Crackpot #4: At the Job Site

Aug 6, 2017

Well, this is it. I’m coming up to where the factory is, and so far so good. The building looks to be a big two story box. There are not many windows in it either, and the few that do exist all have broken panes. This place has long since been looted of most things worthwhile. Still clutching my two sticks, I take a look to see if all is quiet.

(Meta-question: Are any casualties about?)

The answer to your question is: No

Awareness Check: B: 6+2, R: 7, Success

Looks like the outside is clear, but I would guess inside will be a different story. Better set-up out here. I take my two large sticks and the spool of rope that I requisitioned back at the enclave and begin fashioning a sled. I lash the sticks together in a V, crisscross lash in between the sticks for a bed to set the plexiglass on, and leave enough rope to secure some stacks of plexiglass. Mechanics check to make sure my sled is competent. (B: 5, R: 1, Success) That should effectively double my haul so I can get 4 haul worth of plexiglass and just drag it back. I’ll clear the building first and then come back for the sled.

Is there a house nearby where I could set-up an overwatch position draw out any casualties inside?

The answer to your question is: No

Looks like the town is small enough and the factory far enough from the township proper that there is no immediate building for me to use as a vantage point. What about vehicles?

The answer to your question is: Yes

OK, what type of vehicle?

Random Value from List 1: Truck

Every vehicle in this parking lot has no tires, broken windows, and it looks like the upholstery has been ripped out of most of them, but there is a pick-up truck that looks to be left over from the good old boys. I’m sure when it had its wheels, it was higher than now, but the top of the cab looks like it may be high enough to fend off regular casualties as long as they don’t crawl up the bed. Interestingly enough, the pick-up is still up on a jack where someone was taking off the last tire. Someone must have left in a hurry to leave behind the jack and tire iron. Regardless, that’s as good an overwatch spot as any. Now I need something to draw out the casualties.

I grab the tire iron and try to stealthily approach what looks to be the main entrance for the factory workers. It’s a double door probably with crash bars on the other side. The locking mechanism on the outside looks to be disassembled as someone forced this open long ago. What I really need to do is prop open the doors and make some noise then see what pops up. Let’s see if I can silently approach and open one door. (Stealth check, B: 4+2, R: 2, Success)

I make it to the door and open it up with surprisingly little creaking or squeaking. However, the extra light that shines in the factory will be a dead giveaway that someone has entered. If there are any living people here, they’ll know it.

(Meta-question: Are there any living people inside?)

The answer to your question is: Yes

With the door open, I take a quick look around. Do I see any people? (Awareness, B: 8+2, R: 5, Success) Do I see any casualties? (Awareness, B: 6+2, R: 8, Fail)

“Go your own way stranger,” I hear call out from in front of me. The light from me opening the door reveals a small antechamber with a concrete floor and time cards next to a punch machine hanging on the wall. Standing in front of the door is/are how many people?

Random Value from List 2: One bearded elder flanked by two armed guards

In the second it takes for their eyes to adjust to the light, I see an elderly man pointing back outside as if commanding me back out and two guards on either side with pistols drawn on me. It’s a good thing I’m not given to analysis paralysis. I’m just a coward, so I run. I slam the door back shut and stick the tire iron through the handles to effectively lock the doors from the outside. I whirl to the side of the doors so they can’t shoot me through them and wait for the inevitable onslaught of bullets. It doesn’t come. In fact, no one is trying to get out of the doors. Why not?

I pull up my rifle and yell through the closed doors, “I don’t mean you any harm, but I need in that building.”

“Son, I asked you to go your own way. We mean you no harm, but you will have to leave,” comes the reply. It’s got to be that old guy. He sounds like a level-headed fellow, but those other two had that special glint in their eyes that told me they like the violence of this new world a little too much. He’s probably keeping them in line.

“I’m not leaving. I’ve got a job to do, but I just need access to the machines in there. How about you three mosey on over to the local 7-11 for a rootbeer float and come back in an hour or so? I’ll be gone before you get back.”

What sort of response do I get?

More Details: Adolescent Infatuation

“Wait. A job?” comes the confused response. “Are you a taker?” I then hear some murmurs through the busted windows. “Praise be! We have longed to meet one of your caliber as we believe you will be only one to allow us to complete our mission. We thought we had long been abandoned to looters or loneliness out here. You haven’t attacked yet, so I know you must be a taker focused on your job. Come speak with us a spell.”

