Z-Day USA

Game Master Patrick Curtin

Something I have been kicking around during my isolation. Art imitates life after all. The below clip got me thinking

Rabies


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*click*

...the president went live today from an undisclosed location saying that the mass riots in New York and LA were being vastly exagger ..

*click*

... scenes of chaos in Washington DC as residents fled the city, tying up every highway. Footage from our WJLA Eye-In-The-Sky copter shows a multi-car pileup on Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Bridge, with groups of motorists fighting each ..

*click*

... that's just it Brian. We've never seen anything like this novel virus. We have protocols in place since the Coronavirus and H9N5 Flu pandemics, but this virus acts like rabies. Infected victims become hyper aggressive and attempt to bite others. We're just not equipped ...

*click*

... the CDC is recommending sheltering in place. Congress has activated the National Pandemic Act, and all business without an essential designation are suspended. If you see anyone acting suspiciously, please call your loca...

*click*


Bribes always welcome

Eddie:

Spoiler:
Things had started to go to sh!t almost from the first day he ended up in DC. He was in the Watergate Hotel, of all places, cooling his heels and drinking while waiting for the green light to get back to Boston. He’d looked at the sights, walked the Mall, and it bored him to tears. His rental was a Kraut piece of junk, and he knew none of the players in this town so he had no clue how to find some action.

Then he’d gotten a piece of luck. He’d kept some emails from his ‘Stan days, people he had served with that were not total fnckwads. He hadn’t gone out of his way to stay in touch, but one guy, Chex, was a DC native. On a whim he dropped him a message and Chex had gotten back to him. He was working security for some indie outfit called Rivenrock that did duty for private citizens who were worried about kidnappings. Chex had also been a major player in the black market back in the ‘Stan, and Eddie was hopeful that he could maybe point him to some more exciting entertainment like a decent poker game. Eddie has some good stakes after his union job. They arranged to meet in L’Enfant Plaza, a subterranean mall accessible by subway, and close to the Wharf where Chex had a condo.

The few days he’d spent in DC had seen the new pandemic ramping up. Eddie really didn’t give two f@*@s. You seen one pandemic, you’d seen ‘em all. After ducking haji bullets for a tour or two, your fear of death was pretty much non-existent . The roads were a mess, so he left the VW parked in its slot. DC has a decent subway system, a helluva lot better than the T in Boston. If people were getting scared of catching a cold, there shouldn’t be a crowd on it at least.

Eddie walked the quiet streets around George Washington University headed to the Blue Line Foggy Bottom station. There weren’t a lot of college kids around, Eddie guessed a ton of them had run home to mommy when the new bug was announced. He got on the train, and 15 minutes later he got off at L’Enfant station.

The station was a main hub of the DC Metro. Five lines intersected inside it, and it was near a lot of the big bureaucracy centers. Eddie took the escalator up to the Plaza level. The place was spooky quiet, and the few people he saw walked in that typical pandemic panic way, as far from him as they could. He heard some yelling somewhere in the vast station, but he wasn’t about to go looking for trouble.

At the top of the escalator was a Starbucks and a small convenience store. A set of glass doors led outside towards a huge concrete monstrosity that Eddie guesses held some chunk of the government. A second set of doors led into the main shopping area. Eddie was surprised to see two National Guardsmen parked inside. He enters and they stop him.

“Hold up. We need a temp scan. You’ve got an hour, then the plaza is shutting down”

Eddie calmly submits, and the hand-held temp scanner beeps and the two let him through. Chex had told him he’d be in the food court, so Eddie walks along, following the gold arrows his spex show him to get there.

The food court has about a dozen eating establishments ringing an eating area with cheap tables and chairs. It’s fairly empty, the twenty or so people in the place standing out in an area that could hold ten times that many without a problem. Several of the restaurants are already shuttered, but the Panda Express is still open, as is the Cheesesteak Factory. One of the faddish Automat restaurants that became popular during the last pandemic seems active as well, the video screens advertising various meals a credit card would deliver to you without human hands touching it.

Eddie sits at a table with a good overall view of the court and waits for Chex


Bribes always welcome

Eloise

Spoiler:
This was supposed to be such a FUN vacation. Eloise had saved up for over a year, doing doubles, staying home instead of going out Friday nights, working on getting the permits to take her weapons with her to DC. She had been a part of the Global Network Preppers for a half a decade now, and she had been looking forward to their big convention in DC. She had so many friends she only knew through Internet chats and postings. A lot of them had invited her to their rifle ranges for some target practice. She was even supposed to meet Angus MacIntyre, one of the co-founders of GNP and visit his compound in West Virginia.

But the whole trip was bolloxed. She had gotten delayed through her flight as the first indications of a possible new pandemic started to hit the news. She decided it would be easier to press on than return. Plus, who better to ride out a pandemic with than a bunch of professional preppers? She had skills that would be in demand. She was sure they’d find a place for her until the all clear was sounded.

