Monday, February 11, 2019

GURPS Gamma World, 20th Homeland - Session 18 - Unknown #2, Part I

Days 142 since departure from the bunker.

"Barbie" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Oinker" - demo/EOD
"Short Bus" - computer programmer

In reserve:
"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper

When we last left, we were cleaning up in Muskegeon. We accomplished some downtime activities - mostly healing, resting, gear maintenance, etc. plus fixing loose ends like the Princess and the bank.

We'd decided to next hit "Unknown #2" - a sort of above-ground structure with significant underground elements deeper than Softie's (our warbot) ground-penetrating radar could penetrate. We gathered up the Tomorrow Men who were ready to go, and went.

We arrived at what looked like a two-story build with a mast, with one "pod" like extension on one side, and two on the other. The structure was completely grown over, with dirt piled up. We fired up the Bunny Scope - which Oinker borrowed from Princess - in X-ray mode and spotted a hatch in plus hatches into the attached pods that we dubbed "bathyscopes." We quickly cleared one of those off and forced its door open. Inside were rows of seats and an inside airlock hatch. We forced that open with some work and went inside.

It turns out we didn't have very good lights, just our helmet lamps and glowsticks. We'd clearly forgotten to loot powerful flashlights from the big superstore a few sessions back during Operation Top Hat. We had to make do. Luckily Hillybilly has some night vision, but it was still slow going exploring.

We moved through the "building" and found it barren of fixtures, mostly, and the walls and floors and ceilings were scoured of paint, etc. and the doors had their card readers scoured to the point of uselessness. The doors were flimsy, however, so Hillbilly simply kicked them down. After a few minutes and kicked doors we came to a room with a desiccated naked human corpse on the ground, a "chest" the size of a steamer trunk, and a cabinet. The group searched the room while Hillbilly checked the corpse.

It was a human with a tattoo of the 20th Homeland - a brother - but also that of the Purists - so a fallen brother. Meanwhile, Love Handles explored the far end of the room. Something slapped into him, an explosion of jam-like stuff that let off a cloud of grey "smoke." With his superior gas mask (which we all have) and top-end NBC gear (Caveman, Love Handles, Hillbilly) nothing happened. He backed off and tried to smear it off, but it didn't work, until Short Bus tried water (he's our chemist, for what it's worth). That helped clear it off.

The corpse had been killed by a neck slit and its left arm was messed up as well. Hillbilly took its chip, which Oinker scanned for with the Bunny Scope. Perhaps he's got a higher rank, and if not, we can see who he was.

We checked the chest, as well, which had a swipe card reader. Hillbilly swiped our long list of cards through it - nothing. It had a glass-like top but it had gone translucent with whatever scoured the inside of the structure.

A little bit of door-kicking, chest-we-can't-open-finding, and empty-cabinet-checking later, Love Handles got hit from the darkness with a globule of something smokey. Oinker scanned with the Bunny Scope, however, and spotted a weird mushroom-cap thing with octopus tentacles with an open end hanging in the upper corner. It flicked a globule of "stuff" at the group. Oinker shot it three times and dropped it.

We dubbed them "flingers" but later "Octoshrooms" (which coincidentally is what the GM named them.)

We continued to search the "building" and it quickly became clear it was a mostly-buried spaceship. We found a room with dead computers and a vine-obscured curved window. Aha, it's a ship.

Eventually finding the logo S.S. L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. confirmed that. We eventually found more Octoshrooms (which Oinker shot, and one got slashed up and killed by Hillbilly left-handed.) We found one of them around a corner, and Short Bus tossed a grenade of Hillbilly's and blew it apart. They were worrisome but didn't do any harm.

We climbed up the elevator shaft in the building - actually just a shaft with rungs to climb . . . for zero G, or some kind of anti-G? Yes. We reached the top and found a bridge, with live computers. And an Octoshroom, which flung goo at Oinker. Oinker claimed he felt like he was telepathic, and could sense the Octoshroom. He thought "peace" at it, and told Hillbilly - who had a bead on it with a pistol - not to shoot. And it flung good into Hillbilly's visor.


Eventually Oinker decided to shoot it, once we groaned that it was clearly not friendly. He shot it a few times and killed it.

We split up, leaving Short Bus with Love Handles to play around with the computers, and the rest of us explored. We some rooms with dirt in them - spillage from damage from the ship crash-landing here like some piece of Stewart Cowley art.

We found aft of the ship a docking bay with an overhead iris - overgrown, based on how we couldn't see it. Under it was a three-seated UFO-looking vehicle sitting on the floor. Aha, a flying car, finally! Loot if we can get it powered up, or even if not. We'll need Softie to blast open the iris - easy with her laser batteries - and then tractor beam it out.

