Dead... and Back is a survival horror Role Playing Game. The Anarchy Zones is its official setting - aliens, reanimates, and the ruins of 2055 America.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Raider Week: Star Sinister

Known Markings:
A simple pentagram with an outward canting sword extending through the points on either side.

Most Star Sinister equipment is painted in bright hues shifted towards the blue/violet spectrum, including a few odd colors that luminescence under certain conditions. It looks rather garish to most humans, but the aliens in the group seem to think its a rather impressive display.

Authority mostly lies with the aliens due to their access to heavy weapons and control of technology. However, the humans are not necessarily second class, as they are the ones who know the terrain and scavenge.

Estimated Forces:
Enrollment may be as high as several hundred, in part because star sinister has far lower requirements for joining than most other large raider groups.Tower Reversed looks for smart opportunists over simple bandits, Ambulance Chasers want medics first, Hunter's Legion makes recruits swear in to a set of ethics, and Stalin's Posse wants loyal communists or good spies. Star Sinister doesn't care - bring a tithe of guns, food, or equipment, and prove you've got a skill for shooting or beating people with your bare hand, and you're in.

Notable Equipment:
Given that the group is a collaboration between humans and aliens, more than a few pieces of alien tech have made it into the group's armories. These include Eekaidie armor, small laser towers, gyrojet weapons,and even radiation cannons. Due to limited availability of spares for these items, they are often only used in special occasions - intimidating towns, defending the home base, or high value convoys. Outside these alien additions, most of the group is fairly poorly equipped, and must make do with normal personal weapons and a few technicals.

This rapidly switches between "He who dies with the most toys" and "We are the brotherhood of the damned". On one hand, the group offers protection to just about anyone who cares to sign up - far better than going alone. However, it is very much a gang of criminals and has its share of psychopaths and scum that wouldn't get into a more savvy raider group.

It is unknown what the Planetary Citizen code of justice is like, but every society has its criminals. Between limited supplies, the demands of colonization, attacks by abominations, and militias of former residents - all on top of preexisting faction tensions - its little wonder that some citizens go rouge.

Nor is it odd that some zone wanderers would want to meet up with these wayward Citizens. Just having an alien ally brings mystique and intimidation. Fast reflexes, keen senses, and small size make them excellent scouts, while the power of an Eekaidie is not to be dismissed. Most groups only find one or two such PCs, if any at all - but Star Sinister has several dozen in their ranks.

The Sinister ones rely mostly on numbers granted by unrestricted recruiting, and the ruthlessness of including hardened criminals in their ranks.  Many bounty hunters know that a Star Sinister Camp is the first place to look for their quarry, and the last place to seek them out - as the group is quite protective of its bivouacs and somehow enforces a regular order within them not seen when the group members are anywhere else. Only the Tower Reversed seems willing to fight this group on its home turf, and that is as much because banditry pushes into their desired territory as altruism.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Raider Week: Stalin's Posse

Known Markings:
A crossed sickle and rifle is the main glyph.

Member attire tends to alternate between two extremes. Often the ideal is "simple proletarian dress" to blend in with outsiders and show their commitment to austerity. Other times, its starched uniforms to show unity and the efficiency of their new reign.

In theory, the group is run collectively based on the model of the old Soviet Union - part parliamentary democracy, part three way power-sharing between the elected officials, military arm, and intelligence group. It is hard to tell how well this holds up, as there are visible schisms in the groups leadership between those who desire communist government rule forever, versus those who see it as a temporary measure only.

Estimated Forces:
It is unknown how many people comprise this group. They use a great deal of subterfuge in their dealings, and carefully disguise their true strength. Most groups that lay claim to a unifying sign and ideal tend to be between fifty and a hundred members, but occasionally more.

However, it is known that unlike other groups, they do have dedicated arms of intelligence.

Notable Equipment:
The group maintains a few power-armors for its own use, and holds them up as a sort of ideal.

More impressively they have an excellent network of cell towers, ground-lines, and drop-boxes. Although their transmissions aren't as reputable as those from 104.3, New Birmingham, or really most other sources of news - their communications and intelligence gathering abilities are nearly unmatched.

To rebuild quickly, the people must accept strong rule and forced allocation of resources for the time being. Perhaps the council of soviets will obsolete itself, or perhaps new technology will never make it irrelevant.

This group can be summed up in two words: Communist Robinhood.

If the country is to be rebuilt, you can't say "please". Stalin was able to build a nuclear armed military second to none from a feudal agricultural system - all in spite of the occasional famine or fascist. Stalin's Posse members often see themselves as the ones taking charge and making the hard decisions to rebuild, rather than the president hiding in Vegas or theocratic clowns down south building their own city on the hill. Furthermore, it would seem that modern technology - from polling the populace through the SPHERE to micro-factories to handle local shortfalls, a non-free-market based system could work.Central banking and credit has already been discarded out of necessity - why not ditch the rest of the system?

