With the new year bringing Doc’s wedding ever closer, we unofficially agree that we should try to take it easy until then. That may have been influenced by Dot reminding us that it would be substantially more than ‘unfortunate’ for any of us in the bridal party to be recovering from senseless injuries during their wedding. Her threat duly noted, we generally avoid the Banshee and the Fringe, where many of our missions are set in motion.
As inevitable as Byk drinking vodka, one of us gets a call from a friend in need. Drake’s lady friend (I can’t call her girlfriend, I only met her once, and Drake is not divulging any information on their status), asks him to have him and friends take a look into a problem that her and her fellow Lonestar cronies are unable and/or unwilling to help with. So we pack in the van to meet a man with a problem at the Banshee.
At the Banshee, we meet Vincent Moore, owner of More Electronics, a business specializing in making existing products better. You know the one with the that catchy “We don’t make it, we make it better” jingle? He is accompanied with an unusual looking woman. Not sure, but there was something strange about her, more than just exotic looks. Anyway, his problem is simple, a helo with five of his employees crashed en route to the SSC, in to the Rat Labyrinth, a area of the Barrens that everyone knows well enough to steer clear of. It’s the one area that even the meanest, and ugliest seem to avoid. Lots of talk about creatures like vampires, and the like. I’m not sure what is true of the rumors, but it’s reputation has earned it a large “Do Not Enter” that even the gangs steer well-enough around, and Lonstar refuses to enter. He sent in a rescue squad of eight for a retrieval three hours after the crash, their last sitrep was that they landed at the downed helo, and were going into investigate. They were never heard from again.
Doc looks like he wants to help Mr Moore, but his marital obligations are looming over head. A trip into the Rat’s Labyrinth is not specifically on his list of things he cannot do before the wedding, but I suspect that number one on that list, being “No not get your fool-ass hurt” would be hard to avoid. But, I can see that he wants to help, Vincent sees that too, and offers a substantial bonus for our assistance. We could net almost 180k per survivor that we return, including those from the rescue attempt. In addition, he will pay over a half-mil for one elf in particular. All the missing people returned could net us over two mil. That could certainly cover their honeymoon to Hawaii that they are planning. We all give him the silent nod of consent, and Doc agrees that we’ll see what we can do for him. We head back to the clubhouse for some much needed TTP.
We make some phone calls and get some intel on Vincent Moore. It turns out the ‘employee’ that is worth the half-mil, is none other than his only son, Anthony. No wonders that he is paying so much for him. Vincent’s wife died in a car accident some years ago, and no one know who his mysterious consort at the meeting at the Banshee was. Just to cover our own end we did a background check into his business and interests. He is quite an aggressive cutthroat business man, feeling no hesitation in eliminating his competition, but he is relatively honest and forthright. He built the business from nothing, and has little to no philanthropic interests. He has been most recently working with Ares in improving their Dual Smartlink Technology.
Drake is racing around like this is a conspiracy nut’s wet dream. Wait, he is a conspiracy nut, so maybe this is a wet dream for him. He starts telling us all about the denizens that populate the area, and what mythological or superstitious tidbit of information that is irrefutable truth. Those of us with less superstitious minds research into the Rat’s Labyrinth but do not come up with anything concrete. It is not a remarkably large area, only 15 by 25 blocks that has been walled off by the rest of Redmond. The wall’s construction seems to be an urban legend as well. Allegedly, in 2049, United flight 647, crashed there, but remarkably, none of the 500+ passengers were hurt. Now here’s the good part – EMT’s were dispatched for rescue,with only half even making it there, the rest having either disappeared, found attacked and emptied at roadsides. When the remaining EMT’s arrived, not a single person was alive at the plane. The entire site was a ruin of slaughtered bodies. Talk of vampire clubs, ghoul parties, werewolf raves now dominate the superstitious and simple-minded. I’m not saying they don’t exist, I just find it hard to believe that the entire district is a self-perpetuating monster zone, complete with zombie-town, ghost picnics, goblin sororities and lycanthrope-only gay bars. It sounds like a cheesy trideo plot. Actually, I think it may be. Regardless, there has to be some substance to this, so Byk & Doc look into getting some equipment that we may need for this expedition. Who knows, maybe Drake is right. I should remember to pack my camera, this could be quite the experience.
