Previously, the jetliner had been brought in for a landing only to receive no further instructions from ground control. Vera volunteered the group’s services in going into the terminal to extend the walkway, so the crew can attach it to the plane’s exit.
After Nick pointed it out, after they’d stopped and their footsteps were silent, the sound of weeping was impossible to miss in the empty terminal. It seemed to be coming not from the gate that Flight 13 was parked in front of, but the one next to it, Gate F.
Does the party investigate?
5: Yes, but the decision is not unanimous.
Vera stepped into the long hall running from gate to gate.
“What are you doing?” Josh asked in a loud whisper. “Let’s just get the walkway extended and go.”
She waved a hand idly back at him, slowly creeping towards Gate F. Rounding the corner she could see the layout was the same, with a woman sitting in the middle of the third row of chairs.
She was a mess, blouse and slacks torn, makeup smeared, long ringlet hair a tangle, holding a banged-up looking suitcase on her lap. She was weeping openly, arms loose at her sides, face scrunched up in an expression of anguish. As Vera watched she wiped the tears from her eyes with the back of her forearm, revealing the large pistol held loosely in her left hand.
“Oh shit.” Nick’s comment was soft, his footsteps behind Vera softer. She hadn’t even realized that he’d followed her, but a glance told her that the others weren’t far behind.
Do we turn around and go back to securing the walkway?
2: No, but we’re primarily interested in neutralizing the threat of the gun.
Nick stepped forward, clearing his throat, hands raised non-threateningly. “Miss? Are you… okay?”
Mr. Diplomacy here, Vera thought. Clearly, the woman was not okay.
GURPS: Nick attempts to use the Diplomacy skill to get an automatic Good reaction roll.
7: He succeeds.
The woman didn’t stop weeping as she answered, speaking between sobs. “Are… you… t-talking… to… me?”
Nick paused. “Yes? Are you… are you okay?”
“Oh… fine… fine.” She smiled, or at least her mouth did, the rest of her face still contorted in mental anguish. “I… huh… just… w-wish muh-my… flight… wasn’t de-e-layed.” She trailed off into a grotesque sob-chuckle. “You… nuh-know how it… is-s-s-s.” She trailed off into nonsense sobbing.
Nick stepped back, clearly baffled, but stopped when Vera gestured at him to keep talking.
She circled around to the woman’s gun-side.
“Ah… so what happened here?” Nick asked, taking a tentative step towards her.
“Wh-wha-what… do… you… mean?”
“With the airport? Where is everybody?”
“The… the… flights-ites-ites?”
“No.” Nick moved to the side, and the woman’s gaze moved with him, tracking his passage. “I mean, you know. Everybody?”
GURPS: Nick’s using Fast-Talk to try and distract the woman. If he succeeds, he’ll give Vera a complementary bonus to her own stealth roll. Unfortunately Nick doesn’t have the skill, so he’s rolling against IQ-5.
15: Big time failure. Not a critical failure, but his incompetence actually gives Vera a -1 to her skill roll.
“I n-need… to get h-home… to see m-my m-m-mooooaaaaaauuugh!” Nick flinched as her sobbing escalated into a full on wail.
GURPS: Vera’s Stealth is also at its DX-5 default. Minus another 1 for Nick’s “help” and we need a critical success, and critically fail on a 14+.
14: Oh fun.
Does Vera get herself shot?
3. No, but she does trip over a chair.
Vera moved forward as quietly as she could manage, paying more attention to the woman’s pistol than her feet. They tangled over one another, and she went sprawling down the row, knocking chairs aside, and ending up on her knees staring up the barrel of the woman’s pistol.
“Ah… ah… are… you oh… okay?” the weeping woman asked, extending the gun towards her.
Vera slowly reached out and closed her hand over its barrel. “I take this now, okay?”
The woman didn’t resist as Vera pulled the weapon out of her grasp, moving the trigger back and away from her finger. “Ah… ah… ah… mmm… wai… waiting… for mah… mah… flight…”
Vera quickly yet calmly walked away, pistol in her hands, heavy and warm like a live snake. Once around the corner, she popped the magazine out and put it in her jeans pocket and let out a long held breath. “Holy shit.”
The others hurried after her.
“Vera, Jesus Christ!” Nick grabbed her by the arms. “Are you okay.”
“The fuck was wrong with that crazy b-” Josh caught himself. “Broad?”
Vera narrowed her eyes her eyes. Fucking pig. “I don’t know. She’s in some kind of, I don’t know, shock.”
“That’s way more than shock,” Ashly said. “I don’t know for sure, I didn’t see any injuries, but I didn’t get too close.”
“She didn’t look injured,” Vera confirmed.
Marco looked back towards the corner of Gate F. “Can we do anything for her?”
“I mean…” Ashly looked around. “I can’t? There’s such a thing emergency mental health triage but hell, I just volunteer at a hospital sometimes. She needs… months of therapy, maybe someone on the plane can do something.”
