Zombie Apocalypse Jodi's Story
#21
Episode 17 - Cosmic Artistry

Is it still snowing?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Jodi squints against the snow that seems to have picked up in fury, tossed about by windy freezing flurries. She peers behind her as the corpse shapes follow her like so many walking snow men. That's the road behind me, right? she wonders. She can only hope. Not for the last time, she wishes she had a compass.


For the last few minutes she had jogged ahead of the deadheads, giving her a reprieve then she pulls out her binoculars and looks down the slope, trying to make out where the road is. 

Can she see the road down the slope in the distance? (+3 distance, -1 darkness, -1 snow)

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

She curses, unsure if she's heading east, or if she's veered south east or north east.

Now that she's jogged out of sight of the walkers, there's nothing for it, but to try and angle back in the direction she thinks is north west to the road. She turns ninety degrees to the left, and believes she's now heading north. 


She jogs along this vector for another ten minutes and then will try to head back to the road. Or where she hopes the road is. With some luck, she hopes to lose the creatures following behind her.

In another fifteen minutes, she looks. Can she see the road?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

She breathes a sigh of relief as she comes out of the woods and back onto the road. To the right is north, toward the lodge. To the left is where they had fled from the ATVs. But she didn't know if she was north of the rendezvous point with Catina.  

After a moment of indecision, she decides to turn right, and take the road back north. That way she'll at least be heading in the direction of the lodge.

Does she run into Catina?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

She makes out an ATV with someone on it. The person raises a rifle.  


"Jodi?"

Relief floods into Jodi and she exhales with a smile. "Found you!" 

Jodi sees that Catina has a blood-covered rifle and is wearing one of the men's ammo vest. 


"I see you got an upgrade."

Catina nods, "Once they moved off, I took this off the men."

Where they wearing body armor (trauma plates?)

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

No but they had on soft body armor that could stop pistol rounds.


Catina taps one of the blood-covered vests.

"Here, take one," she says. "It's kevlar."

"That'll slow me down," Jodi says.

"And it'll slow down a bullet too," Catina says. "And will also provide protection against biters. Some protection anyway."

Jodi frowns in distaste at the blood and chunks still clinging to the densely woven fabric.

"I tried to scrape as much off as I could in the snow. Sorry, I didn't have any detergent on me."

"Forget it," Jodi sighs and slips on the snow covered vest. Maybe Catina was right. She smells the blood still, faint against the smell of cold snow and gasoline fumes. The vest was much too loose. She simply didn't have the mass that the men did. 

"Can you adjust these straps for me?"

After a few minutes, they were both outfitted. 


"So what is the plan?" Catina asks. She checks her ammo in the curved magazines tucked within the velcroe vest pouches and in the rifle, optimizing her loadout.

How many extra 30 round mags with bullets does she have?
2 = 2[d3]

I'll say the rifle has 15 rounds already in it. Catina loads in a full magazine, and moves the partially-used mag to another pocket.

Jodi wasn't sure what the plan was. At least they had a chance now. But Catina was more or less immobile with that bullet in her leg. But at least she was on an ATV. That might give them some pause if they hear the ATV, and think they were their returning colleagues. Perhaps they would let their guard down.


"We need to at least do something about that leg."

"We don't have time for surgery."

"I'm not talking about that. You need to be able to walk on it somewhat at least."

"I'm fine here."

"Not if the shooting starts. You'll be out in the open."

"What do you have in mind," Catina says.

"We need to brace it, so if you have to hobble on it, you can without putting too much pressure on the leg itself."

Catina reluctantly agrees and after a few moments and after cutting some strong branches and using strips from some spare clothing, Jodi had Catina's leg somewhat braced. It was something at least.

"How does it feel."

"It hurts," Catina bites off a curse. "But I'll live."

"Good. You can stay on the ATV until you need to move." 


With Catina on the ATV it should at least allow them to get closer to the lodge before they started shooting at them. Jodi counts off the known threat in her head. 
She had counted originally six men when she had scoped out the lodge at first. 
The two men that followed them out were dead. 
One of the two men from the first engagement with the horse fiasco was either dead or wounded. He was at least out of commission. 
That left three men back at the house. 
So two vs three, unless they could find Lisa and Jen and swing the odds in their favor.

"Let's head back to where we were separated from my girls and see if we can pick up their trail," Catina said. "Maybe they got away."

Jodi wasn't sure. "What if they have them at the house? We should go there first."

Catina looks torn and stares into the night, "They could be out in the dark and the cold, wet and hungry and lost... or worse."

"And that's my point. We're in no condition to be looking for them," Jodi says. "You have a bullet in your leg. You're holding up remarkably well for that, but it can't last. We need to rest. And we'll need light to look for tracks."

Is Catina persuaded?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Catina finally nods and wipes a tear. "If they took my girls, I'm going to--"


"I know," Jodi says and she rests an arm on Catina's shoulder. Her hands felt numb from the cold and her feet in her shoes were getting numb too. They had to get out of the snow soon, or they'd have to add exposure to their lists of concerns. Catina rests one of her own hands on Jodi's and nods, blinking rapidly. "Let's go... I'm okay."

Jodi nods. "You'll stay on the ATV and get them looking your direction. I'll be coming in on the horse from the side." Jodi said. "From that creek bed or ditch I'll have line of sight to the roof and the window and from doorway."

"You're only going to get once chance at that," Catina says. "I'll be in the open on an ATV."

"I know," Jodi frowns. "This could go haywire. I won't lie to you."

"I'm ready to do it for my girls," Catina says.

Jodi nods. "Lets do it then."

----

Jodi waits for the ATV to approach up the drive way before moving into position. She hopes the sound offers enough of a distraction. She blinks through the snow and presses the inside of an arm against an ear. Cold. They had to get in doors and soon. She peers through the scope does she see anyone on the roof?

Can she get into position to shoot without being seen (+1 darkness, +1 distance, +2 distraction from Catina, -2 observer on watch)


(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...


... and she can get into better position for a bonus to the shot.

Jodi moves up the creek bed and goes prone, bracing the rifle against rock and studies the roof. She sees a man on watch, but he swings his rifle and looks at the drive way just as she hoped.

"They're back... but I only see one rider," the man calls down to somewhere below, his voice carrying in the cold dark.

Does he recognize it's not his own man?(-1 darkness, -1 movement, -1 snow and wind, +1 scope)

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

He stands up straighter to get a better look. 


Jodi pulls the trigger.

Jodi takes the shot (-1 darkness, -1 snow, +2 brace, +1 good position, +2 distraction from Catina, -1 head shot)

Hit?


(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

The shot echoes against the sound of the ATV as the man falls limply against the sandbags. Jodi instantly swings her scope to peer around the house. 


Does anyone else become visible inside?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes


Is it a militia?


(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...


Yes, but he's surprised and Jodi gets a chance to hit him.
Can she see him through a window?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

In a dining room window, a man is leaps up behind a small cook stove and a half eaten MRE. Jodi sees the motion. He has a shirt on, half unbuttoned. In his haste, he knocks over a bottle of Coors and reaches for his rifle. Jodi squeezes off  several shots 


She shoots six shots.

Hit? (-1 darkness, -1 snow, +2 brace, +1 surprise, +1 scope)

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Lower arm.


(8 = 5[d20]+3) Minor Injury: Largely superficial; painful and distracting, but not life threatening.


(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...


Neck.

(5 = 2[d20]+3) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Bruise.

Lower arm.

(22 = 19[d20]+3) Killed.

Six shots slam through the window in a spray of glass and death and her third bullet takes him down. 


Was it a head shot?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

There's a misting of red from his head. He flies backward, crashes through a back window onto a balcony.

Does anyone else make an appearance?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but...

Combatively / Fresh

Jodi peers through the scope but doesn't see anyone else outside the house or in the house. A drape gusts in the window she blew out.  

She swings her scope and watches Catina, who turns off the ATV and hops off of it. Catina hobbles up to the house, putting her back against a wall. She looks in Jodi's direction and waves her forward. Jodi nods and advances cautiously on the house, sticking with the minimal cover.

Does she make it to Catina without issue?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Jodi's back hits the wall as she stacks up next to Catina.

"You okay?" Catina asks, she holds her rifle held in a ready position but she winces from pain with every step. She looks to her left at the door a few feet a way.

"I took down two."

"I heard. How many are left?"

"I can't say for sure," Jodi shifts her rifle. "Six men from before. I killed two just now. The walkers got the two that chased us. The fight up the road earlier messed up another one with his arm and leg. I don't think he made it."

"One left probably then," Catina says.

Jodi nods.

The garage is off to their right its front double doors still locked.

Do they hear anything from in the garage?
(Likely | 3[d10]) No

Do they see any light from in the garage?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes


The garage door is an old-style double-door, manual affair and is chained shut. Jodi catches a glimmer of light from a crack in the double-door. She moves stealthily to the door and tries to see what's inside.


Does she see another militia?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Does he notice her by the door?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Does he have a rifle on him?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Is he the driver that had several minor wounds?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

The double-door is made out of heavy wood. Jodi tries to move quietly. But once she's close, shots ring out snapping through the wood around her.

Does Jodi get a glimpse inside before he shoots at her?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes


Jodi gets a glimpse inside. She sees some women and older teenage girls tied up and gagged.

Is the garage connected to the house?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...


Sounds like there's an interior door from the kitchen that leads to the garage, but there's also a door that leads from the outside to the kitchen as well.

Are any of the captives Jen or Lisa?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and... +Event: Persecute / Exterior factors

So they had found the girls. They are tied up and hanging from wrists stretched above their heads, a rope or cable disappearing up to the ceiling. Their feet are also tied, and duct tape covers their mouths.


Jodi gets a brief glimpse at all this before the man notice Jodi and shoots.


Does Jodi see the man inside, before he shoots her?

(Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

She reflexively tries to dodges out of the way. 


Is she successful in getting out of the line of fire? (+1 from above, +1 the door blocks where she is exactly)

(Likely | 3[d10]) No


How many shots does he shoot? (1d3+1)

2 = 1[d3]+1


Two shots...
Is Jodi hit? (-1 door, -1 the man has wounds)

This was the driver of the ATV. I know he's not skilled in the pistol. How about rifle skillz?

Is he good?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and... +Event: Increase / Anger

The man is not trained and obviously unhinged (-1 to hit from anger)

Jodi hears a scream as the man shoots.

Hits?

(Very Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes


(Very Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

One bullet catches her. But it's velocity going through the door is dampened. Where is she hit?

Hand. 


(1 = 1[d20]) Negligible: Nick/Scratch/Bruise.

"Stay away! Stay away or I'll kill them you hear! I'll kill them all!"

Jodi feels the slap on her hand, she curses, and rolls back around the corner where Catina had hobbled up beside her. She fills Catina in.

"He has my girls! I have to--"

"He's unhinged and dangerous, he's going to kill them if we show our faces," Jodi says.

"So we're just stay here in a stupid standoff?"

"No, we have to do something, but we're not a SWAT team. He has a rifle and almost got me," she holds up a bloody left hand where the bullet took off part of her flesh in a ragged red wound. It looked worse than it was.

"And there's other people in there?"

Jodi felt sicked and nods. "Several women. Most are young."

Catina's face went dark and her line compressed into a thin line. "Did he do anything to them? Did he...?"

