A Gamma World Hell Hole

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

Chapter 29: Breathing Room

shindorim7

Reverend Bunyun

From: The Extraordinairie Journal of a Pilgrimme Traveller, ibid. Vol. 4, 2470--2475.

"And stunned to stone was I, at the site of (the steel city) and tooke some space to sit upon my conjoured hand in solemn MEDITATION of The Booke. I then gird up my loins and ventured into it, the Steel CITY, and not after longe found myselfe at upon the stoope of one public house where perhappens the water might run so and thus from the walls as the aforementioned BEASTIE had augred.

I went in and by all accounts it was a meane place, and right so dirtie that there even some terrible cloven-hooved DEMON lay asleep on a verie table-top. I did grimace at it, and scowled a terrible YAWP at it, that it might beware of my persone, though it did lie unperturbed of my maledictione. Thuswise I come unto the rail, where I did espy the landlord in his breastplate fulle, and he did approache me. I saide, "Hoots the Noo, man. I am thirstie," and he did give me a cuppe of water with which I did take of my bag lunch.

This he did for no recompense, and I counted him as goode. So I did finish my meagre meal with vigoure and made my way 'round the rail and busied myselfe with the dirties and empties with lay piled in a basin, unwashed of their filthe for sometime in expression of my verie gratitude, and, indeed, the waters ran free from the wall as does the river JORDAN in the golden CITY of love. I thought upon that spectre BEASTIE of before and counted him better for he was no liar in truth..."


gammaworld_gm

GM

At a steady waddling pace you (Twoducks Hardy) adjust your equipment as you walk along the edge of the highway, with your two silver eagle feathers in your bandana standing tall. The scorched pavement itself is too hot to tread in the late afternoon sun. You came across this ancient highway about a day ago and have been following it ever since. Scanning the horizon, you see nothing but the highway and wide open desert in all directions. Looming mountains can be seen far off in the distance. The shimmering heat (about 94 degrees) causes dancing water-like mirages far off in the distance---lapping water you can never quite reach.

Taking a gurgle of water from your canteen, you continue walking at your best pace, replacing the canteen within its holder. Your best guess is that you have maybe another day's worth of water at most and you are sure you are not likely to find any out here in these wastelands.

A distant image begins to appear. At first you see the faint outline of a ruined city (still many miles away), and then much closer you see what appears to be a stationary armored vehicle sitting in the middle of the road. Maybe it's abandoned, you think as you get closer. Many minutes later, you are within a few hundred yards of the greenish camouflaged vehicle.

Your hands rest easily upon your two Turbolock Mesa45 Enforcer pistols.

What do you do?

[A new player, a new group:

--ed.]

gammaworld_gm

OOC

Sorry Shindorim7, I had to find an expert to understand what the hell you were saying. With your strange cryptic writing now broken, I have some idea as to what your post means. And who said ducks are not useful?

GM

A short, somewhat wizened-looking Goatman named Stramagix sits sleeping at a table in the dimly lit Albuquerque Startport Tavern. The large bar can still easily seat 300 people and is very clean. Other than that one large hole in the back wall, everything appears as it should.

The stand-in bartender robot KJ-130 moves out from behind the bar after receiving the signal from Geo. Walking across the room to the sleeping Goatoid, it prods him with its metal finger. "No I am not your god, I'm the stand-in bartender robot KJ-130. I told you that before. Now listen to me." The robot leans closer and reduces the sound of its voice into Stramagix's large ear. Slowly Stramagix stands, yawns, stretches Kicker-like and then exits the bar through the hole in the wall.

The stand-in bartender robot KJ-130 moves quickly back around the bar to the tall humanoid doing dishes. It says in an annoyed tone, "You are in an unauthorized area performing dangerous and unauthorized tasks. Do you realize those dishes have been dirty for three hundred years?" With some prodding, the robot KJ-130 ushers Reverend Jack Bunyun, Ye Holy Pilgrimme, destroyer of ancient English, out from behind the bar.

