The Road to Hell

The Extreme Importance of Lawn Maintence

The posse had come across the town of Natchitoches in their travels, and immediately recognized it as a bit unusual. The outskirts were either overgrown with weeds and vines or scorched remnants left over from the Last War, but the downtown core was surprisingly intact – lawns were mown, buildings painted, hedges trimmed. Signs of obvious looting were apparent, but it appeared steps had been taken to repair the worst of the damage, boarding up windows and the like.

The pleasant state of things made the posse immediately nervous, of course. No good could come of it.

Which was probably what Lee was thinking when Red pointed out a camera mounted on a streetlight, which Lee immediately tried to shoot down. That seemed to attract the attention of the locals, whom the posse immediately converged upon. Some tense negotiations followed, but eventually the posse found out what the townsfolk were willing to trade for – gasoline, and only gasoline. The posse agreed they might be able to retrieve some, and were given leave to spend the night, so long as they didn’t stray out of their assigned quarters. Lee, of course, did exactly that and snuck out to peer through the windows at night to see strange mechanical devices moving about outside trimming the lawns and cutting back the wild vines that encircled the town…

The posse moved out the next morning, filled with theories about what might actually be going on in the town. They continued heading north, towards Shreveport, accidentally starting to stray further into the hot zone than they would have liked. As they were crossing a bridge south of the city, the posse spotted some spent shell casings and a corpse lying in the water… Either showing off or just wanting to be useful, Project 32 used telekinesis to lift the corpse out of the water and bring it onto the bridge. Pockets were being rifled, and then Lee noticed some small creatures squirming around inside the dead man – which then immediately sprung out towards Lee’s face.

The "Burned into your forehead through supernatural force" letter

The posse gave Project 32 a pretty thorough interrogation, especially Red, who was convinced the letter A branded on Project’s forehead meant he had been branded as a thief. Project was polite, if just a bit creepy, though and the posse decided quickly enough they were willing to travel with him.

First, though, they wanted to see if they could scavange the remains of Jack‘s attempt at a dumbfire missile. They went out the the area of the Alexandria airport and started looking around – some of the posse went off in the direction the hoversplosive had headed, while Emily and Project decided to check out the mutant’s compound to see if they were still alive – with all the Walkin’ Dead about, they thought there was a decent chance the muties had been wiped out and their stuff might be free for the taking.

To make a long story short, the muties were still there, but so were some of the Walkin’ Dead – indeed, some of them showed unusual cunning in laying an ambush along the road into the airfield. Emily and Project were momentarily hard pressed, but almost had the small squad of corpses defeated by the time the rest of the posse could return, called back by the sound of gunfire. The posse went on to find the hoversplosive mired up in the ruins of a building, retrieved it, and then hit the road.

Emily seemed a bit strange the next morning, paying special attention to Lee, but for the most part their travels were uneventful – stopping in at a few unremarkable small towns here and there. Lee convinced the posse that stopping everywhere was likely to be impractical, so they agreed only to stop when they came to larger towns…the next of which was Natchitoches, which had a surprise in store…

Mutant, Interrupted

After recuperating for a little while, the posse decided to return to the Alexandria airport to attempt a rescue of Kreg Mercer – if he was even still alive. First, Jack got the posse scrounging from parts in an attempt to build both a rolling shield and a pair of “ballistic missiles” – small unmanned hovercraft with a compartment up front he filled with fuel and a jury-rigged ignition system.

It took over ten hours for the posse to wheel Jack’s mobile shield – basically, a refrigerator-sized block of scrap metal and plastic on a set of wheels that weighed about 500 lbs – to the airport, and it was nightfall when the posse crouched behind it and started rolling it down the road. They noticed a couple of new craters and corpses around the airfield, but continued forward anyway. They were spotted, of course.