She finally arrived at Ronald Reagan International Airport, tired and travel worn. Flying halfway around the world isn’t easy on the best of days, and it had taken her 72 hours with the delays and rerouting. She hadn’t been able to keep up with the news in the air, but what she saw on the airport monitors was grim. The US would likely be locking down soon.

Her internet BFF Chelsea was supposed to be her guide. She got a text that she should take the yellow line metro to L’Enfant Station and meet her there. They could have lunch and then take the silver line metro out to Ashburn Virginia and hook up with the local GNP chapter there. Plugging the directions into her spex, Eloise retrieves her bags and heads to the metro platform just outside the airport doors.

The train is quiet, and mostly empty. Eloise starts paging through her messages and the news. None of it is good. Her GNP convention is canceled, and Angus sent his regrets but he was locking his compound down to outsiders. Chelsea assures her via text that they’ll be welcomed in Virginia, especially with Eloise’s medical knowledge.

The train stops under the Pentagon, and Eloise is startled to see a large contingent of camouflaged people in full battle rig on the landing. Is that normal? No one on the train seems to be interested in getting off at the station, and a few of the military folks even swing their rifles towards the train as if they expected enemies to leap out.

The train crosses the Potomac on a thin iron bridge. It parallels a highway bridge crammed with cars and Automus vehicles. It is total gridlock over there, and Eloise is startled as she sees a fire start in one of the cars. Her train is moving too fast to see exactly what happened, but it looked like a car exploded.

Thank goodness I didn’t get an Automus from the airport she thinks as her train finishes crossing the Potomac and dives underground. A few minutes later, L’Enfant Station comes into view. Eloise gets off, along with a few other travelers. The station is huge, and it seems like there should be many more people thronging it. However, it seems the majority of locals are already sheltering in place

Lucky them Eloise thinks sourly as she follows her spex’s arrows to the escalator to the L’Enfant Plaza. It seemed more and more like her vacay was going tit$ up.

At the top of the escalator is a Starbucks and a convenience store. The Starbucks is closing, which is surely a sign of dire times. The convenience store is tiny, but doing a brisk business as a dozen shoppers scour the shelves for whatever supplies are on hand. Eloise sees a set of glass doors to her left that lead outside towards a quite large concrete building of dubious taste. Another set of glass doors lead into the main shopping area. A pair of camouflaged military folk stand guard. Eloise can’t remember the rank system, but they look low level, though armed. They are nowhere near as hard-looking as the group at the Pentagon station had been.

“Excuse me miss, we need to take your temperature. I’ll warn you that the plaza will be locked down in about an hour”

Eloise submits to the scan and is admitted inside. She follows the virtual arrows to a food court with seating for about 300 people. A dozen eateries ring the space, most closed or closing. The area is mostly deserted, with just about 20 people eating lunch, most of them off the Automat selections. Eloise hated that chain, it had grown across the globe like a pandemic of poorly-made food. People were so skittish about strangers’ germs

Well considering this is the start of the third pandemic in a decade maybe they should be She thinks gloomily.

She sits down at an empty table and begins to text Chelsea

I’m here. Where are you?


Bribes always welcome

Dennis:

Spoiler:
It was supposed to be an easy work trip. Dennis has set up a few meetings with local clients during the first part of the week, then he was going to attend a day-long seminar on new banking laws at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Not his particular wheelhouse, but these seminars were more a networking opportunity than anything else.

The first day had gone as planned. He had met his clients, strolled the recently revamped Wharf District and had a nice evening. The next day was a bit tougher. Two out of three of his clients canceled, and the final one had been rather frantic about the ramifications of a new pandemic. Dennis hadn’t been paying attention to the news, but the fact that they were discussing triggering a lockdown was fairly sudden to his mind. He did his best to calm his client and assure him all would be well. Dennis retreated to the Hyatt and got room service.

The next day he took an Automus over to the Constitution Center on 7th where the OCC had its offices. The traffic was hideous, and the AI driving the car kept apologizing for the delay in that pleasant vanilla Siri voice Dennis found annoying. He missed the foul-mouthed cabbies of his youth, and their ability to navigate the worst traffic with amazing ease. A robot taxi just wasn’t the same thing.

The seminar was deserted, most of the attendees obviously deciding talking new banking regulations wasn’t important enough to come in person. Annoyed that his networking opportunities were limited, Dennis decided to go in search of something better than the cafeteria once the seminar broke for lunch.

Across 7th, past the Brutalist monstrosity of the Housing and Urban Development building was the entrance to L’Enfant Plaza, a mall he’d frequented a few times during past visits. Their food Court was pretty good as they go, and they had a local Mexican restaurant that Dennis remembered fondly. He decided today deserved a giant burrito.

Skirting the concrete catastrophe of the HUD HQ, Dennis enters the doors to the plaza. Across from the doors down the hall towards the subway escalator is a Starbucks, which looks like it’s closing, despite it being lunchtime

Aren’t they an essential service? He thinks idly as he turns left to the next set of doors.

Two National Guardsmen are just inside, scan thermometer in hand. They both looked like they should be in high school studying rather than toting rifles

“Halt. We need to temp scan you. The plaza is closing in an hour”

This day keeps getting better Dennis thought as he moved towards the food court.

