A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm
"Hmmm... must be a torch. Wonder if it's a maintenance droid?" Jonathan thinks, but then he remembers the way the droid took out that murderous tin can earlier and quickly dismisses the possibility.
"Uh, excuse me?" he tries tentatively. "Terribly sorry to interrupt you, but we have some questions."
The curtains fall to the floor with a whisper, and the radiance of the midday sun washes into room U-235 of the Elephant Butte Hotel with a vengeance. You (Howard) and Irma instinctively blink as your pupils constrict, and you soon see that the balcony beyond the glass sliding door is vacant. It is a pretty day outside.
Irma clutches the bedsheets closer up to her neck. Out the window she stares, as frightened and confused as a Duckoid can be. "I---they---oh, Howie, you're in therrible dang---" she stops abruptly, looking around the room. "They thold me they'd kill me ifth I sthquealed," she whispers.
"Who?" you ask, true to your Examiner code, as you look the curtain rod over. It looks like an ordinary curtain rod.
"Dunno," she says, staring absently at the toy duck you gave her. It suddenly seems so out of place. "I didn'th sthee them; they threatened me in the dark. One of them openedth upth the sliding door, stho I figuredth...."
A loud rapping sounds at the closed door to your room. It nearly scares you and Irma out of your feathers.
"Hey Howardth, are you done yeth?" says the warrior's voice from the hallway outside the locked door.
What do you do?
Leela, still puzzled by the conflicting emotions of this Jonathan, and figuring this Tempest could have easily destroyed them as it did the security bot, moves stealthly along the catwalk keeping Tempest in view, and waiting for the entity to make the next move.
Welcome margwaldom! May your adventures in the Wasteland be many and enjoyable. (Word of advice: stay away from mutated roosters ;)
Your path and diehard spirit have led you east across a large swath of the San Matoe Mountains, and along the way you have found plenty to confirm your suspicions of a great city of the Ancients in the area. You know of (Old) Albuquerque, that burned-out husk of a once glorious city of the Ancients. Everybody back home says it's radioactive: nobody goes there who doesn't come out with their genes intact. You seek instead a hidden city---some say buried under a mountain---which houses all of the technology of the Ancients, and plenty of opportunity for adventure!
Alas, you feel no closer to your goal than you did when you set out two months ago. The moonlit early night is as chilly as the daytime was hot, but the heat you felt earlier today is no match for the self-doubt now stoking to flame within you. You realize you only have one week's rations left.
Fighting back thoughts of defeat, you find yourself sitting down in the shadow of a huge thirty foot boulder in the eastern foothills of the mountains. It looks like you're not the first to take advantage of this spot. In the wan light among the pale green scrub and a collection of windswept tumbleweed, you see the ashes of a poorly constructed campfire nearby, several rusty and empty steel cans ("Peaches"---you can read, can't you?), an equally weathered Coca-Cola sign ("Refreshing!"), a large circular shield (like a trash can lid, only more shiny and substantial) propped up on a small rock, and... an apparently discarded military rifle.
What do you do?
I played this game in college about... well let's just say a while ago.... Speaking of mutated roosters, I believe the scenario we played revolved around a chicken farm run amok.
Looking around for signs of the previous owner of the weapon and shield, Marg picks up the rifle and checks it out to see if it is still servicable. After assessing the weapon's status and slinging the shield across her back, she examines the remains of the fire to determine how long ago it was made, then looks for tracks or a sign that would lead to the hidden city.
Katkin readies his crossbow and follows Leela quietly. Katkin figures that the robot must know where he is going and may lead our group out of this hole.
I place my hands behind my back and walk around in a circle while talking. "I say, I say, destiny's powerful hand has made the bed of my future, and it's up to me to lie in it. I was destined to be a Roosteroid hero. To make people laugh, and to pound two-fisted justice into the hearts of evildoers who are smaller and weaker than me everywhere. And you don't fight destiny! No sir! And you don't eat crackers in the bed of your future, or you get all... scratchy.
