Marshall Flowers' Sentimental Journey Through Post-Apocalyptica and Mutantville




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    Marshall Flowers' Sentimental Journey Through Post-Apocalyptica and Mutantville

    Day 39

    We followed a sign to the military base, which was our best bet, but itís just a huge crater, and the Geiger counter started rapping at us a bit. It must have been a target during the Drop. If the briefcase is still in one piece itís not here.

    I still canít rest properly, but Iím getting used to the nightmares.

    Day 40

    We followed the smoke to a large farm. They seemed wary, as people outside the colony always are, but I was able to make friends. They put us up for a while and I learned a lot about the area. Our only lead was a General Sandoval. Well, it so happens thereís a Tobias Sandoval, his grandson I think, at the farm. He didnít have much information, though, as itís hard to press for information without seeming suspicious.

    Daniel, the patriarch, approached me offering his niece Sallyís hand in marriage. It took me by surprise, but they tend to intermarry a lot around here and a well-armed, silver-tongued, and competent outsider seems to be a great catch. Sally is pretty cute too. I was evasive about it because I need time to think. I made sure he didn't just think I wanted to take advantage. It might be nice, but it wonít help us out with the briefcase.

    His wife Patricia seemed like a good source of information, so I appealed to her vanity as matriarch. She was taken with me and seemed to be interested in the match as well, so I was able to cook up a pretty good story about owing a favour and duping the group into exploring up here so I can investigate this silver briefcase. I told her I was taking a big leap confiding in her but I figured if anyone could help me around there, she could. She agreed to try to find out something about it from Tobias.

    Day 41

    Oh god.

    I felt awful today. I couldnít sleep most of last night, and when I could, the nightmares were horrible. Maybe Iím being punished for deceiving these people. The fatigue was so bad today I had to lie down alone while the others worked the fields. Then Tobias comes in with a bowl of soup for me, and I think, ďThatís so sweet, that he would take care of me like that.Ē But I get a real bad feeling about the situation real fast. I donít know from where, but it just seems extremely suspicious. Next thing I know heís holding a gun to my face. ďWhy are you here?Ē he asks. I play dumb but it doesnít work. Patricia must have been a real cow about it. So he says ďDrink the soup. Tomorrow you leave and I give you the antidote. Or, I shoot you.Ē I donít think heís seriously considering shooting me. So I tell him heís crazy, Iím just a traveler, if he wants to kill a man in cold blood he can deal with his family crucifying him after they find him standing over a sick manís body. Iím trying to stall for time so maybe someone comes by. He cocks the gun and puts it against my skull. So I try to fake a sip and stop as if itís so hot it burns my lips, right? But he tilts the bowl at me so a lot gets in my mouth. I sputter and choke a lot, hoping someone will hear. At this point he gets real intense about his demands again and I fake a swallow as if I cave.

    Now Hexagon Jack bursts in with his M4 trained on Tobias. I have no idea how he knew I was in trouble but damn if he isn't my new hero. He orders Tobias to put down his gun or he gets a bullet in the face. Tobias tells him Iíd get one too. While heís looking away I sidestep his gun and try to take it. Thereís a struggle but I donít get it. Jack repeats his demands and Tobiasís situation looks worse, but he still wonít put it down. So I grab for it again and end up disarming him, but the next thing I know Ė sometimes this guy scares me Ė Jack walks right up to him and shoots him dead in the face. Tobiasí brains and blood are all over the room. All over me. Itís horrible.

    Jack thinks fast and goes to search Tobiasí room for the briefcase. Him being here is really suspicious anyway. Jack takes the spent 5.56mm casing with him and I eject a round from Tobiasí Glock. I pukeÖ itís just so inhuman. Itís awful. The way you can just end a man like that. The way you can mutilate a human body.

    The family gets there and I tell them basically the truth, except Jack doesnít show up, and after I take the gun from Tobias I have to shoot in self-defense. They didnít seem to buy it but itís plausible enough. I know the poison is going to prove me innocent. More importantly, we need to stall for time so we can keep looking for the briefcase. Tobias was desperate to cover it up. It must be important.
    Last edited by tmart; Friday, 22nd June, 2007 at 08:42 AM.

 

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    Background information

    The game: d20 Modern ruleset, with some Gamma World flavour and some house rules

    The setting: The oldest of us have fading memories of the Drop, the day the world went mad and dropped the Bomb. Sixty years later flesh-eating mutants and pockets of radiation are common knowledge. Small settlements have emerged.

    Back before the Drop, survivalists were seen as kooks. Our grandparents were the ones who looked like geniuses when they were proven right. After hiding out in their bunker for decades while radiation died down, our parents emerged and planted crops. The colony elders now wish to gather information about the world around them. They send out a team of promising and well-armed young men to explore, and if possible bring back useful resources.

    Dramatis personae:

    • Damon Slate: strong man and soldier, tall with dark black skin. Uses a six foot sword and a Glock. Renamed Dole Mule by popular demand due to his job of carrying everything heavy, especially food.
    • Hexagon Jack: sociopathic sniper. Gets the job done by any means, preferably a scoped assault rifle.
    • Timmy Thane: pale, quiet medic. Causes more wounds than he heals.
    • Dexter Kablowski: Constitution-challenged Jewish demolitions specialist and handyman. Constantly tinkering with his #1 invention: a ranged weapon shooting razor-sharp discs, nicknamed "The Gizmo."
    • Marshall Flowers: chocolate-skinned quasi-pacifist; frontman and smooth talker. Has been having nightmares, hearing voices, and experiencing intense emotions seemingly at random.


