Fort Norton

Conflict brewing
Don't bring a gun to a lots-of-guys fight
Planning an assault on the Water Temple

Scratch confers with M’Beke first thing in the morning. He wants to sort this shit out. Are we going into the badlands? Or are we sorting shit out with the water cult? M’Beke admits that he’s not clear on who’s with him and who’s against him. So that plan is: the biker gang is going into the badlands to try to rustle up Rothschild, but the next day he’s coming back to join an assault on the Water Temple.

M’Beke sends Enrique and Bones to get Precious and Jess. Enrique goes looking for Precious, who is evidently in the Water Temple. Jess is cranky, marches over to M’Beke wrapped in a blanket. They consider plans. Will they punch holes in the roof of the hangar (with thermite) and drop in buckets of mustard gas? No, a better plan: Jess will put gas masks and poison gas backpacks on four trusted soldiers, send them in the doors, yelling, “Get out, there’s poison gas!” So Jess goes to prep that.

Burroughs talks to Pellet

Burroughs opens its brain and realizes that Rothschild was a zealot acting as part of a plan. Then it goes to check up on Pellet, who is ziptied to the bed. “Hi Pellet.” “Who are you?” “I’m Burroughs.” “What are you?” “I’m the person who saved your life. You will not try to escape.” The violation glove puts a hold on him with that command. “Mickey will be disappointed. He will assume that you have talked by now.” “He’ll come for me. You don’t have to worry about the people.” “You will tell everything relevant about Mickey’s tactics.” Now there’s a hold of 4. “He’s not big on tactics. He’s big on shock and awe. RPGs, mortars, armored vehicles. A few dozen guys.” “How long will it take for people to come for you?” “Could be soon. Hard to know.” “Don’t try to escape. There is a guard, who will shoot you.” Burroughs reminds the guard to keep a weather eye out.

M’Beke confronts Enrique

Bones and Enrique come back to M’Beke; they couldn’t find Precious; obviously lying. “Enrique, you’re going to want to be on the right side of this. There’s going to be killing tomorrow.” “You need to protect my ass.” “Okay. Where’s Precious?” “In the hangar. Been there all night, I think.” “How many people in the crew are in the temple?” “Lots. I don’t keep track.” “They’re stealing our water.” “I don’t know shit about that. I just go there for water and to hear them talk about the Light.” Enrique is now under M’Beke’s protection (but M’s roll was good enough that he doesn’t have to keep that promise).

Planning further with Scratch

Scratch shows up; they’re ready to go. The Colonel explains the plan, but Scratch would rather go in guns blazing. “So your plan is for me to shoot anyone who comes out of the building?” Scratch is not too bright. “No, we’re going to chase them out.” “Well, if my guys get … tense … there may be some rough stuff.” “My guys will have yellow bandanas. Shoot anybody else who is coming out of the building with a gun.” Scratch is about to leave and Burroughs asks to tag along on the trip too look for Rothschild.

Burroughs tells M’Beke that Rothschild was acting as part of coherent plan to assassinate him, and that a big armed response from Pellet’s gang is likely coming within a few days. Burroughs opens its brain hoping for information about finding Rothschild: look in the badlands … or wait because he will return. Burroughs rides with Stogie the Enforcer in a sidecar. Crank the mechanic and Goose the navigator.

They follow the ravine; if Rothschild went that way, they’ll reach him in under an hour.

M’Beke opens his brain, that goes wrong. He’s kayo’d.

Jess opens her brain, and gets that Sister Harridan knows what’s happening right now … so Jess goes to meet with Sister Harridan. Precious sees Jess on her way.

Negotiation between Precious and M’Beke

Precious goes to see M’Beke, who doesn’t answer the door because he’s still incapacitated by his encounter with the world’s psychic maelstrom. Greg the child guard lets Precious in … to see that M’Beke is KO’d … so Precious slaps his brother. “Jeremiah, are you okay?” asks P. He’s not looking so okay; there’s vomit on his shirt from the seizure. M’Beke drinks some scotch. “Where were you, bro?” “I was meeting with Sister Harridan. She knows about the plan, and has a proposal: everything stays the same, you get access to water, and you consult with her on major decisions.” “I’m not enthusiastic about negotiating with someone who has been taking shots at me.” “I wan’t part of that decision.” “Well then kill Sister Harridan.” “The problem is that she’s not completely in control of the Temple; there are ten priests scheming to take over the temple.” (Not a lie, but more definitive than the actual messy situation in the Temple.) “Look, I cannot have people inside our walls taking shots at me. We have a rival gang coming to fuck with us, we need unity.” Precious offers another possibility: “Sister Harridan likes things as they are. How about we take the fight to the Radiation Gang together?” “If Harridan wants this, she has to meet me in person.” “She’ll want to do it in the Temple, but you can coax her out if you can make her feel safe. Between the buildings?” “We’ll meet in an hour.”