"You know, though today was the worst day of my life, I learned many things. First, the world looks a lot different when you're a Roosteroid and covered with feathers. Second, two heads are definitely not better than one. And finally, you can lay eggs and still feel like a male. Skip the last one, I was just thinking out loud.
"You know... I've heard the smarter you are, the more wrinkly your brain. And these NARC brains must be the wrinkliest! Oh, sure, ordinary Joes like me and Jonn, maybe our brains are a little on the smooth side, but you don't have to be a genius to know that evil is bad. And good isn't! You know, evil comes in many forms, be it a man-eating mutant Venus Fly-Trap or a smelly Cougaroid. But you can't let the curvy package hide the pudding <thinks of Kicker>.
"Evil is just plain bad! You just don't cotton to it! You gotta smack it on the nose with the rolled up newspaper of goodness! Bad kitty! Bad, bad kitty! When evil is afoot, and you don't have any arms, you've gotta use your head. And when evil is ahead and you're behind, you've gotta do the legwork. But when you can't get a chicken leg up, you gotta be hip. You gotta keep your chin up, and kiss, uhmm kick some ass.
"Is anyone really listening to me? Hellllllllloooooooo?"
Howard, having recognized Twoducks' voice, tries to put Irma at ease. "Don'th worry. Although histh thiming isth horrible, he'sth a friend of mine---travelled with me here from the shtouth." He turns toward the door, and emits loudly from between his duck bills, "Justh a minute, Hardy!"
Howard lays his needler on the sheets, and the curtain rod against the bed, then takes the toy duck from Irma and places it on the dissheveled covers. "Did I mention how good it isth to sthee you? Don't worry, we'll get to the bottom of thisth madnessth." Howard hugs Irma tightly, and as only a Duckoid can, plants a passionate kiss right on her trembling bills. "I guessth we need a raincheck, eh?" Fighting his sexual urges with every ounce of strength, and fueled by his desire to protect Irma and defend himself against their unwelcome but hidden guests, Howard stands up, brushes his fluffy down, and retrieves the curtain rod.
He walks over to the door, takes a deep Duckoid breath, and unlocks and opens the door half-way, greeting the Duckokee warrior. "Thwoducks Hardy. Thisth isthn'th exthacthly the besth thime for a housthe call. But consthidering the thircumsthanthesth..." Howard grips the curtain rod intently. "There'sth trouble afoot. Looksth like sthomebody'sth after me." He thumbs Irma over his shoulder, simultaneously blocking Twoducks' view of his naked mate.
"My lady sthaysth sthomebody isth here, waiting for me. We besth find 'em, and quick!" He considers the situation silently for a moment, while Twoducks stands patiently. Finally, having made up his mind, Howard continues. "Maybe you do sthome kind of reconaissthanthe for me? Sthcope out the joint? Obviousthly U-Two-Thirthy-Five isthn't a sthafe placthe anymore."
I know you may be reeling from world events. I still am. For a while I even convinced myself that these RPGs were pointless. But as life moves slowly forward with its inexorable struggles, there is healing, hope and the inextinguishable light of good.
I think what cpt_leghorn was trying to say in his last post was that evil may oppose our nation, but it can never stunt our imagination. Let the Gamma World sagas continue... except for G4; I'm still waiting to hear from Twoducks.
"I'll go with you, Jonn. Somebody's got to keep you out of trouble with Howard gone."
"Guys, I really wasn't expecting this. I'm going to need some help out there. Geo, the XJ1 would get us there fastest, and I need to verify the lab's existence via your satellites. Captain, your knowledge of security systems will help us survive once we get inside. Myc, your bravery will bolster our chances of success. And, Rhyn... well, you can carry a gun, right? We've got to leave now if you're coming."
"Count me and the 'sroom in. Besides, how could you survive without me around to save your assets?"
"I'm in too, Jonn. Just make sure you keep me well-informed about your plans.... I just hope you know what your doing taking a girl with two half-brains, a Roosteroid with no brains, and a weird monster who smells like he eats garbage and does."
"I may digest organic refuse, but at least my mother wasn't a toaster and my father an alarm clock, you rolling excuse for spare batteries."
