"Barbie" - demo/EOD
"Hillbilly" - medical specialist
"Love Handles" - demo/EOD
"Oinker" - demo/EOD
"Short Bus" - computer programmer
"Caveman" - demo/EOD
"Fatbox" - demo/EOD
"Momma's Boy" - computer programmer
"Princess" - cryptographer/sniper
We started off at our base, assembling a team for a trip to a construction project on Grand Island that we'd found reference to in an Autonomist's "time capsule" in Muskegeon.
We spent only a brief time at the base - enough to rest, eat, and reload - and try out the new power armor - but not to make any new grenades, do any research, etc. We did swing by 12.7 Mike Mike to pick up Love Handles's M14, which he'd repaired with a rebored barrel (at an Malf of -1).
We traveled via Softy aka Warbox aka Adjunct Captain Hopper to Grand Island, Michigan. What we found was the island itself had some moss-covered areas covering man-made structures, and a small town on the mainland with some energy sources and a radiation source. Naturally we decided to hit the town first, on the grounds that it was likely a bit less involved and interesting than the main construction project area, so we should sweep that up while we had the time and interest instead of leaving it for never (pronounced "later.")
Annoyingly as always, Warbot isn't willing to expose herself to "enemy detection" so we could only use her for insertion and extraction. (This is why you don't see me put "get ammo for warbot" high on the list of things to do - ammo to do what with?) In short order, we visited four locations, three of which had power sources detected in them and one of which had radiation detected.
- a 12 meter tall broadcast power tower. It was opened with a coded door panel - Love Handles tried 1-2-3-4-5 and it worked. Short Bus had suggested we find the building number if that didn't work. Inside we found three 75-pound portable batteries. We took them immediately. Oinker climbed up for better view with his eyes and the "Bunny Scope" - which he'd borrowed from Princess for the duration.
- the next building was a two-story squat structure with a shed and clear yard. The yard was maintained by three Mark V androids. We told them we were evacuating them and to get into warbot with their stuff. They did. The door was resilient so Hillbilly loaned Hoopslayer to Short Bus, who's power armor enhanced ST 24 (plus some additional Lifting ST) made for a better chance to force the door. He sliced up the door "latch" and in we went. This was a local sector orbital observation point. The first floor was deserted but the second floor had deliberately obscure symbols depicting satellites in orbit. Love Handles got some pictures and we counted up the objects in space - two large, several medium and upwards of a thousand small ones - all active. Some of the small ones orbited the medium and large ones. We couldn't control anything or communicate, or glean useful data from the systems, although Short Bus tried.
- the third was a pet shop. It was open to the elements and largely destroyed, but behind a closed "Staff Only" door we found a lab still functioning. The centerpiece were two "dogs" - but with strangely enlarged heads and somewhat hand-like feet (more like a possum or raccoon than a dog.) They were is suspended animation. We elected not to revive them. We also found frozen/suspended animation tissue samples of hundreds of dog breeds.
We left this all as it was and moved on.
- the radiation zone was actually around a geodesic dome, in a "trailer park" of domes (some on stilts, many on the ground, all clearly movable units.) Radiation came from one. We headed to that one, because Barbie insisted this area was "on the way" (it's the opposite direction) and "there is treasure there." He wasn't wrong.
We scanned the dome where the radiation was coming from - detected initially by Warbot and closer up by our Geiger counter watches and Short Bus's spiffy new power armor. The Bunny Scope peered through most of the walls and saw meter-long ants and a dead guy on a bed holding a basketball-sized object that was the source of the radiation.
So in we went, having no good way to lure the ants out. We fanned out across the living area, as some ants approached. They were brushed metal in color, and metal in armor, too. Hillbilly shot at one off-handed with his 9mm, holding Hoopslayer in his hand, as Short Bus moved to melee with his shield and the sword he got from 12.7 Mike Mike. Barbie came in third followed by Oinker and then Love Handles.
Barbie shot one a few times and scored the metal of its body, as did Oinker. That one rushed Short Bus but got shot in the eye by Oinker, klling it. The next used metal fangs to bite Short Bus but did no damage.
Hillbilly put away his useless pistol and drew his SCAR-H and fixed Hoopslayer as a bayonet while this was going on. Oinker aimed at the next one, Short Bus cut at it with his sword (and rolled terrible damage), Barbie shot at it. In moments it was dead.
We moved up to engage the others in the hallway. Short Bus moved forward and Hillbilly backed him up, as the others fanned out to other areas. One rushed out and Hillbilly, who was Waiting, shot at it and missed, taking an All-Out-Attack (Determined) for a +1 since Short Bus was basically blocking the hallway. This proved to be a mistake on Hillbilly's part.
