Deadlands: Hell on Earth

Fitting place for a Prison
battlefield saviors, clues from a dead language

Camp area outside of the corn maze

The posse awakens and packs themselves up to leave. They discuss their destination. Ben and Nigel feel that the cemetery is unlikely, as it seems too cliche, even for the evil being they are pursuing.

It is decided that they will make their way to the battlefields. This is where Twitch had been scrounging with his father when he was abducted. They’ll be heading out into the area East of the Wichita Maelstrom.

Battlefield Outskirts – East of Wichita

As the van pulls up to the outskirts of the battlefield, they slow down to take in the view. As far as the eye can see (which is rather far considering the flat land of middle Kansas) nothing is visible but piles of dust covered rubble commingled with husks of tanks and vehicles.

They see a modified school bus being surrounded by a pack of walking dead. The scavengers riding in the bus are firing out at the zombies, but seem to be losing ground. Some of the scavengers climb on the roof of the bus in desperation.

Seeing this, the posse drives in to the rescue. They spin up the black widow and quickly mow down the walking dead. The scavengers seem relieved, but are very leery of the posse- considering how out-gunned they are. Hammond shouts out to them and gets them to let down their guard. Nigel and Ben chime in, asking only for information, a small price considering the posse just saved their lives.

The scavengers reveal that they had been scrounging for items to trade in Near-Kansas City / Topeka. They have not seen or heard anything of similar to the Pumpkin King. The scavengers point them in the direction of Near-KC and head off on their way.

Battlefield – Among the wreckage

Hours pass as the crew scours the endless wastes. They find no evidence of an underground area matching “the room” (from Twitch’s memory). They also realize that the undead have been looming nearby- but they have not been attacked. The Incubus must be holding them back somehow. Karisha wants them alive and has made it know in the local circles of darkness.

They stop for a bit to determine their next course of action. They discuss the area. Thinking about likely locations, they conclude it may be a larger installation with a bunker. Ben’s initial training was here on Earth. Portions of the training took place at military installations near Kansas City.

During his time in Kansas City, Ben heard about an underground military jail in the area. Rumors about “The Maze” stated it was some kind of prison for particularly dangerous individuals- those with exceptional powers. There were also stories of terrible mishaps and strange goings-on. According to the legends, it was because it was built under a cemetery, but they only moved the headstones when they cleared the ground."

Ben finishes relating this story to Nigel and Hammond. They conclude the cemetery is most likely just a cover for the underground prison. They head out towards the cemetery that afternoon.

Cemetery outside near Wichita

They arrive in twilight. The grounds of the cemetery are relatively intact. A small maintenance shed sits on the edge of the grounds. There are three plots, situated around a group of mausoleums. Remembering the story of the Pumpkin King as relayed by the head of Near-Wichita, they recall the “legend” was spawned from an encounter near a cemetery. The posse keeps on guard while surveying the area.

Ben checks out the maintenance shed, it’s placement and menial nature could be hiding a secret entrance to the prison below. Inside he finds only rusted tools and old broken gardening supplies. Their attention turns towards the tombs themselves.

Monuments area of the Cemetery

In the center of the grounds lies a grouping of 3 mausoleums and 2 obelisk style monuments. One of the mausoleums has crumbled completely on top of itself. While they inspect the other monuments, the posse mulls over possible strategies. They realize that since Karisha has taken over Soria, they may have to dispatch her. Hammond is uncomfortable with this, but the reality is that while she is under control she is a extremely deadly. They will have no choice but to take her down.

Hammond checks the first mausoleum and finds it slightly cracked open. Inscribed above the door is a latin phrase “semper viam pugiles”. He gives the phrase to Nigel for storage/ possible translation. Semper is easy enough to figure out, but the rest is unknown. he digs around the inside of the tomb, but nothing else is found. He does note that the casket was emblazoned with a regal bird- making it highly likely this was a military grave.

Nigel explores one of the obelisks and finds the phrase “vigilit qui custodium”. Nigel attempts to translate "viglient? " the guardians. Perhaps vigilit is meant in the sense of watching. Watch the Guard

Ben comes over and inspects the other standing mausoleum. This one curiously has a large steel door, with no identifiable handle. He talks with the others and they all find this strange. Above the door is the inscription “ad abyssos nos infixit eas”.

The posse debates what the meaning of the phrases could be. They have a little bit of an idea, but feel they need to find a bit more to clue them in.

On the second obelisk they find another inscription – “inluminent viam ad caelum”. They understand it as “Light” something “to” something

Another hour or so is spent trying to discern the meaning of the phrases. On a whim, they check the stones again.

This time They find a slot carved into the side of one of the obelisks. On a hunch they create a small flame inside the slot. A loud chunk is heard, followed by a low rumble coming from one of the mausoleums.

They inspect to find that the steel door has retracted into the ground, revealing a descending staircase.

Staircase into the dark

Ben makes a quip about who would like to be the first to step into the dark, creepy tomb first. Hammond notes the fact that the prison is covered by a tomb does not bode well for them.

For Player reference, and reader’s ease
latin on the grave sites:

ad abyssos nos infixit eas – to the depths we fixed them

inluminent viam ad caelum – illuminate the way to heaven

vigilit qui custodium – watching the guard

semper viam pugiles – always the way of champions

View
A Different Kind of Crop Circle
Jacks in the round, follow the light, a forced rest

The center of the corn maze

The center of the maze has been cleared in a large circle. A few tall trees are the only things that stand out in the field. Funny, even with their large size and ominous appearance, they were not visible from within the corn maze. Yet another of the Pumpkin King’s tricks.

The posse is surrounded by a dozen pumpkin-headed scarecrows. Each and every one moving independently, but all look identical. One of the scarecrows holds a lantern with a greenish glowing eldritch flame. This one holds up a hand can commands the others to attack.

Several of the scarecrows break off from the circle and rush forth. They attack with a variety of rusted, bloody, farming tools. They slash and swing at the posse members.

Hammond sweeps his sword around, hitting several at once. Nigel begins firing on the ones charging at them. Ben fires a few times before resorting to his powers. The crew and the scarecrows trade blows. All three of them sustain some moderate injuries, but not enough to stop them fighting.

