Friday, March 9th, 2114
The struggle is over, the body of Mr. Fix-It slides slowly down the stairs to come to an awkward rest just a step before reaching the floor. Footsteps are heard approaching the main door, and Catfish Billy pokes his head in and marvels at the destruction. He turns around as if to say something to someone behind him, then double takes and mutters “where the fuck?… He was just behind me!” But Noodles was no longer there.
The group searches the upstairs floor, finding two maps, an amateur hand-crank powered radio, and a magnifying glass. There are also sleeping mats scattered around the large, open room. The group then descend the stairs down past the first level, into the basement. It is dark, with only the dim light of an oil lantern, the wick turned down, illuminating from atop an old barrel. Terry can see through the darkness quite well, noticing the crouching bodies along the side and back walls first. With the help of a few flashlights, they find around sixty people tied or chained up, crouching along the walls.
In short order, the members of the group are reunited with their friends and family, with the exception of Noodles whose absence creates an almost endless string of epithets and curses from Lucius, extolling the failures of his son, and suggesting his jizz would have been better spilt upon the carpet and dabbed up with an old sock. Catfish Billy interrupts the tirade as he moves towards a massive form lying chained up upon the floor. His sweet Persephone has the build of a power lifter, and has been savagely beaten with chains wrapping around her body completely immobilizing her. Billy pleads with Terry to do something, and Terry extends his will and suddenly the mass of bruises covering her face fade quickly from black to purple to a hazy yellow, and her left cheek bone pushes back into place where it had caved in. Persephone blinks her eyes and wakes, much to Billy’s delight.
Edison is reunited with Marlene, who seems to have fared better than most of the prisoners. In fact, all of the shelter dwellers seem to have received the least of the beatings. John Malina, the leader of the original expedition from the shelter, and Kim Olsen, the resident botanist, both have had enough of the world above the shelter, and want to hasten back to the protection it afforded them deep beneath the earth. Abdi Johnson and Chelsea Wang on the other hand would rather continue to explore the world above, despite the trouble it has resulted in. They have no plans to return to the shelter.
Ather is reunited with his father, Bruce; and Darby is reunited with Tori. And Terry embraces his mother Tabitha. As the multitude of reunions wind down, a skinny woman in her 60s addresses the group. She identifies herself as Freya Erdrich, the wisewoman and psychic healer of the Axe Tribe. She thanks the group for freeing them, and says her people will follow the group in hopes that they go on to establish a new settlement of their own. Jamiah Smith stands and speaks for the remaining residents of Rapid City, and echoes Freya, in that her people will also pledge themselves to the group and willingly be a part of any settlement they create or join.
Besides Persephone, two other woman remain from the original caravan that was hit by the slavers, Jessica Shaw is an attractive young woman who insists that they all move back to Wright Town, where she hopes to marry into the Wright family. Crayon Levy expresses no loyalty to the Wright family, and pledges to follow the group where ever they end up.
In the midst of all the discussions, a young freak named Eagle Eye asks to use the radio. She vows vengeance on who ever is behind the slavers, and wishes to make contact to learn all she can. Darby flatly refuses to indulge her. As if on cue, the radio squawks to life, and a voice is heard requesting a status update from camp Fix-It. Darby grabs the mic and proceeds to make it sound as if the signal is breaking up as he responds in clipped syllables. After a few exchanges, the person on the other end says that it doesn’t sound like Mr. Fix-It, and says that Bella would like to speak to them. A few minutes later, a dark and sexy voice speaks on the radio, introducing herself as Bella, a member of the Green Empire. She says that she was aware of the rogue operation lead by Mr. Fix-It, and that she was foolish to think he could be trusted with leading a simple scouting mission. After no response from the group, she tells the group that they can use this radio channel to contact the Green Empire again, if they wish to know more about it.
After pouring over the two maps, the consensus of the group is to leave Rapid City and return to Wright Town to collect any reward, and then set off south to Moose Town, where they will seek out one of the fabled job boards in the middle of town, in hopes of high adventure. John Malina, Kim Olsen, Edison Tycho and Marlene, and Bruce Knorb all quietly depart, intent on returning to the safety of the Iron Shelter.
Monday, March 12th, 2114
The journey back to Wright Town is uneventful, as the group and nearly 60 others follow in their wake. Upon their arrival, the town celebrates, and rewards the group with a portion of the caravan cargo to include medicine and antibiotics. The next day the group leaves for Moose Town. Most of the followers remain in Wright Town, but still pledge to join the group if they ever establish their own settlement. Tori and Crayon accompany the group on their journey to Moose Town.
Tuesday, March 13th, 2114
On the road to Moose Town, the group finds an old refrigerator under an overpass. Three bodies lay nearby, the result of a stand off gone wrong. In the refrigerator they find 20 days worth of dried provisions and six gallons of clean water. They also recover a few pistols from the bodies.
Wednesday, March 14th, 2114
The next day of the journey, most of the group starts to feel an odd, fatigued sensation. At about the same time, Crayon asks why there is a box in the wagon making “lots of clicking noises”. The group hurries on through the hot spot, and shortly leaves the irradiated area. Only Darby seems to have any real lasting side effects from the exposure.
Thursday, March 15th, 2114
The third day finds the group reaching Moose Town. It is a smaller settlement about an eighth of the size of Wright Town. A watch tower can be seen from a distance. It is manned by men with bows. Moose Town is primarily a farming community, they also raise alpacas for their wool. The leader of Moose Town, named John Tyler, meets with the group shortly after their arrival. When asked if there are any jobs, John mentions the frequent raider attacks the come from the south. He also tells the group about rumors of a supposed “raider king”. He doesn’t know more, but suggests that the group travel east to The Fort, a small stronghold with a rotating militia from Wright Town. The Fort often warns Moose Town of any large raider group movements. If anyone knows anything about a new “raider king”, the people manning The Fort would know.
That evening the group relaxes in a bar. An exceedingly large man named Roscoe sizes up Darby and challenges him to a friendly fight. Roscoe offers up a large cleaver like sword, forged from an old steel bumper. Darby offers up a rifle and knife to counter. The men square off in a corner as others in the bar begin crowding around them to watch the fight. Roscoe is the stronger of the two but Darby seems to have more experience fighting. After a few exchanges, the two go to ground where Darby lands a seismic headbutt, pasting Roscoe’s nose flat with a sickening crunch. The blood spray blinds Darby. Roscoe breaks free from the hold and the two men rise up, giving Darby a moment to clear his eyes. Thinking to take advantage, Roscoe moves in for the attack but is rebuffed, and then falls for the feint leaving himself open to a devastating blow, dislocating his jaw as he careens across the nearby table, breaking glasses and bottles. Standing shakily back on his feet, Roscoe mumbles his forfeiture through the blood streaming from his flattened nose. The sword/cleaver is Darby’s. After having his jaw set back in place, Roscoe congratulates Darby’s win with a glass of whiskey.