Session 12, where our heroes land themselves in a dire predicament...
- Dexx: Young but experienced thief, hoping to start a new, prosperous life as a scavenger after having recently left behind the street gangs of the Angel’s Boneyard;
- Rhiannon: Vault 21 outcast, skilled engineer and adventurous spirit adjusting to life out in the wasteland;
Not ones to remain idle for too long, soon enough the party planned to leave the modern comforts of the Hub behind and set out on the road once again, though which undertaking that would be exactly remained unresolved for the moment. In the meantime Dexx took advantage of the opportunity to stock up on new scavenging supplies and made a visit to one of the local clinics with Rhiannon to receive some overdue treatment for the radiation poisoning that still afflicted them. While there they listened in on a radio broadcast announcing the upcoming celebrations in NCR Capitol in honor of New Reno joining the republic.
It was a notice of a different sort that caught their attention however. While making their way back through downtown they came across a board, advertising various odd jobs of the local trading companies. One of them called for any able-bodied adventurers to visit the Far Go Traders headquarters concerning a caravan that had gone missing some weeks ago. Dexx was intrigued and after a little convincing, persuaded Rhiannon and Craig to go and have a look before they left town. They made their way over to the spacious offices of the Far Go Traders, one of the major players in the caravaning business, and were shown to a man named Butch, who explained to them the situation. About five weeks ago one of their smaller caravans, a dozen men and women and a few heads of Brahmin, had left to conduct some trade with a tiny, reclusive community high up in the mountains, called the Keepers. The caravan had been expected back two weeks ago, but it had not yet returned and there was no sign of it to be found anywhere. The Traders offered a sizeable reward to anyone who could provide them with some conclusive, material evidence of what fate had befallen their caravaneers. Butch sketched them a rough map of the seldom traveled route and sent them on their way again.
The group considered a little search-and-rescue to be right up their alley and decided not to waste any time, which would play into the hand of competing teams, and set out the next morning. Dexx used the rest of the afternoon to gather some more information on the Keepers Butch mentioned. After some probing he learned another minor caravan company had done some business with them in the past, and was pointed in the direction of the Desert Trail Trading Group. The Group kept their small office in the Merchant district as well, so Dexx, Rhiannon and Craig decided to pay them a visit in the hopes of finding out more.
The kindly old man in charge was more than happy to help, though he couldn’t provide them with much more information either. He had heard the Keepers lived near an old, most likely pre-War building, few in numbers and generally friendly enough to outsiders, based on the Groups admittedly limited dealings with them. As Dexx proved interested, he’d arrange for two of his employees who had actually met with the Keepers to come by later that day. A few hours later our heroes thus returned to the Desert Trail office and had another chat with Al and Frank, the two young caravaneers. According to them the Keepers were some sort of cult, interested in trading technology and parts for rare pre-War items they most likely salvaged from the large complex up in the mountains. Additionally they always seemed to have exotic fresh produce on hand, much more than their small community needed. After Dexx told them about the missing caravan, the two did admit that the last time they had traded with the Keepers their reception had been a lot less amicable than the time before. As the lads seemed a decent sort, Dexx took them up on their offer to travel along with the party as guides, in return for a modest fee.
So the next morning Dexx, Craig and Rhiannon - Paul presumably sleeping off a hangover in one of the local bars - together with their two guides set off northwards. Traveling lightly they made good time, reaching Junktown in a matter of four day. Stopping only briefly, Dexx made use of their time there to question the local traders about the missing caravan. He found out that the caravan had indeed been seen passing through the town on the way north, but had not been seen afterwards. Confirmed in their suspicions that the caravan must have met their end somewhere in the mountains, they quickly got on the road again, continuing along the caravan route between the Hub and NCR. After another day of travel they left the trail however, as instead of passing around the mountains they had to start making their way up. With the path soon becoming more dangerous to navigate before disappearing altogether, they praised themselves lucky they had hired the experienced guides. They could now catch the first glimpses of a large construction of steel and glass, nestled in the mountainside, where according to Al and Frank the Keepers had made their home. Two more days were spent carefully making their way along narrow, precipitous ledges, avoiding treacherous drops and pitfalls toward the snowcapped peaks and the building in the distance, basking in the bright sunlight. The mountains up to this point had seemed wholly devoid of natural vegetation and wildlife, but nevertheless they took their precautions. Setting up camp that night, they posted watches to make sure no unpleasant surprises would befall them, as they hadn’t yet discounted possibility of the caravan having been attacked by raiders holed up in the mountains. The night passed peacefully however, and at dawn they began the final leg of the journey to the Keepers’ village.