"I couldn't tell," Jodi says. "But I don't think so. The looked like they were just tied up. Tied up and scared."

Are there any windows to the garage?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

They could see at one window on the side of the garage and there was probably another on the other side, but they were both boarded up.

"What do we do?"

There wasn't any police. No special team of supermen with body armor and tactical skills to take out this threat. They were just two women, two moms, thrown together trying to survive this horror.

Jodi shakes her head. There was no good answer. "I don't know. If we try to rescue them, he'll shoot them and go down shooting. If we walk away, your daughters might live, if you can a life locked up with a sicko like that living."

Catina pounds her leg with a fist then relaxes her hand, "Maybe we can talk to him?" Catina says. 

Jodi frowns at the hope on her friend's face. "You don't negotiate with terrorists. You terminate them," Jodi says.

"You do if it's the only way to save your daughters," Catina says.

Jodi shakes her head but then stares at the door leading into the garage. "He won't let them go because you say pretty please with sugar on top. But talking might buy us some time for one of us to get in through the garage's inside door that attached there to the kitchen," Jodi points. "These doors lock from the kitchen side. It's probably not locked on his side. But it may be barricaded."

"We need more info," Catina says.

"You talk to him then," Jodi shrugs. "Keep him busy, I'll try to get in another way somehow. If we're lucky maybe we can pull this off."

"If we're not?"

Jodi just shakes her head. "What do you want to do?"

Catina frowns but finally nods. We have to try.

Did any of zeds up in the hills hear the sound of the shooting and come to investigate?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

Jodi returns a terse nod and starts to move toward the kitchen, her rifle held ready. Catina on the other hand, approaches the garage.

"Don't shoot. I just want to talk," Catina says. She moves behind a rain barrel and studies the door through her scope. "We don't mean you any harm. Please, I just want my girls."

Is he willing to talk? (I'll say unlikely since he's scared, the sole survivor, and isn't about to give it all up without a fight.)



(Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes



... interesting ...



"You don't mean harm?" he barks a harsh laugh. "'That's a load of crap! You've killed everyone. I got nothin' left!"


"Nothing? Your life?"


He barks a sour life. "Suppose I do. But for how much longer?"


"That's up to you," Catina says. "You can walk away from this, from my daughters, from the others you have captive without a scratch."


"Without a scratch," he grunts, "You can't promise me that, not unless God told you, and he ain't much in charge nowadays is he?"


Catina doesn't say anything just waits.


"You still there?" his voice is nervous and scared.


"Yes," Catina answers. Through her scope, she fancies she can see a form move in front of the light coming from the door way, but she can't be sure.


"You wanna talk, then talk. But I ain't leavin' here!"

"You can't stay," Catina says, putting a matter-of-fact shrug into her voice and hedges her bets with a little make believe. "There are ten more of us. We're just advance scouts. We needed a place to hold up. If the others in our group find out you've been kidnapping women and girls..." she lets that hang in the air. Inside she wants to pump the man full of lead for what he may have done to his girls. But she moderates her tone. "But listen. You walk away now, no hard feelings. We'll let you leave with a back pack full of whatever food and gear you have in there. Just open the door and come out with your hands raised."


Does he believe her?


(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...


And he's coming up with a plan of his own. Hmmm I wonder what it is.


Intensely / Lacking


Heh. Sounds like he doesn't have much of one.


"Fine," he calls out with a grumble. "I'll do it."

Through her scope, Catina sees the double doors jerk heavily and then open slightly more, perhaps three more inches before the motion is arrested by the chains. "I'm putting my gun out now," he says.


She squints through the scope and sees him make a sudden shift in motion and the barrel of his gun shifts over to her direction.

--- before and meanwhile ---

Jodi mentally crosses her fingers as she approaches the back kitchen door, the closest that would lead to the garage.

Is it unlocked?

(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No


Rather than make noise trying to break it down, she decides to quietly and quickly move to the front of the house and go in through the front door there or even through the bay window she shot out if the door is locked.


In a heavy run from her armor and vest, she jogs around to the front of the house and tries the front door. 


Is it unlocked?

(Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...


Is it trapped or something?


(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...


And she triggered it. Does she notice  the trap in time to avoid issue? (-1 darkness, -1 hurrying)


(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No


Is it a trap intended to capture?


(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...


Definitely not capture. Probably to kill of maim then. Ouch... poor Jodi.

Let's find out what kind of trap this is. Using MAG. One is a bomb symbol with a timer. I'll go with that. Sounds like they rigged a grenade... or some other IED.


Jodi's hand jiggles the handle and too late she feels the slight tugging of the wire against her pant leg as she steps into a trip wire. Suddenly an explosion blossoms in front of her.


Her foot pulled lose a line that yanked out a pin in a grenade jammed into the door jam.


Is the trap perhaps poorly placed so that there's less damage?


(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...


With the Yes and, I'll say that the damage is considerably less. Something around the damage of a pistol (regular 1d20, no mods).
How many pieces of shrapnel fly into her (1d4)



1 = 1[d4]



Only one. I'll roll random hit location.



Neck.



Oooo. Okay this could still be very bad. Neck isn't protected by her vest. Hope I roll low.



(15 = 15[d20]) Moderate Injury: Hampers action significantly; will require first aid/medical attention.



A fiery shove like the hammer of a god sends Jodi flying off the porch. She lands hard on back. Flaming debris falls and hisses in the snow around her and she feels wetness in her kneck and her nose is bleeding her ears are ringing.



Does she keep consciousness?



(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...



No and she's bleeding out. Not at a prodigious rate, but still enough to be life threatening if not helped in the next few minutes.


Her eyes flutter and close as blackness takes her.


--- Back to Catina ---
When does the explosion happen? Soon after or close to when the man starts pointing the barrel at her?


(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes


I'm going to rule that Catina gets to shoot first since she was watching the door closely through her scope and would have seen the barrel point in her direction.


Catina sees the barrel swing toward her. She swears and squeezes off several shots at the crack in the door. She knows her daughters could be anywhere in there, but from Jodi's description it sounded like maybe they weren't right by the door.


Catina shoots ten rounds (half of them will take affect before the man can return fire).

(-4 shooting through the crack, +2 scope, +1 skilled)

After the first three the man can pull back behind cover...


Hits?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No +Event: Haggle / Investment


(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but...



The first shot drives into the man.

Upper arm Shoulder.

I'll say it hits his off arm.

(15 = 12[d20]+3) Moderate Injury: Hampers action significantly; will require first aid/medical attention.


The third shot has some affect. Does it hit the lock and shatter it?


(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes +Event: Oppress / Home


That first shot hit the man in the shoulder. 
Does he pull back behind cover?

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes


The lock snaps, and Catina fires seven more shots through the door shooting in the direction she saw him move. She hopes to pin him down as she shoots through the sturdy door, the bullets chipping through the wooden door.


Is he pinned? 
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

The chain, burdened by a shattered lock, rattles free from the handles, and the double doors begin to drift open of their own accord, even as Catina shoots her shots.


Does the man stay in the garage using hostages?


(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes +Event: Kill / Benefits


He dives behind one of the tied up women, and one of Catina's shots thumps wetly into a woman's chest, instantly killing her.


Was it one of her girls?


(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and... +Event: Release / Bureaucracy


The doors drift open further. Catina continues to shoot after the man that she can barely make out. She can see reflected in a gas lantern some bales of hay in a garage that is partially converted into makeshift living quarters. Women lie tied up lying on the floor, they're squirming shapes of fear. Two others dangle from a line affixed to the ceiling. 

Through the scope, she makes out the truth. There, swinging from ropes that are tied around their wrists are her two daughters. And one of her daughters, now hangs limply, slowly spinning, her head bowed, the hair obscuring the face. But Catina recognizes the clothing, the jeans, the shoes, the purple knit hat. She watches in horror as growing red expands from her daughter's chest, soaking into a white winter coat.


Which daughter is it? Jen?


(50/50 | 2[d10]) No


It's her eldest, Lisa.


Near Lisa, who spins slowly from the force of the shot, is Jen, silently weeping.

Catina screams at the loss and injustice, just as a ragged explosion of debris and fire erupts behind her, around the front of the house. The blast causes her to duck instinctively behind the barrel.

The man kneels behind Jen, using her as a human shield, and shoots at Catina.


Does he have a scope?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

(-2 wounds, -1 unskilled, +2 scope, -2 cover)

He shoots 1d10 shots at he barrel and her behind it.

7 = 7[d10]



Hits?



(Very Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...



(Very Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...



(Very Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...



(Very Unlikely | 3[d10]) No



(Very Unlikely | 2[d10]) No



(Very Unlikely | 5[d10]) No, but...



(Very Unlikely | 2[d10]) No


Bullets snap and hiss around Catina. 


"You gonna kill me now? I don't think so. The other woman with you is dead ain't she? She found that little present I left by the door. It's only you and me now. You and me and I have all the cover I need. You don't dare keep shooting."

The man is gleeful, exultant. He continues to speak. "What? No clever words of response? You ain't got em, because I have all the power don't I? And you know it. Just run away now! Run away and never come back! Or stay and die. It's all the same to me."

Catina feels sick. Sicker than she had ever felt in her life. This man uses his daughters as human shields. He didn't care about them. He didn't care about human life. This man was going to kill her and anyone who got in his way. He would use up the lives of these women and then find more prey for his perversions. There was nothing she could do. She had to do something. She had just shot her Lisa! Her heart felt like it folded in upon itself like a sun collapsing into a black hole. She yearned to run to her girls to hold them, to see if Lisa were still alive. To comfort Jen. To give them hope. To give her hope.


This world, she ground her teeth, this world was a world where might makes right. There is no law, aside from the one you carry in a fast moving fist or a faster moving bullet. This man. He is no longer human! He is as much as monster as those who tear flesh of your bones. He is a demon in the form of a man. But he, like the walkers, is a pestilence. A plague.

She knows he has to be stopped, even if it means the life of her daughter. Because if Catina fails to kill him, her daughter is as good as dead anyway. Better to kill her daughter mercifully than to have her live her remaining days in captivity to a depraved madman.


With determination, Catina leans around the side of the barrel, sights in on the man. Her hand feels the trigger. Suddenly, Jen raises her legs up and kicked the man in his face, sending her swinging away from him. The man swears, wiping blood from his face. He raises the barrel at the girl, and Catina pulls the trigger.


(+1 crouch, +2 scope, +1 skill, -0 cover since Jen as rolled away, -1 motion from the man, -2 headshot)


(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes


The man's head snaps backwards from the hit, and he falls back against a bale of hay. Catina moves in on the man, hobbling and wincing in pain and screaming and firing round after round at his still form.


When she enters the garage, multiple gunshot wounds form red splotches all over his arms and legs, his torso and body armor had also absorbed some shots. His mutilated head and bloody corpse mixed with tufts of hay looks like a parody of a Halloween scarecrow.


Catina stands there, as smoke drifts up from the barrel. She looks down at the man, and what's left of her heart goes dark and hard. Irrationally, she wishes he had another head just so she could drive another bullet into it. Slowly, mechanically, she sets down her rifle and cuts Jen's bonds tearing the duct tape off the young tear-streaked face.


"Mommy," Jen says. Catina feels her daughter's smallish form hugging her. She stands stiffly at first, feeling the weariness of the sad world seep into her. But that single word and her daughter's need drives something back into her heart. "My Jen," she finally utters a deep moan of wrenching  sorrow and embraces her living daughter.


