Scorched Earth

Getting Under Way

In which the characters come together

It is April 27, 2420, Plato, Malar, Red and Lantus have each drifted into the scraptown of Willamina, Oregon, between 6 months to a year ago to lick their wounds and lay low, though only Plato and Malar knew each other at the time. While they have become acquaintances, they have not formed solid bonds of friendship, . . . until now.

Despite it being mid-spring in the northwest, a lack of significant vegetation forces the temperature higher than history claims it should be and the broken streets of Willamina are empty of activity in the early afternoon. Everyone huddles in their homes of concrete, metal and found materials, desperately hoping in vain that the shade will be cooler than the scorching rays of the sun. Only two men relentlessly continue their work: Plato and Lantus. One patrols the town, wary of threats to the citizens’ safety while the other works to repair yet another broken addition to a citizen’s home.

On his return walk from patrolling the town Plato turns at the rare sound of a a vehicle on the broken asphault of the East Road and spots a flatbed truck, laden with about a dozen rough men, barreling down the road toward the town. Getting off the road and hiding himself among the scrap piled alongside it he watches as the truck comes skidding to a halt. Even as the dust is flying up the men on the truck begin jumping off and running up the hills flanking the road. Each chooses a separate house, kicks in the door and begins dragging people out and towards the truck. Those who resist are shot.

Recognizing that he is painfully outnumbered, Plato withdraws and rapidly makes his way back to the center of town where the sheriff’s office stands watch over the intersection of the East and South roads. Without waiting to ring the alarm bell or warn his partner, Malar, Plato takes cover on the west side of the office, takes aim with his mosin nagant, and opens fire on the raiders turned slavers. Every round finds its mark and leaves a slaver dead, cutting their numbers down by three in a matter of seconds.

Hearing the gunfire, Red leaps up from his table, scattering his deck of cards for that night’s entertainment and runs for the sheriff’s office to ring the alarm bell. Lantus likewise drops the repairs he is completing for old man Nathan and, hearing the commotion from the east, grabs his mosin nagant from where it leans against the wall and runs to intervene. Meanwhile, Malar flees the sheriff’s office, forgetting entirely about the alarm bell, he nevertheless bravely runs through town calling for the townsfolk to arm themselves.

Arriving at the top of the southern hill flanking the East road Lantus takes cover and opens fire on the slavers as they work to tie up their prisoners. Between his and Plato’s fire four more slavers are killed and three of the remaining six take cover and begin laying down covering fire for their operations. During the exchange a ricocheting bullet manages to strike Lantus just below the ribs, dealing him a non-lethal wound but forcing him to withdraw to the other side of the hill.

While Lantus engaged the slavers from the hilltop Red arrived at the sheriff’s office moments after Malar and began ringing the alarm bell. Despite the townsfolk’s willingness to take in strangers, they show surprising cowardice in the face of this previously unfamiliar threat and those few who respond to the alarm or Malar’s cries to arm themselves merely step hesitantly out of their homes, holding their weapons uncertainly.

Hearing the alarm and realizing the futility of expecting help from the townsolk Malar turns and runs back to the sheriff’s office to aid in the fight. As he arrives, he, Plato and Red spot another truck of slavers already hard at work on the South road taking prisoners and killing those who resist too much. Opening fire on this new threat it is as if the slavers on the East road were merely distractions from the real raid, only two slavers are felled before they begin withdrawing. As they do so, more shots ring out from Red, Malar and Plato clustered at the sheriff’s office and the slavers are forced to leave nearly half their number lying dead or dying as they retreat.

With the slavers repelled, Malar, Plato, Red and Lantus set about bringing the wounded and dying to the crossroads at the sheriff’s office. Likewise, the townsfolk begin to drift down from their homes to find out the outcome. Lantus and the local doctor set about stabilizing the few slavers not already dead while Malar searches them and catalogues the resulting loot, which amounts to a dozen Colt 1911’s (less than half of which are in trustworthy condition), 8 sets of rough leather armor, ~1100 Crystal and close on to 800 rounds of .45 ammo. It is clear the slavers had come a fair distance.

As the adrenaline of the situation begins to wear off, the townsfolk begin to plead with and beg their saviors to rescue their friends and family who had been taken by the slavers. Still upset over the peoples’ earlier cowardice, Malar and Plato refuse out right, offering them the guns and ammunition taken from the slavers to go rescue their friends and family by themselves. Only one of citizens, Richard Wile, the local merchant, answers the call. His wife has been taken and he is intent on retrieving her as quickly as possible. Perhaps inspired by his bravery or by Lantus’ taking charge and stepping forward to volunteer his services the others came around after a moment.

Once the wounded were dealt with some of the townsfolk began to drag the corpses out into the surrounding desert while the rest were put in the few cells in the jail. While Malar watched over them Red began searching the town for the sheriff and Plato and Lantus took a couple prisoners for questioning. Attempting to rig a torture device from a collection of NanoSod car batteries Lantus hooked the first of their prisoners up to it only to find there was a short in his design somewhere. Growing impatient with the process, Plato shoved his rifle in the prisoner’s face and began the questioning. A few refusals later they were short one prisoner and a new one had taken his place. A repeat of the previous tactics, accompanied by a now working NanoSod connection quickly netted the answers they sought. The slavers have a compound just outside West Salem.

The journey to West Salem takes a full day in the heat, plus another day on the outskirts in the suburban ruins near the river Willamette to re-supply. On the edge of West Salem, so close to their quarry, the party decides to go into town and obtain some information and, above all, gear, before making their move.

West Salem is surrounded a wall of scrap metal, tires and abandoned junk expertly compacted and joined to form a valid defensive barrier. The group make an odd site as the five of them make up more than 50% of the traffic into the city. At the gate two security guards step forward to inquire about the group’s purpose, destination and length of stay. A few simple lies and an agreement to return in two days to check in and the guards let them pass after noting brief descriptions of them accompanied by their names. Inside the walls they get directions to a technologist and find themselves on Merchants Way, the primary thoroughfare for anyone looking for anything. Here, they meet Harold Fimmel, a technologist with a simple stall on the side of the road, who believes he can repair the data card Malar carries with him. After paying him a small fee for his information they move on down the way in search of a weapons dealer where they obtain three moderate power scopes for Lantus, Malar and Plato. Plato also wants a silencer but the dealer refuses, saying he doesn’t carry such merchandise for liability reasons. However, after arguing with Lantus for a few minutes he finally, grudgingly, refers them to Anne Miron at The Broken Glass just across the river in Salem.


Rasselas Rasselas

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