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The 0th post for the IC is now our Mission Recap with key plot points summarized for everyone's convenience. I've also updated the Mission Log, which post #2 in the OOC. I'd like to open the log to anyone who's character may record their thoughts we move forward. It'll be an interesting way to track progression.
Mission Recap

Chapter 1: Duty Calls
  • Recon Squad Zero set off to find the missing squad, Artemis
  • Encountered a radstorm in the Glowing Sea, resulting in a crash landing
  • Split into two groups, Zero struggled against feral ghouls and raiders to survive
  • Knight-Sergeant McDowell and Initiate Grimshaw discovered tunnels housing strange super mutants with captive deathclaws
  • Squad managed to escape with minor injuries and damaged armor
  • Knight-Sergeant McDowell was Killed in Action during the retreat
  • Senior Lancer McCarthy was Killed in Action during the crash

Chapter 2: Genesis 4:9
  • Recon Squad Zero took refuge in a USGS Outpost along the Charles River
  • Squad members grapple with Paladin Moss's decision that ultimately led to McDowell's death
  • Knight Daniel Estevez was field-promoted to Knight-Sergeant, acting second-in-command
  • Initiate Laura Grimshaw was field-promoted to Knight, designated sharpshooter
Small sound, massive shift.

“That’s a beacon?” Owen asked, probably for the fourth time.

The lancer sighed loud enough for him to hear across the vertibird. “Yes, it’s a beacon. Keep asking me that and I’m going to think you don’t believe me.”

“I believe you,” the scribe replied. He stepped behind the co-pilot’s chair, observing Frank’s corpse in the seat beside them. “It’s just strange, you know? Why turn it on now? I mean, a beacon is meant to call for help. They didn’t just realize falling out of a vertibird was the ‘right time’.”

Working through the idea in his head, Owen began to nod. He turned back toward Patty and Harper. Neither made eye contact, which said a lot considering the limited space. The scribe raised his hands in surrender and gazed outside.

A bright red plume of smoke streamed up into the sky. Pink clouds loomed over a set of warehouses surrounded on all sides by trees, a paved lot that reminiscent of a medieval moat, and a number of broken down pre-war vehicles. There was dark smoke, too. An offensive, tarry odor clung to the air. Rubber and metal, burning.

They all understood. Not the details, of course, but the smell told them plenty.

Owen double-checked the utility ladders as Patty took sorted out the minigun. The good doctor studied them both in a way that made Owen stand a little straighter. Like they could even spare a body if Harper noticed something ‘concerning’. The vertibird began to rise, putting more distance between them and potential threats that seemed to be waiting.

“I got movement,” Lancer Brown reported.

Patty whistled. “It looks like that horde from earlier came this way,” she paused and her voice changed. “You think that means Chowder came over here?”

“Might have to rethink my feelings on dogs,” Owen chuckled. “Oh shit, I see them. One of them. Between the trucks, that’s power armor!”

“Preparing to fire,” Patty announced.

The barrels of the minigun spun to life, its whistle a warning for the crew. Owen could feel the pitched, metallic rattle of its report in his legs. He, like the others, watched as the relatively small, 5mm rounds came down like rain. Each drop causing a tuft of earth to burst from the ground like an orchestrated wave. The show culminated when the rounds found their targets: the remnants of the horde converging onto the warehouse.

They popped like balloons. Bits of meat, bone, and decayed flesh flung here and there. Their bodies torn apart by the barrage with little more than pulp and a bloody smear left where they stood.

Averting his eyes, Owen reminded himself the ghouls were feral. Wild, hateful things without a shred of humanity left in those rotten husks. The person was gone. Phantoms in place of people. He repeated this several times, trying desperately to push the image out of his mind. Whatever the ghouls were, they were entirely too human.

“Pretty sure that’s the knight-sergeant out there,” the lancer suggested, lowering the vertibird toward a clearing in the lot. “Looks like he cleared us a little spot. We should still make this quick.”

