“I go visit my sister on my breaks sometimes – the state hospital isn’t far, and we have lunch in the quad. It’s… it was nice.” Toni had calmed down, putting her bat aside, sitting holding the cup of shitty airport vending machine coffee that Vera had grabbed for her. Every so often she’d shoot short furtive glances towards the flight gates where Marco, Allen, Nick, and the Professor had departed.
“It’s nearby?” Ashly asked. “Because our flight’s Captain has had a heart attack-”
“No, you don’t want to go there,” Toni said quickly. “It’s chaos… they sent me out to find help… but… I…”
Vera spoke quickly, to head off another crying jag. “Why don’t you start at the beginning. You were there visiting your sister?”
Toni nodded, looking down at her drink. “We were heading out to the quad when we heard this scream – turned and saw this man, this doctor, I don’t know his name… he just grabbed a nurse by the head and bounce her off the wall. Just… just grabbed and shoved her and she hit the wall and… and I’ll never forget the sound her skull made.”
“Jesus,” Amanda said.
“And he turns and he looks right at us, but then this other nurse slams right into him, shoulder checks him and he falls, and she starts kicking him, and the nurses all join in kicking him, even the candy striper, she’s stomping on him, and we’re running over but, but… but…” Her voice dropped low. “But before we get there these patients – all the male patients – come running and screaming from the next ward over. Guys with bandaged heads, broken arms, and they’re using their casts like clubs, jabbing their IV stands… they just started attacking the nurses, screaming like nothing I’ve ever heard, nothing I’d ever seen…” her words dissolved into the tears running down her face, words lost in racking sobs.
Vera didn’t know what to think. It sounded so fantastic, that people would just… go berserk like that. But the woman was clearly telling the truth as she understood it.
Toni took a deep breath to calm herself before continuing. “And we fought them off, us women. We rallied. Me and Angela and the other female doctors and nurses and even the janitors. We just… there were more of us than the male staff, who’d joined in the fight, and the patients were weak… we had to stop them, because they wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t let up. We had to! We didn’t have a choice!”
GURPS Fight Checks for everyone. Vera and Ashly pass, Amanda fails by 5. She’s stunned.
She let out a long sigh. “And it just went on like that. Men attacking us. We were fighting back but they… that doctor started it, and they came to… they were with him. All the men. Even the…” she shook her head. “Eventually those of us that’d survived, we’d barricaded ourselves into the cancer wing and Angela… I don’t know. I didn’t see her. But the men were just battering themselves against the doors, battering themselves bloody, and I… I was still in pretty good shape compared to the others, and I’m slight, so they sent me out a window to get help. Find other women.”
“Holy shit.” Amanda was staring at Toni, eyes wide.
She cast a gaze around the check-in desks. “And that’s how I ended up here. I needed a change of uniform from my locker, and I’ve just been… looking for anything that can help. Anyone that can help. But I just… just don’t want to go back.”
“Holy shit,” Amanda repeated.
“It… I had a plan, I think, but now I’m just so tired. Tired of running, tired of fighting.” Tony buried her face in her hands.
Ashly attempts a Diplomacy roll.
“I’m so sorry for you,” Ashly said. “I really am. I… can’t even imagine what that must have been like for you, for any of you. But I can truthfully tell you that the men with us haven’t… it’s not men, it’s something at the hospital.”
“I don’t know.” Toni said quietly.
“I’m not asking you to trust them,” Ashly said. “I’m asking you to trust me.” She pointed at Vera and Amanda. “Trust us. If the men… if something happens to them… you’ve warned us now. We’ll be ready.”
“You didn’t see how savage they were!”
“Trust us.” Vera held up her Tec-9. “We will be ready.” She had no worries about Marco or Nick or… well, not even Josh. Or the professor. Whatever had happened at the hospital seemed to have been at, well, the hospital. Or it had worn off. At least, though crazy, the man in the radio room hadn’t seemed psychotic. But for now, they needed Toni to trust them. In her current state, who knew if she could take care of herself?
Toni stared at the weapon.
“Come with us,” Ashly said. “You’ll be… well, safer. And we won’t leave you alone with any men. Okay?”
Toni gave a child’s response, meek and uncertain. “Okay.” She slipped off the counter to her feet.
“You guys finish checking out the offices for anything useful.” Vera said. “I’ll… go tell the others what’s up, we meet back near security.”
She found Nick standing outside the lounge next to the security station, idly toying with a chef’s knife. “Everything okay?”
He lowered the knife. “Yeah, the Professor, Josh, and Allen are in there talking to a guy.”
“Older guy, alone in the bar area, getting quietly plastered. Doesn’t seem to want to talk. How are things on your end?”
“It’s… it’s rough.” Vera said. “Toni’s pretty fucked up, but after hearing about what she went through…” She gave Nick a quick run down.
