SESSION 4: THE GANG'S ALL HERE
George (Vault Dweller) – As George is passing into the great beyond, he sees a vision of the Las Vegas Valley as a watercolor painting, swirling and bulging. The colors are all clashing against each other. Things are about to get very bad here. He feels his consciousness pulled apart, and his last thought is of his vault-brother Joel. He looks straight into Joel’s eyes as his soul departs.
Joel (Vault Dweller) - Joel feels a strange sensation in his head as George’s body goes limp. He finds the paw from a stuffed giraffe in George’s pocket and takes it as a memento.
Dez (Angel) – She still hasn’t prepared that shipment of medicine for O.G.King. That’s important. Golden Gardens is the source of the clean linens used by the infirmary, as well as Dodge’s ammunition. She needs to handle this situation and get to work.
Dodge (Driver) - Out of the corner of his eye he sees the motorcycle gang approaching the pileup on the road. It’s hard to tell exactly how many there are, but he does recognize one of them: a fellow named “Grit” who he’s dealt with in the past. He was a pretty easygoing guy, it seemed.
Dip (Ruin Runner) – All this talk of Reapers has got Dip thinking, trying to remember anything useful about their group and culture. All she can remember is that they have a deep hatred for cannibals.
Tulu (Brainer) - As George expires on the floor, she feels a tiny little void appear in her subconscious sense of the maelstrom. She don’t even have to open her brain to know that there are now only three empty circles in Las Vegas. She also sees the approaching motorcycles, and notices that two of them pull off from the pack and circle around north of the airport.
Zeke (Faceless) - Having fallen asleep in the body of a 727 to escape the rain, Zeke wakes up and begins moving back toward the terminal building. He's thinking about the group of Cordies (Cordyceps victims) he saw yesterday, getting rounded up by some gang. It definitely seems there's more Cordies on the east side lately.
Squaids (Hocus) - He climbs up a roof-access ladder to take a look northward. He sees a lot of activity at the Black Pyramid. Given the vehicles and equipment he sees on the exterior he figures maybe 100 people live in there. He also notices movement and noises in the trees of the Mandalay Jungle, which has overgrown the casino environ and spread all the way into the crumbled walls of the Four Seasons. There's some kind of animal life in there. He continues leading the group southward toward the Silverton Hotel.
THE GANG'S ALL HERE
WE START WITH SQUAIDS, who sees the Silverton just a block ahead. He sends the cultists into some nearby buildings to look for food or barterables. They come back empty-handed; seems as though this block has been scavenged recently.
Cookie and the other scouts catch up with the group and report that they looked everywhere, but couldn’t find Sorrow or Rabbit. That’s two followers gone walking for good. While Cookie is talking, Squaids watches a jeep pull out of the Pyramid lot and turn southward. Not safe here. Better stay off the main streets. The cult cuts down a side street and enters the Silverton parking lot from the back.
In the parking lot they find a bare-chested young man dead of a knife wound, and the bodies of the Hubbards piled up in the foyer. He knows of these Hubbards. Slave Traders. He orders the group to begin searching the building.
CUT TO THE INFIRMARY. At the sound of motorcycle engines approaching, everyone looks anxiously at each other, wondering what to do.
Coming in via the back hallway, Zeke sees the group standing around a dead body on the ground. He scans the situation quickly and realizes there is no danger here - the danger is outside. He grabs his gun and joins Dez near the door. "About time you showed up!" she says. "I fall asleep for one hour and you got a dead guy and an angry motorcycle gang?" he retorts.
Tulu is glancing at Zeke. The mask is strange, but the body language seems right. She's not sure, but she's starting to think she's found him.
Joel starts to go back and check on the other vault-dwellers, when Elrond snaps free of the old leather restraints and bounds out of the room, nearly knocking young Joel down as he barrels toward the foyer. Joel gasps "Elrond!" but the old man takes no notice, turning to push his way past Dez and Zeke, who stand between him and the open doors. Dez doesn't want him to escape. She whispers "I want his blood" and Zeke quickly lashes out, strong-arming Elrond and knocking the wind out of him. Elrond goes down again.
