|Convoy to Blythe|
|Time & Date||7/21/2015 / Time|
It's early morning and you're heading out of the city of LATMA with your caravan. One Paladin vehicle is taking point with the ARC in the center and another Paladin pulls in the rear. The team meeting before everyone set out went well and the ARC is stocked with 'bribes' of material wealth for when you head out into the wastes. First stop, the Redlands. Though technically you can skirt the colony there if you choose, it is the first settlment you'll hit in the Fringe Zone. It's your choice if you wish to stop and ask for information or scouts. Blythe, the closer settlement to the wreck, might be a better choice for Scouts but you just finished construction on your Redlands Research Facility. Its your call.
Lovecraft swivels in his comfy chair and considers this for a long moment. "Lets make straight for Blythe, I think our good will be better recieved and work towords our long term goals." he shifts a gaze to the security man onboard. "Make sure the teams keep a sharp eye out, if we hit raiders and cant out run them. take em out." he smile slightly and adds. "Then pillage the remains...more goods for the trade town is simply more goods." Sometimes the best means of dealing with predators, is to eat them back.
The security commander nods in confirmation of the order and radios out to the lead Paladin to continue onto Blythe. A researcher, a woman of quasi-asian descent, seated next to you is flipping through some images of the ship that they were able to gather from one of the 'Ghost Drones' that often rotate through the near wastes on an open patroll route which took one, at least, close enough to spy the ship as it was coming at Old Phoenix.
"Well that's odd..." she turns towards Mr. Lovecraft and asks, "Sir?" Without waiting for more than confirmation she shows him the image on her tablet and asks, "These are some of the images that we just got before we left. If I understand the design of this ship - are those...landing gear extended below the craft?" Another researcher, a man of possibly persian descent, comments, "And according to this - there appears to be some kind of thruster being fired before impact."
Lovecraft nods and examines the image closely as he speaks. "So, the question is controlled landing. By auto system or by living pilots?" sliding forward in the seat he takes the tablet from the woman. "But based on the phoneix report, no indications of survivors. So, possibly an auto guidance system. Pretty impressive for the size of the craft dont you think?" the man smiles, a hard but controlled landing suggested less damage.
The convoy continues to speed effortlessly through the last remaining 'Dark Zones' of LATMA and you can hear the difference in the texture of the road as soon as you cross into the Fringe. No longer on the smooth and corporate-maintained express ways, the vechiles continue on their path but now there's a faint rumbling tone in the background. "Based on what we know of the report, sir, do you think that they only were able to explore one third of the ship like they said?" the woman asks. The male researcher opposite Mr. Lovecraft adds, "It would not be the first time that the Consortium kept something from the public - even the 'paying public'." A few moments in the conversation pass and then the security commander, of all people, chimes in with his two thoughts, "You know - in all of those sci-fi vids that my kids love to watch... the crews were always in some kind of hypersleep nonsense for long trips. Maybe the primary team didn't pick them up on their scans because they were not really...alive."
A second image flashes across the asian woman's screen and she flips it around in her hands to show both Lovecraft and the captain. "Well, this is the only image of the wreckage that we were able to pull out of them. It was a primary scan but it at least shows some sense of structure and chambers."
Lovecraft leans back in his seat and nod. 'Assume we only got a fraction of the details, but I do belive they didnt detect life." he assures the team and looks up at the security man. "You have a valid point and maybe the intial research team failed to mention that or think of it. Had there been life found, the consortium would have retaliated with full military assets. But they didnt, soooo. I think your idea is the best to assume." he points a finger at the security man. "We will operate under the assumption that somewhere on board is a sleep chamber of sorts."
The Security Commander nods and seems pleased with himself at the observation and turns back in his seat while the convoy continues on its route. It's been only about an hour and some change since you've left the city and after a moments of conversational silence he calls out. "Coming up on the Redlands colony here in a bit if you want to look," he comments and points out the front observation window at a tall, partially unfinished tower in the ruins of old San Bernardino. Silvery material covers about a fifth of the top section of the tower as it appears that the colonists are trying to use Solar Weave pannels to close off the unfinished sections of the tower and generate some power at the same point.