Once they got within a couple hundred meters, the posse decided to unleash their secret weapons – Jack’s missiles. The first hovered along the ground and started turning, arcing, and then going off into the night, missing the compound by several hundred yards before a distant crash was heard. It was about that time that a figure appeared above the fence – apparently tied to a post and blindfolded. As the second “missile” was released towards the base (this one being rather more accurate), the figure was identified as Kreg. The missile struck about 10 yards away from where Kreg was tied, and (un)fortunately did not detonate.

It was then that a rifle barrel appeared at Kreg’s head. Some signaling went back and forth, and Lee volunteered to go forward – negotiating Kreg’s release, in return for the posse leaving the band of muties alone. True to their word, Kreg was released, but then he slipped back around the side of the compound. A minute after he went out of sight, shots were fired and then there was silence.

The posse concluded that, one way or another, Kreg had gotten himself killed and they weren’t willing to exact vengeance. They were about to pull out – Jack was just finishing salvaging the best stuff from his shield – when Emily spotted some shambling forms coming through the ruins. At first there were only about a dozen Walkin’ Dead – easy enough for the posse to handle – but halfway through the fight a mysterious strange appeared, bald with a letter “A” on his forehead, carrying a sword and looking entirely too casual. He helped the posse fight off the Walkin’ Dead with beams of energy emitted from his forehead, clearly identifying himself as a Syker… Needless to say, the posse had a fair number of questions for him, but as the Walkin’ Dead were continuing to approach, they decided such questioning would be best done back at their temporary HQ…

Is this the end of Kreg?

Emily and Kreg managed to handily survive their encounter with the mutants in the rubble near the airport – one of them, a grotesquely bloated man, managed to hold on a bit longer than the rest, almost escaping in the car the muties were driving, but in the end all succumbed before Kreg’s spear and Emily’s rifle. Kreg attempted to drive the bug back to the rest of the posse, but he wasn’t exactly a skilled drive – they had to push it the rest of the way back on account of some mishaps.

The posse had some discussion about what to do with the car, and finally agreed to let Jack disassemble it in order to create some bizarre contraption. Lee was still resting up back in Fort Alex, and since it would take Jack some time to complete his work, Red volunteered to protect Jack while Emily and Kreg returned to the airport to scout the situation a little more thoroughly.

Somewhere along the line, scouting turned into a full frontal assault – charging down a half mile of open road in a two person assault on the fortified settlement of the mutants. Shots hit the dirt around Kreg and Emily, until as they closed Emily paused in the road to start picking off defenders while Kreg continued his mad dash up the road. Several of the muties fell to Emily’s bullets, while the return fire was less than the most effectual…until one bullet caught Emily in the side of the head.

By that time, Kreg had closed on the compound, and lept up to engage the defenders on top of the wall in melee. There was a pause as Kreg appeared to speak with the defenders, and Emily was momentarily forgotten as she fled with her head wound. But Emily stopped to turn and take another shot at the compound before her gun jammed, and one of the defenders turned his attention back to Emily – lining up a shot until Kreg thrust his spear into the man’s neck before leaping down from the wall. Emily started running again as Kreg struggled to put distance between himself and the compound – he had managed to get out a few dozen yards, gunfire tearing up the road around him, before he took several shots in quick succession and went down. As Emily fled, the last thing she saw looking back was some of the defenders emerging to drag Kreg’s prone form back inside the compound…

Hospitals & Minefields

The posse was pretty badly injured from their last encounter, and so decided to hole up for a week or two and try to heal their wounds. Unfortunately, the Wasted West doesn’t have many safe places to rest, so in short order they were found by a pack of the mutated nutria that seem to roam near the Mississippi. They managed to drive them off before anyone was too badly injured, but it certainly didn’t do much for their disposition. At Emily’s insistence, the posse moved to a new location, but no one was really feeling safe.

Lee was still in pretty bad shape after almost two weeks though, and the posse decided to send him into Fort Alex to get himself some solid medical care. While he was relaxing in a comfy hospital bed, Red and Jack were mucking around in a parkade, scavenging bits of junk for some indiscernible purpose of Jack’s.