Finally, Ben uses his pyrokinetics to light up the outer area (near the scarecrow with the lantern). This lights a few of the scarecrows, as well as one of the large trees. The tree seems to come to life, flailing in pain, it’s large branches swinging like arms. The lantern holder waves a hand, and is replaced by one of the other scarecrows. The lantern appears in the hand of a scarecrow on the other side of the circle.

Nigel lands a shot right through the head of the lantern holder. The pumpkin head explodes and the body slumps to the ground. But once again, the lantern appears int he hands of another scarecrow.

The posse notices what is happening, and quickly devises a plan. Hammond continues fighting the scarecrows in the immediate area. Ben and Nigel try and put some of them down as well, in order to get an opportunity to take a shot at the lantern holder. Nigel gets hit with the business end of a large scythe. The blade cuts deep and puts him out of commission of a bit.

Ben gets his chance, sending forth a brain blast which shatters the lantern. The eldritch flame flickers, then flies straight up into the sky, out of sight.

As soon as the flame leaves, the rest of the scarecrows drop to the ground. Everything around them, the trees, the pumpkins, the corn itself all wilts away. Everything crumbles to the dirt, leaving only a mixed slop of mud and rotten vegetation.

Ben and Hammond assist Nigel in getting back to the van. They perform what medical aid they can on each other and discuss what their next move should be. It is agreed that they should set up the auto-shelter and rest for the night, since they all have been been damaged and have been up for an unknown amount of time.

View
Amazing Maize Maze
the killing fields, stepping through madness

The Creepy Corn Field

The crew debates how to proceed. Hammond climbs on top of the van to get a better view. There is a noticeable path through the maze, though the rain and motion of the stalks in the wind makes it difficult to track.

They decide to enter the corn maze.

Within the Maze

The path through the corn seems to bend and twist about. The posse walks cautiously onward. With each step they hear shuffling of the corn in the wind. Far off echoes of laughter seem to mock them. As the corridor of corn becomes ever thinner, they form a line.

Nigel tries to track them out, by following his compass. Unfortunately their compasses are going haywire, constantly shifting directions. Hammond mentions using an old technique form his mining days. If they stay to one side- i.e. follow the right side, they can navigate through the maze. It may take longer, but it will always lead them out. As they start hugging the one side, they begin to feel the corn itself almost grabbing at their clothing. It is as if the plants themselves are alive, and trying to pull them into the thick.

Nigel calls out " You taunt us and speak to us, where is your master?"

Pumpkin King – “The painter puts brush to canvas, the poet puts pen to paper. The poet has the easier task, for his pen does not alter his rhyme. laugh

PK – “I’m tired of love, I’m tired of rhyme. But blood, precious blood, gives me pleasure all the time…”

They push on though to the next area and come to an intersection. They ponder which direction to head, arguing left or right.

PK- “Left side, right side, who’s to blame. Go on try, they’re all the same. Oh yes, yes, take your time. in the end, they will be mine.”

Ben postulates that they need to communicate to the Pumpkin King in rhymes. “Show us the correct way, so that you have a chance to eat today.”

PK- “Foolish child, stuck in the wild. Ah, such a beautiful lark, ah but hark, do I hear the sound of children play? on this day, there shall be blood.”

They decide to head left. They round the corner and find a short distance to a “t” intersection. At the intersection, there is a small sign. Nigel zooms in with his robotic eye.

“I’m right behind you” the voice of the Pumpkin King says aloud inside of Nigel’s mind. He checks to see if the others heard it, but their reactions (or lack thereof) show that thy did not.

They continue with their plan and head left again. Immediately upon turning they see a scarecrow strung up on a pole at the end of the walkway. The head is made of a pumpkin with a carved face. The pumpkin is partially rotted, wrinkling the face in a twisted gruesome smile.

Ben suggests they shoot it from afar. Nigel agrees, but Hammond has already begun to approach it. The scarecrow hangs limp. A centipede crawls through one of the eyes and back into the mouth. The posse takes the left, just to stick with their strategy.

At the end of this hall they find a box. Ben pokes around and finds a rope buried in the dirt that leads to the box. They suspect the rope is likely part of a trap and they turn back around.

At the end of the opposite hallway they see a reaping scythe stuck in the ground. The blade is embedded in the ground. Hammond inspects it to find it is covered in flesh blood. He tries to pull it out of the ground, thinking they can use it.

The scyth does not move easily. In fact it seems to be stuck in the ground. Hammond tries as hard as he can. His frustration with it grows. He feels angered at Ben and Nigel that they are not helping. His anger grows, until he snaps to and realizes the rage is not his own. He leaves the scyth behind. They turn to head back to the sign area. Upon this second glance, the hanging scarecrow is gone. Another mocking laugh echoes out from the corn.

As they come back to the area with the sign, they find that it is also gone. The crew pushes onward. They find another section that is rather tight. While trying to navigate through, Nigel almost trips over a root. He looks down to see the root actually move back under the ground. The sides of the maze move ever closer. The corn begins to wave wildly in the wind as several vines spring forth and wrap themselves around the arms of the posse.

With a bit of force, they rip themselves free. Spurting forth from the vines is a red viscous fluid. The posse recognizes it as coagulated blood. This troubles them, and they propose maybe the corn is similar to the blood sucking tumbleweeds they encountered before.

They finally pass the thinner area and find a dead end with another scarecrow. Deciding to not take any chances this time, they allow Nigel to fire at it. The bullet vaporizes the pumpkin head.

Emerging from the neck of the scarecrow are several more vines. At the end are corn husks which seem to lock on their location. The husks open up and instead of corn, they reveal a whole mas of spines. The spines launch out and shoot at the posse. Ben avoids it altogether, Hammond is struck but they do not breech his armor. Nigel catches a few spines in the leg. Instantly the spines sprout, and begin to grow small vines. The entry point sprouts a tiny set of husks.

Nigel blasts the scarecrow with his plasma shot, burning the leg and dropping it to the ground. The scarecrow launches back at them with a few more vine shots. Benn shouts for them to duck, and lights up the scarecrow with his brain blast. The force blows apart the scarecrow. The remaining vines writhe around before retracting back into the corn rows- those left behind instantly rot. Nigel rips the remaining vines out from his leg.