"Clever those Wastelanders," the Persian research comments. "Yeah," the asian woman adds, "...they'll have plenty of renewable energy for so long as they keep those pannels free from dust. I wonder how they got them?" Lovecraft rises from his seat and glances out the viewport. "How many cargo ships go down...here and there?" he muses aloud. "How many Brights or darks come out this way over time." he points to the panels. "In there is someone with an education, worth stopping for on the way back." he pats the driver on the shoulder. "Keep her steady." he smiles and looks over at the semi asian woman. "remind me when we get back, take the whole team out for a dinner." he turns back to his seat and lays a hand on her shoulder. "Take note of anything unique." he jerks a thumb in the direction of the building. "Like that."
An opportunity for praise and advancement is not to be missed. The two researchers quickly turn to their stations and fire up their long-range imagers to capture relatively high-rez scans of the tower, three-dimensional models and a few bio-scans. As the convoy continues on its path, nearly every inch of the battlements of the large wall which surrounds the colony were covered by armed guards - their weapons present but not trained upon the vehicles. They know that they couldn't go toe-to-toe with two Paladins but they definitely want to make a good show of it; like a cat warbling out a growl to a much larger predator as it wanders by.
"What did you get...maybe sixty colonists on the first sweep?" the Persian asks. "Sixty five in the tower...based on what I'm seeing with a good number of children as well and... wait, is that a -tree-?" she asks curiously and zooms in her scanner's display a bit. Sure enough, there appears to be a large tree, perhaps two stories tall -inside- the tower. "It must be holo..." adds the Persian.
The convoy continues and it's another two hours to Blythe. The security commander reviews the mission parameters while they're waiting. "So we're only going to secure the perimeter of the convoy once we get to the trading post...and a small detachment will escort you inside. Are you sure about that, sir?" Lovecraft swivels in his seat at the concern. "We want to make friends, not spread fear." he minds the officer. "Remember, we are not exactly welcome and I dont want to agitate the locals any more then required, small escot, side arms holstered." he reminds the man of the operations mandate. "What do we have on Blythe as far as intel?"
"Before the crash, Blythe's trading days were numbered," explains the security commander. "It was basically a scrapper's heaven...just collecting junk from the ruins of Old Phoenix and so and reselling them to Runners or Refugees." He starts to continue and the asian researcher holds out a tablet with a photo of a man as he continues. "Word has it that when the Consortium sent their team the crash site, they picked up a few Runners to get them in and out of the Ruins in one piece. By doing so they also created a small power shift and now we have a new head honcho of sorts calling the shots. He'll be the one that you'll want to deal with. His name is...and this is based on our best reports. -Avin. We have no real intel on what kind of person he is but he -did- take the place over it seems."
Lovecraft looks the image over and looks at the man for a long moment, handing back the image. "Cross referance with freelance operators with the consortium. I am betting he has connections and the consortium helped place him." taking up his own computer he begins to open a file for the duration, his own notes and observations. "Oh and relay the tree data to someone one at the Red lands facility...want to know if its real or not."
The asian woman nods and absently remarks, "It looked pretty real on the scans but you never know out here..." With that the convoy comes up to a halt a fair way away from the main gates of the trading post at one end of the ruins of the old city and the security team deploys to create a quick perimeter to keep the curious and the scrappers from getting too close. Once it's safe - or at least passably safe for the region, the security commander comes back to the main door of the ARC and says that it's clear. "Do you want me with you sir or keeping us locked down out here?"
Lovecraft rises from his seat and grabs a field jacket. "Two of your best, you keep eyes and ears open. If it goes bad." he raps the commander on the shoulder. "Make sure, all of our people are extracted, with extreme predjudice." he chuckles. "But only if it goes bad and that means gunfire of more then one or two shots." he slides his own fire arm into a shoulder holster. "Com lines open at all times."
