A Gamma World® play-by-post adventure run by gammaworld_gm
Hope you don't mind, dragondodger2001, that I've reinserted your post below. It fits perfectly with the move I penned a few days ago. Also, keep in mind gammaben, that to remove both arm and leg shackles, you would have had to wait one hour between teleports (as per 4th edition GW rules). ;)
You wait until the guards have removed Howard and the two other Duckoids from the holding cell. When all three are on their feet in the corridor, you boom, "Take them to the training room, and clean them up. I want all three in my office in one hour."
"Sir, but it's midnight, sir!"
"You have your orders, underling. Don't make me repeat them." You add a swift kick to emphasize your point, and the foreman leaves with his tail between his legs (literally). You also make sure that the guards see you rough Howard up as he is led off. There must be no suspicions. "Wipe that protest off your beak, duck. If you resist, they have orders to kill you early. There will always be others to replenish the big guy's ranks."
The five guards lead the three of you through a vast network of tunnels, all roughly bored through damp rock, until you arrive half an hour later at a cavernous well-lit room scattered with training equipment: padded armor; blunt swords, rubber flails and dull spears; nets, bucklers and the like. You get the feeling that "training" means "training for gladiatorial contests." You are led to the showers, where five more guards join your escort.
You are shoved into separate, far removed metal stalls, and locked into them alone. Inside each are a drain, a shallow bowl and a large pitcher of cold water.
"You have fifteen minutes to get yourselves cleaned up. Pull any pranks, and you die, scum."
You are dreadfully tired, and sore from your ordeals, most of which you cannot even remember. You suspect you have been drugged and interrogated, as your minds ring with abuse. Irma sobs in her stall, and the guards break out in laughter.
"Two coins she doesn't make it past the first round."
"Yer on. What'd the Head Runner mean by, 'she may have some use?'"
"Dunno. Goldilocks 'as a duck fetish, far's I knows."
"Hey, where've I seen dat purple quacker afore?"
There is more mocking laughter, but you grit your teeth and survive the humiliation intact (unless you do something really, really stupid, heheh).
Exactly one hour after you were led away from the holding cell, you find yourselves sitting in the golden giant's office. You are still shackled, but at least you are free from the taunts of the guards. The over-muscled man stares at each of you gravely from behind his desk.
"Welcome to your new home. Here you will train for the pleasure of the mighty emperor Timon," you state very loudly and dismiss the guards. They close the door behind them.
You know that you are running out of time. The last, biggest tournament in the yearly cycle has been shifted forward two days for suspicious reasons. You can only hope they aren't suspecting mischief. Tomorrow afternoon, you must have everything in place. Tomorrow! Rather, today, you realize with worry as you note it is past midnight. The big guy---your nemesis and none other than the Emperor Timon himself---will be there. The first time the bastard attended a match, there was too much commotion in the royal box and he slipped away. Was it only three days ago in the arena that you challenged and beheaded Timon's previous Runner right in front of him, and thus cemented your command of his gladiator corps?
You silently recall the oath you made back on the hill overlooking Gamma One:
"I swear by all she made Holy, the desecrator of the wee ones shall live only a short while more. And then, the Hell I will take him to will be like none other described in this life. This I swear on my Oath and Reverance of her will."
You will finally have your revenge, and your chance reunion with Howard can only be a good sign. Will the plucky ducky and his two comrades help you? You hope Howard's Pure Strain sidekick isn't meddling in the wings. Trouble seemed to follow him wherever he went. This must be your operation, and yours alone, but you could use a little help. You've got some explaining to do, and it had better be fast and convincing if the Duckoids are going to get any rest before the big event. The keys to their shackles hang heavily at your waist.
"Ormahzd! Why do I havthe the sthinking feeling I am abouth to havthe another encounther with that puthridth Pigoidth?" you break the silence, giving voice to your thoughts.
You smile at Howard's obliviousness, then you laugh. "Howie, good to see ya. If you play along, I'll be able to get all of us out of this, and let you kill your favorite piglet at the same time. Timon would have that lard-ass for lunch, but he needs him alive. For now. You see, my purple friend, Hampshire is the least of your worries. Give me some time and I'll explain everything," you say, winking at the duck and tossing bowls of soup their way.
What do you?