Since this way is a dead end they head back to the nearest intersection and try the other direction. This portion loops around, bringing them to another split in the path.

The posse splits up just to see what is there, and will meet back after surveying each direction. Nigel looks around the corn and finds a door. Hammond and Ben come around the corner and find yet another scarecrow.

As a group they decide to avoid the scarecrow and head for the door.

The Mysterious Door

The crew knocks at the door. There is no answer. Hammond tries the handle and finds the door unlocked. They open the door and see it leads to a dark void. Thinking this may be their destination (possibly “the room” where they will find the Incubus), they step through into the dark.

the following scenes all happen simultaneously

A rocky area on Banshee

Ben looks around at the landscape. It appears to be a battle site on Banshee. A trail of fire burns around the area, barring an easy exit. A tall figure approaches him. To his horror he sees that the figure is a Skinny. The purple figure lifts it’s hands forward and launches blast at Ben. He manages to doge out of the way. Fear races through him. These things can fight off whole squads of men, and here he is fighting one alone.

He takes turns trading blows with the Skinny. He manages to land quite a few shots on it, but the Skinny also strikes him with a few blasts.

Slowly he begins to realize that this place is not right. The fire around the crater gives off no heat. The Skinny is not nearly as powerful as it should be. As soon as he verbalizes this doubt, he sees the Skinny reach up and pull off it’s face. It is the Pumpkin King. He taunts Ben, beckoning him to attack. The Pumpkin King urges him to shoot, and kill him once and for all.

Ben rejects, realizing this is part of the trick.

The basement of the Salem Apartment Towers

Nigel turns to find himself staring down on Ben. A frightening voice chatters in his head, gone is the familiar sound of his AI. The voice commands Nigel to kill Ben. Much to his dismay, Nigel is unable to stop himself from raising his weapons and firing upon him.

Ben fights back, and the two manage to damage each other. All the while Nigel fights with the voice of the manitou inside him.

After some struggle, Nigel realizes that this is not right. The location is wrong, they haven’t been in the towers for some time now.

Upon this realization, Nigel shouts out. The voice of the manitou changes to that of the Pumpkin King. Ben’s head morphs into the grotesque pumpkin face. He urges Nigel to destroy him once and for all. But Nigel objects.

Deep Underground Junkyard (Combine secret base)

Hammond finds himself face to face with Nigel. Nigel’s eyes glow with a frightening familiar energy. Baphomet’s voice emerges from Nigel’s lips. He mocks Hammond and begins attacking him.

At first, Hammond fights back. Then he remembers what Simon said. Baphomet was bound to his body, and was completely defeated. Nigel cannot be posses by Baphomet, and none of this is real.

The Pumpkin King tears Nigel’s face in two, revealing that he is the one behind the ruse. He confesses that Hammond has found him out and drops the charade.

Hammond’s view blacks out. When he opens his eyes again, he sees a horrific scene ahead of him. Ben and Nigel lie dead at the feet of the Pumpkin King’s scarecrows. He is underground and sees 2 more familiar faces ahead. Soria’s necrotized body stands next to the necrotized body of Twitch. Marilyn stand at the end. She turns and greets Hammy- the voice is familiar, that of the Incubus. She is visibly pregnant.

The Incubus speaks out, describing how wonderful it is to be in this body. It describes how the Pumpkin King deceived them and the posse lost. Hammond breaks free of his bonds and charges forth. He struggles internally and realizes there is nothing else to do. He must kill Marilyn. It takes every bit of his being, but he strikes her down, as tears well up in his eyes.

The center of the corn maze.

Ben awakens and rips off the pumpkin vine wrapped around him. The pumpkin was trying to envelop his head. He shakes free and sees Nigel doing the same.

They both get free and turn to see the vine around Hammond has nearly swallowed his head. they rip the pumpkin off. This pulls Hammond out of his dreamworld in full emotional flux. He babbles on about how he won’t let it occur. Hammond stands and grabs his weapon in a half rage.

View
House of Misfits
a smashing party, a familiar tale, whispers on the wind

Den of the old Farm House

The stitched-together man lunges forward at Nigel, who deftly sidesteps the swing. The adolescent girl asks Hammond if he would like to dance. She then gracefully steps forward, seemingly blinking through space as she moves across the room in a split second. The wolf man

roars at Ben. Seeing an opportunity Ben produces his auto-shotgun and makes swiss-cheese of the wolf. the creature is heavily injured but still able to attack. The girl swipes out a Hammond. She makes a small connection, packing a surprising punch. Hammy defends himself and gets a slap in as well. Nigel fires a sniper round straight through the brain of the hulk. A massive hole blows out from the side of it’s skull. The hulk stumbles a bit, then starts coming after Nigel again. Nigel starts running, trying to put some distance between them.

Ben finishes the wolf off with a few more shots. The stitched hulk becomes frustrated and grabs one of the chairs. He chucks it at Nigel, but breaks the chair in the corner. Hammond manages to slice the girl in half, which only seems to act as a minor inconvenience. She scolds him and calls for her father.

The dried skeleton-corpses rise(one from the chair, one from the corner by the smashed chair) and attack Ben and Nigel. Nigel over-charges his plasma and blasts at the skeleton in the corner. The blast radius hits the hulk and both of the skeletons. The father skeleton bursts into flame and falls to the ground. The mother burns through the middle, but her top half keeps crawling towards him.

The hulking monster takes a lot of damage to the arms and legs. Seeing an opportunity, Ben uses his telekinetic power to levitate the small wooden table next to the remaining chair. He flings it with great force at the vampire girl. The legs of the table stab through her heart and the force slams her into the back wall. She lets out a final gasp and slumps over. The mother skeleton goes limp.

Hammond and Ben continue the assault on the stitched-together monster.

At this moment a green scaly fish-man emerges from the kitchen door. He reels back and lobs a sizzling green glob of goo towards Nigel. Nigel just dodges the projectile. As it lands it begins to quickly eat away at the floor. Nigel quickly dispatches the fish-man in a flurry of bullets.

