Seattle Side Mission 06: Heart of Darkness – Part 2

Written by: Marius           Played on: 02 Nov 2012
PREVIOUS: Side Mission 06 – Heart of Darkness – Part 1
NEXT: Side Mission 06 – Heart of Darkness – Part 3

“We follow the truck to the local mall. Most of the storefronts are blocked with vehicles, crates are stacked against windows. This has been fortified as a storm shelter, after the magical storm started. The truck is parked against an open entrance. insurgents drag the captured soldiers into the mall. We break in and find out where they are interrogating them. They have killed one. We set up a two pronged attack, flanking them at 90 degrees. We take out all six and the soldier takes off running. We pursue but he seems terrified of us, he draws a weapon and escapes. We see him coming back, with soldiers. They look hostile so we book it. We move toward a probable exit point onto the roof. I chuck a gas grenade to make good our escape, we take some fire and deal some out. As we egress onto the roof we detonate a few grenades to slow them further.” Marius drinks more beer.

Marius is paraphrasing pretty heavily here. Notably, the individual interrogating the soldier spoke English and didn’t appear to be dressed like the other insurgents they’ve encountered. During the brief battle, several explosions were heard further away in the building and when they entered the mall proper they found soldiers from the 173rd in firefights with armed insurgents and detaining the civilians, escorting them from the premises  When they chased the soldier down, they exchanged a few quick words but he refused to disarm, promising to return promptly with his “friends” who pursued them and attempted to gun the team down.

“We fight off the soldiers coming through the roof hatch and zip line off the roof just in time to avoid some choppers. We got a text while on the roof that said, ‘Head through the hole in the security line to the west and meet me at Lenin Station’. There are soldiers headed our way ‘Lets get to the subway tunnel, we can take alleys to avoid patrols’ SPC Chilling orders. His face flushes, he turns to me. ‘That is, if you think that is a good idea, sir.’ I give him a nod. The choppers overhead open fire sporadically, but as we round the corner we reach a mana storm. Turning around there are about a dozen ground rigs headed our way from the other side.”

“Nice” John says. “I guess you put that guy in his place.”

“Indeed,” I say. “It’s good to be the guy in charge.”

“Head for that doorway” Sgt. Ryder calls. We all head that way. I turn to close the door behind her and see Sgt. Ryder standing in the middle of the street, she is volleying grenades at some wheeled vehicles, detonating vehicles everywhere. The choppers open fire with full auto machine guns. The Orc sits there not giving a fuck, reloading her street sweeping grenade launcher, she volleys a projectile into the cockpit of the first chopper. As armor piercing rounds pierce her flesh she drops to a knee still firing as the mana storm overtakes her. The whine of a turbine engine spooling out of control can be heard, followed by a massive explosion. We all sit inside in silence as the storm rages on.”

For this run only, I told the players that, besides Marius, they could invoke a new rule; the “Narrative Sacrifice  power. They could, at any time, sacrifice their character’s life to get the team through a tough spot. The effect of the sacrifice played a role in how much narrative control they gained (ie: a player at full health with all their Edge would have greater control than a character already knocking on death’s door).

The run on the whole was more difficult and lethal than the runs tend to be, so in all likely hood a few of them were going to die anyway. SGT Ryder chose to exercise her Narrative Sacrifice here to stop the pursuing 173rd and let the rest of her party get away from the storm unharmed.

“Fuck,” Bear states matter of factly.

“I know, dude. I need to drink a shot in that Orc’s memory, would you fellow warriors care to join?”

“Jade likes the alcohol,” the troll pointed out.

“So ordered.” John says, motioning for our waitress to come over.

“Once the mana storm is over the electronics start working again, there is a radio station that is still working. We found out later it is a guy who is a big fan of the Colonel, broadcasting whatever the colonel tells him to in between drecky music.” Marius drinks the rest of his beer “We duck into an alley to avoid some patrols. They use a white phosphorous mortar round on some fleeing civilians. The charred flesh of the dead smells awful. The white phosphorous has burned through both flesh and bone. We continue to the station. As we near the entrance, about a block away, we get one more message. ‘Lenin Station too hot, meet at Stalingrad Memorial.’

“Checking the map, it is about five miles to the memorial station. We check out the station. Its fucking mobbed with troops. Mortars are on rooftops, shooting into the distance. This is where shit gets violent.” Marius is interrupted by the arrival of the shots. The waitress passes them around and a fresh round of beers, along with a plate of something else that John must have ordered.

