Saving Colonel Stewart

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PCs present:  Ulrich, Noah, Sam, Smokey, Rupert

Capt. Hanneman of the Cullman Rangers sends the group on their way north towards Huntsville.  He warned them that Birmingham was a nest of Klan, Nazis and generally bad eggs, and the Arsenal was always on the lookout for capable specialists.  And they paid well.  Two main routes were available:  the first was through Decatur but that town was experiencing unrest and violence, making the nearby bridge over the Tennessee unsafe.  The other route was through farmland to a bridge just east of Redstone Arsenal, and that’s the route they chose.  Hanneman laughed at the suggestion to provide a letter of introduction, not giving a rat’s ass, and drove off.

Short of food, Sam figured out a way to rectify that deficiency when they passed some unattended livestock round about Ryan Crossroads.  He took down and began to field strip the nearest head when a couple of farmers far across the field began a-hootin’ and a-hollerin’.  The older man came at them waving a shotgun over his head with a teenager in tow.  Smokey immediately proceeded to draw and plug the older man in the leg, and then knocked out the teenager with one well-placed jab.

Horrified, Rupert bandaged the man and stopped the bleeding.  The group carried the man into his farmhouse and placed him on the bed.  The unconscious teen (apparently the man’s son) was placed on the floor next to the bed, and a toddler who had been playing near the house was tied to a leash secured to the bed frame.  They then ransacked the man’s house, stole his beer and chickens and drove off.  Rupert used a sheet and some cow blood to fashion a makeshift Red Cross flag which they flew from their Ford pickup.

Proceeding, they passed more farmers who shouted for aid as they passed, probably thinking they were actually with the Red Cross.  The party felt the need to rebuild their shattered karma, so they stopped, gave what supplies they could, treated minor injuries and even performed some field surgery, courtesy of Dr. Elington.  Their assistance favorably impressed the locals (at least until said locals found out about their friend back down the road).

As they lingered near their aid station, everyone began to look skyward at what appeared to be a large aircraft coming in low overhead.  The larger plane was shadowed by two smaller ones at a higher altitude.  The large plane turned out to be a B-24 Liberator in USAAF livery; it’s starboard outboard engine trailed flame and smoke and the propeller was feathered.  The Liberator turned sharply to make a wheels-up approach to a large field, where it made a noisy belly landing.  The two smaller, single-engine planes continued to circle overhead, bearing orange-red markings of a training squadron.

At the same time, coincidentally or not, the party spotted truckloads of white-hooded Klansman headed to that very spot.  Had they come to rescue the crew?  The party wasted no time in deliberation and headed for the crash site; they would either protect the plane or loot it, they hadn’t decided which quite yet.  A small group of armed locals went with them.

Once there, Ulrich hit the dirt and scanned the action through his rifle’s scope, Sam covered them with the new .50-cal and the others attempted to help (or overpower) the crew.  Rupert helped the pilot and co-pilot squeeze through the cockpit canopy side windows, the others assisted the only two other crew members, a navigator and crew chief.  Noah retrieved the plane’s fire extinguisher and attempted to fight the blaze.

Then one of them seemed to recognize the pilot – it was none other than star of stage and screen, and bomber pilot war hero, Col. Jimmy Stewart!  He had a led a volunteer crew to Birmingham to steal one of the two heavy bombers they used to terrorize the area and return it to the airfield west of Restone Arsenal.  There was no time to talk now, however, as the Klan’s intentions became clear and bullets whizzed by the wreckage.  The crew chief, having manned the radio, knew that the Klan was being directed to the crash site to prevent the plane from being salvaged.  Their own communications were in turn jammed by Birmingham but they were able to frequency-hop and get an SOS to Huntsville; help was on the way, but when?

Sam yanked back the bolt on the M2, Smokey took up station in the still-intact top turret of the B-24 and the crew chief and navigator manned the waist gun positions.  The two converging groups of Klansmen each had a truck with a .50-cal and a vicious firefight broke out.  Tracer fire criss-crossed the field and errant rifle shots kicked up spouts of dirt and rock.  Ulrich, in place with his high-powered rifle, picked off the apparent leaders of each group.  Sam concentrated on the enemy machine gunners and the Liberator’s .50s spewed hot lead in all directions.  All the while, Noah bravely battled the gouts of flame gushing from ruptured fuel lines – flames that were ominously close the where the party unwisely parked their pickup.  The pickup carrying the ophiline-fueled jet pack.

The party’s superior firepower gave them a decided edge and soon the untrained Klan clods broke, frantically attempting to crawl backwards out of the shooting gallery.  The Klan leaders and gunners were down, and aside from a few downed locals and heart-stopping near misses, the party pulled through intact.  Noah huddled under an engine nacelle cradling his precious and highly flammable jet pack.

They weren’t out of the woods yet.  The planes that circled overhead, no doubt ordered by the Klan, descended as the group noticed twinkling from underwing gun pods.  Worse yet, Ulrich, lying on the ground, began to notice bizarre undulations in the turf.  Suddenly, bursting up from the ground almost directly beneath the Liberator, was a giant, reptilian head – followed in quick succession by even more, nearly identical heads.  The Liberator had crashed onto the underground lair of a mutant hydra!

New clips and belts were slapped into smoking weapons and Sam Hill lit a cigarette on the hot barrel of his .50-cal.  Noah gave him a blast of the fire extinguisher, saying “No fires on MY watch.”

(to be continued, next session is 12/8/2010)

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