Snips and the Wasters XIV – Legendary Hero

Snips and Messy were both out of the loop for a while after the last job. Messy had been left behind by Kathi, and dropped in a hole of depression and substance abuse, and may have starved or gotten the rot if not for Chappy, the retainer, who hosed down his stinking carcass regularly and brought him scraps of food. Snips went back home to the Oregon to look after her old parents after her father had a stroke, and she took Monroe with her, her loyal retainer and confidante. During that time, many adventures were had, and people fell (among them everybody’s darling Cash Zone), but three constants remained: Snarky Wispa, nimble Dante, and of course Old Man Vishum, legend of the Wastes.

Finally they all met up and decided to make good on the job that the high-level veteran waster had offered: Destroy a communication hub of some Haywire Bots over in the Northeastern parts, get 20 Grand for your trouble.

Haywire Bots sounded bad, but the team felt that they knew the drill by now. They also had the equipment: Messy’s grenade launcher (with 2 grenades), and Snips’ Bot-Zappa (with 1 shot left). Ammo might be found on the way there, with a bit of luck. The others brought an assortment of Flashbangs and other items.

The team

Wispa left her dog Betty at home, but brought a strong guard dog called Alfred.
Old Man Vishum came alone, as usual.
Dante brought Corvin, the Sentinel — always good to jam bots.
An unknown to Snips, but not to the others, Groove, also tagged along.
Messy brought Chappy, the satanistic and hard-looking, but good-hearted Sentinel.
Snips brought her trustée Monroe and the Sneak McBeth.

At Club Lavender, they went over the “plan” once more: Go there, find the node, destroy it, go back, and dodge bots while doing it. Then Messy tried to recruit a cyber-legged sneak called Shelby, but she sneered at his puny attempt. She refused all attempts, until Groove offered her more money. “I’m in”, she said.

Messy had more luck with a noob called Chastity McNeal, a young girl who wants to be a hard ass, and wears the tats to prove it, but really is just a nice girl on the inside. She joined less for the fuckup Messy and more for Chappy, a kindred soul.

Out into the wastes

They moved north almost to the overland road, a heavily guarded area, so they went parallel to it, out east. The passed a single member of the Fast Dog gang, but he did not mess with a group of 12 plus a dog. Shortly thereafter they saw a group of independents clustered around a fireplace and spoke to them, hoping for some power cells or grenades. The independents were quite paranoid, as they should be, out here, but Old Man Vishum managed to calm their nerves. No deal was made, but we parted on good terms.

Then a gaggle of lunatic druggies with axes saw us, and were not deterred by numbers — howling like banshees, they stormed us, axes high. The group formed a firing line and took them down, although it took several shots to fell them. We quickly collected some assorted items from them and turned tail, ere more of that sort might show.

Evening creeped up, and we started thinking about a rest for the night. The next two blocks were ruled by a gang-like organisation who’s members wore yellow sashes .. an uncomfortable memory for Messy, as the house where he blew up a fellow friend and lost a good percentage of his own body, that was also a place occupied by yellow-sashes.

Of course, none can recognise him, now that the harrowing experiences of these months have changed the Daredevil quite a bit, including body parts, and he should be dead by any logical reckoning. And the alternative routes outside the yellow territory are Fast Dog grounds… hardly better.

The team dodged the yellows and shacked up in the office overlooking the inside of an empty warehouse. Here they blocked the doors with furniture and went to sleep, with guards.

Neo-Luddites

Close to the next morning, during Snips’ watch, no less than 11 yellow-sashes move in and walk up toward the office. Snips asks McBeth to wake everyone and calls out to the yellows, asking them to stop. They don’t, until, at 50 feet, she levels the sniper rifle at them to underscore her request.

“Whoa, hey, why so aggressive?” they ask, but at least they stop.
“What have we done to deserve such a threat? After all, this is our block, and we are just walking, harming no-one.”
Snips’ gun stays trained on them, and the others explain that we believe them, but caution must come first.

The yellows want to know about the mission, and seem pleased to hear that we want to fight the bots, until we mention that we have hackers and sentinels with us. That was meant to reassure them, but it does not. Messy speaks Spanish, so he can clear up the Why: They are Neo-Luddites and hate tech. They believe that it is evil and corrupting, so our talk of Sentinels is, to them, talk of Infidels or Devil-Worship.

To our luck, distance and the enclosure of our camp hide our various cyber-parts from them: Legs, hands, eyes, and whatnot. And Old Man Vishum quickly fast-talks our way out of this: He explains that the Hackers and Sentinels are not yet with us, that we are to meet up with them today in the bot-infested block.
With some headache, they mostly believe us, but warn us to avoid working with those unsavory techies, and rather rely on human ingenuity and superiority over the evil machines.

We promise to heed their advice, and negotiate that we retreat out back and talk more when we return, after we have killed the bots with divine aid.

Bot-Block

We enter the deceptively peaceful bot-block and scout for likely buildings that might hold the communication hub on our “to destroy” list. It does not take long and we find a building, three levels high, with an array of antennae on top. It seems to be the only one so adorned, so we are in luck: This is our destination.

While most of the team wait on the opposite side of the street to keep watch, Dante and Wispa move to the front door to listen and check for traps, covered by Corvin. They take their sweet time, doublechecking, so that Messy loses his patience and saunters over to help with his cyber-hand. His joints start whirring, and the lock clicks. The others try the handle: Locked! The door had been open all along.

