Day 9: Nope, Not The Last Of Them (Five Klicks)
From the Journal of Maya Ceros, Day 9.
Another day, another story from Thallo Greene to follow up on. This time, the story he had for us was about the sprawl, a place not that far away where the crumbling ruins of a huge city stretch on for miles upon miles in every direction. The way he described it, the place sounds dangerous, but could also potentially be a great place to pick up some decent salvage. Apparently, we're on the outskirts of it already, so it wouldn't take much time to beeline in toward the sprawl, maybe conduct a raid or two of our own, see what we can smash and grab before the horrors move in.
Sally and I were planning out the details when one of the trucks broke down. Pulling off into an area that looked built up enough to give us some shelter from the heat, I had a couple of the guys look at it. Turned out to be a broken hose, nothing too hard to replace, but when I started looking around, started to see the huge blooms of fungal mass rising from burnt-out buildings, well, let's just say I got real antsy to get out of there as quick as possible.
By the time I grabbed my gun and circled a couple of my squad around to my position, the horrors in the ruins were already screeching, rising sickeningly from fungal mats and shambling toward us. For once, we had the advantage and the initiative, so for that, I'm still grateful.
The terror I felt as I looked down into the mass of moving, meaty fungus was strong, palpable. I remembered what these horrors were like from just a couple of days before, and I swear I still haven't gotten their stink out of my armor.
Sweat slicked my forehead. I realized as I peered through the scope on my rifle that there were a lot of them. Making no noise, I made a quick gesture to the rest of my squad to pull on our hazmat masks. Contact was coming, and everyone needed to be prepared.
Picking our way through the ruins, I sent Kate and Dora to pick through a couple of corpses in the rubble. Getting my bearings, it looked like all hell had broken loose in this place at some point, and that the fungal shamblers had been the last to colonize and hold the place.
Dora's find was lucky-- the corpse she found turned out to be holding a locked box. The lock was nothing too strong, but definitely something we'd have to wait until after the battle to jimmy open.*
Breaking from sticking near Sally, I grouped up with Nike and Polybius, prepared to take a stand and try to get a clear shot at the approaching horrors.
Kassandra, in typical fashion, was the first to rush into the fray.
And that's when the first of the horrors came sprinting out of the ruins at us.
Two others rushed into nearby buildings, shaking the huge masses of viscerally purple fungus and howling like rabid animals. I heard calls deeper in the sprawl-- an answer back, and knew we might have more of the horrors to deal with soon.
Nike, Polybius, Kate, Sally and Merlin all moved to engage.
Kate was the first to move, searching the corpse in the sniper's nest for anything of value, but finding nothing.
Thinking quickly, Nike yanked the Cling-Fire grenade off her belt and threw it at the knot of horrors bearing down on us. The throw was hasty, sloppy, and as the grenade bounced back behind the wreckage of an old helicopter, the detonation and flying flames dropped one of the shamblers, but had little effect overall on our mindless, psychotic enemy.
Polybius stepped up quickly and started spraying with his trusty shotgun, but the rounds hardly did more than catch the attention of the enemy.
That was when Merlin stepped up and put one of the horrors down with a clean shot through its rotting noggin.
Running past me, Sally spotted a corpse in the wreckage and started pulling at it.
Until something horrific started pulling back. Dropping the remains of the corpse, Sally moved quick, bashing the thing in its grotesque face with the butt of her rifle.
I heard howls in the distance, past the remains of what looked like some old scavenger camp, but no more horrors emerged to rush at us.
And that's when the fudge hit the fan.
The giant, meat-face horror thing threw itself hungrily at Sally, but another blow from the butt of her rifle knocked it back.
Horrors rushed at Nike and Polybius, hitting them and knocking their rotting bodies against them. In the end, I found out that it was only their armor that saved them from the attack, and only just barely.
Merlin and Kassandra were rushed as well, narrowly avoiding death as one of the horrors slammed its meaty fists against Kassandra's armor.
Thinking quickly, Merlin and Kassandra broke ranks and threw their all at the horrors. Hastily tossing a shard grenade, Kassandra managed to catch all three of the fungal shamblers in the radius of the weapon, obliterating one into a cloud of meat and spores. Merlin's own sharp-shooting skills kicked into gear as the spores cleared, and he dropped another one of the things solidly to the dirt.
Sally's rifle rattled enough lead into the mutant to drop it and send it tumbling back into its hole.
Breaking away, Polybius and Nike took shots at the horrors, killing one and wounding another.
There was a whir and a hiss, and I saw Polybius go into overdrive, blurring with the movement assist of his booster implant. Another one of the horrors exploded under the hail of fire from Polybius's shotgun, but the speed turned out to be too much for the old gun and it jammed immediately.
That was when I stepped up and took my shot.
I don't think I'll ever tease Dora about her hasty aim ever again.
Kate took her own shot from the sniper's nest, but the fungal horror only seemed to shrug it off.
Dora stepped up, trying to spray the horror hunting Kassandra through the windows of a ruin, but the shots all went wide.
More howls from the distance, but still no more horrors.
With only two of the shamblers left, I felt like we had the edge. We hadn't lost anyone yet, and if luck was with us, we'd keep that streak.
If luck was with us.
Nike and I stepped up to take our shots, but both of the rounds went wide. Things looked desperate, but then Sally scrambled up the side of the helicopter, slung out her military rifle and put the fungal horror down.
Facing the last of the horrors with just enough room to raise and fire his heavy machinegun, Merlin let enough lead fly to drop the thing.
There was more howling near the abandoned nomad tent, but Polybius quickly dispatched whatever he found there.
When the dust cleared and the last of the fungal horrors were dispatched, I was glad to see that we hadn't lost anyone. All in all, it was a good day.
The kind of day that you remember for the rest of your life.
I think we're starting to hit our stride as a team. Whatever tomorrow brings, I feel like I can take it on with these fine people at my back.
Polybius is MVP
All others gain +1 XP
4 AP spent on training.
Loot: Scrap Armor and Schematics For A Heavy Machine Gun
Trade: Wasteland Currency and Heavy Machine Gun
Convoy did not level up.
Nike leveled up! +1 to Toughness!
Merlin leveled up! +1 to Toughness!
Polybius leveled up! +1 to Speed!
New recruit: Big Jimmy, a Ready-To-Serve Explorer From a Stable Settlement.
Henrietta goes Hog Wrasslin' but doesn't find any hogs to wrestle. She didn't run into trouble.
Daedalus goes fishing and finds a Secret Spot! (4 Fish) but didn't run into trouble.
Fish 1: C4 & S1; Fish 2: C6 & S2; Fish 3: C3 & S4; Fish 4: C3 & S3
Tried to catch Fish 3, Cunning goes up to 4. Try again, and get it.; Battles fish, but fish gets away and doesn't return. Try to catch Fish 4, fail. Try again and get it. Battle fish, but fish gets away and doesn't return. Try to catch Fish 2, but fail and it gets away. Try to catch fish 1, but it also gets away. (+1 AP for trying.)
* Result obtained was an extra loot roll.
You know, I think one of the things I love about this game is that it really tests me in many ways. Artistically, strategically and writing-wise. It's like a puzzle made of miniatures, and I love that. I used to put together puzzles all the time as a kid, so this feels like a natural evolution of that.
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