Monday, June 5, 2023

The Comms Station: The Journey Home (part 3)

The next morning, the situation kind of hit us.  Three days home just turned into weeks, on foot, across the wastes.  We had maybe three days supplies, didn't know the land real well, and had three guys that were in no shape to travel, really.  And, we suspected that we were being watched or tracked.

Everybody was still wonderin' what happened to our rides, but Sarge said it didn't matter, our job was to get home, and we needed to focus on that.

I coudn't help but feel that we was just so screwed.  A couple of the grunts started to come apart.  Panky was havin' none of it.  Grabbed the one dude by the throat, told him to shut-up or she'd shoot him herself.  He settled down, Sergeant Hand smiled a little.  I don't think Panky would have done it, shot the grunt.

So the Sergeant, and Panky, who was second in command now, got everybody squared away, and we moved out.  The day was long, dusty, and hot.  By the end we was tired, thirsting, hungry, hurt, but nobody tried to shoot us, so it was 'bout as good as could be hoped for.  

This went on for a couple of days, and then we happened on a village.  This was still well north of the Confederation, so  we was strangers in a strange land, and nobody trusted anybody.  The local militia greeted us, mostly armed with spears, clubs, and farm tools.

Even in as bad a shape as we were, we musta looked pretty scary, with our armor and army rifles and weapons and all.  And to be honest, Sergeant Hand having a metal hand and half a metal head never looked too friendly, so Panky took the lead, dropped her weapons and armor, and approached the strangers.

Maybe the weirdest thing to happen on this mission yet, Panky seemed nice.  She talked to their leader, laughed, smiled, like a normal person.  I ain't never seen that before.  When she came back, she said that they would let us stay the night in a barn on the edge of the village, and she traded a medkit for some salted goat meat and water. 

We rested in the shade, tended to our wounds and equipment, and a few of the villagers came and talked with us.  They talked about the problems they have, about seeing big green men in the wastes a couple of times, about what sounded like the blockhouse soldiers, gangs, and about  the "missions" from something called the "California Republic".

That night, the villagers built a big fire and they sang with us and shared their food and drink.  It was like a festival back home, just smaller. Later we posted watches, rested up, and early in the morning, before it got hot, we moved out.

At this point, Sarge had rationed out about ten days worth of food. Well, maybe enough to keep us going, but wasn't like normal rations, but our real worry was water.  We only carried maybe 4-5 days worth.  Maybe.

We didn't find nothin' for the next three days, except for a couple of small lizards, which made for crappy eating, even though we was so hungry.

About noon on the forth day, we ran into some greenies.  Only us on the recce team and Sarge had ever seen one before, and the guys was caught between scared and kind of in awe. 

We watched them for quite awhile, trying to figure out what they was doing, and formed a plan.   They had some kind of equipment set up, and this big truck.   There was a small stream, and they seemed to be collecting dirt in these little jars or cans, and they was cutting leaves from plants growing along the river. 

The situation from the Confederation side of the table...

...and from the Greenie side.

Then one of them stood up, sniffed the air real hard like and yelled, "I smell plague!"  They all stopped what they was doing, and started looking around. All three of us on the recon team fired, and then, so did everyone else.

Charlie, Panky, and Sam advance onto the table.

The geenies initial deployment and movement was all
 dictated by die roll.

Troopers spread out over the high ground north of 
the stream.

The Techies were told to hang back with one
 trooper to protect them.

Sam surveys the situation just before the shooting starts.

Luck wasn't with us, and I was the only one that got a hit at first.  The greenies was all over the place, and was shooting back wild like.

The shooting starts.

Right off, Panky got hit pretty bad, and I ran over to help her.  Sam got hit twice, and another trooper went down.  The only thing that went right was Lew took a greenie out with a long burst from her gatling.

Lew kills the first grennie with her gatling.

I was shooting again, and saw a grenade fly up and bounce off a rock, somebody must have got hit, I heard a scream.  Lew kept mowing them down, and Torch, who had that name before he carried the flame gun, got two more of the greenies.

Exchanging fire.

A different vantage point.