---

Around the side of the house, the cosmic artist's limited pallet of despair and death paints in broad strokes of reds, blacks, and pale white. Jodi's form oozes precious blood in the white unforgiving snow, the black night with its cold stars look down on her fallen form. Debris in a rough circular pattern halos her form in ash and burning wood.
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#22
(Switching to third person past tense. Present is too hard to remember to keep up.)

Episode 18 - Promises To Keep

Catina held her weeping daughter, Jen, and looked up at Lisa who hung lifeless from the tight telephone cable that dug into her wrists. Catina's heart feels like two dark claws of despair had ripped a gaping hole of nothing into her breast. Jen was all she had now.

"I'm sorry Lisa," Catina breathed into Jen's hair. She clutched her remaining daughter fiercely and let the warm tears bleed the emptiness out of her. Jen sobbed into her breast, and for a long moment they held each other.

"Mom," a shuddering sob came from her youngest, "Is she going to turn...? Is she going to become...?" Jen couldn't finish the sentence.

"Shhhh," Catina said, holding her more tightly. "I'll take care of it honey. Then we can have a funeral."

She released Jen and ushered her and the other women outside the garage. Then she cut down Lisa's corpse and let it down slowly, reverently. There, in the garage on a hay-covered floor, she knelt and held the mortal frame of her eldest daughter. She savored the memories she had and more tears came. She remembered the shared joys. The light and life those moments had brought to her. A memory of a hand print her daughter made for her in kindergarten came to her and she almost couldn't go on.

When the virus took hold and twitching began, she gently set down the body and covered it with a blanket. Then she rested the barrel of the rifle against her daughter's head, bowed her head heavily, and with a silent scream to the cold heavens above, she pulled the trigger.

When it was done she stood breathing hard and then yanked open the door and walked outside breathing great heaving lungfuls of cold crisp air.

"Mom," Jen whispered looking past her at the wet blanket covering her sister. Then she swallowed and looked away out across the fields. "Is Jodi okay?"

"What?" Catina asked, swallowing down the blackness inside of her.

"Jodi?"

Catina blinked and slowly shakes her head. "What did you say honey?"

"What about Jodi? The man said she ran into something he left there was an explosion I think?"

Jodi...

Catina cursed stared about the women standing in the cold. Some stared at her sadly. Others had started moving toward the house, scarcely believing their captors were dead. She called after them, "If anyone has any medical experience. And I mean any--Follow me!"

How many women / girls are in the group?

10 = 5[d10]+5

Do any of them have medical experience etc?

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No +Event: Divide / Opulance

Catina hobbled around the house, as quickly as she could, feeling knives in her thigh with every half-running jolting step.

She saw Jodi. Saw the debris from the explosion. Saw her friend lying in the white snow, the red and black providing contrast in the snow-bright evening.

Has the snow finally stopped?

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

About time!

A wind bit into her cold and keening, but at least the wet flakes of snow had stopped falling, stopped adding their white pall over the world.

Jen ran up to her and knelt in the snow. "Is she okay?"

Catina shook her head and half knelt half fell next to Jodi. She put pressure on the wound in her neck. Her pulse was was low and rapid, but she was still alive. Catina looked at her daughter and then at the ruined porch and front door. "Honey, look inside for any bandages, sheets, cloth, anything!"

She lifted Jodi under her arms and half dragged, half fell under the pain in her leg and the weight as she bore the other woman indoors. With her ammo and body armor, she was heavy and her legs dragged furrows in the snow. She placed her on a couch, and covered her with a blanket that Jen has found.

Is it enough? (+1 skillz, +1 environment and supplies, +1 help from Jen)

(Very Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

--- 

Some time later, Jodi awakens. She feels stiff, her head feels like someone was using it as a percussion instrument. She lay on a sofa. She shoved off the blanket and stared up at a dark unfamiliar ceiling and could make out the interior of a posh living room, with thick carpet, deep leather seats. 

She turned her head and looked out at the white landscape beyond the large bay window that dominated this side of the house. Light eked in from the winter wonderland outside where wind has finally shoved the clouds away and moonlight had cast a softening enchanting glow on everything. The door was missing, and a blanket and some plastic were nailed up in the doorway in its stead. Occasionally, the blanket billowed toward her as if an angry spirit wanted to enter. A keening breeze tried to claw its way inside.

She shivered when some of the breeze penetrated indoors. She wore only her tank top, bare shoulders exposed to the wind. She touched a bandage on her neck and memory returned. An explosion. The sky with white flakes dusting her with wt flakes, blood on her hand, sound ringing in her ears, then darkness.

Someone stirred next to her. In the darkness, she made out the dim form of Catina.

"How are you feeling?" Catina asked in a leaden voice. The other woman looked over at her with a yawn.

"Thirsty," Jodi said. "Where are we?"

"In Tanner's Lodge," Catina answered. She handed Jodi a water bottle. "It's ours now."

"We did it then? We stopped them?" Jodi unscrewed the water bottle and took some long gulps. "Your girls?"

Catina's eyes met hers, and held the gaze for a moment, then she shook her head and looked away.

Jodi felt a wave of sorrow and panic. "They're dead?"

"Not both," Catina said and Jodi followed her gaze, resting on the Jen's still form in a nearby sofa. The young girls breast rose and fell in a shallow sleep and she tossed and turned.

"No..." Jodi sat up. "Catina, I'm sorry! I'm so sorry!" she hammered a whispered curse. "That man? He killed her then. I wish--" She reached out a hand and touched Catina on her shoulder.

"Save your breath," Catina mumbled and brushed off her hand. She steepled her hands under her chin and looked at Jen. Then with an awful solemnity, she added, "He didn't kill her. I did."

"What?"

"I killed her. It was An accident. He was running. I wanted so hard to save my girls. I wanted so hard to stop the threat! He moved behind Lisa. The bullet meant for him, took her instead."

Jodi felt like she'd been struck in the heart with a bullet herself. The pain of loss felt real as if it were one of her own. Lisa was dead. The strong teenage girl who she had come to care for and love was dead.

"No... No Catina. No..." She moaned.

"This is the world we're in now, Jodi," The flatness if Catina's voice was a heavy anvil that pressed on Jodi's heart. "A world where our girls are sheep to wolves and have to take bullets to be saved from a worse fate. I killed her." 

"No," Jodi shook her head. "No Catina. That was an accident, Catina. An accident. You can't blame yourself! If you want to blame anyone, blame that man. You may have pulled the trigger, but he forced you to take that shot! It's his fault not yours! If he hadn't been kidnapping girls, you wouldn't--"

"But he was. And I did kill her. And what's more, I was ready to kill Jen later if I had to." Catina clenched her hand to her knee. "I wasn't going to let him touch her. I was going to have my own daughters live in that kind of hell."

Jodi didn't know what to say. She leaned back against the couch. Would she have done the same? Back before the disease had come and the nightmarish world became reality, you'd hear of news stories where girls were abused for days on end. Some of them recovered with the help of God and professionals and... Surely there had to be some hope?

Hope? her own voice came back to her, snide and dark, nearly scoffing. Such a fool! There was no hope, the voice said. God was dead and mankind was doomed. What hope was there in a world without civilization that died this slow sad death, bleeding out the lives of the young girls to the whims of criminals and fate?

She pushed the voice away, clawed herself away from the dark brink of hopelessness.

"What about the others in the garage?" Jodi asked.

Catina shrugged, glancing at Jodi and then back at Jen. "They're sleeping two to a bed in the rooms upstairs. Some are really messed up you know. Still trying to survive in their private hells, I guess, even if their devils are dead." She stood and hobbled over to her daughter, wincing from stabs of pain at every step. She adjusted a blanket over Jen's form.

"You know, she wanted to sleep by you," Catina said with a soft smile for her girl. She stroked her daughters head. "She even said she would look after you."

"After me?" Jodi said.

"That's what she said. Get some rest." Catina started to hobble away, using furniture to keep her upright.

"Your leg," Jodi said. "That bullet. It needs to come out. We have to try and operate. Tonight."

Catina took a few more steps toward the kitchen and looked down at her leg, at the bandage that was we with blood at the belt still tight around her upper thigh. "It hurts, but not as bad as here," she touched her breast and leaned back against the couch staring out the window. "It can wait. Besides no one has the skills."

Jodi sat up. The dizziness returned, but not as badly. The water had helped. She needed food though. Her stomach growled loudly as if in response to the thought.

"It can't wait. We're going to have to try or it'll get infected and you'll die."

"Maybe that's not such a bad thing," Catina muttered, facing away from her. "Then all of this would be over."

"You can't believe that," Jodi said.

"Why not? You want to keep living through this?"

"We have to keep trying."

"Why? So I can shoot my other daughter and want to die even more later?"

"Catina listen to yourself! You're hurting. I get that. I'm hurting. We're all hurting over Lisa's death. But it wasn't your fault and..." her voice trailed off. Wasn't her fault. How many times had Jodi blamed herself for the loss of Amy, her own daughter? Her lovable blonde-haired angel. Her coy smile. Her effervescent spontaneous energy. If only she had taken her car in to get fixed the day before, she could have made it to kindergarten. Could have saved her girl. Could have...

She swallowed and blinked back the tears that threatened. "You have to keep trying. For Jen."

Catina sighed. "You might be right. Tell you what? I found some vodka and wine in the kitchen. I'm going to make myself a stiff cocktail. For the pain."

Jodi wasn't sure if Catina meant the pain in her leg, or emotional pain. She suspected the latter.

Regardless, it was a good plan. "I'd join you, but I'm dizzy and besides surgeons shouldn't drink."

Is food or water the militia members running low?


(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

"Eat something," Catina nodded to a nondescript box that said "Peanut Butter and Crackers" in blocky black letters. Military food. "That's just a small sampling. They have a bunch of these and more in the basement.

"Apparently, these sadistic militaristic prepper types had stocked piled a good supply of MREs and other dry goods. They have stacks of bottled water, 50 gallon containers."

Jodi nodded. "While you're in the kitchen, put some some water on to boil. A man had a cook stove. Come back when that's done and I'll do what I can."

Catina nodded and left. 

Jodi leaned back on the pillow and stared after the retreating Catina, who hobbled into the kitchen. She could hear the clink of glasses and bottles and the sound of a pot being filled with water jug. Jodi's eyes moved over to Jen's young form. She felt gratitude at Jen's goodness mixing oddly with sorrow at Lisa's death. 

Jodi saw a gleam of moon light on something metal in the young woman's hand. A pistol? Jen had it cradled against her breast, like it was some silly stuffed bear she couldn't let go of.

She swore, and moved quietly and somewhat dizzily over to the sleeping Jen and took away the pistol. The girl clung to it for a moment, "No..." escaped her lips before sleep took greater hold. 

She knelt by the girl and put the gun on a scratched coffee table. "And I'll look after you," she whispered in the dark and smoothed back Jen's blond hair from her face. She have the young teenager a simple kiss on the forehead. She rested her cheek on the girl's head. "I'll look after both of you." 

Jen murmured something unintelligible and sleep filled in response and easy breathing took over.

