Wednesday, July 01, 2020

WoAF - Game Session 7

Captain Samewise
And so it continues ... the Black Wind Team left "Parks", Arizona and headed East on route 40 towards Flagstaff. Linda's Ultra-Low Frequency transmission of the expedition update to Federation Command was successful, and they managed to receive a partial reply. Unfortunately. the extended distance and the presence of ground tremors in the area cause a good deal of static so they only got back the following:


Along the way Guns sat in the turret swiveling to keep an eye on the surrounding environment. There was a quick debate about whether or not they should return to the town of Seligman to finish off the Mutmaw Gang, but Captain Samwise decided against it. Guns suggested they could tackle that on the return trip, and Pita seconded the point by urging them to stay On-Mission. So Eastward they went. Guns spotted a small crowd of bears moving along the side of the road in the same direction as they were going, but the instruments onboard didn't pick them up. When Linda climbed up into The Perch to take a look she didn't see them either. Guns had a strange feeling about it, but pushed it out of his mind and they continued on their way.

Ahead a storm was brewing over Flagstaff. A big dark storm (I rolled for weather). Lots of lightning. An iridescent glow emanated from the surface of the higher clouds. It looked pretty scary. Dust devils were kicking up across the desert on both sides of the road. They decided to seek shelter on the outskirts of Bellemont. There was a derelict warehouse they found to shelter next to.

Guns had LexiB (their Android) scan the storm to find out how long it would last. He started the scan and about 3 minutes in he says "Captain, my sensors are picking up ..." and then LexiB shuts down. Pita went over to see what happened, and he saw only a slight fluttering of light in LexiB's eyes, but no other indication of serviceability.  Very strange.  This should not happen.  He pulled out his robotics pack and ran a full range of diagnostics. As Pita was doing this, Fred started a full diagnostics on the AGV as well. Linda continued to monitor radio frequencies and scan for any anomalies. Samwise anchored the AGV next to the warehouse (the Armored Ground Vehicle has huge rivets that bore into the ground to anchor the vehicle).

They determined that LexiB would not have frozen in this fashion by any normal processes. The diagnostics didn't reveal any technical problems with LexiB. Guns speculated that maybe LexiB simply didn't want to answer the question, and recommended turning the Android off. At that point LexiB wakes up and says that he seems to have suffered a technical malfunction. "This has never happened to me before," said the Android.  Pita asked him to answer the original question about the storm, and LexiB replied that he would need to run the analysis again.

Suddenly a massive bolt of lightning hits the AGV. No effect on the machinery as it is completely grounded, but everyone inside is temporarily blinded by the brilliance.

"Captain, my sensors have picked up..." and then LexiB goes dark again. Guns insists that there must be something outside causing this, and urges the Captain to leave the area as soon as possible.

Meanwhile Fred has completely mastered the art of Compartmentalization as he watches the numbers crunch down the multiple screens of his AGV diagnostics. He noticed a sudden power surge in the data.  Cross-scanning screens he discovered that the power spike occurred in all six of the Crystalline-Batteries of the AGV at 200% for 250 milliseconds. The power surge came from the energy crystals inside each of the batteries. Any greater surge would have shorted out the AGV's circuitry. He then cross-referenced the AGV diagnostics with the LexiB diagnostics and found that the surge happened at the same moment as LexiB's missing log data. Another strange event that should not have happened.  It was then that Fred noticed the strangest fact of all.  LexiB was running the same exact code on simultaneous processors.  That, as far as he understands Androids, should be an impossibility. Only Quantum Chip machines might do something like this... and Androids do not carry Quantum Chips.  Strange indeed.

Guns spotted something in the shadows along a trajectory that he pre-determined would be a likely avenue for a sneak attack. What he saw, by a flash of lightning, was the shadow of ... a bear? It loomed against the white wall of the warehouse. He shot the machine gun at the container near where the shadow appeared. The container is blasted with bullet holes. But nothing was there.  The machine gun fire, and the circumstances, rattled everyone's nerves.