We were whittling them down, but they was getting us too.  At some point, one of those wild grenade throws caught Lew and the LT, who also went down.  We didn't know it at the time, but Wells got hit a bunch of times.  He didn't make it.

Casualties mounting.

Sergeant Hand was running from casualty to casualty trying to stabilize guys who got hit, make sure they was gonna be okay.

Lew finally got the greenie throwing the grenades.  She thought she was going to be toast, 'cause the greenie came out from behind a boulder right in front of her, but then missed her, and she let him have it.

The greenie wih the grenades, he wounded the LT 
and Lew.

The last greenie was across the stream, behind a big rock; we hit him a bunch of times before he finally went down.  Fortunately, he couldn't shoot for crap, cause he was shootin' like crazy, and never did seem to hit anybody.

One greenie in a stand-off with six Confederation troopers.

Sergeant Hand rushed that last Greenie and got to him, just as he fell.  I don't know what Sergeant Hand was going to do to that thing, but my money was on the Sarge.

Afterward, we rounded everybody up, that's when we found Wells.  We had five others wounded, three pretty serious.  We needed to get them back home, so they could get better treatment. Sam and the LT could walk; Panky, and two of the other guys had to be carried.

Confederation troops gather around the captured
 greenie truck.

Panky didn't even fight being carried, I was really worried about her.  Sam was hurting too, but wasn't in danger.

Anyway, like I said, we rounded everyone up, gathered the greenie jars and equipment, treated our wounded, and were in a hurry to get movin'.

Getting ready to head home.

That's when one of the grunts, who was lookin' real close at one of the dead greenies, asked about why their insides was so different than ours.  Sergeant Hand said they was some kind of plant people or something.  That's when the grunt looked at The Sarge, and says, "Sarge, can we eat the greenies?"

Sergeant Hands eyes got real big, and he spun around, smacked the guy across the top of his head so hard, that I though Sarge mighta killed 'em.  Sarge screamed, " We don't effing eat our enemies!!!  Greenies eat their enemies!!  We're not like them!!!" 

And then Panky, laying there half dead, said kinda under her breath, "...and they're green."  The Sarge spun around, eyes still bulging, looked at Panky briefly, and stomped off.

A couple of guys snickered, somebody helped the Sarge's victim back to his feet, and after a little while, he even remembered his name again.

Maybe the most important thing was that the Greenies had that truck.  A big ugly armored truck, with a cannon.  Thank God there hadn't been a greenie in the turret, when the shooting started.  If so, I wouldn't be talkin' to you right now.

The truck smelled bad, but it ran.  Sam rigged it up so that she could fit in the seat and drive, and we were on our way home.

The remainder of our trip was pretty boring, but went pretty fast.  Took two days to get home.  Command was pretty upset about losing the two APCs, and at not knowing what happened to them.  The Greenie truck and equipment offset that a little.  But the colonel still laid into our wounded LT.  

The Colonel's office door was open, and Sergeant hand just walked in and closed the door.  As the door closed, I heard the Colonel angrily say, "What do YOU want", to the Sergeant.  Then I swear that I could hear the Sarge yelling at the colonel.  There was more yelling, and then Sergeant Hand walked out of the office, smiled slightly as he walked by me with a nod, and went out the door.

Apparently, the comms building with the big antenna still works somehow.  It is getting and sending messages to places in the wastes, and to these things called sadde lights, that go around the planet?  I guess its a pretty big deal, we're gonna go back real soon.

Oh, and after we got back, when the medics were tending to Panky, Sergeant Hand went over an talked to her.  And she smiled again.  That's two smiles in four days.  Strange times.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The Comms Station: The Descent (part 2)

After the fightin' ended, we took care of the wounded, and the tech guys did their job.   I didn't go in the building, but looked inside one time, it was just a little room, stuffed full of gray consoles, lots of buttons and some little lights.  Some picture screen type things with wavy lines.  Didn't make no sense to me, but whatever it was, still seemed to be workin' from the Before, and the tech guys were all kinds of happy.

