A Gamma World Hell Hole

A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm

Chapter 23: "ClusterFrak™"

gammaworld_gm

GM

Following the non-warm blooded mushroom, you enter the back door of the ancient UPS building. Inside you see an empty 30 by 20 foot room in which stands 4 large heavily armed robots. You see a small window to one side of the room. A large sign reads:

"WEAPONS CHECK: All weapons must be surrendered to enter. This rule does not apply to City Militia. Anyone arguing about this rule will be treated to one of the following:

Note: being spat upon is optional, depending who is on duty at the time of the offense, or possibly even offered freely."

The robots stand waiting. A small rat-faced creature looks out of the window and awaits your weapons. Do you turn and leave, or surrender your weapons and enter? What do you do?


gammaworld_gm

GM

Jake continues driving. Five minutes, then ten minutes pass as he continues. Slowing the TTV to a stop, Jake puts the TTV in reverse and backs up for a short distance. One side of the TTV scrapes against a building or something made of concrete. Jake shuts the TTV off. K-11's thermal vision shows Jake giving off an odd-looking heat pattern. The security robot knows protocol and determines he should initiate it. With all the blood from Freya's body and Frieda's unexpected emotions, Kicker fails to notice it. Kicker and Frieda still sit together holding each other.

Jake

"So sue me, I'm not Howard!" says Jake, more to himself than anyone else. "Ship-shape people, lets move. That means you too, Frieda." Leaving his seat, Jake heads to the back of the TTV.

GM

K-11 opens the back (swinging) door of the TTV and hops out with a loud clanking sound. Frieda, Kicker, and then Jake exit. The TTV is parked inside a huge ruined building.

K-11

The security robot looks at Jake and says "Protocol 2 in effect at this moment Jake. Name please?"

Jake

Pushing his shades tightly on his nose and through gritted teeth almost as if in pain, Jake says one word to K-11: "Frieda."

GM

Even Kicker, looking from one to the other, doesn't understand what the two are talking about.

Jake

"There's your building across the street Frieda. It's almost noon. Where would we find one of your... kids?" asks Jake, pointing out towards the somewhat busy street.


jonndukas

Jonn

Jonn blushes at Lamia's touch and nods at Myc. When they enter the ancient UPS building, Jonn laughs at the sign and gestures sweepingly, as if waving it into nonexistence. He steps up to the window, and addresses the Ratoid behind it.

"Hello, my name is Jonn Dukas. How're ya doing? Hampshire's expecting us, so we don't need to check our weapons." Jonn gets no response from the impassive Ratoid. Fine, hardball it is. He hopes the building's resident porker is up-to-date with his codes....

In a fine mimicry of his bellicose boss, Jonn's face turns a bright beet-red as he pushes his nose up to the window and jabs a finger into the pane. "Listen, rat, Hampshire knows my word is good. Tell him that if he doesn't let us in with all our weapons, I'll have Stiles breathing down his Porkoid neck like a NARColeptic's nightmare!" Jonn lets the excess blood drain from his visage as he takes one step back.

"Of course, we patiently await his response," he says with a kindly smile and an avuncular wink. As if it were an afterthought, Jonn wipes the window clean while the Ratoid stares out with a shocked expression only surpassed by the looks that Geo and Lamia give each other.

Captain Leghorn

Leghorn whispers to Howard, "I say, I say, ducky boy, your friend's either crazy, or got cajones the size of---"

Howard

Howard cuts the Roosteroid off with a squinty glare and a duckish "hissth."

Captain Leghorn

Leghorn mumbles to himself, "Cock-a-sure Pure Strain's gonna be the end of us all!"

Mute

"Lemme at 'em, Red Elf!"

Brimstone

The Cougaroid growls in consternation. The Ratoid's nervous eyes dart toward Brimstone and his hefty rifle. Brimstone cracks a feral snarl, which slowly morphs into a toothy grin that effectively says, "I eat mutants like you for breakfast."

Mute

"Oooh, nice touch, Blue Warrior! I like! (But you're still a moron.)"


frei_abel

OOC

Frieda needs to get it together, and it's not going to happen without some help. This is going to be a strange post, but it's actually quite real.