KJ-130 adjusts the lights within the bar a little brighter, since its resident mutant ruminant is no longer sleeping. KJ-130's electronic capacitors focus on the tall dude's face. "Sir, we have purified water, unpurified water, <beep, beep>, sarbis beer, mead, coffee, tea or orange soda. You may call be KJ-130 if you like!" says the robot.

"Glass, mug, cup, bottle or hand? Our snacks incude pretzels and cheese tubers," it adds.

"Hold while I do routine maintenance." Minutes pass as the robot stands motionless. "Done," it says.

<Programmed small talk:>

[Jack Bunyun joins the Starport crew:

--ed.]

gamma_narrator

GM: 25 minutes earlier, downtown Datil

Flanked by his personal body guards, Timon exits the front of the ancient UPS building and surveys the new and very large blast crater. Hampshire himself and a few Gamma Girlz follow along behind, the game inside having already ended. Timon's personal armored limousine is now nothing more than pieces of unrecognizable twisted metal. Two of his walkers are also destroyed. Eleven men are dead or missing.

Timon

"Report Sergeant," orders Timon.

Sergeant

"Someone detonated a type-4 explosive. There are no witnesses who survived. Jonn Dukas escaped at the same time so it must have been a diversion.... uhmm sir." The sergeant stands at attention.

Liz

Standing behind Hampshire she hides her smile, glad to have helped Frieda escape.

Timon

Turning to Hampshire, Timon leads the rotund Pigoid away a few steps where they can speak in private. "So you planted the signal beacon just as I told you too?"

Hampshire

"Snort, snort, snort... Yes'sss, ola Dukas'sss will never have a clue'sss," says Hamp, playing both sides of the fence and trying to keep from getting his bacon fried.

Timon

"Very good. If you are playing me for a sap, Hampshire, I will have you cooked on an open spit." Timon pats the very tense Pigoid on the shoulder and walks away. "Sergeant, monitor their progress and when you've found their base of operations, prepare a strike team. This time I will be going along personally." Timon looks down at the ancient dog tags in his hand. They were once proudly worn by his good friend Petey before Jonn killed him. Gripping them tightly, Timon and his entourage walk away.


jonndukas

Jonn, earlier

As Jake plows through the streets and alleyways of Datil in the heavily armored TTV, following (more or less) Xeva's directions, Jonn's thoughts bristle with confusion and worry as his frame jostles against the front occupants. Geo's words to him before he left the UPS building haunt him: had the Cyber Mages kidnapped the Leghorns and his Lamia? If so, why? And he begins to wonder about Xervian's involvement in all this: dealing with the Cyber Mages was risky business, even for one as manipulative as he knew she could be. For some strange reason, his conspiracy theoretic thoughts are interrupted by a memory (of long ago it already seems) of when Lamia was sitting next to him in the back seat of a cherry-red grav-car and mistook the ammo clip in his leg pocket for.... But the pleasant reverie is interrupted by Kicker's sudden exclamation.

Leaving the front of the TTV unaware of Xeva's subtle attempts to keep him there, Jonn crouches by Kicker's side as her eyeballs roll back in her head, and she dives unwittingly into some sort of trance. "Lamia!?" She sees Lamia! At the Starport! Kicker's revelation doesn't have quite the same effect on him as it does the poor Roosteroid, but Jonn is nevertheless visibly dazed as confusion sets in. After Kicker collapses against him, Jonn is aided in settling her on the TTV floor by Frieda and the newcomer. Though they don't touch, Jonn feels drawn toward the PSH fem, and is so preoccupied with avoiding careening into her as the TTV rounds a corner on two wheels, that he doesn't respond right away to the newcomer's innocent demands. Thankfully, Geo answers the man.