El Pollo Loco is shuttered, of course, as is the passable Indian restaurant next to it. The Automat is open, of course, but he really doesn’t want robot fast food. The Church’s Chicken is still taking orders, so he grabs some and sits down, toggling his spex’s Internet up and checking on his afternoon flight out of Reagan. The 7G is uncharacteristically bad, and he’s loading at a glacial pace. He toggles the display off and concentrates on his lunch

Once I get this done, I am so out of here


DM:
Irritated at how foul the trip has been and knowing that my daughter is in school, I opt to call the office instead and see how things are faring up in New York City. Another Pandemic scare. Geez, getting sick of these, maybe its time to retire to North Carolina early.

Ring. Ring.


Bribes always welcome

Dennis:

Spoiler:
Dennis taps his throat to ensure his mic patch is in place. He activates the headphones in his spex’s handles, the slim fan of plastic emerging to cover his ears. He had the HoloView off, it sucked massive bandwidth, and he always thought it was kinda spooky to have a realistic 3D ghost of the person you were taking to in front of you, even if no one else could see it.

The phone rings, and Dennis’ assistant Angie answers the phone She sounds harried.

“Is that you Dennis? Are you still in DC?”


Bribes always welcome

Instrumental music plays in the background as the few food court patrons eat. Occasionally a female voice interrupts the bland instrumental music

”We’re sorry, but due to the National Pandemic Act, this facility will be closed in one hour. We apologize for any inconvenience this causes. We appreciate your cooperation during this time of uncertainty. Please leave by the doors or take the escalator to L’Enfant station by 1 PM. Thank you for shopping at ... L’Enfant Plaza”


GM:
"Hi Gorgeous. Yep, I am still here, another one of these damned alerts has everyone spooked so the conference was a bust. My flight is this afternoon, going to finish lunch and head over there, next time I come down I am going to try and rent a damn car. These autocars are slower than s$~!. How are things by you up there?"


Bribes always welcome

Dennis

Spoiler:
Angie laughs wildly. Dennis can hear a lot of background crowd noises in the call, very unlike his usually calm and quiet office floor

“Everyone is freaking out! We’ve got the main phones offline because we can’t handle the volume. Mayor Williams just put a city-wide lockdown order in effect and he’s shutting the subway down in two hours. I’m packing my stuff up now handsome, and I’m bugging out home. I’m taking the laptop and the mobile case server with me. I’ll be up and running by tonight. Do yourself a favor and get home. Just don’t come to the city, stay in Jersey. You’ve got access to the mobile server, we’ll get the office together as soon as you get home “


DM:
As he waits for his contact, Eddie leans back in his chair, drumming his hands idly on the table and keeping a watchful eye on all of the room's entrances and exits. To pass the time, he tries to envision how he'd go about killing each individual person in the food court.

"Let's see-- fatass in the corner; slap the Big Gulp right outta his hands, then double-tap to the double-chin. Lady with screaming toddler; use the little dickens to kick a field goal over the balcony, then snap the lady's neck while she's distracted. Old fart with the Grateful Dead shirt..."

Eddie stretches his arm out, then makes a pinching motion with thumb and forefinger.

"Shoot, I bet I could crush your head from here. Reminds me of a show I saw once..."

He starts laughing to himself, slightly alarming the one person within earshot.


Bribes always welcome

Eddie

Spoiler:
Eddie looks about , mentally killing several people. He’s sees one guy in a suit jabbering away into his spex, and wonders if he could choke him out with his tie. There’s a cute girl in the corner doing the air typing thing texters did these days. She was athletic; looked a bit like that chick from those Underworld movies from 20-odd years ago. Kate something or other. Eddie figures she’d be good sport. Probably have to have a good old-fashioned brawl with her and choke her out manually.

He sees his old battle buddy Chex arriving. Chex comes up and they do the brief Bro hug before Chex sits down.

Chester ‘Chex’ Witherspoon was six and a half feet of pure muscle. Eddie had seen him snap necks in the ‘Stan, when bullets wouldn’t be the smart option. His ebony skin was marked with various scars and old bullet wounds, but these days he hid them beneath a beautifully-tailored Armani suit. A Phillipe Patek wristwatch and some tasteful jewelry testified to his success. Civilian life had obviously done Chex very well.

Chex smiles widely and laughs

“Eddie Doyle you murderous Mick bastard, how the fnck are you? I haven’t heard a peep from you since they tossed your sorry ass out of the Green Berets. What kinda crap are you up to?”


DM:
Dungeon Monkey wrote:
“Eddie Doyle you murderous Mick bastard, how the fnck are you? I haven’t heard a peep from you since they tossed your sorry ass out of the Green Berets. What kinda crap are you up to?”

Eddie give one of his patented s*~&-eating grins, folding his hands behind his head.

"Oh, you know, the usual. Makin' my own rules, blackjack and hookers, fat stacks and blow, the works."

He leans forward in his chair.