Jodi eventually moved and sat down on Jen's couch and stared out into the dark. She couldn't rewind time. Jodi looked down at the pistol. A part of her wanted to give it back to the girl. What if Jodi couldn't keep her promise to keep Jen safe? She clenched her teeth. She had to. She couldn't erase the guilt in her own heart. But she would do whatever she had to to help this girl stay alive. She drew a line mentally in the sand. She would help Jen find a place where civilization continued, where the innocent and the young could grow up safely. 

Jodi continued to stare out over the snowy landscape into the darkness, caressing the pistol's trigger guard.
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#23
Episode 19 - Infection

Time passes...

Does anything happen between now and when Jodi makes a full recovery?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

The night before Jodi operated on Catina's leg. Were there enough medical supplies and tools to give a bonus to success?

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Does she succeed? (+1 skilled in first aid, +1 indoors, -2 she's never had to pull a bullet out of someone before.)

(50/50 | 1[d10]) Noand...

And what...?

Deliberately / Rotten

Sounds like it got infected. Maybe the circulation was cut off for too long... or there were some fragments she missed.

Did she miss bullet fragments?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Are there medical supplies for this sort of infection? IV and antibodies?

(Unlikely | 6[d10]) Yesbut...

While none of the women have real medical experience. But are any familiar with medicine names and ingredients to recognize the medicine they did find?


(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

One of the women worked part time in a pharmacy and picked up some things. 

But... there isn't enough medication for the antibodies to run their proper and full course. They need to find more in order for Catina to make a full recovery. Sounds like a looting trip is in order.

Jodi had operated that night. Jodi sterilized the operating equipment as best she could. But the light had poor and there wasn't a lot of medical equipment. Jen had slept through the entire ordeal even with Catina grunting and crying out around a cloth she was biting down on. She bound up the wound and then both had collapsed from exhaustion.

With plenty of food, liquids, and rest, Jodi was feeling much better by the end of the next day. 

Has the weather turned warmer melting the snow?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

After two days the weather was warm enough that most of the snow had melted and the ground was warm enough to dig into. They had brought a chair out for Catina. Some of the other women and Jodi and Jen took turns shoveling the moist soil to provide a shallow grave for Lisa. The funeral was brief. No one much wanted to say anything. They stared at the body wrapped in a blanket and lowered it into the cold ground. Jen threw some dried out flowers from one of the upstairs rooms into the grave, atop the wrapped body. Jodi felt guilty. She had wanted to say something comforting, but the words tumbled around in her head, and anything she thought of seemed an inadequate eulogy for this vivacious young life cut short. Instead, she just kissed her fingers and touched them to the fresh moundo f earth.

Jen later crafted a crude cross out of some wooden slats found in the garage, and etched the words, "Lisa Nichols - Sister and Friend" and had shoved it deep into the earth. Then they filed inside.

---

As the next couple of days passed, Jodi got to know some of the other women. Catina had been right. Three of the women had retreated so far emotionally that they just sat and stared blankly at a wall or moaned within themselves rocking back and forth, trapped within themselves. Jodi couldn't help but feel that there was no place in this world for that type of response. You either contributed or you became a drain on resources and caused the whole "tribe" to perish. 

Jodi and Catina became the defacto leaders of the group. Those that were more or less stable, Jodi gave weapons and gave some rudimentary training. They took turns keeping watch on the roof.

Are supplies or water running low?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Apparently, the militaristic preppers had a well stocked supply of MREs and other dry goods, including stacks of bottled water and 50 gallon containers, that they had either stockpiled from the beginning or had brought in from some raid.

---

Jodi pulled aside the bandage and noticed the putrid smell, the skin around the wound was an angry red and a sickly brown in others. Blisters had ruptured resulting in the foul-smelling odor. 

This was not good. 

"That's not good," Catina said, repeating her thoughts, her own nose wrinkling at the smell from the leg propped up on the kitchen table.

"Infection," Jodi said. 

Catina swore and looked out the window. Jen covered her mouth and darted from the room.

---

After scouring the lodge, Jodi had found some medical supplies in old medical crash bag. There was even a sterile IV needle, tube, and bag and even some antibodies. Not that she knew much about them. Thankfully, one of the women, Kristine, had worked in a pharmacy part time while at college, and had picked up some things. These would work on the gangrenous infection but there wasn't enough.

---

"You don't have to go on my account," Catina said when Jen checked on her early the next day. The sun was just dawning and a cook stove with a butane gas cylinder hissed away providing hot water for coffee and porridge. Jodi probed the leg. It appeared that the antibiotics in the IV had thankfully arrested the infection, but it was far from cured. It didn't stink at least, but the wound was still an angry red. Jodi looked at the flattening bag. They needed more antibiotics. 

"I do," Jodi said. "For you and Jen. I know you're not really family, but... " Jodi looked over at Catina and then her eyes settled on Jen. "You're all I've got."

Catina's mouth pressed downward. 

"There's not enough medicine. The dosage we have will last another twelve to eighteen hours. After that the infection will likely start taking over again. That's what Kristine believes. Anyway, there's a medical clinic one of the women knew about about ten miles north of here in Costwell."

"Nice place I've heard," Catina said. "Gated community for the wealthy upper middle class."

"I'll go with you," Jen said, turning to leave. "I'll get my stuff."

Jodi frowned and slowly shook her head as Catina's mother cscoffed, "Don't be stupid, Jen. You're not going!"

"But I want to help!"

"No," Catina said. "Absolutely not. I won't lose you too. Not when we're in a safe place now."

"Please..." Jen ignored her mom and looked at Jodi.

"Jen, look, I think you can best help your mother better by staying here out of trouble," Jodi said. "It's not safe."

"Nowhere is safe! And I want to do something! She's my mother!"

"I'm your mother, exactly!" Catina interjected. "And you're not going. I don't know how I feel about Jodi going but I can't stop her. But you, you're not going!"

"It's best you stay here," Jodi added.

"I hate you both!" Jen shouted and stormed out of the room. She stopped down a hallway and slammed a door.

"That's not like her," Catina wiggled her toes as Jodi re-wrapped the bandage.

Have they managed to find any of the other horses from a few days ago?
(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No


"She's probably just upset about Lisa," Jodi said standing and gathering her gear and turning to leave. "Kristine is coming with me. She knows the most about different medicines. We'll take Patch."

"Two grown women isn't going to be easy on Patch. She's spoiled," Catina offered then shook her head ruefully and smiled. "I'm sorry I'm so much trouble. But thank you."

Jodi and Kristine left within the hour.
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#24
Episode 20: Costwell

[Some of my rolls got lost, so the first few paragraphs are from memory of what I had rolled up.]

Jodi and Kristine made good time down the dirt road that paralleled the highway north. Patch, for her part, didn't seem bothered by the two women on her back. Both women were small, and Kristine an of Asian-American parentage was shorter and slighter than Jodi. Jodi sat forward, Kristine's small hands around her waist. But even so it was crowded as both women, carried rifles and pistols.

The sun sparkled through the partially leafless trees, reflecting off of the small glass-like beads of moisture, remnants of the snow fall, that speckled on the fallen golden autumn leaves. These made a rich carpet for Patch's thudding hoofs. An autumnal smell of wet earth, latent warmth mixed with the sharp coolness of blue skies. The scene made Jodi breathe in beauty of nature with deep satisfying breaths. She nearly forgot about the dead, the dying, the fallen crumbling world. In fact, she felt like she were ten-years old again, on a two hour pony ride her dad had taken her on when she was ten years old.

The good weather, the beautiful scenery and being on horseback, made Kristine positively chatty. she regaled Jodi of multi-day camping trips on horseback into the wilderness areas nearly untouched by man. 

Jodi had toyed with the idea of taking an ATV, but those were loud, and fuel was a precious resource as well. With a horse, their approach would be quieter. In addition, they would be coming at the neighborhood from a less-populated direction. 

In couple of hours, they had traversed the distance to the neighborhood without anything out of the ordinary, but as they neared the outskirts of the neighborhood, they slowed Patch to a walk to make less noise and they started to see the bodies.

What is the state of the neighborhood?

Foolishly / Dry

That doesn't make sense with the recent moisture and overall wet and muddy but drying conditions.

Lightly / Macabre

The scent hit them before the sight did. A cloying smell of death clung to the very air and it chased away any bright memories, yanking them back to reality. Half-eaten and half decomposed corpses lay twisted in the wild yellow grasses that rose thigh high on the sides of the road, practically choking on the unsavory nutrients.

Jodi saw messages scrawled on sides of buildings, on walls, on the sides of decomposing paint-faded vehicles. Messages in spray paint or brush that were fading with weather and the passage of time. Messages to loved ones. Messages to others.

"Jasper, meet at Grandpa's. Don't take highway 10."
"Elsa, we love you. Will return every Saturday at noon."

Some were weak attempts at humor. 
"Come in Yankee... Go home Zombie!"
"I gave it both barrels."
"One zed dead head is better than two zeds live in a bed."

Do any zeds make an appearance?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

All is quiet save for the buzzing of bloated flies, feasting on the fallen.

Is the neighborhood looted?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

The buildings appeared to be looted already. Hope sank in Jodi's heart. If the clinic were already looted, then they might not find anything, and the trip would be for naught.

The gate around the neighborhood was closed and squeaked slightly in a mid-morning breeze, the latch being broken. The body of a man in a faded uniform lay against the inside of the gate, its weight slowing the ponderous open and close motion of the gate. The flesh on the corpse had decomposed greatly; he was largely skeletal, and his skull had been partially crushed in around some of the bars, as if a massive hand had swatted him him against it. A patch on the shoulder of a faded blue shirt was half torn. The inscription above the breast read SECURITY. His worn holster was empty. 

Further down the street, house cats had turned feral and feasted on a corpse, hissing and scratching at each other. Jodi wondered why. It wasn't as if there weren't enough corpses to go around. 

They hopped off Patch and Jodi tethered her to the gate on the east of the gated neighborhood. 

"Someone's already been through here," Kristine said, and she slowly swung her rifle off her shoulder.

"Looks like it," Jodi nodded.

"Maybe the biters are all dead."

Jodi gave Kristine a flat look, then gave Patch a friendly pat, scratching behind her ears and on the white patch on its forehead.

"Let's make this quick," she said, bringing her rifle out and into a ready position. "In and out."

"In and out," Kristine said. "Right. That should be simple."

Together they walked cautiously down the street.

Empty windows and doorways like empty eye sockets as they walked down the street. Doors hung on hinges squeaking fitfully in protest at their passing. Glass crunched underfoot in the cracked pavement. Furniture, clothing, and broken useless electronics littered the streets in tangled messes of wires and plastics. Trashed tumbled underfoot, random pieces of plastic sheeting rolling like a tumbleweed. 

Near the other end of the neighborhood, the Costwell Medical Clinic rose above them a large, rectangular two-story building. Jodi guessed that it likely serviced patients from the surrounding rural neighborhoods and maybe even some from the highway that served as one of the main arteries to and from the city.

Does it look like the clinic has been looted too?

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

Amazingly, at first glance, the medical clinic appeared to have been spared the same fate as the rest of the neighborhood. As Jodi got closer, she could see why. Metal shutters were drawn down and locked. She rounded the building, weaving through cars, and debris in the parking lot. In addition, a large imposing metal gate lay across both doors.  

She cautiously tried the gate. 

Is it locked?

(Very Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

"This looks promising," Kristine groaned.

The sarcasm wasn't very amusing to Jodi, but she let it pass.