Meanwhile, Kreg and Emily decided to go scouting the small settlement at the nearby airport… They managed to deduce that the blasted ground of the airfield might still be a danger from unexploded cluster munitions, so hunkered down to watch. When they saw a convoy consisting of a motorcycle and a small car leave the next morning, they set up in position for an ambush. Emily managed to kill the motorcyclist, as well as probably badly injure a hidden sniper, but when they went to find the occupants of the car they lost track of them – at least until one jumped out from some rubble brandishing a spear at Kreg!

Shootout at the...abandoned house in the suburbs of Alexandria
Monday, July 4th, 2094

While Lee and Kreg were off trading in Fort Alex, the rest of the posse was about to be embroiled in one hell of a shootout. It all started when Emily spotted an armed man creeping up on the posse’s encampment, and she promptly shot him in the head. After that, shooting broke out all over the place. While Emily circled around the house, taking shots where she could, Red and Jack holed up inside the house…safe only until the front door got busted in and some more armed muties came storming in.

The fight was brutal, with several of the strangers being put down quickly but not before they did no small amount of damage. Their leader was twitchy and particularly fast, and when the tide turned against the strangers he shot Jack and attempted to take him as a hostage. Emily tried to finish him off, but he was too fast, ducking back down behind Jack’s body and using it as a shield against Emily’s bullet. A few of the strangers managed to escape, and Red and Emily had to scramble to keep Jack from bleeding out. Sometime during all the chaos, Cindy had slipped out, perhaps fled, perhaps to join up with the strangers.

Not long after, Kreg and Lee returned. They reported that they had seen some vehicles moving away from the posse’s hideout at a time that would be not long after when the battle had occurred. A little bit of tracking later, and they found a motorcycle stashed in an old parkade. The motorcycle, along with most of the loot scavenged from the fallen, ended up getting sold to the trades at Fort Alex. Kreg also tried to convince the survivor settlement to reward him for a bag of hands taken from their attackers, but needless to say, they weren’t having any of that.

The posse decided to try and rest and lick their wounds for awhile before moving on. In the meantime, their scouts seemingly discovered where their attackers had retreated to…the nearby Alexandria airport…

A Girl Named Cindy
Monday, July 4th, 2094

The posse managed to get a story out of the girl they found by the side of the road – her name turned out to be Cindy. She said she had grown up in Fort Alex, but like many others she had been kicked out when mutations manifested. According to her, Commander Gray was a pretty thorough bigot, even tossing out his nephew when he manifested some mutations. She seemed to think Gray was the main force behind the bigotry in Fort Alex, and were he gone things would change.

There was some debate in the posse about what, if anything, could be done about the situation. In the end, it was decided it was either impossible or too risky to try and change Fort Alex, so instead Kreg and Lee would simply head back in to buy some more supplies, and offer the Cindy’s family a chance to come with them when they relocated Cindy to somewhere safer. The posse holed up for the evening in a home near the highway, and dispatched Kreg and Lee in the morning while the others stayed back.

Buying supplies went well enough, but the pair was unable to find a trace of Cindy’s family – indeed, the only person who seemed to match the description was a spy working for one of the mutant gangs, whom the guards had caught and kicked out the night previous…

Meanwhile, in the suburbs outside Alexandria, Red, Jack, Emily and Cindy were relaxing in the remains of the backyard of the little house they had made camp in when Emily seemingly heard a noise. She dropped down low and slinked off to pursue what looked like the form of an armed man moving from building to building, while Red, Jack and Emily retreated indoors. As Jack and Red got ready for the worst, their fears were confirmed when they heard a shot ring out down the street…

So a mutated Junker and a Cyborg walk into a bar...
Thursday, July 1st, 2094

Sounds of clambering about on the nearby tanks disturbed the posse’s rest. they’d been spending the past week trying to recover from the battle that saw Alt slain. During that week, the group had suffered the attrition of another member, as Nova Redtree thought staying with the group would be too dangerous for her and she decided to head out on her own. Needless to say, down to three members and badly wounded, the posse was more than a little bit worried about the noises.

