Evening, Day 4
Crowds of survivors have gathered in the food court of the Indooroopilly stronghold to hear the Awakened speak of refuge and safety. Standing a couple of steps up the escalator to the cinema section Ivy Purcell gives a short introduction by candle light:
“Listen up! Got some people here who say they know of a safe place. I know some of you are finding it hard here. Anyone who wants to go can go, and if you want to stay you’re welcome to stay.” She yields the stair to Belinda.
Belinda (in her managerial voice): “We’ll be back at 3am tomorrow. If anyone wants to go to the army barracks they are in place if you wish to seek refuge. Leave your weapons behind for those who stay. The army will confiscate them” She glances at Anthony’s prompting gesture, “Oh yes… We’ll get you there if it’s the last thing we do!”
Anthony (working the crowd in support): “We got in here with uzi’s… Imagine what the next mob could do.”
A big fella steps forward from among the survivors.
“Well we can’t stay here for ever, but what’s their organisation like?”
Belinda: “They’re very structured. They’ve got fences and fortified areas in place…”
Evan (to himself): “It’s the Australian army… pretty shit.” He memorises the big fella’s face.
Big fella (looking around): “Sounds good. I’m in. There’s definitely something wrong about this place.”
Belinda reiterates that anyone who wants to come needs to be ready at 3am the next day. Just as she’s about to step down a elegant looking lady of Indian or Aboriginal appearance blends out of the crowd. Anthony and Saul both have Spirit Sight up and only notice her at the last moment. She’s a vampire. The scarlet veins within her seem weaker than Isobella’s but stronger than the gangers they’ve seen.
Lady: “So who exactly are you people? I don’t believe we’ve been introduced” With heavy inflection on the word ‘introduced’.
Ivy (rolling her eyes): “Ah, Amelia turned up, as she does…”
After searching his memory with his improved intellect Saul uses Mind’s reach to send to the others:
Think I remember Quentin talking about her… She’s a Malkavian, might have been part of Zhou’s harem in the sixties but left. Known to associate with Ivy and the St Lucia rabble, supposed to have had a house in Dutton Park and a studio in West End, part of the music and dance scene.
Anthony: So which side of the fence she on?
Anthony aproaches Amelia through the crowd.
“We’re just your friendly neighbourhood peace keepers, passing on a message…”
Amelia: “Is this offer open to everyone?” (again with the heavy emphasis).
Anthony: “Anyone who can stand during the day…”
Amelia: “Oh, and will you be returning after you take our people away?”
Anthony: “We’d be happy to, and say how things go.”
With Amelia satisfied and the big fella interested the meeting wraps up with the crowd talking among themselves. Mingling afterwards Anthony is persuasive, Belinda reassuring, Evan blunt and somewhat disconcerting.
Taking their leave, and some radios
Time’s ticking on and Anthony indicates they’d best be on their way to get some other stuff done. Ivy walks them out, asking if they still plan to go south across the river. Anthony indicates they’ve worked out it’ll be easier to head west first and cross the river upstream. Ivy relieved, reiterating that the area across the river from Indooroopilly is overrun with zombies and packs of feral gangrel.
Saul asks what they’ve done with the contents of the stores they cleared to make living space for the refugees. Ivy indicates it’s all been piled in either basements or carparks. He asks if there are any radios that haven’t been claimed. Ivy’s not sure, but when Evan says there should be some in the security offices she agrees to have a look.
“we’re using the offices ourselves but I can have a look for you.”
She turns up three security guard radios. Pete (the balding ghoul) hands them over, telling them the frequency that they’ve been using to coordinate with the guards at bridge and gates etc.
There’s some discussion about vehicles. Ivy indicates that there are several delivery vans and small trucks in the carparks as well as a semi trailer down near the loading docks which no one knows how to drive. I think the characters make the assumption that Lisa will be able to because she comes from a farm
They go back to their suv. Ivy bidding them farewell.
“Looking forward to working with you all, because this situation only going to get worse…”
With that cheery thought they drive out past the guarded barricade and are on their way.
The Road West
Heading down Moggill road out of Indro they go under the Western Freeway which seems to be choked with an abandoned traffic jam.
Driving down through Chapel Hill and Kenmore the roads are quiet. The suburbs are dark and seem mostly deserted with just the faint prickle of Spirit Sense to indicate there are people, zombies, and / or other things out there. I should also have mentioned that Mt Cootha is still spewing out the alien black wind even when seen from the south side
Miraculously they have no incidents as they travel carefully down through Pinjarra Hills and Anstead. They follow Mount Crosby road through some hills and down to a river crossing, still without incident.
The bridge over the river is intact, but there is enough mud and debris to indicate that the tidal surge reached even this far upstream. There are wheel tracks through the mud ahead of them, but no sign of moving vehicles.