As if underscoring the point, Samuel touched down the vertibird. Patty stood poised for combat behind the minigun, her side overlooking the lot, while Owen’s old anxieties resurfaced. He stared at the warehouse with a hand on his pistol. He squeezed the grip when the big, barn-style doors rolled open. The doctor laid on his shoulder. Reassuring, grounding, and knowing.

Owen heard her gasp when the dog came running out first.

“Load up everyone,” Moss grumbled through the squad comm. “We’ve had enough surprises for one day.”

Owen and Harper helped the squad board until only two remained. The knight-sergeant finished off a ghoul apparently maimed during the battle, while the paladin waited impatiently. You could feel the tension. All of them overstimulated, senses keyed into anything that might hint of a threat.
The lancer turned in his chair. “Uh, sir?” Brown shouted outside. “I’m picking up some strange... vibrations, I guess. Something’s --”

First the thunderclap, then the wave of dust as ground opened. The front of the store and warehouse lurched forward, sinking like a foot pressed into wet sand.

Moss lunged for the vertibird, nearly ripping Owen’s arm out of its socket while climbing aboard. He glanced over Patty’s shoulder into the field. The knight-sergeant crept toward them painfully slow, covering little of the dozen or so yards between them.

“Take off,” the paladin whispered. He rushed to the co-pilot’s chair and repeated himself, this time louder. “Take. Off.”

A hush fell over the squad. Some protested loudly, others politely, and a few with silent disdain.

Then it appeared.

Faint movement in the haze caught their eye. Too obscured by the dust to know just what was coming until a clawed hand the size of a man’s chest swiped at the clouds. They didn’t need to see more to understand.

“Everybody hold on,” Lancer Brown warned.

The haze formed a ring beneath them as the vertibird ascended. Just wide enough to see Knight Sergeant McDowell standing on one edge of the haze and two deathclaws on the other. Patty turned the minigun, ready to assist, but as she took aim the vertibird continued to rise. Clouds rolled in from the edges, shrouding the deathclaws ready to pounce upon their prey and McDowell, who watched his last hope soar into the distance.

Conversation was short, visibility was good. Most kept to themselves, thinking back on the morning like a strange nightmare. Not the paladin, though. While they collected themselves, their leader kept busy looking for potential places to make camp and regroup. Posted himself behind the Lancer Brown, much to the pilot’s chagrin.

“The building over there, you see it?” Moss asked, but it didn’t sound like a question. “It looks like there’s even a landing pad. Put us down over there.”

Whatever the squad felt, they went back to work. A new location meant potential threats. Patty continued to man the left minigun, while Estevez and Grimshaw readied their rifles by the right doorway. In the back of the vertibird, the scribes readied their gear. Medical supplies to finally see to the squad’s wounds and reference materials to overcome any obstacles the pre-war structure might hold.

Moss approached right door as the vertibird landed. “Knight Brown, take Grimshaw and Algarín and check the perimeter. Make it a quick sweep for activity,” he instructed. “Kinsley and Lancer Brown stay on the bird. I want to know if we can rely on it for a longer trip. Estevez and I will clear the building.”

“Watch your back in there,” Owen cautioned, eyes focused on Estevez. When the point was made, he acknowledged the paladin. “Looks like an old military facility, sir. Not the most fortified from the looks of it, but you never know.”

Without another word, Algarín joined Grimshaw, and Patty outside of the vertibird.
Who’s Story is This?
A short collection from HP Lovecraft
The Southern Reach trilogy
Half of our group is surrounded by feral ghouls with only a wrecked vertibird for cover. The doors are jammed open. Time is against them.

The other half woke up near an abandoned warehouse and no sign of the others. Worse, they've found a strange tunnel in the building and signs they might not be alone on the surface.

Shit is getting real.

And that means we need to talk about high-stakes situations. Not every combat situation is high-stakes, so not all will require a roll. I encourage them though, for creative purposes. When a situation has a high likelihood of death, rolling is required. Not for every hit, just for the choices that feed into how you handle the situation. Example.