You stealthily slip down to the catwalk and make your way along the semicircular path toward the voices. But no matter how well you sneak, you cannot hide your excitement from broadcasting on empathic frequencies. You get no more than fifty feet along the catwalk before one of the Humanoids---the female---turns abruptly around and points at you.
You freeze in your tracks like a rad-rat caught by torchlight foraging among the mutant rutabagas back in your village.
Two of the Humanoids also turn their faces towards you, though only halfway. You note that the smaller one---a Felinoid---has a patch over one eye. The fourth "Humanoid" is like none you have ever seen. It is tall, and all covered in black gleaming metal. Its eyes glow a dull red. From your position maybe ninety feet from them, you can see the metal man raise an arm in your direction, then lower it quickly. Then it starts talking, buzzing in a strange voice, loud enough for you to hear. It speaks your language.
You sense strong feelings from this woman: excitement, fear, anxiety, wonder. She's definitely Humanoid. Tempest's vague emanations are still flatlining.
You casually glance over at Leela's signal, but quickly return your untrusting gaze toward Tempest, who remains motionless, except for activating what only you recognize as his genotype scanner, and presumably detecting no threat. Jonathan's soft-spoken query seems to have taken on new light as you wonder what indeed the three of you should do.
Before Tempest can answer your questions, you take Leela's cue and look over at the newcomer. Even at 30 meters, you can tell she is very beautiful, and apparently scared stiff at being discovered.
Tempest interrupts your attentions with his synthetic, commanding voice, "The cure for my masters is in here. The insurance for their survival is here. I know it. I... can... feel it." The armored entity seems to choose its words carefully.
Tempest's next speech becomes more fervently enunciated (though Leela still senses nothing above random noise on her Emotograph™), and this strikes you as odd.
"This is the only buried military base in the upper San Matoe Range that I have not fully explored. As I told you, the Ancients hid several labs inside these ancient installations. This one, a Minuteman nuclear missile site long ago abandoned and reoccupied several times hence by the Ancients, is no exception.
"By my masters' complete knowledge and Occam's Razor, this must be the one that houses the lab---and therefore the cure---that I seek. Why house a lab in a missile silo? Why spend the resources to build from scratch when you can hide in an abandoned one? Why spend the energy to evolve fins when you can attach symbiotically to a shark? Why wage war when you can pit your enemies against each other in a war of attrition? Why send a man on a hopeless mission when an expendable cyborg will do?"
You wonder at Tempest's abrupt eloquence.
Tempest pauses, and when it continues, its words are as cold and impersonal as before. "Decide if you wish to join me, Pure Strain, but I will not wait for you long." The hulking enigma turns and disappears once again behind the massive piping. Its cutting torch soon eliminates the shadows under the pipes, and you start hearing the snap, crackle and pop of tortured metal.
What do you do?
Group 6 now contains Jonathan, Katkin, Leela, Marg and Tempest. Group 7 has vanished in a puff of logic (poof!). Full group list (NPCs in italics):
Puzzled, I assume that Howard and Ormahzd know and like each other. I am content to listen for now, but when I can, I'd like to ask Ormahzd if he has seen any bald eagles around.
Sensing no threat from the new arrival, she returns her attention to Tempest, surprised by the emotion in the words of this machine yet the lack of emotion emanated from it. Turning to Jonathan, she says, "Well it apparently knows more about this place than we do. I like the odds with it better than without."
Turning to the new arrival, she says, "You seem excited by meeting new people and the fact that you've made your way down into this place suggests you're an adventurous type. It appears we're going deeper into this place and although we could use the extra firepower, you should know that one of our friends has been seriously hurt already, and if not for the Machine, we would all more than likely have been killed, so having said that, you're more than welcome to join us...."
Kicker indeed has the game's only 8-track deck encountered so far.... Kicker is an inactive PC at the moment.... For all I know, she's probably playing drinking games with Doc. Templeton back at the Starport Bar [the GM is mistaken! --ed.].
Kicker turns her normally alert, now somewhat bloodshot eyes towards the not-quite-so-elegant PSH seated beside her. "Okay, Doc, time to guess another one." She holds up a small mechanical device. "Let's see how well you remember what we've taught you. What's this?"