"Besides, looks like you've been doin' pretty OK yourself. Nice watch, by the way. Gettin' a little soft in the head, though. Last I remember it was you that got kicked out of the Green Berets. I was never dumb enough to join the Army. Us leathernecks have always been our own special breed of, well, you remember. Joint operations. Pew pew, and all that."

Eddie makes *finger guns* and mimes shooting an invisible enemy.

"Anyway, heard you might have a job for me. Must be gettin' soft in the middle too, if you need me. Good thing I'm the best of the best, else you'd be wicked screwed. And what's with the suit? No range of motion in those things. These days, the real pros wear Fred Perry."

He leans back again, casting a side-eye at the discount Kate Beckinsale across the food court.

"Seriously, though, I'm bored out of my skull here. One pencil-neck pencil-pusher gives me bad intel, and it's six weeks unpaid vacation. Come on, bro, I ditched the car, got my go bag with me and everything," he says, kicking the small backpack he's stashed under the table, "What'll it be?"


Bribes always welcome

Eddie:

Spoiler:
oops. Retcon that to first force recon.... Chex smiles
“I don’t do wet work anymore. So I wear Armani. If you want work I could maybe find you some, but I thought you were on vacation? I came to invite you to a local poker game, 10k buy in. You still a rounder?”


Dungeon Monkey wrote:
Eddie: ** spoiler omitted **

DM:
"Oh, heck, buddy, Armani or no Armani, you're missin' out, I gotta tell you. These days, guys with little plastic ID cards pay guys like us big-time money to do jobs that back in the day they used to hand off to Joey Bagadonuts. Everyone's so paranoid, it's hilarious."

At the mention of the game, Eddie's attention begins to drift. He removes a Zippo lighter from his shirt pocket and begins idly flicking the cap back and forth.

"You know what they say about poker... it's like gettin' your bone honed-- if you don't have a good partner, you'd better have a good hand."

After a few seconds, Eddie turns what's left of his focus back to the conversation. He rolls his eyes and lets out an exaggerated sigh.

"OK, fine, 10k, whatever, got it. We both know I'm gonna win. And who knows, maybe it'll get interesting like that one time me and Disco Pete and me were playing blackjack with the vice president of Burundi back in '22, and... you know what, don't worry about it. Not important."


Female Caucasian, Australian Nurse

DM:
She picks absentmindedly at an average Caesar Salad from the Automat as she glances around at the other food court patrons. In between sizing up her culinary companions, she glances at her spex screen, waiting patiently for Chelsea to return her text.


DM:
"Alright, take care then Angie. Speak with you tomorrow".

Now I really do wish that I had just gone to North Carolina, five years, once the kid is done with school, I am done with big cities. I think to myself.

He looks around the area he is in now to see how everyone else is reacting to yet another "crisis".


DM:

It had been a long train ride. Sybille had some gotten a plane down to DC and they had promised to meet at Dulles, her being a Lufthansa employee was almost a guarantee to get into one of the last planes out of the states. But in the last message before his cell had died she had written that she had been forced to board a plane. Everyone was supposed to leave. Most likely she would be in quaranteene at the airport in Frankfurt. I was glad for her, but I missed her and I was deeply worried.
No matter.
I pulled the straps tight and checked everything.
Passport, some spare change, the spade and the water bottle.
Time to reach the airport.


Bribes always welcome

Dom:

Spoiler:
Dom had tried to access an Automus vehicle to get out of Washington and get to Dulles. The AI taxi had taken his credit card and gotten into traffic and then sat in the same spot for more than 30 minutes. Traffic was not moving. Dom could see smoke rising in the distance in several places. Perhaps there was a bad accident ahead? Whatever the reason, he wasn’t going to get to Dulles this way. He opened the taxi door and told the protesting AI that he would accept the early cancellation fee.

He walked along the sidewalk, noticing that although the streets were jammed with cars there were few pedestrians about. All the cars had their windows tight, and despite the gridlock , none came out to look. A couple of drivers even looked like they were taking naps, slumped back in their chairs. Considering many private cars were becoming AI driven as well, the sight didn’t surprise him much.

Dom sees a sign advertising a mall called L’Enfant Plaza. He had been looking for the subway entrance with no luck, figuring he could take the metro to Dulles. Perhaps L’Enfant Plaza was also L’Enfant station? He decided to check it out. If nothing else perhaps he could grab a sandwich and get some directions.

He walks up a concrete flight of stairs and enters a glass door. Another set of glass doors is to his left, and behind it are two military men with rifles and a hand held temperature scanner. He walks through those doors , thinking to ask them how to access the subway.

The two halt him and ask him to submit to a scan. He does, and is cleared. When he asks about the subway and food options, he is told that the subway can be accessed by the Starbucks just past the doors he came in from. He still has a chance to grab some food, the food court will be open for another half hour. Deciding that he might as well fuel up before trying his luck getting on a plane he heads over to the food court.

The guards gave him good directions, and he finds it right away. Most of the restaurants are closed, but there are still several options. The Automat is still serving as well. Dom found their food bland but acceptable, and it was pretty standard no matter where you travelled. Plus not having anyone touch your food was a plus. He decides to order off the menu there.