The sight of Frieda cradling Kicker like she would a child is such a stunningly peaceful scene amidst the chaos that Jonn momentarily yearns for that house in Haven, and the promise of idyllic life that Abe Saint keeps offering him. He declined his friend every time, feeling the draw of NARC's Restorationist vision and the excitement of being a part of it. But where has all that excitement brought him now? He has a vision of his own: he is standing in the bedroom of that house in Haven, and looking through the window out across the sunset-golden fields they have plowed. A soft feminine voice calls his name, a telltale glint of green reflects off the window, and a faint whiff of perfume wafts into the room as the woman who has married him nears. He turns to see her lovely face, and---

"Freida?!" he exclaims as a tremendous explosion rocks the Datil skyscrapers and streets. Shocked back to his senses by more than the deafening noise, his eyes bore accusingly into Frieda's. "Sorry---" his malapropos expression self-corrects. "didn't mean to yell. Thank Liz for me next time you see her. She'll know what for," he says stiltedly.

Shaking his head free of its shocking artifacts, he turns to the newcomer, "I'm Jonn Dukas, and I'm responsible for these people as long as they don't desert me." He looks briefly at Liska. "Any friend of Kicker's is a friend of mine, good sir. Good to meet you, er, what did you say your name is?"

After introducing himself to Doctor Templeton, Jonn returns to the front of the TTV. Having only partially heard what he figures was Geo's explanation of Kicker's vision, Jonn asks the robot, raising his voice above the din, "So do the Cyber Mages have Lamia and the Leghorns at the Starport?" The others in the back look at Jonn incredulously at this apparent unforseeable jump in logic. The TTV swerves in an "S" curve.

Xeva

"The other left, you moron!" she yells frantically.

Jake

"Right-o Gamma Chick. No, I mean, left... you know."

Jonn

Howard's sudden plea to go back for Ormahzd, and Xeva's use of the word "moron" together lead Jonn down a trail of logical links: Mute, Brimstone, desertion, Ormahzd, Marcus, Liska. He leaves the front of the TTV again, after encouraging Jake and Xeva with shoulder claps, and makes his way over to the PSH fem, who is busily cleaning her guns. He wonders why Liska doesn't affect him the way Frieda does---surely her association with Xervian couldn't account for all of his indifference... unless his assumptions regarding the universality of The (PSH) Look™ are flawed. If indeed they are, he is in deeper trouble than he thought, and he shudders with a vision aftershock. When his mind clears, he finds himself standing near Liska, and notes that the TTV's motion seems to have locked into a constant vector. The highway, at last. Liska asks her questions, and Jonn crouches in front of her. He responds with a question of his own. "Liska, why did you guys desert us back at Frederick's of Hollywood?"

OOC

Lis_ka_iron and gammaworld_gm have given me permission to post Liska's repsonse here, for continuity's sake....

Liska

Liska puts down a dismantled uzi and wipes her hands on a rag. "Oh right, that. I had orders from Kasteen to fetch this." She whips out a small box from somewhere within her flak vest and shakes it. "Microchips. I knew the building was close by to your panty shop, so I 'borrowed' your fox to help me scout it out. I'd only planned on being gone for fifteen minutes, max. But Timon's militia captured us and separated us. I escaped, doubled back, got the chips, pounded a few police, and stumbled upon you guys outside the UPS building. I dunno what happened to the fox, and last I saw of golden-boy was him leaving the shop soon after we did. I wouldn't be sad if you told me he bought the farm."

Jonn

"Well, Ormahzd was alive in Datil as of about an hour ago. And we haven't seen Marcus since you left. I'm glad you made it, though. Datil militia are a pretty feisty bunch. Kasteen will be relieved. But next time you go out on your own, I'd appreciate the heads-up. K?" He nods at the PSH fem. Yep, nothing. So much for his sweet spot.

Jonn heads to the back of the TTV where his ducky buddy Howard sits brooding. On the way, he passes Leghorn, who is recovering from his fainting spell. He mock-punches the Captain in the shoulder and offers, "Beak up, Foghorn, we will get to Penny and the chicks. Hang in there."

