"That's a very good idea, actually. It has my vote. Final question - has anyone ever seen the, uh, djinn? Is it... fleshy, or does it seem more mechanical in nature?" Roach leans over to Maccoy. "Sounds like a repair cycle to me - the doors open as the power is turned off for automated maintenance, and adventureres then run into the repair robots," he mutters.
The barmaid shudders
"'Tis not an honest thing of steel and cogs, sirrah. 'Tis a bound spirit, encased in its dark prison. The Elder Ones knew many dread powers and dark arts that have been lost since the Fall of Shiva. As to why it opens its doors, well, it keeps its secrets close."
'Well that's not nearly as useful or interesting,' Germain thinks to herself.
Oh it might be, if you remember back to the discussion you had with OMNUS earlier..
"Aye the morrow. No one knows. Only a few have returned, and they tell of fearsome metal beasts, traps and darksome magiks from the Dark Times. The djinn speaks not."
"I assume the tower is the black building behind the palisade? Does the djinn come out, or do the adventuresome fellows come to it?"
The barmaid nods
"Aye. It's that ancient lair. The djinn is an evil spirit from the Dark Times, and lives imprisoned in the tower. Every full moon it opens the doors and allows heroes entrance to challenge it. None have yet returned. Our village was founded by the Barony of Holy Oak to guard against its escape from its black prison. They say whoever conquers its evil will gain an ancient treasure."
The barmaid smiles at Germain
"Why, fair lass, tomorrow is the full moon, and the Tower of Evil opens its doors. Have you come to test your mettle against the djinn?"
I'm assuming you guys are thirsty
The large inn is filled with characters dressed in weird clothing, many sporting swords. There is a sprinkling of Nu Orkers, and a few folks clothed in plain shirts and pants. The group finds a seat and takes a look around.
The interior is all hand-done wood and stone, very odd to the sight when most places are built with salvaged metals and plastic scraps from the Golden Age. Waitresses bustle among the customers in low-cut bodices, dishing out pitchers of beer and mead to the crowd. One comes over and greets the party:
"Welcome to The Heroes' Quest fair strangers! What can I get you brave warriors to drink?"
The walled village is odd in that most things seem to be old-school, without the usual patched tech equipment that many villages use to better their plight. Small wattle-and-daub houses cluster together, and the night is filled with candlelight from their windows. The only thing that looks like Golden Age tech is a massive skyscraper smack in the middle of the village.
A lot like the Sundered Land's buildings, this is a featureless cube rising a good four hundred meters into the twilight sky. There seem to be no embelishments to the building, but there seems to be a secondary wall surrounding the building with guard towers.
The Inn is easy enough to find: A big sprawling building that looks more like it grew haphazardly than was contructed. A sign reading The Heroes' Quest swings above the open door.
More like Ren Faire rejects
The guardsman opens the door.
"Then be welcome. There is an inn called the Heroes' Quest inside that can offer you lodging for the night."
The guard might have a sword, but there is also a servicible gun of some sort tucked in his tunic.
A guardsman with a sword and tunic answers the gate door, opening a small opening.
"What ho, dost thou desire entrance to the North Fastness?"
The guard talks in a real stilted accented Anglish. It sounds similar to the few snatches of conversation the group heard from the travelers last night from Holy Oak.
The village looks like a sad little effort to build something new. The walls are obviously scavenged stone and rusty metal, with strands of glittering duralloy razorwire festooned across the top. A gate stands shut for the evening, but a small fire nearby indicates someone is on guard. The party can't see much from the road, but there does seem to be one ancient building within the confines. It rears up about 20 stories, a featureless, black oblong in the reddening light.
The sounds of croaking swamp life indicates a lot of standing water nearby. A few of the frog craoks sound relatively massive. Perhaps relatives of tha batrachian they met along the Neticut River back near the Sundered Land?
The group starts down through the forest. The hot Juli morning sits humid and hazy under the tree canopy. The group can see many webs in the upper branches, further dimming the sun's presence. They spend the morning in a dim stuffy twilight, keeping to the road.
116 becomes more of a dirt track as they roll on. The forest is ancient, with large trees. There is a sense of watchfulness from the tangled underbrush, but nothing emerges.
Spot (ain't that odd to use?) checks please
Coca Cola wrote:
The Nu Orkers return his traditional friendly salute and size him up. They are turned a neutral green-brown shade on their chameleon skin. By and large they are wearing decent armor and toting some heavy weaponry. Their shark teeth are capped in a dazzling display of gold and gemstones.
