For Kendal and Snake Eyes it was a hard blow to hear it: On a mission without them, the whole crew died, and only one fresh retainer called “Na” made it back to tell the tale: The pink wheels had gone on a ‘ard job, taking on corporation guns. They had gone against the Maliit Sa Pananalapi corporation, looking for trouble to destabilise them. The reward was good, but the that had a reason: The corporate samurai mopped the floor with them, and all went down – Royston the old hand; dependable Willard; good man Bruno; and yea, even Wispa, legend of the wastes. Plus: All the bots and even Wispa’s dogs, lost, and the ride taken, including a fresh new cannon mounted on the roof. O cruel fates!
Total Party Kill
Stunned by these bad news, Kendal needed a stiff drink. Looking at the job board, he saw the job still posted. But he’d be damned if he led a crew into such long odds. He chuckled a bit. “Am I turning into a good old mother hen like Snips?” Nah, that wasn’t it. He was just going to play it smart.
Together with Snake Eyes he cooked up another plan: Fuck the job board! We go south and explore fresh territory. Find unclaimed treasure. Buy cool shit. Cyber up — and then go kick some corporate ass!
A new gang
They built a gang around them: Two cool wasters called Spam and Gerbil, and a couple of retainers: Spam hired a guy called Hayate, and Kendal picked a level zero with potential, an inventive girl with a cyan mohawk called Shun, who might make a good tech user one day. And to be safe, some gun: A Level 2 Ronin called Oni, with cyber eyes and arm, and slinging a cool energy pistol.
He offered small rewards — but he also offered small risk, so they were all good with it.
They went out on foot, with the cart, like old times, but took the sentry gun with them as a, well, sentry, for when they would be looting.
They headed out south and found some nice looking residential areas, promising turf. Alas! It was owned. The first stretch belonged to the Street Cats, and the second to the Fast Dogs. Yes, okay, nice area, but with a bunch of freshmen, Kendal did not feel confident to take them on. However, there was a park east of the Fast Dogs place. So Kendal talked it over with the crew and they went sneaking all through the housing area, to the park.
Good luck – they avoided trouble with the gang.
Bad luck – the park was contested ground, battleground between factions.
Kendal did not feel like war, not after what happened to Wispa. But he noticed that south of them was an area without gangers, another residential area, infested by wild animals.
Wild animals are good, they can be scared off.
And residential area is good, it speaks of many good places to loot.
The crew went into the animal grounds. Listening, they heard wild dogs in the distance. They kept their ears sharpened, to make sure that they would not be caught out in the open by a pack of dogs… dogs are dangerous. Alas, it is also dangerous to walk in the wastes listening for things far distant, because that’s how you miss things up close. For now they walked right into a patch of high grass that was also home to no less than eight rattlesnakes.
The snakes came out hissing, and had surprise, and went right into melee with.
Kendal pulled out his sword, as did Oni. Snake Eyes and Shun pulled their machetes, eager to cut the slithering reptiles into ribbons and get on.
Aye! The snakes bit fast and deep, and rolled high on the damage. “They are poisonous!” called Gerbil. “Don’t worry!” yelled Snake Eyes. “I got an antitoxin hypo in my pocket!”
Confident of the superiority of blades over snakes, most of the crew waded in to make quick, short work of the beasts – only Gerbil was happy to stay out of it and bailed, running out to a safe distance. The crew started swinging their various metal implements – which pleased Kendal, because he was worried that gunshots might attract unwanted attention. Better be quick and silent.
Things turned sour though when Shun hit a snake and did maximum damage – and it lived. Then Oni also hit a snake, and also cut it for 6 HP – and it lived. Suddenly the snakes looked a lot more menacing than a moment before. Lightning fast they bit, and took out Hayate! Oni and Snake Eyes got bitten, and Kendal too, and that was really troubling, because Snake Eyes had only one of those antitoxin hypos, not ten!
A second bite on Kendal, and one more bite took out Shun, and one took Oni down into the lower half of her HPs. With an uncanny frequency the snakes hit with 17s and 15s, and then did maximum bite damage of 4! On top of that, the bitten started to feel a bit queasy.
Run, Kendal, run!
Fast, too fast, they went down: Spam and Oni, and Snake Eyes too! Kendal found himself massively outnumbered, and still not a single snake had died! He bailed, a fighting retreat, away towards Gerbil. The Snakes followed him, hissing, until he ran away, signalling complete surrender. He made his reaction roll, and they stopped chasing him.
Panting hard, he hunkered down behind a pile of debris, next to Gerbil: “Damn! Where is that antitoxin?”
The antitoxin was safely in Snake Eyes’ pocket, right in the middle of the rattlesnakes. As were all the gear and weapons of the others, the swords, the guns, the energy pistol, and the cart with the – deactivated – sentry gun. All that gear was worth a pretty penny, plus it was necessary for survival. It was impossible to leave it to the snakes!
“We have to get the… stuff…” mumbled Kendal. The poison! He had to make a death safe. But Kendal is a nomad. They know their ways around the wild, and he quickly bled the poison from his leg a.k.a. rolled well enough.
Kendal tried to sneak up on the snakes, but without success. They were still agitated and immediately reacted to his moves, far away as they were.
“We can still shoot them,” offered Gerbil.
“No, have you seen how tough they are? It will take us ages to kill them, and all that shooting will attract more enemies. We need some way to get them in number….”
Kendal’s gaze fell onto his dreagonbreath shots, the ones he had gotten as a Christmas present, back when he was still a n00b.
He loaded the fire spouting menace into his shotgun and walked at them like death incarnate — then he shot from the hip, and doused them in flames.
The damage was not all that much – but they took fright! The cloud of flames from the human scared them off, and they quickly snailed it away. “Thanks, Santa! Once again….” said Kendal. These shells, even though they did not look like much, were the best thing he had. They had saved his bacon every time yet. Six of them left now.
Gerbil and Kendal quickly piled the dead and their stuff onto the cart, and decided to leg it. They were only two now, one of them wounded… and no sane person went exploring and looting with such numbers. But one thing they still could do: Gerbil voiced the hope that they might find some treasure in the snake nest. Kendal doubted it, but hell, why not try?
They quickly searched the grass and found no gold — but six rattlesnake eggs.
“Might be able to sell those,” said Kendal.
“Or, if all else fails, at least eat them,” said Gerbil.
So they scooped them up and fled.
It was right adjacent to the safe zone, at least, so they found their way home fast and without any more incidents. Seven went out … two came back. And not a single snake was killed. “We can tell no-one about this,” muttered Kendal, embarrassed.
Photo: Meg Jerrard on Unsplash
Link: Wasters Series