They turn onto the Warrego highway and things look a little more grim. They see the glow of fires and hear sporadic gun fire from the suburbs of Ipswitch to their south. On the highway itself they pass burned out cars in a couple of different locations and evidence of violence several times. Once they pass a crashed car with zombies moving inside, too stupid to let themselves out. Some of the characters are tempted to feed, but Belinda keeps them going:
“We’re kinda on a time limit here…”
Picking their path through the wreckage they continue west until they get to the Brisbane Valley Highway turnoff which they take, heading north toward Wivanhoe. It’s much more rural out here, starting to open up from acreage into small grazing properties. They start to notice clusters of cars and campervans out in the paddocks, sometimes surrounding a farm house, sometimes on their own in the scrub. At this time of night there are no lights or evidence of life. Saul raises an eyebrow at Anthony:
“Seems kinda indefensible…”
Anthony: “No! Don’t eat the refugees.”
They drive on.
The Farmer at the Gates
They keep heading north until, quite some time later, they approach Fernvale, a small town sprawled that straddles the highway. The highway is broad, but as it gets in toward the town someone has posted up signs.
‘Refugees Fuck Off!’
‘Take your Infected back to the City!’
‘Trespassers will be Shot!’
Before the town itself there barricade of parked cars stretching right across the highway and a good distance off to each side. An old, hard looking farmer type sits up on one of the car roofs with a thermos and a high powered rifle. He squints into the headlights as Belinda brings the suv idling to a stop about ten meters in front of him.
Meanwhile Saul gets some binoculars off of Evan and uses them to look around, activating Spirit Sight as he does so. The farmer looks human, and there’s no sign of other people lying in ambush. He relates this to the others.
Evan: “Fuck him then, lets kill him!”
Belinda (to Evan): “Be nice, next time you start a fight with someone we’re trying to help I’ll chuck you out of the car…”
She dims the lights.
Farmer: “Can’t youse read?”
Saul (winding down his window a bit): “We’re not refugees, and we’re not infected, just looking to pass through.”
Farmer: “That’s what they all say. We’re full and we got no food left for strangers!”
There are no lights in the town itself but the characters can smell woodsmoke in the air. The farmer is continuing to rant.
“We’re sick of people coming in here stealing food and biting people. If you come any closer I’m gonna put one right through your windscreen!”
Anthony: “Did you say biting?”
Farmer: “Yeah! Dunno what wrong in the city but you folk been bringing in biters, and when they bite people those people bite other people. We’ve had to do some horrible things to get it under control and we don’t want more coming in!”
Saul: “So how do we get around your little town?”
Farmer: “Go back south, then west to Glamorgan Vale.”
Saul: “Seen anything from the army?”
Farmer: “Yeah heard there been some up around the dam, but they’re fucking useless. We gotta help ourselves.”
Anthony: Well the country army may be useless, but the city are up to it. Got food and supplies for ten thousand people. They’ve got tanks and vehicles too. “
Farmer: “Yeah? What’s it like in there. We’ve heard some bad things bout Ipswitch.”
Evan (snorting): “That’s because it’s Ipswitch…”
Anthony tells the farmer they drove safely past Ipswitch and out of the city using the Mount Crosby way. The farmer starts to warm to them a bit. He gets their names, tells them his is Daren. Still not willing to let them through the town, but warns them to beware of the other people who’ve been turned back and are hanging around. He says they’ve got the sick among them and are fast running out of food. There was also some mention of the volcanic glow to the west, but I can’t quite remember what it was.
The characters bid farmer Daren good luck and turn around. They drive south again, leaving him to his lonely vigil, bright stars burning red, and gold, and blue above.
Detour & the Dam Wall
Retracing their route no one jumps out at them. They pass the clusters of cars and camper vans again without stopping, until they get to the Glamorgan Vale turnoff. Heading north west they pass through some pleasant hills, about a hour’s careful drive.
Coming down the other side however they see fires. Lowood township is smoldering ruin, filling the air with the smells of burnt plastics, paint, and flesh. At the intersection before the township their route turns. They turn with it. Leaving Lowood behind they follow the Brisbane river north and east until they can pick up the Brisbane Valley Highway again, but to the north of Fernvale this time.
A short drive without incident brings them across the river (now much smaller) and through some crop land (withered) to the dam wall itself. The road runs across the top of the wall. Approaching it they see more clusters of vehicles and tents huddled in the recreational areas.
The dam itself is satisfyingly big. There is water flowing down the spill way but no hydroelectricity plant. Belinda stops in the middle of the wall. Everyone looks at Anthony, then at Evan who remembers somehow, even though he’s a southerner, that the hydro plant is on the eastern side of Wivenhoe, between the main reservoir and another dam higher in the hills.
Belinda turns the car around again.