    Joining later on:
    • Joe Steel: awkward gunslinger from around Newver. Likes to gamble.
    • Duff McLeod: schizophrenic chemical engineer and cowboy.


    The story thus far:

    Marshall Flowers did not begin writing his journal until his adventures had already begun. He has neglected to account for the first adventures, which involve spooky towers, sucky walls, and smashing bandit face.

    Shortly before the first entry, the heroes find Trade City, one of the few settlements known to the colony. Some merchants there give them a job: find a silver briefcase with an arrow logo on it and deliver it. In exchange, they will get an extremely advanced firearm: the OICW, an accurate assault rifle with a built-in rangefinding electro-optical scope and a high-tech grenade launcher which can be set to either precision airburst or explode on impact.

    Their only lead is the name General Sandoval and a military base to the north.

    Additional notes:

    Please excuse the shifts in verb tense. Marshall Flowers has only Int 9.

    The colony has limited solar power and a fair amount of media from before the Drop. Itís possible that Marshall Flowers or one of his friends has seen your favourite movie or read about civilizations past.

    In the introductory post, Marshall Flowers subconsciously exercised his Wild Talent feat to manifest missive and summon Hexagon Jack. This was the first game mechanic instance of Marshall Flowers' latent telepathy, which was introduced quite skillfully in the roleplaying side of the game by the intrepid DM.

    This is the epilogue to The Life and Opinions of Marshall Flowers, Gentleman.
    Last edited by tmart; Wednesday, 27th June, 2007 at 07:09 AM.

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    Day 42

    The family was acting strange this morning. They demanded we come down to the living room with all our gear. Jack gets very defensive about it. They say we can do it, or leave. I feel like itís going to be alright, but Jack gets offended and leaves. It was probably smart seeing how his gun was the murder weapon. I leave my 2-way on so he can listen in.

    So the family is there to check through all our gear. Iím not quite sure what they were getting at. But they say the piglet is fine Ė they fed the soup to the poor thing, but itís not dead yet Ė so they say the soup must not be poisoned. Anyway, the family says the gun that Tobias "supposedly" had was just like the Glocks we were issued, and they only have hunting rifles at the house. I tell them I have no idea what they think my motive is. Weíre better armed and equipped. We can look after ourselves. Iím seriously messed up and not looking for a fight, let alone a senseless murder. But Iím not family so they donít trust me. I demand a thorough search of his room because he must have had some place to hide the handgun from them. Sure enough, thereís a secret compartment with a Glock magazine in it. No one thought to look for a spent shell casing, but if anyone ever does, itís plausible that it ejected into someoneís shirt pocket or something. Plus these people donít seem familiar with their weapons at all. So Iíve cleared my name around here, which is good because I donít want to face a lynch mob when we come back in a year. And because it matters to me what people think of me. I will not have a whole community going around thinking Marshall Flowers murdered a man.

    I make sure they search the rest of the place, supposedly for the antidote. But really Iím hoping the briefcase turns up. Nothing turns up Ė he really was bluffing about poisoning me. Iím sure he was bluffing about shooting me, too. I feel terrible about it. The guy didnít want to hurt me. He never pulled the trigger even when I was fighting him for the gun. He just desperately wanted his family to be left alone. What are they hiding in that briefcase? And why wonít the nightmares stop? Itís so horribleÖ I keep seeing his head explode all over me, again and again, only Iím the one pulling the trigger. Sometimes the head is mine. I just hope I donít wake up screaming and convince everyone I killed him because Iím crazy. Iím not crazy. Iím not crazy yet. I canít imagine what I a mess I would be if I had really killed him. I didnít kill him, did I? No. Jack did. I think he did. Jack is always killing people. I think he likes it. No, he doesnít like itÖ he just has his eyes fixed on the prize and will do whatever he can to win it, no matter if it ruins someone elseís life. Tobiasís wife is inconsolable.

    I ask around later about Tobias and anything strange about him. Apparently the Sandovals are very secretive, and have some mysterious heirloom. Iím convinced now that itís the briefcase. We should have thought of this earlier, but the locals all intermarry and the Sandoval farm is right nearby. Jack overheard the directions and is headed there now. Heís a pretty smart guy and I like him. Heís justÖ a different kind of person.

    Day 43

    I told Daniel I need to leave the place to clear my mind and reconcile myself with what happened. I add, though, that if his offer is still open, Iíll come back if Iím ever ready to settle down. Sally seems like a really sweet girl, and if I ever get back to normal, I could do right by her. She caught me at the door to say goodbye. I didnít know what to say. It was extremely awkward. Marshall Flowers is not often at a loss for words. I think she understood enough, though.

    Today we meet up with Jack and formulate a plan for the Sandovals. I donít know about this briefcase business, but until I know more, I feel almost sorry for them. I hope the briefcase is some terrible secret so I can hate them and hate Tobias. I donít want to keep feeling like Tobiasís death is my fault. No, itís not my fault. He took that road of force, and once he pulled that gun on me, he invited the consequences of force. My father always said Ö something like if you take up the sword you die by it. It makes sense that heís responsible. But I still feel like I killed him. And I still see him die, even when Iím awake.