Howard

When Jonn approaches, Howard preempts him. "Ormahzthd could've been capthured too, Jonn. He may noth have abandoned usth righth outh. He may need our help!" The indigo fowl clearly harbors more respect for the overly-muscled mutant than does Liska, but Jonn looks surprised at Howard's loyalty to him. "He sthaved my lifthe back in Gamma One."

Jonn

That would explain it: Howard doesn't give his trust blindly. "Dodgers, we were in a tight spot, and just needed some breathing room. We're not through with Datil yet. But you don't give Orzo enough credit. The guy is singleminded in his determination to off Timon, and surely knows what he's doing. Anyway, I'm thinking that once Stiles confirms my orders, I'm going to split us up. I need to take half of us back to the Starport. Jake will take the rest back into Datil, if indeed NARC wants us to put a damper on Timon's TW operations. If you want to brave Hamp-land again to rescue Ormahzd, I'm sure Jake will accomodate and support you. But you know I will miss you by my side, buddy." Jonn's face is lined with worry for his long-time friend. He would never forgive himself if... but he blanks the thought.

Kicker stirs and regains consciousness as Jonn makes for the TTV cockpit again. "Hey, you OK?" She asks him about what she said in her trance, he repeats it, and she confirms it. "Your vision rings true, Kicker---it corroborates Geo's most recent Starport data." He kneels down and looks gravely into the Leoparoid's pupils---just like Lamia's, he realizes. "You didn't see what will happen to her or when, did you?"

Jake stops the TTV some time later. Geo hands Jonn back Lamia's laptop and then signals that Stiles is on the line.

Jake

At that moment, Jake unbuckles himself, and heads silently toward the body bag. "Joshua, get Freya." The mood inside the TTV chills as if it were dunked in liquid oxygen. Unlatching a folding army-type shovel from the wall of the TTV, Jake turns around to address the group, "We've got good distance between us and Datil, and we'll see anything coming our way in plenty of time. This won't take long. Who's with me?"

Jonn

Jonn touches Geo's good arm and says softly, "I'll take it right here." He then finds Jake's gaze and blinks solemnly. Both NARCs know what they have to do.


gammaworld_gm

GM

Looking around desperately, you see not a single rock, cactus or sand dune big enough to hide behind. Nothing but flat open desert, a long stretch of highway, and a lone armored vehicle, standing a few hundreds yards away. You see two individuals exit the back of the vehicle (a humanoid and a large black robot), one carrying what looks to be a body bag and another carrying a shovel. What do you do?


gammaben

Howard

Howard watches as Jonn takes care of his crew, and listens attentively to the hu-maan's plan of action for the forseeable future. Howard finds that he is torn. Yes, he'd like to rescue Ormahzd, but he'd also like to get to the bottom of rescuing Leghorn's family, not to mention Lamia to boot. And then there is something else. Something buried deep inside him. Something primordial that gives him the urge to head back to Elephant Butte.

He tries to take his mind off it by waddling over to Geo. He eyes K-11 curiously and sneaks a glance at the panel he is holding closed on the way. "Gtheo," he says under his breath to the partially dissembled robot. He tries not to catch Jake or Jonn's attention, as what he is about to do is a bit sneaky, if he thinks so himself. "Let me sthee that arm there!"

Geo

Trying to mimic Howard's hushed tones, Geo glady surrenders his severed appendage. "Here you go, quill-head!"

Howard

Howard laughs at Geo's retribution, pulls out his tool set, and gets to work re-attaching Geo's arm.

Geo

"Hey, that tickles!" Geo says, trying to emanate approximations of human laughter.

<zzt>

Howard

"Oopsth."

Geo

"What have you done! Now I can't see you incompetent <beep, beep> second-rate mechanic!"

Howard

"Dammit Gtheo, I'm an exthaminer, not a mechanic!" Howard offers sincerely. He must have nicked an audial circuit. He hopes he can get Geo's arm fixed before Jonn or Jake sees what he is up to.


xeva_zoom

Xeva

With Jonn hovering around the compartment full of lusty females, I can easily see why he is so popular. Even the leopard chick fakes something to get his attention---crafty little she-bitch. I wish I had thought of that first. Pouting, I watch and listen as Jonn gives his who-raah speech to the troops. I shoot a glance towards the doc who looks interesting in a book worm-ish way.