In any case, we found other chests we couldn't open but no more Octoshrooms and no more trouble.

Short Bus got the computers working, and found out L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. stood for Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Squadron. Yeah, they strained for that one. We're on a PAG Helipad Compsite Carrier, 62' x 553' x 198', 52 crew, 20 "parasite drop capsules." Three of those left, it seems. The last log entries - system or otherwise - were May 1st 2322. That was Day 1 of the war. The war lasted only three days, so these guys didn't miss much.

We gathered back up and decided to head down as far as we could. That turned out to be a third level. We quickly explored that, and found two staircases down to a 'tween decks area. One was crushed and inaccessible, the other held two Octoshrooms up in corners. Oinker shot one, but it wasn't harmed and dirt flew around. He decided that seemed odd, and re-acquired the other one and shot that. (I think Hillbilly ran up and slashed it, and briefly got goo'ed at this point.) It died . . . and Hillbilly was briefly telepathic. He could sense the group, and that one of them was keeping a secret. (Dun-dun-DUUUUNNNNN!) Hillbilly tried thinking at Barbie but couldn't communicate. Who has a secret? Well, now Hillbilly does too.

We found another shaft down, and took it down all the way. We found a large open hold with broken catwalks. Below was a glowing hemisphere - a forcefield - with four corpses in front. Behind it was a weird electrical generator (maybe.) We left Oinker in overwatch - he likes high places - and climbed down with a mix of climbing gear and catwalks.

At the bottom we found those four corpses were skeletons clad in white plastic-like armor, three identical and one officer-type. The armor was damaged, as if by repeated combat, and inside were skeletons. They had the markings of 20th Homeland and the Purists on them (that one being a DNA helix of barbed wire.) We searched them, and Hillbilly found a hidden side compartment on the left leg of the officer type. He had a gold coin commemorating "Atlanta Triumph 128 N.E.", 13 gold chips, a white ID card with four silver dots on it, and a gravity knife. On the others we found two red ID cards with 3 black dots - all clearly high-ranking cards - and six pens - 2 red, 1 white, 3 purple. For now, Hillbilly took those, along with their chips, carefully separated so we know who was who.

In front of the force field, though, was a stand with a laptop on it. The screen still glowed green-on-black, and showed this:

Great, a puzzle. Short Bus checked under and around the laptop to see if anyone had taped the password under it. Nope. So we puzzled away at it for a good 15 minutes or so. We hit on "Infinite" or "Infinity" and "Universe" but they didn't seem to fit. Then Short Bus said, "I think it's something like Future, but it's too short. Maybe 'Tomorrow.'" As he said that, Hillbilly said, "That's it." Love Handles figured out what numbers that would be on a standard keyboard layout, and tapped that in as we backed off a safe distance.

The shield came down.

Behind the shield were three suits of power armor! Two were clearly out of service, but one was fine, and plugged in.

We also determined the force field generator was portable. Well, movable. Okay, loot. We started to take that apart as Love Handles dealt with the armor. He eventually got off his MOPP gear and helmet and pulled on one of the helmets after figuring out how to get it off. He popped it on and found it had a neural interface, but he couldn't operate it until - according to the unit (labeled a Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Suit) he needed to be synched up by a medical professional. Hillbilly said, "Me, I can do that." Love Handles clearly didn't believe him, so Hillbilly explained that's he's a medical specialist, knows how to operate cutting-edge medical technological devices, and we live in a subterranean medical facility with androids that Hillbilly learned that skill from. So it's not like we can't do it. We discussed the suits and decided we needed all three - one to use, two for spares - and that Short Bus probably is the one to get it as he's our point man. Probably. If not, Barbie since he doesn't have any NBC gear except a gas mask.

We moved on to the "electrical generator." Long story short, it had a screen and a swipe card, and projected a shimmering field between two poles. So Hillbilly swiped the white-with-silver-dots card. And the "field" showed a ruined train station labeled Bear Lake. A transport portal?

We tossed a glowstick in, and that was fine. So we put a stick on a rope and tossed that in - and pulled it back just fine. So we sent Oinker through with a rope around his waist. He was fine, and we could hear him muffled as if through a wall. So Hillbilly and then Barbie went through.

The place stank of death. Of corpses. We moved ahead and found a bricked-off tunnel, presumably walling off the dead, and light coming from a side area. We headed there, into a waiting area, and climbed up into sunlight.