The Security Commander nods and two of the guards that came with you line up on either side to escort you up to and through the main gates of the trading post. "Good luck," mutters the Asian woman as she turns back to her console and makes herself busy.
The walk from the convoy's position to the gates of the post is no more than half a football field - enough that they know where you're parked but not so close as to look like you're trying to attack it. A few people come and go through one of the two gates, mostly runners on their Hellcat motorcycles. A pair of heavily armed guards seem to be checking people over before they go in - a casual inspection to make sure they're not bringing anything in that be too much to deal with.
As you approach, the guards start to walk a little faster so that they will intercept the watchmen before their employer will. Oddly enough, the large man with the axe at his belt and what looks to be a modified Punisher in one hand nods to Mr. Lovecraft and waves him and his party through the gate without even a glance. He knows where the money is.
The trading post is a ring of buildings surrounded by a wall of corrugated metal, old cars and anything that could be welded together. Buildings of various sort ring the inside of the walls with people clustered here and there. The smell of cookign meat, old engins and unwashed bodies seem to waft up and smack you dead in the face.
Lovecraft raises a hand to the headset he has on and keys up the mic to the commander. "Ok, looks like a luke warm reception. Prepare some of the medkits and and a single crate of rations." he wasnt going to to bring all the goodies out yet, but some would suffice for now.
A double-click on the headset signals that the commander has received and acknowledges the instruction. As you pass through the gates you pick up an apparent slave auction being conducted on a small set of stair-like platforms to your left (#9) and lots of haggling at a series of tall, clear, poly tanks filled with an algae-green liquid (#3). Runners of all sort sit on a high platform behind and above the tanks as though they were sipping something remotely refreshing and enjoying the view of the slaves across the compound. The word 'Chrome' is muttered more than once as people take one look at Mr. Lovecraft and his guards and back away showing defference. One young boy, perhaps twelve years old, springs up front of the party and chirps, "You looking for Avin ?" The boy is dusty from the dry ground in the compound, wearing a pair of calf-length pants, a blue hooded poncho and sandals that look like they were made from old tires. "I'm Buster ...I can take you to him if you want." He seems bright and cheerful for a boy of his age - eager to please it would seem.
Lovecraft glances down at the boy and gives him his most charming smile, the one reserved for consortium officials. "I am indeed and I would be delighted to be shown to him right away." he gestures for the boy to lead on and a glance to the two guards to remain at ease. The slave auction draws a curious glance from the man. But as the boy heads off he follows.
Buster is fast. He weaves through what crowd there is in the distance between the party and a red-topped tower of a building in the corner of the walled trading post. He uses a voice much too mature for his age to usher people out of the way - again to the odd mutterings of the word 'Chrome' to clear a wide path. The security guards keep their weapons clear and their fingers ready as they're not about to let their safety be dictated by a child.
The 'tower' looks to be three round cargo containers that have been stacked one on top of the other to create a simple structure with the top-most level having window slits cut out of it for ventilation. A pair of guards, just as heavily armed as the one at the main gate, stand watch over the doorway into the tower as they approach. The boy rushes up and informs them that a 'Chrome' has come to see Avin and that they need to let the party pass.
"Wait here," one says and heads inside for a moment. While they wait, the boy slinks back to Lovecraft and offers, "Hey - you need anything while you're out here you let ol' Buster know. I can get ya anything. Synthahol for your vehicles...ammo...parts for nearly anything. I could even introduce you to Smiling Sady who runs the Auction." Lovecraft sqauts down to be on level with the boy. "You could find me the runner who lead the other chromes out to the wreck, you bring me them and I just may have a few candy bars stashed somewhere and some clean water." he watches the boys eyes to see if they show any interest in the offer. "Up to you."