Of course, much of this may be nostalgia tinted by sixty years of no Soviet Union.

Unlike many other groups, they tend to avoid relying on brute force. Instead, they put on shows of efficiency while wearing uniforms, and other times seem to disperse, their members entering other settlements and groups to observe. Materials are taken through redirection, lost vehicles, or internal blackmail, rather than boldly stopping caravans. Of course, their communication networks allow for rapid mobilization and response giving a great impression of numbers and force.

Oftentimes, the SP acts less as outright bandits, than king-makers for political machines. They promise agricultural machines, arms, food, and electronics to those who agree to support a communist regime. When there are internal arguments, they favor the side that seems to mirror their views. When there is no internal conflict, SP members will try to create one.

Although the Free City of Tesla seems to have a socialist system in place, they do not maintain ties to this Raider group.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Raider Week: Ambulance Chasers

Known Markings: 
Officially the symbol is the Caduceus (a winged rod with a helix of serpents) rendered in blue and red. The easier to draw graffiti tag is a crossed scalpel and syringe. Other common medical signs rendered in odd colors (such as a yellow first aid cross) are occasionally used as well.

Personnel are encouraged to dress in a manner according to their profession - lab coats or EMT jumpsuits.Even without uniforms, they tend to have arm or headbands with medical symbols. Most of their vehicles are marked with a first aid cross.

Although it it a common mistake, first aid is not symbolized by a red cross - that is the mark of an international aid agency. A first aid indicator is a white cross on a green background.

Medical training is considered a prerequisite to gaining voting rights in the group. The leader is known by the title of "Head Surgeon" and is assisted by administrative staff. Beyond that the chain of command is quite short - most are grouped into response teams of varying specialties - surgery, fire, vaccination, attack, support, and scavenging. Each team in turn is equipped with vehicles as necessary to find suitable locations to set up clinics.

Estimated Forces: 
The group is known to have at least two hundred members, drawing from army doctors, fire fighters, police, and other first response groups. An even larger number of people willingly following to gain access to health care and other services.

Notable Equipment:
The group maintains at least two functioning hospitals, and has set up several smaller clinics. At this time, they seem unable to manufacture nano-medicne, but are capable of creating at least some standard vaccines and other medications.

They maintain a number of fire engines and ambulances - which most other scavengers tend to overlook due to size, fuel requirements, and all too high visibility. Enough other high-performance vehicles are on hand to lend credence to the rumor the group is more about racing than medicine. Supposedly, they control a bio-fuel refinery to feed all these machines, though no outsider seems to know where it might be.

Although not a large military force, they do have a few emergency response power armors, and often take payments in the form of arms. Many of their unofficial followers are willing to fight for the medics to repay services rendered. They are not to be under-estimated, but are one of the more peaceful groups under the raider heading.

According to the scholar Desiderius Erasmus, "In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." In the land of the diseased, those with medical knowledge should be elevated.

Many of the good doctors died in the Event - on their feet and trying to help during the panics and turmoil. Most surgeons had been replaced by more precise computer controlled robots and nano-machines - the EM pulse quite literally erased that profession.

But paramedics are survivors, trained to move fast, think fast, and heal fast.In turn, linked by their common experience, many came together.Eventually, they formalized a coalition dedicated to acquiring healing supplies any way necessary and tending to those in need.

Despite their seemingly altruistic origins, they are not above the occasional theft or hijacking. Acquiring faster or more rugged vehicles is seen as a service to the greater good - they can respond to emergencies easier. Attending one of their clinics can also be a pricey experience, though they are willing to waive fees on occasion, and are professional enough to treat first and demand later.

Ambulance Chasers are proof that not all gangs are simply out for themselves.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Raider Week: Tower Reversed

Known Markings: 
There are two widely used symbols. Those with an artistic bent or time draw an inverted rook chess-piece. A quicker short form is an upside down "R" with a horizontal bar along the vertical leg to make a "TR"

No standard dress code is enforced amongst the members. However, their esprit de corps shows as each might refer to them-self as a Man (or woman) or the Tower.

Many of the leaders are highly educated, and the rank system is based on school administration.Dr. J.C. Kurtz is the acknowledged Superintendent, and overall leader of the group. Beneath him are deans, professors, TA's, and then simply members.

Estimated Forces: 
The full roster is unknown, but lower estimates place the group in four to five hundred, split between at least half a dozen bases and depots. Some have guessed the figures to be as high as twothousand, though this seems unlikely. Members come from all walks of life, though no Citizens have been spotted in their camps.

Notable Equipment:
Being such a large group with a huge territory, they have been able to recover a great deal of equipment. Their vehicle allotment cover everything from Armored Personnel Carriers to Zodiac inflatable boats. Rumors hold that the group could probably hold their own against any city state army aside from the Vegas Armored corps.