While he waits he looks around. The eating area is large, perhaps room for 2-300 people. There are maybe 20 in evidence now. Two large men chat a bit away from him. An athletic woman air types , using her smart glasses and a virtual keyboard only she sees. Another woman walks towards her smiling. A man in suit and tie finishes up a meal, his fingers twitching as he toggles through the Internet while he eats.


Bribes always welcome

Eloise

Spoiler:
El and Chelsea text as she waits for her to arrive. She is coming into the city via the metro, and they discuss their options after lunch. Chelsea is of a mind they should try to shop a bit before heading out, but if the stores are picked clean they should head back through the Silver Line and get to Chelsea’s GNP chapter. Chelsea had cleared El to come out, and assuming all went well she’s have a spot there.

El looks up and sees Chelsea approaching. Chelsea is a fit blonde athletic woman. She trains in several martial arts and does pistols like El. She runs up and gives El a hug

“So good to meet you!” She enthuses

The two order a quick meal and begin talking


Bribes always welcome

As the patrons eat their meals they suddenly hear yelling down the hallway where the guards were stationed. It’s out of direct line of sight, but the voices are loud and angry


I will shake my head and start packing up to leave. Time to get to the airport before the crazy comes my way...


DM:
It was bland, of course, but what to expect from an automaton. At least this area was safe for the moment, the soldiers had taken care of it. It had been such a splendid idea, honeymoon combined with e-detox, not taking any electric devices, but his cellphone. On the other side, just sitting in the canadian wildness, breathing the clean air had been extraordinaery good for his soul.
Moving towards the man in the suit and tie, he smiled and with open hands approached him, speaking in his worst german accent.
"Sorry Sir, I have been in the outbacks for a while. Now I am out of touch, what are the latest news?"


Bribes always welcome

A recent arrival approaches Dennis as he starts to clean up his lunch wrappers. He is carrying a cellphone, something Dennis hadn't seen for about three years.

"Sorry Sir, I have been in the outbacks for a while. Now I am out of touch, what are the latest news?"


Female Caucasian, Australian Nurse

DM:

Eloise smiles as Chelsea approaches, and they begin chatting over their food. They had just decided to at least check out the shops before they close, when they hear the angry voices echoing down the hall. They glance at each other and thinking the same thing, quickly wolf down the last of their food. She picks up her gear from the floor and they begin to head towards the shopping portion of the plaza, taking a circuitous route while trying to avoid the other food court patrons.


Bribes always welcome

Eloise

Spoiler:
The mall is essentially a straight 10-meter-wide tunnel with stores on either side and benches in the median area. The food court lies roughly in the center, a wider squarish space. The doors Eloise came through earlier were northwards, then west, as the tunnel takes a 90-degree turn. That’s where the yelling is coming from. Chelsea looks at El

“Someone must be arguing with the National guardsmen “

She leads El over to a pharmacy. There are still a few items to be had on the shelves, but a lot has been cleaned out

Let me know if you want to search for anything


"You really have been in the Outback. Cellphones have been out of use for some time, I prefer them to these stupid looking glasses but they make new technology to obsolete the old stuff on purpose ya' know?

Anyway, it is time for the annual or semi-annual now, I am losing track, pandemic fire drill. Not sure what they will call this one, maybe COVID-30.

I am headed out to the airport now to catch a flight home. Did you just arrive from the airport? How is the traffic going and coming?"


Nick shakes his head and replies.
"Yes, I know. Please excuse the wrong term. We still use the same term at home."
Sighing he continues.
"I am also on the way to the airport. I just arrived via train from Canada. And the traffic.... it is bad. I am just glad I made it this far!"
Looking down he sighes deeply.
"The planes.... they are still starting? Even transatlantic?"


I shrug at the stranger, "Now that I am not sure about.

Where are you headed to? I can check on the net whether your flight has been delayed or canceled. Is that why you took the train here? Did Canada already cancel all of its flights?"


Dominicus nods.
"There was no chance to leave from there. Toronto Airport was in lockdown. I was quite happy to have the opportunity to take a train. Also our return flight is from Dulles. And as a student... you just can´t reschedule a flight!"


"Nothing like naming an airport after one of the most sinister sets of Brothers the US has ever had in government.

I am supposed to fly out of Reagan.

Let me check the flight status for both airports".

I will try and pull up flight status GM!


Remebering the stories his parents and grandparents told him of his homeland divided Nick just shrugs.
"You think a second rate actor, with dalzheimer is better?"
He can´t resist the snarky comment, but smiles to pull the sting.


Dungeon Monkey wrote:
As the patrons eat their meals they suddenly hear yelling down the hallway where the guards were stationed. It’s out of direct line of sight, but the voices are loud and angry

DM:

Eddie pointedly ignores the yelling down the hall, at least as much as he can, raising his own voice as much as he can without arousing suspicion.