Vera pushed away from the wall. “We took away her weapon and left her in a quiet place. That’s the best we can do. But… something happened to her. Something’s not right. Broke her mind.”
“Jesus,” Nick said. “Let’s… let’s get the walkway connected.”
Vera led the way to the door next to the check-in counter. “Not just that, either. You see that burning building?”
“Yeah,” Marco said. “But what I didn’t see were any fire trucks.”
“And when we were coming down, I thought I saw gunfire.”
“Maybe,” Vera said quietly. “It was too far down to tell. Maybe fireworks. I don’t know.”
“Oh Jesus it’s zombies again, isn’t it?” Josh said. “Like maybe there was an earlier outbreak we jumped back in time to?”
Vera let out a cackle. “Listen to what you’re trying to make sense of. Rationalize. Činjenica.”
“It is what it is,” Josh said, calming a bit. “I’ll keep watch for Mrs. Crazy Pants. Can I have the gun?”
Marco answered for the rest of them. “No. Just keep watch.”
“Man, fine, shit.” Josh stomped off.
“Don’t go too far!” Nick called, but not loudly enough to be heard.
The mechanism to operate the walkway was a small podium with a control array, wheel to extend and contract, and dial to change its angle. Allen wasn’t an expert in its use, but he’d told them enough that they could make the attempt.
GURPS: Marco makes an IQ roll to figure it out while Ashly spots for him.
Ashly stood at the other side of the small entryway, trying to gauge the walkway’s progress. “A little further left. No, your other left. Yeah. Okay. Stop!”
Across the half-dozen yards of empty space after the end of the walkway Vera could see that Flight Engineer Allen had the airliner’s central door open. “Looks good!” he called.
“Sending it over,” Marco said, spinning the wheel. “Tell me when I’m close.”
“Keep going,” Ashly said. “Going. Gooooiiinnng… stop! Just an inch more.”
At the far end Allen grabbed the edge of the walkway and pulled it the rest of the way to the jet’s hull. “Good enough, great job.”
Vera walked down to the hatch, shaking her head. “Don’t send anyone over just yet. There is a… complication.”
“Thank you for bearing with us while we try to figure out what’s going on.” Marco addressed the passengers with a confidence born of public speaking at events since before his voice had changed. “The terminal is, as far as we can tell, deserted. Whoever invited us to land here has gone silent. You can all see the building to the left is just burning down, with no firefighters there to put it out. We just don’t know what happened, or how safe disembarking is.”
“Is it terrorism?” one of a group of older men wearing military insignia Vera didn’t recognize called out. “I saw Iranian markings on that plane that buzzed us!”
“The Arabs at it again!” one of his companions shouted.
Vera glanced at Ashly. Her face was carefully neutral.
“It’s… there was no plane,” Marco said.
“We need to get the Captain to the hospital.” Sister Pacifica had returned to sit with her sister nuns, Captain Morgan on a stretcher in the aisle next to them.
A man in an expensive-looking suit scoffed. “You can’t just… just keep us all on the plane like this.”
“Yeah, man,” one of the teenage Angels shouted from the back. “We got rights, you know!”
Josh nudged Marco, speaking quietly. “Tell them about the zombies.”
Marco looked at his friend with scorn, mouthed no, then continued. “What we’re proposing is that a small group head out, try and find out what happened, see if the terminal’s safe, at least.”
Chief stewardess Jane spoke up. “Let’s not do anything hasty. Just stay on the plane, wait for the authorities to take care of it.”
Marco continued. “Yes, most of you should wait. At least until we know things are safe. There’s food for another meal, water, soda… right?”
Jane nodded. “Right.”
“So that gives us at least a little time.”
GURPS: Marco’s Public Speaking skill is 11. How well did it go?
10: Okay. The grumpy and frightened passengers are going along with it, for now.
“Fine, but take the Captain to the hospital,” Jane said. “He really can’t wait any longer.”
“If he’s going, we’ll escort him,” Sister Pacifica said, gesturing to her fellow nuns. “He’s our responsibility.”
“We’ll be quick,” Nick said.“Just to make sure it’s safe. You can take him when it’s clear.”
“Yo, if these dorks are getting off, we’re getting off,” Crewcut said, stepping into the aisle, gesturing to the other Angels.
Jane fixed him with an icy stare. “Please take your seat.”
Crewcut gave her a sneer, wilted a little under the chief stewardess’s gaze, then sat down glumly.
“I’ll go with,” Allen said.
“You should stay with the plane,” Marco said. “In case-”
“No, he should come.” Vera was watching him carefully. Something about the way he held himself, the guilty way he was watching the Captain… he felt like he’d let them down in the cockpit. He had something to prove. Vera could understand that.
“Okay, but-” Marco started.