If there is any one unifying belief, it is that the best way to operate is the carrot and the stick. Those who surrender or pay tribute are treated well, while those who do not may be slaughter by the dozen to serve as an example to others. Anyone who falsely presents themselves as a member can expect to spend a long time dying, because TR takes the groups image and the accord they have struck with surrounding communities seriously.

Contrary to popular belief, the Death tarot card is not a bad sign. Nor is the fool (often depicted as a man walking off a cliff) an indication of poor fortune ahead, and the hanged man can be a good sign as well However, the tower card always heralds disaster, drawn reversed, only meas there is some mitigation to the tragedy.

Society was falling apart, and the government was proving itself increasingly inadequate to the task of  protecting anyone. Dr. Kurtz took the time to show his ruthless and calculating side, in turn creating one of the smartest and savviest raider groups of the North American Anarchy Zone. His only long term goal seems to be run rampant as long as possible while making a good life for his underlings.

Men and Women of the Tower do not deny being a band of criminals. However, they believe their execution of cruelty to be fair in its own way. The Tower Reversed is the closest North America has ever come to having a Mongolian horde of their own. Kurtz, like the Khans, usually limits the banditry of the group - instead collecting tribute from those who surrender, and making the occasional bloody example of those who do not.

If there is a silver lining to being in the tower's territory, it is that they exert control by being smart, rather than simply ruthless. Usually the group avoids open conflict, instead using blockades and sabotage to wear down enemies. None of the groups leadership sees utility in being evil for evil's sake. Furthermore, TR will often hunt down smaller raider groups or concentrations of reanimates, earning the begrudging gratitude of towns under their thumb.

Friday, June 24, 2011

New Tarterus

The planet seemed nice enough. Not that we would've had much choice if it wasn't. Colony ships aren't exactly equipped to turn around and go home. All that would cut into our already tightly managed mass allotment. Refuel in situ and build some propulsion lasers to send it back.

Some of our first exploration teams saw some life forms. Nothing responded, we were probably the only intelligent species for six parsecs in any direction. For that matter, the plant life seemed a bit more dangerous. Some of its apparently carnivorous and big enough to trap something human sized. Just because it doesn't eat you, don't think you can't eat it - a great deal of the stuff contains a variety of toxins - we've even found stuff containing nerotoxins like tabun. That stuff can kill you with micrograms.

Then they took a look at a few of the more interesting geological formations. That was a find - not geological at all. Cities. Partially buried, mostly overgrown, and long abandoned. A concern, bit hardly a problem.

Our troubles really began when the effort shifted into high gear. One of the shuttles crashed. So naturally - we set out to recover, investigate, and pay respects to our friends. Much to our surprise, they came out to greet us - mangled, burned, and hungry.

Someone overworked them-self - heart attack. Colony control noticed, and dispatched a medical team to recover the body. By the time they arrived, the worker was up and about again.

It seems we have set ourselves up on a planet where noting just stays dead. One with underground cities, jungles full of unknown predators, and hazardous plants.

We have neither the propulsion array or the pettawatts of power needed to leave, or even launch a message drone. It'll be years until another ship is scheduled to come this way. We're on our own with nothing but wits and fire.

The surface is getting too hostile. We're heading to the underground cities. Hopefully there will be clues there.

Whoever finds this - get out while you still can.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Sorry for the Delay

I need to spend a few days helping my grandfather. He seems to be OK now, but I don't want to stay by the computer in the basement too long. I'll try to post a make-up series in a few days.

On the bright side, I am near one year of activity and about 150 posts on this blog, yet I've only missed a handful of days.

As long as I'm talking about personal schedules, One of my sisters is getting married 11/11/11. To attend, I'll be spending about half of November in India, which might also delay publication.

Thank You.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Photo Opportunity Part One

Mr. Mauser stood out as the only one wearing a suit - a rather severe double breasted black and gray pinstripe, controls for the wearable computer extending from a gold watch fob attached to the vest. Even without the suit, he looked every bit the stereotypical anti-communist G-man, dark hair, dark eyes, stern complexion, and square jaw balanced on a flagpole straight spine holding up a six foot frame. Anachronistic as it might be, he believed that professional presentation helped back his position as a recruitment officer for the US government.

The boy next to him was anything but professional. Fidgeting, shifting as much as he could in the horse drawn carriage, and sweating profusely, as he lacked the smart clothes fabric that kept the G-man bone dry.
"Aren't you hot?"
   "What is in the case?"
   "Like what?"

Mauser opened his case, and pulled out a large box, featuring handles on either side, and a prominent lens assembly on one side. The boy suddenly lit up.
   "That's a NK-109 multi-spectrum with still holography! That thing is amazing! Top of the line - it took me two years to save up for the older eighty-nine model. And before everything got ruined? How did you get that?"
   "Its a perk of working for the government."
   "Which one"
   "The only one," Mauser began, more than a little contempt creeping into his tone, "United States of America, Department of Interior. I am here to survey the status of surviving townships, and helping them return to the rule of law."