“To Sergeant Millie Ryder,” Marius says. Three glasses clink together and the wonderful purple liquid is imbibed.

“Huh, the last time I had one of these I woke up a year later in a cell,” Bear states, after finishing the grape candy flavored beverage. John gives him a quizzical look “It’s a story for another time,” he says dismissively.

“So we decide to take the mortar emplacement. We all take aim. Firing on my mark, Lt. Nightingale opens fire, two three round bursts from my rifle, I put two darts in the next, and SPC Chilling charges with his axe, bringing it down on the trapezius of the middle trooper, cutting nearly through to the spine. A second swing cleaves the head clean off.” Marius informs.

Marius made a point of wanting to go non-violent for this mission, though the rest of the team was . He secured a dart gun containing a stunning agent and stun rounds for his rifle. The first time out, we ended up playing with the rules wrong (the darts shouldn’t have worked on the heavily armored soldiers). Still, his commitment to them didn’t last too long as the soldiers consistently proved to be very dangerous threats.

“This guy sounds like my kind of scum,” Bear states.

“Yeah,” Marius agrees, getting a faraway look. “In a lot of ways he was. He was a great man.”

“Shit, he dies?” John asks.

Marius continues without answering. “We make a three pronged attack. The specialist fires a shoulder mounted rocket into the soldiers below, and the 1LT shoots one of the other mortar launchers. The mortar falls to the rooftop with a dead operator on top. My phosphorous mortar shell detonates across the rooftop. We line up a second shot, The LT operates the spotter and we zero the 2nd rooftop, I let fly and the rooftop again erupts in phosphorous. all in told we launch six rockets, and 9 white phosphorus shells. We killed probably 150 troops, took out over a dozen vehicles. Smoke is everywhere. Very few soldiers are left, most are fleeing in random directions. There are no helicopters in sight, even if there were, they wouldn’t be able to see anything. As we walk through the square, it looks as though WWIII was fought here. Flesh is burned from bones, vehicles are charred beyond recognition. The scent of death is palpable. We find a few soldiers still living and mercifully end their existence.” Marius pauses for a few moments.

“We approach a grouping of trucks and there are dozens of bodies. Unfortunately these appear to have been civilians.” Marius takes a long pull from his beer “The Colonel was not among them. It appears as though we killed about 75 ‘innocent’ people.”

“Shit.” Bear says.

“This is why squishy things should stay out of fighting,” Jade says. She downs her as of yet untouched mug in a single swallow.

“I know, we had no idea. It looked like supply trucks.” Marius stares at the table’s surface, noticing the new plate of food none of them have touched yet. “John what are these?” Marius asks pointing at the plate full of small red, sticky looking, spicy smelling morsels.

“Buffalo Chicken Wings,” John says. “Not real chicken, unfortunately, but the sauce is made with real butter, and real peppers. They are very good. My dad once told me, my real dad, that of all the real meat that he missed, buffalo chicken wings were his favorite. When I redid the menu a few years ago I found an old recipe. I have tweaked it a bit, but it should be pretty much what they were like 100 years ago.” The four of them eat the wings in silence for a few minutes. None of them wanting to break the silence as Marius brewed in self loathing. Jade did not care for the saucy treat and only ate four.

“Well, we went through the subway. We found many civilians starving under the ground, living in these tunnels. Many dead as well. At this point I had finished all of my fresh water, and we were low on rations, they did not send us with much, since we were going to a populated metroplex I think they assumed that inside there would be plenty of food. There was not. A lot of the people down here had probably starved to death. On the way out we come across a grizzly scene. Eight soldiers bound to chairs and executed. All of the bodies are officers or NCOs. They appear to have been dead since near the beginning. These appear to be the upper command, among them are the Colonels immediate subordinates and a few lesser officers.” Marius eats another ‘wing’.

“Ok guys, shit gets weird here. It will make more sense later, or less. I hear a crackle in my commlink and an audio feed. Colonel Kurtz, says ‘I see you’ve made yourself comfortable here in Volograd, Captain. Its not much, but I’ve come to think of this city as my home. I did what I must to protect the city when the veil set in. Not all of my officers agreed with my actions. They were good men, but a strong message had to be sent, for the good of Volograd.’ Only I heard it. Weird.” Marius kind of shivers as he takes another drink form his beer.

PREVIOUS: Side Mission 06 – Heart of Darkness – Part 1
NEXT: Side Mission 06 – Heart of Darkness – Part 3

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