Suddenly a series of gunshots is heard from outside. "YO, DEZ!" shouts the biker named Grit. "COME ON OUT HERE, WE GOT SOME BUSINESS TO DISCUSS!" Dez squares her shoulders and prepares to go outside.
Tulu is freaking out. She's the one who caused all this trouble, and she doesn't want to be handed over to the Reapers. She looks to Dodge and Dip. "You gotta hide me!" she says. They decide to help. Dip leads Dodge and Tulu to her giftshop-bedroom in the south wing. Meanwhile Dez and Zeke head out the main doors and Joel follows cautiously behind them, pausing to grab George's hewn shank blade.
CUT TO DIP'S GIFT SHOP where a concealed panel behind the counter hides her secret stash spot. Before opening the panel, she looks at Tulu. "Can I trust you?" she asks. Tulu looks at the girl, trying to determine how to answer. She decides to use a direct-brain whisper projection. "You can trust me" she says, both mentally and verbally. Dip seems to agree, and relaxes. She opens the secret panel and they all crawl into the hidey hole. She seals it shut behind her and strikes up a lightstick, revealing the contents of the room. Lots of small shimmery objects come into view. "Wow..." whispers Dodge. There's a pile of barter in here no one knew about - not even Dez. "Touch anything and you can leave" says Dip.
CUT TO THE AIRPORT PARKING LOT. There are 10 bikers here, split into two groups of 5. One group has stopped on the main road and is beginning to clean up the wreckage from earlier. They're maybe 150 feet away. The other group is right here, forming a semicircle outside the infirmary doors. Grit confronts Dez. He gestures toward the pileup on the road. "So what's the story here? You got some answers for me?"
Dez looks him straight in the eye: "No, I don't. You need to answer your own questions."
Grit doesn't like being challenged in front of his squad, least of all by this tiny little woman. He gets off the bike and points his gun at her head. "You got any answers NOW?" Everybody draws their weapons.
Dez stays cool. "Look, I have no idea what happened to your friends, but if you want to receive medical attention next time you have an emergency, you better put that weapon down."
Grit slowly bends his arm at the elbow, pointing the gun into the air. "Well then we'll do it another way. All you gotta do is take us inside, so we can have a little look around."
"Are you wounded? Do you need medical attention?"
"No, but we need to make sure you're not hiding anybody in there. You realize, I got five men dead out here, and I'm not going back to Megadeth empty-handed." He needs to come back with a dead body or a live one. He just doesn't know whose.
All weapons are still drawn. It's a stand-off. No one makes a move. Finally Joel steps up. He's carrying George's shank weapon. "Look," he says, "THIS is what killed your guys. And I just killed the guy who did it."
The squadleader spins to face Joel and shoves the gun barrel into the boy's forehead. "Who is THIS fuck?" he asks Dez. Joel emboldens himself and responds: "I told you. I'm the guy who just killed your enemy."
Grit is starting to feel like he's being messed with, and he doesn't like it. He's chosen his hostage. He laughs as he turns away from Joel, then snaps his fingers and jerks his thumb back toward the kid. The other four bikers rush Joel, grabbing him by the arms and hair.
BACK TO THE HIDEY HOLE. Dodge is interrogating Tulu about her weird abilities. He noticed the way her eyes glazed over when Dip asked about trusting her, and although he's never met a Brainer personally, he has heard of them. He's starting to put two and two together. She covers the gaps in her own story by asking questions about him, Dez, and the airport. "This is our hospital" he tells her. "Dez is the doctor, and me and Zeke just do whatever needs done." Tulu's eyes narrow. "Did you say 'Zeke'?" she asks. "Yeah the big guy out there? With the mask? Wait... Do you know him?"