For the longest time in the trip, it was quiet. Not only the boy, but the half a dozen others stopped as well. The silence lasted until the wagon driver announced they were approaching the gates.
   "You have a name?"
   "Scott Kroker."
   "Do you live in Spring Valley?"
   "Would you care to show me around once we're inside? There will be compensation for your time of course."
   "Wouldn't you want to talk to the mayor first? You are the government."
   "I find that asking a random citizen to show me around, especially a younger one, provides a far more accurate picture of the situation. Mayors, warlords, elder councils, supreme soviet - they all have a vested interest in showing they run a tight ship. I presume you can think of some reasons why."
   "Would you let them keep running the show?"
"Not my decision. Some I've wanted to shoot on the spot, but that would drag me down to their level. I represent something better."
   "But, wasn't the last election supposed to be in 2052? Does the president really have that much more authority or legitimacy than people in the thick of things who know what they're doing?"
   "Hmm, you're smarter than you let on. So I'll tell you a secret. There are limits- very exact protocols, for dealing with an alien invasion, in part of the constitution. George Washington's Freemason lodge made contact with aliens, and that explains all the domes and circles in DC."
   "Its a joke. But there are rules and procedures being followed. It is an unfortunate fact, however, that what remains of the President and what remains of his cabinet rules under emergency powers."
   "How do you know they will give up these powers?"
   "I have met Mr. Gray personally. I trust him. I wouldn't be working for these people otherwise."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Urban Fishing

Now remember, you owe me. Hell, if I was a meaner cuss, the operative would be I own you. But, right now I'll just settle for an understanding, don't go misbehaving on my boat. Its a real beaut - sixty foot sailing yacht. Its been in the family three generations now, we've always been part of the moneyed and powerful crowd. Forward thinkers too. Well, maybe not so far as the whole global warming, or more precisely, we saw the profit in it rather than the seeking to set away something. Though really, no one was going to change things until money got involved.

Sure, they tried the NESTS, and the EDGE developments. Its a start - but the government couldn't really force people into those places. You'd resit being stuck in a little box 500 feet off the ground right? Instead, they needed the carrot approach.

You don't care about that, do you? Even I have a hard time talking about all the finances and stuff we did to get those things moving. In the end, it doesn't seem to have really mattered - I had this boat anyway. It seems a bit petty, perhaps it is a bit petty. But this has let me live, and live well, so I'm allowed to be happy that I've got it - right?

Now, the ecological and economic collapses were mitigated somewhat. Even wars for resources is a good sign - if things were truly as bad as some predictions, we wouldn't even be able to move the armies into a potion to fight. But, as you know, sea levels rose somewhat, and there were a number of cites relying on pumps and levies to stay dry. No power from EMP, and boom, under they go. Some gradually as each rainstorm doesn't go away fast enough, others violently in the next hurricane.

Well, I've got a boat, and a good fishing set - I could land a marlin or shark if there were any. Wind to move, solar cells for light and heat, some plants on a greenhouse improvised on the deck. Sail up a flood street and anchor by a high rise to get amenities every now and then. Its not Noah's ark, but I'm doing well.

What brings you to the East coast, if I might ask?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Room by Room

A white pool of light flicked from desk to desk, momentarily pausing between the isles. A balding man, indeterminate age, tattered suit, and caked with dirt. Two shots from a 9mm pistol.

The pool of light proceeded forward now, footsteps crunching fallen leaves and broken glass. Measured and slow, ignoring the sun rapidly moving towards the horizon. Something in this office complex is more important than leaving before the creatures' preferred hunting hours.

A corner, deeper into the halls, no windows facing west, just the perfect circle of leds, reflector, and lens.

Black crud climbs the walls, soaked acoustic ceiling tiles lie where they fell, and the carpet is covered with fungus. Spiders crawl in and out of every corner, and mice can be heard running through the cable trays, should one stop for a moment.

Yet for all these inroads of nature, it seems very little has changed. Workers simply stopped seeing jobs as filing clerks important with increasing news of aliens, war, fuel shortages, and strange abominations took over the news. Why should they - with the servers literally cooked from the inside out by EMP, there were no files to review. What looter would break into an insurance adjuster's office when electronic stores and car parks were just a few blocks further north?

Having survived the early period, this place was now a treasure trove. First aid kits, batteries kept safe in metal lockers, phone wire, tape, lighting fixtures and bulbs, not to mention the basement back-up generator. Still not important for this trek though.

Footsteps faster. Another turn, doors with placards bearing familiar names. Outside somewhere, feral dogs howl, their usual reaction to spotting reanimates.