Jess at the Water Temple

Jess asks to speak to Sister Harridan, but gets Brother Nebuchanezzar at the door. She tells him to tell Harridan that she’s “preparing for the party tomorrow” … and as a result a runner comes to get her before she even makes it back to her workshop. She gets taken into the Temple, and introduced to Sister Harridan. Jess says, “I don’t like trouble, and it looks like trouble is brewing.” Sister Harridan says it doesn’t have to be. Jess points out that the Temple is stealing water. Sister Harridan insists that she isn’t — and she’s telling the truth, though it’s not clear that she doesn’t mean that it wasn’t really stealing. Jess reveals that she makes stuff for M’Beke; Harridan points out that Jess is surrounded by Temple cultists and Harridan doesn’t need to allow her to leave. Jess draws a gun on Sister Harridan to persuader her to let Jess go, but Jimmy (one of the guards) jumps in front of Sister Harridan; Jess puts a bullet in him. Evan knocks her gun away and tackles her. Jess goes down … but hits the ground with a knife on Eric. “This doesn’t have to get any worse,” Jess tells the cultists.

Precious bursts in, “Wait! There’s an armed gang on the way to the Fort. We need to join forces with M’Beke!” Sister Harridan isn’t buying.

At Harridan’s nod, a guard shoots Jess, severely injuring her (10:00) … so Jess puts the knife to Eric. What will Precious do?

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Sniper attack
The thought plickens
Getting our act together

Around midday, Scratch and Precious are back. M’Beke summons Scratch to his office for a report on the mountains at the east. No clues about the lights, but small clusters of people (including families) were making their way west on foot. Soon there will be refugees.

Burroughs goes to visit Pellet, the prisoner. Unlocking the door, he finds the prisoner unconscious in his own filth, with signs of infection in the leg. It goes to get M’Beke, who sends Rothschild to get Jess while Burroughs cleans Pellet up. Jess shows up, hoping to get something from opening her brain, but ZAP, she’s KO’d. Burrough opens its brain, and gets … a hint that the Water Cult may have medication that can help. So M’Beke sends soldiers looking for Precious; when P shows up, M’Beke says to promise a favor in exchange for some medical attention for Pellet.

Precious asks Sister Harridan for the help, who agrees, saying to send Pellet to the Temple. Sister Harridan and a couple of acolytes show up, caring for the wound and drugging him. “He’ll sleep. He may still die. He may not.” Then Pellet is returned to M’Beke, who puts him in a well-ventilated cell.

Jess wakes up; Burroughs is watching over her. She heads back to her workshop. Scratch drops by, talks about salvage.

Party that night

Burroughs pulls a Deep Brain Scan on Pellet to find out his secret pains. It turns out Pellet is deadly afraid of disappointing or upsetting Mickey … who is scary and possibly in charge of the Radiation Gang.

M’Beke orders a big party, leaving a skeleton crew of soldiers guarding a few key places. M’Beke opens his brain; he usually gets visions … but the indistinct screaming voices and cloudy darkness overwhelms him.

Jess and Scratch get it on. Jess gets impressions of Scratch:

  • Scratch is actually a softie, wants a trusting relationship … but has to rule his gang with an iron fist.
  • His gang is motivated by avarice.
  • Lucy Belle in another handhold — a prostitute — was his last lover.

Precious puts the moves on Stabby the biker. “What?” asks Stabby. “Are you talking to me?” So that doesn’t work.

The party lasts almost all night.

Sniper attack!