How to get in? Metal shutters weren't an option. The gate was less so.

Her eyes scanned the second story. 

Did she see any unblocked windows?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Is it broken in?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

At least someone had found a way in... or out through the window. Jodi examined other possible ways up. Short of a ladder, if she could get atop the wooden awning that protected the first level entry ways from rain and ice during the winter months, she could maybe climb to the top.

Can Jodi get up to the awning with Kristine's help? (+1 help, +1 athleticism)

(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...

Jodi tried to pull herself up, but the awning was slick from the recent moisture and some of it still in perpetual shade even had ice. She let herself drop back down. Then she noticed a retractable fire escape that led up to a different window. 

If she could pull it down somehow she might be able to get up and in.

"We need something to pull down that ladder," Jodi said.

Kristine nodded, and they searched in a nearby garage in the house next door, looking for for a rope or cable or something. 

Do they find anything?

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

In one of the garages, behind a broken and half smashed generator covered in dust and blood lay a plastic bin. Pulling off the lid, Jodi pulls out some old climbing gear, complete with harnesses, ropes, carabiners, helmets. 

Are there any zeds in the house that hear them?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

how many?

4 = 4[d4]

As soon as they pull the gear out, the jangling sound from cable, pulleys, and carabiners is added upon by thumping sounds coming from a door leading from the garage into the house.

Can the zeds get out of the door?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

The door leading in the house had it's handle broken off and the door is only loosely tied shut with some simple electrical wires. A leering skull grinned at them in black and red paint. At least she hoped it was paint. And not ash and...The corpses start pressing on the door, the wire starts to slide free.

"Time to go," Kristine warned, pointing her rifle at the door.

Jodi grabbed some of climbing gear and slung it over her back. And then she and Kristine dashed out, just as the four zeds lumbered forward in hungry pursuit.

"Back to the horse!" Jodi called to Jodi, her voice soft but intent. "We'll pull them away, loose them on the lane and circle around!"

Kristing nodded, her eyes wide. Jodi knew how easy it was to fall into panic.

They quickly unteathered Patch. The mare's eyes were wild and she was skittish as she sensed the monsters approaching.

Can they get away before the zeds get too close?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

The walkers get to the gate just as they mount and gallop away, south down the road. The corpses followed after them in shambling tireless steps. Out of sight of the corpses, around a slight curve in the road, Jodi wheeled Patch west, and they headed cross country, through trees and clinging undergrowth. Through the tree branches, Jodi caught glimpses of the brown stone wall where the wilderness met with the the south side of the Costwell gated community.

Jodi pulled up reins and they listened.

Do the zeds continue south past them down the road?

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

When they couldn't hear the grunting and moaning anymore, they circled back the way they had come, and once more passed through the east gate. This time, however, they rode Patch all the to the medical center. Then Jodi tied her reins to the inside of a breast-high fence that surrounded the center's less-than-perfectly manicured lawn.

Then Jodi took out the climbing gear and tied a carabiner to one end. Her idea was to hurtle the weighted carabiner over one of the lower rungs of the ladder and get a length of rope around a bottom rung to jostle the ladder down.

Is she successful?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

On her first try, the carabiner soars up against the blue late October sky and through one of the lower rungs of the ladder. The carabiner pings off the brick wall behind the ladder, and then off a rain gutter before plopping in the mud. 

With the rope now around the rung, Jodi yanked on it,m and the ladder came clattering down.

Does anyone hear it?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Somewhere in the instance, a dog started to growl. It let out a couple of barks. Then some more. Then it started to bark frantically.

"Hurry!" Jodi urged, feeling a sense of dread. They let the rifles swing on their backs then both jumped up and grabbed the bottom rung and started to climb up. Jodi climbed first and was followed with Kristine a few rungs below her. Kristine's legs dangled a few feet in the air, perhaps six feet above the ground just as a golden retriever Labrador, still with a scraped worn leather collar and owner-less leash ran down the street from the west to the east. The dog turned, and snarled at a zed who had lumbered out of some trees nearby after it. The dog backed away, it's head low, it's muzzle pulled back to reveal yellowed foaming teeth.

The corpse that lumbered after the dog was missing an ear, and a rusted knife was stuck to the hilt in its ribs. It didn't appear to care. Both arms came up automatically reaching for the dog. The dog turned again and ran, whines and yips echoing off the empty brick walls, and asphalt as it disappeared.

Does the zed follow the dog?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

The corpse however stopped under the ladder. It apparently heard the clambering foot falls on the rungs, and looked up. Then it reached up its arms to the sky, it's fingers barely touching the bottom rung, moaning and groaning0.

"We need to get a move on before it brings friends," Kristine murmured. "In and out, you said."

"Right. Keep climbing!" Jodi answered. She made it to the top of the ladder and grasped the ledge. She clung onto the ledge with one hand and with the other she wiped away dirt and grime from the window and peered inside.

Does she see a threat inside?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Does the threat see her?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Suddenly a head slammed against the window and and friction of skin on glass squeaked against the window. A bulbous yellow eye and a half torn face with fang-like yellow teeth eyed Jodi hungrily. Strong hands clawed at the window, scraping at it, scoring and scouring the glass in screeching furrows. Jodi had read Tolkien's "The Hobbit", and unbidden, the chapter heading where the goblins and worgs had trapped the hapless dwarves up trees flitted through her mind. 

"Out of the frying pan into the fire," she muttered.

"What?" Kristine said as Jodi pulled out her pistol and aimed it at the face above her.

Does she shoot it in the head? (Skill +1, -1 for single handed shot, +1 for close, -2 for head)
She shoots six shots. Hits?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

(Somewhat Unlikely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

(Somewhat Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

(Somewhat Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

Jodi fires a series of shots through the window at the thing's head. Bullets slammed into its neck, the cheek, two in the chest, one misses, and one took it the corpse in the head. It's head snapped back.

Does it fall forward?

(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

The corpse collapsed forward shattering more glass, and it's upper torso, became pierced on jagged edges of glass. 

"Up the ladder!" Jodi commanded. She slammed her pistol into the glass collapsing it so the corpse could fall onto the ledge. Then she climbed over the rotting corpse. Jodi helped Kristine up after her and they pushed the corpse out the window, it fell ontop of the other one. Then they pulled up the ladder.

"What was that?" Kristine asked.

"Finding a way in."

"You're going to wake up the neighborhood!"

Is she right?

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

A few moments later, Jodi heard the approach of a moaning, snapping crowd of walkers. They came out of the trees from the west side of the neighborhood. She watches as the crowd of zeds slowly but inevitably started to come towards the clinic.

"Then let's be quick about this," Jodi said.

"Really? Ya think?" Kristine said.

How many zeds are there? More than fifty?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

More than 25?


(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

More than 15?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

20 then...

Perhaps a score of corpses in various stages of decay, pushed through the town. They started to make their way towards the neighing horse tied up to the fence. Jodi hoped the fence would give the things some pause. They needed their ride out of here.

Jodi put in a new magazine in her pistol, putting the partially used mag into her vest. They began to check the rooms. 

There are four rooms on the second story and four rooms below, including a reception and office area.

Does Kristine know where the medicines might be kept?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

"Any idea where the meds would be?" Jodi asked.

Kristine shook her head, "Time to start looking, I guess." 

"We stay together," Jodi said. "You open the door, with one hand, I cover you over your shoulder with my pistol. Once any threats inside are dealt with, you search the room, I watch the hallway."

"Right. Easy. Just like those NYPD Blue episodes I used to watch." Kristine nodded. Jodi knew her own knuckles were just as white as Kristine's on her pistol grip.

They quickly investigated the room they climbed into, opening counters, looking behind the medical bed.

Is there medicine in this room?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

And is it what they need?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes, but...

But what?

Intolerance / Masses

A box was on its side. 

"Here!" Kristine says. "I found some!" The labels showed the right antibiotic in an IV solution.

"First room? Good," Jodi says. "That's lucky."

"Grab some and--"

Kristine holds up one of the bags. It's mostly empty and fluid dripped from it. Apparently someone else had been in here and the box had been crushed somehow.

"That won't work," Kristine said. "It's discolored. It's been contaminated."

Jodi swore. "Fine, next room then. Let's go."

Kristine moved across the hallway. To their left were two more doors. To their right stairs descended down. She opened the door directly cross from theirs.

Anyone inside?


(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Two corspes hissed and sputtered, lumbering out, mouths open. They grabbed at Kristine. She fell back with a yelp.

Can Jodi shoot before they grab Kristine? 

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Kristine is grabbed. She tries to yank free from their grips. One of them tries to bit her arm. 

Jodi shoots. (+1 was prepared, +1 two hands, +1 close, -2 head shot) 
She shoots three shots at each head.
First head.

(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Positively / Clean

The first head takes two bullets and the thing stumbles backwards, still gripping Kristine's hand in a death grip (or rather a second death grip since it was already dead).

Can Kristine break free?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Kristine, screams and yanks her hands free then moves behind Jodi. Jodi shoves the gun in the second corpse's face and fires three shots.

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...

She kills this one too.

One of the bullets shatters a glass canister of sterile throat swaps, exploding the jar in a puff of white. [From positively clean event above]. 

How is Kristine doing?

Celebrate / Fears

Kristine, lets out a deep shuddering breath. 

"Thanks! You know, I'm glad you're along. When we get out of here, let's have a drink together."

"In some nice crowded bar with biter customers? I'm looking forward to it," Jodi says. She changes clips again in her pistol, putting in the final full clip.

(She 17, 11, 11 in her pistol clips and 30, 26, 17 in her rifle)

Does Kristine find medicine in here?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 5[d10]) No

"There's nothing here," Kristine said. She opened up drawers and moving aside debris on the counter and on the bed.

What about bandages, rubbing alchohol etc?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

"The place looks like it's been looted already," Kristine swore. 

"Probably came in from that window we saw broken before."

"Two more rooms on this floor," Jodi says. "Then we look below."

"I don't want to," Kristine says. 

"I know. Let's go."

They opened up the final doors on this floor. Any zeds inside either?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

A single female corpse was in the final room on the top floor. It lay in a hospital gown on the bed. A hospital mask was looped around its ears. It's eyes snapped open, and the thing stumbled off the bed eager for a new meal.

Kristine shoots first. (unskilled -1, +2 close)

She shoots four shots.

(Somewhat Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

(Somewhat Likely | 4[d10]) No, but...

Kristine shot at the thing. Her first two shots took it in the head, and the second two bullets slam into it's chest. The corpse stumbled backward over the bed it was on before, and it's legs stick up unceremoniously through the shadowy daylight that streams through the rooms windows. Jodi peered out the window. She could see the corpses were drawing closer.

"Hurry!"

Medicine in here?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

Other types of supplies? Bandages, rubbing alchohol, sutures, scalpal?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

"Nothing here either!" Kristine moaned. The cabinets were broken in and a few scattered bandaids in a pool of blood were all that were left, scattered on the carpeted floor.

"Downstairs we go then," Jodi said. She holstered her pistol and pulled out her rifle. She led the way down the hallway to the stairs that lead down.

Does she hear any moans coming up the stairs?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Ambiguous event

Persecute

Randomness

Opening MAG to see what that means.

