Disclaimer: This is entirely a work of fiction, given shape and form by the roll of dice.
While Messy is healing up his mangled corpse of a body, Snips and Wispa go on a delve with Blaze, Mieville, and the retainers Cooper and Francis. Snips is happy to have Francis sign up, as he is another rather good looking guy like her first right-hand-man Pretty Boy. First action: He gets to clean out the armor and put it on. Second action: he gets a shotgun, because his baton is not going to cut it out in the Wastes.
The team was going for a very special prize: A secret stash, one that nobody knows about but them, hidden in a terraced house out in an old, abandoned residential area that is now home to wild animals. Code Name: DUAKO.
Wispa feared for her dog Betty, so she left her at home and bought a handcart for the loot. So Betty got promoted from beast of burden to very expensive pet.
A fair cut
The group moved the handcart through the ruins of the outskirts, when they got stopped by two cops. The cops leered at the empty handcart and looked the group up and down. Grinning, they asked dumb questions and made it clear that whatever we would find out there, they would take a fair cut for their hard work protecting the city — that cut being 50%. We smiled and waved and moved on.
We met a lone Waster rifling through stuff, and as we were six to his one, he was very afraid. Snips wished him good luck and pushed on, and Mieville warned him about the dirty cops.
“Really? We are letting him go?” asked little Wispa aghast: “Nobody ever does that to us!”
“Somebody has to start being civil around here!” declared Snips.
Otherwise the group got through without troubles, then scouted out the target area. They found a nest of rattlesnakes and killed two before the others had enough. And they found their target: A house with a graffiti marking it.
They also found an old firefighter robot with good tools, worth something, but big. So they kept it in mind to load up later, depending on what else was to be found.
During the night, one of the boys nodded off during his watch and they all woke up because a trio of hawks were trying to get into their packs and started cawing in frustration. Snips turned on the light, and they saw the hawks, but they decided not to shoot, to alert no-one. The boys tried to shoo the birds off, but failed, so they started hitting them. Then one of the hawks attacked Cooper, got to his face, and clawed out his eyes, and ripped open the face. Blood sprayed, Cooper fell, shrieking filled the night. The others managed to kill two of the birds, three flew away.
Then, with no way to help Cooper, they decided to put him out of his misery, and one of them stabbed him.
Wispa felt glum. She saw all kinds of parallels to her mission with Messy and feared that this whole job might go really, really sideways. First the cops, then Cooper’s death at the claws of a simple bird…
The next morning, they entered the DUAKO house. It looked suspiciously clean. Nobody there, very little furniture, very stale air. Just a stash, nothing more. In a rare display of constructive paranoia, Wispa and Snips tag-teamed on checking every nook and cranny every step of the way for traps. Loads of doors were there, all locked, all needed picking. The only moment they did NOT check for traps was when a trap sprung, swinging down at Mieville, but he managed to duck it.
They found some valuables, but nothing that could conceivably be a “stash”. So they checked, even more paranoid, the stairs, and the top floor. There was a sagging roof blocking a door, that they were sure had to be some kind of deathtrap. With all else failing, they finally collapsed the ceiling from a safe distance. Then they did the whole routine again: Listen x2, trap check x2, lockpick x2, open door, check floor, etc.
Then Wispa picked up on an irregularity in the floor design and deduced that there had to be a hollow behind a wall. She started to, very carefully, carve away layers of wall, to get to the secret compartment. Meanwhile, the others checked the rest of the floor, and found something lying in the bathtub.
Snips refused to go there, but Mieville dared it, and triggered a second swingdown-trap. Again, he ducked aside.
Then they all aided Wispa in scratching away at the wall. And got through!
Inside was a weapon. An energy-assault-rifle powered by rechargeable cells. And then the dogs came.
Three of them came sniffing into the house, looking for prey. The party was just discussing if they should test the weapon or just sell it as is, when the dogs came calling. So Snips hefted the energy-weapon and shot the first of them as it came up the stairs, baring its malicious teeth.
No little farmgirl any more
The gun did not satisfy her, although it did burn a chunk of fur off the critter.
The three dogs were undeterred, however, and came in to attack. On of them bit down on Snips’ arm, and would have torn her to shreds, were she still the little nosy farmgirl on a big city adventure that she used to be. But no longer. New Snips did not go down that easliy, but hacked at the dog with a hatchet.
