Saturday, February 20, 2021

WoAF - Game Session 18

And so, the team repaired their heavily damaged Armored Ground Vehicle at the airport just north of Panguitch, UT.  Pita received his Mech Training from Captain Sekston, and took a spin around the area with Guns, who used the Mech loud speakers to alert the Zombies and Mutants of Panguitch that a vaccine for the virus was on the way and that they could stop fighting.  Whether or not that had any effect on the trench warfare of the town was not evident from the air.  

In the morning Captain Samwise and the crew rolled out of Panguitch and headed north on 89, and then west on route 20.  Once they passed the airport they drove into the desert and built a double faraday cage.  Fred took the data crystal that they had liberated from Mech Base 12 and fought a quick and decisive battle against the dangerous bit of AI on the disk.  He wanted to retrieve any pertinent information that might be useful for the scientists, or anyone else for that matter.  He gingerly linked the disk to his new computer spike (a specialized hacking tool used by Cybernauts for just this purpose), and flipped the switch on his neural-net.  This kicked his mind into Virtual-Space, at which point his mental reactions were operating at micro-millisecond speeds, enabling him to match wits with the AI.  He won the conflict more easily than he expected, in fact, and within 750 milliseconds he had retrieved two map files and a data file that keyed the maps.  He immediately disengaged before the raging AI could make another move.  His mind was intact.  He was pleased.

The maps revealed what Mech Base 12 had been monitoring in the west.  A vast war centering on Las Vegas and extending in a 200 mile radius was being waged by the Red Force, and the Green Force, and the maps showed the disposition and locations of all of the major groups involved.  They surmised that the Red Force must be the Lizardman army, lead by the Shadow King, an ancient Manticore nightmare come to life sometime after the Ultra-War.  The Green Force represented the remnants of the US Army which appeared to be focusing its attack around the town of Saint George.  They transmitted the maps and their findings to the Garfield Hospital Scientists, and Linda gave them specifications for an Ultra-Low Frequency Transmission Station, and the frequencies they could use to communicate with Federation Command.  All of this done, they dug a hole in the desert, marked it, and plopped the old faraday cage with the original spike and the data crystal into it, and covered it over with rocks and dirt.  The AI would not be going anywhere soon.

They cut north on highway 15, and then west on route 21.  They passed through the ruins of Minersville and Milford.  They stayed inside the hermitically sealed AGV with their body suits on, and drove straight through.  The land became increasingly barren, and along route 20 nothing living could be seen at all, not even insects.  Lexi-B conducted mutli-frequency scans, and not even microbes were found alive along certain stretches of the highway.  It was rough country, and the hard dusty ride took a couple of hours.  

They came to the town of Garrison, where they encountered the third site of crucified skeletons just south of the town.  Several members of the crew were sent into paroxysms of despair, but fast thinking and immediate action allowed them to escape driving in reverse over the crest of the hill so that they could get out of visual range of the skeletons.  They decided to route around and went off road north to route 50 and took that east, bypassing Garrison and Baker entirely, and then wound their way along that road to Ely.  Once they went over the pass between Mount Moriah and Windy Peak they found some patches of flora, and once through the gap south of Cave Mountain the flora and fauna returned to normal.  They drove north to Ely and there they discovered two communities living side by side.  The first were the Pioneers who had rebuilt the town in the fashion of the old west, and said that they rejected all modern technology, as they saw the Ultra-War being the inevitable result of High Tech.  Further out, on Cave Mountain, lived the Naturalists, who sent a small group to sniff out the strangers.  These people would not even brook any tech above that of cavemen, and for the same reasons as the Pioneers, only having taken a more radical position on the matter.  In either case, both communities live peaceably.  The people of Ely were friendly and welcoming, and offered the Team food and sustenance.  

Captain Samwise decided not to tarry there long, and so they made their way north towards the Salt Flats along route 93.  They finally arrived at the area where Alt-X believed the original radio transmissions had triangulated on.  The mysterious Black Wind V facility could be seen in the distance using the Vizi-Screens.  From a distance it looked like a mere speck in the vast white expanse of the desert.  Just a tiny cluster of buildings and nothing more.

As the AGV edged slowly north, they came upon a cluster of dead trees that were laying prone across the highway.  As they approached the trees began to move, and then lumber horizontally towards the AGV with their branches being used as arms and legs.  It was a bizarre thing to see.  and Samwise sensed that they could in fact be quite dangerous.  Some of the tree-creatures were up to 70' long, and many were at least 50'.  They must have weighed hundreds of tons each.  Guns took some shots at one, but though the branches splintered, the tree kept moving towards them.  Even the splinters continued to move towards them. Captain Samwise, never one to pass up a science opportunity, suited up, and ran outside to collect a sample.  This was easier said than done, as even the smallest splinter had great strength and writhed slowly in his metal tweezers trying to get at his hand.  He dropped it and it began to bore into the asphalt of the road.  Grabbing it with the tongs again he plopped it into a metal box, and took it aboard.  With this he decided it would be a good idea to stay as far way from the tree-creatures as possible.