OK, wasn’t expecting that. Someone who likes takers? What’s next? They want my autograph? I take a quick peak through the window and pull my head back fast. Looked like weapons were down and they were making their way towards the door. I back up and point my rifle at the doors anyway. No use being stupid.

“Please speak with us. Please,” the old man says as he pushes on the doors only to find them locked with the tire iron. I’m not sure, but I think I hear one of the other guys say something to the effect of, “The prophecy, the holy prophecy.” Great. Nothing like nut-jobs to work around, but maybe I can get by this without anyone getting hurt.

“Good sir, please,” begins the old man again. “You don’t understand how excited we are to finally meet you. We’ve been waiting for so long and didn’t know if it would ever happen. Please, we just want to meet you. Look take our weapons before speaking with us.”

With that last comment, I hear a little grumbling back at the old man but an insistent, “Push them out the door!” seems to do the trick and two handguns come falling out the busted windows to fall on the pavement below. These folks are absolutely crazy to give up weapons, but I’ll be honest, it does earn my trust just a bit. “Alright, I’ll stay and talk for a bit to hear you out,” I say. “Why have you been waiting on a taker?”

More Details: Achievable Balance

“You are the ones who can bring back balance to the world.”

“Look, buddy, that sounds like some Star Wars story, so you better start explaining fast.” At this point, I nervously glance around me. I’d been so focused on the people inside that I’d forgotten all that yelling could have drawn casualties. Do I see any?

The answer to your question is: No but

Nothing, but I do hear some bumping like something hitting one of the parked cars on the other side of the building. I need this guy to talk fast.

“Balance. We need balance. When the living provide for the dead, the dead shall provide for the living. We’ve tried for so long on our own, but to no avail. When we first heard of takers and taker groups forming years ago, we knew we would need that level of experience and expertise to achieve the balance. We know it is our job to care for those in the next state of living, those with clouded vision, but we need a taker to get those things we need to provide for their comfort and continued protection.”

Great. He’s nuts. These are probably shepherds gone mad. That means there’s probably casualties on the inside. I start thinking of a plan as the old man continues his sermonizing and hero-worship.

“We need safe ways to restrain those we care for, and you could provide of with those. We need tools to remove the teeth and nails of our loved ones so they don’t hurt themselves or others. You could provide that. It appears you’re here alone. You must be very capable, a great warrior and provider! Help us! Once we have properly cared for our brethren, this will all end.”

Yup. Delusional. Options? Shoot now while they’re unarmed. It’d probably be a mercy for as far gone as they are, but I can’t bring myself to do that again, not after what I’ve already done. Maybe I could deceive them to get inside the factory floor, but I’d have to clear out the Cs to have a chance at getting the plexiglass. They probably wouldn’t take to kindly to that.

“Give me a minute to think about your offer. I think I see what you’re saying,” I call out, stalling for time. He starts in again on a sermon that I’m not listening to because I just noticed that the sound of bumping into cars is gone, and I think I hear a shuffling or shambling at the corner of the building. (B: 5, R: 2) I knew it! Around the corner comes 5 Cs at only 2 Shambles away! I take a shot and run back to the pick-up truck I spotted earlier. (Shoot, B: 10+2, R: 3) One C goes down, and the rest are definitely focused on me now.

“What are you doing? Don’t hurt them! They are fulfilling their duty! They are protecting us as we protect them!” the old man screams. “Get this door open!” he yells at his followers. They begin pounding on the door trying to get the tire iron to fall out.

(Meta-question: How long will it take them to get out?)

1 rolls of 4-sided dice: 1,

Sum plus any modifier: 1 + 0 = 1

After a couple of futile hits, one of them gets the idea to snake their hand through the crack and shimmy out the tire iron. They’ll be out before I know.

In the meantime, I’ve made it to the truck and up on the roof of it. I know I’m getting to the end of my bullets, and I’ll have to get in a new clip soon. First, let’s take down a couple more of these monsters. (Full offense, Shoot, B: 8+2, R: 7, Success) Another bites the dust, and I squeeze the trigger again. (Shoot, B: 1, R: 1, Crit Fail) Are you kidding! Gun jammed!

The Cs are only one shamble away now, and the three of them are getting closer by the second. I don’t think they can reach me up here, so I can pick them off if they don’t accidentally make it up the bed of the truck. I start clearing my gun jam and putting in a new clip.

Meanwhile, the tire iron drops out of the door and the three yahoos get out and get their guns. “Leave them be!” the old man calls out authoritatively as I finish up with my gun. (One refresh used.) The Cs are all around the truck now. There’s no way to safely run and those crazies have guns pointed at me.

