveyed the installation off Bligh Reef. The outlines were still visible, but no movement was detected. DEEP BLACK divers recovered three organic subjects later determined to be non-sentient HARPERS FERRY units and the remains of one likely sentient. The incident was classifed HARPERS FERRY CHARTREUSE BACKFIRE and a small surveillance asset was installed to watch for any HARPERS FERRY activity. None has been detected to date.

In 1991, the collapse of the government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics resulted in ELDER DRAGON formally rejoining the Dresden/Yalta conventions, and since 1991, full updates have been received from all ELDER DRAGON representatives.





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