We agree that we should not bring in our own vehicle in there. Drake’s been on our asses for recompense for his drones that have been destroyed, and none of us want to foot the bill for a new heli or battle van for him. Drake finally relents and calls a buddy of his at Dragon Flight Charter Services, and gets us a heli rental and a pilot willing to drop us off. He’ll then wait then for us to call, if needed and ETA in fifteen. It’s a long wait, but more affordable than the sum he was charging for a five min ETA for evac. He’ll be here in 3 hours for pick up, so we finish our TTP and load-outs, and soon enough we are on a heli prepping for a hot-drop into the Rat’s Labyrinth. Sure enough, the pilot wasn’t kidding, I don’t even think that the landing gear touched down, before he was back up in the air away from the Labyrinth.
We arrived at the crash site, and there are two heli’s here. The initial one carrying the tech-nerds, as well as another, larger heli, presumably the rescue team’s heli. Drake looks over the first one and comments that there is hydraulic fluid all over the tail of it, so that explains the emergency landing. Both heli’s are stripped clean, there is nothing left but an empty shell here. We see signs of tracks heading out and to the northwest. 6-10 sets of booted prints, so we follow them on to Elm Street. White noise static is all we hear from our TacComms, so we turn them off. Looks like we are running blind now with no access to the ORACLE. We then see a man ahead of us. Well, to call it a man may be a stretch. It is more of a shambling deadish thing that was probably a man at one time, but not so much now. It is carrying an elven head, that looks like one of the scientists. Drek, there goes the maximum profit now. Red shoulders up her rifle and puts one in his head, dropping him. For the moment, that is. He gets right back up, and starts shambling towards us, growling like a… monster? We hear sounds of movement coming from the alleys and buildings around us. Drek, we just walked into an ambush. We go weapons hot and tear into them. Which is usually quite satisfying and accomplishing, unless they have a tendency to get right back up. Oh yeah, and if they are popping out of the damned woodwork all around us. They are coming at us from all angles, but it appears that they stay down if we can tap them in the head just right. Hunter goes all native on us, and pulls out an axe, charging right past me and into them. Well, I can give you two guesses how well that worked out. Moment’s later, is has been torn into by several of them, and we are having a hard time getting an opening to get him back to us. Things break down a bit here. With Hunter out of formation, they start to overwhelm us, with one of the grubby bastards now all over me. I pop my spurs and knock him down a few times, but the creep just keeps getting up and clawing at me. He manages to catch me in the left thigh with his claws, and I am suddenly feeling a painful throbbing in my leg. Drek, I don’t think he barely broke the skin. Then all the children’s stories about infections pop into my head. Drek, am I infected? No time to check, we are seconds away from getting overwhelmed, we need to regroup. Hunter has managed to get his dance partners down, and pulls a grenade to toss. I call retreat and Red cuts through an alley, followed by Doc. Hunter tosses his grenade at the ones in front, and I cover the rear with a 40mm into another group behind us, knocking them all flat.
Moments later, we exit the alley onto Sycamore Street. It looks a lot like Elm d0es, minus the horde of… whatever we just fought. We see a Stuffer Shack a few blocks down from here that looks somewhat defensible, so we make haste double time into there. The front is smashed open and looted, but we quickly find our way into a small break room in the back. We secure it with a table from the room, and catch our collective breaths. We are in deep here. With the Tac-Comms down, we can’t even radio the heli, and there may be more of them than we have bullets for, especially since they seem to ignore getting shot, one of the tings we tend to be quite good at. I can’t ignore my leg anymore, it is now throbbing and burning and hurts like someone just injected boiling acid into my thigh. Doc takes a look at it and kind of blanches. Not real good bedside manner there, Doc. But, I can see why – it is sickly yellowish and looks more than a bit infected. Drek. I’m sure it’ll take more than a shot of penicillin to clear this up. I’d hate to be in as much pain as Hunter is probably in now, he looks like he has been clawed several times, and more severe than just the scrape that I was tagged with.