As the party is starting to wind down, a sniper takes a shot at M’Beke. He drops into ditch. Jess is there, spots the sniper and tries to sneak up on them but takes a bullet. M’Beke also figures out the sniper, too, and crawls off toward the front gate. As M’Beke closes the distance, the sniper takes another shot and Precious sees what’s happens. Jess tries to sneak up and get the drop on the sniper, but makes too much noise; the sniper knows she’s coming … but she keeps moving trying to get at the sniper. M’Beke orders the alarm sounded. Scratch turns his bike around to come back to the Fort. The sniper is gone from his position. Jess opens her brain: “the balance of power is shifting”. The bikers show up at the gate, M’Beke asks the bikers to go for the north wall, so Scratch sends four guys around each side. (The remaining bikers are at their camp.) M’Beke sends his gang straight to the sniper … but they don’t take any fire. Burroughs leaves his brain relay with Pellet and joins the excitement.

Sniper aftermath

But it looks like the sniper has just gotten away. Precious notices something off: Rothschild wasn’t in position at the gate. Burroughs tries opening its mind … but blows it and has to go hide in its hole. Precious confronts Rothschild: “Where were you?” “I was at the party and ran over.” Rothschild is anxious. Jess points out the sniper’s nest, and Precious goes up and recovers the casings … which turn out to be for .30-06 hunting rifle.

Jess reads them. It was Rothschild, feeling a sense of duty. “I can’t believe I missed.” She tells M’Beke and Precious; M’Beke dispatches the Fort gang to look for him.

Burroughs is back, checks up on Pellet. He’s still asleep. Burroughs opens its brain: Rothschild has made a run for the badlands. Scratch is not going out there at night. Precious lies to M’Beke, claiming that he isn’t sure whether Rothschild is in the Water Cult … except that he is.

M’Beke bandages up Jess.

The Next Morning

M’Beke is wakened by one of his troops. “The water level is down, again.”

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Someone is stealing water
18 Mar 2012
Getting started

It’s a few days after the run-in with Fuse‘s gang of arms dealers. The Fort perimeter is secure, but the watchtower’s platform is blown.

Burroughs opens its brain; it reveals to the maelstrom that it is uncomfortable with other people and hears a buzzing sound, buzzing louder and louder and faster and faster.

Enrique tells M’Beke that the water supply is low … lower than it should be. M’Beke says to look for the leak.

Jess takes a gig in the Bazaar, rigging a solar charger for some old lead batteries.

Interrogating Pellet

Burroughs scans Pellet‘s brain. Pellet is really afraid of the dark. M’Beke orders Pellet into The Hole, a storm drain converted to a crude holding facility.

A bit later, Burroughs uses the violation glove on Pellet again; it turns out the hood they’ve put over his head doesn’t scare him. Pellet’s lowest moment was that he shot his brother Dog (who may have been a radiation victim, as he was hairless) whom Pellet hated because he was ugly — and then lied about it to everyone. Pellet doesn’t feel so good about that now.

Having learned that Pellet is not intimidated by the dark under the hood, they tuck him into a dark corner of the terminal. M’Beke, tries to manipulate him, “I’ll give you medical treatment if you tell me where you’re from.” “We’re from a big place a couple of days south of here.” He gives directions, but they’re a little rough. M’Beke promises to send a medic but gets distracted and leaves Pellet locked in the closet with a festering wound for at least another 24 hours.

Precious does some detective work

Precious borrows Jess’ geiger counter to look for folks at the Bazaar with radioactive weapons. He gets clicks on some traders from another handhold who do woodworking, and asks them if they know anything about the arms dealers but they aren’t talking.

The plot thickens

Enrique reports that there doesn’t seem to be a leak in the water tank.

M’Beke calls a war council of the PCs. "Someone is stealing water. Is it the Church of Light? We need to seek vengeance on the arms dealers for fucking up our guard tower."

They plan a paranoid watch of the water supply (guards watching guards, random rotation of guard partners, et cetera) and order the guards to submit to brain scans by Burroughs. (When they’re told, the Fort soldiers are not happy with this plan.)

The PCs plan a raid on the radiation gang: they hitch a lift with the bikers once the bikers return to the Fort and either steal or wreck something as payback.

Making preparations

Jess opens her brain, gets the impression that the water thief is actually a team of water thieves working together. Precious shows up at Jess’ workshop, asks her for:

  1. A couple of satchel charges: sticky, with a timer
  2. Grenades
  3. A mortar with just a few rounds
  4. Parachute flares

Burroughs opens its brain, gets a “useless” vision of Jess working on machinery, and goes to Jess insisting on a tour of how it works. Jess does so, and uses Things Speak to discern that yes, it’s all working properly. Jess heads back to her workspace. Burroughs goes to see the guards measuring the water; none of them seem guilty.

