On the Road: Session 23 (June 09 2017)

The crew heads up to the 10th floor via the stairs. The layout is the same as the 5th, but there is a lot more debris around. The office doors have all been knocked down.

There is a large pile of desks that has been welded together right in the center of one of the bridges to the elevator block, secured to the railings. The cable they saw is tied to it, and disappears under the elevator door. Troy examines the structure and the cable, and learns that whoever is upstairs uses the cable to ascend, but not by hand, as the grease on the cable would make it difficult to grasp. The crew speculates that there is some kind of conveyance the people up on the roof take with them as they ascend.

Seeing no other way up, they continue upward via the staircase. Greaser can hear the revving of engines from below, as his gang all converge on the scene.

Samson wakes up aboard the bus, not knowing where he is. He can hear the sound of an engine, he thinks it might be Gremlin’s car. He sees a figure at the front of bus, sitting in the driver’s seat. Upon hearing movement, Joseph wheels around with a double barrel shotgun, which he lowers once he realizes it’s Samson.

Samson exits the bus and looks around, taking in the sight of Bridge City, in all its green glory. Joseph tells him where the rest of the crew went, and brings him up to speed on current events. Looking south, Samson can see where the buildings simply drop away, and the expanse of the ocean beyond that. He can also see the four surviving suspension bridges, and the fifth collapsed one. He’s about to head toward the building to find the others when he hears the engines of the bikes. The Lost and Found have arrived.

Joseph sticks to his orders to guard the bus, but the rest of the gang head toward the tower, despite Samson’s admonitions to be careful. He follows them into the building. He does manage to convince them to split up and use the various stairwells to provide coverage.

Samson heads up the stairs, and catches up to the rest of the crew taking a break on the 12th floor. Troy sees out the small window in the stairwell that there is a fire escape on the outside, and mentions it to the crew. Samson and Greaser are disturbed by the lack of any response from the opposition as they begin to ascend again.

They get up to the next floor with an emergency panel, and Troy notices a change in the pattern of the blue light on the panel. He can hear the sound of a mechanical switch opening and closing in a rhythmic pattern. It’s not Morse Code, but the intent is much the same. He can make out a question: Who are you? Identify yourself. Last Warning. He’s jolted out of his reverie by the sound of gunshots elsewhere in the building.

Everyone else can hear it too. There are gunshots, and a male scream. They can see a billow of smoke above, coming from one of the stairwells. Samson continues upward, followed (eventually) by Gremlin. He can see Fingers slumped against the stairs just below the 20th floor, with a nasty gunshot in his gut. The smoke quickly becomes too thick to see through. Down below, Maude informs Troy and Greaser that her infrared eyes can’t see through it either.

Troy gets to the 20th floor landing, and eventually comes across the source of the smoke: a large metal capsule that had been tossed down the stairs from above. He immediately puts together what happened: Fingers got to the 20th floor, got distracted by the panel, and pulled the switch. The capsule was tossed down the stairs, followed by a single gunshot. Fingers was hit, he fired blind, and then collapsed.

Troy manages to shut down the smoke bomb. Greaser attempts to tend to Fingers, but is not able to do anything useful. Dale drags Troy toward Fingers. Troy attempts to use Healing Touch, but it does not go well. All reality melts away, and he’s surrounded by the sounds of battle. More disturbingly, he finds himself holding in his insides from a gut shot. He looks around, and can see he’s back at the bridge, in the middle of the battle with Leon’s crew. He tries to move, and the pain is excruciating. He hears a familiar voice telling him to slow down, he’s using the wrong tools. It’s his sister. She tells him he’s not supposed to be here. He tells her the same thing. She warns him to get out right away, the guy he’s trying to save is going to die, and there’s nothing he can do to stop it. Troy obeys her and snaps out of it.

Everyone else can see the moment when the light goes out of Fingers’ eyes. Greaser gets a vision of the first person he killed, someone that attempted to roll him late one night when he was 9, and camping out on the road with his Dad. Samson sees a vision of a mission he was sent on to get the ingredients for some medicine that the boss’ mate needed. He’d been out on his own for three weeks, and was near starving. He came across an old man out on the road by himself one night, and moved in to kill him and eat him. The man died quickly, but Samson neglects to notice the 9 year old kid getting the drop on him, and can feel his throat being cut…

Gremlin opens his brain, and the question pops into his head “who lives upstairs?” While everyone is distracted, he gets up and walks over to the panel. Before anyone can react he pulls the switch on the panel a couple of times, and then starts heading up the stairs. Troy calls after him, but Gremlin doesn’t respond.

Gremlin gets to the 21st floor landing, opens the door, and gets a vision of the past. The AC is out again, and everyone in the office is suffering in the sweltering heat. A girl that Gremlin somehow knows is called Janet comes up to Gremlin and tells him she has good news. She leads him around to an empty conference room. There’s an announcement on the loudspeaker that the water supply has been cut off to the building. She opens one of the windows, fiddling with the safety latch with one of her shoes, and swings it wide. She steps out… and doesn’t fall. She’s found a window washer scaffolding. She invites him to join her, but he just… can’t.

Turns out the reason he can’t is because Greaser and Samson are busying themselves physically restraining him. Fortunately, a moment later they can see out the window that the scaffolding is still there. Gremlin comes to, and comments on the fact that he’s never been up this high before, and it’s making him more than a little nervous.

