From the Journal of Maya Ceros, Day 12.
When we parked the war rig, I went over it with some of the others to search for secret compartments, places where weapons might be stashed or traps might be waiting to be sprung. There's a lot of places to hide guns on this rig, but it doesn't look like anyone's hidden any here for a long time. In fact, it looks like someone else owned the truck before the Nomads got a hold of it and stripped it for valuables. All we found was a chunk of paper with some marks on it. Greene caught me as I was staring at it, and said he recognized the marks. Raider glyphs, he called them, and he thinks they'll lead us to a stockpile that'll be worth checking out. So of course, we follow the signs, and hope that what we find is more helpful than horrific.
Following the signs led us to a chunk of sprawl that the wastes have already started to reclaim. The corners were tight with ruins and old cars, and the instant we pushed into them, I knew we were in for a a fight. The clicking and chittering was unmistakable. Hunter bugs, and lots of them.
Dora and Sally were eager to go after the bugs before they could reach us, but I quickly gave the order to back off and reorganize into a loose line. Enough of us are carrying heavy machineguns now that I'm starting to think the best strategy, in most cases, is just to wait for the enemy to come to us.
I gave the order for Dora to check out a nearby corpse, and lucky too-- the body had a box in its arms, something locked, something that looks valuable.
The hunter bugs moved in quick, swarming around the ruins of a building and scattering the bones of some desiccated corpses as they went.
For us, it was a waiting game. The bugs were coming, and the best thing for us to do was just to sit tight until they got into range.
I could tell that everyone was itching for the fight, but I gestured for the whole squad to wait anyway, to hang back until the enemy was close enough to smell, close enough to hose down with hot lead. There was a chittering scream even beyond the swarm, and a haze on the horizon that I took to be more bugs, more horrors moving in, hungering for our flesh.
The bugs charged in, mandibles slavering, glistening in the hot sun.
The closest one was less than five meters from Merlin when I shouted for everyone to fire. Heavy machine guns chattered and mowed down bug after bug, dropping four instantly. I saw a grenade arc overhead as Polybius tossed it into a knot of the bugs, but the blast was only enough to obliterate one of them.
Even seeing so many of their brethren cut down, the bugs seemed unphased. Their approach was relentless, single-minded.
And that was when I heard the shouting. A voice, human, but not one of ours, not someone from the squad. Raiders. Had to be.
I found out later that a pack of scrags had chased a pair of Hunter Bugs back to the nest we were tripping through and got tangled up in the ruins as the rest of the bugs turned to feast on them.
Dora and I took shots at one of the Hunter Bugs, but neither of us could punch through the thing's tough carapace.
The second the hunter bugs turned on them, the scrags started firing.
I heard muskets, pistols and scrap rifles. I heard angry howls from the bugs, but no death-cries, no snarls of pain.
There was a shout, someone yelling about being bitten.
One of the bugs closed with Polybius, but he's as tough as a ton of trash and easily slapped the bug aside with his huge metal hand.
Firing his heavy machinegun, Polybius struck back, and quickly pumped the bug full of lead.
Everyone started moving out as the dust-cleared. Gesturing, I ordered everyone to head in, engaging the last of the bugs and the raider newcomers. Sally tried to clear the jam in her heavy machinegun, but couldn't manage it.
The sounds of fighting drew us out into the open.
Tangled together, the bugs and raiders started brawling. I heard one of the horrors shriek as one of the raiders started screaming.
Judging from the footprints, it looks like the heat of combat and the sight of blood immediately scared one of the scrags off.
I heard Kassandra shout, rushing into battle with all the fury and fire I've come to expect from her.
I heard the hollow PWTHUMP of her grenade launcher as she pumped a shard grenade into a knot of raiders and bugs. The shot went further than she'd intended, but still managed to drop a pair of targets.
The shock of the explosion was enough to get the closest bug and the closest scrag to bail.
The hunter bugs were quicker than the scrags, and I watched as one rushed in, biting at Merlin, catching nothing but starry cloak.
There was another shout as one of the bugs lashed out and caught a scrag in the face, dropping the raider instantly.
I saw another raider bail, sprinting and screaming across the sands as he rushed toward the horizon.
The raiders fired back, and with a furious shout, one of the scrags unloaded her entire pistol clip into one of the bugs.
The remaining bug was unphased.
