Badass Dragons of the Wasteland - Round Eight


#1

Gods, that was the longest night of my life. Felt like five months before the sun came up, and though the night felt hotter and drier than anything I’d ever experienced, it only got worse when the sun eventually rose. Within hours I knew I couldn’t last the day without a drink, and the rest of the Drivers didn’t look any better.

I was really beginning to suspect that they were going to decide I wasn’t worth the effort. I couldn’t blame them. I was actually surprised they were still there in the morning. Couldn’t have been for me. I was sure they were only there for Marion, and they had to be losing faith even in her. But somehow, they were still there.

Maybe they’d run out of pepperoni.


High noon, oh, I’d sell my soul for water
Nine years’ worth of breaking my back
There’s no sun in the shadow of the wizard
See how he glides, he’s lighter than air?

Dawn breaks across the scorched desert, and the endless standoff stands on. Grubby fists rub at sand-crusted eyes, stiff spines crack, mutated bladders void the morning’s complement of caustic uric paste into SHITGO intake thrones, and the eternal flame of Bill’s pizza oven keeps starvation at bay, though lately the toppings have given off a distinctly… well, recycled vibe. Let’s just say that the imperfectly ground-up bones and hair in the pepperoni has taken some getting used to. Oh, and the “sun-dried tomatoes” are neither. The pineapple is probably safe to eat, since Bill’s Pibble caught it and slaughtered it fresh before the sun rose.

There has been no progress, all through yesterday and the long hot night. Fatigue and tension wage war inside everyone’s pounding skulls, and sooner or later the delicate balance will be shattered by the first Driver who can’t take it anymore. A peek through a borrowed pair of binoculars reveals the Kid has spent the night patiently gnawing through the battery cables knotted around his wrists, and he’s currently throwing rocks at the head of his Gorn guardian, who doesn’t bother to duck and barely seems to notice.

Click to embiggen @penguinchris’ awesome map.

Panning the view to the left reveals Toecutter stifling a yawn as he holds the tip of his flamethrower against the side of the blue plastic portable SHITGO housing that contains the Marion Gen V. The pilot light has burned a hole through the side of the outhouse, dangerously close to the cooling array on the upper wall.

Fleetwood idles in his Caddy next to Toecutter’s rig. He seems grimly amused by Cougar’s tenacity.

“You know, darlin’, the Sally Kruger I usedta know might have been one stubborn gal, but she knew when to pull the plug. You got no more aces, sweetheart. You’re just embarrassin’ yourself out there, jeopardizin’ yer young son, and makin’ a mockery of badassery. Just let it go. Toecutter and me, we got you over a barrel. You give us any more grief, or try to outshoot us, and this fancy outhouse you like so much gets turned into a melted plastic shit sandwich, and your Kid becomes a lizard-snack. On the other hand, you let us take the outhouse and go unmolested on our merry way, and you and your kid and all your motley gang of fools can go your own way, to live and fight and die howsoever you goddamn well please.”

Cougar rumbles her hoarse response: “That ain’t no choice at all.”

Fleetwood feigns shock. “Child, you cut me to the quick. You act as though I’ve railroaded you into a… whaddayacall it…”

Toecutter supplies, “Untenable.”

Fleetwood nods his thanks. “Untenable position. Honestly, I ask the question you’ve been asked too many times before: did you really think taking the boy to another goddamned planet was better than making your life work down here?”

Cougar stares daggers of hatred.

“Look around yourselves. Look at each other. You’re exhausted, wounded, spent. You’ve all been chasing a comically ridiculous dream. Where is your star? Is it far? Is it far? Is it far?!

Then Toecutter joins the refrain: “And when do we leave? I believe, I believe, yes, I believe!”

He pulls a small box from his belt and presses a button. Out of Junior’s E.A.R.A.C.H.E. blasts the chorus as Fleetwood and Toecutter dance a madcap jig:

In the heat and the rain
With whips and chains
To see him fly
So many die
We build a tower of stone
With our flesh and bone
Just to see him fly
But we don’t know why
Now where do we go?

Hot wind, moving fast across the desert
We feel that our time has arrived
The world spins, while we put his dream together
A tower of stone to take him straight to the sky
Oh I see his face!

As one, all eyes turn to the face of the Kid. The Kid blinks a few times, then looks to his mother. Tears well up in his eyes. He drops the rocks in his hands, falls to his knees, and sobs like the small boy he is.

“Look at your boy, Sally. He gets it. He understands. All this death and suffering, just to make him fly, straight to the sky… but he don’t know why!

Cougar can’t look at her son any longer. She turns to look at the assembled Drivers, searching their faces for hope, for ideas, for a plan, for any kind of support.

“What do we do?”