At this point the entire AGV turned off. All equipment went dead, including LexiB. They were standing in the dark. Fred pulled out a lighter and they could only see by the flickering shadows, among which Fred thought he saw a dark figure standing next to Captain Samwise. He hurled the lighter at it, and they were are in the dark again. After about 20 seconds the lights in the AGV came back on and all systems rebooted. It took about 10 minutes for every system to come back online. After a thorough diagnostic they determined that everything, including LexiB, were back to normal.  And at this time the storm overhead abated, and the winds died down again.  Scanning the horizon east they saw that there was no such abatement over Flagstaff however, and the storm continued to swirl ominously over the city.

Chapel of the Holy Dove
After these events Captain Samwise became wary of taking the AGV into Flagstaff. He started scanning for alternate routes and found a number of back roads that wound themselves through the hills to the north and would allow them to skirt Flagstaff and still get onto route 89 north. So, off into the wilds they went. The roads were rough and the going slow, but they traveled through the night and by dawn they came upon the Chapel of the Holy Dove on Route 180. Outside the red door sat an old man in black.  He seemed to be whittling something.  When they parked the AGV in the lot outside the church, he stood up and went inside the chapel, taking no notice of the party at all.  Samwise, Guns and Linda suited up and went to see what they could make of it.  Once they entered the Chapel they found the old man slumped over the alter beneath the large and broken stain glass window on the far side.  There were a few small pews, and dust covered everything.  The old man, they soon found out, was not among the living.  His robe was intact, but beneath it was a skeleton, its right hand holding a bible open on the verse Matthew 8:22.  Samwise read the verse out loud.

"But Jesus said unto him, Follow me; and let the dead bury their dead."

And when he had finished reading the verse the air was silent and crystal clear, and a single ray of sunlight found a way through the clouds and shone down upon the chapel and all the area around it. And all of the members of the Black Wind team felt refreshed, and all minor wounds were healed, and even Pita felt himself restored to full vigor. After resting there for a little while, they decided to leave and make their way to route 89. But as they prepared to return to the AGV, Samwise spotted a cloaked figure standing in the trees not far from the Chapel. He tried to address it, but the man gave no reply, other than to lift his hand and point at the chapel, and then ominously clench his bony fist. When Guns shined his flashlight on the figure, it turned out to be shadows of branches in the trees and was a figment of their imaginations. And so they climbed aboard the AGV and continued through the back country until the came out upon a long flat plane bounded to the west by vast canyons, and upon which they found a smoldering volcano. The Captain was not inclined to tackle such and obsticle, even in the AGV, and so they turned the sturdy vehicle around and went back the way they came, and found a more southern route by which to access route 89. And while they did so they got a good look at Flagstaff.

The buildings of the city were standing, but dark beneath the storm that swirled over it. Flashes of lightning illuminated the desolate place. It looked empty, and shattered, and unwholesome. They passed by without regrets and found their way onto route 89.

From there they headed north, and after a time, about midday, they came to the plane of the volcano, known as Shit Pot Crater by those who lived in the region before the Ultra-War. In those days it was dormant, but now it was alive with smoke and flame, and the lava flow to the north of it extended for some 5 miles, all alight with red fires. They decided not to take the westward road that lead up to S P Crater, but instead made their way north into the spectacular lands of the Panted Desert. Beyond that the found their way into Gray Mountain. It was empty except for an old worn down truck stop and diner that seemed to have no occupants to speak of. It was now about 2:00 in the morning. Pita took over driving and they moved on.

At about 3am they came to an old Mech Base, probably last used during the war. But it seemed empty as well, though they could see from the road two towering Mechs on their platform stations. They were each 30' tall, and had insignia on them that could be clearly seen with their Vizi-Screens. One was Russian, the other American. Probably the Russian one had been captured during the War, but it was hard to say. The Captain, curious to know if either of the Mechs might be operational after all this time, decided to investigate. And so they turned east onto the small service road and proceeded to inch forward towards the derelict buildings.

And that is where we left things for this session. Fun times.

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