“I’m in, too.” Amanda wheeled herself forward.
“I really don’t think-”
She wheeled right up to him. “Relax, buddy, places like this are designed for people like me.” She lowered her voice. “Besides, I need to get into the radio tower. I, uh, know some people I can contact about what’s happened here.”
Vera’s eyes widened. “Do you know what’s going on?”
“No, no,” Amanda said. “Some kind of natural disaster, be my guess. But I can get help here a lot faster if I can get on the horn with someone.”
Crewcut’s voice floated up from the back. “Oh, man, now Wheels is going and we gotta stay here?”
“Okay.” Marco nodded. “But that’s-”
“Pardon me.” The balding man in the tweed jacket, the one who’d had the fit earlier, stepped close. “But I have some theories about what’s going on.”
“Oh?” Marco said.
“Professor Wendell Poropat,” he offered Marco a hand. “I study extra-sensory perception.”
Nick raised an eyebrow. “You’re a psychic.”
“I study psychic phenomenon.”
“Are you feeling okay?” Ashly said. “After your… episode?”
“It wasn’t a fit,” Professor Poropat said. “I felt… it was more of a vision. Of an icy black hand gripping my heart. Stronger than any vision I’ve ever had… I’m worried there might be some malevolent parapsychological force at work here. A mass delusion or… something more sinister.”
“I… see.” Marco said, looking to Nick for help.
“Dudes,” Josh said. “Zom. Bees.”
“Zombies?” the professor asked.
“No, it’s… inside joke,” Vera said. “But Josh’s right. We can’t really rule anything out, can we?”
“No.” Marco sighed. “Fine.”
“Now Professor Whackjob is going?” Crewcut sounded despondent.
Made reaction rolls for each NPC with a motivation to leave the plane to see which ones would offer, then a d6 Yes-and No-But check to see which ones the PCs would bring with them. The NPC entourage at this point is:
- Allen the Flight Engineer. He suffers from anxiety attacks and cowardice, but has a good Electronics Operation (Communications) skill.
- Amanda the paraplegic Adventurer. She has combat reflexes, high pain threshold, and a ton of useful skills.
- Professor Poropat. He has academic skills and genuine ESP, though our players may not yet believe him.
The group returned to the terminal, Josh taking the lead, the others following, Allen in the rear.
“Say, you said you found a gun?” Amanda asked, nudging Vera. “May I see it?”
“You know about guns?” She asked, pulling it out of her pocket and handing it over.
The module didn’t specify the make or model of the gun, only that it’s a “huge automatic pistol.”
Is it an IMI Desert Eagle?
3: No, but it’s still a larger early 90s pistol.
Is it a Tec-9?
4: Yes, but it’s not modified for full-auto. We roll for ammo: 7 rounds left.
Amanda turned the gun over in her hands. “Intratec 9, cheap piece popular with cheaper hoods. This one has the… 20 round magazine. You need to watch out for these – they’re prone to jamming at the worst possible times.”
Vera was impressed and didn’t bother hiding it. “You know your guns. You want it?”
The woman snorted. “A Tec-9? No. Ask me again if you find something in a Glock.” She peered up at Vera. “You know how to shoot?”
“Some. But…” She took the gun back. “I find I do better if I hit people with the gun.”
“You just need to take your time. Aim. Squeeze the trigger.”
“Yeah.” Vera sighed, thinking of the hoards and how they’d just twitch a little if you shot them anywhere but the head. “But sometimes that doesn’t work. So what do you do?”
Amanda grinned impishly.“You carry a hammer.”
“She’s gone.” Nick had walked out to the middle of the hall. “The weeping woman.”
“She can’t have gone far,” Josh said. “Besides, we got her gun.”
“Except who knows what else she had in that suitcase,” Marco said.
“You really think she might have been dangerous?” the Professor asked.
“We don’t know,” Ashly responded.
“Onward?” Josh suggested, pointing down the hall towards the rest of the terminal.
“Hold up, I want to check out the tower,” Amanda pointed the other way. “Get on the radio. Contact my people.”
Do they hit the tower first?
4: Yes, but they want to be quick about it.
“It’s a good plan but we need to make sure the terminal’s secure,” Marco said.
Amanda gestured at the tower. “This is one end of the terminal right here. Good place to start checking anyway – that way nothing surprises us from behind.”
“Okay, yeah,” Marco said, walking towards the tower, craning his neck back to gaze up at its seven stories. “Hope they have an elevator.”
“No elevators,” Nick said quickly.
Vera chuckled, then turned to Amanda. “Another inside joke.”
“Yeah, well, unless you think carrying me up to the top is funny, we’re going to need to take that joke all the way up.” Amanda paused. “Not all the way up. Top floor is for eyes on the birds, range on the comms is too short. Long range radio and radar station should be somewhere in the middle.”
Vera pushed the doors open. “In we go.”