Tulu nods, remembering. That's the name. Zeke is the man who saved her from the Blessed Lamb cult all those years ago; the slave who told her he'd see her in Vegas one day. "I've been looking for him... for a long long time..." she says. She's finally found him. She stares at Dodge in the dimness, her eyes wide, head slowly nodding.
Dip breaks the awkward silence: "Hey, anybody hungry? I got some candy bars."
BACK TO THE SILVERTON HOTEL. Squaids and his group are completing their search of the filthy building. Nothing to eat, but so far they've dug up some books, a bottle of 19 mystery pills (homebrew pharmaceuticals), and the ledger in which all the Hubbards' business deals were recorded. Looks like the Hubbards sold slaves to the Eastside Raiders some time in the past. There's only one entry left unbalanced, and it's the last line in the book: a shipment of 18 slaves due to someone called "BrightEyes". Regular customer. 12 barter on delivery. Lucrative business.
Squaids opens his brain to the psychic maelstrom, and the knowledge crashes instantaneously into his mind. BrightEyes. The Shining Silver Eyes. The Voice That Said "We Seek The Same Thing." These are all one and the same. He knows that her power - for she is definitely female - is immense. Her voice in the maelstrom, more clear than any other he's heard. And he knows she can be found on the east side of town, north of the airport they call "the infirmary". Then the vision is over, suddenly as it began.
Some of the cultists come downstairs to report. They've found six people chained to the walls in a small room, where they've been kept for days without food. The stench is foetid. The unfortunate slaves can barely speak. They're covered in their own urine and feces, and surrounded by the decaying bodies of other victims. Squaids orders the cultists to undo their shackles, as he wonders what price they'd bring on the market. If he can get the same rate the Hubbards got, that would be 4 easy barter. Gotta clean them up first, though, he thinks. Maybe get some food into them. The infirmary.
BACK TO THE PARKING LOT. Zeke has had enough. First they point a gun at Dez, then they point their guns at him, and now they're gonna take this kid? Zeke decides - OH YEAAAAH - to make these fuckers stop what they're doing. The massive faceless hurls himself toward the bikers who are now dragging Joel off to the side, smashing into them like a giant human bowling ball. Bikers go tumbling everywhere. Grit begins cussing out his men, kicking them and losing his cool. Dez steps forward and again tells him he better leave the infirmary post-haste.
Joel, who has miraculously kept his feet, steps to one side and turns to face Grit. "Call them off!" he says. "I'm telling you the truth -" but that's all he gets out as a bullet hits him in the back. There's a sniper on the roof. Joel winces in pain and falls to his knees. The bikers on the road take cover and draw their weapons.
Dez decides to try a different tactic. Hurredly doffing her labcoat, she tugs at the fabric of her tight shirt to accentuate her figure, which is seriously, unbelievably, hot. "Ok now, don't you think we can all sit down and talk about this?"
Grit literally stops speaking mid-sentence as his eyes take in Dez' beautiful form. Very few people have seen her without that bulky lab coat. He looks lasciviously down her body and back up again. He is about to say something when a second shot rings out; the sniper's bullet hits Dez in the shoulder. She falls to the ground.
Zeke leaps at Grit, seizing the man from behind and pinning both his arms to his sides. He lifts the helpless squadleader off the ground and shouts loudly: "IF ONE MORE SHOT IS FIRED, I BREAK HIS NECK!" [With this awesome move, he levels up. You'll find out what he chose soon enough.]
Zeke holds Grit tight; the biker cannot escape. There is a tense moment as everyone freezes, eyeballs quickly darting around. Grit, terrified, calls out: "Hold your fire! Please! You guys! Don't let them kill me!" and a wet stain begins spreading down the front of his pants. From out in the parking lot, somebody laughs and points. Then another. Suddenly a third shot rings out - and Grit's body goes limp in Zeke's arms. A neat hole leaks blood down the side of his biker head.