"Uh...it's...don't tell me...got it!" carefully enuciating, the handsome bearded, now somewhat bleary-eyed gent replies. "It's a... an Octo-Trail-Gamester!" He smiles and looks pleased with himself.
"A what?" Kicker says in disbelief. "Wrong again, Doc. Now say after me... Eight---"
"Octo, that's what I said."
She sighs. "Track---"
He grins. "'Track,' 'trail,' they mean the same thing."
She briefly looks heavenward, then says, "Player."
"'Player,' 'gamester,' we didn't say no synonyms allowed. I win. You take a drink."
"Humans! oh, well. Barkeep! Another Kahlúa n'cream here! An' another bottle o'wine for my friend!"
Hey GM, can we work Kicker back in? Once she sobers up, that is. :)
A big welcome back to gw_kicker! The Wasteland is a-rockin', and I'm not just talking about boulders in the radioactive sand. As our favorite AWOL Cougaroid would say, "Sweet!" (Actually, the Archivist has just informed me that he never said that. Party-pooper.)
I owe you an apology, gw_kicker: your ever-wisecrackin' Leoparoid is actually in Haven helping with defense preparations (with Jake, Joshua and Frieda), and not at the Starport Tavern, where Dr. Templeton is possibly drinking his time-displaced woes into oblivion and finding more things in common with the Ancient pretzels than he thought possible. The Archivist didn't catch that one in time (he was probably too busy deleting all mentions of "Sweet!" by Brimstone). But your hilarious post could have just as well occurred in a bar in Haven between the 'round-the-clock shifts you've been pulling (Haven is expecting an imminent invasion by Timon's forces). I'll try to work in a post for G5 (the Haven bunch) next round. Wow, it's great to have you back!
Jonathan stares at the newcomer, momentarily distracted until the robot's brief tirade refocuses his attention again.
"Why send a man on a hopeless mission when an expendable cyborg will do?"
"Perhaps," he says thoughtfully, "because they knew they could trust their lives with you? If what you say is true, then their survival depends on your success. I'd hardly say that makes you expendable. And if no one objects, perhaps we could be of some help. It'd be... comforting... to see if anything beneficial ever came out of this abomination."
"It appears we're going deeper into this place and although we could use the extra firepower, you should know that one of our friends has been seriously hurt already, and if not for the Machine, we would all more than likely have been killed...."
He turns to the newcomer, bowing politely. "What she says is true. Hopefully there won't be any more surprises, but I'm afraid I can make no promises. I don't even know why I'm still here, as much as this place seems to have been occupied during my sleep."
"I'm never gonna get used to this twenty-fifth century and why these humanoids need air. I guess this is what you get when you become a trespasser. If only our crew were replaceable."
I look around. "A dismal rusting little doomed underground complex, now inhabited by a number of frisky little doomed animals who are going to die. Who would have thought?"
Moving to the door, I examine the keypad. Using the black art of applied mathematics, I quickly calculate all the possible combinations and begin inputting them one by one. My metal fingers move error free, entering numbers faster than any human could ever dream. But will I open it in time?
All you can eat plus a whole chicken to save you.
Very adept at hanging from perilous perches as most Roosteroids are, I help Jonn pull Rhyn, Lamia and Myc back up to safety. "I say, I say Jonn, and you didn't think I would score any chics down here did you? It looks to me that Rhyn is all over me like a 'cheep' suit... <brock>."
"Aw, jeez! Dying is really going to ruin my day. I knew there had to be something wrong when they asked if we were a crew willing to take on a suicidally dangerous mission. I guess it's those small words like 'suicidally' and 'dangerous' that you always overlook. If I'm going to die, then please let me explain that my crimes were merely boyish pranks: don't blame me, blame my upbringing. Fencing diamonds, kleptomania, my pornography ring, fixing cockfights, stealing from boy scouts and nuns, and publishing indecent magazines can't be all that bad, can it? I mean, I expect to have at least a few minutes to repent for my sinning, but now it looks like I'll suffer 'til the end of time, enduring tortures, most of which rhyme. Wait, I say there... wait one darn minute, are we dead yet?"
"Rhyn, perhaps this is an awkward time, but if we don't die here, I just want you to know that I'll be here to score with you if you're willing. It's the least I can do. I know, I know, I'm a fraud---a poor, lazy, sexy fraud."