Frieda

As the vehicle bounds down the road, Frieda has reached the end of her will, and all she can do is cry for help. Inside, all she can think is, "Help me, help me, help me. I can't help myself any more." At that thought, she falls to sleep in her new friend's arms.


She finds herself in a dream, in a house by a sea shore, seeking shelter from an approaching hurricane. She is standing beside the front door, looking through a glass wall at the growing storm, wondering how safe this home is. A voice calls her and she turns to see a woman in red. The woman beckons, and Frieda follows her through the house and out into the back yard.

Looking about, she sees that she is on the edge of another world, one completely unaffected by the storm. It is a painted world, with flat fields of green and brown hills on the horizon and a painted pink sky. "Come and fly with us," the woman in red says. "You are safe here. You can do what you want, here, and never worry. No consequence, no cause and effect, no rules." The woman flies up into the sky, joining others who urge Frieda to follow. Frieda feels the pull of this strange land, but as its pull grows, she begins to fear it, then recoils. She can feel that in this land, "no consequence" means nothing matters, and nothing could be real. There would be no truth, and therefore no right, no wrong, no love, and no life. "No! This is wrong, this cannot be," she says, then turns and runs back into the house.

Returning to the glass wall, she sees that the storm is becoming dangerous, and hears the storm door banging. She barely manages to fasten the storm door and lock the main door before the wind becomes too strong for her. The rain becomes a spray of sea water on the glass and the whole house creaks. The woman in red has returned and is leading others out of the house. When Frieda refuses, again, they leave for their dream world, calling her a fool. She remains in the house with that terrible world of selfishness behind her and the chaos of the hurricane before her, waiting for the end. Then, when the storm is so strong that it seems the house is about to collapse, and the roar of wind and rain is deafening, and Frieda is crying for help in her fear, she hears a voice.

It is a still small voice that calls her to the door. Approaching the door, she looks out and senses someone calling her, a presence that she inhently trusts. "Open the door," it says. "But that would kill me," she thinks. Again, it calls, "Open the door," and she senses the presence more strongly. It is like a bodiless point calling from the depths of the storm, yet greater than the storm, infinite in its depth, and radiating peace. "I know you," Frieda thinks, and then reaches out and opens the door.

All is still. The eye of the storm is above her. She steps out and sees that a man has been huddling outside of the house with two children in his arms, seeking shelter. Frieda hurries them in to safety. If she had not heeded the voice, she would not even have known they were there to rescue. As the eye passes and the storm wall returns, Frieda's fear has been replaced by awe and joy and a new sense of purpose.


When the van stops to back into the alley, Kicker wakens Frieda. "Are you okay?" she asks. "Yes," Frieda says, "I'll be fine. Thank you."

By the time they have unloaded from the van, Frieda's strength has returned. When Jake asks her where her students are, she looks about and immediately points to two girls of about seven years of age, with olive skin and raven hair, just turning the corner to head toward her building, carrying a basket between them. "There. Pamela and Phylomena. I was afraid nobody would be able to warn them."


gammaben

Howard

At Captain Leghorn's comment, which the Duckoid standing nearby happened to hear, Howard for once admits a semblance of agreement. "What was Jonn doing? Didn't he read the sign?" he thinks nervously. He was all tough and rowdy, thinking about the odds vs. Hampshire. But the odds vs. a room full of robots are another thing. He still has nightmares at night thinking of the slaughter outside the chicken factory at the hands of one deranged warbot.

"But, Jonn exudes confidence," Howard muses to himself, and then he recalls what Jonn said after they left the Starport, "I always have a plan!" Howard groans inwardly at the memory of Jonn's confident statement just as he did when he said it originally. And just as he does every time Jonn says it. "Maybe he'll strongarm us in to see Hamps without causing a frackus." Howard flexes his mental muscles in preparation for activating his personal force field, in case things get hairy.


gammaworld_gm

Jake

"Kicker, you stay with the TTV. Everyone else is with me. Come on Frieda. Look it's the decaying ruins of Datil. Welcome home, Frieda!" Realizing the remark deadpans, Jake tries to forget it and heads across the street to intercept the two kids.