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    Day 44

    Weíve met up with Jack and heís done well. He knows the layout of the Sandoval farm, and probably most of the people there. Apparently he cut his arm to look like a mutant attack, and pretended to be a deaf-mute. Weíve decided to try to con them into giving up the briefcase. I have my disguise all ready: Moomba the Mystic. No shirt, hankie tied around the head, Caribbean accent. This should be great.

    I donít know if Jack came to my rescue out of sheer luck, or if I was able to reach out to him with my mind. It felt that way... but I canít be sure. I canít ask him either, because if it was luck heíll think Iím crazy.

    Day 45

    Dexter made crop circles in their fields! This should spook them out.

    Jack took a potshot at one of the Sandovals Ė injured him pretty bad too. Nice shot. Iíll wait an hour until going in so they donít kill me on sight. Iíll play it up like heís a ghost of someone General Sandoval betrayed.

    Day 47

    Goddamn. Iíll start at the beginning.

    I approach the gate and a voice calls out to me. Theyíre really spooked after the gunshot wound and then tell me to leave, but I say ďAh will if ya want, but it be on little Melanieís headĒ Ė sheís their 10 year old daughter. So they tell me to lay down my weapons (rapier for effect) and I go in.

    I tell them there be some dark energies surroundiní Melanie. They bring her in and I put my fingertips to her head all psychic-like. The old man seems to be buying it and I really feel a connection with him, so I go out on a limb and reach out to his mind Ė and I speak to him. In his mind. I really did it. And I know I did because he freaked out. Iím not crazy. I want to jump up and hug him, I feel so happy. But I say to him, ďThere be a dark secret in your familyĒ and I draw the sign of the suitcase on the table. They want to know more, but I tell them I need to touch the object to channel its energies, or something. I don't know. When I get on a roll I can barely follow myself. About a half hour goes by before they bring it to me, and they make sure I stay there. So we canít sneak in because we still donít know where itís kept.

    But they put it in front of me on the table. There it finally is, exactly what weíve been looking for. It seems legit so I lay hands on it and close my eyes. I start mumbling about how General Sandoval betrayed a man for this suitcase. I tell them the ghost came in the guise of a mute, stayed in their home, and hurt their daughter. I break off and tell them I can exorcise this ghost. I tell them to light three fires in a triangle in the largest crop circle (conveniently the one furthest from their farm, and next to the hills) and wait for me at midnight. I go to leave and they say I can stay the night there. I speak in Henryís mind and say, ďYou donít want thatĒ and act all disturbed. Itís not hard when you have nightmares like I do. Theyíre a curse Ė but Iím starting to be blessed. Iím telepathic. Itís unbelievable. I have to start developing this power... the possibilities are incredible.

    Anyway, they buy it Ė who wouldnít under those circumstances? Ė and I take my weapons back and meet up with the group. We make a plan, strap my 2-way to my thigh, and develop code words for certain circumstances. I had a good feeling about it. Jack would distract them by shooting Adam again, and I would take off with the briefcase. Damon would back me up because heís much tougher than me, then we run off into the night never to be heard from again. Incredible plan. We always have the best plans. Then they go horribly wrong.

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    I tell them I need all the family members present to channel the good energies. I get them to all stand between me and Jackís sniping position, and directly opposite my exit route so they donít stop me and so Jack's shot gets their attention in the wrong direction. I start the kooky mumbo jumbo and weíre off. Iíve got my hands on the briefcase the whole time. Eventually I give the code phrase, ďDamn' ghost, leave this girl beĒ and Jack shoots at Adam again. And misses horribly. Thatís fine by me; I donít want Adam to die considering he hasnít done anything. Sure Tobias was a jerk, but maybe thatís why he left the farm. Anyway, Adam says ďWeíre under attack, give me the briefcase, head for the farmĒ and I protect the case saying ďThe ghost is trying to distract our ritual!Ē But he wonít have any of it so I just make a break with the case.

    Then a sniperís bullet cuts the knot on my handkerchief. I think most of my luck run out on that one. I make it nearly outside the fireís light but they keep shooting and one hits me in the arm. Goddamn that hurt. But we make it into the dark and the fields and weíre home free.

    Then the mutants show up. Theyíve been after me before, but not like this. I could swear that they screamed something like DREAMSTOOLOUDDREAMSTOOLOUD at me again and again, but maybe I imagined that. I haven't spoken to the others about it in case I did. But at this point Iím in no condition to keep fighting, and there are a lot of them. We make a break for it, but Dexter Ė God love him but heís as healthy as a maggot Ė gasses after about a minute. So he jumps into the trees and hides. None of them chase him. We spot an abandoned cottage a little ways down and barricade it. So weíre safe. Timmy tourniquets my arm to stop the bleeding. But Jack isnít there.

    We hear gunshots from the treeline and make out Jack and the biggest damn mutant I have ever seen. Itís got to be seven feet tall. Itís chasing him all around the trees and we take shots at it. Eventually Jack makes a break for the cottage and we fire some rounds into the mutie and it breaks off the chase. He makes it to the wall but the little muties notice him. Theyíre clawing and grabbing at him as he tries to climb the stone wall. One scrapes his hip real bad. Scratched the bone, Timmy said after he patched it up. But Jack finally makes it up, halfway dead, and we pull him in. The muties break the door down but we have the stairway barricaded and itís like shooting fish in a barrel.

    Dexter doesnít show up, but we figure heís safe. The mutants are after me anyway. We find a canoe and paddle out back and wait on the lake. At dawn we stop waiting for him and start paddling. We figure weíll meet up at home.

