Your bus is dusty from the trip, extra fuel sloshing in the back, and crates of supplies, you prepared for the worst on this trip. Crater town looms on the horizon, the haze of air filtration units hard at work. It is a small trade center mostly, with other camps set up within walking distance. Crater town is like a small western town, a place for trade, supplies, and getting going to the next stop.
The Train tracks pass nearby, a main source of trade and supplies. A junkyard just on the edge of the town, discarded slagger finds that didn’t bring a profit and weren’t worth hauling farther. A crane awaiting use, today’s a slow day. The Ruin lies to the East of Crater town, you would have taken the long way around. Picking your way along intact streets, and necessary dirt detours, the “smoking” center of The Ruin always in sight since you crossed the salt flats
Your mission compels you here, but most come for profit. Whatever happened to the Ruin, whatever caused the Crater, it happened in a hurry, and those who left didn’t have time to pack. While what’s valuable has changed, there’s still treasure to be found among The Ruin, if you know where to look.
The Chemist’s had set up shop in the sewers of The Ruin, and recently a few brave souls had plunged into his pit and burned him alive, and his followers scattered like the rats they were. Figrin was there, still burned from the Acid and the bonfire corpse of the Chemist himself. A little time has passed, but the Waste once again breeds a new evil, waiting in the Chemist’s shadow, hidden until now and watching from among The Ruin.
Jax has a lead on a slagger that found something very special. Slaggers tend to be paranoid, and only trusts you to make a deal. She’s sent word that it is art, but there’s something special about it, and doesn’t trust the others in town, she wants to deal with you. Jax found it prudent to recruit the rest of you for this trip, not knowing the value or danger involved. He’s let you all know the nature of the mission, and for each of your own reasons, you find it worthwhile to preserve the beauty of the art and join Jax in making the deal.
Besides this, the Rangers have been more “calloused” as of late, in their vendetta against the decadence of Cross Town elite has spilled over to any who don’t feel the need to join their cause. Squads of their foot soldiers, the youthful zealous types (like young snakes that don’t know how to control their venom) have been seen on excursions into The Ruin and everyone is taking greater precautions on the road.
Your meeting with Jax’s slagger contact is soon in the local watering hole “Crater to Grave” the tavern where slaggers and traders drown their spare time in gulps of local liquor. It’s dark, the buzzing air filtration fans provide privacy and Crater Town tends to keep their noses out of others’ business. You may interact with the town, but be careful. You are here on sensitive business and people are quick to sniff out lies and opportunities.
Going into this, Jax had no idea that things would go south so quickly. Rutha had contacted him to make a deal on some art. Not some vault, potentially filled with SteelNet tech. The one painting she brought back had a strange note on the back that was sure to get him into even more trouble:
This is the end. I’ve saved all I could.
Hopefully the right heart finds this. May God have mercy on us all,Luther VanWick
The fact that it was signed by Luther VanWick, a founder and heavy contributor to SteelNet’s origins both frightened and excited Jax. This was someone who had the means and access to all sorts of historical data that needed to be preserved. But he was also tied up in things that shouldn’t be messed with. Case in point was the strange gun Rutha was carrying. This guy had SteelNet tech on his bedside table?! Who does that? Unfortunately, Jax didn’t get too much time to think about it before the Rangers arrived.
Now, Jax has never been a big fan of the Rangers. Their methods tend to lean into the extremes and they don’t really care who they hurt. And now, he was in their sights. Luckily, Dim and Fang were there because without even breaking a sweat, they dealt with practically everyone in the bar. All Jax did was throw a Molotov Cocktail at the door to keep any more of those blasted Rangers from barging in.
As the fire grew, we knew it was time to leave. Fang and Dim rushed outside to deal with whatever was waiting outside. A small crew of archers, some captain determined to recruit the locales and make our day worse, and a nasty-looking truck with a heavy machine gun in the back. Just great. Jax grabbed Rutha and we ran for the van. The Rangers assumed we wouldn’t have come by foot and were on the lookout for our ride. We had to get there first or we’d never make it out of town. If we made it there are at all.
Again, Dim and Fang were made of much tougher stuff than Jax had expected. They bashed, slashed, and took down everything that stood in their way between Dim’s axe and Fang’s throwing knife. Jax was carrying the gun dropped by the barkeep, but he wasn’t going to be much good with it, so running was the focus.
We managed to put a little distance as we rounded the corner towards the garage. We saw a Ranger slashing our tires, but Fang grit his teeth and sunk his knife into that Ranger’s back from across the street. As we ran, Fang finally dropped followed shortly by Dim as she stabilized Fang. Jax tried to shoot the Ranger and scare him off, but Jax has never been a fan of guns and couldn’t hit him even at close range. The same wouldn’t be said for the Ranger who deftly sunk an arrow into Jax before sliding away.
There was only one option left. Rutha was still carrying the case with the mysterious SteelNet. Jax wasn’t sure what it did, but he pulled it out and lined it up with the truck and surrounding squad. It didn’t take much to pull the trigger but what happened afterward was… extreme.
An arc of pulsing energy vaporized the truck and everything exploded in a ball of flame. The entire squad went flying and some were only a patch of dust on the ground. No time to think about it. It was time to go. As the crew drove off to Rutha’s hideout, we discussed what to do next. The Rangers were clearly close to obtaining untold power from whatever was in that vault. If we took too long, they’d be unstoppable. We’d have to get their first and there would be very little time to round up allies.
It was looking like we’d be on our own…
Dim (War Dog)
MIA Figrin (Boomer)
Historian and Chronicler