The boy's eyes widen and he takes a step back. "What's a candy bar?" the question comes out of his mouth almost before he could think not to ask it. the offer of fresh water and 'something' does get his attention though and he jukes to one side of the party and darts off towards the Runner's Deck. If the guide is here - he'll find them.
The guard emerges from the doorway and ushers the party inside - though he keeps an eye on just how armed the security escorts are. "Come on in..." he offers with a faint hint of polite manners. The large black man holds the thick curtain back so that you can enter and one of the first things you find yourself doing is squinting at the darkness within. You enter and take an immediate turn to the right as if following the interior contour of the shipping container for a step or two and then turn left to enter the main room.
Someone's been redecorating.
Avin, it would seem, lives far better than most of the people in Blythe. The air smells fresh, sweet with the lingering aroma of flowers and moisture. Real furniture probably reclaimed from the ruined town or possibly Old Phoenix create an old world office straight out of the pre-fall vids. Sitting behind the desk nursing an orange beverage of some kind is Avin. Slowly, as the party enters, he stands and directs Lovecraft to a seat - allowing his escourts to flank him as his own guards watch them.
"Welcome, Sir...to my little corner of paradise,"he begins, "my name is Avin - what can I do for you?"
Lovecraft smiles and takes a seat. "Giger Lovecraft, director of the Prometheus Foundation." keeping his tone conversational. "As you can probally figure out by the nature of my convoy, i am headed out to the wreck and." he raises hand to the room and thus the town. "I would like to set up a forward operations post here." he lets that settle in and again watches the eyes to see if there is any hint of approval or disapproval at the idea to begin with.
Avin isn't about to let an opportunity for his own, personal advancement slip by but he's also not one to invite competition into his own front yard. "Oh, I'm sure we can come to some kind of arrangement but as you can see outside, space is something of a premium. The only way you'd be able to set up a base is if you happen to bring one with you." he smiles. "Can I offer you or your men a refreshment?" He snaps his fingers and a woman enters carrying what looks to be a tea set, an old one that is in remarkably good condition. The woman is wearing relatively good, quality clothing that's also pre-fall and it somehow makes her 'fit' within the look of the office.
Lovecraft smiles and notes the profiteer in the man and suspect now that he is not directly working for the consortium, which is a weight off of his own mind. "Well, outside the walls. Not as valuable as within." at the offer of drink he glances a back at the guards, feeling quite secure in the notion they would pass. Its the wastelands after all, but he passes for his own preferance. "And what kind of arrangment would you be thinking?" he crosses one leg over the other and places his hands on his knee. "As you can see, setting up a free standing camp isnt an issue, so what can you offer me in this arrangment?"
The woman pours the tea from the pot into two cups and sets the service on a side table and turns to wait until one of the two gentlemen might need a refresher. Though Lovecraft did refuse the beverage, she still poured it 'just in case'. Avin leans in and draws the saucer close to him but does not drink just yet - it's enough that he can stir it with a small spoon for now and think on the matter for a moment. "You'll need water out here - we can show you where to dig for a well...and you'll probably want some help to build your camp so we can help with that as well - plus there's the whole issue of getting scouts to take you in and out of the ruins near the wreckage." He smile and takes a sip of the tea before adding, "...and should you require any companionship while you're out in the wilds - I'm sure that we can arrange anything you would be interested in." It's a simple offer to start off with, it's what would be expected. Having a 'chrome' settlment of any size near Blythe would increase their notoriety ten-fold but it might also attract trouble as well. "Naturally we would expect your assistance should there be any trouble with Raiders - though we've not had any real issue with them of late."
Lovecraft doesnt take up the drink. "I will consider your proposition, in the mean time. We will set up our camp a polite distance from your holdings." he rises from his seat and offers a hand. "A pleaure to meet you Mr Avin."
Avid nods and raises from his seat as Lovecraft starts to leave. "Pleasure to meet you sir. Be sure to let us know if we can do anything to help you..." The guards part and escort you and the party out through the curtain. The first step is complete and there's plenty more to go after that.