They fell back and managed to scare one dog away with a flashbang. But the others were still coming. Wispa and Blaze hid in the back, while Mieville, Francis, and Snips held the door. In the chaos, though, Francis shot his own boss in the hip. Still she powered through, stumbled back, and got another shot off at a dog. One of them fell, the last one got wounded by Francis, and finally decided to sod off.
Mieville patched Snips up so she was almost good to go again, and they discussed how to head back. The police was a big problem. So they decided to put the less valuable stuff on the cart – beautiful dresses, some circuit plates, silver, and the big fire-brigade-robot. The more valuable items would be carried on Mieville’s body. In case of trouble, they could run and leave the robot, but save the important things.
Of course, there was trouble. A crew of five other wasters showed up on the way back. Snips decided to get off the street and put the cart into a yard behind some houses, among burnt-out cars, stacks of crates, waste piles and other rejected stuff.
The whole team hid at various places. Snips had hoped that the rival party would show some honor among Wasters and just pass by, but no – they came looking for the cart. They got another chance: Via speaker-drone, the party asked the guys to leave. They had a counter-offer: Snips, Wispa, and their friends should come out, give up their advantage and show themselves.
Well – it was on, then. The party opened fire, and took the others out. It was a pretty drawn-out battle, as they were not bad, using cover and binding shooters in melee. But they went down one by one, until the last of them just grabbed a couple of valuables from the cart and ran.
They let him run, just took re-usable stuff off his fallen comrades and pushed on. Homewards!
Once again, Snips worried about the two cops, but since the other areas were gangland, the team decided to risk it, and just keep their eyes peeled for the cops to evade them. The blue boys were waiting for them alright, hidden in a side alley, and sprung them from behind.
To protect and to serve
“Oh, oh, oh, what do we have here? Did you want to sneak past us?”
“Not at all, sirs, not at all! We were just looking for you! See, we found these fine dresses here! And a robot!”
“We don’t care much for dresses, thank you very much!”
The cops came right up close and split up, one taking position behind the cart, shotgun ready, the other going full frontal – he started to push the party members into a line and patting them down, groping them to find out if they had anything valuable hidden on their bodies. Not going down well with Snips, who values few things as highly as her own freedom and autonomy.
The cops grinned their wolvish grins and reminded the party that the deal was that they would get 50% of whatever. They also threatened doing their jobs, pointing out the bloodied body armor and used guns and axe taken off the other Waster-party. They insinuated that the party might be guilty of a crime … and then they might be forced to take a cut of 100%.
It was clear that they would take whatever they wanted. But as the greedy hands of the front cop came closer, Mieville’s face hardened. The gentle and kind-hearted Sentinel believed in a strict Wasters’ Code – never to suffer life under a protection racket, be it corporations, gangs or the police. He saw the black gauntlets grab his friends. He opened fire. And then they all opened up, and faced the toughest opponent the city of Nocte Urbi had to offer.
It was a pretty brutal fight, because the cops were tough, and well armored, and quick. Blaze was going down quick. Then Francis took a slug to the face and dropped. Snips got hit hard, but again, the Wastes, and the Cyber-organs, had made her tougher than she looked, and she bit it down.
Now only three members, the team spread out and fell back, firing, while the cops gave as good as they got. But then finally one of the cops went down! The other one kept coming, and kept shooting, went on the offensive and ended brave, honest Mieville, before he finally succumbed to the barrage of Wispa’s and Snips’ weapons.
They elected to leave the cops untouched (fearing to lose precious time, fearing tracking devices in their equipment, and fearing to be seen with anything that could be traced to this moment) and to leave Francis with armor and shotgun in the field (“Lee Francis Oswald acted alone”).
But they took the valuables from the other two dead, and even hacked off Mieville’s poor head, for the built-in cyber sensors that boosted his WIS-rolls quite a lot (even if not enough to notice the dirty coppers in their ambush).
They looked back many times on the last few meters, expecting all kinds of fallout coming up behind them.
But not yet.
“Maybe we should avoid the city for a time,” suggested Snips with a last look at Francis’ body in the distance, sad to see another pretty boy go down in her employ.
And why? Just because they were a bit too careless and failed to wait out the two dirties going off shift.
The robot turned out to be not only functional, but really very useful. A tough, strong worker with good tools, who could have helped them a lot with doors, walls, and sagging ceilings, had he been powered up back then. They decided to keep it, and to find a good, new Sentinel to steer it. He needed a name, and they dubbed the mindless robot “Dr. Klunk”.
Snips Special: Messy Mission
Image: Tan Kaninthanod / Hizir Kaya / Unsplash