After their latest shocking disaster, word got around, they got a reputation, and Kendal and Gerbil found it increasingly difficult to hire fresh retainers. Gerbil found a new friend called Wombat, a sentinel. Snake Eyes’ brother Snake Tooth, a Ronin, came to town to collect Snake Eyes’ money, and he chose to stay and sign up with Kendal. In addition, they found two new adventurers, Emmanuel the Face and Two-Bit the Hacker.
Hiring retainers was tough, some refused to talk to us, the Ronin Aleksandar cursed us and stormed out. But as the party stayed on it persistently, they got a very cool high-potential called Irelyn Avison; she rejected Kendal, but signed up with Emmanuel. Also another guy named Ferris Gulvig, both level zeros, as well as Aleksi the Ronin and a Level 1 Sentinel called Sasaki Michi.
Kendal was immediately smitten with Michi, whom he considered a great asset right off the bat, and he accommodated her wishes: She was worried for her physical safety, and he wanted someone careful, that fit well. She wanted to do tech stuff, and he wanted her to handle the sentry gun. A perfect fit!
Since Snake Tooth collected a tech assault armor from the party stash, his own assault armor became free, and Kendal handed it to Ms. Sasaki, together with a bulletproof shield and a helmet, turning the little Japanese tech user into a veritable tank on two feet. Snake Tooth also got a helmet, one with integrated night vision goggles.
Clear a Block
They skipped all jobs on offer and went to invest into the safety of the wastes at large, and clear a block. To do that, they need to overcome 2d6 encounters in a block and pay 2000 gold to secure it, turning a piece of murderous wastes into safe zone territory. Just in case of loot they took their bicycle cart with them and let Sasaki ride in the back to spare her walking long distances in that heavy armor. Aleksi the Ronin kicked the pedals.
They set out in a slight drizzle that had everyone distracted — everyone except Gerbil, who noticed four gang members closing in from the right flank. Fast Dogs! Good that Gerbil spoke Tagalog. He called out to them and asked them to please stay away.
They grinned and refused, and instead came closer with knifes and lead pipes. Kendal had seen that kind of shit too often during his time with Snips: The kind of people who disrespect such fair warnings are also the kind of people who go on to bash in the heads of little tech users. “Let’s kick their asses,” he said, and lined up his new tech-pistol to aim at the gang members. It was on.
The party opened up like a gunship, with Sasaki firing her submachine gun from the transport cart, clipping one on the arm. Snake Tooth mowed one down. Kendal failed, as the first energy cell of the pistol just fizzled out with no effect. But the rest of the team fired true and hard, and the gang members never reached melee distance. We looted 9 electrum pieces from them, as well as their K-bar knife and one of the lead pipes for Snake Tooth, who hoped to be able to use that creatively.
They scouted the block and found that there was only one legit building in the whole block, surrounded by piles of rubble and dirt. A pretty fat building: 80 feet square, one storey. It is an old department store, but with almost all the windows plastered over with paper and/or boarded up. One front door, one fire door in the back, and one side door far in the back on the left.
From the rubble on the opposite side, a service bot staggered out, trying to sell us screwdrivers. We all expected he would turn us into pincushions with those things, but Two-Bit woke from his drug-addled stupor and unleashed “Code Smash” on it, staggering it to the ground. It sparks, smokes, and dies.
We checked its wares and found some honestly good sets of screwdrivers and allen keys, so the team loaded up on them, especially Sasaki, who made a point of collecting complete sets covering a wide range of sizes of the tools.
The team set up the sentry gun at the left hand corner of the department store so it could swivel and cover the front entrance and the side entrance side of the building. The bicycle-cart we parked across the street next to the destroyed service bot.
Sasaki got a leg up and checkekd out the skylights on the roof. And she found movement in one room on the left side: People with yellow sashes. We know them: The anti-tech nuts, neoluddites calling themselves “The Rational Order”.