Zeke looks up at the gang, doing quick tactical calculations. But he's not ready for what happens next. Grit's second in command, a bushy guy with a black bandana, steps up with his weapon down. He says "You'll have no trouble from us. Grit always was a pussy." Zeke sets the body down, staring at the man quizzically. "My name's Mental" he says. Then he turns to the rest of the gang and waves them all in. "Come on boys, the time has come!"
The road crew comes in, bringing their bikes and those of the fallen. They holster their weapons and keep their hands visible, almost like this whole thing was planned. Introductions are made all around. Some of these guys address Zeke as "Sir". He's still a little incredulous. Mental says "I know you think we ride all tight & shit, well, that used to be true, but we've been talking about breaking off to form our own gang for a while now. I don't know exactly what you've got going on here, but I know that nobody fucks with Airport. So, the way I figure it, you've got what it takes to stand up to Megadeth. And we want to stand with you."
BACK TO THE HIDEY HOLE. It sounds like the gunfire has ceased. Tulu opens her brain and reads the vicinity. Her vision assures her that there's no threat here, but just as it's ending she suddenly feels her worst fear - as someone or something grabs her from behind, placing one hand over her mouth, seizing her and pulling her into the darkness. Then it's over. She takes a few breaths to calm herself. "It's okay" she says.
Dip opens up the panel and the three of them go back to the terminal lobby.
AIRPORT INTERIOR. The threat abated, Dez and Joel have moved back inside, and Dez is tending their wounds. Everyone else follows them, and they all find places to sit or stand in a big loose circle.
Mental breaks out a baggie of homegrown roadweed and starts passing out handrolled numbers as he begins explaining a bit of Reaper history. "See... Megadeth has been blowing chunks for over a YEAR, man. First that fat fucker gets us kicked out of LA - lots of us still have family back there, homez - but if we show our colors out there we'll be hunted down by Anthropos Industries. All because Megadeth had the brillo idea to steal back some slaves we sold em. And failed, massively. Lost nine men that day. Corporate Hits out on all our heads. That's why we came to Vegas and merged up with the Eastside Raiders. We had no choice, you know? But as if that wasn't bad enough, now he's losing turf to the Gardens - we're losing riders every month. That's why me and the squad started talking about splitting off soon as we got the chance. We all agreed on this - except for Grit." He looks out at Grit's body, still laying in the parking lot. "Problem solved" he says.
Tulu approaches Zeke. The masked man towers over her small form. "Zeke?" she asks. "Do you remember me?" Her voice is southern, lilting, somewhat familiar. He looks at her face. She was just a girl then, but... Yes, he remembers. This girl had been kidnapped by the Blessed Lambs - the same cult that brainwashed most of his own family and treated him as a slave - and he'd risked his own life to set her free. He saw what they'd done to her parents, what they planned to do to her... There would be no brains in her skull when they were done. He did what he had to do, and he was forced to go on the run himself. Long time ago. "But how... Why did you come here?" Tulu looks surprised at the question. "You said 'I'll see you in Vegas'" she says. "Well... Here I am!"
Mental trades Dez about an ounce of roadweed for some chillstabs. Meanwhile, the sniper and his spotter pull their bikes around the front of the building and enter the terminal. The sniper - a tall thin ginger with a mean machine - is introduced as "Red Jesus". The other guy - Dodge is startled to hear his voice - is a guy named Silas, a gunlugger Dodge has worked with on several occassions. It's time for a reunion. "Holy shit Silas - you're running with a bike gang now?" Dodge and Silas fist-bump each other. "Nah, I'm still a free agent. But Jesus asked me to come along and play spotter. We go way back. He said something interesting was gonna happen... it did."
Red Jesus nods in agreement, but says nothing and doesn't remove his shades. If anyone's waiting for him to apologize for shooting them, they'll be waiting a long time.