Another one stumbles out of an office, the gun fires before the thing can even be identified as a former man or woman.


Turn left. A Door. Open it.

The old suit is still hanging off the back, ready for another power lunch. Everything seems untouched, the phone on its cradle, an un-faded poster with some pithy comment about teamwork behind the computer monitor, and a pen still sitting next to a stack of note cards.

There it is. Why this trek through an infested city has been made.

A framed portrait, the last image of a wife not lost with the destruction of computer memory.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Four Plus Five Equals Mystery

"Its so nice to have you back KC. How have you been?"
   "I'm still doing fine. No complaints here."
   "Good too hear, good to hear indeed. Now the question of the hour is about reanimates. A few people have sent us messages to warn of new types, but we haven't had much luck confirming this. You're well traveled - is there anything we should be aware of?"
   "Everything else in the zone is changing, that the reanimates are doing it too wouldn't be a surprise."
   "Can you confirm any of these rumors? I would be especially interested if you can tell us anything about the type four - everyone seems to agree they exist, but no one has described them."
   "Unfortunately, I'm in the same boat as everyone else on the type four."
   "Can you at least explain why everyone seems so obsessed with them?"
   "Think of the standard six as an army. Your basic type one is a cannon fodder grunt, as close to a basic soldier or movie ghoul as you get. The advanced variant is smarter, more experienced - a sergeant. Twos and Betas are kind of akin to attack dogs or helicopter troops. Well, they can't fly - fortunately - but they're damn good climbers. Next, we have the power armor and assault vehicles.One, two, three, alpha, beta, gamma. Most of you might know that as kappa though - they skipped six letters, but to their credit, who would be thinking of the Greek alphabet when encountering one for the first time?
   "Very True"
   "Now the type four, that fills in some of the gaps in the army metaphor. Who is in command? Logistics? Recruitment? We know that reanimates will retreat, but also tend to recover their losses and any other corpses they can grab. Where do they take them, and why? I've met a few people who claim to have been bitten without transforming. It very well could be the type four or its tentative delta sub-type would be what manufactures reanimates. Also, remember - if its indeed the nanotech vaccine behind this, those micro-bots don't work without outside command. Wearable computers the size of a small t-shirt are possible, ones the size of a thread tip - less so."
   "Ever try to find one of these things?"
   "I'm sure some have, but well - it seems rather like trying to find a heart of a wildfire after dousing yourself with napalm."
   "That can't end well."
   "OK, Type five then."
   "I might have possibly seen a few."
   "Such confidence of your own observations?"
   "Type four would seem to fill the need for control. Type five fills the need for conspiracy."
   "The need for conspiracy?"
   "Remember a few years ago on the centennial of the so called Roswell crash? The government actually declassified a hundred something pages to show the thing was just an old jet stream motivated reconnaissance hot air balloon, even provided blueprints, in case you had a factory for producing old film cameras and developing agent on hand. The U-2 dragon lady wouldn't fly for another decade or so, satellite recon longer still, and they needed to watch the Russians and monitor nuclear tests out in Nevada. And yet, there still seemed to be people, four generations on, that are convinced the government was concealing aliens exist."
  "If I may int-er-upt, No Citi-zen ev-er came to Earth Be-fore"
   "I wasn't accusing you - I'm just setting up the point,
   "Reanimates came from Roswell on flying saucers?"
   "Ah, ha, heh -a moment... No. But a lot of people believe the government is hiding something. That something like this could be an accident? Pretty far fetched."
"And the need to have planned ahead and make your own undead isn't?"
"A while back I had nothing but time on my hands and a roommate who bounced off the walls with this sort of stuff. If we can make nano target diseased cells and viruses, we can make it target healthy ones too. And if we can make cybernetics, from working limbs to eyes for the blind, then what is stopping us from making half robot-super soldiers?"
   "As a doctor, I can tell you quite a few problems. To begin, a cyber eye still wouldn't have room for the necessary coolant to make an IR sensor, and even video links require an implanted processor and an external machine. As to limbs - most of those are a bit weaker than a natural one to avoid over-stressing anything. A super arm that can lift three hundred kilos attached to a normal spine is asking for sever injuries."
   "Right, but there is sect that is going to think a reanimate is a perfect soldier, or at least an attempt at one.  Lord knows we love the idea, as far back as Gilgamesh, Goliath, Hercules...Amazons. If you're going to fight a dirty war like the one in South America - an army that gains strength for every one of your or theirs killed and invokes more existential fear than national resistance is great. As for fighting aliens when resources are limited - something that doesn't need weapons or logistics seems great."
   "We seem to be running short on time, so quickly - do you belive these things are a product of science gone wrong?"
   "I don't think governments and bureaucracies are that competent. I don't think an individual would have the resources or knowledge. If it can't be one person, and it can't be a group well - I guess you can't blame anyone, and just have to play it as it lays."
   "Alright. Well, thank you again KC for your time, and thank you to our listeners. If you've got questions or comments, find a way to sen them our way."