Troy examines the scaffolding, and figures he can get it to take them up to the roof. Greaser gathers up the remainder of his gang to deal properly with Fingers. The service is necessarily abbreviated. Once it’s done, Tweeter advises that they need to recruit, there’s not a lot of them left. Greaser says he’s going to be a lot more careful about who else he lets in.

Troy’s figured out how to work the manual controls, and Maude steps in to assist him with a pair of cranks. Everyone gathers in the conference room. Greaser sends his guys on ahead via the staircase, while the rest of the crew piles onto the scaffolding and they begin the slow climb up the side. Gremlin can see a small moving red rectangle below as George makes a measured circuit around the building.

They get another 10 stories up when the wind picks up a bit, and the scaffolding begins banging slightly against the building. The crew can hear a PA system bloop to life, and a male voice begins speaking in a foreign language. Whatever it’s saying, it repeats it again, and then the speakers fall silent.

They continue onward. The plan is, once the Lost and Found reach the 38th floor, they will start making lots of noise (and start a fire if they can), and that’s the cue for Greaser, Samson, and Maude to go over the lip onto the roof, while Troy and Gremlin keep watch. They can smell the acrid smoke before they can see it. The PA system cuts in again with the foreign message, and it’s a lot louder now that they’re up on the roof. Gremlin and Troy can hear, underneath the blaring voice over the loudspeaker, the actual source of the voice. After the message ends, they can hear the voice speaking, now in English: “Activate fire suppression… negative… stand down.”

The crew climbs up over the side onto the roof, and take in the view before them. Atop the roof is a smaller structure that once upon a time housed various mechanisms for the operation of the elevator, but in the Day After, sheets of metal have been bolted over the windows, and the crew can see the railgun itself, mounted on a track that allows it to rotate around to face any direction.

They can also see, next to the railgun, two figures dressed in military fatigues. They are facing away from the crew, as their attention is drawn to the flames rising from the opposite corner of the building. The crew can see that the figures have what appears to be rotting skin, and where it’s missing, there’s metal underneath.

Maude hands her rifle to Gremlin. Samson, Greaser, and Maude climb up and over. They quietly approach the smaller outbuilding and climb up the ladder on the side. Samson is able to get right behind them and swings his sledgehammer at #1’s head, and there’s a loud metallic CLANG, and #1 slams into the pillar of the antenna. This alerts #2, who whirls around. Greaser trades fire with it, and while he doesn’t do a whole lot of damage, it’s a lot better than it could have been, because Gremlin is able to take a decent shot at it that puts it off balance. However, Greaser is knocked on his ass as well, and needs to take a second to regain his footing.

Troy lays down suppressive fire, while Samson takes another swing at #1. It intercepts Samson’s swing, and manages to close both hands around the handle of his sledgehammer and rip it out of his hands, but in the process, it loses its footing and goes off the side to land on the lower roof.

#2 then turns its attention to Samson. Fortunately, for the moment, it’s lost its grip on its rifle, which is still hanging by the strap. Samson dives for cover, scrambling around the side of the pillar, as #2 gives chase. Gremlin takes a shot before it disappears around the corner, and while it doesn’t do any damage, he’s able to warn Samson that it’s right on his heels. Troy takes a shot at #1, just as Greaser and Maude launch a coordinated attack, bringing it down just as it begins to raise its rifle. In a disturbingly human-like fashion, it drops the rifle, and one hand goes up to its throat as the other hand attempts to steady itself as it slowly sinks to the roof, and is finally still. Samson draws his knife and squares off with #2. He lunges forward and slams the garden shear blade directly into the thing’s face. He can feel one of its hands lock around his wrist, but the rest of its body is already falling motionless. Everything goes quiet.

Greaser is concerned that there are more of them, and Gremlin agrees that they should secure the perimeter. A voice calls out from below. It’s one of Greaser’s guys. He lets them know that everyone’s alright, and tells them to take Fingers and head downstairs, everyone will meet back at the bus.

Once Troy is able to assist in freeing him from the deathgrip, Samson retrieves one of the odd-looking SMGs and some spare clips. Troy, Gremlin, and Greaser turn their attention to the security door in the outbuilding. Troy is able to get the door open. Inside, they find the substation of a fully functional nuclear generator. Samson sees a number of vaguely religious implements; he plans to take all of them with him when they leave. Troy also finds a serious-looking radio, with an additional antenna attached to it. He drags in the robot that still had its head intact, sits down in front of the radio with the robot’s head cradled in his lap, and sets up a makeshift augury. A voice intones “Satnav not found, please enter authorization code.” He attempts to answer, and receives a response: “invalid authorization.” The robot begins to speak. “Authorization code –” and begins to emit a high-pitched squealing for a few seconds. This elicits another response from the radio: “Authorization accepted. Provisional uplink established. ADA not found.” Troy can feel something rising in his stomach, and positions his head over the robot’s face, and vomits into its mouth. The robot moves its face upward, and locks lips with Troy. When it falls back, its eyes turn red, and a familiar (to him) voice emerges from it: “Poison…” before it falls silent for good. The radio says “Provisional uplink lost…”

[Troy has managed to fight off the infection.]