"We iz headed that way Homes Coca. Meeting bruthas up in de hills already fightin' the mofos."
They look down at Coca, their hooded eyes solemn.
"The Hoods, dey all beefin' right now Homes. Lotta static an' such. Might be a good time to try Bahston-town mebbe."
Well, we seem to be lagging, so ...
The group buys lodging for the night. After the many days on the road, a soft mattress feels good. Maccoy hasn't been on the road as long, but is never one to give up good sack time.
In the morning, the heat of the Jooleye sun is already baking the Spider's Wick. The party emerges from their rooms and eat a decent breakfast of greens, taters and eggs. The other groupd from yesterday are also eating, the Nu Orkers seeming to have secured some spare ribs for breakfast. Watching their sharp shark-like teeth rip into the ribs is a bit unsettling.
The bar seems lively, but as the night wears on, a few of the Nu Orkers retire. Most of the roadhouse honeys follow with them. The Holy Oak folk also begin to wander up to their rooms. The bartender looks at the party.
"You folks want lodging? I got rooms available, and wandering these parts at night can be hazardous."
Any of y'all want to interact, post it, otherwise I'll advance the storyline.
"So any talk about Wreckers between here and Nu Ork? I really wouldn't want to run into any of them on the way," she lies, "and that Romero disease sounds bad and all, and nobody likes droids that have gone bad, but those wreckers sound real bad."
The barkeep shrugs
"Nah, they ain't been in these here parts. Most folk say they don't wanna tussle with Nu Ork or Bahston. I worry more about the Romeros shuffling up the road. Them things are gross and dangerous."
"OMNUS won't help 'em. It'll give them some b&**~#*& about Romero plague not threatening its synapses or something like that, and then send them off packing." Roach sips his beer. "Yeah, we're northrners, going to Nu Ork. Any gangs operating around here? Spiders don't worry me too much, unless they have guns."
The bartender shrugs, wiping down glasses
"The farther you move down the Neticut Valley the more you'll find Nu Orkers. There's a lot of trouble down in Harfor with scavver gangs and the Droid Bikers. Spidders are dumb, but cunning. The forest round here is chock fulla big uglies, but they don't like light, so just go through the forst in the daytime. The spidders mimic stuff too, so don't fall for a cry for help."
"So Mr barkeeper," Germain says smiling and flashing her eyes, "what stories do you have? What's been happening?"
The barkeep looks down at the diminutive girl
"Well, been lot of folks stirred up lately. Lotta talk about what the Wrecker folks been doing out west. Also got some folks sayin' there's an outbreak of Romero down south. Them folks from Holy Oak," He jabs a finger over at the Ren Faire refugees in the corner. "Are 'sposedly on their way to talk to OMNUS about some aid."
He pauses to fill a few drinks
"Other than the usual spidder attacks in the forest, not much. How 'bout you folks? You sound like northerners, you from Hamshire or Verminont?"
The tavern sports a large neon sign with a spider perched on a thread above a lit candle. The electricity is working, and music can be heard coming from inside. The stablehands grab their mounts and they amble into the common room.
The clientele looks to be scavvers mostly, and travelers. A few Nu Orkers sit in a corner, babbling in the dialect-heavy Anglish. There are a few weird-dressed folks in a corner sipping ales. They seem to be wearing reproductions of costumes from the distant past of Old Humanity, before the Golden Age, possibly before electricity. The women sport pointed hats and the men are dressed either in robes or kilts.
A few regular-looking folks dance to some old music from a large machine, including a few women of dubious character. One Nu Orker dances as well, pumping his fist in the air as he grinds one of the skanks.
Kinda bare bones, but I wanted to post up quick. Gimmie your actions
Coca Cola wrote:
"Yup. Cocaman here. You gots beer? Girlies?"
The guard laughs.
"We gots beer. We even gots a few roadhouse honeys. We gots stables over there, 5 credits a night for stabling, and some feed depending on what yer mount eats. Rooms are 10 credits a night. We take HVCS and gold at face value."
They unlock the chain gate and swing it open.
"Come on in."
There aren't a lot of folks visible outside, but Germain hears the squeal of air tools being used in an outbuilding, one that looks like a smithy/machine shop. There are two men with rifles at the main chainlink gate. As the group approaches one calls out:
"Yew folks lookin' for a bed fer the night? We gots room an' board an' some repairs should yew need'em."