The guys worked for awhile, then the LT, Sergeant Hand, and Hernandez, the lead tech guy, talked a little bit.  After that, we ate some chow and bedded down for the night.  

In the morning, we started home.  The initial descent was slow going with the wounded, talkin with Sam and Panky, we was pretty sure the guys that shot Panky was the same people from the blockhouse, so after yesterday, we was keepin' a lookout for more of them. 

The table at the start of the game, our heroes are at the 
far end of the table, descending the cliffs.

After descending the slope for awhile, Despite being burned and bruised, Panky insisted on leading the way, and after awhile, we saw some movement ahead.   Panky gave us the signal to take cover, while she checked things out a little more.  Everybody tried to get into some cover, but a lot of guys was climbing down cliffs at the time.  Us scouts continued to spot.  This was more like what the old manuals from the Before taught us, rather than our normal stuff jus' explorin' the wastes.

Descending the cliffs.

When I finally got a good look, I knew they was those people from that blockhouse.  They wasn't gang members, they were soldiers, like us, but with some better tech.  They were moving slowly and carefully; pretty sure they already saw us too, probably been tracking us.

Panky watching the bad guys.

A view from the HIRC troops side of things.

The people in front of us advanced slowly, using cover.  Then all of a sudden, I realized that there were guys real close, down below, to my right.  I got off a shot, but don't know if I hit them, 'cause one of them got me.  Armor got real hot, and I dropped and crawled back out of site.  

The HIRC guys that shot Charlie can be seen top center...

Panky said she hit the guy that hit me; must of got him good, 'cause their other guys grabbed him, and all of 'em got back out of sight.

... and their view just before Panky shot one of them.

More shooting started, guys gettin' hit on both sides, but armor doing the its job for the most part, on both sides.  They looked to have us out-numbered, and we started taking lots of hits.

Sergeant Hand's team advancing into the fray.

The LT and another trooper fire at HIRC troops to 
the their right.

HIRC troopers advancing and exchanging fire.

The closest the troops ever go to easch other, 
most still at long range.

Panky got hit twice and put out of action; the Lt got hit, and so did some of the other guys, a couple hit kinda bad.  Sam got hit at some point,  but hit a couple of them afterwards.

Panky needed help, but Sam and I couldn't see her, and didn't even know she was hit, while  dealing with our own problems at the time.  But Sergeant Hand saw her and his team was trying to make their way to her.  That's when Sergeant hand got hit, twice, and he went down, briefly.  

Sergeant Hand's section having climbed down to the next 
level of cliffs, returns fire and assists Panky (right center).

Lew, with that big gatling gun, got into position and started hittin' em, knocking down at least three of them, at long range.  And that was the problem, the rest of us could hit them, but our rifles wouldn't knock them down.  

We was really in a bad way, over half of us got hit, with some being hurt, and some just losing their armor.  Problem was that with no armor, it got a lot harder to stay in the fight with them lasers.

The LT's section, with the scout, Charlie, having recovered 
enough to get back into the fight.

And that was another thing, there is no report from the lasers, so if you don't actually see the shot fired (and you likely won't; they just sort of blink for an instant, like a shooting star), you don't know where they are.  Hate those lasers.

Their armor is better than ours too.  If we get hit with a bullet, it hurts; lot of times it will knock you down.  With them, we hit them, and mostly, they just look at us, and shoot back.  Ain't a fair fight.  I don't mind an unfair fight, but I want to be on the upside of it.  

Anyway, like I said, we had a lot of guys hit, most just burns from armor, but still, things wasn't too good, and we had clearly, at least wounded some of them (mostly Lew's work), but they clearly had the upper hand.  Then all of a sudden, they started dropping back.

The HIRC troops start to withdraw, seemingly for no reason.

It was an organized withdrawal, with guys covering the retreating soldiers.   But why'd they run away?  They had us.  And then they just stopped.  Don't make no sense.

We regrouped, Doc treated our wounds, mostly burns but a couple of guys were a little worse off, including the LT.  Doc got everybody walking, but we was a little more slower now.