It's a surreal moment, as you measure Jonn's complete trust in you and the high hope an entire enclave of good people have placed in your success. Jonn breathes a deep sigh of relief at your selfless acceptance of his plea for help. Everybody turns to Rhyn, who hasn't responded yet.
You snap to attention, as if your minds were occupied with other thoughts. "What? Oh. Count me in. I got nothing better to do."
Lamia packs up her laptop and heads for the conference room door. "Let's go get our bugs."
"Right-o. Here's the plan, Geo: the rest of us will swing by Abe's dad's place to get our stuff, and meet you in twenty at the XJ1," he says, ushering you all out the door.
"And after that?" you query, skeptically.
"Haven't thought that far ahead," he winks, and knocks a knuckle with a satisfying metallic thunk on your chrome dome.
Twenty minutes later, you assemble on the bridge of Geo's sleek starship with all your equipment. A vaguely familiar voice crackles over Jonn's portable NARC radio---a lightweight field unit less bulky than the one he gave Howard.
"Circe to Odysseus: comm check. Radio silence after this. Over."
Jonn looks a bit stunned, then embarassed at Xervian's choice of comm handles. "Roger that... Circe. Odysseus out."
"What was that all about?" she asks mischievously.
"Ah, nuthin. Restorationist humor," he fudges, blushing anew. But it is all too apparent to Jonn that the Gren is also familiar with the Homeric allusions. What Ancient scholar wouldn't be?
As soon as Lamia hooks up her laptop, with its detailed (though dated) maps of Ancient military sites, to Geo's current spy satellite feeds, and the asynchronous terrain data sets are overlaid spatially, the CAL-9000 central computer automatically ("automagically" as Jonn would say) computes an optimal flight course to the biotech lab tucked away quietly for all these centuries in the northern San Matoe Range.
The XJ1 makes the trip in a heartbeat or two, and you soon find yourself walking down the cargo bay ramp onto arid soil. A cool wind whips down the mountain peaks into your faces, and you note that Geo has landed the XJ1 on a small plateau surrounded by breathtaking, boulder-encrusted hills to the east and the San Matoe mountains to your west.
But there is no factory in sight.
What showed up as a "lab" on Geo's unimeter resolution satellite imagery is in actuality a temporary storage facility---and a half-razed one at that. "Yosemite Sam's Storage Shacks" reads the late Ancient-era sign half-buried in the rubble. It appears as if each storage shed has been deliberately trashed.
"There must be some mistake...." she starts, looking toward Geo, but you (Geo) know that there can be no mistake. This is precisely where Lamia's map indicates the biotech lab should be.
What do you do?
"Uh, excuse me? Terribly sorry to interrupt you, but we have some questions."
The flickering lights stop abruptly, and a low hiss of escaping gas ends with a pop. Tempest's shadow grows and splits fourfold---one for each high-pressure sodium light in the artificial ceiling that plugs the silo---as it stands and steps forward into full view.
"Speak, then," says the entity, its vaguely humanoid shape blocking the catwalk effectively. The pipes behind it still obscure its work. On its right arm, you see an acetylene torch retract automatically below dark armor plating. On its left arm, a nondescript bulge similarly disappears.
"But know two things: One, my mission parameters do not preclude the use of deadly force against those who would oppose me. Two, your weapons and abilities cannot harm me." Its hands are empty, but you know from experience that it has deadly force hidden in its fingertips.
"That said, I am at your service, pure strain," it says, bowing its head slightly.
Tempest's red eyes glow steadily in your direction, and you feel uncomfortable, as if they are boring unseen holes through you. You stop your approach along the catwalk just fifteen meters from it.
Ever since you have come in range, you (Leela) have been sensing measured, controlled emotions from Tempest, but you cannot understand why you would be detecting anything at all from what all outward appearances suggest is a robot. Its flat emotions indicate that it is not bluffing.
With a flash of insight from your supercharged brain, you (Katkin) identify the bulge as it folds away into Tempest's left arm: it is a genotype scanner. You realize with a shiver that Tempest probably now knows you better than your own mother.