Rhyn's eyes flicker open as she takes in more oxygen... and Leghorn's advances. "Your momma! Now shut up and carry me up higher," she moans groggily.
In a state of total awe, Marg stands speechless, looking from person to person. It is a few moments before she realizes that the woman is speaking to her, and when the man also warns her but does not dissuade her from joining the bizzare group, she tries to control her excitement and respond with a grain of dignity: "Given a choice between a death laced with lonesome boredom and one fraught with danger, excitement and the possibility of a gruesome death, I'll take the latter."
Barely able to control her emotions, she advances on the group.
Ormahzd unshackles the ducks and waits until they seem to have their fill of soup, then begins, "Howard, I don't know who your friends are, but I must assume you trust them. Therefore I will also, so please listen carefully. This evening there will be a tournament for Timon's pleasure. He will be sitting with Hampshire in the Boss's box. This box is usually guarded by Hampshire's Gamma Girls, a very elite female guard unit. These women can even give me a hard time in a fight, however, one of them seems to be rather unhappy with the pig and his boss as are we. She has been chosen to stand guard at the door of the box, and will be the only Gamma Girl within 100 feet of them.
"It just so happens that she and I have taken a 'liking' to each other. Our mutual dislike of the defiler Timon has given me a chance to take him from this plane of existance, and now my surprise encounter with you will also enable you to remove the pig as well and help me with Timon. I know you can fight, but can your friends? The answer will depend on if we live or die in the next 24 hours. Sleep on those cots outside for the rest of the night," he says, referring to two large overstuffed cushions on the floor in the main training hall outside his office, "and please slip a shackle over your leg for looks. In the morning I will ask your answer and begin your 'training.'"
When Ormahzd slides the bowls of soup his way, Howard peers in. It certainly isn't the extravagant cuisine he was expecting during his stay in Elephant Butte with Irma. He looks up at Irma and frowns as only a Duckoid with an inflexible pair of bills can. Mostly his eyes tell the story of his disappointment.
"Irma," he says softly, gazing her way. "Hardy," he continues, looking at Twoducks solemnly. "This is Ormahzthd. I met him recthently during one of my, er, travelsth, with Dukasth." He turns back to Ormahzd. "I trusth him, and have been, er," he pauses, considering his words carefully in light of Irma's presence---after all, how much has he told her about his mercenary exploits, and how much does detail does he want to spare her on his dangerous lifestyle of late? "...have been in combat with him." He swallows and ruffles the down on his neck and head, enjoying the freedom from his shackles, for the time being.
"Asth for, ahem, killing Hampsthire..." Howard continues. At the mention of the Pigoid's name, Irma once again shudders. Howard told her about the time he spent against his will with Hampshire and she knows of his hatred of the swine. "...we'll justh sthee about that. I certainly want to sthee an end to histh sthlave trading and torture daysth, but... " Howard sighs, "you've given usth sthome time to think about it, stho I'll take it. I cthertainly want to help you in any way I am able."
"At thisth sthage in the game, we're all exhausthed and I'm sthure we need to get our resth for whatever you have in sthore for usth tomorrow. I really wisth you could keep Irma out of thisth," he says, gesturing to his frightened companion, "but I alstho understhand that keeping usth together isth probably the besth idea."
"Whatever isth in sthore," Irma says, facing Howard, then turning to Ormahzd, "I'm ready for it. Don't let Howard downplay my own sthpecial talentsth on account of my... delicate, feminine nature."
Howard swells with pride at her comments. "Good ol' Irma," he thinks.
Irma leans to Howard and whispers into his aural focal point. "Thisth isthn't exthactly what I exthpected today, Howard, but we'll get through it together. But, before tomorrow comesth, we musth deal with today." Hidden from Ormahzd's gaze behind the desk, Irma reaches out with her hand and pinches Howard's side.
For his part, Howard tries not to react, and he's glad Duckoid embarrassment doesn't come with blush.
Irma pauses only a moment to compose herself, then faces Ormahzd. "Isth there anywhere more... comfortable, where Howard and I may resth tonight, other than out in the open of the training arena? If you want my Howard at histh besth, he'sth going to need all the sthleep he can get."