    We came to the ford again where the river runs over the road. Our raft was still there! We should name it the Dexter Kablowski Memorial Raft. We press on until Blue Lake. But we donít want to stop in the town because they might catch up and start asking about us. Best not to be seen. So camping outside the town seems like a great idea, right?

    Wrong. We get ambushed by bandits. Jack is on watch and he takes two crossbow bolts in the chest. Heís within an inch of his life. Thankfully Damon and Timmy kill off the bandits before one of us dies. Weíre badly injured. And I figureÖ who else is going to show up to kill us? Those random farmers from last week? Possibly the elders with a machine gun? How about aliens? Iím not quite sick of mutants yet, letís fight some more of them!

    Day 48

    Guess who we met on the road. Dorn Edmunssen. The first guy we ever met outside the colony. The guy Jack wanted to kill for no other reason than he might take something weíd want later. Anyway, he seems glad to see us but notes our wounds. He offers to trade food for maps but weíre interested in pressing on home because weíre nearly there and we donít want to give Jesus and his crack army of elephant stormtroopers a chance to catch up and mow us down with repeating banana rifles. He does offer us work down south. The Golandt Empire Ė I think I remember us telling him we were from around there because the colony is a secret Ė is fighting somebody, and they could use good men. Sounds great because we get to explore down there, which the colony wants, and get paid too. But first we need to take a couple weeks off to recuperate, then deliver that briefcase to Trade City. I hope Dexter makes it back alright. If he gets a cold he might die from sneezing too hard.

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    Day 59

    I feel rejuvenated. The past while has been so intense. The nightmares aren't gone, but then again I feel like I can sometimes get some real rest in and I'm not stumbling around half-awake all day every day.

    I spent a while messing around with everyone's head and now I can talk to them pretty good, for like ten minutes at a time. And they can talk back. This is going to be so useful in combat... not to mention con games.

    Day 70

    We delivered the briefcase to Trade City. Jack was hell bent on increasing the offer, so I tried to negotiate to indulge him. Of course he wanted to walk away when they didn't agree to our highball demands, but I drove the middle road and we walked away with not only the OICW plus ammo and grenades, but two laser sights. They should be a big help with aiming. It was fairly generous Ė normally a deal's a deal and you do business by your word. They offered more if we could find the key, but we don't have much interest in that right now. We
    need to go back and get those surface-to-air missile trucks we found. For the one with no missiles left they offered a solar panel, a box of eight pineapple grenades, and Ė I can't believe they agreed to this Ė they're going to tune up the OICW. That's good, because I need all the help I can get hitting a target. The truck with the working missile is going to the colony. I have no idea what they'd use it against, but I can't argue with the brownie points. I think we just guaranteed a lifetime supply of bullets.

    Day 80

    So we're building a bridge across the river. Apparently our raft isn't going to cut it for a one ton truck. This is hard, sweaty work.

    Day 104

    And now the rainy season hits! The torrential downpour is speeding things along nicely. Dexter is sitting in the truck giving orders over the 2-way. He's a real leader that way.

    Day 115

    Excellent! We delivered the truck and the OICW is much more accurate now. They rebuilt the barrel entirely. It's beautiful. Even better, I got Sven back at home to paint it. It's now white and purple with an electric motif Ė and it says "MOOMBA'S BOOMSTICK." I should send a picture to the Sandovals explaining this is what I got for making tools out of them. I still can't believe they fell for it. Yeah, just bring your prized secret heirloom out into the open, in the dark where I can just take off with it, thank you kindly.

    Day 120

    We were going to the Golandt Empire for merc work, but stopped into a Wal-Mart on the way. It was very scavenged, but we found a collapsed section leading into the sewers. With Jack running point we explored for a while and made contact with locals Ė there's a town above, apparently. And there's a bandit named Drago and his goons exacting whatever "toll" they can get away with. I strongly favour bringing the right hand of justice down on those lazy cowardsÖ high-tech style. Maybe this is why I've been given this power instead of Jack. Maybe it's to do good, not just for the colony, but for those who need it.

    But Jack and Dexter were fascinated by a door with a keypad lock on it. Dexter couldn't do anything to hack in without a computer (which we definitely don't have), so we fell back on my favourite backup plan: blow it to smithereens. Dexter cooked up some dynamite in the sewer and set it up inside the lock. It blew away a good section of the wall, and Damon "Dole Mule" Slate did the rest with a hammer. It was a hospital. Pristine, never scavenged. We cleaned it out of medicinal drugs and some other useful swag. Dexie says he found a fusion reactor but couldn't do a thing with itÖ fair enough. There was talk of making it our base and ordering pizza but we need to bring those medical supplies to the colony.

    I'll recommend we come back afterward and smash some face. They're like the Mafia from the old movies Ė they pretend to be classier than the regular criminals, but they're just as bad, only slimier. I suppose this is how civilization arose in the first place. The elites rob the others by force, and eventually gain enough power that they run countries. That's one good thing you can say about the Drop. Most places aren't run like our colony. Most places are the strong taking from the weak, and the Drop brought everyone back to zero. I'd like to do the same to Drago. And I've got a precision airburst frag grenade with his name on it.
    Last edited by tmart; Saturday, 12th August, 2006 at 04:53 AM.

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    Day 125

    So Dexter and the guys fixed up an old Jeep with an electric engine. They also added a minor upgrade: a swivel-mounted machine gun. M60. Itís beautiful.