Vert-gang has decided on a plan collectively. One member will distract the ghouls, two will attempt to sneak outside unnoticed, and the other two will try to cover them in case things go sideways. That's three parts where success is really a game of chance and it'll need three separate rolls. Each unique player involved in the individual part will have a D20 rolled on their behalf -- secondaries don't give you a bonus roll. Your collective score will determine how things go in total. Your individual rolls, if they're extreme, can affect how they go for you. For things to go well you'll need to get a total count that's half the maximum possible count. If someone rolls a 5 and the other a 15, things go well and prizes await, but that first person might take a beating. A total count less than 20 means things are about to get worse.

And that's it. Sneak 1 rolls, gets a 18 (probably Brown). Sneak 2 rolls, gets a 2 (fuckin' Owen). Brown gets onto the vertibird like a ninja, while Owen falls and breaks his leg. Ferals don't notice, this part is successful.

It's meant to be simple. I trust everyone will play fair and report their rolls in discord. If some folks seem to "always be lucky" you can expect some GM involvement.

Vert-Squad That's really how we're going to handle rolling. So, @stormflyx you can roll for Chowder in part 1 (distraction). For part 2 it'll be @Cazzer1604 and I for Lancer Brown and Owen (sneaks). Part 3 @stormflyx and @Lavenderdame for Harper and Patty (cover). Report your rolls in discord/vert-gang. Let me know if you have questions there!

Ware-Homies It's a little different here. Our party is a few decisions away from approaching a different kind of high-stakes situation. Cross that bridge when we get there.
Exhaustion overcame Owen halfway up the stairs. Physically, he was spent. When a squad left the Prydwen their work remained. Projects might be delayed or temporarily transferred until the original scribe returned. But Artemis had not returned and little of what Scribe Faris handled was considered ‘low priority’. Owen took on the lion’s share of the new work. Spent long nights pouring over work well outside of his own specialties, trying to divine whether Faris was insane or simply attuned to another way of thinking.

He must have given a third of his sleeping hours to the extra work. At first in an effort to do his duty, then to avoid the nightmares.

They always started with an anxious thought. In this case, what if Faris doesn’t come back? Then the dreams became more vivid. He saw the fields of wheat waving in the breeze outside their cottage. A great and gentle golden sea below the crisp blue sky. Beauty and satisfaction and the overwhelming feeling of a life he’d never thought attainable. Night after night, these perfect dreams. And then the anxious thoughts returned. What if you don’t come back? The dreams feel just as real as they turn grim. Calming blues flash to horrifying reds. Rich golds to putrid grey. All of the world changes to those simple colors: red and grey. Fire and steel. Blood and ash.

Owen laid in his bunk, restless. Despite all of the comforts and luxuries that the Prydwen guaranteed, he still found himself wanting. The night sky most of all. Real, honest to God darkness and maybe even a flash of a star. At least, he thought they were stars. He heard once any glimmers in the sky were just small radiation storms. That nuclear war choked the light from stars in most places. And yet Owen swore he had seen stars while lying on the rooftops in Olympia. Again on a mountain in California where he’d gone so far as to name one after his son. Maybe he was being romantic.

While most shuffled or stumbled their way out of their bunks, a few managed to collect their things and leave with some semblance of subtlety. Owen waited for the last member of the squad before signing off of the shared terminal. One last message for Oliver. One message for the scribe who would cover his duties. One draft in case, like Faris before him, he did not return.

Owen stepped onto the flight deck and took a deep breath. Most of the squad waited near or inside the vertibird. The irony of knights with their power armor, all polished, repaired, and ready for war, standing patiently for the mission to begin. He might laugh if not for their weaponry. Hell, he thought twice before making light of anyone in the squad. A strange tension loomed behind the familiarity already beginning to form. Owen knew the feeling, saw it on their faces as well. They had questions. Some might’ve even worked it out.