(ring of fire, belts, ray gun, scalpel, wheel, heart, hourglass, ruler, crab claw)

They start to go down the stairs but partway, there is a large machine blocking the entry way. Someone must've pushed it down the stairs. Beyond it is a tray of operating utensils spilled on the stairs. The machine appears to two haves of of a large x-ray machine. It's half disassembled and is blocking the stairway.

Had someone been for parts? Jodi wondered.

"Can you get around it?" Kristine asked.

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

Jodi shook her head and swung her rifle behind her back. "Help me lift it."

Kristine puts her pistol away and assists her.

Together, they try to shift it. Any luck?

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Move towards goal

Dominate

News

The machine only budges slightly and a newspaper shifts on the other side of the blockage revealing a box underneath. "Wait!" Kristine called out. "That's it!"

And there in a nondescript box with block face lettering was the medicine. Similar to the other one. This was was undamaged however, and was still taped up. It was the exact type they needed! 

But it on the other side of the machine.

Kristine, lay on her stomach, and tried to stretch her arm under part of the machine to reach the box.

Can she grab it closer?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

NPC Action

Disrupt

Prison

Something shifts in the wreckage on the stairway and suddenly Kristine's arm was pinned.

"My arm! It's stuck!"

Just then Jodi heard the sound of a motor growing louder, coming from the west. It sounded suspiciously like an ATV.

"Hold on," Jodi said. "I'll be right back!"

"Hold on?" Kristine said. "I need you to--"

Jodi dashed up the stairs, two at a time and dashed into one of the rooms facing out on the street. She swore.

Is it Jen?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

Jen was astride an ATV, her blond hair blowing freely in the wind. She stopped the ATV and swung down a rifle. She propped the barrel over the handle bar began to shoot at the zeds who were getting perilously close to the horse.

Does she distract them and turn them around?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

All twenty corpses start to move towards Jen.

Meanwhile on the stairs, can Kristine pull her arm free?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Not quite, but she does push it further in and a finger brushes against the box. "Jodi! I need your help."

Is Jen thinning the herd with her shots?

(Somewhat Likely | 3[d10]) No

She's hitting some of them, but her aim isn't as good. Mainly she's getting chest shots that break some rips but for the most part, they keep coming closer.

"I'm a little busy!" Jodi yelled back. "Jen is here. She's in trouble!"

"What?" Kristine called back and then swore.

"Jen is here!"

Jodi knelt and rested the barrel on a window sill. She sighted in with the scope on the lead zed and shoots.

(+2 brace, +2 scope, -1 walking zed, -2 head, +1 skilled)

"Hey, what about me? I'm in trouble! I can almost get it. My arm!"

"Just hold on!"

Hits to head?

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Alright. A two-for-one deal as a bullet takes two walking side by side! Way to go sniper babe!)

In five shots, she downs four of them and the fifth she blew off its mouth, so it won't be doing any biting anyway.

Jen shoots again. Does she take out any?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

2 = 2[d4]

Between the two of them, they took out seven.

Kristine tried to pull the box closer. "Come on," she groaned.

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Finally, Kristine yanked her arm out from under the box. The skin was scraped, but not cut. The box was now much closer. She still couldn't fit it around the machine clogging the hallway. She wondered how the machine got there. Did someone shove it there to keep biters from coming up the stairs? It's a heavy machine. A whole team of men must've been looting the upper story. 

Are there zeds below that are attracted to the shooting upstairs and her own struggles to get free?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

Kristine, pulls out her knife, and cuts a whole in the box and and starts to pull out the medicine, putting them into a small backpack.

Meanwhile, back at the window sill, Jodi continued to shoot. 

Are the zeds, close to Jen now?

(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

"Jen!" Jodi screamed out the window. "Go! Get out! Get away!"

Does she? 

(Very Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

But what?

NPC negative

Persecute

Elements

Does it get stuck in mud?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

The wheel caught a patch of mud, slipped skidded and hit a fallen corpse. It threw Jen on top of the dead.

(11 = 18[d20]+-7) Minor Injury: Largely superficial; painful and distracting, but not life threatening.

She landed on the body and then rolled through some mud, suffering some minor scrapes and abrasions and muddy hair and splotches of mud on her face.  

Jodi covered her, sighting in on more walking corpses aiming for more heads.

She can get five more shots off before they're close to Jen. Hits to the head?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

All five drop to the ground. Two of them are demoted to crawlers now, they're spinal columns severed turning them into paraplegia victims.

(9 are dead dead, 2 are crawlers now with blown out legs or spines. 1 is missing a jaw -- that leaves 8 that are in good condition.)

Jen ran over and tried to right her sputtering ATV and use it to get away. 

Can she do it before they get too close?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

She leaped atop it, and gunned the engine and moved away in a roar of combustion, the rear tires spitting mud at the oncoming corpses. She moved at a good pace toward the clinic, putting some distance between them. 

"Good girl," Jodi breathed in relief and continued to shoots more zeds.

Five more shots to the head. Hits?

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

(Likely | 2[d10]) No

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(13 dead, 2 are crawlers, 1 is missing a jaw -- that leaves 4 that are in good condition.)

Jen is still out of their range. Jodi can get one more group of five shots off. Hits to head?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

(Likely | 3[d10]) No

One of her shots takes off a knee cap.

(16 dead, 3 are crawlers, 1 is missing a jaw)

The one that's missing it's jaw rushes at Jen. 

Jen, now in front of the walkway to the clinic, slammed on the breaks and pulled out her rifle.  

Does Jen shoot it?

(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

(21 = 18[d20]+3) Killed.

The bullet blew out its brain, and the thing fell down mere feet from Jen.

"Jodi?" she called up. "Are you okay?"

"We're okay. Stay there. We're coming down!"

The streets are silent.

Kristine finally finished cutting out the side of the box and pulled out the remaining several bags of medicine. Anibiotics. And just the right kind. 

Jen takes her time and finished off the crawlers.

Jodi showed up.

"About time," she muttered.

"Sorry. Teenager issues," Jodi said.

Kristine harrumphed.

Any other bandages or useful medical equipment in the box?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Together Jodi and Kristine, descend the ladder. Jodi gathered up the climbing equipment had shoved it into the saddle bags. Together, the two women mount Patch, Jodi again taking the reins. They return down the road the way they had come, back towards Tanner's lodge. 

Jodi and Kristine lead the way while Jen rides slowly behind them as the sun draws high over head and vultures circle behind them as they churn up wet dirt and rotten yellow autumn leaves.
Reply
#25
Have we reached the end here, or just a resting point?
Reply
#26
Hi Sam. Thanks for asking. I did have some responses from the tools that stymied me and I'm not exactly sure how to implement. That slowed me down. Plus a small break seemed like a good thing. I'll keep it going shortly.
Reply
#27
(For this one, I decided to put the results of my questions at the end of the episode)

Episode 21: Hydra Code

An entire week had passed. 

Jodi and Catina sat on the front porch, bathed in warm afternoon sunlight, a juxtaposition to the chillness of the shade from indoors. Catina leaned back in her rocking chair, but she didn't rock. Her bandaged leg was instead elevated on a folding metal chair. An IV ran into her arm and the bag they'd attached to the top of the rocker looked like it needed to be changed.

Jodi glanced at Catina who was reading a book. The other woman had a half chewed pencil in her mouth and every so often she'd make a notation in the margin. Jodi gave a small smile. It had felt good to return with the medicine. Jen, of course, had received a major talking to from her mother and was still "grounded" to the indoors. Jodi suspected Catina had little power to enforce that punishment if push came to shove. Jen, while still a teenager, was growing up more rapidly that either Jodi or Catina would have wanted and Jodi secretly felt it had been positive for Jen's confidence to take part in the scavenging mission, despite the dangers they had faced.

Kristie strode across the overgrown front lawn, her gaze swinging out across the large acerage and then back to them on the porch. A rifle hung across her chest from its sling. She gave a wave and continued on her patrol. Another of the women was in the the "crows nest" as they called it, the sand-bagged location on the roof, keeping watch.

"How's the leg?" Jodi asked Catina.

"Huh?," Catina said.

"The leg?"

"Oh," she glanced up and returned the smile. "It hurts, but it's getting better though." She returned to her book and turned another yellowing page on a large worn leather-bound book with faded gilded lettering on the front in the afternoon sun. It had the look of an old classic. The kind of book you'd find in stuffy scholars homes on shelves of bookcases laden with other similar books that only the most ardent book lover would read. She tilted the book, examining the cover, the gold lettering were complemented by an inlaid drawing of a three-headed hydra rearing snake-like heads, also gilt in gold. Then returned to her reading. 

"Good book?" Jodi asked. She pushed the cleaning rod into the pistol barrel in and out, the chemical smell of solvent floating in the air around her.

"Yeah," Catina said, in a distracted way. 

Several more minutes went by with Catina skimming pages and turning them, as if speed reading.

"What's it about?" Jodi asked, giving the book a cursory glance. She'd already finished cleaning two rifles and was just about done with her pistol. And all this time Catina hadn't put the book down. 

"What?" Catina said.

"The book. What's it about?"

Catina suddenly flipped back several pages and then folded a page over. She leaned closer and examined a passage.

"Hello. Earth to Catina."

"Oh? Sorry," Catina said still not looking up, her mouth edging down in a frown. "It's a book on Greek mythology."

"Must be good stuff."

"I guess. I picked it up while you and Kristine were on the supply run."

"Greek myths, huh?" Jodi said. "Any good ones?"

Catina shrugged then looked up. "Yeah," Catina muttered. "Plenty of good myths... Jason the Argonauts... Posieden, Hades, the usual. Kind of boring. Her voice trailed off and she stared at the sun. Then she opened the book and returned to her reading.

"You could have fooled me," Jodi smiled. "Looks to be a real page turner."

"It's...odd," Catina said. "There's something here."

"You mean besides the myths."

"Yeah, old man Tanner you know. It's from his bookcase, I found it under a pillow in his bedroom. He's been studying it I guess. Well, at least he's put lots of notes in the margins. I think..." Catina's voice trailed off, and her hand absently traced the hydra on the front, and then she looked at Jodi. "I think he encoded a message from his notes in the margins."

"What kind of message?"

"The margin notes only vaguely make sense, but there's a coded something. I think.... I think it's coordinates for something."

"What kind of something?"

Catina shrugged, "I don't know. But it was obviously something he wanted to keep hidden, but not forget, and so he encoded it."

"How do you know?"

"I'm good with word puzzles and patterns. Always have been."

"So what does the message say?" Jodi put the guns away and moved closer, strangely interested.

Catina pushed the book into Jodi's lap. See this passage and the notations here?" She pointed to lines of cramped small print that spouted some scholarly nonsense that Jodi couldn't make heads or tails of.

"It doesn't make any sense."

"Just read these circled letters and then notice the spaces between these words."

"13S  ED  1448  2847"

"See?"

"No. They're just random letters and numbers."

Catina shook her head. "They're coordinates. MGRS."

"Huh?"

"Military Grid Reference System," Catina smiled. "Grandpa was a jar head."

"A member of the Marine Corps?"

Saying it reminded her of Ron, and Jodi swallowed and looked away. Catina didn't notice. 

"Yup. Back in 'Nam." Catina tapped the book's page. "He taught he how to read this stuff."

"So where is it?"

"I don't know. The first part, the  13S and ED, determine where the grid is. The rest is just a coordinate reference. But the grid is the hangup. I recognize the format. I know what it is. But not where. I just need that starting grid."