GM

K-11 pulls Frieda along with them. As you approach the two girls (Pamela and Phylomena), their faces show sheer terror upon seeing their former teacher.

Pamela

"You caused this, Miss Abel!" the raven-haired girl says, pointing with a trembling arm at Frieda. "It's your fault! The City Militia are shooting everyone associated with your school. Most are already dead or fleeing! Why are you alive when everyone else is dead?" Tears appear in both of the girls' eyes. Carrying a basket of potatoes, the two girls turn and run away as fast as they can, not wanting to be seen with Miss Abel.

GM

Jake, looking much paler than normal, walks a few feet to lean on the hood of an ancient stripped combustion vehicle. Removing his hand from the hood, Jake leaves a bloody hand print. Slowly, Jake slides to the ground beside the abandoned car. It's now very apparent that Jake has been shot.

OOC

Even in her state of mental shock, Frieda would know the only person who can operate on someone is at Hampshire's. Frieda knows he owns a medical droid.


gammaworld_gm

Ratoid

"I know who you are, Jonn 'get-my-way' Dukas. We've been expecting you, but we do have rules here." The Ratoid gestures sweepingly at the sign above the window showing his teeth.

GM

One robot uses its arm to send a jolt of electricity into the unsuspecting Howard (a Physical Strength test is required. With a PS of 6, Howard fails with a roll of 13). Scooping up the stunned Duckoid, the robot steps back to the wall and disappears as if by magic. A second robot rips Geo's left arm off at the shoulder and then gives it back to him.

Through the small window behind the Ratoid, Jonn notices a poster of Howard. It read, "20,000 domar reward for 'Howard the Nuker.'"

Ratoid

"Now I will take all of your weapons and you can enter!"

Geo

"Good news, everyone, Jonn didn't get us killed. Bad news, I now only have one arm, but I can carry the other! I might have liked Jonn Dukas if he weren't a pompous dimwit who had my arm ripped off <beep, beep> ha, ha, ha... I always wanted to say that!"

Captain Leghorn

"I say, I say there robot, you really are too picky."


domonhu

Mycinod

Sir Jonn, with all due respect, sometimes discretion is the better part of valor, and if you and your companions are dead, how can you hope to help your incarcerated---from beyond the grave, perhaps? I for one will surrender my weapons if it will help me discover what lies beyond.


jonndukas *****

Jonn

Jonn stares in disbelief at the Ratoid. A flood of emotions roils inside his pure strain brain. Maybe he should've used an older NARC code? Hampshire wasn't exactly known for following current NARC protocol, if any at all. But the Ratoid said they were expecting him! The irony slapped him in the face with the force of a depleted uranium core armor-piercing slug. He didn't need any code whatsoever! He'd assumed that Hampshire didn't know who he was, or indeed that he was coming. By his blind adherence to NARC protocol, he'd nearly gotten them all killed! Xervian! That scaly bitch! She'd set him up for a lesson in humility! How did she know he'd make those assumptions, use that code? How did she still manage to get under his skin time after time?

Mute

"I've never seen such stupidity!"

Jonn

But he can't blame the lusty Reptiloid. She may have pulled another prank, maybe not. But he definitely pushed his luck too far this time. Being a NARCie doesn't put one above the law, and especially not above Hampshire, who fiercely guards his small grip on power in Timon country. One evidently does not make demands of the Pigoid on his own turf. Besides, didn't Xervian tell him that Hampshire would help? Was his pride getting in the way of trusting one of NARC's highest operatives? His head spins.

Mute

"Red Elf, all your dignity will be lost!"

Jonn

"ClusterFrak™," he spits in anger, mostly at his own brashness. Maybe he isn't cut out for this leadership stuff after all? And what is this business with Howard and the reward poster? Dodgers isn't responsible for nuking Area 61! And poor Geo! He can't even look the robot in the optical sensors---he abused the loyal bartender's trust. Jonn feels his emotional base dissolving. Too... much... pressure....

Mute

"Red Elf, your life force is running out!"

