Oni tries to convince the team that the escaped Oona will head directly for the bunker northwest of Gunson. After staring down the Ugroz Twins, Arik finds the dark hunched shape of Oni whimpering under one of the iguanodons. Freed from his gag, Oni gasps:
“You got here just in time, that bitch was going to knife me for sure!”, “You know where she’s headed right…to my…I mean ‘our’ bunker. Wait, no!…arghhhh…ok ok, your bunker! Oona’s going to loot the place, we’ve got to catch her! But watch out, she’s got a pipe rifle now. She’ll take your damned head off from a hundred paces…”
The team values Oni’s intact scalp more than catching Oona or looting the rumored bunker, so under clearing skies trek slowly south down the I15 ruins with two iguanodons and two prisoners in tow. Luckily there are no further surprises until dusk of the next day when the caravan is within sight of Gunson. A tribal raiding party is trading shots with Eagle Clan warriors manning the twin highway forts above the ravine that divides the town. The team maneuvers the iguanodons into cover and observes the action. The cracks of rifle shots echo through the hills. Pale white puffs of smoke and orange flashes from musket fire appear several hundred meters away near the low ridge where the raiders are hiding. A blinding white slash across the purple-gray twilight connects the fort and the ridge…someone is firing an ancient laser weapon from the fort! Several Eagle Clan solders are dispatched from the southern fort and can be seen scurrying down into the ravine heading north, probably to cut off the raiders retreat path. After about a half hour of intermittent fire, the raiders disengage and melt into the hills. A flurry of shots sound in the distance, followed by distant shouts…the danger is over and the caravan proceeds into the sanctuary of Gunson. The next day all gear is transferred to Lizzy and the spare iguanodon sold to the YK Corral for 500 credits. The team locates the raider position from last night and finds several stripped corpses..Lizzy needs feeding and dines on raider tartar.
A day and a night later the team is back in Vault 57 after over 20 days on the trail. Days of recuperation and interrogation follow…the team was thought dead, and their news is eagerly anticipated. Greg, Arik, Airy and Cassey are interviewed separately, then together by General Morgan and the top officers of each of the five clan companies (the ‘Commanders Council’). Oni is interrogated by the Scribe Company officers and medical staff with the aid of certain pre-war drugs. Ugroz is interrogated and found to be generally surly and uncooperative, burdened with a mutant-superiority complex left over from his short stint with the Radiationist Cult some years ago. His life hangs in the balance.
A team is sent to check out Oni’s claims of a bunker 10km northwest of Gunson. They do in fact find a small 4×8 meter bunker at the end of a hidden box canyon. The team fails to locate a booby trap and one man’s arm is shredded, but he survives. Someone was here in the last few days but carefully covered their tracks outside the bunker. Not much is found amongst the refuse left inside, but clearly someone small and light was here recently and looted everything portable then took the trouble to rig a booby trap (or put the original one back in place, it’s hard to say). Before blowing up the bunker, the salvage team removes an intact 200 liter durasteel water tank and a broken water pump, and other structural salvage they could pry lose. Oona is long gone, and probably well equipped according to the inventory pried from Oni’s unwilling brain. Cassey notices that some weeks after the salvage team returns, Airy has taken to wearing an ancient trinket bracelet inscribed with the letters ‘B-e-t-h’.
The Ugroz Twins, seeing which way the wind blows, pick the winning side and pledge their loyalty to Eagle Clan. Marko and Rodka’s physical strength, Repair and survival skills make them ideal workers in the external greenhouse farms. Who can say how long the Twins will tolerate such employment? The 1.2 meter tall ex-radiationist mutant ‘Ort’ is found to be alive and well, having survived the 6-day solo journey south from Spanish Fork to Vault 57. Ort is now employed as an ammunition sorter/reloader in the Ordnance Company Number 1 Secondary Bunker workshops.
On a busy market day two weeks later, Oni is strapped to a wooden cross high atop a bald granite hill above the canyon in plain view of merchant caravans and the hidden but ever-present raider scouts. Within the half hour, great soaring black shapes appear in the sky and slowly spiral down to land near the unfortunate Oni. Two huge ‘Dark Emperors’, nine-meter intelligent vulture-men of post-apocalypse nightmare, with their escort of lesser vultures, shamble up to the great X shaped cross and consult briefly with their victim. Oni strains himself to the utmost to spin one more impossible deal, but his legendary bargaining skills fail at the critical moment and the Emperors dine on his liver. The lesser vultures clean up the remains, leaving not so much as a fingerbone upon the cross, and Oni Chandra is no more.
Results: 200kg+ loot and gear recovered; Two bounties returned dead and two alive for around 3500cr total reward; Five kidnapped children rescued for 1400cr reward (declined for Tiki, to gain greater reputation at Mount Pleasant); Two new mutant-humanoid members recruited for the clan; Discovered two cryptic alliances (The White Hand and Radiationist Cult); Notoriety gained in 3 new settlements. Arik and Grek are promoted to Corporal and receive 18 days of intense training…Arik learns ‘Guns’ and Grek earns ‘Explosives’ skills. Airy is promoted from Recruit to Private and learns Speech skill. Cassey is promoted to Private 1st Class and improves her Unarmed and Stealth skills.
Three weeks later the team has worked out a plan to investigate the legendary Shadow-Years ruin of Dome City 12, located over 100km northwest across a foreboding stretch of burning waste. This will be the team’s first venture into the far reaches of the Utah wasteland. Will they survive the ordeal?