The ant rushed right past Short Bus and bit Hillbilly for maximum damage, injecting radioactive venom into his leg. Short Bus turned and cracked it with his sword, and rolled very poor damage and didn't even scratch it. Hillbilly desperately stabbed at it and missed, twice, and it bit twice more. Hillbilly collapsed, rubber-legged and barely holding on to consciousness (due to massive damage - more than 12 basic damage per hit - and FP loss, and despite HT 14 and Very Fit, to give you idea of what we were up against.) Short Bus managed to kill it a moment later. Meanwhile Love Handles had to kill one in the kitchen.
After that, the ants scattered into holes and we didn't see them again. Hillbilly asked for someone to hit him with "Grey, blue, and red please." Oinker hit him with a red pen, then found Hillbilly's grey and blue and hit him with both. That helped - the grey is rad-chelating, the red heals injuries, and the blue boosts FP. Hillbilly was still a mess, and groaning about mutation risks.
While that was going on, Love Handles found a bunch of home-made pickles. Short Bus scanned them and found most of them radiation-free but a few containers had picked up some radiation (probably from the ants, given the uneven distribution by area.)
Love Handles went off to inspect the basketball. As suspected, it was a bomb. The dead man wore broken early-issue Purist armor and symbols (and had a chip, which Oinker extracted for our collection). Love Handles got right to disarming the bomb, without waiting for things like "people to get clear." He immediately rolled an 18. Lucky for us, it wasn't armed yet, just in-process, so instead of sealing it off and ending the radiation leak from it he amplified it. We all took some rads and some damage - even through our personal rad-resistance (call it +3) and suits (call them +2 or more, the better ones much more.)
But it could have been worse. Make-up-new-guys worse. Luckily many bombs have more failsafes than triggers, if you do them right.
In the end he got it sealed off. We gave him a purple pen to ward off the extreme FP loss he'd suffered. Love Handles through this was a great idea, even after last time. Spiked up on the purple, he ate all of the non-radiated pickles (and didn't share) along with much of Oinker's rations.
We left the bomb for now. We'd eventually come back, hook it to the outside of warbot, and bring it near (but not to) our base.
We forgot to bury that 20th Homeland/Purist guy, actually. Damn, we had a good track record of honoring the dead of 20th Homeland. If/when we go back we'll swing by and do that.
All of that done, we headed to the island. Off of the island was a manmade sunken concentric circle of concrete. We checked that out and found it was a geothermal power source. Aha.
Then, we debated where to start - the tower (on one end of the island) or a "strange object" near another buried object (on the other end.) We voted and the "strange object" won 3-2. We headed there.
We headed up to the "strange object" and warbot put us ashore nearby and we bushwacked the rest of the way. Love Handles forged ahead, hopped up on his purple pen. He soon found a crashed "space shuttle" with some boulders nearby. He got a vision of three of the "boulders" hovering up, unfurling tentacles, and attacking him. So he said that over the comms and ran forward to make sure that happened!
We all moved to keep up, Short Bus in the lead as he's got enhanced ground movement (he's like Hillbilly Mk. II.) He strove to come up with Love Handles and protect him. Oinker climbed a tree, and Barbie and Hillbilly jogged up to meet them.
As envisioned, the boulders did rise and turn into hover-squid (also dubbed cyber-squid, boulder mimics, and more) and attack. Love Handles shot away at the with his M14. They had a hard metal outer shell and a soft underbelly, which Love Handles shot for. He managed to take one out, Oinker shot one down from a tree, and the next one got shot apart as it melee'd Love Handles after he charged around the back of the ship. Hillbilly shot it twice, Oinker once, and Barbie twice, with the result that Hillbilly killed it. The others disagree, incorrectly. Be before it died it picked up Love Handles and threw him somersaulting into a tree, wounding his arm badly (5-6 hits of damage.)
We finished off the blog-squids (their proper names) and explored the ship. It turned out to be a search-and-rescue spaceplace than slammed into the ground - so the big buried object nearby was likely a landing strip (it turned out to be one.) They had been burned alive thanks to keeping their helmets off and gloves off of their suits - which were otherwise unscathed. We took their fireproof suits and again, forgot to bury the poor guys. Oh well. We might be able to use - or sell - those suits. The ship was otherwise useless.
The nearby large object was, in fact, a buried landing strip - and the roads up to it a form of clear diamond-based crystal. Damn. They were easy to clear because nothing could gain purchase. Oinker wanted to try cutting it with Hoopslayer but Hillbilly couldn't see the point of vandalizing it.
We cleared some of the landing strip and found running lights and markings.
So we left the rest and headed to the monorail station just south of it, and climbed up to the track. We walked on the track to the next stop - a trefoil-shape of three buildings. They turned out to be hydroponic farms and regular indoor farms, complete with dirt and climate control (but no lights at the moment.) We found boxes of seeds and seedlings ready to go . . . big 10 x 10 x 10 boxes of them. We checked all three and that's all we found, so we bunked down for the night. Except for Love Handles, who couldn't sleep.
The next morning we walked on the next monorail, past a second support pillar (the only one we'd found - the rest of the track is just suspended in the air) and through the actual monorail car, which was derelict up on the tracks. We made to the terminal and down - into the base of a partially built tower.