Unaware of your comrades' revelations and unnerved by Tempest's cold caveats and casual categorizations, you (Jonathan) take a timid step or two forward and ask your questions....
My Research Department has given me the name of the chicken farm module you may have run through in college: "Famine in Far-Go." This module was actually used for inspiration in the early portions of this campaign, which involved the Oad-Ck-Factory, where G1 picked up the inimitable Captain Leghorn and Gallus 5/13. It's all in the NARChives.
You cannot tell the precise age of the campfire, though many tiny scavengers have disturbed the ashes. You see no other signs of the previous owner of the rifle---an M-16 one bullet shy of a full 16-shot clip---though there are a few coagulated drops and smears of blood near it, suggesting a fairly recent struggle. The rifle is in fair shape and appears to be working.
Try as you may, you cannot lift the shield from where it stands on edge among a thick patch of scrub. On closer inspection, the "shield" turns out to be attached to a well-hidden circular concrete-lined shaft in the ground; in fact, it would serve to seal the shaft nicely were you to lower it on its hinge and remove the tumbleweed stuck in the entrance. The shaft is 4 feet in diameter and you cannot see a bottom; there are metal rungs along one side leading straight down into the darkness.
It's not exactly the gaudy, blinking neon "Ancient City Here!" sign you may have imagined, but your pulse races with the possibilities. What do you do?
While I am appalled at the destruction caused by these cowardly extremists, I am without a doubt as proud as I can be by the way Americans have responded to this act of terrorism.
Excited by the prospect of what may lie below, she cautiously tests the rungs and, once assured of their strength, begins her descent into the shaft.
Whipping my nail gun (similar to the super nail gun from Quake) into ready position, my eyes widen and dilate. "Throuble? Where? How can you be so sure?"
I can't help but believe that Twoducks is taller than Howard because of his increased Physical Strength.
Accidentally catching a glimpse of another Duckoid behind Howard, who is nonchalantly trying to block my view, I back away from the door. Then, in an inefficiently hushed voice, I say, "How can you trustht her?"
Howard notices TwoDucks' glimpse over his shoulder and squinches his bills in frustration as only a Duckoid with no lips can. "How can I be sthure of trouble?" he says in quick, low tones. "How can I trusth her?"
Howard sneaks a glance behind him, at Irma. He gives her a smile, sees the uncertain look on her face, but also the trust in her eyes. How can he not trust her?
Turning back to his Duckoid traveling companion, Howard invests in their friendship a bit further by saying, "Trusth isth sthomething earned, asth you know. Believe you me, sthe'sth earned mine. Perhapsth when we get to the bottom of thisth esthcapade, I'll have earned yoursth." He continues hurriedly. "Asth for being sthure of the trouble, well, Irma sthaid that I wasth in danthger. Sthe sthaid they came in from the balcony," he says, holding up the curtain rod, "stho I'll go check it out. Maybe I can find a clue there. Maybe you can check out the hallsth and adjthoining roomsth, if you don't mind helping an ol' wanted Duckoid out, that isth."
I stand on the bridge of the XJ1 and pause, my processors calculating and shifting data, reviewing priorities and future objectives. If I had eyebrows they would be furrowed with pious contemplation, but I don't have eyebrows because I am a robot.
"Jonn you should remember I'm a robot, not a computer terminal on some clunky old television with a typewriter in front of it. I'm an interface where the mind and body can connect with the universe and move bits of it about.... Don't knock it," he gestures towards Jonn. "And I wasn't designed to strike matches on either," he gestures towards Myc.
After we deplane, I send a routine command to the XJ1, closing its cargo bay ramp and setting the onboard starship security system in place. I look around at the arid boulder-encrusted landscape. The San Matoe mountains are not exactly homey.
"There must be some mistake...."
