Wednesday 20 February 2013

The Rosa Lee

In which we acquaint ourselves with the trading ship the Rosa Lee and are introduced to some of the crew.
The Rosa Lee is the largest boat operating on the River. It runs a thriving market and moves goods from holds and settlements as far up as is navigable. Every one of the sixty souls aboard has a purpose, from the twelve-strong posse under Gnarly to the individuals who own trading stalls. Other than trading, people make ends meet with fishing and scavenging. 

Drexler, is a recent addition to the crew, but The Gunlugger's arsenal and talent for destruction were obvious. He'd recently been leading a posse of his own out in the wastes, but on his last hunting trip, the cannibal tribes ambushed his men and he was the only survivor. Nine heavily armed men in vehicles killed by a bunch of savages with machetes, Drexler's grim silence tells its own story.
When Drexler was left bleeding from the attack Tai passed him by without so much as a glance - not so good with people...

Miss Roberta is The Hardholder of the Rosa Lee and is known for her calm reserve. No one gets too close, but she's very protective of her crew. She has ensured that Gnarly's posse are well armed and that he keeps them well-drilled and disciplines them. With a travelling market she can't afford to let any fucking savages aboard.
She knows Drexler since before and seems to trust him more than anyone else aboard...

Tai is The Savvyhead and ensures that the Rosa Lee and everything mechanical aboard her runs smoothly. Tai is weirdly off-centre and doesn't seem quite able to connect with people.
He finds Drexler most strange and definitely sees him as the biggest potential problem - though that might just turn out to be interesting...

The Rosa Lee always ends up in Moon Creek, about 125 klicks downriver. There she picks up diesel and fresh water and trades in the majority of the goods bought upriver. Moon Creek is a large hold run with an iron fist by Jackson, and it's no secret that the Rosa Lee operates under his aegis.
A week out of  Raven Square, Miss Roberta's first mate Rothschild relates that a barge that had gone up a tributary to Lobsterville had suffered mechanical problems and needed help to get back. Miss Roberta sends Tai and Drexler on the other barge with Foster to see what the problem was and to get them back as soon as possible. Amy and Putrid had a big cargo of batteries which would pay major dividends later on.

Up river a bit where it narrows, there's a lot of shallows and weeds. There they spot Putrid's barge, just sitting in the water. Tai perches on the bulwark to take a closer look, noticing that the barge has been anchored and that sitting against the wheel is a man with his head down.

Drexler has already cocked his machine gun and is scanning the opposite bank for an ambush. He lowers his goggles down from the crown of his head as he discerns the optimal spot for his enemies to be. Without so much as a word to his crew-mates he opens up on the copse of trees atop a rocky outcrop overlooking the river.
A fierce gunfight erupts as the armed gang up there respond in kind. Drexler though is not to be fucked with and after changing the ammo belt on his gun and opening up for a second time the ambushers have thought again about their position and withdrawn. Drexler stays frosty...

while Tai jumps over to the other barge to take a closer look. The man against the wheel is Putrid, but his throat has been split in two. His hat and coat had been rearranged to hide the wound and blood but it's pretty obvious now. Despite the bright morning even the glowflies have settled in to feast on the blood.

Tai walks softly around the boat, the cargo has been taken, every last battery; the engine has been cold about the same amount of time that Putrid is dead. There doesn't seem to be anything wrong with the engine or the rotors below - looks like the engine was just switched off. The boat speaks to Tai and gives a strong impression of a man walking the deck giving orders to his men (including one to gut Putrid) and the feeling of soft leather where-ever the man touched her.

There's no sign of Amy and to Tai it seems like she's been taken. Drexler heads over to the ambush site to take a look. Seven dead bandits lie there, weapons strewn on the ground, and there's definite signs of another six or so moving off towards the nearby hills.

Drexler and Tai exchange glances back on the boat as Drexler dumps all the weapons and gear he salvages from the massacre above; they don't want to leave Amy to her fate, and if they go now they might be able to catch up. They tie up the two barges and get Foster to head back to the Rosa Lee - and have Miss Roberta send help in the guntrucks.

