PCs: Neil McGreedy (scrounger), Noah Wales (engineer), Sam Hill (Texas Ranger), Gordan (professional British soccer player)
We left off at the crash site of Jimmy Stewart’s B-24. The hydra was destroyed, the Klan militia defeated and the party had to decide what to do next. Noah was wary of going to Huntsville because it was under US Gov’t control and he feared running into agents of Howard Hughes (he stole Howard’s jet-pack). Gordan wanted to tag along for survival, Neil wanted to scrounge abandoned settlements for trade goods and Sam Hill wanted to annex Alabama to the Republic of Texas. This plan naturally won out.
Sam promised local sharecroppers that they would be better protected if they aligned themselves with Texas and that he would drive off bandits, mutants and the KKK. The sharecroppers tended not to believe him but he persuaded them to give the party a chance to prove their mettle. They said that the Klan had setup a roadblock to cutoff food and supplies from across the Tennessee River. Supply trucks were not getting through and anyone sent to check it out had not returned. So the party, including Jimmy Stewart and crew and three sharecroppers, piled into the Ford pickup and a captured KKK truck (hand painted white with KKK in big black letters and Confederate flags) and headed north.
The road turned into a muddy track and the ground became ever wetter as they headed closer to the river. Then the Ford, bringing up the rear, bogged in the mud and couldn’t get free. That’s when they were attacked by a group of large gators, including one twenty-footer. The gators were easily dispatched and the truck towed out of the mud. Sam skinned the giant gator for its armored hide and sent two of the sharecroppers back to town for a wagon to take the other gators back for food. The leader of the sharecroppers, Thomas Madison Washington, proceeded with the party.
The roadblock was in a railroad cutting in an embankment. Log bunkers with BARs covered each side of the road and Klan lookouts patrolled behind barricades on top of the embankment. Gordan immediately gunned the KKK truck and rammed into one bunker, taking it out. His quick action took the guards completely by surprise. The passengers in the back were thrown about and stunned; those who could leaped out of the truck. Gordan backed out of the bunker and blocked the cutting. Sam hosed down the embankment and dropped a few guards while Jimmy Stewart’s trademark voice stunned several more into inaction (they thought someone was a-shootin’ a movin’ picture).
Klansmen in white hoods and some men in US Army gear rushed toward the roadblock. Among them were two bazooka crews. Two Jeeps with .50-cals drove forward.
.50-cal tracer was going in both directions and Gordan gunned it into the bazooka crews, trying to run them over. He succeeded in taking out one bazooka but the loader ran to retrieve it.
Meanwhile, Thomas Madison Washington ran to the other bunker and stuck his 12-gauge into the aperture, taking out the BAR gunner and yelling obscenities involving crackers and people’s mothers. In a berserk rage, he then charged up the embankment into four Klansmen. He took out some and scared off the rest, then charged down the other side into more onrushing Klan militia.
By this time someone noticed that the men in US Army gear were shouting in German. Disorganized militia ran out of tents and shacks and a German officer in para fatigues emerged from a tent over which fluttered a Nazi flag. He wore an eyepatch, monocle, had a fake arm and smoked a cigarette in a long holder. He didn’t have time to equip his other cliches, which he left in the tent.
In the time it took me to type this, I’ve forgotten half the insane shit the party pulled. A captured bazooka took out a bunker on the far side of the embankment but not before Noah and Sam had raced forward to engage the Jeeps, ramming one in the process and leaving themselves in the line of fire of four automatic weapons. Sam blasted the German gunners (as it turns out) and only took a burning tracer through his ten-gallon hat. Sam then tried to take down the distant German officer stereotype but he shrugged off a hail of .50-cal fire, all the while laughing and taunting in German (that’s correct, he also laughed in German. YOU figure it out..)
So the roadblock was ultimately destroyed for the loss of only one of Jimmy Stewart’s crewmen (note: Mooks rolling d6 for Shooting don’t hit often, at least not when I roll for them). Finally, Thomas Madison Jefferson, wounded by BAR fire, took out the last bunker single-handed.