Even the newest arrival, Deadly Harry on her riding mower, isn’t sure what to say to this.


“Oi, mate.”

“I got some lads we could call. Buncha blokes owe me a favor. Say the word, and I’ll call 'em in.”


Way back at the Ark, the kids rescued by Bill and The Major back in Round Six listen intently to the TCB, trading binoculars back and forth. They exchange worried glances.

They haven’t had much time to get to know the Kid, but they know who his Mom is. They’ve envied him for having a Mom, but now they start to wonder if having a Mom is going to make the least bit of difference for the Kid’s fate.

Being rescued had seemed like an impossible dream, and they’d barely had time to enjoy it before the familiar crushing oppression of reality descended again. Would they live through the day? And would they want to?

Not one of them believes they could help the situation any. Few of them had dared believe that room would be found for them aboard the Ark, if it ever did leave for Mars. But with even that faint, slender hope evaporating before their eyes as if melted by the scalding sun, their resolve begins to stiffen.

They are small. They are fast. They are sneaky. Until the Super Mutants got the drop on them, they’d survived parentless for years in the Wasteland. Nobody would easily get the drop on them again. They use a TCB frequency at the end of the spectrum, normally too distorted with interference for the grown-ups to use. They hastily hammer out the rough skeleton of a plan, and slip away from the Ark to execute it.

At least one of the Drivers grew up, long years ago, among the Lamplighter Cave orphans. Maybe he, or others around him, remembers that old TCB frequency. Maybe the kids’ hurried conversation has been overheard. Maybe not. It was a long time ago, after all.

Cougar’s plea echoes between the escarpments of Vasquez Rocks.

"What do we do?"


The gameplay has changed, round after round. This one will be no exception. For once we’ll try something that hearkens back to the dawn of the RPG era. You know your assets. You see the situation before you.

What do you do?

The only real rules are those we’ve held since the beginning: whatever you do has to be justifiable within the world as we’ve created it, and cannot contradict anything that someone else has posted before you. If we buy it, then it happens.

This Round ends Monday evening at 7:00 PM PDT, but there will be back and forth before then. Make a move, hurl a taunt, offer a negotiation with Toecutter, Fleetwood, or another Driver. Put together a plan. Call in supernatural reinforcements. Deploy some kids. Do something.

Twenty-four hours of Real Time from now (7:00 PM PDT Saturday) will be a short interval of Game Time from now. More than a couple seconds, probably less than a few minutes. Toecutter and Fleetwood need time to have their Turn, reacting to what you all decide to do, collectively or individually. They will post their response. You will all have twenty-four hours to react to that. 7:00 Sunday (which will, again, be mere moments later in Game Time), TC and FW will again have their Turn. After that, you all will have twenty-four hours to respond. And then, Monday evening, the actual Round will end, and we’ll have to analyze the results to see who lives, who dies, who escapes, who gets captured, who profits… all that fun stuff. So it’s like we have three mini-rounds of back-and-forth before the Big Deadline of Monday night, when the actual Big Actions take place, and we see what results. The three mini-rounds aren’t meant for pulling out your sniper rifle and taking out Fleetwood before he can react. They’re more intended for negotiation, collaboration, and setting the pieces on the chessboard. That way, if circumstances keep you AFK for one of the mini-round deadlines, you won’t miss anything too terribly vital.

So now… What Do You Do?


Note: Jane will be posting soon with her insights and help.


Badass Dragons of the Wasteland - Round Eight Prologue
#2

“…The Aristocrats!”, De’Ath finished his tired joke with a flourish.

Nobody laughed.

Blimey, you’re a cold audience, he grumbled.

“Okay, so I guess it’s time we did something. Anyone got any ideas?”


#3

Hi everyone,

I am sure many of you suspect that I store a lot of things in my trunk, like weapons I haven’t told anyone about, extra ammunition, extra pepperoni, etc. - and I don’t blame you, because I am often able to pull things out at a moment’s notice. However, it turns out I’m just resourceful and know where to find things. The SHITGO conversion took up so much space in my tiny car - you may be surprised at how tiny a Subaru 360 actually is - that all I have room for are a few clothes (I do need a new outfit every time a picture is taken), a clipboard, and a few notebooks (plus one copy of the earlier edition of my book).

I am keeping track of everybody’s progress in one of my notebooks. The thing is, as we inch further and further into the desert, it’s been getting really hot and some of my… coughextrapepperonicough leaked and saturated that particular notebook.

I can still read most of it but for right now we’ll have to wing it. You all know, basically, what your vehicles are capable of anyway without me having to tell you, so go ahead and get your planning started right away. In the mean time I’ll try to wipe off some of this pepperoni and get you all the information you may want [tomorrow].