He gave out a low whistle. “You think that’s what’s happened here? What with radio guy’s paranoia and the weeping woman?”
“Maybe?” Vera said.
“Drunk guy seems calm. If not exactly friendly.”
“What Josh said before about the rage virus has me thinking,” Vera said. “From what Toni described… she didn’t outright say it, but it didn’t sound like it was only the men.”
“Not All Men!” Nick said.
“Ha ha.” Vera didn’t laugh. “But no, not just the men. And she seems fine… as far as not being mindlessly violent goes… and Radio Guy didn’t just attack us, he seemed more wary than aggressive. So maybe it wore off. Or it comes and goes. We have to be careful.”
“If I start feeling murderous I’ll let you know.”
“You’re so funny.” Vera craned her neck to look past Nick into the lounge.
The Professor emerged, arms folded. “Is our friend feeling better?”
“Calmer,” Vera said. “We got her to come along, but she’s been traumatized. By men.”
Poropat nodded. “We’ll give her space. That’s what she needs. Space and quiet in the short term, therapy and possibly medication in the long term.”
“Is that your psychic opinion?” Vera asked.
“Hey now, I was a psychologist long before I was a parapsychologist,” he said. “But as far as that goes… I can’t read minds. I can… see things. The past. The future. Visions.”
“Can you see what happened here?” Vera gestured around herself.
The professor put a hand on the wall, closing his eyes for a second.
GURPS: Rolling Psychometry for the Professor.
Psychometry in this context allows the Professor to read an object or area’s history as far as a rough sense and emotional impressions go.
“I… some kind of panic.” He opened his eyes. “I can feel the emotional imprint of something that happened clearer than I can… can see something. I sense a lot of fear, only a few hours ago. And then everyone left.”
“You’re being very open about this,” Nick said.
“I’m normally not,” Poropat chuckled. “People tend to write you off when you tell them you have visions. But I think in this situation we’ll give each other a bit of leeway, yes?”
Vera nodded. “Yes. Did you get anything from the drunk?”
“Mr. Beacon claims to have had a vision of another sort. Religious. An angel that told him of the violent end of the world. When his neighbors disregarded his warnings, he decided to tour the city’s bars instead.”
GURPS: Rolling occultism and psychology for the professor.
10 and 8. Both passed.
“Oh,” Vera said.
“I’m afraid that it confirms some of my suspicions,” Professor Poropat said. “His vision was… a mish-mash of iconic imagery from a spectrum of religious doctrine from across the globe. And the way he spoke of it… I’m certain the poor man has been hypnotized.”
“Hypnotized?” Vera couldn’t believe her ears. “By whom? To what end?”
“That I can’t tell you. But I now believe that whatever’s happened, to us, to this city… there’s an intelligent yet malevolent mind behind it, possibly one with great psychic strength. And it means us ill will!”
The group reconvened in front of the airport lounge. Like Nick, Marco had armed himself with a knife from the kitchen, and Josh was drinking a can of soda.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to continue talking to Mr. Beacon,” Professor Poropat said. “See if I can get him to recall something about whoever hypnotized him.”
“Do you mind if we stay with them?” Ashly asked Toni. “It should be safe and quiet inside. We don’t have to sit near them.”
“Let’s sit near the door,” Toni said.
“Okay,” Ashly said quietly. She turned to Vera. “You don’t mind?”
“No,” Vera said. “There’s only the offices and baggage claim left anyway. When we finish you guys can stay here while we go back to the plane and let everyone else off – maybe Toni would feel safer around the nuns?”
“Nuns?” Toni said. “Ye… yes, I think so.”
“Okay, good.” Vera, Marco, Nick, Josh, Allen, and Amanda set off, leaving the Professor, Vera, and Toni to retreat into the lounge.
The administrative offices were up a flight of stairs, so Amanda stayed behind – with Allen keeping her company, while the others headed up to take a look. Vera didn’t see much of use among the supplies and desks, though she did find a map of the airport grounds. “Marco, take a look at this.”
Marco gamely joined her. “What’d you find?”
She tapped a finger on the map. “That burning building. National guard armory.”
“Oh shit,” he said.
“Yeah. It’s too bad – we could find some firepower there. I’d feel safer.”
“Hey you guys, take a look at this!” Josh’s voice carried with it some excitement.
Vera found him standing with Marco next to a broken window. Far below, outside on the pavement, she could make out a twisted fallen figure wearing dark slacks and a light blue dress shirt. “Oh, god, Josh, I did not need to see this.”
“What?” Josh sounded confused. “No, there!” He pointed up the side of the building, to where a police car sat, lights on, idling and empty. “We get down there, we can get on the radio, contact other cops.”