I’m leaving stuff out but at this point it doesn’t really matter. Lots of crazy went down tonight. Oh yeah, a creepy storm front of poisonous rain approached the area but hadn’t quite reached it yet. At least the sharecroppers claimed it was poison.
PCs present: Ulrich, Yaroslav, Rupert, Smokey, Sam & Noah (both motionless, staring vacantly into the distance)
Clods of wet earth erupted in geysers around the downed Liberator as six reptilian heads burst from the ground. Overhead circled two fighters of the Birmingham Air Force, possibly surveying the confusing situation, while Ulrich’s eagle eye spotted more Klan reinforcements en route to the scene.
COL Jimmy Stewart was on the wireless with Redstone Arsenal, frequency hopping to elude the Klan’s jamming attempts. His crew frantically tried to rip valuable equipment – radios, wiring, tools, etc – from the B-24. Smokey took over the top twin .50-cal turret when the local farmers headed screaming for the hills as the killing zone got even hotter and creepier.
[to make a long story short, since I can’t recall many of the details]
Ulrich was the first to recall something he had heard regarding hydras and how to kill them: make sure to apply fire, don’t simply shoot them. Of course, the group then proceeded to simply shoot them. Eventually someone fished Smokey’s flamethrower out of the sidecar and Yaroslav had the novel idea of attempting to blast the hydra with the hot exhaust plumes of Noah’s JetPack. Yaroslav, unfortunately, was not versed in the controls and was lifted off the ground while hanging onto the hand grips. He nimbly strapped himself in mid-air — no mean feat — and tried to singe the hydra.
Meanwhile, more truckloads of Klansmen appeared and began communicating via radio with the fighters overhead. The two planes dove toward the firefight in line astern and began strafing runs. It turned out that ground attack isn’t the best role for pilots with meager flight training and the planes did little harm. Ulrich attempted to snipe the pilots but missed. Smokey turned his turret toward the Klansmen and hosed them down. The hydra was gradually brought under control after having sprouted two heads for every one lost, doing surprisingly little permanent damage. Yaroslav lost control of the JetPack and flew towards the Klansmen, but these were luckily dealt with before he got into any more trouble. He then flew into the ground, not knowing how to land safely, and came away with bumps and bruises.
So the chaotic fight ended successfully and the group awaited the arrival of transport from Redstone, summoned courtesy of COL Stewart.
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)
The Germans, alive and dead, wore a hodge-podge of uniforms. All were SS, a variety of units and ranks. As long as the jacket had lightning runes they put it on. The rest of their gear was POW or US Army issue. The party interrogated the two they had taken alive.
“We were in the Aliceville laager. Most of the SS there had been captured in July or August 1944 in Normandy, all badly wounded or stunned by artillery or fighter-bomber attacks. I don’t even recall being captured, I woke up three weeks later in an aid center. Most of us are Das Reich, some were Hitler Jugend sent to the US because the British didn’t have room for them and the Canadians would have shot them on sight”, claimed the prisoners.
“The young ones were always the worst, hard-core National Socialists to the end. But nobody knows where the Sturmbannfuhrer came from. He wasn’t with us in Aliceville and we didn’t get the impression he had been in another camp. Most of the POWs were very tanned from working outside but he was quite pale.”
“We joined him in ’46, he was trying to gather up party members, mostly. None of the lads liked the arrogant prick but what else were we to do? He promised us we would start our own German community under party ideals, he always got us plenty of food, cigarettes, even weapons; nobody asked questions. I think he had high connections back in the Fatherland. At some point he suddenly became obsessed with seeking out cults who prayed to snakes. That’s how we came to be here. Who cares anymore? I’m through with this shit now.”
After they were done talking, Sam politely invited the Germans to get the hell out of their sight. And no, you can’t have weapons for self defense, you’ll just have to take your chances. Maybe head north, where the Huntsville Arsenal boys will take you into custody, if you’re lucky.
Papers had been taken from the Sturmbannfuhrers body. They ordered him to take responsibility for the southeastern US region but did not say in what capacity. The orders were merely initialed “O.S.”
Meanwhile, the ole pickup needed a realignment and some serious front fender work after Noah rammed it through the wall of the First Pentecostal Church of Cullman, Alabama. It was night now and he worked by flashlight with the help of Yaroslav.
Work was interrupted when numerous locals, at least three dozen, showed up muttering that something must have happened to their snake idol and its magical elixir. Their apparent leader was a young man dressed in vintage Confederate officer garb, complete with floppy grey field hat and feather. The party entered into a parley with the group and learned that they had possessed the snake idol for many generations and drinking its waters had protected them from disease, accidents and other manner of untimely death – in fact, any manner of death at all. Most were simply poor sharecroppers, farmers and laborers and all showed the signs of premature aging: wrinkled, yellow skin superimposed on the features of youth.
Yaroslav patiently explained that Nazis were responsible for the locals’ pitiable state and that nothing could be done for them now. Hopeless but pacified, they began to disperse.
But no one had reckoned on Sam Hill.
Sam drew Law and Order, aimed and put a bullet in the hindquarters of the erstwhile Confederate. Unfortunately, the bullet ricocheted off a bone, cut an important artery and the man fell dead. He had survived Shiloh only to fall to Sam Hill. Desperate with the realization that these ne’er-do-wells meant to shoot them in the back, the locals felt they had nothing to lose by taking the party down with them.
All hell then broke loose as three dozen irate locals swarmed toward the church wielding pitchforks, farm implements, cooking pots and wooden sticks. The party emptied their clips but barely slowed them down. The situation was becoming critical when two strange fellers on a motorcycle with sidecar screeched to a halt outside the ring of angry locals, drawn by the sounds of gunfire.
Thinking that Ulrich, who had sneaked out of the church to what he thought was safety, was an enemy, the newcomers attempted to brain him with a rifle butt. Only Ulrich’s pathetic pleas of friendship saved his bacon. The two then drove off to run down some locals while Ulrich hid and waited for a tempting target to present itself.
Half the locals had been cut down when more strangers were drawn to the scene – Cullman Rangers (led by Capt. Allen Hanneman, AL National Guard) in two Willys Jeeps. The lead jeep mounted a .50-cal M2 and the other a search light, which they shined on the battle scene. Capt. Hanneman yelled through a bull horn for the fighting to cease and desist and that along with a few bursts of .50-cal tracer finally convinced the locals to give up the fight.
A brief standoff followed while all sides established their bona fides. The Rangers explained that their mission was to guard the roads into the Huntsville/Redstone Arsenal area, which was still firmly controlled by the US Army. The party described current events surrounding the snake idol and the two men on motorcycle identified themselves as a British medic, Rupert Elington, and a former Marine Raider, known only as Smokey. Torture has cost Smokey his vocal chords, leaving him unable to speak, and Rupert’s medical studies had been cut short when a German bomb destroyed his school.
The Rangers took kindly to the group for wiping out some Nazis and warned them away from the road to Birmingham. It was controlled by the KKK and there was no guarantee what reception they would receive there. Huntsville, on the other hand, was an island of US government control in a sea of chaos, and they were always on the lookout for capable people.
A trade is arranged with the Rangers: all the party’s Thompsons and clips, plus valuable mutant serpent parts, in exchange for the .50-cal and its 1000-round belt. The Rangers agree (they could use more SMGs, as they actually have plenty of heavy weapons and rifles from National Guard armories) and Noah and Yaroslav successfully improvise a pintel mount on the Ford.
We end as the party considers their route and Noah contemplates the engineering trade-offs involved in attaching ophiline-fueled jet pack engines to a 1940 Ford pickup.
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?”