As they backed the AGV away, Guns spotted a thin white tower of metal on a hill due east of their position at about 4 miles.  It was located on top of a rocky outcropping.  It positively gleamed with whiteness.  As they watched, the tower unfurled a large metallic disk, and from another tower about five miles south, there emitted a bluish beam of energy which struck the dish, and was absorbed.  The beam persisted for 45 seconds, and then the dish then furled itself up, and sealed itself away within the top of the tower again.  

They used the Vizi-Screens to carefully survey the area and found another tower linked to a gigantic 2000' wide metal net that had been slung between two canyon walls, and appeared to be collecting energy off of what looked like and aurora hovering over the north face of Ferguson Mountain.  They found this entire construction mystifying, as they had never seen or heard of anything like it.  It seemed that energy was being siphoned off the mountain by the metallic net and then beamed north to the collection dish.

At this time it was about 6pm and the sun was getting low.  Linda picked up sounds on the desert and zoomed in on the audio.  It turned out to be a man staggering across the salt flats southward towards the tower.  Zooming in with their Vizi-Screens they saw that the man was ragged, tattered and staggering.  The good Captain sent Lexi-B on a rocket bike to go fetch the man with water and a medical kit.  When the android arrived he helped the man on to the bike.  The Team listened through Lexi-B's audio and found that the man was exhausted and speaking gibberish.  Lexi-B gave him water and flew him back to the AGV.  They tried in vain to question the man, but he appeared to have gone insane ... with fear.  Linda and Pita tried to read his mind, but as soon as they touched it, he convulsed, frothed at the mouth and with a final spasm died.

They looted the body.  On his person they found what Fred identified as a highly sophisticated Pass-Key.  It was jet black, and unblemished with a single scratch and no markings, other than what looked like a spot for a finger print scan.  They decided to follow the man's lead and head towards the north tower as it appeared from his tracks that it was his intended destination.  The tower was lodged on the westernmost rocks of the Salt Springs Management Area, east of which appeared to be a wild life refuge on the edge of the vast white plane of the salt flats.

Fred was nominated to lead Pita and Linda into the tower, if possible.  First, good Captain Samwise surgically removed the dead man's hand so that they could use it to gain access with the card, as Fred understood that without the biometrics of the hand the card would not function.  The tower appeared to be made of a white metal that none of them could identify.  When Fred tried to scratch it to take a sample for analysis, he found that he was entirely unable to do so.  The metal was harder than diamond.  The three were able to gain access using the Key-Pass card, with the hand, and once inside they found a highly complex and sophisticated control room.  The panels were entirely unfamiliar to any of them.  They discovered a round doorway at the bottom of a small flight of stairs, and using the Pass-Key they opened the doorway into a tunnel stretching off in darkness to the north.  The controls of the tower appeared to be completely self-automated.  Having used the Pass-Key it seemed that they triggered no alarms, and so after recording their findings they returned to the AGV.

Meanwhile, the lumbering tree-creatures had made their way along the dirt road and were heading slowly but steadily towards the AVG.  The Team geared up and went off road north to get back onto Route 93 and drove north.  The tree-creatures were powerful, but slow moving.  It was easy to outdistance them.

At this point Pita and Linda, having discussed the dead man's mental state, decided it might be prudent for them to put on their Mind Shields.  They did so, and immediately sensed the presence of another Mind Shield - one of enormous size and strength, forming a huge dome in the desert, and covering the Black Wind facility.

Captain Samwise sent Lexi-B north on a rocket bike to the Wendover Airport in order to test whether or not the gigantic Mind Shield would cause an issue.  Lexi-B did not encounter any resistance, and found the Airport to be completely empty, and devoid of signs of human habitation.  He flew back to the AGV and made his report.  

Samwise felt that the next logical step would be for Lexi-B and he to take a rocket bike together through the Mind Shield and see what might happen.  This was discussed back and forth by the members of the crew for quite some time.  At this point it was about 3am, and the desert was dimly illuminated by a thin sliver of the moon.  Where the tree-creatures were was anyone's guess.  Why the man died so suddenly when his mind was probed was a mystery.  What technologies were in play at the towers was unknown.  There was a lot to discuss.

And that is where we left things for the day.  Fun times.  :)