"...So anyway, got the memo about the game. Anything else you've got going on the side? Anything? I've got about a half-dozen itchy itches that are in desperate need of a scratchy-scratch, and emptying the pockets of a bunch of brain-dead high-rollers ain't even in the top ten. C'mon, bro, what do you say?"

Eddie's face suddenly splits into an insane ear-to-ear grin, like when Mike from Red Letter Media gets super drunk and forgets a joke halfway through telling it, or maybe like Heath Ledger in that one movie with the guy who dresses up like ...that bat guy. Whatever his name is.

"Remember, you owe me one. If it weren't for me... see that suit you're wearing? Let's just say that it would be less "Armani" and more "orange." With little numbers on the back. Chester, buddy..."

He leans back in his chair.

"You're killin' me, Smalls. Got any real work?"

After about thirty seconds, however, Eddie has had enough of the angry yahoos in the corridor. Suddenly prim and proper, he holds up a finger.

"Hold that thought, my good friend. Please excuse me one moment."

For everyone else...

After half a minute of commotion in the hallway, one of the two large men chatting at the back table (the slightly unhinged-looking one in the pink polo shirt, not the calm one in the sharp suit) stands up, pointing an accusing finger in the direction of the voices (who clearly can't see or hear him).

"Hey! Hey, you! Can't you see I'm trying to have a private conversation here? I'm on vacation, I got company, dude! Shut up, for cryin' out loud!"

He sits down, tugging at his collar and addressing the other man at the table in a quieter but clearly-audible tone.

"Kids these days, am I right? Can't get no respect."

Looks like we're going with bold text, I guess...


"Are you saying Bed Time for Bonzo isn't an all time classic"


Nick just shrugs and replies.
"Gone with the wind, the hustler, Butch Cassidy and the sundance kid, those are classics. And there is some like it hot and the godfather. Those are classics. I have not eaven heard of that one."
He shrugs and smiles.
"But I can´t know all movies! Maybe it is that good."


I laugh, "I have not seen it since I was a kid so I don't remember".

As the big guy stands up and starts screaming I shrug, "I'm too old to get excitable like that any more but I agree with the guys sentiment though!

Man, the net is slow today. Can't get the damned flight updates. You'd think the person who does those updates just had all their blood drained out and was turned into a damned Vampire!"


Bribes always welcome

Brian:

Spoiler:
Well, DC has turned out well so far Brian thought sarcastically as he ate his lunch at this forsaken food court. He’d gotten into DC just as the first whispers of a possible new disease were spreading across the news feeds. His job had pinged him that there might be a problem going forward if there was a lockdown. And suddenly there was one. Brian had tried to get an Automus car out of town, but the roads were just a mess. After half an hour he went to try the subway.

He figured he could get out to Reagan by subway, and from there fly home. His employers were at least honoring the sudden layoff clause of his contract, and were paying him a bonus and his tickets home. He decided at the last minute to grab a quick meal rather than pay the crazy prices inside the airport Fortunately there was a mall connected to the subway entrance he had found.

A couple of NG kids fresh out of AIT were guarding the entry doors, and they scanned his temp before letting him in. The weekend warriors wore an odd patch. It looked like the Capitol building in flames. It was camo, so the details were muddy, but Brian thought it was a weird one for sure. One of the privates let him know the plaza was closing in an hour,

The mall was pretty much deserted, and Brian grabbed a big lunch from Cheesesteak Charlie’s, figuring it might be a while in Reagan and he might as well fill up now then pay airport prices for food later. He was eating his cheesesteak and idly listening to two guys chat near him about flying to Reagan when he heard some shouting from back where the fuzzy privates had been stationed.

Silver Crusade

Init:+4 Perc: +3 |ATK: +5/d8+3| Ins: 2/3| Brian WhiteAngel Human Bard 3| AC:17 | HP: 22/24 | 1st: 4/4 2nd: 2/2|

On his way to sit down with his CHEESECHESSECHEESEsteakCHEESECHEESE and CHEESE sandwich, he spotted an Automat and decides to order a REALmeat* bicuitwich (*REALmeat contains no actual meat and is made with 100% krill by-product.) with his favorite flavor pastes of red and gwurple. Combined with a Chernobyl Cherry fizzy, he considered himself quite ready for a good tuck in to fortify himself against the coming wave of boredom and uncertainty.

At least he was getting paid to be bored. In the 251st boredom itself was considered a bonus.

He attacks the two savories with a battle plan made with cunning and guile, and inures himself against all distractions until his sortie into their flank is successful and the enemy is finally routed into his gullet.

Calmly sipping the Cherry fizzy he can stand it no longer. It was a universal truth that ze germans used to be cool--they got a raw deal after the first one (no doubt owing to a feeling of French comeuppance after Alsace and Lorraine were taken after the Franco-Prussian War) and they took it a bit far in WWII (had Hitler just expelled the Jews to Britain, he could've sued for peace with the English Empire and the US and calmly ruled the whole of Europe)--but their constant mea culpa had turned the whole of them into right jags. (A jag was one step below a jerk, but one step above a knob.)

If it was just the bad mouthing of Ronaldus Magnus, or just the shouting from the tuition-seekers, he could've stood it.