I shift my sensors to scan Lamia when she speaks to me. "Dear Gren, aside from a possible discrepancy, common sense and a sense of understanding are logically the same thing, moving at different speeds, of course. My point being, the obvious may not be so obvious. In the times of the Ancients, they found the less obvious to be a necessity. Common sense would dictate we look harder, perhaps underground, or for an entrance therein. A common mistake humans make when trying to design something completely foolproof like a secret factory is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools," he looks toward Leghorn.
"Truly great understanding cannot be achieved without significant intelligence, which I have and others do not," he looks toward Leghorn again. "That said, albeit lacking in subtlety, everyone spread out and look around."
I review the data from my spy satellite up-link just to be sure this location is at the correct longitude and latitude.
"I'm, I say, I say there, I'm impatient with stupidity. I guess my family will learn to live without it until I return. You know Geo, the dumber people think I am, the more surprised they're going to be when I kill them."
"You can say that again!"
"I'm, I say, I say there, I'm impatient with stupidity. I guess my family will learn to live without it until I return. You know Geo, the dumber people think I am, the more surprised they're going to be when I kill them."
"I guess I should have been more specific. Shuddduppp!"
"Not to hassle you---"
"All I'm say---"
"They're gonna get a---"
"Let me tell you a little story about a Roosteroid named---Shhh!---even before you start. That was a preemptive 'shhh!' Now I have a whole bag of 'shhh!' with your name on it."
We are on the second floor of how many floors? Are the balconies in my room and Howard's room in view of each other, or connected?
Good questions, twoduckshardy. I had only described the foyer of the Elephant Butte Lodge as "grand and spacious," so let's say the lodge is 4 stories high. Your rooms, being 238 (Twoducks) and 235 (Howard) are on the second floor.
Howard's room is a honeymoon suite (another detail I failed to mention), so it is isolated and set some distance from the other rooms around it, and faces a slightly different direction out toward the lake. As such, your rooms' balconies are disconnected and not visible from each other.
Also, I should point out that Irma only said, "One of them openedth upth the sliding door." Whether or not this means that the intruders came in from the balcony is unclear.
I will try to get to the other side, underneath the balcony and check out any tracks in the ground. I assume the suite is on the side of the lake. I scope out that side of the building.
I know you may be reeling from world events. I still am. For a while I even convinced myself that these RPGs were pointless.
RPGs aren't pointless. They're a distraction. A temporary escape from reality. Some of us will probably need something to take our minds off what happened, and what the consequences will be worldwide. Just my opinion, natch.
"But know two things: One, my mission parameters do not preclude the use of deadly force against those who would oppose me. Two, your weapons and abilities cannot harm me."
"Well then. Let's just hope we won't have to test that particular theory, shall we? We didn't climb all the way up this cursed silo for a brawl, after all."
Jonathan steps forward calmly. Fear can be sensed from him, but not for himself. "We just came up to ask if you knew where we could find a medical facility. An advanced one. Our friend has suffered severe damage to her vertebrae and is in need of medical attention. And, um... what exactly is it that you are doing up here, anyway? Just curious, mind you."
Leela tries to figure out why she's detecting emotions from a machine, and stays alert for any sudden change in these emotions, while maintaining a watchful eye on what this machine is doing.
<Brooock> Looking around, I see nothing but fowl terrain. "I say, I say... I---I don't know what you did, Geo, but once again, you screwed up. It's toe-tappingly tragic if you ask me. Now all mutants are gonna start crackin' wise about our mommas. I'm just glad my fat ugly hen of a momma isn't alive to see this day."
"For the love of God, somebody kick his ass!"
"Oh, bitch, bitch, bitch. That is so wrong. You can't just melt down broken robots... not right when they're kissing my ass. I'm not a robot like you, Geo. I don't like having disks crammed into me. Hey, why do you think we are following you, Geo? You guessed it, you have candy stuck to your ass!" <Buk, buk, buk>
"You make me feel so weird. I guess you never really outgrow being an oddball."
"I keep pitchin' 'em and you just keep missin' 'em! Well I come prepared: I brought a bag lunch, my own special blackened kernel leftovers. Oh, how I wish I could believe or understand what we are doing in this godforsaken hellhole." I wander off, acting like I'm searching, stopping occasionally to scratch with my feet here and there.