Friday, June 10, 2011

Father's Advice

C'meer son, set a while.

Now, I know you be bored stayin here all the time. No real boy could stand a place without a proper baseball diamond or video game LAN for long. You work long hours in the fields for what - seventy percent of what you planted and borrowed time with solar charger and a computer? What kind of proper education can we give people without teaching software, without guided administration to know who is behind the curve or who's ahead. Don't even know what to prepare you for anyway.

You're thinkin bout leaving. Don't try to deny it. I ain't deaf, and frankly, I'm thinkin it too. Sometimes. Its all the rage amongst your friends to talk about going out, finding something great or exploring a new surface like Louis and Clark, Neil Armstrong, of Cheng Hu on Mars.

I'm not one to go out there. Blame age, comfort, or old fashioned cowardice, but this is my place now. As for you... I'm not going to let you go.  Not like that anyway. I respect you for wanting to go, but not for being so stupid as to think you can sneak off with friends. If you're going to do it, do it right.

I bought you this. Highly recommended by the traders who passed through. Twelve gauge, six round box fed, switches between pump or semi-automatic fire, three inch magnum shells. They said the slug rounds will shatter a car's engine block, or at least turn its batteries to junk, stopping it shortly.

Now I also made sure to ask about these reanimates, and when the trades will be back. It might not be as glamours as settin out alone, but at least for a start, you should join a caravan, and I argued long and hard to get them to agree to take you along next time.

For you go out, some advice they gave me. First of all, they ain't blind, and not easily blinded. You don't see many reanimates during the day - not because they hate the light, but because they love how the darkness makes it easier for them to catch us. Go inside, and those things will rip you apart, night or day. Bright lights and flash-bangs don't seem to phase them that much - you have to physically cripple or bar them.

Not much else stops them either. They've crawled out of toxic places, lurched forth practically glowing from radioactive contamination, and marched up swoled river banks from the bottom. Most of them aint to fast, true, but enough are, and they can come from any direction - some climb, some crawl, and many can use doors, so don't trust anything less than a brick wall cause they will smash through stuff too.

Always have a back up. That .380 I taught you to shoot with - you can take it too. Its no great air-loom pistol, but that rifle is long and heavy, it don't fit in your pocket or follow you everywhere.

That goes double for plans. Think before you leap, than think again.

Finally, there is another bit of advice, from a far older source. "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." Mark Twain said that. You let the others speak, and don't go using your mouth to write any checks your ass can't cash.

Go get some practice with that new gun now. Two weeks will pass faster than you think.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Regimental HQ, near Saint Petersburg

"What is the status of the tanks?"
   "We have managed to get sixteen operational - Six of them T-249s, Four 230s, and three each 232A and 232MK. We have sufficient fuel a three to four hundred kilometer road march. Oddly enough, the limit is the fuel cells - the MK's multi-fuel turbine will bun just about anything, so even with far less economy, we have more biodisel, cellulose petrol, and alcohol than catalyst."
   "Good. Not great - we're a good five hundred from anywhere useful."
   'Its ammunition sir, where we have a problem. We have less than two-hundred 135mm shells, before we start splitting hairs about sabot or HEAT. Not enough to completely fill even four auto-reloader carousels. We have forty-seven 150mm shells, though plenty of liquid propellant."
   "We're not expecting heavy tank resistance. Ration them out as best you can. Nine shells a 249, fifteen or twenty for all the others."
   "Those aren't the problematic numbers sir. We simply have no liquid coolant for the hard-kill antimissile lasers - they'll melt themselves in less than fifty seconds if we face any notable missile attacks. And there will be missile attacks - without tanks of their own, the citizens use air-power to attack ours. Which leads to the even bigger problem of or lack of anit-air assets."
   "Didn't we just retrieve some?"
   "1,500 RPM revolver-cannons make for some tough logistical challenges, even if you've got trains from the arsenal factory. Long range SAM numbers - even worse."
   "So we can make the journey, we just can't survive it."
   "Not unless that Grigori guy calling the shots can spare some naval fighters to support us."
   "I don't think so. I came here after receiving one of his couriers. The short version is, if you don't think you can make it by yourself, don't make the attempt. That is up for interpretation - he doesn't want to support those who can't fight, or he's looking for things other than tanks..."
   "I think you're grasping at straws sir."
   "We have three full platoons of tanks - there has to be something we can do. Just waiting here isn't eliminating aliens, nor rebuilding Russia."
   "Don't we know it general. All I can say, is there is a time and a place for everything."