With all of the monsters dead. They inspect the area of the den. On the shelf they find a book, bound in flesh. An “O” ring is prominently displayed on the front, as though the metal ring was embedded under the flesh. Within the “O” is a metal, almost golden, “z”.

They cautiously open the book and begin to read it-

__INTRODUCTION.

Folk lore, legends, myths and fairy tales have followed childhood through the ages, for every healthy youngster has a wholesome and instinctive love for stories fantastic, marvelous and manifestly unreal. The winged fairies of Grimm and Andersen have brought more happiness to childish hearts than all other human creations.

Yet the old-time fairy tale, having served for generations, may now be classed as “historical” in the children’s library; for the time has come for a series of newer “wonder tales” in which the stereotyped genie, dwarf and fairy are eliminated, together with all the horrible and blood curdling incident devised by their authors to point a fearsome moral to each tale. Modern education includes morality; therefore the modern child seeks only entertainment in its wonder tales and gladly dispenses with all dis-agreeable incident.

Having this thought in mind, the story was written solely to pleasure children of today. It aspires to being a modernized fairy tale, in which the wonderment and joy are retained and the
heart-aches and nightmares are left out.__

Nigel reads through the rest of the book to relay it to the others. The story contained in the book is the Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The posse puts the pieces together. The girl was dressed in the same type of dress as Dorothy. She called the dog-man “ti-ti” (perhaps just a misreading of ToTo). The Hulking monster was a man, stitched together (not unlike the scarecrow).

They exit into the room where the wolf came from. Whatever function this room had before is long lost. The room has been turned into an abattoir. Blood and left over parts cover most of the surfaces of the room. They push past and return to the foyer. Upstairs they find one of the bathrooms has been converted into a darkroom for the girl to use as a bedroom. A makeshift coffin sits in the middle of the floor. They find little else of value.

The posse exits the house through the front. On the way out of the yard they discover the opened well. The smell emanating from it makes it obvious the water is not safe to drink.

The crew returns to the van and heads off in the direction of their next lead- Their options are the cemetery, thick dead woods, and the corn field. Their know they are in search of the Pumpkin King, and so they opt for the corn field.

The creepy corn field.

The trip to the corn field is rather short. The size of the field makes it stand out from the rest of the landscape. They exit the vehicle and find that there is an opening in the corn field- a cleared path of sorts.

The stalks of corn sway back and forth in the wind. The wind billows in again, and a sort of laugh is heard emanating from the corn.

From all direction in the corn field, they hear voice " When you laugh and you grin, When you hold me so near- I let go of my worries, my anxieties and all of my fears. I look at you and you look at me, and that’s when I realize all of the best things in life are free. Come to me…"

The sky quickly turns grey. A heavy, and unyielding rain begins. The ground quickly becomes muddy.The very surface of the field seems to shimmer with the glimmering light reflected by the rain droplets.

“Life is full of secrets and lies. So when you’re surprised, don’t act so. I’m not supposed to love you, I’m not supposed to care. I’m not supposed to live my life, wishing you were there. I’m not supposed to wonder, where you are, what you do. I’m sorry I just can’t help myself, I fell in love with killing you…”

“I have a message for you from my master. Suffer the little children and forbid them not to come unto me, for such is the kingdom of heaven. She awaits you, come for her.”

View
The Air Capital of the World
miles of nothing, barely tolerated, down on the farm

Kansas

The landscape changes almost instantly when they arrive within the borders of Kansas. The destruction from the ghost rock bombs is much different- horrifying for sure, but it leaves much more standing. This place has been ravaged. Everything, down to the dirt itself has been bombed into oblivion. What little they find left standing comes in the form of piles of rubble, or burned out, crumpled wrecks.

The utter obliteration is coupled by an eerily still calm. Their only company on the drive is a bit of flickering wind. While this is unsettling, it at least makes for a relatively safe drive toward Wichita.

Near Wichita

If they had not know there was a city here before, there would be no reason to believe that one had existed. The main section of town looks more like the craterous surface of the moon.

They are actually surprised to see that a settlement has sprung up here. A makeshift wall outlines the small town. There is a gate at the North side which is manned by a few people. There are small grouping of folks outside the walls, and a decent trickle of them flowing in and out through the gate.

The posse parks the van a good distance outside town and exits. During the walk up to the town they notice there are very few guards. On top of that, the few guards that are there do not appear to be heavily armed. This is curious, but the crew chalks it up to the fact that they are in such remote location.

Upon arriving at the gate they are greeted by a “friendly” man. He has a slight European accent. He notes that they do not appear to be locals, and inquires is they need help getting around town. He introduces himself- and asks for their names.

Ben – “Jack Thomas”
Hammy – “Chuck Bronson”
Nigel – “Nigel”

Ben and Hammy give Nigel a look. He whispers something to the effect that his accent is liable to give him aware regardless.

The posse asks for directions to a pub and to the town center. The friendly man obliges. They also ask about places to stay. While there are no rooms for rent, the posse can – and should – camp out within the walls of the town. The crew asks about about the – should- part of that statement. Apparently there are terrible things out there in the dark of night, and it is safer to stay within the walls.

Ben hatches a scheme to find out about “monsters” in the area. This way they can find out if anyone has seen the Pumpkin King.

They arrive at the town center and approach. They are greeted by some armed goons. The muscle at the door asks what their business is with the boss. Ben instantly jumps into his scheme -

“Jack Thomas, reporter and investigative journalist for JunkYard News. We are doing a documentary on the monsters of the Wastelands. We’d like to get an interview about monsters in this area”

The chumpy fellow blinks for a moment. “Oh, one of ’dem librarian guys. Lemme go tell the boss.” The goon arrives back a few moments later. “You can come in, but only you Mr. reporter man, your friends stay out here.” Ben agrees. Just before he enters, Hammond places his hand on Ben’s shoulder “Have a good interview Jack- remember we’ll be right here” wink Ben gets the hint and mind links with Hammond so they can listen in on what is happening.

Town Center – the "Mayor"’s office

The “Mayor” answers some of “Jack Thomas”’s questions, until he starts to ask about the Pumpkin Kng. With a little prodding the “Mayor” reveals that the legend of the Pumpkin King is just that, a legend.