Please rise for the Gamma World theme song. If not entertaining, write your Archivist, and this is not a substitute for mutant interaction.
Stinging from Leghorn's insults, you triple-check your photo-match calculations to Lamia's map (which you have memorized) by triangulating your planetary position to near meter-resolution---no small feat for your network of geosynchronous satellites, but they crunch the numbers happily. This indeed is the place. Who knows what must lie beneath the crusty, innocent veneer of Yosemite Sam's Storage Shacks? You aim to find out.
Jonn and Lamia take your lead, and Mycinod follows Captain Leghorn, each pair branching off to search the ruins. Rhyn, having nothing better to do, stays with you. The storage sheds lie in three buildings each housing 20 sheds in two rows back-to-back. The sheds themselves are 20' cubes, each cracked open and ransacked. Most of what lies within is indeed rubble.
You search through the first building, finding two junked grav-cars and a few drained power cells, but nothing else of value. You poke your chrome dome underneath the hood of one of the grav-cars.
"Hey, what's that?" you point over Geo's shoulder at something shiny in the grav-car's gravitic engine compartment. You reach for it and yank it out.
"Gimme that!" you exclaim, grabbing the intact carkron mobile emitter from Rhyn and cradling it. "My presence here implies dibs, Quills!" you hiss electronically in your best approximation of Xervian. You also find and extract a working coil and an isometric adapter in the same compartment, both salvageable. These parts will help resurrect the one remaining (blue) grav-car back at the Starport if you ever find another solar grav-car battery with enough juice left to bootstrap a recharge. Hampshire and the Mages never seemed to want to part with theirs in your trade negotiations with them: in the Wasteland, batteries are worth ten times their weight in gold. The other grav-car is a total wreck. You dump your parts into the cargo bay of the XJ1 with Rhyn following you like a loyal (though somewhat lackadaisical) puppy.
Nearby, Jonn whoops with excitement, then shouts, "Sorry, false alarm!" But you hear Lamia giggling with glee after that. It turns out that they've found an intact 8-track tape: Tapestry, by Carol King. The rest of the room is scattered with junked paraphernalia of the Ancients. It's a Restorationist's dream both come true and dashed at once. "Now if only I had a player," Jonn's voice echoes throughout the complex.
You find some spray-paint cans, half-empty, and evidently used to mark the territory of local gangs called "Ounze!", "HellRazor" and "AM7." In one room, bold blue bubble letters spell out, "Eddie loves Gay." A postfix to this proclamation adds "Men!" in red paint.
While Mycinod admires some organic sludge in one room, your keen sixth sense locates a pinup calendar on the back wall. You whistle loudly. Everyone else comes running, thinking that you have found something important.
"I say, I say there, lookee here, Jonn! Check out the rack on---"
As Captain Leghorn removes the calendar from the wall, he exposes a circular hole, outlined in gleaming metal. Its significance is immediately apparent to you and it is suddenly very silent.
You move forward, step up on a half-rotten crate and insert a hand into the shallow recess. Finding a handle deep inside, you grasp it, and turn. You hear a clicking sound. More ticking noises. When the handle can be turned no more, you step down and watch with the others.
"I sure hope this ain't booby trapped," you say, reusing an old joke and looking down none-too-discreetly at Miss March, 2132. Your joke falls flat, just like the first time you told it back in Frederick's of Hollywood of Datil.
Suddenly the entire back wall shudders, then so does the floor itself. And the ceiling. A thick cloud of choking dust is released as you all hurry out of the room.
Carol King preempts Jonn's current mental 8-track selection with, "I feel the earth, moon under my feet. I feel the sky tumbling down...."
When the dust settles, and visibility is restored, you see that the back wall of the storage room has moved back on well-greased tracks, revealing a gleaming metal floor and a rectangular opening with smooth metal stairs leading down.
"As I was about to say before Leghorn's misplaced hormones got in the way, I thought this shed looked a little shallower than the rest."
What do you do?
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:20 2006
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