Sheepishly, Messy unlocks it again and, as the others still hesitate, sniffing foul play, pushes it open. Wispa sends in with Alfred, Old Man Wishum follows, then Dante and Corvin sneak into a largely empty room with two doors on the opposite wall. Wispa tells the others to wait, then checks out the left door. Messy signals them to come, and goes in. But who trusts Messy? So the group is half in, half out, half undecided, as suddenly a power armor stalks around the corner. A big beefy infantry combat platform with a minigun powering up under an arm.

Power Armor Tango

Immediate Flashback to the Death of Pretty Boy.

Snips shouts: “In! In!” and runs into the antenna-building at full tilt. Bit by bit everyone piles in — leaving behind the cart, they all have enough movement rate to make it, thanks to initiative won. McBeth and Monroe are last in and shut the door behind them. A moment of breathless worry … did we make it? Will the threat walk past? … then the power armor rips the door out of its frame and comes in like a fox into the proverbial henhouse. He swings both his power arms. Strike one smashes Monroe’s head. Strike two breaks McBeth’s neck. Two down.

Snips has no more retainers.

Wispa tears open the door and storms in, but finds herself in a dead end. Dante opens the right hand door and finds a stairwell, and a door on the far side – he storms in to find refuge under the stairs.

Everyone streams out of the room and up the stairs, if movement permits, except Old Man Vishum, who stays behind to engage the power armor in melee, and Messy, who unloads his explosive pistol ammo into the giant. Wispa sets her dog against the power armor to keep the enemy busy and provide some small relief for Old Man Vishum.

Messy does some slight damage, but half of his shots are deflected by the armor. Old Man Vishum has more impact: His axe dances all across the armored hide and seeks out weak spots with deadly precision. Hydraulics get cut, steam pours out, the machine pays its dues for going toe to toe with Old Man Vishum. And it fails to hit him: His tough armor, courtesy of the weird guardian out in that underground lab, blocks the power fist round after round.

Sentinel Machine Gunners

On the top floor, the girls encounter two sentinel bots who warm up their machine guns as the intruders stomp up the stairs. Snips blasts the first one with her only shot from the bot zappa, which stuns him for a round. The other one punches some holes into the place where Snips was just a moment before, and the sniper drops the energy rifle to pull out her sharp hatchet and go all in.

The others fire on the stunned bot, but it quickly recovers from its initial shock, and the little bullets fail to do enough damage: The bot lets loose with the machine gun, and Chappy, the ironic girl, gets mowed down. Groove stands right beside her and catches another burst, but he survives it with some luck.

While Snips and her foe duke it out in melee, Shelby and Chastity fire on the second bot from all directions, but with little success. In the chaos, Dante calls for retreat from below: “We can escape through the fire door!” he promises, and goes to pick the lock to the corridor that leads that way.

Shelby decides to heed the call and retreats, but walks right into the next machine gun salvo – she goes down, right next to Chappy. On his way out, Groove also takes another hit and coughs his last on top of the stairs.

Legend of the Wastes

Chastity drags her new-found — and freshly lost — friend Chappy out of the crossfire and down the stairs, but that takes some time. Snips notices that her melee with the bot, while occupying the one, did nothing to save the others, so she chooses to retreat with the others.

“You retreat! I’ll hold him off!” barks Old Man Vishum, as the others flow towards the back.

But Messy refuses. He has fired all his explosive bullets and learned that his normal bullets merely scratch some rust off the hulk. But he is not done! Despite Dante’s calls to retreat, he draws Old Man Vishum’s old sword and steps forward to go and support the grizzled hero. Wispa takes his place in the doorway and keeps firing to cover them both.

That is about the time when Dante gets that escape door open, and lo! No enemies await behind it.

Vishum has dodged two, three, four, five hits, and his strikes have cost the power armor, which looks as if it will not go on for much longer. But it goes on for now. And that is all it needs: It finally finds a chink in Old Man Vishum’s armor. The machine strikes, and it breaks the warrior almost in two — Old Man Vishum, Legend of Wastes, Hero, Mentor, Friend, one of the greatest wasters who ever was, is no more.

Stolen Kill

Messy’s eyes light up as he lifts Old Man Vishum’s blade. He will deliver poetic justice by cutting down the ugly bot with the old weapon of the man it just murdered.

Yet, behind him, Snips shows up, sees the situation, and lifts her sniper rifle. Her shot is the last hit needed, and the abomination collapses right in front of Messy.

“Oh come on!”, the action-hungry waster cries out, his revenge snatched away from his fingertips.

Fire and Fury

With the big guy down, escape loses a lot of its luster, and as the Sentinel Bots from upstairs come looking down into the hallway, they see defiance. Snips fires up at the first of them, and Messy shoots one of his two launcher grenades up — past the bot, into the room proper, because even he has sense enough to avoid an explosion in the packed stairwell.

The explosion takes out the second sentinel bot, the one that was damaged from the melee with Snips. But the other one is still there, and he returns fire, hitting Snips with a burst that would have taken anyone else out of the picture — but Snips, back when she was squishy and almost got killed by a scrawny little kid, got tough organs in her body, and those withstand a lot of punishment. She bleeds, but she shrugs it off.

Then Messy launches his second and final launcher grenade against the ceiling upstairs. It rattles the final bot, and it also rattles the building – the ceiling comes apart, and the floor of the next level tumbles down to crush the sentinel bot, taking him out.

Licking wounds

As the dust settles, the party entrenches itself in the main room, where Monroe and McBeth died and where Old Man Vishum sacrificed himself. They loot the fallen machines and dig in for the night to recover their senses and decide what to do.

Six out of twelve human party members are dead.

Can this mission still end well?

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Image: Maria Pop on Pexels

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