Turns out the ones banging around were a strange man wrapped in robes who called himself Jack, and a figure clad in well-world light power armor who later called herself Emily. These faces were know to some already in the posse it seemed – Jack and Kreg seemingly knew each other from interactions in the Wasted West previously, where Emily and Red seemed to think each other vaguely familiar from before the War. Jack was busy stripping the most freshly opened tank for parts as everyone else conversated, and eventually the group decided to join forces and travel together for mutual protection.

A few days later along the road, and the group started noticing some newly made and vaguely disturbing road signs outside of Alexandria that said things like:
“Toll up ahead! (If you don’t like it, go around. (You won’t like going around, either.))”
“Fort Alex Toll Road”
“Draw your weapon, receive a free bullet! (Bullet will be delivered at 2700fps (Draw your weapon, we will shoot you!))”
There was, understandably, some general anxiety about approaching, but in the end it was decided the posse would risk the toll. It ended up that the road through Alexandria seemed by guarded and maintained by a group that identified themselves as being from “Fort Alex”. There was some tension, but the toll was easily paid and the posse was let through – they were even told they may wish to stop by Fort Alex itself if they had any trading to do.

Going in to trade with Fort Alex was more problematic. Not only did the townsfolk seem to have some fairly draconian security measures in place(not only would all weapons be confiscated, folks would be blindfolded before being led in, and all the rest), they also had a very loudly declared “No Muties” policy – and most of the posse were muties. But they had a lot of salvage they wanted to convert into something more portable, so they decided they would send Lee and Emily in to do some trading. Lee and Emily accomplished their mission, though they aroused a little bit of suspicion with the fort’s seeming leader, Commander Gray, on account of all the ammo they wanted to buy, but in the end the dealings were amicable and the posse was soon on their way.

As they were heading out through the suburbs of Alexandria, the posse heard a commotion in the nearby underbrush. Instantly alert, the form they found hidden away there was not some hideous hellbeast, but instead a rather comely teenage girl. She looked like she had been beaten. She said she had just come from Fort Alex, and that they did not want her there… When she revealed the ends of her hands – which looked like they had once had claws or talons, but they had now been cut down to the quick. She was most obviously a mutant.

Pandora's Box
Thursday, June 17th, 2094

The posse had found a column of burnt out tanks on the road to Shreveport, and Alt had managed to get the one mostly intact tank open, cracking the hatch to let Red into it – only to pull Red back on out as he was hit by gunfire, and several of the walkin’ dead crawled out of the tank to do battle.

The initial battle was brief, but intense. The walkin’ dead wielded their weapons with professionalism and clear knowledge of tactics, minus the fear and self-preservation instinct of living soldiers. Kreg was one of the first to meet them, trying vainly to incapacitate them with his spear as a pair of undead soldiers clambered out, following Kreg and Alt down and off the tank as they dragged the unconscious body of Red with them. On the other side of the tank, Lee was taking potshots and Nova was trying to keep everyone coordinated.

Then the third member of the tank crew popped up out of the hatch, and this one was holding a hand grenade. Alt and Kreg were mostly sheltered on the far side of the tank, but when the corpse threw the grenade it landed right next to a bewildered Lee. Nova charged and tackled him to the ground, covering his body with her own – she was badly injured by the grenade, but Lee was barely touched.

The dead tanker then re-emerged, this time to do battle with a knife. Hoping up off the ground, Lee went into motion and in short order had blown the deader who threw the grenade’s head off. Alt struggled to lock down the tank hatch, while Kreg fended off the two tankers remaining outside. Finally, between Kreg and Lee, the other walkin’ dead were put down, leaving only the one remaining inside the tank who was vainly trying to get out.