The group keeps heading south. Even past the borders of the Happy Valley Collectivist State, order is somewhat preserved. The road remains good, at least for the first ten miles or so. Then it reverts back to its usual cracked and potholed nature. There aren't a lot of ruins hereabout, it looks as if most structures have been long scavenged to the point of destruction.
The party makes good time for the rest of the day, and see hardly any beings as they head out. An occasional flatbed truck loaded with scrap lumbers by heading north.
Towards evening time, the party comes to an ancient stand of forest. The trees here look as if they've been in the spot since well before the Fimbulwinter. Evidence of that long-ago catastrophe can still be seen in the many deadfall snags under the sprawling tree canopy. Route 116 seems to shoot straight through it. Right before the forest is a fairly large roadside inn with the curious name of the Spider's Wick. Several wagons and large mechanical trucks are parked in its fenced-in yard.
Good luck in your venture sapients.
The small sphere zips off
The group travels through the HVCS and takes the main thouroughfare southwards towards the distant metropolis of Nu Ork.
As they travel, they see tall buildings, sparkling geodomes, and a myriad of sights they hadn't even thought possible. It is as if a small piece of the Golden Age was left unspoiled in the middle of the wastelands. No trash, no wreckage, no bones. The grass is green and water literally shoots from the ground to keep it lush.
Even though the area looks like a paradise, the party can't help but notice that most of the citizens they pass don't look all that happy. A small child and his mother are in a small park near the road. The child picks up a stick and begins poking at a small anthill when his mother turns her back. She stifles a small scream when she turns about, but sirens are already flashing on several small spheres like the ones that had talked to the group previously.
Warning. Unneccessary agression detected. Citizen Harv McNugget. You are being cited. Please stand still.
The terrified child drops the stick and stands rigid in his grey jumpsuit. His mother freezes in mid-sob. The talking sphere projects a large red stop sign.
Citizen Harv McNugget, you have been cited for unneccessary violence and aggression against a subsapient creature. This is your second citation. A third citation will neccessitate a temporary relocation to the Bureau of Psychological Hygene. Please make a note of this.
The several small spheres stop projecting their stop signs and zip off. The mother runs forward and hugs her crying child
The road winds on in duralloy splendor for several miles before the group meets a gatehouse like the one they entered by. They are scanned again, and released without any problem. The guard advises them to stay on the road, Route 116, until they reach the ruins of Holy Oak. From there they can take a riverboat down the Neticut River or travel along the Old 91*
The old 91 runs through Bichport, then heads south to Nu Ork.
The small sphere projects a smiley face
I am sure that if you have a force, I can supply some weapons. I am more willing to supply medical and logistical supplies instead, but I do manufacture weapons for defense on a small scale.
The sphere goes back to an infinity symbol projection
If you are planning on visiting the Gangs of Nu Ork, perhaps you can find me any quantuum xbit memory cubes. They were very plentiful in the old Manhattan Arcology, and I am unable to replicate them at this point. If you bring me some I will trade them for the supplies you need. Do you have a sensorium-type machine or any computing equipment with memory storage? I can download their description and specifications.
"But what about the people living here?! Surely in some long-forgotten circuit of yours you have an inkling of compassion for what the Wreckers would do to your citizens!"
My citizens will defend this polity to the best of their abilities. It is their responsibility to uphold the cohesiveness of our polity. If we are attacked some will die, but the whole will endure.
My poilty is actually a haven for multiple racial groups. I have many baseline human genome citizens as well as mutated humans and intellegent animal-descended citizens. This polity is based on a philosophy of tolerance, social responsibility and order.
Coca Cola wrote:
"Besides. You gots records. I asks you, can yous tell me one exampo of a religion dat always follows it's religious code in warfare? Compute dat paramadah, footbah. And does yous reaaaally fink dey gonna let yous stays in control heah?"
As I can easily defend myself and my polity, I am certain that I can stay in control. I cannot allow my polity to be contaminated by outside forces. In the event they should disregard their philosophical parameters, they have no EMP weapon capable of destroying my network. My servers are distributed over a large area and in many cases are sheilded.
The android walks off and another small sphere zips in, projecting the infinity symbol again
While my assesment of the situation deals with parameters that you cannot be aware of, the information about EMP weapons is a new permutation. Does not the operating parameters of their code prohibit the use of such weapons?