As the story goes, a group of survivors were out scavenging for supplies near an old cemetery. Although there had been many undead there, one of them stood out. As best as they could reckon, the zombie must have fallen and landed face first on a pumpkin. His head was lodged in the gourd and it managed to get up and shuffle about.

The image of the pumpkin headed zombie, coupled with the lost of many of the scavenging crew that day, gave rise to the Pumpkin King legend. “But enough of your questions” – the “Mayor” notes.

The leader of Near Witchita then begins to show his hand. He calls Ben by his real name, and indicates that they knew exactly who they were from the moment the posse entered town. The black widow on top of the van gave it away- and the 3 men fit the basic descriptions.

Exterior Hammond whisper to Nigel that they may be in trouble, and fills him in to what is happening inside the house.

The leader has heard of their involvement in places such as Kingman and Junkyard, and does not wish to see anything of the kind in his peaceful town. They will not be assisted and will be under a watchful eye during their stay here. Ben is allowed to leave peacefully.

The posse meets back up. They grab a quick meal at the pub. Afterwards they head out to the van.

The night is closing in an they will have to stay withing the town. However, while they still have sunlight, they reassemble the ultralight. Ben pilots the small craft up in the air to get a good survey of the nearby areas.

There are places of interest in each direction, but the 2 of top interest are an old farm house, and a corn field.

They make camp within the town and head out in the morning in the direction of the farm house.

Old farm house

The yard of the house is long overgrown. Some kind of vine has enveloped most of the house. they approach the front of the house and find that the front door area is clear of vines. In face, the door seems to be basically untouched.

They open the door. Despite the exposure to the elements, and lack of maintenance- the door opens without even the slightest creak. The posse enters the farm house.

Inside they find a foyer with a large staircase heading up. There are doors to the left and the right. Next to the stairs is a coat rack. Three coats sit on the rack – one typical of a man, one a woman, and one which looks like an adolescent’s coat.

They take the door to the left and find a dinning room. The table is set with plates, but has clearly been in disuse. On the wall they find a photo of the house, as well as one of a tornado.

Next they venture into the kitchen. The smell within this room is that of old, rotted blood. There is part of a deer carcass resting on the counter top. Sheer morbid curiosity causes the posse to open the fridge. Within they find some of the parts of the deer, but more disturbing- there are bags of blood.

They find a door leading outside. Hammond tries to open it, but the door is so thickly covered in vines that it will barely budge.

The crew presses on into the next room. This looks like a study. There is a fireplace at the center back wall. Inside the fireplace, a small electric fake-fire emits a soft orange/yellow glow. Several feet out from the fireplace are two wingback chairs.

As the posse moves farther into the room, they see that there are dessicated corpses in each chair. The hands of the two bodies have been forcibly twisted to interlock, as if they were holding hands.

Hammond comments – “Why would someone put them in that position?”

A voice chirps out from behind them -“Because that is how they always sit, side-by-side, hand-in-hand.”

They turn and find an adolescent girl with long scraggly dark hair, dressed in a distinctive blue gingham dress. She peers at them with large eyes. At first they appear orange from the reflection of the fire- but then they take on a distinctive red glow. The posse instantly recognizes this as vampire vision.

“I’m glad you’ve come to play with us!” She lets out a high pitched whistle. Bursting forth from the door on the right side of the room is a large dog/man type creature. Storming in from the kitchen side is a massive hulk of a man- or rather, several men stitched together.

Unbeknownst to the posse, out in the yard of the farm house there is a well. The cover of the well lifts off slowly. From within the dark hole emerges a webbed hand. A scaly fish-man creature climbs out from the well and heads toward the house

View
Podunks Aplenty
a golden eagle, small town character, destination bound

I-80 East past Rock Springs

Nigel continues driving down the open road. Ben catches something in
the rear view mirror. A dust cloud billows up from behind them. It
looks to be a hoverbike moving at a very fast speed.

As the bike approaches, Ben notices the front of the chassis is
chapped into a golden eagle. He gets a good look at the driver. Much
to their surprise, Cole Ballard the famous Law Dog is catching up to
them. ben points out this could be really bad, or really good.

Cole pulls up along side the van. Nigel does his best to stay on a
straight path. Hammond looks out the window to figure out what Cole
is doing.

Ballad eyes up the van, taking note of the black widow. He then
signals to the posse. Ben calls out to him.

Cole offers up info- “Look behind you. See those clouds?”

Ben and Nigel both look- spotting black clouds quickly advancing on them.

Cole- " Black rain is headed this way, Follow me if you want to live."

The posse follows Cole off the road to a rocky cliff face. The way
the earth moved has formed a natural shelter from the rain. They also
see that there is a small group of boxes near a camp site.

They secure the van under the land-shelf. The top of the black widow
sits just inches below the rock. Then they sit and speak with Cole a
while.

It turns out Cole recognized them from the reports in junkyard.
Seeing the military tech on the top of the van, he put it together.

Cole appreciates what they have done, though he does take issue with
the fact that the party let Rolan Delacriox get away. The crew
explains that they knew he was a mercenary, but not that he was an
assassin. This settles Cole down a bit.

Ballad offer them a bit of food while they wait out the storm.

Cole inquires about their destination. They provide the background
details on the Incubus. Cole reveals he and some others are meeting
up to head across the Mississippi to explore a city just on the other
side. Lots of walking dead have been showing up, and it is believed
they originate from that city.

The rain lets up and Cole gets back on the road. The posse gets
situated and gets back in the van.

On the way back to the highway, they encounter a large ball of
electrical energy. Ben recognizes it as a Storm Crow (opportunist
monsters that strike after natural disasters).

The Storm Crow blasts a few nearby trees with lightning before it
detects their presence. It begins moving towards them menacingly.

Nigel sits frozen, unsure of what to do. Hammond calls out “I’ve got
a plan. Nigel, gun it!”

Ben expresses his feelings about it “You’re plans are always terrible!”

For lack of a better suggestion, Nigel hits the gas and the van
charges forward. The Storm Crow seems a bit surprised and fails to
move out of the way. There is a noticeable thud. The vehicle absorbs
a bit of electrical power, but does not sustain any damage. the posse
speeds off.

