After the last mission and paying enough to upgrade the base at Club Lavender to a higher level the team now enjoys some slight perks, especially discounts and a higher chance to find good hackers. However, not this week: No hackers found to decrypt the collection of data sticks that we have accrued.
Another new benefit of the better base is that it is possible to expand the safe zone around it. Just one block, but one block is better than no block. The team immediately liked the idea, even though the process is difficult and offers little in the way of short term rewards.
Remove the troublemakers
In direct opposition to “Disrupt the Block” expanding the safe zone asks of the players to “Pacify the Block”. Find unruly elements, like gang members or raiders, and scare them away or kick them out forcefully. After that is done, there is no reward in money. Instead, the team must pay a certain sum to support permanent change for the better.
Despite the mix of risk and cost instead of risk and reward, there is a strong incentive to do it that way: One less block of danger when returning from a mission. An outstretched finger of safety.
So they set out to do it – to make a part of the Wastes a safer place, even being just us, a random bunch of nobodies:
Snips with Monroe, Wyndham with Willis, Crazy Messy Montez, and an infiltrator called Skunk. Snips tries to recruit an engineer, thinking of the problems they had to bring down the house without one. But the engineer is not ensnared by Snips’ grand tales of making the world safer and helping civilization gain a foothold. Skunk picks up where she left off: He offers simple money. The engineer signs up. His name is Brunell.
She talks to another guy, a very compliant man who has problems reading persons’ emotions. He signs up: His name is McBeth.
Messy talks to a young blonde girl with Satanist tattoos. She looks crazy and does not care about safety or odds, and she is know to react violently to people with weird clothing. A match made in heaven! She signs up. Her name is Chappi.
A team of 9, they move out, just to the next block, and try their hand with the first random person they find: A homeless woman with a shopping cart full of random stuff … and a machine pistol. They explain their mission and expect her approval, but they are frustrated: She does not trust them, says she has heard the tale of making the world better way too often already. “I’m going to cut yer legs off!” she promises. “You won’t see me coming when I come to cut yer legs off!” But with some good-natured talking and many promises that they are actually the good guys, and that she can come back when the dust has settled, and live in peace here (which she just snorts at), she moves out for now. “Watch ye out, or I come for ye to cut yer legs off.”
The encounter raised some uncomfortable questions: What to do with residents who are not cooperative but also no actual enemies? And with no defined authority behind the team apart from their ability to threaten with weapons? A conundrum for sure. It is not at all as easy as one might think, to enforce the peace and staying a good guy.
They check out three buildings that dominate the block. Two of them have two floors each, and one of those is powered up, but the windows shuttered. It might be tough to enter the building, so Snips thinks about overview. Willis steers Henry the flybot to peek through the windows of the highest one, with three floors.
He noticed five armed people on the top floor. So the team decided to sneak up there and surprise them. They managed to check out almost the whole of the ground floor without trouble, but then came upon a room where they surprised a good number of people, who immediately opened fire, spoiling our “sneak” approach.
Let’s get loud
Thanks to a quick closing of the door, they avoided hard hits. Messy saw the chance to finally use his grenade launcher to clear the room. He asked Chappi to open the door just wide enough so he could tank in a launcher grenade. She did, but then she picked up the mewling of an infant. In a split second decision, she stepped in the way and prevented the massacre. “Stop!” she cried, “Peace!”, and against all odds, quiet fell.
It was a bunch of people trying to protect some small kids. Exactly the kind of person we wanted to help by making this area safe. And we were *so* close to blowing them to smithereens.
We negotiated to be let through, then found the stairway up, with someone occupying it, paid that person off with rations, and got to the next level. Here the stairs were on the other side of the building, as we knew from Henry’s flight. The way there was hidden by filing cabinets. Dr. Klunk opened the way, but there we met a bunch of other wasters, who felt very cheeky inside their little room. They shot at Klunk and demanded we lay down our arms and ammo, and similar nonsense.
Messy’s hour came: Dr. Klunk retreated to the corner, everyone else retreated back into the first room, and Messy, winning initiative against the rivals, shot in a grenade. He tore the gang apart – five armed guys were ripped to pieces. Two wounded survivors begged for mercy. We let them go, but basically naked, without armor and without guns. They tried to haggle for us to let them have undercover armor and pistols at least: “Come on, you can’t send us out there without armor! That would be murder!” But after they had opened fire on our trusty robot and might do it again as soon as we turned our back, that option was out. We gave them knifes, though, and pointed them towards the safe zone. Only one block to go, after all.
Don’t be a whiner in the wastes.
Checking the rest of the area we found various things and the stairs up, and a door under them. Listening at the door we heard someone breathing fearfully behind it.
“Is anyone in there?”
“No?” came a frightened voice.
“Okay… we’ll go up then, okay?”
We assumed the fearful person to be no threat and went up.
But it had been too much noise. As we came up we found two doors. We picked one to go through, and suddenly the other one flew up and five guys in the classic Street Cats attire came out, flashing knifes, and came for our blood. They closed in on us to start stabbing.
It was quick and bloody: Supporting each other with swords and hatchets and power claws, the group and the robots managed to slice down the attackers, who looked Street-Catty, but did not quite act like it. Snips assumed that they were the vanguard of an attempt of the Street Cats to take over this territory before we could make it a safe zone for our side.
But when we checked the rooms they had come from, we found nothing that spoke of any vanguard, any communication equipment, or even surveillance efforts. It was just like a random gang hideout.
Posers, not real Cats.
Now dead posers.
While looting them, we were attacked by malfunctioning bots coming up the stairs, offering to stuff cake into our faces until we’d suffocate, but they had no cake, only a try that they tried to break our necks with. We opened fire from all sides, turning them into electronic waste.
Taking down the next doors with Dr. Klunk, we found, in the last room, a special group: A smartly dressed top waster with a crew of five armed and armored henchmen. He watched our intrusion with a mien of bored detachment, and mockingly congratulated us for reaching the top. “We have heard your shots and explosions coming closer for a while now.”
He seemed not concerned for his own safety though.
He asked what we were up to. “Checking out options, looking at things,” said Wyndham. “And you?”
“Checking out options, looking at things,” he answered with an ironic smile. “But the real estate value of this area is falling every step you people take in it,” he shrugged. “So it is hardly worth my while any more.”
More confident now that he would not order us executed by his henchmen, we opened up a bit and told him that we were about to make this area safe. He snorted. He said he was a young delusional punk once too, also full of high-flying ideas. But he woke up, and he would recommend us to wake up too, and use our time more efficiently.
Pressed for details, he offered us a job.
“I don’t have time for this detail. But it might be just your style,” he half-complimented, half-insulted us.
We signalled interest, and he gave us the data – as an option. He made it clear that he did not really care if we would do it or not.
Then he and his men retreated, professionally, eyes on us, weapons ready. And poof, they were gone.
And that is where the session ended, on the promising note of a fresh job.
Because through all those shootings, bombings, stabbings, and tearing down doors, serving and protecting and killing and negotiating in tight situations, one thing has become abundantly clear to Snips: Cop work is a lot harder than it looks. And it pays very little.
— Snips, Monroe, McBeth, Messy, and Chappi would not be present in the conclusion of the mission.
Picture: Let’s be Cops Scene