About twenty minutes later, Squaids and his cult approach the infirmary from the north. Seeing nothing out front but a bunch of motorcycles, they come down the drop-off road and enter the terminal doors. The airport group looks up at this new bunch of stragglers. They're led by a tall hooded figure, who carries a roadsign covered in mushroom-like glyphs. "We have some need of your services" he says. "Who is in charge here?"
Dez rises and raises her hand. "That would be me" she says. Squaids goes over to negotiate with her, while Dez checks out his group. They look filthy. Some of them appear stoned. More than a few exhibit the discolored underarms of first- and second-stage Cordyceps infection. There are six seriously emaciated ones among them, almost carried by those around them. "You have anything to pay with?" she asks. Squaids offers her the first aid kit and some CDs. He'd like to stay here for a little while, so he's considering offering her the gun as well.
Meanwhile, Tulu is staring at Squaids. He notices this, and looks back at her. As their eyes meet, it suddenly occurs to both of them that they've met before - even exchanged secrets with each other - in the whorls of the psychic maelstrom. They keep glancing at each other even as the negotiations continue, each growing increasingly aware that the other one knows it too.
Zeke is having a realization of his own: Some of these cultists look familiar. These are the fuckers who jumped him on the road north of Vegas last year, then ran off after taking a beating they weren't ready for, leaving his face a disgusting mass of slashed flesh and gushing blood. "NO" he says. Dez and Squaids look up. "I beg your pardon?" says Squaids. Zeke strides up and puts his face right in front of Squaids' own. He removes his mask, saying "You did THIS to me." Squaids remains stoic. Tulu looks at Zeke's horribly maimed face and gasps. Zeke replaces the mask. "You're not getting ANY kind of service here."
Squaids looks at Dez, who says nothing, and then back at Zeke. "I assure you that whatever happened to you had nothing to do with me personally. However if some of my followers have mistreated you, then I understand your anger. I'll tell you what;" he says, lowering his voice: "You point out the ones you say attacked you, and you can have them."
Zeke is understandably opposed to slavery: "I don't own people," he says, "so what the hell would I want with them?"
"You could sell them for fair market value, you could kill them, frankly I don't care what you do with them." says Squaids. "Their fate would be yours to decide."
That's some cold shit right there. Zeke doesn't know what to say. He's actually considering this. Dez and Squaids are both looking at him, waiting for his answer. Tulu glides up between Dez and Zeke and whispers a single word: "Cannibals".
This sets Dez off again. "You're a fucking cannibal cult!? You better get out of here now, you hear me? I'm not going to let your kind endanger anyone in this infirmary." At the mention of the word "cannibal" Joel looks up, startled. "What the hell kind of world is this?" he thinks. His shoulder is throbbing. "Why did I ever leave the vault?" Zeke's gang also looks up, hands inching toward their weapons.
Squaids is in a tough spot. If he gets these Hubbard-slaves fixed up a little bit, he can make some serious barter. He needs a place for his group in the infirmary for maybe a week, he figures. He also wants to stay near this mysterious Tulu person. He decides to lie. "You think we're a cannibal cult? No no, we are a mycophagious order; we partake of the sacred mushroom." He's not sure they're buying it. He lays it on thicker. "Certainly you understand that times are hard, and while some - only a few mind you - may have on one occassion fallen lapse in their morals and partaken of human flesh, I assure you that it is in no way a tenet of my order."
This bullshit actually seems to be working. Zeke narrows his eyes and makes a counter-offer. "You kick out those who eat human flesh - right out to the street, right the fuck now - AND you give me the attackers. Then you can stay for a week. ONE week." He glances at Dez, who stays mum. She's letting him drive this one.
As the session closes, we catch a brief shot of Elrond. He's squatting in an abandoned van somewhere beyond the airport perimeter, muttering to himself, and reading his compass. The word he keeps muttering is "Joel..."
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END OF SESSION FOUR.