Now, there are a few special things I had been keeping track of, and this is important information we may need to complete the tasks at hand - our toughest yet. These are things you may have forgotten but this stuff might be really useful, who knows. I certainly will be impressed if you manage to find a use for any of this stuff.

There may be more (and feel free to remind me) but here’s what I recall:

  • Obviously, the E.A.R.A.C.H.E. - don’t think anybody forgot that since Junior has been blasting it continuously since we last spoke
  • 3D-printed replacement fingers - those are removable right?
  • Some of you are still infested with squid
  • Likewise, guaranteed there are a few APCs kicking around in some of our exhaust systems
  • Momo is radioactive
  • Some sort of weapon was recovered from Stark’s robo-dog, what was that again?
  • We do have the Genesis Device - Fleetwood still doesn’t know that it’s fake, remember
  • There are indeed a lot of guns and weapons. I’m sure you’re all familiar with what you have. In particular we do have a lot of rocket launchers. Keep in mind that conventional weapons may not be effective for a straight-on frontal assault - Fleetwood’s HQ among the rocks is smartly designed for defense from that, but I think we can definitely find clever uses for things, especially the rockets, which should be able to inflict heavy damage on the rock formations here.

Again, if there’s something else you have from previous missions, let us know - someone might think of a good use for it. Also, anything you can think of that we probably have at hand (car parts, tow chains, etc.) is definitely usable.

XO -
Jane


#4

Well, I’m not much of a one for thinking, I always had a little man from the village who did that for me, but…

I figure I have a great playlist for Junior to stick on that old E.A.R.A.C.H.E of his. I reckon Fleetwood would appreciate it.

Whatever the plan is, I’m going after Mad Mel. It’s clobberin’ time, I believe the phrase is?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the foggiest about what state the Iso is in, or what Bill and Clank have bolted onto it. Frankly, I’m a little scared to look in the boot.

I feel like something out of a Top Gear episode:


#5

Last I checked, De’Ath was down to 22 of his normal 51HP, though still sporting his +8SP Nike Flyknits and his +20MV Starfleet Text. A tad more fragile than he’d like, but faster and sportier than ever. If he plans something involving movement, there are worse people to make the attempt.


#6

It’s been so long, and my memory isn’t what it was.

What the hell was this?

Last I checked, “normal” was 68. But hey ho. I remember being nippy and shooty, and pretty well armoured, at least. But also gently used.


#7

I had to look it up myself to be sure.

In Stark’s executive office, in the top-left corner of his desk, should be the warranty card for the Ark’s OS. On that warranty card is a unique serial number. For our purposes you can think of it as the “launch codes” but really, Stark was nothing more than a scatterbrained playboy billionaire who could conceive and design any machine or computerized system anyone could imagine, but was forever losing his car keys in his own jacket pockets and spilling his Froot Loops down the front of his lapel. It’s just goddamned typical that the serial number on the warranty card for a totally off-the-shelf OS should be the decryption key for his spaceship to another planet. The smug, lazy prick.

And I really had to dig to remember this one, but Cougar still has the decomposed paw from De’Ath’s late lamented cyberpooch in her trunk. I think it ended up there after the Citadel raid:

Cougar gritted her teeth and surreptitiously patted the smelly paw she’d dug up a couple of nights ago. She hoped she wouldn’t have to use it.

I believe that thing is probably quite destructive, one way or another, though she’s forgotten about it completely.


#8

I went by the results in Round 7, around halfway down this post here. Maybe you started that round with 51, not being up to full spec due to prior damage. But yeah, nippy and shooty nearly without peer.


#9

I’ve never been up to full spec. There was some kind of racist conspiracy 'gainst forrin ve-hic-ules, so far as I remember.


#10

You did take some tough missions, too. Glad you’ve survived so far.

Anyway, there’s a Stretchbot hereabouts someplace. If we don’t seem him before Monday night, we’ll certainly see him after.

Or maybe Bill and/or Clank are still kickin’.


#11

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more;
Or close the wall up with our English dead.
In peace there’s nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility:
But when the blast of war blows in our ears,
Then imitate the action of the tiger;
Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood,
Disguise fair nature with hard-favour’d rage;
Then lend the eye a terrible aspect;
Let pry through the portage of the head
Like the brass cannon; let the brow o’erwhelm it
As fearfully as doth a galled rock
O’erhang and jutty his confounded base,
Swill’d with the wild and wasteful ocean.
Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide,
Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit
To his full height. On, on, you noblest English.
Whose blood is fet from fathers of war-proof!

Yeah, two different battles. Whatever.


#12


I see what some of yous are implying, but that’s a different MacCready. No relation, but I heard about him. Though old uncle Egg Shen might have put me in a corner, he never put me in an orphanage.

