The car that the team had lifted off the gang enforcers and already used in some drive by shootings was a blast. But it had a drawback: It had no massive carrying capacity. Transport of bots, sentry guns, or huge hoards was an issue. So, with six wasters chipping together, the crew bought an old, clunky van. The vehicle had seen better days, it was smoking and made weird noises while driving, and it took a chunk out of a sustainable environment as it guzzled an amazing 16 cups of fuel every turn, but it had the space needed to transport a good sized team and their equipment.
Whispa wanted it painted pink, but it turned out pink paint was not that easily available. So the team opted for pink interior instead, and painted the outside in cheap camo. Still, they dubbed their new (and legally acquired) ride “Pink Wheels”.
The job was of the questionable kind: “Eliminate four encounters in the target block”. In other words, make trouble so other groups consider the area dangerous and civilians stay away. Which meant: combat, and being part of the problem, not the solution. The target was wasteland with nothing but ruins, directly south of a military complex.
Expecting some tough encounters, Kendal hired a Sneak (to avoid unfriendly meetups) and a Ronin (to handle them). The sneak was one “Master Pirate”, Xie Jianhong. At the time of the hire nobody noticed that there was a Hacker frequenting the Outpost who went by the same name and the same Tag. A case of ID theft? Our sneak was a mysterious one!
The Ronin was Octavia “Octo” Mattix, who owned a tech hammer whom she held whole conversations with. She also bore a grudge, and she was desperate for a job, so she agreed to only a quarter share and was so happy about it, she had a permanent loyalty bonus. They both did not bring the right equipment though, so Xie got Snips’/Adelards Sniper Rifle, and Octo got a machine gun.
Whispa and Bruno brought the retainer Merlin along, and the team had their trusty bots.
Pink Wheels rolling
They loaded up with the trusty sentry auto-shotgun and rolled out. On the way they had to avoid some service bots (easier now, being motorised) and suffered a flat tyre. Kendal took 20 minutes replacing that, during which a number of small people sneaked closer — probably kids? They took fright, though, when Whispa and Merlin threatened them, and left us alone.
Finally the team reached the target area, a barren wasteland with lots of gaping ruins and only one legit building, and even that had only the ground floor, with some broken walls on top. Costa circled it and found that it had no windows at all, just the one door.
They parked their vehicle 120 feet away, to draw lurkers out and force them to cross over open land, and they set up the auto-shotgun right next to it on the street. Nothing moved. So Master Pirate snuck closer and listened. He reported animal sounds. Roger the bot rolled over to open the door. Two dogs got out and sniffed at the bot.
So far, experiences with dogs had always been problematic. The team did not play games: They took the dogs down from 100 feet away. Five fresh dogs bounded out of the house, two going for Roger. They dragged him down and munched on him until they had broken enough valuable parts so he would not get back up; then they followed their friends, who had gone for the team right away. The retainers missed, and the animals ate up the distance.
When they got within 60 feet, the auto-shotgun snapped into action, and took a chunk out of one of them. The team also fired at them, Octo even switched to burst fire, but it was not enough: They reached the team – and one of them jumped Xie and killed him with one single bite.
Merlin and Kendal eliminated the killer dog, but too late for Xie. One dog attacked Royston, but the auto-shotgun ripped through that one out hard, spraying Royston with pieces of dog-meat. He took the animal out with his axe. Two dogs crowded Octavia. She switched to her trusty hammer, told him: “Now we show them what we are made of!” — and missed. The dogs dragged her down and killed her before she could ever do damage. Merlin got taken down by a slavering dog too. Snake Eyes the hacker got bitten twice, but retreated from melee to shoot with her pistol .. but missed.
When only two dogs were still alive, they lost morale and ran. The team and the auto-shotgun blazed after them, killing them on the run. When the dust settled, we inspected the scene and found Roger destroyed, our Engineer Merlin dead, our Sneak Xie dead, and our Ronin Octo dead — and that after the first encounter!