We decided to leave Sasaki up there, a heavily armored overwatch to control the sentry bot. And we set it to shoot at anything that isn’t us. In addition, Gerbil inspected entrances and door positions with a small, remote-controlled spider-bot. The right part was very dark, but it looked undefended.
Private Milk Production
Wombat opened up a front window on the right and we went in. Snake Tooth went first, because he had the night vision goggles. He found that the right hand half of the building was one huge store room that should normally have shelves with wares, but in this case, they were mostly missing. Instead, it had a cow. A living cow, tied up in this dark, slightly musty place.
Fascinated, the team stared at the animal, a memento of better times, or better places.
“We must sell that one!” said some.
“We must keep that one!” said others.
The one small voice that said something like “eat” was quickly silenced.
Other than the cow, there was also, weirdly, a computer terminal, although powered off. We circled around the cow and opened the door with the “Staff Only” sign, leading to the other half of the building. Another computer, a door north and a door south. South, we almost expected the yellow sashes, but no, one more door. But this time we found them:
We opened the door, Ferris and Snake Tooth in front, and there they were, looking up and reaching for their guns.
Sasaki was ready, and sprayed down through the skylight with ther submachine gun, missing everyone. But Snake Tooth used that as a distraction and sprayed the room with suppressive fire. To horrible effect: They failed their saves and four ot of six got hit, three deadly, one wounded. The three survivors lost their morale roll and dropped their weapons right there, running in circles in panic and begging for mercy. We tied them up, unsure what else to do.
The team quickly searched the rest of the building and found more computers and a generator, and some loot. All nice and good. But… but there was some part missing. A stack of boxes in the room with the cultists was actually hiding one more door, and we opened that up — activating a gaggle of bots!
They were stunned with an intrusion function, and we proceeded to clobber them one by one, hoping to get it done before they overcame the stun….. but that was not to happen.
Excuse me, officer
At that moment, the sentry gun snapped to life and started shooting.
Sasaki had watched what we were doing inside, and now checked the monitor: there were cops! Four police officers had suddenly appeared and closed in on the building we were in — but then the gun got them. Now they were busy flitting from cover to cover and taking shots at the sentry gun.
Four cops, that was a lot. They would very soon be done with the bot, and then we would be in deep trouble. Or could we actually win? [Wispa and Snips once one against two cops]
Kendal was on the fence about the issue, thought how we could maybe use the distraction from the sentry gun to flank the cops and take them out in surprise attacks. But Two-Bit was quite clear about it: “We are almost all level 1 characters! One hit will take us out!”
It was hard to argue with that logic. With a bleeding heart, Kendal agreed. We bailed.
Sasaki was already crawling towards the back of the building on the roof — she had considered switching the gun off and trying to apologize, but in all seriousness, the cops would be pissed. Doubly so after one of them got killed during the fight with the bot.
The team fled, leaving everything behind — the sentry bot, the bicycle cart parked close to it, the freshly found loot and the captured yellow sashes. We retreated while the sentry bot did its last stand, so we were already a street away when the cops capped it and the monitor on Sasaki’s cyberdeck went black.
Kendal was sad about the material loss, but Emmanuel reminded him that the mission was actually a win: We had gotten pretty far, and none of the crew were wounded!
Emmanuel considered the individual performance of the retainers and their potential — and he paid 50 gold out of his own pocket as a bonus to those he deemed worthy: Those being Ferris, who had helped hold the front line, Irelyn, who had the best stats by far, and Sasaki Michi, who had shown courage under fire and kept a cool head in a tight spot. Aleksei … got nothing. Pissed and hurt, the bicycle-pedaller without a bicycle rushed out, muttering darkly.
Ferris and Irelyn decided to stay on with the team… Sasaki Michi went turncoat: She quit Kendal’s service, and instead signed up with Emmanuel. Apparently, nice fresh cash money talks louder to her than grimy old boy’s toys like cool assault armor, shield and helmet.
Photo by Jean Carlo Emer on Unsplash