We take a few moments and Doc does his best at treating our injuries. He does quite well given the circumstances. My leg feels better, but it is still seeping puss. I may need to get that looked at. We hear the rapport of gun fire off in the distance. Assuming that the dead have not taken to the use of military grade small-arms munitions, we hope that it represents something living nearby. We double time it down another block and see weapon fire coming from a second floor building down upon a small horde of undead accumulating outside. An sudden fiery explosion inside the doorway of that same building knocks several more of them down and lights the structure on fire. Drek, we need to get in there and see who is in there before the building becomes a towering inferno. Drake sends out one of his drones down the street to fire at the group at the doorway, hoping to draw them away from the door. It works, as a few of them stagger away towards the drone. We rush the entrance, dropping the few remaining zeds at the door and quickly beat out the flames before they bring down the entire building upon us. Up a short flight of stairs behind a makeshift barricade are some members of the rescue squad. There are two guards here, almost out of ammo as well as three pilots, two from the rescue chopper and one from the initial bird, who is currently nursing her broken leg. Doc tends to her, while we rearm and armor them. Doc works his mojo on her leg, and after one unnerving crack of a leg resetting later, she stands up as good as new. Unnerving. Helpful, but unnerving.
We combine intel with the guards and learn that there are two confirmed killed amongst those needing extraction, one scientist and one guard. The remaining soldiers followed the scientists to the northwest, while these guys holed up with the pilots to wait for their return. From out in the zombie-filled courtyard, we hear someone say, “Da big mon gonna kill yeh.” in an almost intelligible southern drawl. Looking out we see a black man with a straw hat, waving a bloody thigh bone at us, seemingly ignored by the zombies. He backs into darkness and disappears from sight before Byk can get a bead on him. This day just keeps getting better.
We head out and trail the rescue squad and scientists for a few blocks to a long wide overgrown path from the plane crash a decade ago as it tore through the area and crashed up a block or two ahead. Popping from from the undergrowth come undead galore, and we do not take kindly to this and put many bullets in them. We progress slowly, keeping together while keeping the undead at bay. Eventually we make it another block and are at the fusulage end of Flgith 731. Suddenly we find ourselves facing around a dozen dead-ish things that damn near spring out of the ground before a dreadlocked white rasta-man. For real.
In the same marbles-in-the-mouth speech, he states, “Yew all gunna die now.” We try to disagree and open fire at them, Drake and I clear the road at the two in front of him, and Byk unloads into him. A magical shield slows down the salvo, so we sadly do not get the satisfying salsa-creating effect that this usually has, but he does not take kindly and sics his minions on us. They move much faster than expected, and we quickly find ourselves up to our asses in dead, who now have is surrounded in a half-circle and are tearing into us tooth and nail. We are a touch preoccupied fending them off, so we miss the whole ‘rasta-man is casting his mojo shit at us’ tactic. For probably the first time since I’ve know him, I hear Doc swear. The simplicity of his tone, causes me much concern. If it’ wasn’t for Doc, I don’t think I’d have had any idea what no good rasta-man was up to. I look up to see a greenish acrid-smelling wave streaming right at us. Drek. This won’t be good. I glance at Doc, hoping that he has some counter-mojo working here, and see a strange vapor appear around me. Kinda like if you ever watched gasoline burn. If you ever have a chance to have yourself fully saturated in acid, I would recommend avoiding it, it really hurts. I’m not sure, but the vapor-thing seemed to dissipate some off the impact of the immersive death wave. I need to remember to thank Doc. Once my senses return, I see that my GyRoc is are-forured, as is half my gear, but the zombies down and rasta-man is now a puddle where he recently stood. Doc says that the mojo he used for our bath was too much for him to handle, and it killed him. We take out the last zombie, and take a moment to assess our situation.
After a few moments, the acid clears up. Now that we can see and breath again, we see that Hunter is down, and Red is barely standing, again. I avoid making a comment about this career should not have her spending more time on her back than her last profession, she may not find it funny at the moment. Doc and Drake stabilize the crew. Byk’s cannon is also out, as well as many other weapons within the group, including Doc’s engagement ring, which Zany once told me it offers him some magical protection. We gotta get through this, most ricky-tick. We’re hurt, and we’ve lost valuable resources. With these unkillable slags we’ve been fighting and that fact that we still haven’t found the majority of the people, we’re here in a bad way.