Sergeant Hand was in charge now, which was probably best; Lt is a good guy, just not as experienced in the wastes as the Sarge.  Plus Sergeant Hand isn't human; I mean more than human really.  He's got that metal hand, and half his head is metal.  I realized too that his one eye and ear are special too.  Better than ours; he sees and hears stuff we can't see or hear.

We actually made better time than I thought, getting back to where we left the APCs.  Problem was, they weren't no APCs, when we got back.  Sarge had Sam pull the motor processors out of each, just little 'lectonic boxes, but they make the rides go, and without them, they don't.

There were no tracks, footprints, nothin'.  Somehow, they was just gone.  A couple of the grunts was sayin' that we must just have lost our way, be in the wrong place, but Sarge assured them, that wasn't the case.

Sarge says he can't get lost.  Sounded like he was just bein' Sarge, but I think it might be more than that.  Somethin' to do with his metal parts, maybe.

We went on a little more; then found a place on top of a small rise to camp for the night.  We ate a bit and got some sleep.

Odd thing, the Sarge took a double watch.  I had second watch with him, and asked him why he did that.  Told him he should get rest after taking the hits from those lasers today.  He said other guys needed it more.

After a little while, I asked him, " You took the extra watch, cause you can see in the dark, huh?"  He looked at me for a minute, and for a second I thought he was gonna smile, then he just said, "Be quiet, you're makin' too much noise."  So I listened to the quiet, and watched the dark, and wondered how it sounded and looked to the Sarge.


Notes and Thoughts

Kind of an odd game, both sides spotted each other at pretty extreme range having very lucky dice.  Far enough apart that some of the weapons never got into firing range.  

Because of the range, the game lasted longer than I might have expected, and brought something into play that I hadn't expected.  The Confederation troops (who's perspective is presented above) were in a bad way, spread out, with wounds starting to add up, were only going to be at more of a disadvantage as the Hope Island Research Center (HIRC) troops got closer.

The HIRC troops did have three significantly wounded troopers, but still had the upper hand, until their technology caught up with them.  Lasers are "expensive", their rifles use a sort of battery pack, rather than clips with ammo, and the batteries do not have great endurance, so they began running out of "ammo", and had to withdrawal.

The Lasers work well against wasteland survivors, roving gangs, etc., who usually don't have advanced armor, and often don't even have firearms, more often not trying to fight the HIRC troops during encounters.  But the Confederation troops are a different creature, better armed, better armored, and trained to some degree to fight as soldiers, rather than warriors.

I had considered writing this encounter from the perspective of the HIRC troops, but as they were a chance encounter selected by the dice, I didn't have developed characters for them, and didn't want to take the time to create them, prior to the game.

Additionally, I had anticipated a number of interesting possible "storylines" that might have come out of this;  prisoners, captured technology, etc, though none of them materialized.

In any event, I don't actually know what happened to the stolen APCs (again, a die roll), but the event will lead to at least a third scenario before everybody, or anybody, gets home.  

Monday, May 22, 2023

The Comms Station (28mm Post Apoc)

Panky briefed us on the mission.  One of the other scouts had found somethin' called a  "comms station".  Seen it up on some mountain somewhere, and the boss decided to send out a team to check it out.  

The team is us, some grunts and a couple techies.  Them techies is a weird group, they try to learn the stuff from the before, and make old things work again.  Nice people, but a little out of touch sometimes.  The grunts is good people too, usually, but not always so good out in the wastes.  Too noisy, and don't always know about the dangers.

The Grunts, Techies and recon team not shown.

Anyway, we headed up north for three days, road a couple of infantry carriers out as far as we could go, then started hikin' and climbin'.  A pretty tiring day, but didn't make no contacts, at least not confirmed, though a couple of the grunts thought they seen something a couple of times.  

Did find some abandoned houses and whatnot; probably old farms from the before, judging from how bad off they was.  Spent a night in one of them, gave us some protection from the wind, plus cover if we'd needed it.

We finally caught site of the comms thing. From where we was at, it just looked like a big antenna tower type thing.  Really surprised that it was still up, after all of these years in the wind and weather.  One of the techies said he had some signal from it, but not sure what he meant.  Ya couldn't hear anyone talking on his radio or anything.