We found a ruined town, overgrown by forest, with a smashed-up robot covered in vines and ruined buildings. One building had a picture of three men in power armor (not Law Enforcement Operations Neural Induction Dynamic Armor Suits) with one foot each on a fallen bear, with Purist logos. Ahah, Purist town or Purist victory mark. We presumed we'd find a mass grave behind the bricked up tunnel.

We also found three horses - two big, one pony-sized - with eight legs. Oinker went to talk at them, but they didn't talk back. He wanted to take them, but we reasoned with him about how it wasn't possible to get them through the portal and up through the ship.

We used Hoopslayer to get some choice bits from inside the robot, took a snapshot of the wall picture, and opened up the brick wall a bit, expecting to find victims of the Purists. Nope. We found dead Purists, with signs of disease. We bricked them right back up after taking a snapshot or two. Might help us later.

We went back through the portal.

Hillbilly buried the skeletons in the dirt on the bottom floor, with help from some of the guys, although we took their gear and armor. There wasn't much to put down as a marker, so when we come back down Hillbilly will bring something from above to put down in each place so it's clear what's been done.

From there, we hauled up one of the broken suits. Short Bus and Oinker stayed behind the guard, as we'd left five levels unexplored.

Love Handles led, Hillbilly dragged the armor, and Barbie did cleanup. As we came to one area, though, we found a door Hillbilly had kicked down was back. We'd decided the Octoshrooms had illusion powers of some sort, so Hillbilly told Love Handles to shoot into a corner. It did, but nothing happened. So he kicked down the door.

And the door morphed into liquid metal and formed a metallic silly-putty arm and grabbed him around the neck. Mimic! Oh no! (YESSSSS!)

It started to crush him between his trauma plates like PB&J. Hillbilly dropped the armor and drew Hoopslayer. Barbie shot right past Hillbilly's head and into the thing, wounding it. Love Handles tried to escape but couldn't and instead just tried to keep it from crushing him. Hillbilly tried to slash it, but it dodged, pulling Love Handles to the ground. Barbie aimed. Hillbilly jumped onto both of the fallen. Barbie shot the mimic again, and then Hillbilly slashed and stabbed it. It was hard, like metal, but Hoopslayer deals well with metal. A second or so later Hillbilly finishes slashing it up. It died, peeling back with the coloration of Love Handles's armor and NBC suit. It was heavy, and when an angry Love Handles kicked it he hurt his own foot.

We moved on.

We found another room that had just about one or two too many pieces of furniture now. So we backed up and decided to shoot them all. But wait, we couldn't all aim in the room. So Hillbilly tossed in one of the homemade frag grenades. BOOOM! Ping-ping-ping-ping. Something moved. So we threw in another. Again, BOOOM. A mimic came tumbling out. It died moments later. Love Handles shot it with his little silly M16, while Hillbilly cut it with Hoopslayer and Barbie shot it with a man's gun, an M14. It died and turned into a big metal twist. We'll take that, eventually, for analysis.

We ended at this point because there may be more mimics, and we do want to explore the rest no matter what.


We ended early-ish because of possible bad weather rolling in to our GM's home area. Our plan is to finish up the SS L.E.O.N.I.D.A.S. next game session, then get back to DF for a bit. We plan to explore Unknown #1 after that, and then Ottawa after that.

This was a very revealing session - either a massacre or a mass burial of plague victims (and we'll need a full medical scan ASAP, now), a transport portal (!), a suit of power armor (and spare bits), a force field, Purists, a new style of ID card . . . seriously, this has been a treasure trove already. Literally in terms of valuable loot and figuratively in terms of information.

We need to figure out the date in "N.E." We have clues - if we can determine how long ago those guys died.

I'm excited by the gear we found, the cards, the info about the Purists, and also the opportunity to roleplay a bit. We've got a Soldier's Code of Honor and a Vow ("I do solemnly swear . . . "). Hillbilly will cheerfully shoot the living hell out of the Purists, but they're still brothers and you bury your fallen brothers. We'll bury that other guy on the surface - Softie can disintegrate a hole, and we'll cover him with the dirt we dug of the ship, and mark him somehow. Seems fitting.

Roleplaying note - Hillbilly has Bad Temper (15). I've never rolled that. I know when I'm mad. I don't need the dice to tell me to be mad or not to be mad.

MVP is still under discussion, but I voted Short Bus. Oinker and Barbie and Love Handles all did stuff. And my guy Hillbilly was very useful - strong enough to break down doors without a roll, killed a lot of things, carried a lot, had some useful ideas - but that Force Field was a showstopper. Not for Short Bus. And that got us the best armor we've heard of. MVP.

Next session should be fun. This one was.

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