“Hey, they were coming at me. I had to protect myself before I can protect them right?” I call out to the them. The two gun-toting guys look at the old man skeptically before leveling their guns back at me. OK. I just I’ll have to hope I can take them out before the Cs get me. Here goes.

“Enough talk,” I call out and pop a shot off at one of the guys. (Shoot, B: 6+2, R: 1, Success, Separate damage roll, 10 damage to body) My bullet tears through the first guys chest, dropping him immediately. The other armed guy screams and fires back at me while I try to duck behind the scrawny fog lights mounted on top of the truck. (Athletics, B: 8+2, R: 1, Success) His bullet slams into the truck, missing me. Do any of the casualties make it up into the bed of the truck?

The answer to your question is: No

The Cs are being kept at bay, so I need to end this fast. I breathe out, calm myself, and squeeze the trigger at the next guy. (Shoot, B: 1+2, R: 6, Fail) Before my shot leaves, I think of these people as monsters in and of themselves. They keep Cs around and endanger anyone who comes near them. These people aren’t even people. At least, that’s what I tell myself. (Roaching four humanity to hit the guy. Separate damage roll, 7 damage to the head) I scream and pull the trigger deeper releasing even more bullets towards the guy. His heads flies back with the impact. (3 more charges to get 10 damage) Two down.

The old man looks in shock at his compatriots and scrambles for the dropped weapons. He comes up dual-wielding like a fool. (Athletics, B: 1+2, R: 7, Fail, Burning a Will to flip it) Miraculously, his hail of bullets all stray from their intended target (my head). Do any of the Cs make it up into the truck bed?

The answer to your question is: Yes but

One of the Cs gets knocked over by the other two and accidentally falls flat on the bed of the truck. It may take it a few seconds to get upright again, but then I’m screwed. I have end this.

I draw a bead on the old man, find my zen, and pull the trigger. (Full offense, B: 3+2, R: 7, Fail, Roaching three more to succeed) My brain twitches with the horror I’m inflicting on another, but I have to do this. The bullet finds its target. (Separate damage roll, 9 damage to the head) I release an extra bullet for good measure and the old man drops. The C below me is scrambling to its feet, so I take a frantic shot at it point blank. (Shoot, B: 2+2, R: 8, Fail, Using my last will to flip it) The C goes down. Do the other two make it up the truck bed?

The answer to your question is: No

With things relatively quiet, I use the last two bullets in my clip to take out the remaining Cs. (Shoot, B: 9+2, R: 10, Success) They drop, and the horror of what I’ve done starts to sink in. (Self-Control 2, B: 3+2, R: 5, Fail, 2 more trauma damage putting me one away from crumbling)

After taking a few minutes to lie to myself that I had to do what I just did, I hop down from the truck and scavenge what I can off the guys. Waste not, want not, after all. (Scavenge, B: 7+2, R: 4, Success, I’ll take the 7 bounty) I know they had two handguns, but they also have some bounty probably from all those they were shepherding. Now for the inside.

I head back into the antechamber and listen at the door. Sounds like shuffling movement from inside again. I pop in my last clip (last refresh), and open the second set of doors. “Hey, dead heads!” I yell. “Over here!” How many are there? (B: 3, R: 9) Looks like only three of them nine shambles away. It’s too dark in here to get a good shot, so I prop both sets of doors open with the bodies of the shepherds while I wait for the Cs to move closer. It’s pretty simple to pop those three as they shamble their way out. I just keep kiting them until the third one goes down. (3 bullets used) Not worth scavenging their bodies and risking infection especially since the shepherds seemed to have their bounty already anyway.

Over the next hour or so, I rig up a torch out of a busted up picnic table leg from around back and eventually find a screwdriver in the supervisor’s office. (Thanks, Rager! Forgot to tell me I’d need a screwdriver!) It takes me another 2 hours to find enough plexiglass plates that haven’t been broken around the factory floor. Some of the machines are easier to get the glass off than others, but I finally get 4 haul’s worth strapped to my sled and take off for the enclave. Pulling this stuff is killing my chest wound from earlier today, but it’d be unwise to wait around for a night out here. It’s safer to get back as soon as possible.

When I make it back to the enclave and settle up with Rager, I end the day with 33 bounty after upkeep and selling the two handguns. That’s enough for me to fully heal (9 bounty), make my first milestone, and have 4 bounty to spare. Not a bad day’s work for this taker.