Monday, June 6, 2011

One Tale of Leaving the NEST

Nala ran the bore brush through the rifle one last time, then slid the bolt forward. " That should do it. This was probably made for a heavier weight petroleum based lubricant, but I think you should be OK, especially considering its manually operated."
   "Thanks Miss," Roland replied "Of all the people here, I didn't peg you as the gun expert at first. Model for an ad agency maybe but..."

Jeff stopped stirring the pot and leaned over "Nice try, but the Brazilian girl is already taken. Notice the matching rings we're wearing?"
   "I assure you, my intentions were honorable, its just the stereotype still exists that women aren't generally war historians."
   "Speaking of honor." Mitch broke in "where are you from, and what are you doing?"
   "Wait- we've been traveling for six days, and only now you ask me what I'm doing here?"
   "When you're running for your life from things that shouldn't exist, little details like where's your home town kinda get lost in the shuffle. But now that we're out of the suburbs, I would like to know what you were doing wandering a city with just a world war two rifle."

Roland stood up and stretched. He was a bit taller than Mitch, but the other guy was definitely tougher. For someone who looked like one of those "buddy Jesus" posters, Mitch was a holly roller's nightmare.

"Not my choice of firearm by a long shot, but its what I was allowed to take. Our leaders don't want to start a social division with something like a death penalty - bad enough inside without liberal/conservative angst - and just sitting them in jail doing nothing is a waste. So exile is the usual punishment for anything where simply docking wages is not enough. To prevent it from becoming a de-facto death sentence, they give us some equipment - but its usually museum pieces or other crap people don't want."
   "Stop. What was the crime?"
   "Unlicensed  rat-holing, combined with getting blackmailed."
   "And in English?"
   "There is only so much in the way of supplies and power generation capacity in a NEST structure, and as things break, it only gets worse. We've got a working currency system and regulation going, but well, there was graft and illegal practices even before everything went down the tubes."
   "A theif."
   "Um no. I never stole from any person. Any living person. And I maintain I'd never do that. I just scavenged without permission."
   "I took things that were not mine, because there is a black market. But I'm not a criminal!" Jeff mocked
   "That wasn't really the problem. Inginuity is well respeceted,
   "And by inginuity, he means sticky fingers"
   "Jeff, Knock that off!" Mitch grunted, "Though I still say, this seems a bit odd."

"NEST structures are designed to have large segments locked down - riot control, fire breaks, Ebola outbreak - whatever. But with entire floors sealed up and no exit, that means they contain just as many reanimates now, as when they were sealed. No idea how they don't decompose, starve, dehydrate or die after being stuck in a commercial block for five years, but that's how it is. Everywhere else, the environment or hunters take their toll, and groups disperse looking for prey. So you simply don't open certain doors, lest you run the risk of releasing them into safe areas.
   Well, those locked down areas still contain good stuff, and are a lot easier to get to than raiding the surrounding area. But, the decision is - better the rats - NEST slang for our scavenger teams - be put in greater danger, then everyone be at risk. But some people want what is in there any way, and besides, everything that comes through normal channels is generally checked out, and then auctioned off, though government civic projects - power maintenance, the rats themselves, communications, get an inbuilt advantage - depending on the commodity, they get a five to twenty percent discount, or I should say, their bids are counted as worth more and uh... well, we've got a system anyway.
   So I was just a work-a-day laborer, picking hydroponics, cleaning, babysitting, when one of my bosses makes the offer to get me some good electronics and a few off the grid batteries, I just need to slip through some vent shafts in a maintenance area. I'm not sure why I said yes, even at the time it seemed like a stupid risk, but it was an adventure that I never had as a retail clerk come janitor.
   Luck, reflexes, untapped potential - I made it. And things we're good. But, it was a criminal act. And though she didn't state this at our first meeting, it was apparently a long term deal. So, I essentially got stuck running errands for these people, which began to cut into my legitimate work. Boring as that is, it seemed risky to have stuff without being able to explain it, and I didn't want to alienate my old bosses. I complained, and they decided it was better to sell me out than have me reveal their whole operation.
  Somehow my counter arguments that they made me do it got ignored at the tribunal, though the fact that the judge was one of the people who received stuff I found might as been a factor. Out I go. Six hours later, I'm running from reanimates, you're running from reanimates, and we all run in the same direction."

Mitch looked to Nala. "Yeah, that is pretty much how we ran things," she replied "his story seems legit. You don't normally just pick a random person to go retrieve stuff, but everything else seems right."
"Its one hell of a sob story to be sure. I don't necessarily trust it, but at least he's not making up adventures whole cloth like that last one we met. If he's got useful skills, he can stay."
"Be ready to repeat yourself and answer some more questions when the others get back... Roland. But, for now, you can be one of us."