    Anyway, we rode it back to the Wal-Mart town, Sandoro I think, and spotted some of the goons. Jack and I took up sniping positions as we had the two rifles, but as we did that a helicopter flew overhead. A helicopter. I never expected to see one in my life. It landed in the middle of town, just in front of the bandits, with their king Drago in the middle. Some men in black clothing came out of the helicopter. One of them started to speak with Drago and got angry. He pulled out some crazy high-tech gun and shot him with a of blue light. I guess it saved me a grenade. Still frustrating.

    The chopper guys entered the sewer and Jack had a hunch that theyíd be after the medical stash. He was right. After they left he went inside and saw theyíd taken the fusion reactor. I guess that fine, because we had no use for it, but I still have no idea who they are or where they come from. Maybe theyíre a high-tech version of the colony. They also rigged the place to explode, but Jack found the bombs and relocated them in another part of the sewer. Heís always doing cool things like that.

    We decided to stick to the plan and headed to the town hall. We tried to find the remaining leadership of the bandits but they were somewhere else. We headed to the balcony to get a better view and saw them coming down the main drag. As soon as they got in range we started talking, but Jack started shooting. They were all clumped together so I decided to finally try the airburst grenade launcher on my OICW. It exploded right in the middle of them and half of them were killed. There was blood and gore everywhere. Iíve never killed a man before. I thought it would be horrible, absolutely horrible, but I donít feel anything. There was just a shudder as it happened, and then nothing. I expect this will show up in my dreams. Or some twisted version of it.

    Day 127

    We entered the bounds of the Golandt Empire weíve heard so much about. The border guards were actually very friendly. They were kind enough to recommend we not enter the ominous-sounding Restricted Zone. No one ever comes back, they said, and no one knows why.

    So obviously we had to drive right in. It looks nice, trees and all, and eventually some UFO looking thing flying very low starts shooting something at us. Dexter theorizes it was a railgun. Sounds tech. The jeep got hit pretty bad, but we managed to make it outside the zone before the car was broken. The guards were pretty impressed, but I donít think weíre going back until we have a UFO-killing gun.

    Day 128

    Today we met with Colonel Golandt, a short, mousey man in his forties. We offered our services as mercenaries. Turns out he has a certain briefcase with a certain arrow logo on it. We had to keep ourselves from laughing. He believes it will open what he calls the Artemis Vault nearby, but he needs the corresponding key before the briefcase can be opened. He took us to the vault, and itís pretty imposing. Thereís a great big metal wall built into the face of a mountain, and a room next to it with a computer screen giving the time, and a keyboard to enter a code. The codes are supposed to be in the briefcase.

    He offered five percent of whateverís inside in exchange for the key. He expects a lot of weapons which will help him win the war, as apparently the Mittlewerk Empire is trying to grab territory from him. I diplomatically told him that our considered opinion was that this offer blew chunks. We asked for half but he wouldnít budge. He kept his offer open. I donít think weíll take him up on it, but weíre going looking for the key anyway.

    Day 135

    Our first idea was to go back to the Sandovals. Their family had the briefcase for so long, so we figure theyíve got the key somewhere. So we sneak in at night and tie them up so they have to answer our questions. Adam Ė the one Jack shot last time we were here Ė mouthed off, something about being barbarians. Something about the cache not being full of weapons or anything, but how they were meant to keep the key safe until mankind was ready to rebuild civilization. I was going to suggest that if we were barbarians weíd have killed them, not conned them, for the briefcase, but Jack slit his throat. I canít really believe he did that. Well, I can. Itís just he was completely defenseless. I donít know. I donít know if I can stay around this guy much longer. Itís one thing to kill bandits shooting at you, but he was just trying to make a living on his farm.

    Then again it did make the rest of them talk about the key. They said another family memberÖ I forget his nameÖ took it to some old facility nearby to keep it far from the briefcase. Iíve got high hopes.

    Day 136

    There were a lot of strange things in the facility, but we eventually found a human corpse. Thing is it was covered by this brown fungus, which the reports lying around say was designed to extract oil from oil sands. Apparently itís not too nice on human flesh either, because this guy was deaded. There was a detox room leading into it, so we rummaged around for a biosuit and sent Jack in because heís not afraid of anything. He found the key on the dead guy and ran right back out. Pretty easy, all things considered. And no mutants causing problems and wasting bullets.

    Day 138

    On our way back we ran into a lot of mutants. I thought we'd be outnumbered but some outriders heard the fight and helped out. They didn't appreciate being referred to as cowboys, but that's what you get for riding horses around. Anyway, they said things were bad in the east and they're recruiting. They mentioned a tower with a red wall, Jack's pet peeve, and he took off with them. Theyíre going to hang out on a mountain or something.

    Iím going to miss the guy, but maybe itís better this way. He was really starting to make me feel uncomfortable, with the sociopathy and the killing.

    Day 144

    I went to the elders about the briefcase situation because Iím not too sure what to do next. I donít really trust Golandt. I get a really bad feeling about him. Also, the deal sucks. I have nothing but respect for our elders, but they really werenít much help on this one. I left them the key for safekeeping, though. So I decided weíd go back to Golandt and try to get him to sweeten the deal. We got him to agree to give us equal usage rights if whateverís inside isnít quantifiable. He agreed to that pretty quickly because heís counting on it being big guns anyway. We also got him to agree not to expand northward. Remember, he thinks weíre from Blue Lake because weíve got to keep the colony a secret. Weíre trying to keep it that way. The only problem is itís still only five percent, and if Iím right about him, the deal probably wonít be honoured anyway. I also warned him we donít think itís weapons inside. We think itís for rebuilding civilization. He said he could think of no better way to rebuild civilization than to unite it by conquering the evil Mittlewerk Empire. Iím not impressed. I don't think he will be either.