The Hydro Plant
They find the road that winds around the east side of Wivenhoe without incident. It’s getting late into the evening but the stars are not yet at their midnight positions. The road winds up into some hills. There are less crash sites and stranded cars here, but still a fair degree of storm damage.
After a half hour or so they pass a substation with massive pylons stretching east from it, presumably toward Brisbane in the distance. It doesn’t seem to be powered
The road winds around beneath the wall (still intact) of a dam higher in the hills and then they find the turn off into the sharp, horse shoe shaped valley in which the hydro plant is situated.
The roadway in switches down over the southern arm and into the valley in some sharp hairpin turns. There are moderate sized gum trees and dry scrub covering the flanks. Belinda takes it carefully. Below them the hydro plant comes into sight. It’s basically a massive shed, has been built out over the lake water in the pocket made by the horse shoe valley.
Harsh halogen lighting glares off the front of the hydro plant. Portable stands have been set up to shine in through the plant’s hanger style doors, beyond them, in the carpark an army GWagon and Light Armoured Vehicle are parked across entryway. In the turret of the LAV a man in army camouflage uniform and combat helmet sits, manning its 25mm chain gun.
“Kill the lights,” says Saul urgently.
Belinda flicks her headlights off, brings her suv to a stop. They sit, scrub quiet around them, and look down the slope at the activity below.
A couple of minutes are enough to convince them that somehow the man in the turret did not notice their approach. Using the binoculars Saul observes four or five men, also in army uniforms, going in and out of the shed. One of them leans up against the wall taking a break and talking to the guard on the turret while he smokes a cigarette.
Belinda: “I think it might be time to name drop. They did say they were forming a militia.”
Saul: “They’re probably in communication…”
Belinda: “But Enoggra didn’t know about the dam.”
Saul: “Those were just low grunts.”
Anthony: “Can’t hurt to ask if they’re trying to power the city. Worst they can do is shoot at us, at which point we’ll deal with them.”
Belinda: “They might even have a medic…”
Saul (suddenly eager): “To devour?”
Belinda: “Well… we’ll ask questions first…”
“Might go on from foot here hey,” suggests Anthony.
Belinda pulls the car up and everyone piles out, taking their usual equipment except for Evan. Evan takes his uzi, kukri, machete, and scope but leaves his bone lance, shotgun, and chainsaw in the car. They start walking quietly down the road. Belinda (botch) steps on a stick and shrieks reflexively thinking it’s a snake. She turns back.
“Maybe I should stay in the car…”
Saul manifests his cloak of shadows, while Evan turns out to be pretty heavy footed too.
Anthony: “Maybe just two of use should go forward?”
Saul: “Don’t fuck us up.”
Evan: “Alright… I was trying to get the hang of this with a sheet.”
He returns to the car to wait while Anthony and Saul slip forward down the inner side of the roadway. They split up as they approach the outer edge of the parking lot. Then Saul actually steps on a snake! It hurts! He spends a will trying to muffle his shriek but ends up crying out anyway.
Smoking dude (on other side of the car park): “Did you hear that?”
The dude in the chain gun turret picks up a pair of bulky binoculars.
Anthony drops: Get down! Night vision!
Saul dives into the roadside gutter behind some bins, pulling the snake free from his leg and cutting off its head with his combat knife as he does so. Anthony ducks behind a tree, snapping a branch as he does so.
Gunner: “Hey lieutenant get the light. Not sure, but I think we got something!”
Someone turns one of the halogens and light sweeps out. Saul’s Shadow Cloak steams but covers him as he lies flat, leg throbbing. The gunner steers his turret around until the chaingun points at Anthony’s tree.
“Hey you! Get out from there!”
The rest of the army have taken positions using the vehicles for cover. With five assault rifles and a 25mm chaingun pointed his way Anthony steps out from behind the tree.
Evan: Should we go help?
Anthony: Maybe just edge forward a bit.
Belinda puts the car in neutral and starts rolling down the slope. Luckily the wheel doesn’t lock and the brakes keep working. In front of the hydro building the lieutenant steps forward, seeing that Anthony is only armed with a brush hook.
“What the hell are you doing here?”
One of the other army dudes yells as he spots the car on the road above.
Anthony: “Tried to get through Fernvale but they turned us away. Now we’re on back roads in the middle of nowhere. There’s people biting people out there. My wife’s the one in the car.”
Lieutenant (squinting at Anthony’s body armour): “Where’d you get that shit you’re wearing?”
Anthony (without missing a beat): “Used to have a prepper friend. Stuff in the basement.”
Lieutenant: “Well we can’t help you, but if you can get to Enoggra the barracks there is still up. Don’t go north. Don’t go west. It’s all brown”
He reiterates that his squad have a job to do and can’t afford to be diverted helping civilians, but seems willing to let Anthony go, even wishing him luck. Anthony asks what they’re doing and the Lieutenant indicates they’re trying to get the power supply working again, which Anthony piously agrees would be a very good thing.