Casper, WY

At first glance Casper looks like a ghost town. Many of the buildings
are still intact, moderately, but there is little left behind. The
center of town does have a small settlement of folks. As the posse
comes close thug, the townspeople quickly hide.

Hammond and Ben exit the van and offer up some trade. One man pokes
his head out of a doorway- expressing that they are not interested,
nor do they have food or fuel to spare.

Realizing these people probably do their fair share of hunting, the
posse offers up some ammunition for rifles. This breaks the ice a
bit. They are willing to trade some clothing (gloves, hats, etc.).
The posse makes the trade and head outside of town to lay camp.

Chadron, NE

Chadron is essentially bare. What little was left here has been
picked dry. Chances are anyone left after the war ventured out to
bigger towns to band together. The crew quickly moves their way
through town.

NE route 2 , slightly West of Grand Island

Nigel spots a crashed Semi and trailer on the side of the road. The
front face is smashed in up against a tree, but the trailer is intact.

Ben open’s the cab door. The impact forced the steering wheel
backwards, smooching the ribcage of the driver. Ben finds that the
driver is actually a fellow syker (though he does not recognize him).
He grabs the psychotic helmet off the dead man’s body.

In the trailer they find a fully-intact ultra-light aircraft. The
engine is small and gas powered.

They also find a few gallons of diesel inside the truck’s tank. Nigel
siphon’s it out and they take it with them.

Grand Island, NE

The town of Grand Island may have survived the war, had it not been
the location of Nebraska’s law enforcement training center. This fact
alone doomed the town. Nothing but rubble and the occasional basement
was left after the conventional bombing. The posse finds nothing and
heads on down the road.

Aurora, NE

Only 20 miles or so from the destruction site of Grand Island, the
posse finds the small town of Aurora. It stands in stark contrast to
Grand Island. Most of Aurora is still in decent shape. There are
even people out on the street, gathered around fire barrels to keep
warm in the night.

The posse is greeted with a few suspicious eyes. The people in town
seem a bit on edge, possibly fearful- but it is subtle and veiled.
There is something familiar in their uneasiness, but the posse can’t
quite put their finger on it.

The crew mentions trading for fuel. They are directed to a large
house at the center of town. As they approach, they see that the
house is quite nice. Outside, several armed brutes stand guard. It
seems this is where all the wealth is located, and the weapons.
Smells like Kingman the first time around.

The posse realizes the problems in town, but has little time to spare.
They make a quick trade with the brutes for some fuel. Despite the
clear injustice in town, the posse leaves to deal with the Incubus.

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Into the Heartland
a line to walk, don't brake for bandits

Boise

The posse plans out their trip to Kansas. Unfortunately they’ll have to go a bit out of the way, due to Combine presence in the south of Wyoming. They also cannot tread too far north for fear of running into Sioux Nation territory.

Finally they settle in on a proper route. All in all, the route is about 1600 miles. With a full load of fuel and ideal conditions they can only make it about 1000 miles, so they will need to stop along the way.

Ben recalls Fort Bridger in SW Wyoming- it’s an old for that managed to escape most of the destruction. The people there are more or less self-sustaining, though they do run some decent trade with Junkyard. Fort Bridger will be the first stop on the road, as they have decided to avoid New ’Tello.

From Bridger, they’ll make their way up towards Casper, WY. This will place them very near the Devil’s Tower. Despite their proximity, Nigel opts to avoid going there. He feels that their current mission is of more importance. Also, he does not know what the outcome of battling the manitou could be, so it may not benefit them at this time.

From Casper they will head due East towards Chadron, NE. Then Southeast towards Grand Island, NE. This puts them straight north of Witchita.

Near the intersection of I-84 and I-80

This leg of the journey puts them on the outskirts of Junkyard’s territory. As they begin to head on I-80 towards Fort Bridge, Ben spots a group of vehicles in the rear view.

As he vehicles come in close, Nigel is able to see that they well armed. They consist of a few bikers, a modified pickup, and a large suv. There is little doubt that they are a road gang.

Suspicions are confirmed as the bikers charge up to flank the van. One of the gangers on a bike edges in a bit too close, setting off the black widow’s alarm. The black widow whips around and pumps the biker full of lead.

Nigel focuses on avoiding obstacles in the car. Ben starts firing out the back window. Hammond assumes control of the black widow to focus on the trucks behind them.

Ben blows out one of the truck’s tires with a grenade, forcing it to swerve and pull aside. Nigel spots a biker trying to swing around his side- so he pulls out his pistol and fires a few into the ganger. Hammond sees a biker swing in close, so he opens the door of the van and leaps on the back of the biker and dispatches him with a quick stab.

The remaining gang members give up the chase. The posse loads up the dirt-bike in the bakc of the van for trade later.

Fort Bridger

Nigel, Hammond, and Ben arrive outside of the fort. They wait in the trading queue. One of the guards spots the black widow, recognizing it as military tech. He comes over to speak with the posse.

Stories of their efforts have carried out of Junkyard, and the guard quickly realizes to whom he is talking. As all stories, the posse’s seems to have morphed over time. Ben’s pseudonym has been changed to the Flaming Dragon, a change he is not exactly happy with. The Englishman and the Templar remain the same.

The crew tells the guard of their encounter with the road bandits. They also discuss the Iron Alliance (to which the people of Bridger have already joined). They make a trade using the dirt-bike for some food and fuel for the journey.

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An Interrupted Eulogy
a strange symbol, word to the masses, safety not guaranteed

en route to Boise from Jericho

The posse leaves from Jericho. The trader they are traveling with was very excited to have done so much business there. Ben warns the trader that if he would like to continue trading there, he may- but if he ever mentions the place it will be his doom.

Along the way the crew stumbles across a grouping of vehicles wrought with bullet holes. The corpses of a few bikers lay strewn about. There is an unusual marking pinned to the bakc of their jackets. Ben recognizes it as the symbol of the “Cult of Atheron”. The entire culted was slaughtered en masse by the Texas Rangers and the Pinkertons (a rare joint venture in those times). There was another tale of them in the early 2000s, in a very Waco Tx like situation- a sacrifice was supposed to take place, but the Special ops group was able to take them out.