At this, Howard shivers and knows that if Ormahzd accomodates Irma's request, he won't be getting as much sleep as she is leading the big man to believe. He smiles to himself, knowing there are more ways to revitalize oneself than sleep, even though the bulk of his pent-up urges have seemed to dissapate, perhaps through the passage of too much time and any drugs he'd received in interrogation. He looks to Ormahzd and seconds Irma.
"If you can managthe it, Big-O," Howard says, hearing a snicker from Irma at the mention of Howard's nickname for Ormahzd, "I'd be very much obliged."
"Hhmmm!" Twoducks Hardy says sternly---his own way of adding his own approval to the motion, knowing full well the reason Howard and he came to Elephant Butte in the first place.
Ormahzd immediately knows what the little lady duck is thinking. "Tell you what, Irma, through the door behind me is my chambers. You and Howie can stay there tonight. Twoducks, if you know anything 'bout cards, we can go over to that corner (pointing farthest away from room) and play some. Oh, by the way, we do need to get an early start. I do need to do some training with you, 'cause tommorrow night is the big spectacle. So be ready for an early 'rise', Howie." Ormahzd chuckles at his own joke, but also hopes everyone understands he's serious about early.
Cpt_leghorn incorrectly assumes that Rhyn is conscious in his last post, but correcting his post would mean losing the wonderful quip he expertly places in Rhyn's mouth. There is nothing to lose from allowing Rhyn to awake prematurely, and a few laughs to gain from it, so I will bend to the Roosteroid!
Captain Leghorn and Jonn manage to drag the limp forms of Lamia, Mycinod and Rhyn a few yards up the stairs, above the layer of dense unbreathable air that has settled at the bottom of the stairwell over the decades.
Rhyn's eyes flicker open as she takes in more oxygen... and Leghorn's advances. "Your momma! Now shut up and carry me up higher," she moans groggily.
"I say, I say there, Quills, you got spunk. I like that in a woman," you say, eyeing Rhyn lasciviously. "Uh, yes ma'am," you reply weakly to her subsequent poisonous stare.
Meanwhile, at the access panel, you formulate a brute force approach to gain entry. Depending on the length of the access code, you might stumble across a valid key in seconds, or millenia. At your first keystroke, the small screen embedded in the wall lights up and displays text in cold electrophosphors:
-=> HACKED BY VOLTRON! ROCK DUD! <=- Input pupil type:
Welcome to Ancalagon, Inc.,
- (formerly Bio Harness, Inc.)
-- (formerly Isenguard, Inc.)
-=> (FORMERLY ZEDWERKS, INC.) <=-
---- (formerly ??)
----- (formerly Cryonix, Inc.)
------ (formerly DoD Complex M23)
* pure strain/humanoid
-=> ROBOT <=-
-=> HACKED BY VOLTRON! ROCK DUD! <=-
Input pupil type:
Upon your selection of "ROBOT", the screen clears and displays the prompt:
-=> HA! SO MUCH FOR OPTISCAN! GIMME YOUR SERIAL NUMBER, DUD:
"Serial number... dud?" You search your vast memory banks for any such self-identification string, but find nothing other than your make and model, K1B01575-MP1. Entering this string on the small keyboard, you determine that input is limited to 11 characters, and that dashes and alphabetic characters are rejected. Your string is invalid, as you suspected. "Frak," you emit.
So, brute force it is. As you begin your exhaustive code entry, your duralloy digits flying over the keypad in an impressive blur, you soon calculate your average entry time of 5 serial numbers per second, and that brings you to a worst-case entry in 164.38148 years. You hope Jonn packed some playing cards.
In the stairwell above, Jonn tends to Lamia and Mycinod's recovery. "Captain, did you recognize that security panel down there?"
"Yessir. It's an optical scanner. Them's tough to crack unless you're carrying around the right eyeball. But sometimes you can fool 'em by drinking Mountain Dew aforehand...." The others look at you with a mixture of frustration and head-shaking as you wonder what you've said.
Minutes pass in tense silence, and still no word from Geo. "I say, Jonn, I think Tin-head's gonna need my expertise." Leghorn takes in a deep breath and holds it, puffing up his feathers and hoping to look mighty "ham-some" to the females, then takes off running downstairs.
You turn to meet Leghorn. "Don't you have some air to be breathing elsewhere?"