Tai packs light, taking only his multi-tool and his sawn-off shotgun. Drexler goes heavy, lugging the machine gun over one shoulder. The noonday sun starts to take its toll on him as the sweat pours from his brow. Between his heavy armour and the small arsenal it's tough work. Tai spots another casualty as they start to climb the ridgeline. This guy took a bullet in the leg and somehow managed to walk eight or nine klicks on it. The blood bugs are crawling over the body and into the wound, fighting over the choicest bits.
Tai and Drexler also come across a few jackets and minor pieces of gear a little bit later - their quarry are feeling the heat too.

Three guntrucks from the Rosa Lee come screaming across the landscape, Drexler had spotted them coming and set up his gun just in case it was someone else. Gnarly hollers from his station up top with his (much smaller) machine gun. So Miss Roberta sent them out here to back Drexler up and run those bastards down. They've brought the mobile radio with them, just in case they need the Rosa Lee to confirm any change of plans.
Oh, and one other thing: Drexler is to take command of the posse for this.

The slow climb reaches a high ridgeline with a sharp descent - beyond lies a small hold, with walls and towers but what looks like only tents inside. A small group of ragged bandits at the gates looks up at the armed vehicles silhouetted against the sky behind them. The gates close and they're definitely loaded for bear, with fifteen or twenty armed men on the walls.

Tai opens his brain up to the psychic maelstrom and sees a whirlwind of glittering lights cascade down the heights towards the hold - Tai sees that the group has arrived here quite recently and that they've come here with a very definite thing in mind...

Drexler squints into the sun, now behind him. Fuck this shit he mutters to the others. He keeps his magnum (and his knives) strapped and starts down towards the gates, holding up his empty hand as he approaches rifle range. He stands there for a few minutes until the gates open. Out walks this giant of a man, he looks unarmed and is dressed down to a t-shirt and trousers. As he walks out he talks off (these exceptionally cool) shades and puts them in his pocket.

He introduces himself in a rough voice as Mimi, and the two guys size each other up. Drexler gives him the hard truth: release Amy or he and the rest of his gang will storm this place and raze it to the ground. Mimi measures his response, but then seems to feel a little bit vulnerable. If he kills Drexler those heavy guns on the ridge will surely cut him down before he can reach safety, and he doesn't fancy his chances against the magnum (Drexler reckons he probably has a 9 in his waistband behind his back); after all this is the guy who beat fourteen of his guys after they ambushed him!

As Mimi turns back towards the wall to look at the sentries perched up there, Drexler noticed a burn mark at his throat peeking out from under the t-shirt. Mimi glances back
-sure, no problem

Five minutes after and just as Drexler is beginning to get nervous, Amy walks out. She looks like she's been hit a few times, but otherwise she's fine (she claims at least). The convoy saddles up and makes it way back to a nice landing spot along the main river. Miss Roberta doesn't like burning bridges, so she leaves a sign out to say the Rosa Lee will return for some trading (I mean what hold doesn't engage in a bit of banditry in between harvests).

Back on board the Rosa Lee, Miss Roberta wonders how Rothschild knew about the plight of Putrid and Amy. Rothschild looks confused for a moment, and says how he remembers Amy telling him; he knows this is crazy though...

Tai is going through the piles of gear they took from the gang from Revelation Heights - a fair few good quality weapons, some generic bits and pieces. But one thing catches his eye: a small silver orb encircled by a brass coil. Tai has no idea what it is but he's got a mind to find out. Fitting out the workshop with some weird-ass electronica should do the trick, and a little advice from Fuse down in Moon Creek would definitely help.

Miss Roberta calls in Amy, puts some food in front of her and asks her exactly that.
She fidgets as she recollects
 -the engine cut out as we were coming out of Echo Lake from Lobster Phil. Putrid asked me to dive down and see if I could free the screws from the weeds which had entangled them. So I dive down and they seem clear, nothing spoiling them at all. Anyway, as I was just kicking back up the weeds caught me, and then I must've hit the boat coz I lost my breath.
She takes a swig of warm coffee.
-I started to drown and then I thought to myself: 'Rothschild'll be pissed if he loses a boat and the batteries'. I felt really weird and then Putrid dragged me out of the water. That's when the assholes from Revelation Heights came aboard the barge.
-I guess my Mom was always a bit weird, it was like she was down in the water with me. Rothschild must have gotten the message, but he's so straight his brain couldn't handle how it really got it.

Miss Roberta remembers Amy's mother...

*All illustrations by D. Vincent Baker from the Apocalypse World rulebook

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