13 – A Shot in the Dark

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The Lost City

As the bum draws his shotgun, he steps forward and Kronic gets a closer look. He quickly wishes he hadn’t. The man is simply appalling to behold. His hair is black and matted with dirt, arranged sparsely around his head in thin patches. It appears that he would have facial hair if his skin wasn’t so dry and abused.

The man shambles closer yet, slowly and with a limp. That’s when the odour reaches Kronic. It’s the unmistakable stench of a man with dysentery who’s recently soiled himself. His clothes still bare the wet diarrhea spots to prove it. The bum’s tattered, nearly shredded blue jeans hang precariously low around his waist, allowing some of his fetid pubic hair to bush out from beneath. This is a sight that could make a zombie gag. He wears a shoe on his left foot, his right foot bloody and swollen, seemingly ready to explode with puss with every hobbling step. A throbbing, blue varicose vein the only clue that blood still runs through the foot at all…

The man speaks in a raspy, heavily accented voice: “Who dare? Nah’ ain’t lookin’ fer no troubles, nah.”

Kronic isn’t much of a talker – and he’s in a bad mood about the vermouth. Seeing the bum’s shotgun still leveled at him, Kronic Fires… (Attack roll is 18 + 5 = 21; an easy shot. Damage is 11 points – a solid hit!)

The shot rings loudly throughout the Lost City…

Meanwhile…

“Golf?!” Thrakzog snorts. “How in the hells did we end up holing up in a golf building?”

Thrak can see and sense several of his companions darting questioning glances in his direction. Of course, they couldn’t know that several years of his childhood were spent being tossed from family to family after his own abandoned him in infancy. There was one that made its home in the monstrous ruins of a gathering place of the Ancients, where trade was conducted and leisure was pursued, each with the same sort of reckless abandon that told of time being of the essence such that one pursuit would lead invariably to the other in a vicious cycle that played no small part in the downfall. One small section of this grand place of trade and pleasure was still known only as Pebble Beach, where tiny man-made river beds were dry of water and filled with things that looked like rocks, but weren’t. There was an abundance of small while (and multi-coloured) balls and many well-crafted, heavy-headed clubs, exactly like those found here in this new, strange establishment. Thrakazog knew the balls and the clubs meant ‘golf’, and he knew it was a game the Ancients played that somehow involved the fuzzy green surfaces, but he knew not how.

(Ha! You don’t get the XP for figuring it out, but you get 25 XP for *that* tirade!)

Part way through the explanation to his new mates, Thrakazog flings back his head in disgust and lets loose with an even more vociferous interjection than his first one: “What in the bloody hells is that thrice gods-forsaken reek?!” Suspecting trouble outside, he slips the heavy, comfortable wrench from the belt at his side, clenches it two-handed, and looks to Cobb for clarification on the source of the stench coming from just outside the building. Kronic’s out there and this has the potential to turn ugly very quickly…

Cobb sniffs and catches a whiff of the stench, thinking maybe some type of vermin wandered in. Hearing voices from outside, he hops up with a start and points the rifle in the general direction of the door. Thrakazog and Jumrak follow, and the trio inch up to the action, weapons ready, trying to stay out of view.

Cobb carefully peers outside and whispers “Who the hell is that?”

The loud report of Kronic’s gun makes everyone jump!

Kronic: 1, Bum: 0

The bum takes the round in the stomach and falls to his knees. A thick spew of blood splashes onto the debris strewn sidewalk in front of him as his shotgun hits the ground. A look of horror and surprise washes over his visage as he covers up the gushing wound with his hands. His shaking gaze travels slowly down to his abdomen to inspect the damage.

A weak voice mutters “Nah… ain’t… lookin’… fer… no… trrr…”

Then he collapses onto his back and begins to hyperventilate, thrashing about a little on the dirty concrete.

Kronic keeps his distance from the disease-ridden vagrant, waiting for him to either regain consciousness or die.

“Dammit! They found us already?” Cobb asks. He glances back in the direction of the escape route to ensure that no one is sneaking up from that direction. (Perception check is 15 + 4 = 19. Good idea – 10 XP.) All other directions look clear.

Thrakzog gets the gist of the goings-on from the stench, sounds, and report of voices exchanged. Kronic has obviously shot some sort of interloper for whom hygiene hasn’t been a priority for quite some time, and it sounds like he’s in his death throes. Still clenching his heavy wrench in his large hands, Thrak makes his way to the front door to better apprise the situation.

Jumrak inches forward, club ready, to finish off the man (who has by now stopped his weak thrashing).

Cormac and Vash, until now hiding in the bar, peek out onto the street. Cormac sees an opportunity, although he would have liked to have arrived to it without so much noise. He knows he can get that shotgun without exposing himself. He positions himself at the door and quietly suggests, “Kronic, Jumrak – let’s not expose ourselves – to anyone out there or whatever disease he’s carrying. I can get that shotty from here.” He concentrates on the shotgun and channels his power…

(Cormac uses his ‘Telekinesis’ psionic power to obtain the firearm without exposure to the vagrant. 10 XP for using his mutation to avoid a hazard.)

“Let me see that…” requests Vash. (Intelligence check, 9 + 8 = 17.) Carefully examining the shotgun, he mutters: “Pre-Fall. Excellent construction. Unfortunately someone sawed off the barrel and it suffered a backfire. The mechanism is ruined, though we may be able to trade it to some gullible fool.” He passes the useless firearm back to Cormac. “Sorry; looks like he was just using it as a decoy…” (No XP for the bum – he wasn’t enough of a threat to the party.)

The man takes a sudden gasp of air, interrupting Vash, then becomes completely still.

“Looks dead.” comments Kronic, realizing now that he’s down to his last shot of ammo and black powder.

“We didn’t even know his name.” whispers Cormac, seemingly affected by the man’s death.

(GM rolls some Perception checks for the PCs.)

Vash’s head jerks upward suddenly. “What the hell was that?” he asks.

“I heard it too…” says Kronic. “It sounded like the howling of some beast…”

“No beasts make those noises.” responds Jumrak. “That was something else…”

“Sounds like it came from over there…” indicates Thrakazog (pointing towards #12 on the map).

“That’s not all.” says Vash. “Can you hear the shouting? Back towards the slavers? I think we’ve given away our position.”

You hear another howl rising in the distance, then a response – this time closer to you. It’s not from the slaver camp, and it definitely isn’t human. Perhaps Kronic’s firearm discharge has attracted something new? Or maybe they’re just arriving after hearing the disturbance at the slaver stockade…

What are your actions?

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~ by K-Slacker on 21-Jun-07.

3 Responses to “13 – A Shot in the Dark”

  1. *as he is reloading* “Well gigs up! We gonna ambush these slavers or try and find some locals that don’t reek of disease and pull guns on strangers… well at least don’t reek of disease?”

    “I say we head down the street some and check things out some more… stay to the sides, don’t cross the street and keep your heads down! Who knows whats in this creepy place. I hope the slicker has some good ideas ‘cuz I am clean out ‘cept brawling out of here.”

  2. “Maybe we should head towards the water after all. We could follow it into the dark a ways and come back later, in a few hours when the dust has settled.”

    “Guys, we’re standing in a dream! There could be a lot of salvageable items here. We could make a few very profitable trades and live in a bit of comfort.”

  3. I send an approving nod towards Cobb on his idea. “Let’s get moving,” I say as I gather my belongings.

    (I don’t know how comfortable anyone can be in this place…)

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