After 19 days training, re-arming and re-equiping, the Eagle Clan special ops team finally steps off the ancient highway roadbeds, striking out across the trackless wastes for the fabled ruins of Dome City 12: “ARLU”. These foamed-duracrete dome settlements were built during the peak decades of the Shadow Years far from the irradiated ruins of pre-war population centers.
Day 1: The team leaves Vault 57, crosses the I15 remains and heads west using the far shadow of Black Mountain as a reference point.
Day 2: Black Mountain looms close by to the north, a thousand-meter high black volcanic plateau surrounded by low hills. Eagle Clan scouts have climbed this mountain in past decades, reporting a huge bowl-shaped crater at the top. At the bottom of the crater is a 30 meter by 10 meter flattened dome of featureless duralloy, an ancient VTOL landing pad and the traces of a few outbuildings. No one in recorded memory has ever entered this dome, if in fact it is even a structure intended to be entered. The top third of the mountain bears the scars of tactical nukes and other powerful weapons deployed in the battles leading up to the 2nd apocalypse.
Day 3: Turning northwest, the team skirts the low-intensity radiation zone to the north and leaves Black Mountain behind. In the early morning hours, the monstrous shape of a giant albinoid mutant scorpion appears in the distance and moves at a sedate pace directly for the team and their iguanodon loaded with food and water. A true legend of the wasteland, and bad luck to encounter so early. Quickly Grek sets up a pattern of land mines which the team retreats behind. As the mack-truck size scorpion moves into 150 meters, Grek fires a 40mm grenade and Arik fires his recently acquired heavy lever action rifle. Grek scores a direct hit, blowing off part of the monster, but then the cranky old launcher malfunctions (he repairs it after the fight). Arik puts 4 of 6 heavy rifle rounds through the beasts armor dealing terrible damage. The scorpion picks up speed, and runs directly into the land mines, setting off 3 at once. The huge bulk of the creature is tossed into the air and taken apart by multiple explosions (over 80 points damage). Arik tries unsuccessfully to harvest something edible, and then the valuable poison glands, but is not successful.
Day 4: The team travels northwest alongside the radiation zone all day, stopping an hour early to camp nearby some hills where Arik successfully rustles up some wild wasteland grub for the team. Repeated hunting and gathering goes far toward conserving food and water over the coming days. A number of bloodbirds circle the team, but finding no one dying of thirst, move on.
Day 5: A blinding sandstorm arrives from the west and reduces visibility to nil, but the team presses on to cover only four kilometers in 8 hours. The storm lifts in the late afternoon and another 8 klicks are covered before evening. In the late afternoon light the team spies the legendary ‘ Area 6 Deathlands’ 20km to the north, an awe inspiring sight, but unfortunately still irradiated from the land battles that occurred here toward the end of wwIV.
Clearly visible from a great distance are the titanic ruins of a mysterious structure sprawled across the Deathlands like the coiled skeleton of a monstrous metallic serpent. The ruins consist of over 40km of overlapping coils piled atop one another up to 200 meters high in places. Huge beams, girders, masses of thick cables, a central backbone over 40m in diameter and the remains of dozens of great 200 meter circular platforms must be traversed to reach the central hills where the base of the great structure apparently originated.
Atop the highest hill in the center of the Deathlands is a great 500 meter wide concrete platform which apparently served as a base for the giant structure, now broken off and flung away, leaving only a 200 meter stub from the original tower still standing. The torqued remnant serves to illustrate what the structure must have looked like in ancient times: a massive central spire along which slid huge 200 meter circular platforms, stabilized by 6 surrounding lesser conduits. In it’s death throes the stupendous structure must have detached from its base and flopped about like a crazed earth-destroying midgard-serpent, smashing off entire hilltops and obliterating outlying structures for miles in every direction.
The 8-10 km of irradiated desert surrounding the hills is littered with the carcasses of hundreds of vehicles and robots around and among the giant twisted coils of the fallen structure. The desert landscape here is a crazy-quilt patchwork of blackened or glassy craters and gouges, some over 100 meters across.
The original purpose of this mammoth device is not understood by anyone outside Eagle Clan Scribe company, who believe it was somehow related to the Daedalus starship program.