It seems that these bikers may have adopted the logo for it’s design, or at least for the creepy fear factor it presents. The posse decides that it is not worth their time to investigate further and continues on to Boise.

Simon’s Rock

The trader drops off the posse outside the Boise maelstrom. He and the posse exchange their final business dealing and he heads back to the market area.

Boise

All of the posse members pass through the Boise maelstrom. They notice there is hardly any effect on them this time, the passing feels like hardly more than a tickle. Inside, the atmosphere of Boise is much lighter, less foreboding than ever before.

In the few days that it took for their journey, news had made it’s way up to Boise. Notice of the defeat of the Boise Horror has come, as well as rumors of Simon’s death. The spirit of the town is much more unified (from a combination of both of those events). All of the town folk are wearing some form of the templar cross, be it a pinned on sheet, or a make-shift tabbard.

As Ben, Nigel, and Hammond enter, they are recognized by several townsfolk. The posse is quickly innundated by people asking as to what happened. Their reknown within Boise/Templars calls even more attention to them.

Hammond steps forth and offers up a few words. “I know yall got a lot of questions about what’s happening. Meet down in the town center, I’ll address everyone at the same time. We got news coming out of Junkyard that everybody’s gonna wanna know.”

Hammy informs them of the defeat of the Boise Horror, as well as Simon’s death. It is also mentioned that the Templars, and all of their follower are now part of the Iron Alliance.

He calls out to the first row of people and asks them to gather materials for a large pyre.

Ben and Nigel head out to track down their van and other belongings. Soria leaves to go get Marilyn.

Boise Temple

Hammond arrives at the temple and finds Jonathan Douglas standing in Biletnikoff’s usual spot. Douglas has basically been acting as head while Josephine is out of town.

They explain what they can to Douglas, without revealing the full truth of the Horror. They also discuss the Templar’s involvement in the newly formed Iron Alliance. They also discuss the Combine’s brazen attack within Junkyard. Both agree that the Combine is likely starting it’s push toward the Harvest- what they refer to as their ultimate take-over plan.

Boise outskirts

Ben and Nigel find the van in place and intact. They sort through the inventory and ensure that all items are still in working order.

Boise Town Center

The crowd has gathered by the large bonfire awaiting some direction. Ben and Nigel stand nearby Hammond. The people look to Hammond for some explanation or words of guidance.

“Good people of Boise. I know this is a hard thing to endure, but you must realize Simon gave himself to defeat the Boise Horror, because he knew that we could carry on on our own. The ideals he’s taught us, and the things he’s shown us over the years are enough to preserve ourselves, and likewise humanity as a whole. Humankind must carry on, death is just a part of everything, but we do waht we can to endure.”

“Though this is a sad day, it is an happy one, because we can appreciate all that he has been able to do for each and every one of us. And what he has been able to show us, but more importantly- what he has been able to inspire within us. I see in each one of you something, just as he did.”

“You didn’t come here because you had to. You came becasue there was a calling inside you. I ask that you step forward now as members of humanity. There is battle coming. The Combine down in Denver, they want to wipe the rest of us off the face of the planet. People like you and I, the folks in Junkyard, Members of the chamber and the rest of the Alliance realize we need to stick together in order to survive this. With everything Simon has taught us, we can survive this.”

“I see umongst you now some uncertain, but I assure you. Simon would not have let himself fall if he did not truly believe that we had the strenght to do this. Together we can stand as heros. I as you now, should the battle come down to us and the Combine— are you with me?!”

The crowd gives out a quick cheer…

Meanwhile (during the time of the speech.)

Jonathan Douglas scans the crowd. His eyes pass back and forth, not finding what he is looking for. He takes a moment and ducks back away from the crowd. He heads to the barracks.

Barracks (during the speech)

He enter to find Soria. Another woman in the room crumples to the ground. Soria sways and stumbles a bit. Marilyn stands next to her, caught in a catatonic stare. Douglas calls out “what’s going on here?”

Soria slowly removes her helmet. Douglas has seen her before so he is not phased, but then he notices her eyes. The are all black. He reaches for his sword when suddenly he is struck across the face by a phantom fist. The blow is so strong it nearly knocks him out. He rolls with the punch and spins to make a strike.

as he comes full circle, Soria holds up her hand, blasting forth a deep green energy into his face. The room darkens, as dark black tendrils emerge from Soria’s back and envelop Marilyn. A man dressed all in black enters from a nearby doorway. “Are you ready?” he calmy asks.

Soria(Incubus) “More ready than ever. Let them know, let them come, soon they will die.”

Boise Town Center

As the cheer of the crowd roars out- a loud gunshot echos through the town.

The man dressed in black stands atop a nearby building. “Hammond, I have a message for you. Do you want it?”

Hammond agrees.

“There’s an old friend who wants to talk with you. This time you’re not going to be able to refuse it. You already know where it’s going to be waiting for you. Don’t make it wait- for your sake- and for hers.”

The man in black punches down on the building, causing a large blast, debris crumbling down on the crowd. He leaps off in the distance in one massive jump.

Hammond rushes to heal the innocent. Ben and Nigel head to the barracks to find Marilyn/Soria.

Barracks.

Nigel and Ben find Douglas critically wounded. The collapsed woman turns out to be none other than Barb of Doom. They are able to revive both, at least to moderate health.

Barb is a little confused at first. Then with some prodding, the memories come rushing back to her in horrible succession.

She had been drinking one night in Junkyard. While stumbling about she had a chance encounter with a horribly sick person. The figure caught her by surprise- and in that instant a dark presence flowed from the body into hers. The figure crumbled to dust, as if the corpse had been held together just so by the dark energy. She remembers being able to see, but not control herself at all. Like being a backseat driver in her own body, while this thing did all the steering. It was horrible- the thoguhts it would force into her mind, and the darkness of it’s actions.

It used her to get close. The fact that Barb had access in to Boise, and knew Marilyn from before gave them easy access to the girl. Then, it used the same trick to leap out of Barb’s body, right in to Soria’s.

The posse realizes that they will have to make haste. Kansas was the location they knew it to be, but also in a place of great battle. Wichita will be the basic starting point, since the battle there was quite large.