Precious tells M’Beke that he’s “heard” that there’s an organized effort to steal water. He dozes, then wakes up at 3:00 a.m. to continue detective work … but doesn’t turn up anything.

The next day

Jess returns the batteries; she isn’t going to be able to make the solar charger.

Burroughs opens its brain, hears the sound of chanting. Suspecting they are behind the theft of the water, goes to the Church. “I have come as an honest supplicant to learn of your faith.” They “go to get someone” but keep it waiting ….

Precious comes to the Church and sees Burroughs, who asks for a word out of earshot. “You know that Jess and I open our brains to the maelstrom? Seeking the truth of the missing water, I heard the sound of chanting, and I think the Church is behind it. Can you investigate.”

Burroughs leaves, Precious knocks on the door. Neb (Nebuchanezzer) answers the door. “I came for the morning service.”

Precious goes in to the Water Church and warns that he has had a dream about something in the water.

Burroughs goes and measures the water again. No discernible change, but then the measuring instrument (a rope with a weight) isn’t the most sophisticated.

M’Beke goes to the Water Church and asks Sister Harridan if they have had any water disappear. Sister Harridan says no, and M’Beke says, “Thank goodness, I was concerned. We will be okay because we have reserves, but I was concerned for you.”

M’Beke catches up with Precious at the armory, who is there to plan for the raid on the Radiation Gang. His plan is to lure the water cultists into trying to steal the “secret reserve”. Precious, as a water cultist, is less enthusiastic about blaming them for the lost water. They compose a plan: ask Jess about all the places where the water could be tapped, and spread rumors about the location of the secret water reserve.

M’Beke & Precious come to Jess. They ask her where the imaginary “secret tank” would be - she says it should be in one of the larger airplane fuselages used as perimeter fence near the terminal fortress so that they could use a short length of underground pipe and the terminal’s own system of pipes to connect to it.

The plan is to draw the water thieves to try to go for the extra supply …..

What happened to the prisoner? We forgot to send the medical attention we promised ….

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Plague of Awesome
They say radiation is bad for you ...

The night offered signs and portents: screaming in Church of the Water Cult, the lights in the mountains were out, Burroughs had a vision of “impending doom”.

M’Beke, troubled by the noise from the Church, confronted the cult about it, earning only hostility from Sister Harridan, learning nothing. He instructed the guards to keep a closer eye on the frequent comings and goings there.

People are taking ill. Burroughs found Pellet the arms dealer in the Bazaar looking very ill, and Lucas from the Fort also looking ill and reporting that the arms dealers have good gear. M’Beke asked Jess to try to diagnose the sick Fort citizens, so she set up a dispensary tent outside the gate so that sick people can be quarantined outside the Fort perimeter if need be. Jess locked sick Lucas in the dispensary tent, and also drew blood from Enrique to test. The microscope showed no signs of bacterial infection as Jess started to gear up a makeshift medical lab.

Reports of sickness spreading throughout the Fort and Bazaar, though at least Lucas doesn’t seem to be getting any sicker. Newcomers to the Bazaar Pellet, four other arms dealers, and their leader Fuse are doing brisk business. Burroughs has another vision, of people and big machines digging stuff out of a pit in the ground.

M’Beke decides to chase out Fuse and his gang. He orders his soldiers to shut down the Bazaar. A scuffle between vendors turns into a fight, leaving a handful of casualties.

Boom! The southeast tower on the east wing of the Fort explodes in a ball of fire, as from a grenade hit. The sound of automatic weapons fire rings out. M’Beke, confronting Fuse’s gang, takes a bullet, but kills one of the gang and severely wounds Pellet. Jess kicks Lucas out of the dispensary tent, locks Pellet in instead. M’Beke declares a quarantine, sending sick Fort citizens out to the cleared Bazaar space, but Lucas returns to the Fort before the gate guards get the order. In the confusion, Fuse’s gang ran off in their truck … but had to abandon Pellet, who remains a hostage of the fort.

Jess opens her mind to the psychic maelstrom again, and the Voices tell her that the Dig is full of mutants. Our heroes finally realize that people are taking ill from radiation poisoning from the new weapons from the arms dealers; a quick examination with Jess’ geiger counter confirms it. M’Beke has her test the camp, collecting radioactive weapons, marking them, and putting them in a separate armory space.

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