Polybius kicked in his booster and sprinted across the battlefield, closing on one of the scrags before she could blink. I heard the chatter of heavy machine gun fire, watched the haze of dust and blood as Polybius obliterated his target. Standing there, I thanked the ancestors for what must be the millionth time that he's on our side and not on someone else's.
Terrified, the last remaining scrag turned tail and ran into cover.*
Kate and Nike fired on the closest of the bugs, taking it down while the rest of us moved into position.
Merlin obliterated the last of the bugs with his heavy machine gun.
And that's when the Crawlers showed up.
The instant I heard their snuffling and shrieking, I swear that I felt my blood run cold. The last time we faced Crawlers, they almost killed us all. I'll never forget that day, and I have no intention of letting today end the same way.
Dora was the first of us to fire, immediately wounding one of the crawlers.
The last of the scrags shouted and unloaded her scrap rifle until the weapon clicked dry. Kate was lucky the scrag was such a poor shot-- all it did was delay her.
The crawlers were quick to move in.
And we were quick to respond with a lot of hot lead. Three of the crawlers went down immediately, while another was injured, twisting in the sand.
Kate rallied, and her shot was as clean as it was deadly.
The crawlers were fierce, and seemed possessed of an unshakable drive to kill.
There was a tussle, but no one seemed capable of getting the edge.
But the tide was turning.
Polybius, Nike, Merlin and Kassandra took shots, wiping out almost all of the crawlers in seconds.
The last of the crawlers panicked and dashed back into cover.
I could hear the thing snarling and whining, and then the unthinkable happened.
Like lightning clad in rotting fur, the last of the crawlers charged out from behind cover and flew at Dora, knocking her in the dirt immediately.
Nike was quick on the draw, and dropped the crawler immediately.
Polybius and Sally were closest to Dora, and they wasted no time dragging her out of the pile of crawler corpses. In that moment, I found myself fearing the worst, but Dora got back on her feet easy enough. She seems fine now, nothing but a couple of scratches and bruises to work past.
When we started to regroup, Kate was already checking the corpses for anything of value. The chaos gave us a lot to work with, a lot more than I expected, and for that, I am grateful.
In the end, Greene's reading of the raider glyphs led us to a haul beyond my wildest dreams. Now, we don't just have a war rig. We have a war-rig and a tanker!
Polybius is MVP
All others gain +1 XP (+2 XP for Battlefield Events)
3 AP spent on Scout Patrol, 2 AP spent on training.
Loot: Scrap Rifle x2, Musket, Camo Cloak, Cloud Grenades (4), Fine Quality Sharp Shooter.**
Trade: Preserver Pack, Shard Grenades (4)
Convoy leveled up! +1 to STABILITY!
Maya leveled up! +1 to TOUGHNESS!
Kate leveled up! +1 to INITIATIVE!
Kassandra leveled up! Gains Talent "SHARP SHOOTER"!
Nike leveled up! Gains Talent "CHARISMATIC"!
Sally leveled up! +1 to TOUGHNESS!
Polybius leveled up! Gains skill "Speech"
Dora leveled up! +1 to TOUGHNESS!
No New Recruits This Turn.
Daedalus goes fishing and finds a "pretty decent spot" with three fish. Fish 1: 3,1; Fish 2: 3,3; Fish 3: 3,2. He attempts to catch Fish 2, fights it and catches it. He then attempts to catch Fish 3, and after a lengthy series of attempts to hook it, finally does. He then battles the fish, but it quickly gets away. He decides that Fish 1 isn't worth it, so he packs up and heads back to the convoy. The fish that he caught is worth 1 Scrap to Mr. Greene, so Daedalus adds the +1 Scrap to the stockpile for the Squad.
Big Jimmy goes in search of herbs and finds a patch of two different kinds of herbs. He doesn't run into trouble. He finds a Gasoline Cohosh and a Clary Sage and adds them to the garden.
* Post-Play Notes: I think the rules actually state that she should have run toward the nearest table edge, meaning she would have bailed, but I didn't think about this at the time, and kinda figured in retrospect that it was more interesting in the end if she stayed in the fight.
** +2 Loot Rolls for "Signs" battle, +1 Loot Roll for Suspicious Circumstances Marker (0 Result), +1 Loot Roll for holding the field. 1 Scrap Rifle and Musket were obtained using the custom loot roll in Mods.
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