Elsewhere- in a dark field somewhere in Kansas.

All around are wooden posts with potato sack men with pumpkin heads attached. Only one is standing, hunched over. It looks up, a noxious gunk flows out of the carved pumpkin head.

“Back I see, and what be. Ah, a prize a prize.”

The incubus with it’s new captive body, walks toward the pumpkin man. Along side it are Marilyn and the man in black.

Pmpkin- “It’s death again. He’s always there, watching, waiting, ever stare. Every time I look behind.” it mumbles off in rhyme somemore.

It finally works it’s way back around- “Your guest has arrived, dark master dear. My friend, come over here.”

The pumpkin creature beckons towards a nearby mass of corn and hay. A distintive figure walks forward, it’s eyes glassy and distant. This man was touched by the dark before. His long and troubled journey had come back to a loop. Kevin “Twitch” Bowers steps forward.

Incubus – “Good. All the pieces are together. Soon. Soon I’ll be born again, Just as I consume them … body and soul. They will watch as I am born again, and become a god.”

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Obscure Connections
buy better bullets, custom designs, summer camp for special kids

Boise-

The posse prepares themselves for the trip back to Boise. They decide to take a swing out to Jericho, Nevada to stop by a school for Sykers. Ben had heard of it from one of his bretheren and felt it they may be able to assist in the Iron Alliance.

Before they leave, the crew has a few bits of business in town.

Now that they know they will be encounting more of the Combine forces, they decide to ditch their stardard ammunition and switch to strictly armor piercing. They sell off the old and split their ammo between AP1 and AP3.

Hammond decides to pick up a sword, since he liked the way it handled during the battle with Baphomet. He purchases a standard sword and commissions a junker to make similar modification as those on his hammer.

Nigel searches out some replacement armor, while Ben gets a slight upgrade to his swat suit.

They find a trader caravan that is headed up to Boise. In exchange for protection services and a small amount of trade, the trader agrees to provide them with transport- out to Jericho, then up to Boise.

Jericho, Nevada

The town of Jericho is small, and remote. It’s relative lack of importance left it basically unscathed by the bombs of the war. Being right on the outskirts of multiple large state parks, it also has quite a substantial amount of natural resources (wood, pelts, etc.)

Ben uses his rank and Syker status to gain access into the Syker school. There they meet several men that served along side Ben and Nigel on Banshee. The posse is invited to stay for several days.

Ben shares with the leaders of the school the news of the Iron Alliance, and the ever-more-dangerous Combine. While their numbers are small, and many of the recruits are simply greenies, the Sykers agree to join. They will send someone to Junkyard to express their allegiance.

The posse stays in town for a few days. Nigel fors an interesting bond with an Earth Syker from his side of the pond. Ben assists in teacher the new recruits some of the basics of Syker powers. Hammond uses the extra time to reflect on his Templar teaching and practice his sword combat.

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The Good of the Many
Monsters within, demon wranglin, finish with honor

Junkyard – Combine hideout

The horrific form of Baphomet stands before the posse. Its grotesque demonic body is shocking even to these hardened travelers.

Nigel, seeing the effect of the spirit within Simon- begins to fear for his own fate. There is much similarity to his situation. After all, only a small bit of plastic and wire hold back the evil spirit within him. The fear is crippling, and he instinctual runs for the exit.

Baphomet first takes aim at Hammond, his hatred towards the Templars guiding his slashing claws. The two trade blows.

Ben catches the demon by surprise, blasting it with his weapons. Baphomet turns his attention to Ben. With its eyes glowing an eldritch green the beast calls out “Obey”. Ben feels a slight tingle, but is able to fight the demon off with his mind.

The three combatants exchange attacks in quick succession. While Ben and Hammond do manage to harm it, the demon seems to heal with each strike it lands.

Nigel shakes off his fear just as he is reaching the doors of the large room. He turns and fires back at Baphomet. The demon senses his recent fear, and cast forth a command of “Obey”. Nigel’s will crumbles under the weight of the dark spirit’s influence.

“We have decided that you must die.” – Nigel states in a cold and mindless voice. He drops his rifle, produces two pistols and fires on his posse members.

Hammond and Ben take turns tangling with Baphomet and hindering Nigel’s attacks- trying to minimize harm to him.

Nigel lands some damaging shots on Ben, while Baphomet scrapes away at him. The attacks leave him quite wounded.

Ben realizes that Nigel will not stop attacking them while under Baphomet’s command. This forces him to make the choice of disabling Nigel. He takes aim at Nigel’s upper chest and blasts him. The shot is successful, and Nigel’s body falls to the ground. Ben then takes cover momentarily to recuperate.

Baphomet sees his puppet has become useless and releases control. He then turns to Hammond in an attempt to possess him. The power of Simon’s sword aids Hammond in resisting. Nigel calls out to support his friends.

Baphomet stabs and slashes at Hammond. His claws rip into Hammy’s body, but do nothing to stop his will.

Ben emerges to pincer the demon. He and Hammond continue to pummel Baphomet. With a final stab, the great demon is thwarted. The body morphs back into that of Simon.

For a brief moment, Simon awakens. He thanks the posse, before giving in to the eternal sleep. They take a moment to patch themselves up. then collect Nigel and Simon and head to the surface.

Junkyard Town Hall area

Biletnikoff is the first to spot them as they emerge from the sewer. They agree to cart Simon off to a private location. Isaac Taylor spots them as well- but submits to Biletnikoff’s plead to all them a chance to perform “Templar rituals”.

In private Biletnikoff asks them of what occurred. He had his suspicions that Simon was the horror, but had never been able to prove it. He believes that the demon avoided detection because it had become part of Simon. They agree to settle on the story that Simon died fighting Baphomet (a technical truth).

Isaac calls for the conference to reconvene in a few days. This allows time for all parties to send in alternatives. That night Simon comes to the heroes in their dreams to bestow his blessing.

Junkyard (a few days later)

Simon’s 2nd in command Josephine arrives to participate in the conference. She is a bit more receptive to the ideas, and agrees to join forces with the Iron Alliance. She collect’s Simon’s sword and bid that Hammond, Ben, Nigel, and Soria should escort Simon’s body back to Boise.

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