Anyway, a tiresome trip, tricky going, but all good 'till we got near the place.  We got pretty close before I saw them.  Some squatters was set up in a little compound with the sloped-sided weird little building.  Reminded me a little of that blockhouse thing we saw on that trip out east, sometime back.

The recon team advances on the Comms station.

The team lead by the Lt. enters the table.

The recon team starts to move to the left, the Lt's team is 
climbing in the center, and Sgt. Hand's team is advancing to 
the right (out of view).

Sgt. Hand's team strung out on the right.

The Lt's team makes the last climb in the center.

Sgt. Hand's team preparing to attack on the right.

I was pretty sure I saw someone movin' around up there during our approach, left the other scouts know about it, but not much you could do 'till we got up there.

The Comms station from the southwest.

The Squatters lean-to.

A view looking south.

Wasn't too many of the the squatters, four or five maybe, and really stuck in a hard place; kinda cold, windy, and no way out.  Guess they liked the high ground.  Don't know when they saw us, but when we got close, they wasn't too happy about it.  

Panky, Sam and I started to work our way up the west side of the thing, trying to stay near cover, and trying not to seem like a threat.  But soon as they got a shot, they let loose on Panky with a whole lotta unfriendly.  Submachinegun hit in the chest, knocked her down, but didn't get through her vest.

A squatter gets a shot on Panky, didn't wound her, 
but made her really mad...

Panky got outta there; I stepped back and was able to get a shot on the guy that shot Panky.  Popped 'em pretty good, he dropped.

A moment later, Charlie hits the squatter.

The rest of the team was movin' and started shootin'. Wasn't too many squatters, so they wasn't going to last long.

The Lt's team took out the squatter at the 
south end of the station. 

One trooper was hit with a minor wound.

Sgt. Hand's team took out the squatter on the right, with 
one of hit troopers getting hit pretty bad at point blank range.

By that time, the recon team finally made it to the top on
 the left side of the station.

The female squatter on the building roof was 
shooting at the team to the south... Panky put an end to that.

By the time we got to the top, there was only one squatter left, oblivious to us on the left, Panky took her out, without her even noticing us.

The teckies were hanging back during the fighting, but now somebody signaled for them to come up.  Meanwhile, Sgt. Hand climbed on top of the building and found that one of the hatches was open.

The teckies waiting out the fight.

The rest of us gathered the three wounded squatters, took them down the cliffs, and sent them on their way with two rounds for each of their guns.  Sgt. Hand was ready to just shoot them, but the Lt reminded us that our goal isn't to kill everybody left in the wastes, even when they start the fight.  The Sergeant wasn't too happy.

Squaring away the station.

While the techies were looking into the Comms building, we set up a perimeter around the station, and after only a few minutes, one of Sgt. Hand's team, trooper Lewis, saw some movement down below.  They missed  Lew with a laser.  Big mistake, she had rotary support weapon, put a ton of ammo down range and looked to hit one of them pretty bad.

"Bad guys" can be seen in the distance, 
upper left.

The bad guys limping away.

A moment later another shot hit Panky in the torso, and she screamed and dropped.  Lewis apparently shot that guy too.  Sam and I both ran around to Panky, while a couple other troopers moved to support Lew.  

We thought Panky was dead, but when we got to her, she was trying to get out of her armor.  She was burned from where the laser hit her armor.  The armor stopped the laser, but heated up so much that it burned her pretty bad.

Attending to Panky.

I read about lasers in the books from the Before, but didn't think there were any these days.  The LT was really concerned about it, and wanted us to get one of the lasers, but even though we wounded two of the guys, we really didn't know how many there were, or what we might be getting into.  Sgt. Hand talked the Lt out of chasing them, and just focus on completing our mission. 

Settling in for the night.

The teck guys seemed really excited about what they learned in the building, said we might need to station troops there regularly.   We stayed the night at the station and headed back the next morning.  We had three wounded soldiers, one had to be sort of carried, so it was going to be slower going on the way back.  I just wanted to get home with no more excitement.