We get to the rear of the plane and cautiously enter it. We pass through the luggage storage and it is gutted, as expected. When we get to the seating section of the plane, we see several bodies wearing the security uniforms of the rescue squad. Drek. When we get near it, one of them, a bloodied dwarf, eyes snap open as he weakly draws a pistol. He pauses and breathes a sigh of relief when he sees that we are mostly alive. Around him, are the fallen bodies of two more other security guards. As Doc treats him, he tells us that they were attacked by a dreadlocked black man and a horde of zombies and overrun and left for dead. They took the two remaining scientists and pilot to a nearby school building. We also notice that the lockers are overloaded with jewelry. Red and Drake stuff their pockets full, while Byk empties the armors from the rucksack he was carrying and fills up the remaining jewelry. We head over to the school yard and enter the building.
We quickly make it to the offices and Doc detects some bad mojo in, ironically, the principals office. We enter the room to see, unsurprisingly, a dreadlocked black man, Mr Bad Mojo. He is surrounded by some mojo field. Just inside the shield are mojo-ish symbols in one unbroken circle. He seems annoyed with us, but offers us a chance to leave. However, he will not let us leave with Vincent Moore’s son. Apparently, Mr Bad Mojo has some vendetta against Mr Moore, and does not want to return his son to his father. Byk, tired of us talking, opens up with his ridiculously over-sized pistol, but the mojo shield stops the salvo cold. Drek. On the table in front of him are a strange assortment of dolls that seem to resemble… us? With an evil grin, he picks up one that looks like Red and one that looks like Chiara. They immediately start undressing. Under normal circumstances, this may have been an appealing fantasy, it seems just wrong. I try to get his attention, as Red and Chiara begin seductively attacking Doc, Byk and Drake, but he seems content to watch this unfold. Seriously, here. After more moments of more discomfort that I care to imagine, I see a shadowy figure form behind him. He has not noticed this, as he continues to inconvenience us. Suddenly, the form materializes and standing behind him is the woman who was with Vincent Moore when he hired us. That mysteriously strange, not really human person. She gives us an impish smile and runs her foot over the unbroken circle, breaking it. With that, she throws us a wink, and just disappears. Mr Bad Mojo suddenly drops his confident swagger and looks more than a little angry as his shield just crumbles around him. We open fire on him, but he does not simply stand there let us kill him. He grabs Byk’s facsimile and suddenly Byk pulls his gun away from him, but is trying to fight it. Mr Bad Mojo is not bleeding, as one would hope, but rather crumbling white powder where he is hit. As fast as we are shooing him, he seems to be regenerating. Drek. On a whim, I grab the dolls on the desk, and Byk swings his pistol back at him. Mr Bad Mojo then pops us with some bad mojo and I feel that I have been hit by a concussion grenade. It topples me over and all gets dark. When I come to, Byk is standing over him, with a wooden chair leg jammed into his chest. When I asked him what happened during my little nap, Byk simply says that he fell onto the chair. Hmm… good enough.
It looks like the blast managed to level most of us, so we take a break before moving on. We search the room and discover a small locked safe concealed as a drawer in the desk. It has a key pad, and 1-2-3 doesn’t open it. Doc says that he scanned around and saw living people downstairs. We follow him and head down into the boiler room. In one larger room are around a dozen people just standing there. They do not respond to us, nor even acknowledge our existence. They do respond to orders. Drake speculates that they may have been his slaves and that they may have had their minds wiped. Beyond that room are a series of cages. In the cages is the pilot, Anthony Moore and the remaining scientist. We collect them all and head back up. Doc says that he saw on the map that there was a radio tower a few blocks away that could transmit the interference that has been blocking our radio access. We collect the two soldiers bodies at the plane and head over to the radio station. Sure enough, on the back end, is a make shift generator that Drake turns off. Pay dirt! We immediately get a signal and call in the pick chopper. Fifteen minutes later, we are airborne, heading to meet Vincent Moore at a hospital. Most of us let the chopper drop us off before we get to the hospital, to not attract too much attention.
Doc returns from the hospital and tells us that Vincent was quite pleased to reunite with his son, but did not seem too happy with the return of Lucas Morris, one of the pilots. Although that strange consort to Vincent Moore was with him, Doc never got the chance to talk to her about her intervention with Mr Bad Mojo. We agree, again, that we will take no more missions until after Doc and Dot’s wedding. Speaking of which, I think that I need to plan a bachelor party for him. Drek…