The group had to make their way up the flank of the mountain even further, following barely distinguishable paths which their guides knew to find, making the ascent much faster than if the party had been left to their own devices, though still not without danger. They spent half a day in this fashion, until they reached a bend in the path snaking up, around which the Keepers’ settlement waited. Reaching their destination had proved easy enough, but now came to light their uncertainty on how to proceed. Dexx discerned that some further reconnaissance might be in order, as their guides couldn’t provide much useful information on the settlement itself, and proved unwilling to go any further. Securing himself to some length of rope, Dexx began to scale the cliffs. Though the dizzying drop did give him a moment’s pause, the side of the mountain was easy enough to climb for a man experienced in making his way through the crumbling skyscrapers of the Boneyard. Eventually he reached a narrow ledge which he could haul himself onto and get an unobstructed view of the settlement below. The village was little more than a collection of tents and hovels, built on a small plateau along the way up the mountain. One larger building could be seen, close to the fire pit at the center of the settlement. A wooden gate at the edge of the plateau barred the way sloping down. Dexx spied very little activity in the village, guessing that at most people lived there. He made his way down again, relaying what he had seen. The group considered their different options: infiltration, subterfuge or simply going up to the village and try talking to these people. Rhiannon, never one for endless debating, eventually took the decision to go up to the village gates and see what happened. Dexx and Craig would stay behind, out of sight, as well as the two guides, which offered to remain a while longer in case the party wanted to head back toward civilization afterwards.
As Rhiannon walked up to the village by herself, her approach must have been seen as the gates suddenly opened and three men walked out to meet her, a man clad in a long brown robe, and two men carrying spear, following a bit behind him. Rhiannon was slightly repulsed by the man who started addressing her. Red spots covered his face, his nose swollen and his eyes puffy and bloodshot. After gruffly demanding to know who she was and if she was alone, the hooded man was willing to answer Rhiannon’s questions. He claimed the caravan had indeed arrived some three weeks ago and had left again after they had traded, and that was the last they had seen of them. During the conversation Rhiannon mentioned she was a skilled engineer, which seemed to hit the right note. The robed man immediately became friendlier disposed, asking her and her friends up to their village, so she could check on some malfunctioning technology for them. Rhiannon agreed, went to get Dexx and Craig and the three of them were ushered in.
One of the men then showed Rhiannon to the large building, where her skills where needed. Craig and Dexx remained outside, talking to the man in the brown robe. He told them about the village while he searched through some baskets, containing plenty of exotic fruits neither of them had ever seen. The man offered each of them a red-yellowish fruit, which they gladly accepted and began to eat. Still wary however, Dexx had begun to edge toward the large building to check up on Rhiannon, when he could suddenly hear sounds coming from within. As he began to run over to the door, he began to notice his jaw becoming stiff, and a feeling of paralysis slowly spreading through his body. As he glanced backward he saw Craig had fallen to one knee, losing his balance and keeling over, while from all sides the villagers slowly started to flock toward them. As the adrenaline kicked in, Dexx ran over to the door, just in time to see Rhiannon being dragged off by three of the Keepers. One of them, brandishing a spear, let go of Rhiannon’s legs and charged back toward Dexx, who nimbly dodged the jab and shot the man at point blank range. Rhiannon managed to free an arm and grab her dagger, almost immediately planting in the chest of the woman trying to twist her arm. Meanwhile Dexx had drawn one of his knives and put an end to the third villager. As more villagers came pouring through the door, Dexx and Rhiannon ran toward the back of the dark rooms. The walls didn’t seem particularly sturdy, giving rise to the hope they could try and break through them, when they spied a trap door in the corner. At least five villagers had now followed them into the building, with more gathering outside. After the rush of battle the narcotic effect of the fruit suddenly took its full toll; as Dexx tried pointing his gun at them in warning, it fell out of his limp hand, before he too collapsed, leaving Rhiannon alone, dismayed… to be continued!