The posse then took a few moments to gather their wits, and patch up some of the most egregious of wounds. Now that they had opened “Pandora’s Box”, as Alt phrased it, they figured they might as well finish the job, destroy the one remaining walkin’ dead, and get the loot inside the tank.

To that end, they all took up position around the tank, and then Alt whipped the top hatch open. Unsurprisingly, it was boobytrapped with a grenade, and although many of the posse had to go diving for cover, it didn’t significantly injure anyone. Then the remaining corpse came rushing out of the tank, Red’s assault rifle in hand, blazing away. It went to the rear of the tank, going after Alt and Lee, while Red and Nova were back and safely behind cover – Red trying to crack shots off, but without much effect.

Assaulted by both Lee and Alt, the undead tanker blazed away on full auto. Red tried to maneuver to get a better shot, but upon seeing all that led flying he decided discretion was the better part of valor and dove behind the tank to bide his time. Lee was firing down on the deader from the top of the tank, while Alt came at him from the side – and it was apparently Alt that the corpse thought was the real threat, since it then turned the bulk of its fire on Alt. The hail of lead stitched up Alt’s body, dropping him in a heap, just seconds before Lee got a decent shot and managed to blow the tanker’s head off. But that last shot was too late, and Alt lay dead on the asphalt.

Slain by the same pandora’s box he had opened, Alt was laid to rest in a grave by the road the posse spent most of the rest of the day digging. They took turns laying some objects of significance – a dashboard Jesus Alt had found, his blunderbuss, Nova’s fancy hat – and saying some words of remembrance before consigning him to the earth. Of course, they also waited around awhile afterward to make sure he would not rise in turn…

Tanks For the Memories
Thursday, June 17th, 2094

The meeting at Opelasaus came on time, and the entire posse reunited – with the notable exception of Deuce, who took his leave during the journey. Needless to say, this was a bit of a downer for the rest of the posse, especially since Kreg, Lee and Red had had to fight hard to get back to join up with the posse in the first place.

The returning adventurers told the tale of their time in Lafayette – they first went through the ghost storm to get to downtown Lafayette, navigating amongst the ruins of the city. In the center, Kreg found a blast crater which he sat in for about eight hours to meditate, while Lee and Red tried looting the nearby city hall which was strangely untouched. Things disintegrated for them a little when they climbed over the corpses choking the halls to search the basement for the bomb shelter, where Red had a freakout and had to be pulled out of there by Lee. On the way back, they spotted a gun store that seemed intact, but initially decided against entering since it seemed inhabited. When they were attacked by a freakish creature that seemed half monitor lizard, half spider, and 12’ long, Red tried to take shelter in the gunstore, only to find himself held at gunpoint by the horridly mutated inhabitants. Some tense negotiation followed afterwards, and then a trick by Lee and a short bout of running, but eventually they did get out.

Comparatively, Alt, Nova and Deuce’s trip was uneventful, aside from Deuce’s departure.

The posse continued marching north, largely without real event aside from some ruined towns and attempts at looting, and vast vast stretches of Bayou – seemed much of the area had been wildlife reserves back before the War. Near the end of one evening, they encountered a destroyed LatAm tank column in the middle of the highway – and after a couple of hours, Alt managed to figure out a way inside one of the few tanks that had not either been totally destroyed or already opened up. The smell inside was atrocious, so they decided to wait until morning to retrieve the contents.

The next day, they sent Red in to retrieve whatever was inside the tank… The first thing Red noticed was the charred corpses of the old tank crew…and his attentions were justified when one of them raised a pistol and tried to shoot him. A volley of fire erupted from inside the tank, and Red was put down as he scrambled to move back up through the hatch. In a heroic burst of strength, Alt managed to yank Red bodily up and out of the tank, while Kreg rushed over to try and jam the hatch shut – but even as he did so, one of the walkin’ dead inside pushed the cover over and started to emerge.


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