Outside the tower were seven graves - marked with office chair backs and marked in Sharpie. The only names we could still read were Angela Cho and Patrick Shay. The others had faded too much. We got inside the tower (I can't remember how) and into the first floor. We found an old Heavy Lifter Mark V with one arm and worn-out legs sitting on the floor running at minimal power. When we approach, it spoke.
It said its name was Calindra. She was one of the seven workers on site when the war happened. They lost power and basically starved to death/dehydrated to death over a few days of no water, no food, and no help. All of the workers grabbed a Mark V and talked to it as much as they could to "download" their personality into it. Calindra died somewhere in the middle, with the two we saw dying last. But the other Mark Vs just wandered off or wore out, leaving only this one "survivor." Hillbilly told her to talk away, we had plenty of cradles for androids and we'd recharge her. She told us the site was being built on behalf of the United Earth Government supporters, the Free Men League (or whatever, it's like that.) The designer? Morrow. John Brady Morrow.
Who was that? The brains behind the project to stick soldiers into the ground that led to the 20th Homeland being put into suspended animation. (I suppose you could call it the Morrow Project? Activated during the Aftermath? Which happened in Gamma World? We have the Quentin Tarantino of post-apocalyptic GMs.)
Who also was that? The guy with the bandages who Hillbilly shot up back in Session 2.
Who also was that, part two? The guy whose picture we saw shot out in the Autonomist time capsule . . . and who Barbie sees in his "dreams."
Oh, that guy.
Maybe Hillbilly was a little quick on the trigger.
In any event, we also found out a big VIP was here the morning the war started and never left. And that above us were going to be apartments for rich folks who supported the League. But below? Accessible mostly by the landing pad and through the farms - which had underground levels? Space for 5,000 more people to live. Oh, hello. Guess who has roughly 4000 people to house and feed when we bust open Van Buren bunker? We do.
So we decided to search up and then down. Up, we found a number of really swanky model apartments. No loot, but very nice places. Hillbilly kept calling places to live as we found bigger (and smaller) apartments.
In one room, though, we found a women with a severe but attractive haircut, sitting at a table. Love Handles and Hillbilly walked around her. She was totally motionless. We came around and saw she was about 6'4", wearing a sports bra and cargo pants. On the table in front of here was a longish ninja-to, a stack of six special-looking tri-point shuriken, and a pistol. Next to her was a garment bag. As we came class to the android, her eyes flickered and we heard "reboot commencing." Not wanted to deal with the downsides of a Mark VIII ninja, Hillbilly said, "Barbie, now" and nodded to her. Barbie shot her in the back of the head even as Love Handles started to say, "Wait, what if . . ."
The android's head rocked from the shot, and Barbie put three more rounds into her and Love Handles joined in. That basically took her head apart.
Hillbilly realized a moment later that maybe they could have cleared her weapons but it wasn't clear if that would have helped. Oh well, better safe than sorry.
We netted a really nice ninja-to (given to Short Bus, as it should divide armor), shock shuriken (I can't recall who took them), and a longer-barreled needler pistol like the one we'd found a little while back. One magazine of plain ammo, and one unmarked ("curare-tipped explosive" opined Hillbilly.) And a ballistic fiber dress suit.
Short Bus went to work on the android, and Oinker scope'd her to see if she had a backup "brain" or storage. She did. Good. We can interrogate her later, when she's a headless ninja.
We found her boss - a black man in his 60s (to appearance only) in a nice suit, lying dead on the bed, clearly from radiation effects. We carefully stripped him and took photos of his face and hands. He had a black ID card (nothing on it at all), a really nice Nadal-level watch, and a nice ring. We took it all.
We also found a nice pistol in the piano bench of one of the grand suits.
In the end we made our way back to warbot with our loot by way of the underground passages. The place was already ready for dwelling . . . the farms just aren't ready. We'd need to figure out how to reactivate them.
So we took Softy back to town to pick up the bomb in a sling, and headed back home.
Hillbilly did go with IQ 13. I get to roll next time on the level up chart.
The black snows are coming, so we'll need to plan downtime soon. I'm not sure if it's between next session and the one after, or before the next session.
What is that needler ammo? Heck, maybe it's Spasm, from the Matador series by Steven Perry.
We really need to find that corpse of poor old Morrow. Another one - like the ninja - that Hillbilly shot (or had shot) out of fear/caution. She probably wasn't a threat, and would have been a great source of information and possibly a helpful ally. Or not. Maybe she would have taken out heads and stacked them in the hallway for the next group to find. Guess what shooting her in the back of the head does? It makes that not happen.
Fun game. We need to discuss MVP, not that we give out points for it that I recall. I'd say Oinker and Short Bus were very useful for their gear, Barbie for his ruthless shooting and insistence on looking into the radiation source, Love Handles for not rolling that second 18, and Hillbilly because I'll think of something.
Between sessions we need to do full medical scans on everyone, again, and give everyone chelating agents, again.