    Then I had a brilliant idea. Iím seriously considering it was divinely inspired. Anyway, I figure weíd have to get into the Mittlewerk Empire somehow and play them off each other for it. Golandt still doesnít know we have the key. I told him our research tells us itís in Mittlewerk, and weíd need to get in somehow. The goof buys it and we get a pass through the border. Weíre going through tonight. I have a really good feeling about this.
    Last edited by tmart; Wednesday, 27th June, 2007 at 07:00 AM.

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    Day 145

    That could not have gone better. We drove into Mittlewerk flying a white flag. Some soldiers came out to stop us. I told the officer that we were third parties and had an offer for the Emperor that might help them win the war. I told him I couldnít reveal anything more except to the Emperor. He was pretty suspicious, rightfully so, so they took me alone and unarmed.

    The Emperor is a short, bald, squat little old guy, but seems pretty sharp. ďEmperor Thomas Mittlewerk.Ē I personally think thatís a highly goofy name, but then again not a lot of people tend to take Marshall Flowers seriouslyÖ at least they didnít before I started dressing in fatigues, carrying advanced weaponry, and travelling in a posse.

    I basically tell him the truth, except that Golandt only offered forty percent. ďAh, and you want half?Ē he says. Like I said, the guyís sharp as a knife. Heís pretty keen on the deal, but wants to keep one of us as security just in case itís an ambush. We decided it would be Dexter because heíll just get killed anyway if heís in the firefight we expect. Plus weíre not lying, so heíll be fine.

    I met with Mittlewerkís generals as well and we arranged a diversionary strike to allow their team of commandos Ė i.e., the few soldiers they have with real assault rifles Ė to sneak in near Artemis Vault (I have no idea why they call it that Ė and I asked Emperor Tommy Baby if heíd knew what I meant if I spoke about a vault, he played dumbÖ Iím not sure whether he knew already). A scout would watch the vault from a hidden position, and theyíd attack. We also gave them one of our 2-way radios and arranged a signal. Theyíre to produce a bit of static, and Iíll just act annoyed and turn mine off. That will mean theyíre in position.

    I asked Mittlewerk about how the war started. Like I expected, he gave me a totally different story. He says Golandt was their emissary to the city of Haven to get them to agree to peaceful annexation, but he told everyone they were invading and set himself up as some kind of military dictator. Iím sure the truth is somewhere in between, but the truth is that Golandt is starting to give me the jibblies.

    Day 146 or 147, Iím not sure

    Weíve been driving in shifts to get the key from the colony as fast as possible, but near the giant crater there were a ton of mutants at night, conveniently blocking the path. We shot at them from across the crater to draw them away from the road, and I just drove away with Dole Mule pouring bullets into them with the machine gun. They start coming out of the forest tooÖ I canít believe how many mutants there are. Where do they come from? And why do they just turn to dust and blow away when they die? And why are they after me? But I whip the car around as if I know how to drive, and gun it back around the crater with Timmy shooting the odd mutant that makes it onto the car. I nail one with my Glock too, driving with one hand. That was one of those times thatís really scary when itís happening, but makes you feel like a right badass after itís over. I hate mutants a lot. I think the feeling's mutual.

    Day 152

    We get the signal back in Golandt City (Iím guessing it used to be Haven? Remind me to do some talking to the locals later) and take the key to Golandt. His eyes light up when he sees it, but not in a happy way. He just seems so power hungry. Iím glad I made the deal with Mittlewerk. Iím hoping heíll be a lesser evil.

    By the time we reach Artemis Vault heís practically oozing avarice. He opens the briefcase and thereís a computer inside. He reads the time off the vault computer, enters it into the briefcase computer, and it gives him the code. He enters the code into the vault and looks around all expectant and shifty-eyed. Then the giant door slowly slides open.

    He takes us inside with eight soldiers. Thereís a tunnel, I think made out of steel, and we keep walking for hundreds of feet. Then we find another door with another computer asking for another code. Iím scared to death that we need another briefcase, and the attack is going to happen for nothing, and Golandtís forces will just take back the vault after.
    Last edited by tmart; Wednesday, 27th June, 2007 at 07:01 AM.

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    The briefcase gives a code for the time listed, and Golandt puts it in. And waits. Iím sweating bullets. Well, not really. That would be so useful! Especially 5.56mm. Anyway, the door finally opens so I donít have to kill myself.

    The first things we see are construction machines. They say Caterpillar on themÖ thatís a funny name too. Then we find greenhouses and sacks of grain. It looks like the Sandovals were right Ė itís for rebuilding civilization. I guess the place with the medical supplies was another one of these vaults, just not so well protected. Golandt still expects to see the weapons cache soon. Maybe he forgot what destroyed civilization in the first place.