Jonn

As a final resort, a last ditch effort to consolidate what tatters of dignity he still clutches around his emotional nakedness, Jonn wills himself to face the Gren. Those huge, welling emerald eyes, the depth of whose gibbous pupils he could not possibly fathom if he gazed into them for an eternity, lock onto his own orbs, reach in, and abruptly rip out his battered soul by the heart strings, twirling it around in front of his face as a cat would play with its hapless prey. His failure is displayed for all. But as quickly as he is transfixed, his vision ends. A NARColeptic's nightmare, indeed. He won't be surprised if after this escapade, his friends leave him behind in this rusty dump. "Lami---"

Lamia

Lamia puts a slender finger to his lips. "Hush, luv, I'm not going anywhere," she says, reading the confusion off his furrowed brow like it were tattooed there. They are Jonn's own words, spoken to her once when she needed them, and they had made all the difference. "So you're not infallible, Jonn! We can all use a little humility! Shake it off, hand the Rat your rifles, and let's see what Hampshire has to say about all this."

Geo

"Yeah, Jonn, just keep your <beep, beep> yapper shut, and don't make anything worse!" Geo emits, poking Jonn with a disembodied arm. "I sure hope How---er, frak... uh, Jake can fix this," he mutters woefully to his left arm.

Captain Leghorn

"I say, Jonn, I say, this is some f-fowl, I say, fowl business! But we're still behind you! That way, you get shot first! <Bock!> You know, I'm a-gonna miss that perky Duckoid and his speech imped---, I say, impediment. Since Howie and I were so close, can I have his share of the loot?"

Jonn

With his face grim, Jonn finally speaks, "Guys, Lamia, I'm sorry for this. Give your guns to the Ratoid. Let's go see the frakkin' pig upstairs."


frei_abel

Frieda

Her mind is still clear and centered from the effects of the dream when the girls shock her with their accusation. Her joy at having found the two girls safe is shattered when they blame her for the murders, and she is briefly tempted to turn her anger at the news toward Jake, when she catches herself. If she's a victim, so is Jake, and she can no longer blame him for an evil someone else created. "I'm sorry Jake," she says, and then gasps, "Jake!" as she sees his condition. No thought or reason is needed. She has opened the door; she has already decided what to do. Time slows down for her as she scoops Jake up. She doesn't notice his weight, but every step back to the transport seems agonizingly slow to her. By the time Kicker moves to help, Frieda has already made it across the street.

Frieda is puzzled when K-11 takes Jake from her arms. "K-11, don't worry. We're going to get him some help," she says. "I need you to drive. Can you do that?" The robot nods yes, then puts Jake into the back of the transport with Kicker. When they lay him down, Frieda removes his glasses and lifts his head up, looking into his mutated orbs, she says, "I'm sorry, Jake, I'm sorry for what I said. Just stay with us, and we'll take care of you. Okay? We need you to hang on." Jake nods weakly. She manages a smile and adds, "You were right. This place really is a dump."

In moments, the group is travelling to downtown Datil, heading for the UPS building. Frieda crouches behind the driver's seat so she can stay out of sight and give K-11 directions while looking over his shoulder. As they move along, Frieda feels exhaustion and despair starting to take over as the adrenaline surge fades, but she forces herself to keep going by repeating in her head the words, "I trust you."


gammaworld_gm

OOC

Our newest GWA recipient is jonndukas for Jonn's most recent post. Past recipients are:

Good posters should always be praised. Jonn's post is a good example of an excellent post. I just realized the gammaworld_gm has never won one of these! Crikey!


cpt_leghorn

Captain Leghorn

I approach the window careful not to hook my spurs together as I walk. "I say, I say there Jonn-boy, why do I feel this will be as much fun as entering a high-speed centrifuge? Maybe you can't understand this, but I finally found what I need to be happy, and it's not friends, it's things!" Puffing up like a proud coc---er, rooster. I cluck nervously, putting a new cigar in my beak and handing over my weapons.

I realize Jonn is king rooster of the yard, but it's still nice to test him for weakness and senility. You never know when a new rooster can take over.

Geo

"At least you have both arms!" he mutters woefully to his left arm.


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