Friday, June 3, 2011

They Won't Play Hope on the Radio

"Its so nice to have you back KC. How have you been?"
"I'm still doing fine. No complaints here."
"You told us about a recent encounter with some New Birmingham forces - do you think they're on the move?"
"I would be surprised if they weren't. Five years have passed. It doesn't always seem like that, when the normal rhythms of life are gone or you're more concentrated on survival than calendars. But its time someone started making a move."
"I wouldn't have figured you would encourage them-"
"Not them specifically! I wouldn't say I encourage this at all, really. People have suffered enough without us starting wars all over the place. But, chances are even preserved foods have spoiled, replication limited crops are running out, easily exploitable supplies are taxed - its become time to start taking new territory. The US government needs to do something right now to prove it still exists, and to keep all the trigger-happy soldiers in Vegas from turning on each other. Tesla has its squatters, NEST units internal division, Lone Star a potential target of the god squad. All that is before the cross border travel, raider skirmishes, and what ever the aliens have have been doing for the past five years. We didn't take them out when they were weakest after landing - now they've set up factories. Nothing personal Sing Sing - I certainly hope things work out well between our people, but well, as we say - its been quiet, too quiet."
"You're not usually this doom and gloom. Have you seen something that has shaken your faith?"
"My faith in Humanity is as strong as ever. That is the problem Mr. Hobbes. I know we're going to pull out of this. But who is holding the rope and who will be swinging from the end of it is very much anyone's game at this point."
"Do you see a way to stave off this apocalypse. Well, second one anyway."
"In a prison, you get gangs based on race, ethnicity, supremacist ideology, or prior allegiance. Somehow, there is simply no "I don't want to be stabbed in the exorcise yard" gang, despite that being a common concern and shared by a very large group. Most people don't want armored vehicles rolling though their fields. You can try to take solace in the idea that once a overall government is established, electricity and normalcy will return - a bad dictator is better than a good anarchy as the saying goes. Well, at least as some say. My response would be one thirty second long press of that censor button, but you wouldn't let me back here is I was that profane."
"I thank you for your restraint."
"To our credit, this isn't a 1950s nuclear war, we're not just running down the gears waiting for the fallout cloud to reach the last bastion on reduce the Earth to silence. There is still time for peacemakers to work it out, for daring do adventurers to foil plans that imperial the zone, and the forward thinking to forge an alliance between human and citizen. But that chance is fading."

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Typical Night

I've made a few small edits to the layout of the blog - nothing major yet, but you may notice there is now a link to the main rules to the right.

Normally, I don't roll through pancakes. Just not much there intact. Between the thermobaric bombs and the follow-up napalm strikes, the place looks like its been nuked. Even glass and steel buildings aren't all that safe - at least a few of them had major support beams melt under the firestorm heat, and have since toppled onto their neighbors.

Still, unless they had some old 1950s twenty megaton hydrogen bombs lying around, few places are ever quite completely gone. Its a hell of a lot safer to pick your way into an old basement than to pitch a tent.Rubble, concrete, and dirt protects better than nylon - who would've guessed, right?

This time around, I got a bit of a surprise though. A New Birmingham force recon patrol. I almost didn't believe it - this far North - but you always know. Most people are pretty lax about what they wear in the zone - comfort and freedom of movement after-all. Even Vegas military types tend to ditch the Battle Dress Uniforms outside the strip - no point in attracting trouble. But the god squads always have their own unique appearance. Its a black and gray zig-zag disruption pattern - literally a zebra turned forty-five degrees - with a big hunter green crusader's cross on the front.

I suppose it works in urban areas. As to anywhere else, well they still wear it. Given that they're the ones with reanimate troopers, maybe they know something about how the neighbors see that we don't.

Anyway. I wasn't about to lead them back to my hideaway, so I just holed up under a stretch of still standing highway and kept an eye on them. Not ten minuets pass, and suddenly, I get a sphere ping. Someone has set up a network - a pretty powerful one if I can get it with all the twisted re-bar about. Unfortunately, I've got no idea what was on that network - it was encrypted, and I quickly switched off my receivers, if they could set up a network, they could set up bandwidth sniffers too. I try to avoid violence, but well, I'm not on good terms with that particular city state at the moment.

I'm not the only one apparently. Less than an hour later, its getting dark, they're still picking through rubble, and some creatures come out to meet them. Some wild dogs wandered in, but got scared off quickly enough. Beta type reanimates, not so much. To the squad's credit, they quickly formed ranks and coordinated fire. However, they didn't give chase when the things backed off. Its not a good sign when reanimates give up without a fight.

They're smart enough to know when a battle is hopeless, but generally you need to make them understand its impossible first. If they back off, that means they're coming back in force later. The smartest thing to do then, is what I did - get the hell out. They can rip open power armor, and climb concrete walls, but there are no reanimates that can outrun a motorcycle. Some smart enough to jump from a high embankment and try to hit you, but not when the town's been reduced to a parking lot.

Two days later, I checked back. The network was still up, but aside from some black and white rags, no sign of the troopers. We might have our differences, but I certainly hope the balance of them got out.