“Helmets on,” ordered Paladin Moss. His voice barely audible over the beating wind and the vertibird’s engines. As the squad complied, the paladin descended the stairs from the main deck. “Coms are now live. Welcome to Recon Squad Zero. Mount up.”

Whatever shred of resistance Owen felt against Moss melted. The paladin stood inches taller than anyone on the squad without armor. That was no small feat considering they had McDowell. Add a bulky set of T-60 and Moss made Grognak the Barbarian look like the common rabble. When the paladin approached, Owen could only think to rush toward the vertibird.

Moss waited for the others to board before climbing in last. “Lancer Brown take the co-pilot chair. Grimshaw’s on the right minigun. Esteves on the left. You will not open fire without my permission.” Turning toward Owen in the back of the vertibird, the paladin pointed to a window. “Rest of you try to make yourselves useful.”

“Cleared to launch.” Grinning, the pilot gave Lancer Brown a thumbs up. “Watch how it’s done, kid.”

“By the Will of the Elder and God, take us away!” Moss declared, grabbing a rail to stabilize himself.

The vertibird shifted and lowered as a metal arm extended from the docking bay, putting distance between the chopper and the airship. Anyone not already strapped into the ship did so quickly. All except for the initiate, too green to know any better until the paladin took it upon himself to drop the harness over her shoulder. Methodically, he ensured the rest of the squad was prepared by scanning them one-by-one until satisfied. His check completed moments before the engines shifted into place. The dull hum came alive suddenly, erupting into a roar as the vertibird left the safety of the Prydwen for pre-dawn skies.

Nobody spoke at first. It took awhile for the engine’s noise to fade into the background and one glance around the vertibird revealed most everyone was enraptured by the view. He even found Moss gazing out into the early morning darkness.
While the magic of flight did not fade, the anxiety of a mission ill-understood grew too powerful to ignore. Owen felt around the left ear of his helmet until he found a small button.

“Paladin Moss, a question.” Owen looked around, confirming that the rest of the squad could in fact hear him. “I wonder if now is a good time to go over the mission details.”

If the question annoyed the paladin, he knew better than to show it.

“The sole purpose of Recon Squad Zero is to locate and, if needed, rescue our lost brothers and sisters. Recon Squad Artemis went dark three months ago. They were tasked with surveying the Commonwealth, what was formerly known as Boston. We have intel saying there are settlements there. We have also have word the area is infested with super mutants, ghouls, and desperate wasters. We do not know is who or what is responsible for our missing brothers and sisters. The only people you will trust are on this chopper. Anyone else is a potential hostile. We will find our comrades. We will make anyone involves pay. Failure is not an option.” Moss performed the salute. “Ad victoriam!”

“Ad victoriam!” the squad repeated.

Nodding in approval, the paladin continued. “The last message received from Artemis came moments before entering the target area. We believe there is a trading hub in the area. Our search begins there.” Moss paused, before handing a bulky, handheld screen around the group. It displayed the names of the missing squad with photos from their dossier. “We have a couple hours until we arrive. Get familiar. Ready your weapons. Talk. Whatever you need to prepare... Go on!”

Grunting, the paladin turned to Grimshaw and Esteves. Without looking, he gestured for McDowell to approach as well. Once they collected, each one quicker than the last to meet the paladin’s gaze, Moss awarded their eagerness with silence.

And nothing else. He said and did nothing. Not so much as a nod of approval. Either it was a test or Moss was just woefully inept at small talk.

The two hours passed in a blur. Outside the grey-and-green rubble signature of the Capital Wasteland changed. Conversation changed with it. First, as the eerie glow poured in from the red sky, the conversation stopped. They stared out into an impenetrable haze the color of fresh blood. It seemed as if the world itself threatened to consume them. And then, like that very thought occurred to them all at once, the conversation restarted.

Loud and frantic. Short and afraid.

Light shot through the left rotor. The vertibird jerked counterclockwise, then dipped forward and barrelled. Shouting, so much shouting. The lead pilot pulled back, levelling off the vertibird suddenly and stumbling the passengers. Some fell. Others held themselves in place.

