After the S&D of 01/16/01 Dr. Bustoffson’s remains were brought back to HQ. There was a lot of discussion about if and how he should be revived, and it was decided that the Essential Salts Ritual (with a few improvements) was the best bet.
The ritual was performed and, in due time, Dr. B regrew and revived. He began to display signs of mistrust towards the Historian Network, which was understandable considering that it was the Shoggoth Master himself was posing as a Network Historian that set the trap which caused his death. Other odd behaviors had also come up. He was constantly distracted, he had yet to actually sleep or even enter his own room at HQ, he began driving people away and barring them from HQ, he didn’t like to be touched, and his speech pattern had changed. (The habit of addressing and referring to everybody by their full names/titles; "Matrin Taylor", "Historian Cline", "Survivalist Bumpkin". . . was particularly distressing. When he stopped doing it, it was even more distressing.) Suspensions were raised, but for the most part everybody dismissed it as understandable considering the man had just been blown up and raised from the dead.
Suspensions about Barney’s odd behavior came to a head at his first public appearance, since being revived, during a chat on the SPONGE MUD. Attendance for that chat was somewhat small but that did not reduce the impact this event would have on the rest of S-P-O-N-G-E. Members of S-P-O-N-G-E who were not located in the immediate Arkham area finally got a first hand look at Barney’s new "quirks" and could no longer put it out of their minds.
When the chat log was posted on the site, roughly a week later, it was learned, from the people who had actually attended, that much of the transcript was either altered or out right missing. As the attendees described what had actually happened, the HN as a whole was then exposed to just how odd Barney was being.
The real kicker was that Rasputin, upon finally being reunited with Barney at the chat, hissed at him and ran off. Now this was very odd behavior for Rasputin (who is known to hate everybody *but* Dr. Bustoffson). Odd behavior from Dr. Bustoffson was understandable, but odd behavior from his cat didn’t fit (unless Rasputin knew something about Barney the rest of us didn’t… Which is likely, seeing as how he’s a cat).
Around the time this came out, Barney posted in his online journal of 03/04/01 that he might have to rethink the Historian Network. This was the first time we saw his "most trusted list". Skipper (MUCUS), Macean (BOT), and "Smith". We are still uncertain about which "Smith" he was referring to at the time of this writing.
On top of it all, both Bumpkin (Western Survivalists) and Historian Alfie made mention of an odd, "smell" in and around S-P-O-N-G-E HQ. It wasn’t just the normal bouquet of rotting pizza boxes, it was something much more sinister.
Then people started noticing that Kilroy hadn’t been around since just before the chat session. It took us about a week and a half before we knew you were gone Kilroy. Sorry about that, but you really should try and post more often. Hilda, the head bartender at Flanagan’s, noticed more quickly that Kilroy wasn’t around. But her reaction was to call Kilroy’s home, S-P-O-N-G-E HQ . . . And, at that point, the only who was ever at HQ was Barney.
Barney then posted in his online journal that Kilroy had been dispatched on a "secret mission to Canada", and that he was planning to send Matrin to Utah (that’s "Utah" the state, not "Uta" his wife. Uta was not mentioned at this point).
That same day Matrin discovered all the samples taken from Barney since his revival were tampered with and/or missing.
Matrin had no intention of going anywhere, and had gotten in touch with a group of Historians who (at the urging of Dunne of the Western Survivalists) had begun to discuss things through email since there was such concern over the security of the forums.
In a last ditch effort to appeal to what could may have still been Dr. Bustoffson, Skipper sent a letter to him asking him to explain his actions.
Barney replied in the forums that he considered everybody in the HN to be effected by some sort of evil taint… Except for those he had mentioned in his Journal entry, especially "Smith". Barney still did not say which of the many Smith’s that were currently registered he was referring to. He also named off those he considered to be particularly compromised, and urged the rest of the network to "Avoid them at all costs, and don’t hesitate to defend yourselves if necessary".
Everybody took note that, with the exception of Sernus and Katchoo, everybody on the "Tainted" list had been at the chat. When you put it all together, it’s easy to see why Sernus is on the list, but we have yet to figure out what he had against Katchoo.
Barney disbanded the Historian Network and the S-P-O-N-G-E site was taken down soon afterwards.
But he hadn’t counted on Farcus, who’s "code fu is superior". Farcus was still upset about the disappearance of his duck, Quackers, at the chat. So he decided to mirror the site just to spite Barney, who was the last person known to be with Quackers. And the Network Historians were back in business.
The team met with Matrin (who was staying in Arkham on the sly) online at his behest. Though his samples had been stolen and/or tampered with, he did have the ducky blanket they had wrapped Barney in while he was reforming. After getting samples from the blanket he came to the unsettling conclusion that Shoggoth Master bits had fused with the Barney bits during the explosion, and thus what had actually been brought back was a Barney/SM hybrid… And SM was winning out on that little equation.
Unfortunately, Barney logged on and saw Matrin on his Buddy List as being online. At this point, in the middle of his conversation with the Historians, he messaged Matrin and told him that he was "having Uta over for dinner". Matrin, understandably, excused himself to go to his wife. It is uncertain if Barney had any of the Network Historians on his Buddy List at this time.
That was the last anybody heard from Matrin and Uta for a while. (But that’s annother story.)
TN Smith and Macean were the first to arrive in Arkham. Bumpkin was putting everybody up at WS HQ since Les and Frank were still out of town, and obviously staying at SPONGE HQ was out of the question.
On the subject of SPONGE HQ, Bumpkin was still very concerned about the condition of the "Whatsit door".(Behind which they had a Lesser Servitor, that they called "Whatsit", trapped.) So she checked Web Cam #4. It’s safe to say that the last thing she expected to see was a big white curtain set up between the door and the camera. The reason for the curtain became slightly more clear later. While Bumpkin was showing this new development to TN Smith, it became apparent that everybody had forgotten about all the web cams Frank had installed all over WS HQ. One of which (in the living room) was connected to the SPONGE web page.