"Heads up, lover boy," I say to Jonn, "We have company outside. It looks like a single mutant duck. we need another one of those like we need a hole in the head. I can't even understand the one we have'ths."


cpt_leghorn

Captain Leghorn

Jonn

"Beak up, Foghorn, we will get to Penny and the chicks. Hang in there."

My red comb droops forward with Jonn's words. I nod in the awkward pause. Like the ancient "authorities" that were once called the "Bureau of Soft Drinks, Tobacco and Firearms," Jonn is the authority here. Somehow I am not reassured by his pleasing words. A long time ago, in a fanbase far, far away.... I might have believed him.

"I say, say there Myc'dee, you're a most loyal friend. As my protégé you should learn from Jonn's mistakes and know that the only way to really deal with female companions like Frieda, Xeva, and even Liska is to seduce them. Just make sure they are women first. Besides being a mathematically insignificant group member like myself, what does a mushroom do for fun besides spore around?"

I shine my flashlight in Doc's face to test its batteries. "What's up Doc?"


domonhu

Mycinod

"Friend Leghorn, I am, as you say, a true and loyal friend to those who have proven themselves to be worthy of such. You have proven yourselves to me in your actions: when your companions were in danger you willingly put your lives on the line and never thought of the consequences. As for figuring out the female of the warm-blooded species, I am no great thinker. Their thoughts and motives are beyond such a lowly being such as myself. Just be glad there is a difference.

"For fun and leisure, I observe beings like yourself. Your very existence is a comedy in action, like those ancient comedians, the great Bugs Bunny and his laughable side-kick Foghorn Leghorn, maybe a distant relative of yours---do you have a fear of anvils???" I say, snickering under my breath.


gammaworld_gm

GM

Using his repair artifacts skill, Howard begins working on Geo's arm during the smooth ride once the TTV leaves Datil.

Geo

"Well, okay Howard Dodgers of the 23rd-and-a-ezh Century, but I don't want people thinking we're robosexuals, so if anyone asks, you're my debugger," he says, interrupting Howard's work. "Don't put it on backwards, either! Ha, ha, ha... <beep, beep> I always wanted to say that."

Howard

"Waugh!!!" <drool> Howard exclaims, shocked.

GM

By the time the TTV stops, Howard has finished repairing Geo's arm.

Geo

He stretches and flexes his newly reattached limb. "Cool, just like in ancient Star Trek!" he emits triumphantly.

Liska

Puts her weapons away, now thoroughly cleaned and loaded.

Myconid

"Explain, friend Leghorn. You said people trick people into taking something that comes out of their behind? It sounds disgusting."

Captain Leghorn

"H-h-honey comes from a bee's behind. Milk comes from a cow's behind. Eggs come from a chicken's behind. And have you ever seen toothpaste? Whose behind does that come from? You don't want to know my little entrée friend."

Xeva

"Shut the hell up!" she shouts at Leghorn.

Captain Leghorn

"Pfffffft! Damn tourists, they're going to be the ruination of us all," he whispers to Myc, referring to Xeva.

Kicker

Standing, the Leoparoid follows Jake, who heads toward the back of the vehicle.

Jake

He smiles at Frieda as he passes. "Come on Joshua, open up the back, we have a hole to dig and it won't dig itself."

As Jake passes Howard, he ruffles the indigo fowl's feathers the wrong way and says, "I didn't hear you call dibs on Geo, Howard---but it's all fine by me!" Jake points a thumb at Frieda and silently says, "Dibs on her... tell Jonn." In his normal voice, he continues, "I always honor dibs you know. I hope you reattached that feedback ground before putting Geo's arm back on...."

Howard

"Waugh!!!" he quacks, concerned and thinking.