"And how do we get that?"

"It'd be easy with a computer or smart phone," Catina gave a rueful smile.

"And the hard way?"

"A library."

Jodi had a bad feeling about this. "Don't tell me you're thinking of going back into the city and---"

"There's something important there, Jodi," Catina said. "I know it."

"Not that important," Jodi frowned. "What do you think you'll find? A bunch of buried treasure from the Spanish treasure fleets? Pirate booty isn't going to do us much good these days Catina. You can't eat gold anymore than you can the twenty dollar bill you're using as a bookmark."

"I know that," Catina said. "But... But what if it isn't that kind of treasure. What if he made the code once all this started to come down. Remember what I said about Tanner?"

"You said he ended up getting hauled in by the cops for looting a store."

Catina nodded, "Yeah, but Tanner was still a major prepper," she shut the book fingered the cover. "He was always at the army / navy surplus store. Guess he just got greedy like so many others."

"So why don't we just go to the surplus store ourselves and skip this whole treasure thing?"

Catina shook her head. "You know that those places along with grocery stores were looted the hardest first. We won't find much there anymore aside from a few toothpicks. But this," she tapped the book, "this could be huge."

"It could also be a huge mistake," Jodi frowned. "We already have food."

Catina shook her head, "That won't last. We need to start thinking long term. Not with all of eating three square meals a day. We'll need to resupply some time. We should make plans to do that well before we starting running low and getting truly desperate."

"You want long term, then you need to put your farming skills to work."

"Planting season isn't for a ways off and we have to survive through the winter first," Catina said. "We'll need supplies."

"And what if it is just pirate gold?" Jodi asked. Just pirate gold...Only in a world falling apart would she have said that.

"We won't know until we check it out."

Jodi sighed "I suppose even if there isn't a treasure there, we can maybe look for something along the way. But we're not going out until your leg is better."

There was a long pause. "Deal," Catina smiled. "Besides, I'd like to come along.  A real life treasure hunt... I feel like a kid."

"Kids weren't chased by flesh eating monsters back then," Jodi said, she had reassembled her pistol and she now shoved it into her jean's waist band. The cool metal felt good. "Get some rest."


---- Roll Results ---
Does any event occur on the way to Tanner's lodge?

(50/50 | 2[d10]) No

They arrive at Tanner's lodge is all well there?

(Somewhat Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Transform / Information

(Transformers, information makes me think electronics -- someone got a working radio. Is that true?)

(Likely | 2[d10]) No

I'll use the MAG.

(tree, shield with lightning bolts, cheese wedge, three headed hyrda, electrical storm, police badge, syringe, flying ant, a river getting hit by a meteor or phaser)

There are two things with electricity, did one of the women while scouting detect a working electrical powerplant / transformer?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

What else transforms information? Did someone fine a code?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Were they able to decipher it?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

Hmmm. Someone at Tanner's lodge did.

A treasure hunt in the middle of a zombie apoc? Okay I'll bite.

Where is this code? Inside a book on greek mythology (old man tanner had an extensive library. (three headed hydra)

Was the code created by the milita?

(50/50 | 3[d10]) No

Did Mr. Tanner create it then?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes
Reply
#28
Glad to see this one continue. And I know what you mean about obscure results from the oracle throwing you off. I still haven't figured out exactly what Scarred One's deeper motivation is over on Planet Leviathan.
Reply
#29
Thanks! It felt good to write and now there's an interesting goal, infiltrate a library and find treasure in the middle of a zed apoc! How cool is that? Btw, I never would have thought that up on my own, so there's something to be said for obscure oracles...
Regarding Scarred One, maybe there's some event in his past that formed a deep belief that now guides his motivation and goals.
Reply
#30
Episode 22 - Jefferson Campground

[This one has less story to it. More rolling and gaming and less writing/conversation. And I accidentally deleted some of my initial rolls and some fonts get messed up later on. Oh well.

Also, here's a Notes Sheet with more details about the characters, story, and setting.

Here's what I had asked ... ]

Does anything happen in the next month while Catina mends? NO
Are the ammo supplies of the militia in the lodge well stocked? YES
Did any of the women decide to strike out on their own now that they were freed? NO

Okay. They'll do some training then. Jodi, in fact, starts training some of the women and girls with how to defend themselves with firearms.
One of the other women knows some basic self defense and teaches basic hand to hand combat skills. Jen, with some of other girls, learns the rudiments of self defense.

I'll say Jodi learns the basics of wilderness survival and Self Defense (They're both at 50/50).
Jodi teaching firearms---she has a +1 in firearms right now. 


Does her skill goes up?
(Somewhat Unlikely | 1[d10]) No, and...

NPC Action
Waste
The intellectual

Jodi found the training of the other women and girls to be a slow pace and teaching them how to teach at stationary targets felt incredibly boring and seemed useless. It's not like the walkers were going to sit around for them to hit. She felt like her intelligence would gutter out the bottom if she had to keep this up.

Does the weather turn back to snow now that it's mid November?

(Somewhat Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

The sunny days of crisp blue skies and fall had ended, the leaves were stripped from trees. Icy rain and snow had covered the trees and grounds.

Does Jodi's skill in first aid/medical go up from operating on Catina's leg?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

Have they managed to find any of the horses they had brought in this month? That might have survived the ravenous zed hordes?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 7[d10]) Yes, but...

There were three others. How many did they find? 1d3


1 = 1[d3]


A week ago one of them encountered a horse. It was severely malnourished. And it will take weeks to get it back to good health.

Soon Catina's leg heals enough where she can hobble around on it.

How are food supplies, are they running low?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Apparently, 13 people eating three square meals a day is taking it's toll on the food supplies. 

I think they probably have another month of food before they run out completely if they don't start rationing anything.

Do any of the girls or women know of a library that might hold the military map reference info they seek that isn't in the middle of a zed-infested city?
(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Trust
Bureaucracy

For too long, too much of society had trusted to the phone in their pocket to provide the information they sought. Those people were at the most disadvantaged. Even those who had survived and had learned to do things without their electronic crutch, couldn't know things ex nihilo. They knew that there were more libraries in a city of this size. They'd even had heard names. Smaller libraries to be sure, but they didn't know where they were. And they didn't know if they'd even have the info they sought. What they did know was that there was the main City Library down-town. But then, that was smack-dab in zed central where sky scrapers stretched out to the leaden sky. Was such a journey worth it? There was much debate, but the reality was that they'd run out of food if they didn't act soon.

They prepared for the expedition. They decided that six of them, those that were the best trained in stealth, hunting, and shooting would go. The seven others who remained, knew the basics of gun safety and maintenance. While all the women captured by the militia had to somehow come to terms with how they had been misused and abused, those that remained behind needed more care, and wouldn't have been as reliable on this type of mission anyway. They would remain behind and set snares for animals, hunt, and maintain base security and defences.


Preparations began. The front room table and couches were soon laden with brown.and green packages of MREs, assault rifles, pistols, knives, holsters, boxes of ammo, body armor, belts, vests, and velcro.

Jen insisted on going, and much as Catina hated to admit it, her daughter was young and quick, a fast learner, and was at least as good a shot as Jodi was now. And her sister's death had done something to her. It had awakened her to the reality of what was out there and have driven her to prepare. She knew how to hunt, how to move quietly, how to shoot and the basics of defense. And her help at Costwell had shown that she had a new calmness in tense situations.

The squad of six women and girls set out. 


Jodi - The de-facto squad leader.
Catina - Second in command
Kristie - Who had gone with them to Costwell.
Jen - Catina's 15 year old daughter.
Ayanna Reilly - A 26 year old who taught self defense and was had done kick boxing tournaments.
Lillian Fields - An 18 year old who knew knives and swords.

They doubled up, using the old buddy system. Catina and Jen were on the horse, Jodi and Kristie were on one ATV, while Ayanna and Lillian on another ATV.

As they drew near the town, Jodi began to think that trying the library in the middle of a city with a large population was looking more and more like a bad idea. One gunshot down there was going to attract a LOT of attention. Maybe a university library might be a better option. There were sure to be other libraries in the city, other places that might be less populated. There would probably still be a lot of zeds, but likely less than the infested city center. 


Another option she considered was a military base. They were sure to have training manuals or something for soldiers going through Basic Training that covered map reading. She asked the others...

Do any of the six know of a military base outside of town?


(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

Lillian's father was in the military. He had taken her on a tour of Camp Jefferson a couple of times. She knew how to get there and it was outside of the city to the north. She didn't know if it had a library, but it probably did. 


 
How many miles is it the base from where they are? I'll say a minimum of ten miles and will roll 3d20.
36 = 17[d20]+13[d20]+6[d20]

Looking at the map, Jodi estimates that the base is 36 miles away from the lodge. [The ATVs have a range of 70 miles on a tank of gas.]

Do the ATVs have any spare containers filled with fuel that they can take along? Tanner was a prepper and prob had something in his garage or downstairs.

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No

So no extra fuel just what's in the tanks. I'll say the first two ATVs are close to full. The other two 
ATVs they're leaving behind at the lodge still have some fuel. But how much? I'll roll 1d100 for % full.

52 = 52[d100] So one is about halfway out (range of ~35 miles).

28 = 28[d100] The other is about a quarter (range of ~18 miles).

They can probably make it to the base and back again on the tanks of gas that they have, if they don't deviate too much. But if the base doesn't pan out, they're going to have to go down into the city center or find another library somewhere else somehow, and either of those will require more fuel.

Jodi studies her map. The base wasn't on it for some reason, maybe because the map was for roads and locations open to the public. But Lillian says she knows how to get there and even marks it on the map. 
The base was up near some foothills where the trainees could go out on in the hills and do training exercises. They'd need to do some recon of the base before they actually go down into it. 

Jodi makes a gut call to change plans. They turn north towards the base instead of going into the city. Lillian's ATV takes the lead.

A gravel road ran parallel to the main north-south highway that cuts the city. The highway ran about about five miles to the west of the gravel road. Jodi decided they'd take the gravel road, then cut west, across the highway, and then follow a paved road near the base. There the dirt road to the base, splits north east to some public camping spots. There they hope they can recon the base from a higher elevation before actually going into it.

They headed north, following the route Jodi had decided on. The day was cold but clear with faint whisps of cloud coasting through the cold blue sky. The sun was bright and cheery. 

Do they encounter anything on the way to the snow covered gravel road?

Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Do they encounter anything on the gravel road to where it crosses a paved road turning west?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

Do they encounter anything on the paved road leading across the highway?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Something dangerous?


(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Pursue / Prison

Around mid day, they came across an overturned prison bus on the highway. The wind had swept all but a dusting of snow off of the icy highway asphalt. The prison bus had some smashed windows. Glass crunched underfoot. The air smelled cold. Corpses were belted or cuffed in place twisting in their seats, squirming to get free. 


A police car was on its hood, another was tilted up against the bus. Had there been some pursuit here? 

Both cop cars were crumpled and mangled. It look like the prison bus had rammed a police blockade maybe. There were police bodies on the ground. Twice dead. They didn't move. Corpses in the bus strained to get out, but could not free themselves. They moaned and scratched at the windows. Jodi could see multiple hands, the gray dead skin, shriveled from time, reaching from broken windows, scraping and cutting their hands and arms as they desperately, frantically even, attempted to pull themselves through the too small window, especially for the number of walkers who were trying to exit.