    Now we all see a soldier running down the hall. Timmy, Dole Mule, and I all know exactly what heís got to say, so we ambush Golandt and his guards. I drop a 20mm grenade on them, and each of the boys toss in a pineapple grenade as well. Five of his eight guards are deaded. Timmy finishes off a wounded soldier with his M16, which is strange to watch seeing how heís the medic. Anyway, I bellow at them, ďSurrender or die!Ē as scary as I can be. It must have worked pretty well because even Dole and Timmy looked scared.* We planned to take Golandt alive back to Mittlewerk, and I think he knows heís hooped now.. The soldiers drop their guns but Golandt breaks into a run, bullets whizzing by him. Dole Mule hits his gun and it scatters away. Golandt nurses his wrist but keeps running. I line up a shot in the electro-optical scope and shoot him right in the spine. He falls on his face, dead, and slides just a bit. I shudder again, and get this feeling in my mind I canít describe, but I focus on fighting and it goes right away.**

    We help the commandos mop up outside and take prisoners. Those that surrendered are told thereís no hard feelings and I promise them cushy positions at the North Gate if they support my succession. Thatís right, journal: Marshall Flowers is to be the new ruler of the Empire Formerly Known as Golandt. I still need to figure out a better name because the senior commando suggested the name Golandt would have to go.

    In the same vein, we loot guns and Golandt dollars (ďGolandt bucks,Ē weíre calling them) from the dead. Iíve bribed the palace guards with that stuff. See, when I was growing up back at the colony I read about how emperors used to bribe palace guards to ensure their ascension to the throne went smoothly if there wasnít a clear line of succession. Iím the kind of guy who can understand how people react to things, and I know that if your regular joe on the street hears heís got a new Golandt, and the soldiers legitimize it by standing with me, heís going to go along with it like itís nothing.

    I negotiated a peace treaty with the commando officer. Apparently Mittlewerk gave him authority to negotiate. He initially proposed our control of the Empire Formerly Known as Golandt as a vassal state. But I countered with ceding some land to them in exchange for full independence, allied by treaty, with Artemis Vault and the road leading to it as neutral ground. We hammer out the exact borders and such and the deal is done.

    Now we just have to sell it to the people. Iím getting Dexterís help with the speech when he gets here, which should be soon. Also the word has to get out through the chain of command so the military feels itís legitimate. After all, Golandt was an outsider, and he never did anything so wonderful that anyone is going to fight me.

    Note to self: ask some elderly locals on the real story about Golandt.

    Day 153

    Dexter found a computer in the vault and found a lot of interesting information. First of all, it catalogued everything in there: construction equipment, the greenhouse and grain stores, and some M16s. It also explained how to use all of it.

    It listed five other vaults:
    - Hephaestus Vault: hi-tech weapons and gear, including las rifles, plasma weapons, and battle armor
    - Athena Vault: library, electronic database, and three scientists in biostasis
    - Posideon Vault: underwater base with submersibles, mining equipment
    - Zeus Vault: omnipurpose vault plus the Genesis Project (no details)
    - Hades Vault: bio-, nano-, and nuclear weapons.

    From what the Sandovals said, these were designed to help rebuild civilization. Why the Hades Vault includes everything needed to destroy it again is beyond me. Or maybe they just meant the Artemis Vault was to rebuild.

    Dexter then wiped the hard drive because we donít know whether to trust Mittlewerk.

    I also found something very strange. Golandt had a pistol that looked like a normal revolver, but wasnít. I think itís some kind of plasma weapon. Very tech. Iím going to keep it to prove I beat him, and as a kind of symbol of office.

    Day 153 (contíd)

    I talked to some of Golandtís former soldiers about the bigwigs of the military. We already know Sergeant Mark Waters of the North Fort from our hilarious adventures in the Restricted Zone. Weíre on friendly terms so I think that will go well.

    Thereís also two sergeants in Golandt City. Ernest Evans wasnít keen on Golandt, but mainly because he was an outsider, which is just as much of a strike against me. The other is Rebecca James, who apparently takes no guff but cuts a fine figure.

    At the South Fort Ė which we cede to Mittlewerk in the peace treaty Ė thereís Sergeant Hank Hill, who supported Golandt strongly. I donít think I can bring him onside.

    As for Golandt Cityís civilian leadership, there are Mayor Jennifer Hughes, her husband Robert Hughes the chief doctor, as well as the leaders of the craftsmen, merchants, gunsmiths, farmers, and builders. I think I can sell them with what I bring from the Vault, particularly the builder guy.

    Day 154

    We stopped at the North Fort on the way to Golandt City and Sergeant Waters is as keen on the idea as we all are. He brought 15 soldiers too. Heís a real good guy and Iím glad to have him around.

    Day 155

    We arrived at Golandt City. Time was important so I went right to the barracks and found Sergeant James. That was a fiiiine woman. I told her just what happened and she made it clear that sheíd support me if she was put in charge of the military. I told her I was glad we understood each other, and got a dinner date to talk further. ďMixing business with pleasure,Ē as they say.

    Sergeant Evans was not so amenable. He didnít like the idea one bit.

    Much of the municipal leaders were there. Two were out of town, so I decided to go ahead without them, or Sergeant Hill. I pitched the idea to them of forming a provisional council to choose a new leader. I also made no bones about promoting myself. In fact, I made a speech in the square about how this was happening, and how I saw myself as the best choice. It was a real piece of work. Peace, justice, prosperity for all. My gift of priceless machines from the Vault, although Iím keeping half of my share for the colony. And I pledged to rename the city Haven to escape the vanity of an avaricious and violent ruler. I also gave them peace with Mittlewerk. They ate it right up.