But it wasn't.

"Look chummer," he opens up to the German tourist, uncaring if his FASA was showing through.

Dom sees a hard-looking man with shaved head, black goatee, and equally black leather jacket. Probably a biker of some type. He even has chains dangling from the jacket and a...high quality leatherman SURGE multi-tool? Combined with a lanyard-anchored flashlight on the other shoulder and if he is a biker he's the most prepared one on the road.

"Ronald Reagan got the hostages back, tamed penultimate inflation, and brought the Evil Empire to its knees. I know you hate any leader that doesn't triple energy costs for the common man," he dug in, a reference to Germany's energy problem ever since Merkle dumped Deutchland's efficient nuclear energy program in favor of expensive renewables from the Dutch, "but don't go dumping on the guy that laid the groundwork for The Wall to come tumbling down."

"No no, keep your hippy retort to yourself, it won't make sense anyway. Imma go see what the shouting is about."

He slams the rest of his Chernobyl, stands, and tosses his trash.

"Also, Gone With the Wind is overrated. You probably like The Beatles too."

Time to see what all the kerfuffle was.


"Reagan also called the Ayatollah and asked him not to release said hostages to enable Carter to lose, remember the October surprise? His administration was also badly tainted by the Iran Contra scandal not to mention dozens of other scandals that don;t come to mind right about now lest we forget aides who were prosecuted.

Now the Democraps aren't much better but let's give a balanced account of history to our German friend about Reagan shall we?

I will say, if you've ever watched Reagan interviews from the 70's and 80's he does make a hell of a lot of sense to be Libertarian minded, I will grant him that but the people around him were criminals".

I pause, "I like Gone with the Wind but its no Casablanca for sure.

Now go give those loud mouths a piece of my mind too!"

Silver Crusade

Init:+4 Perc: +3 |ATK: +5/d8+3| Ins: 2/3| Brian WhiteAngel Human Bard 3| AC:17 | HP: 22/24 | 1st: 4/4 2nd: 2/2|

"Pah! You're entire statement relies on things that didn't happen, things you can't remember, and things that aren't true," Brian says as he walks along with the other man.

The whole scene has an air of familiarity. Two men, probably dangerous, probably with service, are talking BS as they are on their way to reinforce a flagging flank. As from time immortal it has been thus.

"Think about it.

Point the First: You're Ayatollah Khomeni, and you've been smacking around the President of the Great Satan. You overran his embassy, you have his people, and the only time he tried to make you give them back ended with deaths of his people. He's your b&#*@.

Then, some guy who is NOT president, and has been talking tough about punching you in the mouth, says, 'hey, if you don't release those folks, the guy you walk over a whole bunch will lose and I'll win and then I'll let you release them.'

Would you -listen- to something like that? He's a guy who you know doesn't like you AND doesn't have any power AND is looking to replace the guy you KNOW how to deal with. You'd tell him to go pound sand. Literally!

Hence, Reagan would never bother making that call. But the Dems would put out that rumor to downplay the event."

Brian pauses to clear his throat.

"And did it ever occur to you that the Iran-Contra thing was a -GOOD- thing for the US?

Iran was fighting Iraq at the time, and they were both bad guys. Hence, doesn't it occur to you that America might want both sides to lose?

Iraq can get its weapons, so it can fight. But Iran can't so it might do something dumb, like stop fighting. But every day that it keeps fighting Iraq is one less day they're doing something else. Like training Hezbollah to kill Americans.

So you want to keep them in the fight. So you slide them a few guns under the table and tell them 'keep it up champ. Ya got them on the ropes now!' while laughing as the two keep beating each other up.

And the Contras! You know who they were fighting? The Sandinistas. One of history's most sadistic communist a-holes the sun did ever see. The kind of people who use institutional rape, kidnapping, and murder as an every day kinda thing. Kinda sounds like the kinda guys we'd like someone to fight for us so we don't have to, eh?

So, people we want to keep fighting were kept fighting, while people we want to keep fighting were...kept fighting.

I don't see the problem here."

He takes a sip of water from his ever-present water bottle.

"Casablanca? Pssssssh. Gimme True Lies over that any day."


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Bribes always welcome

OK. HARD STOP. I understand this is a game, but you are talking real-world politics, which are expressly banned on this site. Everyone turn their attention elsewhere


But it is funny. And we discuss history :-) But of course!!
Listening to the biker and the gentleman discuss history, he can only smile.
"Actually yes, true lies is awesome. And Casablance is indeed a great movie. I mean the lightning, the innuendos. And knowing Bogart had to stand on a box for the kissing scenes.
But the beetles. Well they have for sure classics, but give me journey or foreigner any day. And if I am in the mood, Rammstein!"

While the newcommer was dressed like a biker, he was looking like a hiker. With high quality walking boots and ripresistant clothing.
His Backpack had the sleeping bag tied under it.

Dom:
As an exsoldier you can see that the shoelaces are tied inside his hiking boots. Which shoes he did serve in the army. Also his backpack has everything taped to prevent loose straps.