Doctor Templeton

He sits confused wondering what the helsinki is going on.

GM

Opening the back of the TTV, K-11 exits, carrying Freya's body (in the body bag) with Jake following behind and carrying the shovel. Curious, Howard sneaks a glance inside the weapons locker once K-11 and Jake are outside. Inside he is surprised to find an inactive fem-shaped robot body, its main capacitors missing. The model number on its back reads:

"Hookerbot-5000: Fitted with a Atari 400-bit 1 google MHz low-heat 6502 CPU with incorporated MOS Technology from the popular PET series. Her modern coding language is Neptunian-HTML."

"Holy nuked pretzels!" thinks Howard, quickly closing the weapons locker door and taking a seat.

Geo

Moving forward to Jonn, Geo says, "Look Jonn, both arms! Okay... link's down, but Stiles left you a message:"

"This is commander Stiles. This is a recorded transmission, so save your bad breath, Jonn Dukas. Crikes oh mighty, I figured you for rad-rat fodder! Haul ass back to the Starport and await further instructions ASAP. Your Gila monster ex-lover <laughter> Xervian should already be there. Stiles out."

Xeva

She giggles slightly.

GM

Removing Freya's equipment, K-11 rezips the body bag, puts it in the hole and covers it with sand faster than any living being can shovel. Finding a flat rock, Jake scratches the name "FREYA" on it.

Jake

Bending his head forward, Jake speaks solemnly. "My father once told me that it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness." A short amount of time passes. "I didn't even get to know you, Freya Dragonbane. But I do remember that you saved our asses, and I still owe you. I hope a decent burial can set things right between us. You saved us and then I got you killed, so it seems I owe you twice. God rest your troubled soul... and may you forgive me. Amen." Jake leaves the rock as a head stone.

Kicker

Watching and listening to the entire event from a distance, Kicker enters the TTV ahead of the returning Jake and K-11.

Jake

Jake adjusts his shades and heads back to the TTV with a grim expression. Entering the TTV, Jake takes a seat beside Frieda. The TTV has two long benches that stretch the full length of the vehicle against each wall. "Howard, you can drive, if it's all right with Jonn. We can switch back later, if need be." Jake tosses Freya's light pack at Jonn's feet. It contains:

"That's Freya's stuff. Now it's yours or whoever needs it." Jake's smile or smirk long since gone, he sits in silence.

OOC

Sorry about the "drool" thing, Ben. A certain fem we both know showed up when I was writing this and she asked that I add it. Wait... I wasn't supposed to tell you. Doh! Honey comes from a bee's behind, lawyers come from a bull's behind and this capsule comes from gammaworld_gm's behind.


shindorim7

Reverend Bunyun

"I'll have a cuppe of water and a pretzel. Skippe ye the tubers though. I hates 'em. And for ye recorde I 'aven't got panties on. Free and wilde as the wind on the plains of duste do my guys hang, not as the steeplehouse-men do, but right natural."


cpt_leghorn

Captain Leghorn

Pushing my cigar in the corner of my oversized beak, I shake my head in full agreement as my little toadstool friend chatters away. "I say I say there Myc'dee, as I see it, it was a successful mission. So a couple dumb animals died. Jake got lucky and I found a new friend, y-y-you. People actually listen to me now and some even talk back to me kindly (thinks of Xeva), while others just want me for my body (thinks of Frieda) and some have yet to notice me (thinks of Liska). The rest just like my jokes (thinks of Kicker). C'est une espèce de légume quoi my little salad garnish." Making the last puff, I exhale a giant smoke ring then crush the cigar butt under the heel of my 3-toed foot.

"I say, I say, I wish that pre-Shadow Years Foghorn Leghorn could have been a distant relative," I say, shaking my wattles no, "but it isn't true. We don't even speak alike. Had I been from there, right now I would be a major apocalyptic Hollywood director, holding auditions for my next movie, interviewing young and naive women like Frieda and trying to score with them. Don't laugh légume, it could happen!"


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