We entered the house and found collapsed stairs to the top floor, and a series of rooms, with the doors hidden behind a wall of lockers and behind a pile of empty boxes. In the fourth room there was a stash of weed worth a good 100 gold… and in the last one a robot that was offline. Royston picked it up to bring it to our van … and triggered a pipe bomb boobytrap. But he survived and healed himself and Snake Eyes.
We felt that our control of the situation was slipping. With half the team down after 1 fight, how would we get through three more? But Snake Eyes formulated a plan: Instead of going offense, lay an ambush. The team should hide in the house, Snake Eyes would fire some shots, until something came. Then the team would rush it on their terms out of the house.
Everyone hid in the building and Snake Eyes made noise from the roof. And voilá, six creeps with white tattooed faces showed up. But they had little interest in Snake Eyes: they wanted our van! Snake Eyes cursed. 120 feet away: Now our own tactic worked against us, we could not cross that distance within one or even two rounds. But we had an auto-shotgun: The sentry gun snapped to life and executed the first of the white-faces with a headshot. Boom! Down to five.
The adventuring team went into attack mode against the sentry gun, pelting it with fire. It shot back, and we fired from the house. They used our own van as cover against us and damaged the auto-shotgun, but we circled wide to the left and kept firing … soon enough, they were all dead, the last of them got it in the back as he fled.
Royston inspected the auto-shotgun and repaired the damage, while the others looted the bodies of valuables, guns, and ammunition. Only Snake Eyes and Willard remained at the house. that was good, because so we noticed a quartet of cops coming.
One thing we did not want, and that was trouble with cops. Which we would surely get into if they wandered within the kill zone of our sentry gun. So Snake Eyes and Willard called out to them and warned them of the machine. The cops were a bit tongue in cheek about the situation, and quickly dropped their pretense. They made clear they were on the take, asking for “community tax” to keep the neighbourhood safe. Willard negotiated with them and had the rogue idea to offer them the drug stash we had found in the house. And he was just as cheeky as they were: He told them that evil drugs like that needed burning, so the sooner the cops would light them up the better.
They liked his sense of humor, and we got ourselves a deal.
After the cops were gone, we decided to go on the move after all. We loaded up the sentry gun and drove around looking for trouble. That worked fine, three blade-swinging psychos stormed out of a window to attack. We played special force: Royston and Willard piled out of the car and opened fire from outside, Kendal reversed with Snake Eyes pelting them with shots.
Snake Eyes’ pistol scored and killed one of them. The other two lost morale and scrambled back in through the window. But we were not inclined to let bygones be bygones. Snake Eyes spied out their roof-less lair from Stabby’s camera perspective. They had hunkered down right under the window; the door was left clear. A booby trap?
Kendal took the dragon breath fire ammo Santa gave him and loaded it into the shotgun. Then he stepped up to the window and lit the two dudes up. As living torches, they stumbled around, then toppled and died. Cool as a cucumber, Kendal switched ammo back to slugs and suggested we take the window to look at them, not the door
Inside were some weird constructions with knives and hacksaws and whatnot. We could not make sense of it, so we left it behind and went on. One encounter to go!
Finally, we encountered a number of sweep bots going through the streets. Willard quickly hacked them and set them against each other, so they smashed each other to pieces while we could sit back and watch. When only one last bot was left, he ordered it to ram itself into walls until it gave out.
Two of the wrecks seemed salvagable and we loaded them up into our van. Then we drove back home, our Pink Wheels guzzling fuel again. On the way we met an awesome convoy, seven heavy vehicles plowing through the wastes, ramming everything out of the way. They had a green fruit logo on the sides. Kendal watched them in admiration… we could do that, because we were in a cul de sac and not in the way of them. “Good solid vehicles,” he thought. “Powerful, and better energy efficiency than our ride. But pink is the ballsier style these days.”
Then, no more trouble: We got back home and collected our fee for a job well done, despite the horrible loss of life right in the first encounter.
Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash