“In light of this whole zombie plague I’m thinking they’re going to have to redefine R.I.P to Rise in Putrescence.” –Riley, recalling the usual gravestone markings.
“How about Rot In Pieces?” –Jessy, proving acronyms can mean whatever the reader intends.
A cold wind buffets the vehicles as the hiss of static answers Renee’s desperate radio plea, Riley struggling in the back of the cargo truck to stabilize Heather and push the concerns for his wife’s continued safety from his mind, the bright lights from Jessy’s vehicle providing questionable aid, Jessy himself yelling back to Thomas and attempting to get directions to any near by medical facilities, Thomas mentioning the closest ones were in the cities, which would be either ransacked or crawling with undead.
After nearly an half hour of jarring travel over the poorly paved road Renee receives an faint reply to her distress call, one of the Reapers on a handheld set greets her panicked voice, giving her directions to a cache of resources they had hidden along the highway when they passed through that way a couple days earlier, which should have the necessary medical supplies they need to treat her girlfriend. As the voice fades to static Renee can barely make out his warning that other groups may have also heard his directions to the supply cache, be on the way to claim it for them selves.
Increasing her speed, Renee rockets down the highway, keeping an eye out for a deer crossing sign, and a dirt side road down which an abandoned garage and the promised supplies lay. Several bone jarring minutes later Renee spots the turn off rapidly approaching, the dirt road nearly hidden by the jutting branches of a cherry tree.
Yanking the wheel sharply she barely makes the turn, clearing out a mailbox along the way and almost busting her drivers side mirror on a looming tree. Carefully slowing down on the narrower dirt road, the group found Steve’s Garage at the end, several rusting hulks of cars visible on the edge of the truck lights, the main structure itself a faded blue, with the back of a wrecker truck hanging form the nearest garage door.
Leaping from the truck Renee gathers up her shotgun and surveys the silent building before her, joined seconds later by the rest of the group,
(GM note: With her character still unconscious I offered to let Heathers player take control of Thomas for the rest of the session, but she instead asked to play as her surviving dog Maki, which sounded like fun so I readily agreed.)
After a quick strategy meeting, during which Thomas volunteered to stay behind and keep an eye on Heathers still unconscious form, and the road for incoming hostiles the group took Heathers surviving German shepherd and spread out to cautiously survey the garage and attached two story house. Realizing the area was cleaned of zombies by the reapers the group conducted a brief cursory patrol around the building, searching for signs of recent occupation, and finding none entered from the backdoor, grateful; yet slightly suspicious the door was unlocked.
As they entered the houses kitchen Maki’s keen canine nose detected the faint odor of gun powder, blood, and the stronger smell of human sweat, someone had been in this room very recently.
(Gm note: this info, along with other observations Heathers player made while controlling Maki I wrote in quick notes to her, so as not to ruin the suspense for the rest of the group.)
Growling in low warning to the rest of the group Maki cautiously advanced sniffing at the air to discern the occupants’ location.
Taking queue from Maki’s nervousness the group turned off their flashlights, letting Riley give a two second burst of light before moving several steps in the darkness, followed by a second burst of light; a defensive house clearing method Riley had learned in the military. Taking point Maki strained his ears to make out any sounds of occupation, the scent of blood growing stronger as he closed in on the staircase to the second floor.
As the rest of the group neared the stairs Jessy spotted a dark wet patch on the carpet, closer inspection revealing it to be blood, no more then a few hours old at most. Maki, at Renee’s urging, bounded up the stairs, his keen senses now picking up the smell of excrement mixed with the blood, and sounds of wet gnawing on the upper floor.
Creeping close behind Riley pointed to several drops of dried blood on the hardwood flooring, as it leaded down the hall into a bedroom at the end, the same place Renee was told the supply cache had been hidden. Growing more urgently as the smell of blood and entrails assaulted his nostrils Maki took a reluctant lead, looking back at the group for guidance as they neared the doorframe.
From inside the room Maki could make out a faint shuffling like dozens of tiny claws on a chalkboard. Snarling Maki leaped into the room, pinning the humanoid shape slumped against the bed to the ground, his teeth firmly around the corpses throat, the rest of the group close behind as a half dozen field rats scattered between their feet in terror.
The room was brightly illuminated under the beams of all three of their flashlights, the partially rat eaten body of a leather clad man barely recognizable under Maki’s growling form, the contents of a emergency medical kit strewn across the bed, an empty syringe still grasped in the dead mans hand. After noticing the mans partially consumed body the group quickly decided he was no risk of coming back as a zombie, Riley guessing the man had accidentally over dosed on painkillers while trying stitch a nasty looking gun shot wound on his leg.
Wasting little time they carried Heather into an adjacent upstairs master bedroom, Jessy locating, and switching on a noisy generator out behind the garage, the additional light making it far easier for Riley to tend to Heathers injuries. As he performed field surgery, making careful note not to stitch any of bite marks closed. (A successful medical skill roll informing him that suturing bite wounds from any animal, prevents drainage and often leads to lethal infection in a matter of hours.)
As Riley supplies fresh bandages and an injection of antibiotics the rest of the group set about disposing of the dead biker and exploring the house and its adjacent garage, taking stock of available supplies and locating a replacement radiator for their damaged truck. Shortly after Riley finishes his treatment Heather painfully regains consciousness, and is nearly squeezed back into a coma by a tearfully relieved Renee, (much to the embarrassment of Riley, Jessy and Thomas.) Grateful Heather is on the mend the group calls it a night and the guys retire to the remaining bedrooms, leaving Renee to share the master bedroom with Heather.
The next morning as the group enjoys a properly cooked meal (courtesy of the electric stove and generator) Jessy raises the suggestion that maybe since they were at a garage, they should take some time the following day to upgrade their rides, which sparked a in depth discussion as to exactly what kinds of modifications they should make.
(Gm note: This discussion took up a lot of the game time, as they all went into detail of how to best go about “Mad Maxing” their rides, I.E welding on ramming prows, and otherwise armoring up the two cargo trucks to better withstand the dangers of the road, Thomas helpfully pointing out a few of their ideas were likely a bit out of their skill range.)
As the groups discussion of how to modify their rigs draw to a close, Maki (still being played by Heathers player) thinks he spots the movement of several approaching vehicles in the distance, proceeding in a slow convoy down the main road. Barking in warning to the group he heads to the window and looks pointedly out towards the highway, everyone making the connection soon after, Renee takes off in a mad dash for the generator as Jessy grabs his SMG’s and shouts a warning upstairs to Thomas.
The rumble of the generator fades to silence, as the group holds their breath in anticipation, the convoy of camouflaged vehicles in the distance slowing, the lead vehicle turning off down the side road towards the garage, Maki growling softly at it’s approach, the group quickly taking up defensive positions on the second floor, Riley’s hand held radio cracking to life with the indecipherable chatter of an encoded radio transmission.
Minutes later the vehicle pulls into full view, a military hummer, complete with a .50 caliber machine mounted in the roof turret a man in camouflage manning the turret, three other similarly clad soldiers disembarking from the hummer moments after is ground to a stop. Recognizing their body language and the short hand signals the leader of the group gave Riley informed everyone the new arrivals were either mercenaries, or actual soldiers.
As the newly arrived militia fanned out and began to circle the groups cargo trucks Riley keyed his radio, and attempted to contact the soldiers below them.
* * * * *
Will the newly arrived military force prove an asset in their travels? Will Mad Maxing their cargo trucks prove successful? Will Heather find a replacement for her deceased canine companion? Find out in the next adventure synopsis #22, coming November 21st!