You stiffarm the robot aside (Geo, amused, lets you) and take a look at the screen. "Hacked? No scan? Serial number??" you think, amazed. "What, I say, what's taking this overgrown toaster so long?" you think again (Roosteroids think like they talk) as you turn to Geo. With your lungs about to burst, you grab Geo by the head and turn his neck around. There, laser-inscribed in the duralloy of Geo's neck is a barcode, exactly where your robot pal Gallus 5/13 has one.
Squinting in the dim light as your eyes bulge from the strain of holding your breath and thinking at the same time, you translate the vertical lines of Geo's barcode into the numbers they represent (a skill long-honed at the Oad-Ck-Factory, because you were too lazy to fix the scanner) and input all eleven digits on the keypad as Geo looks on frostily. The screen clears. A creaking sound erupts suddenly and the door sinks into the wall, then rolls away, revealing a darkened room beyond.
Cold air rushes past your face and you exhale violently. Your next breath is the sweetest you have ever taken. Even sweeter than Xeva's perfume during that one hot and heavy night you have almost convinced yourself you spent with her on the XJ1.
The dense gasses of dubious origin that formerly displaced the oxygen at the bottom of the stairwell quickly dissipate with the influx of fresh air.
"Well, what do you know. Learn something new every day. I can't believe I have been one-upped by a Roosteroid. Oh the tragedy!" You can't help but wonder why your serial number worked. And you can't help but wonder why you never knew you had a serial number!
You feel the back of your neck, but the tiny scratches of your serial number are undetectable by your digital tactile sensors. You make a mental note (in your positronic matrix) to find two mirrors some day so you can see your bar code.
"As my father Senator Claghorn Leghorn once said, 'We Leghorns may not be smart or suave or strong or savvy or (I forget the rest), but at least, I say, at least we're sexy, and in the end, it all boils down to sex appeal.' I could learn you some of that, Tin-head, if'n you like. You have all the allure of a can opener."
You slowly walk downstairs at the sounds of the door opening, and find the Roosteroid gloating over something. "Oh, stuff a pipe in it, Red." Leghorn quiets down.
ow ow ow headache ow ow ow
"Shut up," you whisper, "Serves you right. Mine's fine!"
ow ow ow bitch ow ow ow
Soon, your group reunites in the room beyond the door. Lamia and Mycinod have regained consciousness but still feel groggy, as does Rhyn. The room lights up automatically from suspended ceiling fixtures as soon as you enter, and the door closes and seals tightly behind you. Ventilation systems hum to life, and a healthy laminar airflow is restored in the room.
The room itself is a spacious, spotless foyer with 15-foot ceilings and "modern," shiny chrome and metal decor. A receptionists' counter lines one wall, which sports "Ancalagon, Inc." in tall chrome lettering. The computer terminals and chairs behind the counter are blank and empty. A row of pictures framed in shiny chrome lines the opposite wall. The far wall boasts a closed door and security panel identical to the one you just passed, and there is a security panel near the door behind you inside the room as well.
"This place is way too clean. What I wouldn't give for a nice mound of mulch," you say, passing one Fungoid tendril along the ultra-smooth chrome counter. Examining the tip of your appendage, you note there's hardly a trace of dust to be found.
"From the looks of it, and judging from the stale air in the stairwell," she says softly, "we're the first to break in this place in a long time."
"I'm getting bad vibes from this place," you say, eliciting a concerned look from Lamia. You can't describe the feeling, if you can even call it that.
"Since, I say, since when does a tin can get vibes? What are you, some kinda New Age toaster? Next thing you know, you're gonna be spoutin' Zen. Jonn, break out the screwdriver: I think Geo has a loose ball bearing."
"You're in good company, Red," you say, poking the Roosteroid with an elbow quill.
ow ow ow heh heh good one ow ow ow
Jonn drops his pack to the floor, his wind-leathered face beaming. "Heh. Well, thanks Geo. Thanks, Captain. Looks like we're in! But with half of us unsteady, I think we should grab dinner and rest here for a few hours, maybe resume exploration at midnight. This place looks as safe as any, and the air is good. And I sure could go for some of that apple pie Bess packed us!"
This page updated: Mon Jan 09 14:22:20 2006
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