Day 6: Moving on past the Area 6 Deathlands, the team must be close to Dome City 12 now. Around noon a radiation storm sweeps in from the northwest. Arik successfully sets up the team’s two Tech-II shelters in the time it takes the storm to arrive (3min), sparing the team from measurable radiation exposure. Four hours later the vast domes of ARLU appear on the northwest horizon: 1 gigantic 2 kilometer dome, almost 1000 meters high, and two outlying 500 meter diameter domes. The team sets up camp nearby the dome city and prepares for the next day.
Day 7: The domes are punctured in many places by ancient energetics and penetrating explosives. The top 3rd of the domes are ringed by rows of great 3-meter louvers, many partially open, but the team lacks climbing gear so will search the environs for a ground level entrance to demolish with explosives or hack with repair & computers skill. A huge rolling garage door is located quickly, which unfortunately will require much more explosive power to blow open than Grek carries. However Grek and Airy get very lucky and manage to access the door control system which with some store of ancient backup power lifts the door about 30cm. The team blocks and levers the door open to a full meter. Within the cool ancient space beyond is a large entry mall opening to the dim interior of the vast dome, shot with shafts of sunlight from the punctures and louvers high above. Across different zones and levels within the dome exists a partially intact city of the late Shadow Years. Areas of destruction are mingled with places that are miraculously intact. The team spreads out and begins methodically and quietly searching the silent city.
Day 8-10: Three days are spent searching the deserted ruins by the dim daylight filtering in from above and camping during the extended periods of utter pitch black night. Arik leads the team in finding a number of valuable ancient artifacts among the ruins, shops, storefronts and ancient boulevards. On one occasion the team realizes they are being watched by other stealthy scavengers prowling the dome city, but is not able to track them down. On the 9th day Airy’s right arm is critically injured when she triggers a hidden boobytrap, a landmine in the narrow crawlspace between two collapsed walls. A pre-war healing-accelerator is applied, but it will be some days before Airy’s arm is functional again. Later Grek returns through the crawlspace and hits the jackpot…a hidden space giving access to an ancient liquor store buried under a mountain of rubble. The store still contains 71 intact bottles of ancient liquor probably worth nearly 2000 credits. The team pushes, drags and lifts out everything of value, including an ancient cash register, packing it onto lizzy the iguanodon. On day 10 a hidden cache is discovered in the space beneath a manhole cover, containing food, water, and a neat half-dozen scavenged artifacts, probably stashed here by another scavenger. No booby trap was found.
An hour later Grek is walking along one side of a shattered wall when he spies a vague shimmering distortion in the air, tracing the outline of a monstrous invisible shape looming directly over the team. Grek grabs for his hold-out pistol but is snatched up and lifted high in the black coils of the legendary Blight or ‘Cloud Worm’, a mutated telekinetic snake-like monstrosity over 3 meters high, with huge faceted eyes of glowing red and great bat-like wings 9 meters across. Arik quick-draws his 6-shooter and puts a bullet into the beast, but the rusty piece craps out on his third shot and is tossed away. Cassey uses her precognition ability to see if a physical attack will be successful…it will be, and then some. Airy, still with a crippled right arm, retreats to protect the iguanodon and herself behind the duralloy riot shield. Grek tries to use his confusion power, but the creature’s mind resists his mental attack. As huge coils begin to squeeze the life out of Grek, Cassey attacks and shreds the creature causing terrible wounds. A rain of stinking black blood washes over Grek and Cassey. Arik readies his heavy lever action rifle. Grek then tries to use his repelling force ability but succeeds only in briefly enclosing himself and the giant worm within the force field. At this point Grek still lives only thanks to his massively enhanced endoskeleton. Cassey deals additional huge damage with her six 15cm razor sharp claws and shreds the soft and unarmored cloud worm into pieces, saving Grek. The blood-covered team collapses in exhaustion. The hideous head of the mutant monster will be toted back to Vault 57.
Day 11: After recovering a few more artifacts, all parts of the domes which were accessible from the original entrance have been surveyed and the team is reaching the limits of their food and water, so elects to exit the dome with their bodies and minds still relatively intact. A camp is set up in a hidden covert well away from the dome city environs. Everyone breathes a collective sigh of relief under the starry dome of the desert sky. To escape the dome at so light a cost is a major stroke of fortune. The team did find that desperately desired ancient vehicle, but it turned out to be the 26th century equivalent of a scooter.
Can the team make it all the way back to Vault 57 with their loot? Luckily the team is still heavy armed, has suffered no losses, and possesses a surplus of food and water thanks to Arik’s survival skills and the stash found in the scavenger hideout. Stay tuned…