Then nothing.

Red clouds hung in the distance. South, assuming the T-60’s compass was functioning properly. Moss wondered. The geiger counter flared during the flight. Before the light. Quiet as a Sunday morning afterward.

Didn’t matter. There was work to be done — God’s work. He rose from beneath a warped sheet of metal, which appeared to have been part of a shack before he came barrelling through. He stared at the collapsed structure a while until lifting a large piece of aluminum. It was Esteves. Wrapped in the arms of his power armor, Grimshaw. Both breathing. Neither appeared injured.

The paladin split the area into sections. Lifted every bit of scrap from the old shack dutifully. Found McDowell partially sunken into the ground, as if he’d fallen straight down while the others were flung and skid to a stop. At least the knight-sergeant was stirring. He returned to Esteves and Grimshaw, dragging them one-by-one to larger building, then did the same with McDowell. It was a sort of warehouse. Assumed the shack had been related. An old cabin, maybe.

Didn’t notice the piercing the searing headache until the work was done. Until realizing that half of the squad and the vertibird were missing.

“Oh thank God,” the pilot whispered, his voice hoarse. He was bathed in red light shining from the top of the cockpit. “You’re a knight, right?”

Owen stumbled to his feet, uneasy. “Scribe, actually.”

“Shhh!” Disappointment washed over the pilot’s face as he pointed out the window.

It took a moment for his eyes to adjust. The light outside looked strange, almost tinted pink, and not too far from them blood red clouds loomed high above. Like they sat in the doorway between Hell and Earth. Owen glanced back at the pilot, who again jabbed his finger outside. That’s when he saw them.

Owen’s mouth fell open as he peered out of the cockpit. He tried the doors of the vertibird immediately, but neither would open. Scanned the interior with a panicked expression, hoping for a sign of what to do next. Barely noticing as the others slowly came to.

“Put us down in a ravine. Probably why we’re still alive,” the pilot groaned. “Don’t think those ferals have spotted us yet. Counted... maybe fifty.”

“Why didn’t you try to wake us up?” the scribe scolded, approaching the pilot’s chair then abruptly stopping.

He saw the jagged tip of the tree protruding from the back of the pilot’s chair. It was a wonder the pilot was even alive, let alone speaking. Owen pursed his lips, then confirmed the co-pilot was alright. He looked to the back of the vertibird and found Kinsley and Patty getting their bearings.

“We’ve got a situation, guys.” Owen unholstered his tactical pistol.
@Cazzer1604 Expect feedback later tonight.

I'll be moving us along with my next post on Saturday. If your character isn't already at the vertibird by then, I'll move them along (or you should PM me with whatever crazy alternative you have in mind). At that point I intend on doing more updates/conversation in the Discord.

We've got a couple more applicants pending. My Saturday post will be the cut-off for recruitment for the time-being.
Great posts so far friends!

Hey @Lo Pellegrino could we get a Discord for plotting and planning purposes maybe? I... I very rarely jump on here unless it's to post.

Good idea. Full disclosure, I've never made one of these before. Let me know if there's something I'm missing?
Folks still working on character sheets: I will continue to read submissions. If your character brings something new and fresh to the team you've got a chance. Once we leave the Pyrdwen that door will close until later on.

@lavenderdame@Chrononaut Show me something convincing. We’ve got a pretty talented bunch here, so I suggest seeing what already exists and how you see your character adding to the current squad. Please note the warning above.
The first IC is live and the Mission Log is updated in the OOC. If you'd like to interact with Owen or Moss just let me know, otherwise, feel free to mingle or explore what your characters would do before the mission. We do not have a posting order, but once everyone has had a chance to post I move us from the Pyrdwen. Just a reminder, the goal is about one post a week.

Folks still working on character sheets: I will continue to read submissions. If your character brings something new and fresh to the team you've got a chance. Once we leave the Pyrdwen that door will close until later on.
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