[My fonts are a little wacky... not sure why]

They stop and investigate the overturned police vehicles or on the bodies of dead policemen. 

Do they find anything useful?
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes
Deactivated robot
Cheap ammo (hunting rifle)

I'll say it was a drone that had fallen from the sky. They could get some electronics stuff from it. 

The ammo might fit their rifles? Does it?

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes

Ayanna is actually interested in the robot and everyone looks at her as if she had just sprouted a pair of horns. But she had a BA in Nanotech Engineering [no kidding, that's what I got from Random Person Generator].

They don't have the tools to do anything too precise with it, but if they can find some working batteries, she could find some use for it. They put it and the ammo on the rack of one of the ATVs and move along.

From the paved road to the dirt road that moves up into the foot hills near the base, do they encounter anything?

(Somewhat Likely | 9[d10]) Yes

What is it? I'll use the MAG.
Results are Exacto knife, bulls eye with arrow, snake around an apple, hoplite, net, dragon, pill, noose for a hanging, waves or slime

Near evening as the sun sits as an orange shimmering ball above the western horizon, they find a gallows along the road. A corpse hangs from a dilapidated frayed rope. It's obvious that it's been there a while. It's eyes are wide, but they're staring at them. A shiver run through Jodi as she sees it blink and its nostrils flare. The neck is broken. Hopefully, all it could do was track them with its eyes. There must've been some vigilante form of justice had put someone up here a long time ago. 

Did they see any gas stations on their way here?

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

The dirt road took quite a while to travel on due to deep ruts. Plus they didn't want to outrun the horse, so what would normally would have taken perhaps a half hour by a freeway in good traffic had taken them most of the day. It was now evening time. The rope on the gallows creaked in the wind.

While they eat an MRE for dinner, Lillian, decides to practice her knife throwing. She aims for the things head.

Does she hit and kill it? (skilled +1, -1 head shot, +1 stationary)

(Somewhat Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

Amazingly, almost as if the knife hits the rope and the thing crumbles to the ground in a crash.

Is the thing really paralyzed?

(Very Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Does it make more noise now that it's free?

(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...

And what? Does it attract company?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Is it completely paralyzed? 

(50/50 | 4[d10]) No

The thing must've been paralyzed only from the waist down. It started to crawl towards them, pulling itself by it's arms, clawing at the hard stony ground.

Lilly pulls out another knife and tries to brain it. 

Does she? (+1 skilled, +1 more mobile)

(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

She darts in and shoves the knife through an eye socket. One arm grabs her shoulder. The thing hisses its last and then shudders to stillness as blood bubbles up around the knife wound. Lilly yanks the knife out, cleans it, then shoves the corpse over onto its back with a booted foot. Bones had worn through the flesh on some hands and on its cheek bones.

Jodi warns her to be more quiet, more careful. They can't afford to attract attention.

Do they see any tattoos that indicate it was marked as a prisoner?

(50/50 | 1[d10]) No, and...

Care
Opposition

The man doesn't look like he was a prisoner. Maybe he had been hanged by escapees. They'd never know. They decide to be more careful and to not to stick around for any opposition to arrive. 

Does Lilly find her knife she threw? (she has three knives total, minus the one she missed with).

(Likely | 3[d10]) No

The knife seems to have disappeared into the twilight, probably into drift of snow. Lilly wants to look for it, but they need to reach a camp site before it gets too dark and Jodi and Catina hasten her along.

They have about ten more miles to go. Are there any nearby cars dead on the road?

(Somewhat Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...

They look for shelter for the night, but the idea of staying in any of these camping spots would not help their psyches. The cars are burned out, rusted husks, and were pocked with bullet holes. Someone had come along and shot the place up. Would they be back? This doesn't seem like the safest place to stay.

They'll need to find a camping site soon. Kristie looks around for one. 

Does she find something?

(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes

Kristie leads them off-road into the foot hills to the north. They find a sheltered copse of woods with a clearing inside. They park their vehicles and tie up the horse and put some branches and half frozen dead grasses over the ATVs.

They start a small sheltered fire and eat their MRE. Then they set a watch and sleep.

Do they pass the night without event? (seems kind of desolate where they are....)

(Somewhat Unlikely | 6[d10]) No, but...

NPC negative
Cruelty
Energy

They gather to leave in the early gray dawn. Ayanna had left the key half turned on. [Perhaps this is typical absent-minded behavior for a nanotech engineer?] The engine was off and the main headlamp was off, but she had left the dashboard lights on, and the battery on the ATVs she and Lilly had used is now dead.

Much arguing ensues. Ayanna attempts to jump start from the other vehicle using wires etc from the robot. They do have a very basic toolkit with a screw driver, wrench, etc. She'll attempt to jury-rig some jumper cables from the robot parts. 

Is she successful?
(+2 skill, -1 not the best tools)

(Somewhat Likely | 5[d10]) Yes, but...
But the battery life is now iffy. They prob need to think about getting a new battery soon.

Do they encounter anything on the dirt road that leads to some campgrounds? 
(Unlikely | 2[d10]) No

By mid-morning the next day, they're starting to get close to some official state campgrounds. The campsite was named camp Jefferson Campground, after the name of the founding father and also the name of the military base. Tall pine trees mixed with scrub oak provide a paintbrush of green, browns, and burnished yellows along the foothills. They decide to come in on foot, in case the grounds are occupied.

Are any camp sites occupied?
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...

Failure
Stalemate
PC negative

But what? But not by humans... 
Is it zeds?

(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

The only thing that would stalemate the party would be a large group of zeds that had taken up residence.

A large group of them milled around through calf-deep fluffy snow. The sun reflected brightly of the snow and Jodi wished she had sunglasses. 

Something must've attracted the walkers here. Or maybe this was an original group of survivors who had been turned. Jodi wondered for an instant what their story was. The walkers began to shamble out of the woods. Arms outstretched, maws open for a fresh meal.

Jodi shouted for them to get away. "Back the vehicles! Go!" Jodi hoped to lead the crowd of zeds away and then lose them somehow and later circle back. Jodi and Kristie started their ATV, as Catina and Jen ran to the horse, starting to climb on. 

How about Ayanna's? Does hers start. I'll say it's still likely, but the fact I have to ask, means the battery is weak.

(Likely | 4[d10]) No

Ayanna turned the key in the ignition and it just clicks. Not good. Jodi's heart sank as she started her own ATV. The zeds are getting closer. Ayanna curses and tries again. But the starter just clicks and clicks. No joy. They'll need another jump to get this working. And that is not an option at the moment. Hindsight being 20-20, perhaps they should have brought a third ATV that they could leave one behind and double up on the other if needed...

There were some other vehicles in some camping spots. How large is this large group of flesh eaters? I'll say there are 4d20+10.

44 = 20[d20]+3[d20]+2[d20]+9[d20]+10

44 hungry zeds... Yikes! But that's still better than what it could have been.

"Just like we practiced! Firing line!" Jodi commanded. She hopped off her ATV and swung her rifle into ready position. She dropped to one knee in the cold muddy snow and sighted in on one of the corpses through her scope. The leering yellow teeth on the mouth opened and closed and one eye was missing. 

"But that was with stationary targets!" Kristie yelled running over.

"It's either drop them now quickly or for two of our number to try and outrun them on foot! Now form up!" It was either take them out or run from them, but where would they go? If they could thin the herd though... they'd have a better chance of completing their mission.

Catina and Jen also joined Jodi, raising their own rifles. The other two on the other ATV try one more time to get it started as the four on the line start shooting. 

They'll each get 15 slow aimed shots before the zeds are close enough for danger. 

A cacophony of shots shatter the erstwhile peaceful nature scene.

Jodi goes first. 15 shots, she's skilled and has a scope so (+1 skill, +2 scope, +1 kneeling position, -2 head).

Hits?


(Likely | 3[d10]) No
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
Jodi herself knocks down 12. Nice job!

Kristie goes next, same skill.
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 4[d10]) No
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 5[d10]) No, but...
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes

Kristie is on fire. She takes down 13 headshots and another 1 in the neck that turns it into a crawler.

Catina is the same setup.
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...
(Likely | 7[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 8[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 6[d10]) Yes, but...
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 9[d10]) Yes
(Likely | 1[d10]) No, and...

And her gun jams...

But before that happens, she took down 12.

13, 12, 12 = 37.

Jen shoots her fifteen shots. 

No scope and she's standing and screaming, so 50/50 to hit the head.

(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes
(50/50 | 6[d10]) Yes, but...
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes
(50/50 | 4[d10]) No
(50/50 | 9[d10]) Yes
(50/50 | 2[d10]) No
(50/50 | 3[d10]) No
(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...
(50/50 | 10[d10]) Yes, and...
(50/50 | 8[d10]) Yes

(Jen takes down the remaining eight)

Bullets slam into faces. Heads explode. The group of flesh eaters, gets closer and closer, but their numbers are diminishing rapidly.

Ayanna and Lilly, being distracted with getting the ATV working, had only managed to get their rifles out and ready and chambered before it was all done.
An eerie silence descended following the ruckus.

Jen gave a whoop. They all put in fresh mags and pocket the used ones. Then they make their way through the now truly dead camp. They find RVs, rusted-over cars, dead animals. 

What about supplies? Ayanna looks for a good battery that fits the ATV. Any joy? Probably not very likely, given the age here.

(Unlikely | 8[d10]) Yes

Wooooah. Nice. 

Ayanna spent the time replacing the battery in the ATV while the others investigate the camp, drag the dead bodies into a heap for burning and then scavenge the camp for supplies. 

Jodi, however, hiked to a bit to an outcropping, Jodi lay down and got into a position where her could into the base. She raised the binoculars to her eyes and took a good long look at the military base. The sun shone brightly over head. Carrion circled lazily wanting a meal now that their prey wouldn't move.

She scopes out the military base. Any movement? 

(Somewhat Likely | 6[d10]) Yes

Zeds?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes
How many zeds? A lot?

(50/50 | 5[d10]) No, but...

Are the zeds dressed in military garb?

(50/50 | 7[d10]) Yes

Is there any military hardware left over? Vehicles armored APCs HUMVs and the like? (Unlikely since those would have been called out to guard against the zed threat).

(Unlikely | 3[d10]) No

How many can they see in the streets of the base? (1d20+3)
6 = 3[d20]+3

It looks like a half squad were maybe tasked with holding down the base, but maybe they were overrun by looters or the zeds got them. Either way they were the walkers now.

Back in the camp, do they find any useful supplies?

(Somewhat Unlikely | 4[d10]) No

Jodi returned to the camp. 

"Find anything useful?" she asked Catina.

Catina shook her head. "Someone--maybe those prisoners from that bus--overran this camp and killed everyone. We looked at the bodies and most of them had bullet holes already. They must've taken everything of use, and left the corpses to turn."

"How about you?"

"The base is over run, but there don't appear to be many visible out on base's streets. Inside the buildings might be different. But my guess is that the military just left a skeleton crew to hold down the fort."

"Skeleton crew. Hah!" Kristie grinned. "Get it? Corpse? Skeleton."

Catina rolled her eyes.

"Alright, let's wrap things up. Fifteen minutes and then we make our way to the military base. We should get there in a couple of hours or so from our current position."

Does anything happen while they're wrapping up?

(Somewhat Likely | 2[d10]) No
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