But, yeah, I know what these Lamplighters can do when given a chance.



#13

Channing reporting in. Last I checked I had a MK2 phaser. Now normally, I would be plenty happy pointing this at my enemies, and looking smug at the results, but if someone needs to weld some metal, or needs a heat source remember that those star fleet fellows used phasers for all sorts of shenanigans.

Hey Junior, (@funruly) How did Toecutter hijack your playlist? Can you pick up any other TCB transmissions on the E.A.R.A.C.H.E.?


#14

(( OOC: Clank checking in, last I recall, I was beat to hell… ))

http://virtual-host-discourse.global.ssl.fastly.net/uploads/default/original/2X/5/562b5877e949e6d5d38241dde21cd2d80de085e8.jpg

~ the battered, fragmented, mechanic hears his stomach rumble as the effects of the 'shroom pizza fade fade to a permanently altered consciousness. His old biologicals are still hungry though, so he reaches bemusedly for the cardboard wrapper from which that last pizza was barely distinguishable in flavor. He admires the art only briefly before devouring it, one little square at a time, wondering about the purpose of all of the little lines of perforation.

(( OOC: More coming in a bit, I was up until the not-so-wee hours playing Wasteland 2 ))


#15

Oh, that’s nothing to fret about. Just Lemmy leaving the dial set to right-wing radio `tis all.

I have no idea what that limey finds appealing about that Lush Rimbaw. But he does.

¯\(ツ)


#16

I’d like to repair my car as much as possible, then choose Mission 1.

However, since that doesn’t seem to be an option, what do we do?

A little known secret that I picked up a few years ago (I used to do a lot of pub quizzes back in the day) is that Vasquez Rocks aren’t really rocks. It’s a giant movie set, built by Universal Pictures back in the 1930s for Werewolf of London.

The rocks are just painted polystyrene. We could just huff and puff on the E.A.R.A.C.H.E and blow Fleetwood’s HQ away.


#17

I managed to get much of the pepperoni off, and have some updated information. I think it may not yet be complete but it should be useful.

First, there are additional special inventory items that many of you have. Many of you have fancy footwear, and there is quite a bit of additional Stark Star Trek weapons and other items (like dilithium crystals) on top of the phaser Channing @gwwar reminded me about.

If you’re curious, take a look at this page in my notebook.

If you hold it up to the light, you can see through it because of the pepperoni grease. But you can still read about some of the aforementioned recent acquisitions.

The next page is currently illegible, and I suspect there may be some errors in the vehicle statistics. Rest assured I do have the correct information… somewhere… if anyone has a chance to look over their vehicle and let me know if the information on that sheet looks accurate, that would be helpful.

So far, some good ideas have been put forward. I think with rockets and the E.A.R.A.C.H.E. we can definitely crumble some of the rock defenses. However, that will block our path, so we need a solution for that too. Maybe we could find something to weld to the front of some of our vehicles (using @gwwar 's phaser) like a snow plow.


#18

Sorry, folks, but dinner’s gonna be a wee bit late tonight. That is, I’m out at dinner longer than expected, but I’ll be back ASAP to clue you in to what Toecutter and Fleetwood are up to. It seems my phone isn’t up to it.


#19

Just over yonder, behind an outcropping of rock beyond the compound entrance to Fleetwood’s HQ. Light gleams off a lens.

Looks like someone’s got an eye out for you, too. Hey, wait a second there. A second glint?

I suspect he may not be alone.

Who’s his prisoner?


“Right. Standin’ by for yer word. Hand on switch.”


Yep, they’re quite versatile, and it seems yours has a nice full charge. But wait a second… you start feeling a vague tickle at the base of your skull, like a TCB message is coming in. It’s… it’s from Toecutter. And he’s not using the private channel he used with you last time. The first thing you hear is your own voice, from what seems like months ago:

“Remember what we talked about last time, Channing. You’ve had a bit more time to think on it. Surely your preference is to be on the right side of history, isn’t it?”


None here have been through as much as old Clankenstein. His consciousness flickers with warring images and voices, some from long ago…


…and some more recent:


For now, Clank’s own consciousness maintains control, and he does his best to quiet the voices in his head and concentrate on the urgent matters at hand.

“Still kicking, Wrench? Well, we’ll see about that. That was a fine force-bubble you rigged up for us. And a fine remote killswitch you engineered into it on the sly as well, contrary to my specification. I do believe I’m gonna be calling in some warranty work on your cracked ass, first chance I get. You had my attention before. Now you’re about to profoundly regret catching my eye.”



#20

Oh no, not that guy. He’s nuttier than Mel. Not a fan of cars, all about the public transport.