I shake my head at the man, "I agree with some of that and disagree with some of it but it's just not worth discussing further, not when I have a plane to catch. Let's just agree to disagree.

Foreigner I can take of leave but I Love Rammstein, saw them back in 2020 when all this authoritarian crap began. If I had the time, I'd learn German I love them so much.

Damned glasses, why the hell can't I get an update!"

Silver Crusade

Init:+4 Perc: +3 |ATK: +5/d8+3| Ins: 2/3| Brian WhiteAngel Human Bard 3| AC:17 | HP: 22/24 | 1st: 4/4 2nd: 2/2|

"Which would you say is better: Rammstein or...Sabaton?"


"I don't know Sabaton. Now I will have to check them out. Thanks for the suggestion".


Nick shuckles.
"If you understand German... Rammstein.
But you need a morbid streak for it. And if you like a bit of controversy.
But Sabaton is also quite good!
Their classic Primo victoria is excellent for workout.
But trust me, if you play Sabaton, eyes are raised. But you can annoy the heck out of people with Du hast, or Mein Teil."

And his smile is only stopped by his ears.


Bribes always welcome

Eddie:

Spoiler:
Eddie strolls towards the fracas. He notices Chex has joined him. The large mercenary smiles

“Just like old times. Eddie getting me into trouble”

They turn the corner and come up on a bizarre sight. The two military kids are yelling at a group of people at the doors. There are four men and a woman. They are wild eyed, and their mouths foam with froth, long ribbons of it dripping off their cheeks like a dog that’s drank a lot of water on a hot day. The military kids must have locked the doors, because the five crazies can’t push through. One of the kids is frantically thumbing his helmet mic

“ALPHA BASE THIS IS CHECKPOINT CHARLIE! WE HAVE CONTACT WITH INFECTED! NEED BACKUP OVER!!!”

Eddie hears the sound of smashing glass as one of these sickos hurls himself into the door


DM:

Upon seeing the crazed men and women banging on the doors, Eddie rolls his eyes, turning to his "friend."

"Hooo boy... wish I had some of whatever bath salts these weirdos are on. Doesn't shock me that these weekend warriors can't handle the pressure. Bet they've never even been to Florida."

Dungeon Monkey wrote:
“ALPHA BASE THIS IS CHECKPOINT CHARLIE! WE HAVE CONTACT WITH INFECTED! NEED BACKUP OVER!!!”

At this, however, Eddie gets a dangerous, serious look in his eyes.

"Backup, eh? That's not good."

Eddie begins backing up, his hand moving toward the SIG Sauer tucked into the back of his waistband.

"Looks like the party's gonna be over real soon, partner. Forget the dope-sniffers, any minute now, the boys in blue are gonna show up. Or worse, mall cops. No sense of humor at all."

He begins to make his way back to the table to retrieve his bug-out bag, moving quickly but doing his level best not to draw any attention from either the National Guardsmen or the crazed civilians. Very discreetly, and with practiced skill, he removes a suppressor from the pocket of his khakis and screws it onto the muzzle of his pistol, making sure to keep both as much out of sight as possible.

Earlier, when Eddie was casing the place, how many exits did he see?


Bribes always welcome

Eddie

Spoiler:
LMAO. Almost fell out with the Puscifer link. YOU COMMUNIST ROBOT!

The young guardsmen are way too distracted by the howling crazies to pay attention to Chex and Eddie. Chex sees Eddie’s move and follows suit, withdrawing a Glock 19 and holding it just under his suit jacket. He jerks his head back and withdraws back around the corner out of sight of the entrance

Assuming you follow

“I think it’s time we boogied. I’m headed to my place on the Wharf, try to hook up with my crew. . You good? I can put you up, if this is the s$%& going down. Two guns is better than one”

As Chex says this there is a loud shattering sound. One of the doors has given way. Eddie steals a glimpse over and sees the two guardsmen training their rifles at the howling group. They open fire, the three-round semi automatic bursts taking the five civilians center mass. The five twitch and stumble, blood fountains out from the bullet holes. They collapse, dying. The two kids look like they are in shock

“Oh s%#$ oh s+&! oh s#$@” One mutters monotonously

Chex looks at Eddie, whispering harshly

“Time to go man. I don’t want to be around some trigger-happy crackers with M-18s”

There is an exit at the far end of the mall past the food court that leads to street level. There is also an elevator that leads up into a high-rise built on top of the mall that has several alternate exits


Bribes always welcome

The patrons at the food court hear a loud glass smashing sound. They then hear the *BRAAP* sound of automatic weapon fire down the hallway. Those with military training note it is a three-round burst pattern.

Most of the patrons get up, and there is a worried muttering. Several move off towards the far end of the mall, away from the gunfire. A few run to the glass elevator that sits near the food court

Actions?


Hearing the sound of an assault rifle being fired Nick quickly stood up, looking for a place take cover.
There had been to many mass shootings in the US and as a foreigner, it was something you heard too often.
Looking at the others he spoke up.
"We should find cover!"

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