With growing confidence the small band continued their journey to save their vault. During their travels thru the increasingly dry and cracked terrain, they spotted two small mounds in the distance. Upon close inspection the mounds appeared to be recently turned dirt approximately six feet by three feet. Joe, sensing dead bodies beneath the dirt, began digging them up with an overwhelming need to silence the voices in his head. Disgusted the thief and ninja stalked away while the scout, liar and scientist waited for Joe to finish his task. After half an hour of digging with his hands, Joe realized the futility of his efforts and abandoned the effort. This done with their distraction, the group continued on.
Shortly into the next day the group spotted a pair of figures on the horizon. From their distance of approximately three hundred yards, the pair appeared to be humans leaning on something. Daniel, the scout, took up a prone position and sighted down his rifle. Bonnie and Chi, the thief and the ninja, stealthy each took a flanking position on the pair, while the rest approached cautiously from the front. As the small group approached within 10 yards of the pair, they noticed one of the two strangers was dressed in rough leather armor and holding a crossbow the other in homespun and leaning on a crude spear.
The liar called out for the strangers to identify themselves, this act evoking a laugh from the crossbow armed man. The armored man instructed “Put down your weapons and we will not kill you”. The liar, Chuck, responded by reminding the crossbow armed man that the pair were outnumbered by the trio. This spawned an even bigger laugh as the man yelled “Men, show your selves”. Upon this utterance, a ring of ruffians encircled the trio of adventurers.
Seeing the peril of his fellows, Daniel, already sighted in on the leader, gently exhaled and squeezed his trigger. The leader’s head exploded in a fountain of blood and bone as the bullet passed thru the bandit’s face and out the back of his head. The Ninja, taking this as her cue, moved forward to engage one of the bandits from behind. Joe blasted the bandit with the leader with his shotgun. The thief opened fire with both her pistols, punching two neat holes in another bandit and causing him to pitch face first to the sand.
From his concealed position three football fields away, Daniel took aim at another bandit. Chuck began to extol the bandits to surrender and prevent further fatality. Nick, vigilantly took notes on the events. Having moved into position, the ninja, thrust her knives thru the back of her selected target, venting both his lungs to the hot dry air of the desert. Joe turned and opened fire twice on another bandit, killing him in a hail of buckshot. The thief, wanting a prisoner, shot another bandit in the leg, dropping him, alive to the sand.
Daniel, confident in his shot, diabled another bandit with a solid hit to the leg. At this point the carnage was too much for the bandits who broke and ran for the four winds. Chuck, continued to convince them to surrender and Nick drew his pistol. The Ninja killed one of the fleeing bandits with a pair of thrown knives, and the thief shot another in the leg. Their spirit broken, the bandits collapsed to their knees, dropping their weapons and wailing in despair.
Out of immediate danger, Chuck stopped Chi from dispatching another bandit, by stressing the party’s need for information. This swayed the killer as she stepped back and considered her prey.
The party moved in to take up tasks: Joe collected weapons and equipment from the fallen and the prisoners; Beth guarded the prisoners; Nick tended to their wounded; Daniel stayed on watch from a distance; Chi selected a prisoner for interrogation; while Chuck directed their efforts.
The first prisoner Chi selected seemed resistant to Chuck’s charms and Chi’s threats. Chuck asked several questions about the band, surrounding area, and the vault, each question met with a lie. When Chuck indicated his frustration with her deceit, Chi promptly cut the bandit’s throat and moved down the line. After that grizzly display the new candidate volunteered information so fast it was difficult for the party to take it all in. As it turns out there is a nearby village that the band frequently raids for food and slaves. The band had numbered about thirty before this assault, their ultimate leader named Garl. There is a vault nearby which had been abandoned as long as any of the bandits have been alive.
After this font of information grew quiet it was left to the group to decide the fate of their charges. Charles summoned Daniel in from his watch and the group palavered regarding expediency versus morality. In the end Chuck offered the prisoners their lives in exchange for their solemn vow to cease their aggression against the party. With that the group sent them off with their wounded, clothes and naught else, to seek their home to the southwest.
Satisfied with the disposition of their former prisoners, the team divvied up the meager spoils, trying to figure out why all the bandits carried bottle caps. That task accomplished, the group resumed their travels. As day waned into night, far in the distance the group spotted a structure rising from the cracked earth. As the rest waited, Beth and Chi ghosted forward to investigate. The structure turned out to be a wall made of stone and clay, baked to rock in the desert sun. After exploring the south east perimeter of the wall, and discovering two guards at the gate, the Chi lifted Beth to peer over the wall. Beth was met with a view of a primitive farm complete with shack, crops, and two headed cows!
Disturbed and disconcerted, Beth dropped back to the ground and the two hurried back to their camp. Once there Beth shared her experience with the group. Chuck decided it was best to bypass the town till later. At that point the team bedded down for the night. The next morning the party took a track to the north circumventing the town. At the apex of the arc, the team spotted another structure to the north, but decided to press on and not investigate yet.
As day gave way to night the group stopped for the night, confident that a short amount of travel would see them to the promised vault.
With the dawning of a new day, the party set forth the short distance to where their PIPBoy 2000s indicated the vault should lay. Within an hour of travel the group found a metal shack upon the spot their devices indicated should be the vault. Cautiously, the thief crept inside the structure and discovered a hole in the ground with a metal ladder leading down. Gathering the group together, the Ninja led the way down into the darkness. Once at the bottom she discovered a worked stone cave, cool and dry. The rest of the group followed as Chi and Beth led the way into the darkness.
Suddenly, with only squeaks for warning, Chi drew and threw a knife into one of a horde of onrushing rats. In a flurry of blades and fire, the group quickly dispatched the vile vermin. The threat resolved, the group continued. Shortly into the cave, the group came to a panel and traditional vault door, the panel dark and the door open. Slowly the group crept into the darkness of the entry hall of the vault. Nick recovered some ancient flares from the locker just inside the vault door and connecter one to the bow stave taken from one of the bandits forming a crude torch.
Unfortunately the now sudden light from the torch woke something in the darkness as a shape the size of a small bear growled in fury. Chi imbedded a knife in the shape and Joe flayed it with his shotgun, but Beth’s bullets put the strange and giant amalgam of mole and rat to rest. The team then explored the abandoned emergency medical center and caved in remains of the bulk store house before examining the elevator. The discovered the door shut. Joe pried the door open to find an empty shaft plunging into the depths below.
(To be continued)