    The date went quite nicely. I agreed to give her what she wanted, she gave me her support, and we got to know each other much better. She explained that Mayor Hughes might be a problem, as Hughes resents the way James uses her body to get what she wants. I asked her if she was doing that with me, and she said yes. I told her I felt used and degraded. She offered to make me feel used and degraded again. This woman is dangerousÖ but thatís why sheís so exciting.

    Day 156

    I heard some people talking about me, and they seemed to think Marshall was a rank. I let them know it was just my given name and shook some hands. I like it when people like me.

    I was on my way to the council meeting when I was confronted by -- who else? -- Dorn Edmunssen.

    ---

    * At this point Marshall Flowers had +13 to his Intimidate check. After this session he levelled and took the Frightful Presence feat.

    ** This was only the second time Marshall has actually killed a man. The DM has been asking for Will saves. Marshall rolled a 23 and I shudder to think what would happen if he failed.

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    Day 156, continued

    I heard Hexagon Jackís voice in my head saying, ďKill him! He might take something weíd want later!Ē Anyway, he was all friendly and said that Golandt had a pistol of his, and that he wanted it back. We talked about it for a while, and I wasnít sure whether to believe him. He said his job was to expand the borders of the empire for Golandt. He also intimated that he was ďwell connectedĒ in the city. He said I could keep it for the day, to use as a symbol like I planned, but then Iíd have to give it back. I didnít know what to think so I tried to postpone until the day after, but decided that if he was going to sway any opinions Iíd need him onside immediately. So I did something risky.

    I gathered my will and tried to read his mind. This isnít normally within my power. Sometimes, though, I can try to surpass my limits, and sometimes bad things happen. Sometimes the dreams break through into the day. Sometimes I get sick. Sometimes it works, though. So I gave it a shot. I felt Moomba there. Moomba talked to me. Moomba watched Dornís energy and answered my questions. He said he was telling the truth about being well connected, and about the pistol being his.

    I told Dorn I changed my mind. That I appreciated his presence, respected his influence, and wanted to do right by him. I gave him the pistol right then. He seemed glad.

    The council meeting went well. I gave them a speech about why I thought I would be the right choice to look after the cityís interests, but in a less autocratic way. I promised to preserve the municipal infrastructure of the city, and maintain the military in case of an attack by Mittlewerk. I asked if there were any other nominations. Mayor Hughes was presented. Sergeant Evans stood up as if to object to the whole process, but Dorn stepped out from the corner, whispered something in his ear, and Evans sat back down. Looks like I made the right call there. Anyway, Hughes had some support, mainly from her husband the doctor, but I was acclaimed as Chancellor (I always liked that title). No written constitution was adopted, but I explained that I intended the council to choose a new leader after a period of several years. The council would also have a veto power if all were unanimously against the leader. All this seems to have just been window dressing, as I got the distinct impression that everyone there realized I and my friends are very well equipped, we killed Golandt, I was taking power and they all decided to deal with it. That wasn't exactly what I was aiming for but we've done a lot of good here today.

    I presented myself to the people, along with Mayor Hughes and James, who Iíve dubbed General James, as their new Chancellor Flowers. I also sponsored a holiday and decreed the kegs opened.

    Day 157

    Looking back, Iím really impressed with what Iíve accomplished here. I feel like it was too easy, like it was meant to happen. I thought yielding the South Fort to Mittlewerk would have been a huge problem. Turns out the leadership understood why it had to happen Ė we lost a ton of soldiers at the Vault Ė and the people were too drunk to care.

    Day 157 (contíd)

    We heard Hill was marching with his 40 men up the road from the South Fort. We met them at the North Fort in case he was determined to fight. We parleyed in the field. I told him what had happened and that heíd have to deal with it. He said I was a traitor. I didnít want a fight, so I did a spooky spell on him that made him think he was my friend. Then it was easy to convince him to come inside the fort and talk to Colonel Evans and Colonel Waters. Long story short, I asked him what he intended to do about me being Chancellor. He said I was a traitor again, and that I should be killed, and that heíd do whatever he could to see that done. The colonels supported his being put in jail for treason. Hill was none too happy when the charm wore off.

    The builder guy, Ferdinand Sunborn, was also not happy about Golandt but much more ready to re-evaluate his new role in political affairs. I set him building a fort in the rough lands between Haven and Mittlework, now that the South Fort is gone.

    Day 159

    I brought a force of 60 men to the new border to meet the gents from Mittlewerk. Colonel Brian Dollus, the leader of the commandos, was there, but he wasnít the ranking officer. Thatís a shame because the gent that spoke with me, one Commander Flint, wouldnít even shake my hand. Dollus disapproved so much it was written all over his face.

    We agreed to send an equal number of soldiers into the neutral territory around the Vault, and much to everyoneís surprise, no one betrayed anyone! We started moving some vault swag around, and we sent the electric Jeep up the road to the colony so we could hand off the construction equipment to the elders.

    Day 165

    The guys are back from the colony. The elders are ecstatic about the equipment and Haven, but theyíve got a huge problem with mutants. Theyíre growing in numbers, which is strange because I figured they were left over from the Drop. If theyíre being created somehow we have to stop it, because the colony canít keep holding them back. Evacuating to Haven is now a solid plan B, but thatís only a temporary solution as the mutants have been advancing steadily south. Thatís our next goal.

    Dorn mentioned the military base on our map was crawling with mutants. We think itís a good place to look.

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