We find our ragged, erstwhile heroes on the road in their rusty pickup truck halfway between Huntsville (still firmly under the control of the US Army) and the Grand Kounty of Birmingham (controlled by the KKK). They stopped to spend the night at a shotgun shack.
* Yaroslav Polonsky. Ukrainian Jew survivalist and former cooper, who was staying with relatives in the Northeast when the Serpentfall occurred. He has been on the run from anarchy, starvation, disease, gangs and mutants ever since. Make no mistake, Yaroslav does NOT appreciate the leadership skills of Glorious Comrade Stalin.
* Ulrich von Diederich, the world’s worst spy. German former Abwehr operative who was never given an assignment. You will find him cowering at the back of most firefights.
* Noah Wales, engine specialist. Once an engineer for Howard Hughes’ aircraft plant in Houston, he is now on the lam after stealing a top-secret jet pack. He dabbles in ophi-tech on the black market and is known as the “Outlaw Noah Wales.”
* Sam Hill, Texas almost-Ranger. Ridin’ his trusty steed, Steve Austin, and packin’ a pair of family heirloom Colt .45 Peacemakers named “Law” and “Order”, Butch aims to single-handedly annex the entire South to the Republic of Texas while givin’ dirt naps to furriners wherever he finds them. Lame in one leg due to childhood polio and unable to serve in the war, Butch has a chip on his shoulder the size of the Panhandle and a mouth to match. He never pronounces the final “g” in words.
* Neal McGreedy. As the name implies, greedy-as-sin prospector and all-around collector of other people’s stuff. Point him towards the money or, better yet, let him sniff it out himself.
Near twilight, as the party settled in for a night’s rest, they were approached by a dirty band of hoboes looking for a place to sleep and a handout. One of them promised that if they could stay at the shotgun shack, they would show the party where some neato dead Nazis were, up the road by the First Pentecostal Church. Nothing better than looking at dead Nazis.
While this pointless banter went on, a giant, mutated snake attacked from the woods. Twenty feet long and as thick around as a 55-gallon drum, it was still an easy mark for fast-fingered Sam. Noah harvested the snake for potential ophi-tech bits while the hoboes ate the mutated, irradiated meat. That’s why hoboes can’t have nice things. Except for one, who had a nice, military-issue German watch, which he gladly handed over to the group in exchange for the snake meat. Ok, so NOW they can’t have nice things.
As they bickered and argued over whether to go north to Huntsville to trade the snake parts or to the church to see the Nazis, they were attacked by a hideous, winged, half-man, half-toad creature, which Sam violently convinced to lay on the ground, bleed and stop breathing.
Daylight a-wastin’, the group hightailed it up the road in the pickup. They found an abandoned US Army Harley-Davidson filled with buckshot and the trails of boots and bare feet headed further up the road. A dropped German paybook lay nearby, belonging to a young SS private named Hubert Dietzer of Dortmund. Ulrich and Sam followed the boot prints while the rest followed the bare feet.
Ulrich found a lost, confused German wandering through the woods shouting for his comrade, Heinz. After Ulrich failed to convince him that he was this Heinz, Sam negotiated an equitable end to his life. Ulrich took the dead man’s dirty SS jacket and infiltrated the ranks of some German guards across the road and outside the church, which looked as fortified as an Atlantic Wall bunker, surrounded by barbed wire and bolstered with wood, boxes, debris and sandbags.
There had been a recent firefight and the ground was covered with dead locals and some Nazis. The obvious SS leader (cigarette holder? yeah) took some men and went to climb through a hole in the roof while the guards outside muttered about “the Sturmbannfuhrer finding the statue which makes you immortal.”
The group converged and took out the guards with some well-placed head shots. Ulrich and Sam climbed the roof to go after the Sturmbannfuhrer while Yaroslav hacked at the door of the church with his axe. Ulrich and Sam had a shootout with an SS sergeant through the hole in the roof while Yaroslav broke into the church just in time to see the Sturmbannfuhrer inject something into his arm. He and his guards stood next to a stone serpent statue which spit a fountain of water into a basin.
Ulrich and Sam rapelled/jumped down through the hole in the roof and Yaroslav charged the Nazis. The guards were mowed down but bullets simply bounced off the body of the cackling head Nazi. The Sturmbannfuhrer shot a blob of death’s head-shaped energy at the plucky Ukrainian but the cooper’s son simply shook off the attack. He then took a rifle butt to a glowing, yellow gem that was the eye of the serpent/cyclops. A well-placed blow shattered it to dust and the water in the serpent fountain, as well as the water that had been injected into the veins of the Nazi, steamed and boiled. He finally slumped to the ground writhing in his death agony.
The battle was over just as Noah crashed through the wall of the church in the pickup truck, shouting “Did I miss anything?”