Anthony: So we just gonna let them do their jobs?
Saul: Well, we’re not really in a good position…
With her motor on now Belinda flashes her headlights on as she rolls through the gates, giving Evan a chance to dive into the back and hide, and trying to give Saul enough time to retreat into the scrub. But Saul, distracted and in pain from his snake bite botches the timing and keeps lying where he is on far edge of the parking lot.
Anthony: “You wouldn’t happen to have an auto electrician here would you?”
The Lieutenant gives him a bit of a funny look. I think Anthony might have sensed that the man’s credulity was running a bit thin and took the opportunity to get in the car and get them turned around. They have to leave Saul lying, snake bit, in the ditch as the halogen lamp is still spilling light over his position.
Saul watches the army men stare up the hill at the receding vehicle. When it’s up and around the arm of the ridge the Lieutenant stirs.
“Well get back too it. We gotta find that shit and get outa here before daybreak.”
Through Mind’s Reach Saul relays what he just heard to the others.
Anthony: Well. That doesn’t sound like people trying to get power back to the city…
Saul: Unless they’re looking for the switch. Don’t know how these things work but there’s only one guy outside now…
Belinda pulls up.
Attack! Attack! Attack!
Anthony gets back out of the car and starts sneaking back down the hill, cutting down the slope and around the roadway this time, careful for lose rocks and snakes. He manifests Petal Fall aura as he does so.
Belinda turns the car around and pulls up at the corner. She and Evan get out and start climbing down the side of the ridge toward the lakes edge. Evan manifests Heartwood aura, spending some of it to gain Fortitude and Chitinous Skin (his Gift of Metis), but leaving enough that his Greenwood Flesh transformation is at level two.
In his ditch Saul manifests as much Shadow Cloak aura as he can manage. The gunner looks more attentive than before, but still doesn’t seem as though he’s genuinely expecting trouble. Saul starts crawling toward him, down the gutter on the western side of the parking lot.
Anthony meanwhile has snuck around through the scrub to the east of the hydro plant. He gets to within a short sprint of the light armoured vehicle and waits, ready to attack.
Belinda and Evan make it to the waterline without mishap. They start clambering carefully and quietly toward the hydro plant aiming for a ramp up from the waterline which will bring them out near the vehicles.
Inside the hydro plant the squad of army men are still moving stuff around and talking to each other. Inching forward Saul brushes a rock, causing it to fall and attracting the attention of the gunner, but Saul’s Shadow Cloak saves him as the gunner’s gaze sweeps over his position and up the bank behind him.
Evan draws on the Tree to manifest some Shadow Cloak aura of his own, for the first time ever!
He and Belinda crawl closer up the rampway. Belinda pops her head up a little too far, momentarily skylining herself. This time the gunner gaze is a bit more keen.
Belinda: Run in now!
Gunner: “Hey, what? Alert! Alert!”
The gunner starts his chain gun turret swinging toward the ramp, sweeping over Saul’s position as he does so.
Anthony dumps some of his aura into activating Potence and Celerity. He breaks from the shrubbery sprinting across the roadway as the gunner rotates away from his direction, managing to clamber up onto the front of the light armoured vehicle, but not to get close enough to swing his brush hook.
Saul rises to sprint across the tarmac toward the lav. He sends his shadows sweeping up ahead of him in an attempt to Smother the gunner before he can open fire. Seated as he is the gunner can only duck rather than fully dodge. The shadows cling to him, obscuring his vision and sapping his stamina.
Evan dashes over to the carpark side of the lav, hiding under the vee of the hull itself. With a wheel between him and the army guys inside the hydro plant he holds further action.
Belinda races over to the corner of the hanger style entrance into the hydro plant. She readies her uzi with the idea of firing a burst into the first of the army dudes inside to cross her sights.
The gunner turns away from the chaingun’s controls, firing a hand gun at the dimly seen figure of Anthony climbing the vehicle’s bow. Anthony takes a bullet to the chest and keeps on coming. He cuts at the gunner’s head with his brush hook, unfortunately missing with his uneven footing on the hull of the lav.
Saul sends more of his shadow cloak out to smother the gunner, increasing the effect on the gunner to level two. But the gunner turns out to have above average stamina, remaining conscious, although weaker and with his vision more heavily shadowed.
Evan keeps sheltering behind the lav, and Belinda waits. Most of the army dudes scatter, running for cover as they advance, but one of the electricians races forward incautiously into Belinda’s line of sight. She pulls the trigger of her uzi and…
There we end the session for this week as I need time to think of something suitable :)
Thanks for reading.