Wasters, Delve numero IV.
The System: Wasters is a still evolving Cyberpunk hack of Tom Moldvay’s 1981-released Basic Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, the Basic-Expert-Set.
The Mission: Continuing the exploration of the “secret lab”, but with reduced numbers.
Melody was so hostile after the recent arguments that Wispa and Old Man Wishum were forced to stay and keep her under control, and retainer Max Brainpower went on vacations for the time. Therefore, only five could go into the delve: Snips the sniper, her retainer Pretty Boy, daredevil Messy Montez, Dante the Infiltrator, and a fresh addition to the party, Asher the Nomad.
They decided to go south first, as the door that way was not entirely safe. Messy was unable to open it, as was Asher. It turned out that something or someone pushed back from the other side. Whoever it was did not answer calls, so Messy put two bullets through the door. That got the other side to flee, and the door swung open easily.
Dwellers of the Deep
Beyond it they found a natural cave, where bedrolls lay, and clothing, and primitive weapons. From somewhere farther back they could hear voices.
Pretty Boy called out to them, friendly, and apologized for the earlier shots — “An unfortunate accident! Please come out!” No effect.
Messy tried it in Spanish, also without success. Then Asher stepped in to inspect the campsite, with hands raised: “I am unarmed!” he called, “I come as a friend!” He found gas cookers and fresh meals. “Come, help me,” he told the others. Pretty Boy and Snips went in to help, also in a non-threatening manner, while Dante and Messy were more paranoid and stayed back. With good reason! Suddenly the piles of clothing and unruly bedsteads were thrown open, and no less than ten weird youths, teen-boys and -girls with clubs, sticks and spears, swarmed the wasters, very pale underground humans, hairless, and eerily quiet.
Snips took a hard hit to the head right away, that almost split her head, reducing her down to 1 hit point. Pure luck that she had rolled so high, for B/X Moldvay’s Thieves, and therefore The Wasters’ Infiltrators, are squishy as hell.
Other attacks either missed or were turned away by Pretty Boy’s tactical vest.
“Damn you!” shouted Messy, and started popping shots into them.
Dante was horrified by the sudden escalation: “Nooo, they are just kids!” He fired a burst into the ceiling to scare the young attackers away without needless bloodshed.
Messy and Pretty Boy had fewer qualms. Pop, pop, pop, pop: They mowed down five minors in a hail of bullets, shocking Dante, while Pretty Boy dragged the bloodied Sniper to the back with his free arm.
Asher stood in the onslaught like a rock, defending against multiple attackers at once.
But with friend after friend falling lifeless to the hard floor, the last three lost heart and fled into the darkness.
The team let them run and checked out the dead and the abandoned camp, while Snips took a quick lie-down, pressing some cloth to her wounded head. They found technical gadgets and a good amount of money, even rolls of paper money! (What are those mutant kids doing with it? Where did they get it?) The mutants were also looking very similar, even more so than siblings. Clones?
Carefully, the team explored farther south, where the cavern split in a western and a southern way. Snips, her head still ringing from the hard blow that could have easily split her cranium open, hid and aimed at the narrow corridor some 60 or 70 feet to the west, where they positioned a gas cooker to light the spot. Should the three hooligans return, the gas would reveal them and she would “backstab” them out of the darkness with her trusty long range rifle.
The others went south and found five more of the pale guys prostate at a throne with a weird effigy with a crown. As the young cave-boys reached for their crude spears and clubs, Messy stepped forward and did his best to look like “Dirty Harry” Callahan. They believed him and kept their white spindly fingers away from their armory. But they still growled and showed teeth, until Asher stepped forth. His classic greek profile and calming, manly voice inspired awe in the primitives, and as he stepped closer to pat their heads and stroke their hair, they cooed and offered him the crown, made of patches of fur, plastic forks, rubber bands and other wondrous items.
Surrounded by his new transfixed apostles, Asher went south to explore, with Dante and Messy following, while Pretty Boy remained to provide a relais to Snips, who was still blinking blood out of her eyes to keep the gas cooker in the crosshairs.
Asher found a revolving door (revolving door bad – making it difficult to cover each other) leading to some more man-made areas — and a pool of green goo around a complex machine with pipes leading into the rock. In the goo, Dante spotted babies, and fetuses, and small kids. First he thought they were drowned, but no, they twitched. The green goo appeared to be some primordial soup, a vat to grow these pale dark-dwellers.
Then Asher had a brilliant idea. These clones might be of interest to our employers, the Corporation? Leading them with his messianic charisma and his crown, he brought them and the team back up through all the rooms along the way, which stunned them in awe, and to the Osprey. The corporation was interested, but unsure how to transport the guys. They figured they could beat them senseless, until one would give up, but the party remembered the damage already done to that tribe and suggested more peaceful methods, like sleeping pills. The decision was postponed and the Osprey flew back to HQ without this batch of deep-dwellers, leaving them stranded in the wastes.
Needles in the Brain-Stem
Messy tested the VR-goggles, got pinched into the brain by a needle, and overloaded with input. Even after removing the gear he stayed in vegetable mode for an hour. Undeterred, Asher tried it too, got also pinched in the brain, but managed to understand the input: Raw data, schematics, mathematical stuff indecipherable, but potentially valuable.
The corporation paid reasonably good money for the salvaged tech, and asked if the area was safe enough for a team of bioengineers to look at the green goo, but the party advised against it, thinking of the three attackers who were still crawling around somewhere down there. It would not look good for the profit center if some hapless nerds would get brained by a crazy clone swinging a femur.
R & R
Snips had suffered a severe concussion and took two full days to overcome her head trauma, then she declared herself fit for duty. The others used the time to re-stock ammo, batteries, heavy-duty-lamps, and more batteries: “Lamps! We need light. Way more light!”
Then the Osprey returned, now with tranquilizer guns in the hold. Yet, the pale apostles were gone. No sign of life among the scattered warehouses and hovels in that piece of raw desert.
Part 2 to follow: Running in Terror.