Holocaust World (North America) Worldbender Simulation.
Week 1, Hiking across Kansas
The party is now in possession of the pantope. At Cantrel's suggestion, they spent a month, pantope time, in training each other and improving weapons skills. In the course of the month, they explored the more readily accessible parts of the pantope and learned that there were other parts that were either closed down at present, or had been lost as a result of the last attack. You can sometimes find lost sections, temporarily, by a flutter in the door system. Pfusand, for instance, found one of the Xeno Suites, a large, bare room that instantly turned itself into a good simulation of Akon-naza, the Naza home world. Alas, these rooms go away again in a few minutes. Pfusand is actually living in the conservatory. (These flutters in the door system are another result of the last attack. All the Serving System can tell us about the attack is that it was "topological.")
By the way, we now have a new character, an Achel named Mario, sent by Princess Louise of Inner Port Pod to join the Jack Patrol. [The GM is re-writing history enough so that Mario was with us all along, just being quiet.] Mario has both thievish and diplomatic skills. He is, I believe, a spy. I also believe we know this, so I suppose he is spying FOR us, not ON us. If he is spying ON us, he is now a long way from his usual contacts.
After our month of warm-up, we opened the pantope on the first setting. This is a simulation of North America after a nuclear holocaust. This setting occupies an entire continent of a worldbender planet. (We are told there are two such planets.) The door opened in a copse of trees (disguising itself as an archway through the branches), somewhere in a prairie. It must have been a fair while since the holocaust, since there's a fair amount of vegetation and animal life. There's no sign of habitation, though, and rather a lot of background radiation.
Shortly after we opened, the Serving System received a television broadcast. A young woman, clad in a cross between a bathing suit and military garb, was broadcasting a plea for help. Apparently she and her fellows are being held prisoner somewhere and will shortly be sold into slavery. At that point, crashing noises were heard and a rough-looking man with a red beard and a spike for a left hand yelled at the screen to "terminate." The broadcast stopped.
Sensors aboard the pantope tell us that the broadcast came from the same general area as the object we seek -- about five hundred miles to the west. This is rather unfortunate, (though the coincidence hardly surprised the players) since we can't move the doorway. When Number One re-programmed the navigation to suit our inexperienced hands, it arranged a system whereby we can't really tune the coordinates any closer than within one planet and one year. We could try hit-or-miss methods until we got close, but this is very poor practice on a worldbender planet, where such hi-tech activities would draw the attention of the worldbenders themselves.
So we are hiking it. In fact, we are hiking from the southwest corner of Kansas, across the width of Colorado.
We looked for alternatives to hiking. There were the shuttles, but (1) none of us is really good at driving the aircars of the 24th century, much less those of the 300th, and (2) they would attract attention.
However, the Serving System told us about the stable. This was in a shut-down section of the Pantope, but David, Wu, and Tom managed to find it and, once it was found, the Serving System connected it to the working sections.
The "stable" is really a kind of garage, containing assorted vehicles, including a large number of robot riding animals. We turned on the horses and an ostrich (for the Teldai) and took the ground car. The ground car has a chameleon circuit, so we adjusted it to look like a Conestoga wagon We then put one of our own grav sleds in the back. As a finishing touch, Wardrobe provided the Naza with a personal chameleon circuit and disguised her as a small elephant. We now set out for Colorado, disguised as a small traveling circus -- several riders, a wagon pulled by an elephant, and an ostrich ridden by a monkey. We also sell snake oil.
Actually, we scrupulously avoided all contact with human beings. In about ten days, we made it to the foothills of the Rockies. There, we found ourselves obliged to go through a narrow pass. Knowing a likely ambush when we see one, we sent all the sneakier members of our party ahead to scout -- Cantrel, Mario, and Aphron. Sho' 'nuff, they spotted something definitely odd about the grass at the far end of the pass -- maybe a pitfall or some other trap. Also, there were faint signs of smoke in the middle distance.
Since we had to go through the pass eventually, we went through with arms at the ready. And, sho' 'nuff, we were ambush. Javelin throwers sprang up, about eight on each side of the pass. The funny ground at the far end burst into flames. And the near end of the pass was occupied by six spearmen and their chief. This chief announced that we were "trespassing" in the territory of the Gray Sun tribe and we were to surrender to their Banker (him). Actually, this is your basic highway robbery.
Noon dickered with them for a bit. He presented the party as a traveling circus without much money on them ... nothing but this wagon, the ostrich, the monkey, and the elephant. And some snake oil. And this poor leper in the back of the wagon. They still wanted us to disarm and be searched.
No way. We ran for the flames -- something you cannot do with flesh-and- blood horses.
Three of our number were hidden under the canyon walls, Wu managed to use Distraction to make himself unnoticed, and two of our number were disguised as circus animals. This leaves two visible. The javelin throwers were very surprised, therefore, when they began taking all kinds of damage from unseen places. They were, I hope, disheartened when one of their number fell off the cliff to his death. I KNOW they were surprised when the elephant raised its trunk and shot out a cross-bow quarrel.
And that, I'm afraid, is where we leave our heroes.
Copyright © 1998, Jim Burrows. All Rights Reserved.