Wednesday 18 September 2013

Trouble Brewing

In which the Rosa Lee's return to Moon Creek is less than satisfactory...

Driving off into the wastes at the head of the gang, the role of Pack Alpha begins to feel natural to Drexler again. They’re a pack of fucking jackals but they respect his strength and that’s a kind of camaraderie he hasn’t had since the old days. Setting his own course, Drexler begins hunting.
Despite his better judgment he picks up a few of the survivors, a couple of them look handy enough (they’ll get better with a bit of guidance) but he's also gotten some deadweight, a frail weirdo, Jones, who says Drexler’ll be rewarded once they reach Moon Creek, but who freaks him out a little
The attack on the CRs is more hard-fought than Drexler would have liked, and he's got to lay into the pack the night after the first wave to get them to buck up. 

So, Sweeney is trying to get this team up to speed. He's really starting to get them to gel. Shazza has some proper moxie and yet knows when to keep quiet. Grekkor’s quiet matter-of-fact manner is growing on you: at least he’s got the ultra-violence to back it up. Bar’s still a bit broken over Princy’s death, but he’s taken to driving the boat now.
Lark’s a real hit below decks – it’s like Sweeney's invited to someone’s quarters every night for a few drinks. Well, to be honest, he thinks Lark’s got the beginnings of a cult going on down below, just not sure how it’s going to impact on his bottom line yet.
Barker, that hard-as-nails girl he hired for the Rosa Lee’s gang at Harrow’s Place, must’ve taken a disliking to Sweeney. Any time he's around, she’s pretty surly.

Miss Roberta's had an anxious few weeks as the Rosa Lee heads back downriver from Stolo to Moon Creek. She's not sure if she can hold the crew together – if she don’t lay about with some straight-talking, could lose more traders to Dolarhyde.
Eventually she gets a steady ship on your hands again – a few die-hards come aboard from Motherlode to bolster numbers in the gang, and despite passing her over for promotion, Jess seems genuinely helpful. 

Tai's gotten that amphibious truck into action – not the fastest thing by land or water, but pretty solid. It's a bit cranky, and needs a firm touch at the wheel for best performance.
With a working knowledge of the Yokes, Tai's also learnt more about the signal. Tai had to implant herself with one of the Doohickeys to get best readings; hopefully that’s not a problem…
  • Doesn’t seem susceptible to jamming like a normal radio signal
  • In early stages only transmits during sleep, but as it takes hold it becomes active all the time
  • Transmission format looks like it’s designed to go directly into someone’s brain and not into a machine at all
  • Signal strongest when pointing back towards Moon Creek, or more correctly back towards The City
  • It seems crazy, but tapping into the Signal reminds you of when you open your brain to the psychic maelstrom
Drexler is on his way back to Moon Creek when they drive past a ramshackle settlement out in the wastes. They're planning to pull back; they've taken plenty of punishment from the cannibals this year and have had enough. Drexler agrees to a short sharp raid on the CRs and then he'll escort them back to Moon Creek.

Pulling into Moon Creek, the place seems as busy as ever. The dockside is thronged, but little of that foot traffic ends up at the Rosa Lee. A lot of the attention is looking towards another boat - one that's not even properly afloat yet. Someone's building a new ship. Sweeney head down there to have a nose around, chatting up a bartender called Dune, but she's not able to give him much; he does suspect it's going to be a gunship though.

Tai is setting up an infirmary in his workshop; specifically one that'll allow the removal of the doohickeys from people safely. Also in train is a device that'll tap directly into the psychic maelstrom. When filling in the others on what's been learnt of the doohickeys she lets slip that one has been implanted in her. They're instantly on the defensive, and only the most rational of persuasions keeps things from getting aggressive. Tai calls in Fuse (under Drexler's watchful eye) to remove it.

They hatch a plan to use Tai's new gadget to detect people who've got a doohickey implanted, and to see if they can get extract it without too much trouble. It's a calculated risk, but their anti-Revelation Heights stance is well-enough known that they're unlikely to lose anything extra surprise with it.

So the Rosa Lee is open for business as usual. After the first day's lull, tonight there's a big crowd buying, drinking, gambling and whoring. Sweeney has gathered a crowd and encouraged people to step forward and be tested, taking on the role of ringmaster for the night.

But the two who tested positive aren't so keen to go below into Tai's workshop to have it removed. They don't seem to trust the weird machinery or the weird doctor.

Into this fractious scene storms Jackson along with some of his gang; they brush right past security and Doberman shouts out that everyone shut the fuck up and stand down. It's easy to tell that Jackson is annoyed as hell, but Tai keeps talking about what's he's planning so Jackson grabs Doberman's shoulder and says straight to Tai
-Keep talking and Dobie here'll put you down
(to which the hatchetman grins and cocks his AK).

Everyone falls silent, the Rosa Lee's crew are looking to Miss Roberta for a signal, they're hoping nothing breaks out, because if it does they're surely all dead. The customers from Moon Creek look like they just want to get home
-Everyone who doesn't belong here, get the fuck off this boat. Everyone else, you're closed for business tonight. You...
He points at Miss Roberta on the top deck
-are coming to visit me tomorrow morning

As everyone else files off, Jackson looks around one last time.

Looking into the settlement and beyond, Sweeney see a few flickers of light he knows are implanted people. He turns northwards and where he knows The City lies is a blinding wall of bright light, obscuring everything else in his brain.

Elsewhere on deck, Jones grabs Drexler to let him know that he really wants to make it to The City; so Drexler scouts out Tai's new craft for the job. They're likely to get into some trouble and it looks just the ticket to stay mobile and protect them at the same time.

Miss Roberta brings in Lark for a quick roundtable in the office. She tells of her dealings with them in The City. They weren't the only faction there, but were growing steadily by the time she left for Lobster Phil. They didn't brook any interference with their business particularly well, and she got out while she still had the chance.

Trying to reverse-engineer a doohickey in the hold, Tai is scanning through his design options on his lathe (that relic of the golden age past) when the display brings up design #0 in the memory banks:
The lathe is designed to make those things.

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

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