No time was lost in . . . disabling the web cams . . .
Except for the one in Frank’s bathroom. Nobody goes in there anyway.
These developments caused everybody to gear up and soon WS HQ was filled with the patter of little feet and the rattle of really big guns.
Macean brought her recently registered friend, Trillian. Sernus arrived with SACEMOTH Historian Pickman and three "friends from work". Skipper not only brought along fellow MUCUS Historian Haggard, but a Police riot foam gun as well (an interesting bit of technology that employs a mixture that expands and hardens upon contact with air. The foam encases the target and immobilizes them).
As the team prepared their gear Farcus called in with a report. He discovered that Matrin had paid Skippy, the kid who works part time at the Arkham funeral home (no relation to Skipper of MUCUS), to keep an eye on Sponge HQ. Skippy was understandably nervous, but Farcus managed to get him to talk about what he had seen. According to him, at about 7pm a Mayflower moving truck picked up a rather large crate from HQ that afternoon. He said that after helping the movers get the 10’x10’x10′ box into the truck, "Bustoffson" stopped on his way back into the house, sniffed the air, and went back in. At this point Skippy found the ambiance too weird to deal with and bolted.
Macean, at the urging of the rest of the team, had been in contact with Evil Barney. She told him that she was eager to speak with him regarding the Nazca Expedition from which she had just returned. Just before leaving for Arkham she contacted him again, telling him that Sernus had contacted her.
The story devised to lure Evil Barney into the team’s trap was that she had remembered what he had said about Sernus and the other "tainted" Historians, and had agreed to meet with Sernus so that she could slip something into his drink to drug him. Evil Barney now believed that Macean had a drugged and bound Sernus in the back of her friend’s truck. Macean offered to bring Sernus to SPONGE HQ, and Evil Barney was positively giddy at the idea of personally dealing with Sernus.
The team split into three cars. Sernus and his friends went first to secure a perimeter around SPONGE. Skipper, Haggard, TN Smith, and Bumpkin arrived second to take up positions nearer the house. Finally, Macean and Trillian arrived in the truck Evil Barney was expecting.
Everybody got into position as Macean and Trillian walked up to the door, knocked, asked as non-challantly as possible for help with getting Sernus from the back of the truck. They then quickly turned and began walking away.
For a split second, Evil Barney paused in the doorway. He mumbled something like, "I know that smell", but we’ll probably never know what he was talking about because at that moment everybody opened up with whatever they were wielding at the time.
A flash of light, a blur of movement, gunshots, smoke, hardening foam all over the place, and when the dust settled. . . Evil Barney had escaped into the house.
Obviously Evil Barney wasn’t interested in the team’s "quick and easy" plan. Looking through the open door, Bumpkin pulled out a maglite and stepped in, followed closely by Macean, Haggard, Skipper, TN Smith and Trillian. All the lamps in the house were out, the only light filtering in the windows from the streetlamps and the moon outside. The house was a mess, even before the Historians had gotten there, and the smell was terrible.
While trying to decide which way to go they heard a distinctly Irish sounding voice yelling from the basement. After ripping down the curtain and wrenching the door open they found Kilroy. First they were happy they had found Kilroy, then they were curious that Matrin and Uta might be down in the basement, then they were terrified that the only thing still in the basement was Whatsit, and the door was quickly closed and rebolted.
We’re still not sure why Whatsit didn’t eat Kilroy or visa versa.
The Historians did not have time to become suspicious of Kilroy because Haggard had gone missing. Also, Dunne chose that moment to come in the back door and scare the bejeesus out of everybody.
Dunne escorted Kilroy out of the house, (at which point he went directly to Flanagan’s, did not pass Go, did not collect $200) and the rest of the team continued up the stairs to investigate a racket they heard coming from the lab.
When they got to the lab they found Haggard, bleeding from the head and tied to a chair, while Evil Barney scrambled towards the window. He wasn’t scrambling long as Skipper hosed him with the foam gun. The foam totally covered Evil Barney and he fell over like a nine pin.
As Skipper prepared to get Evil Barney into a condition to be questioned, Haggard was untied and everybody got a chance to look around.
The lab was even more of a mess then the rest of the house. Bumpkin seemed to think that it had been used recently and then trashed. Either Matrin, or Haggard, or something/one else, or any combination of those had given Evil Barney a whole lot of trouble before the Historians arrived and hosed the place down with foam.
Trillian discovered a paper on the wall; a list of some of the Historians. Names were circled or crossed out, and the note "MT insurance for now" at the bottom. This was about the point when TN Smith was calm enough realize the smell of the chemicals spilled all over the place was just like SM’s "nursery" back at his cabin and got upset all over again.
Skipper had cleared Evil Barney’s mouth to question him, but Evil Barney was more interested in activating whatever he had injected Haggard with. Haggard then became very interested in throwing Skipper out the window as the foam securing Evil Barney began to crack.
Suffice it to say TN Smith wasn’t taking any of this in stride and decided to use his SACEMOTH issue resonator to reduce Evil Barney to roughly half the mass he had woken up with that morning (if he had slept at all). Haggard got the better end of the deal, having been rendered unconscious for the second time that day and wrapped up in duct tape.
And that was pretty much what happened with that… There’s more, of course, that happened after. In fact, this is anything but resolved. However, those actions deserve their own case files . . .
Haggard went to a vigorous "de tox" and is feeling much better, but was never really quite the same. The Historian Network is up and running at its regular URL. And Barney was regrown… Again… And this time we got it right.
Report by Bumpkin
Translated by Historian Brewer