She nodded. “Good find, Josh.” She spared a last look down at the fallen man below, then resumed her search of the offices.
GURPS: Scrounging default. Marco passes, the others fail.
“Find anything?” Amanda asked as they returned.
Marco held up a plastic first aid kit. “Josh also spotted a cop car outside, near the baggage return.”
“Oh, sweet!” Amanda perked up. “Let’s go check it out.”
Somewhat higher in spirits, the group continued on past the Rent-A-Car booth towards the baggage claim.
A sudden giggle stopped Vera dead in her tracks. Up ahead she could see a pair of children climbing on the baggage claim, cavorting about and playing, their high-pitched voices carrying no sense of unease or caution.
Do the PCs display a modicum of gamer-like caution when faced with unexpected children?
1: No, and someone just blunders on in.
Random roll for who does:
“Oh Jesus, kids,” Allen said, increasing his pace, the others behind him. “Hey! Kids! Are you okay! Are your parents around?”
The only response was a joyous giggle, as one of the kids crawled into the baggage return chute, the other blond girl clumsily climbing on top of it. “Your turn!” The kid inside’s hollow voice came. “Yours!”
“No you!” The girl insisted.
IQ roll for Allen to realize that somethings very wrong.
Vera faltered as she drew near, her eyes picking up red stains on the little girl’s yellow sun-dress, the blood smeared on her hands and around the long pointed fangs visible between her lips. “Allen, wait!”
Her warning came fast, but the thing that looked like a child was faster than the flight engineer could react, fanged maw snapping and nearly catching his crotch before he stumbled back and away.
“What the fuck?” Allen managed, eyes wide.
Vera stepped to the side, pulling the pistol out of her waistband and thumbing off the safety.
Before she could even bring it up, though, the girl had buried her teeth into Allen’s inner thigh and pulled back a chunk of meat amidst a great spurt of blood that shot high in an arc overhead as the flight engineer fell over backwards.
The boy was out too, now, leaping down next to the girl, snapping his jaws as Allen tried to drag himself away.
“Fuck fuck fuck fuck!” Vera’s memories were full of grasping hands and gnashing teeth grabbing at her, pulling her down into their mass, biting her, eating her. “Die you fucks!”
She didn’t even really realize she’d pulled the gun’s trigger before the girl did a small pirouette and fell over, larger crimson stain blooming on the front of her dress, and she barely registered the boy clutching his leg as he fell beside her.
Allen is right next to the Girl, Vera is 2 yards away, Marco 4 yards away, Nick and Josh 6 yards back, and Amanda is 8.
Girl moves into Close Combat and bites at Allen but misses.
Boy emerges from the baggage chute, moves into Close Combat
Vera critically succeeds her fright check, readies her gun and steps sideways to get a better view of the kids.
Allen passes his Fright Check, backs away, going All Out Defensive (1 hex from kids)
Marco passes his Fright Check, stops, and readies his knife (3 yards away)
Josh fails his Fright Check by 2. Acquires a new quirk: Doesn’t trust children. He stops and readies his mop handle (5 yards away)
Nick passes his Fright Check, readies his knife (5 yards away)
Girl makes an All Out Attack: Determined (+4 to hit), striking Allen, who fails his dodge. Allen is bit in the (randomly determined) left leg. There’s a 1 in 6 chance that she hits the femoral – Allen is unlucky. She does. This increases the wounding modifier by .5 (to x2) and removes the usual damage cap on a limb hit. She hits for 1d-1 cutting damage – rolling a 6. So 10 damage total, the worst possible result for poor Allen. He is at 0/10 hp, but passes his HT roll to avoid knockdown and stunning – his leg is, however, crippled, so he falls down regardless, and is now supine.
Boy also makes an All Out Attack, though his is +2 to damage. He hits. Now lying down, Allen has a +2 to dodge from his All Out defense, but -3 to dodge; he gets an 8 and barely manages to evade Boy’s bite.
Vera takes a shot at the now gore-covered girl with her Tec-9. Her gun skill is 10 but she’s never fired this particular sort of pistol before, so she gets a -2. She squeezes off a full 3 rounds because holy shit. 7! She hits! Only one round hits, though, center of mass, doing 10 damage, bringing Girl down to 1/10 hp. She blows her check against knockdown and stunning and collapses into a bloody heap. The other two rounds miss Allen but one hits Boy in the leg for 7 damage, crippling the leg, and he fails his HT roll as well.
We’re down to 4 rounds remaining in the Tec-9.
The gun was trembling in her hand – or was it her hand trembling. Dimly, she could hear Marco shouting, telling Josh to go get Ashly, telling Nick to run back to the plane and get the nuns. It was all so loud, so fast, so fucking much.
Next Time: Too much, and yet, not enough.