Saturday, March 17th, 2114
The next morning began like any typical morning does in the wastes, accept that Darby had grown about a foot taller overnight. He couldn’t get his boots on, and took the largest pair of boots he could find from the bodies of the raiders, they were a tight fit, but he managed to get them on. The group decides to leave the cover of the trees along the river and head into the tall grass fields, continuing their journey south. They spend an uneventful day searching for the City of Bones, and watching for more raider patrols. Finding neither, they decide to make camp in the tall grass, and wait out the night. The night proceeds quietly until Ather’s watch.
In the pale night a subtle movement parts the grass near Ichiro, he awakens to a sharp pain in his shoulder. Sickening numbness floods his system before he can make more than a quiet gurgling sound. Through tearing eyes, Ichiro can see the blurry form of Ather looking out across the grass lands, alert for dangers coming from afar. Powerless, Ichiro’s vision darkens as a myriad of small clawed legs grasp his shoulders and quietly drag him down into the black.
A slight rustling sound saves him. Ather turns towards the noise in time to see the torso of Ichiro disappear into a cleverly concealed hole. Leaping to his feet he cries out to rouse the rest of the camp and grabs ahold of Ichiro’s legs. A brief tug-of-war ensues, everyone but Nim grabbing a leg and pulling. A large wolf-sized spider partially emerges from the trapdoor like hole, malevolent eyes gleaming in the moonlight. A dagger suddenly appears amidst the cluster of eyes, followed by a downward thrust from Darby’s bumper sword.
The spiders legs spasm them go still. They pull Ichiro the rest of the way from the hole, and lay him in the grass. Nim then grabs up the body of the spider and plops it down next to Ichiro’s still paralyzed form. A single tear of fear and frustration runs down from his eyes. His body slowly returns under his control over the next half hour. The rest of the early morning watches pass without incident.
Sunday, March 18th, 2114
The next day the group continues south. Darby seems to have grown another foot in height overnight, and his toes have burst through the front of his boots creating a sort of hobo sandal. As the day progresses, the grasslands fade to patches of withered scrub grass, bare cracked earth and rolling hills. The first half of the day is uneventful, no patrols, no giant trapdoor spiders. That changed around midday.
As the group is crossing a shallow dry gully, Ichiro notices a slight tremor, the only warning. With a deep rumble, a massive body suddenly erupts from the earth beneath their feet. The thing seemed to be all skin and toothy maw, vaguely cigar shaped with a triangular tail fin. Everyone managed to avoid the huge landshark before it dove back down into the earth, the dirt and rocks parting as water and it disappears from sight. A few moments later they feel another slight tremor before the jagged maw issues forth from the ground again. This time Ather wasn’t as lucky as he feels himself lifted into the air as the landshark bites down and begins to worry on his leg. He fortunately falls free of the beast before it managed to submerge with him beneath the dirt and stones.
The third tremor finds the group at the ready, and as the landshark emerges once again from the ground, Ather, Ichiro and Darby all strike as one. The combined onslaught slays the beast outright, and it’s body sinks back quietly into the earth. The group decides to not tarry and presses on, in case there were more landsharks about.
Just an hour before dusk, the group hears snatches of an angry conversation happening just over the crest of the next hill. Stealthily the group crawls up to the edge of the hill overlooking the shallow gully below and see what appears to be two raiders arguing while a third is beating on something that looks like a strongbox. A body lies nearby, presumably the owner of the strongbox, they could not tell of the owner was dead or alive.
Ather and Ichiro quietly fork outwards to flank the group form opposite sides, meanwhile Nim lines up and takes a shot putting down the raider that was arguing with his companion. As the other two raiders turn in disbelief, the second raider takes one of Ather’s knives in the throat, while Ichiro’s psi-blade makes short work of the raider that was trying to open the strongbox. On closer inspection, the strongbox has a combination locking mechanism, and it also features a leather harness custom built to allow someone to easily carry the strongbox on their back like a pack.
Ather checks the body and finds that the man is still shallowly breathing. He strikes the man’s face which rouses him. The man is at first confused, then alarmed – his eyes searching around him in a panic, and immediately asks “Where is my strongbox? What have you done with it?” Grabbing the man’s attention, Ichiro nudges the box on the ground with his foot and asks “you mean this one?”. The man seems to relax just a bit once he sees the box, before narrowing his eyes, looking between Ather and Ichiro and asking “So are you after my stash now too? You can’t have it!”
Darby steps up, lifting his arms in a placating manner and says “Whoa whoa whoa, settle down there. Seems to me, we just saved your ass, and therefore we deserve some form of recompense”. The man becomes more visibly agitated and begins to shake, one eyebrow twitching. “I’m Darby, and this here is Ather. The monkey man over there is called Ichiro.” Nim speaks up simply stating in a deadpan voice “Nim is Nim”. Darby nods his head towards Terry, “and that one is Scary Terry. What’s your name?” The man, still looking back longingly at his strongbox, says in a high pitched squeak, “Hi, I’m Mister Meeseeks. Look at me!”
It is quickly apparent to all that Mr. Meeseeks is not entirely right in the head, and regardless whatever was in the strongbox, Mr. Meeseeks was acting like a junky and his biggest score was now sitting in the strongbox. With some encouragement from Darby and his bumper sword, Mr. Meeseeks tearfully opened his strongbox… It was full, absolutely full, of pre-war candy of all shapes and sizes. Mr. Meeseeks grabs one off the top, quickly rips open the wrapper and devours the candy in just a few bites. With a shiver, the manic look in his eyes fades some, he says “God. Four days, eight hours and twenty-one minutes. I really didn’t know how much longer I was going to make it.” He steels a glance at the bodies of the raiders not far away, “Assholes.”
With another worried look back at Darby and the group, Mr. Meeseeks nods to himself and quickly selects five seemingly random candies from the strongbox before shutting it again. The way he counts them out to Darby reminds him of the old holos showing pre-war folk counting out the strange bits of paper that was once used in trade for goods. “Your reward. I am grateful.”, quickly followed with “that really is all I can spare.”
Darby gives the man an apologetic look and says “well, okay then… You uh… Good luck. You might not want to travel south. That’s the way we’re headed. To find where those creeps came from.” Mr. Meeseeks grudgingly thanks the group again, all the while eyeing the precious candies he gave them. Shouldering his strongbox, he bids the group farewell and starts off heading in a north western direction.
The sun is beginning the set, casting a gorgeous cacophony of colors across the sky. Suddenly, the group hears it. Something that Darby and Ather recognize hearing from holos back in the Shelter. It’s the sound of someone talking excitedly over a radio / intercom system, intermixed with the swell of hundreds of voices all chanting the same word, over and over…