AFTERMATH! - Cities in Dust

Penthouse and Pavement
The Fall of McLaren

It’s just after dawn, and all is quiet in the little settlement built up around Josie’s Happy House, a bordello on the trail between Blacktown and Sydney proper.

Warm sunlight wafts through the windows of Josie’s “deluxe” room, but the two figures huddled under the blankets on the big brass bed do not stir. Not even when the bedroom door is kicked in and two bruisers burst in with crossbows.

There is a double twang, and evilly-barbed bolts thud into the lumpen forms beneath the covers.

That’s when Naz kicks out from under the bed and whips his bladestar at the larger of the two intruders. The blade lodges in the man’s shoulder, but his thick leather jacket and natural orneriness allow him to shake off most of the pain. He drops his now-empty crossbow and yanks Naz’s weapon free with a grimace.

The brute’s partner, a skinny dag with a deflated Mohawk, is armed with a pair of crude but serviceable pistol crossbows, one of which is still loaded. He steps forward into the room grinning and levels the weapon straight at Naz’s stoic face.

Balthazar, who had been waiting on the other side of the open door, slams down his butcher’s knife like a guillotine right on the dag’s wrist. Steel cleaves through bone, unleashing a geyser of blood and a torrent of screams. The severed hand hits the floor, the crossbow goes off, and the bolt thuds harmlessly into the ceiling.

The first thug is not distracted by this spectacle. He flings Naz’s bladestar back at its owner. It takes a bit of skill to handle the unique weapon, however, and the bruiser’s clumsy throw misses its mark by a good few inches. Naz responds by quick-drawing his Barracuda and pointing the barrel straight between the eyes of the brutish interloper. Let’s see if he can throw a bullet back.

The mohawked intruder, meanwhile, tries to exit post-haste but finds his retreat blocked by the rest of his gang, two more roughnecks who now fill the doorway in attempt to ascertain what’s going on in there what with the screams and thuds and blood fountains and all. With nowhere else to go, the newly-minted monohand does a panicked turn round the room, limp haircut flouncing, before pitching himself through a window in the hopes of a better life elsewhere.

The newcomers have a hostage in tow, one of Josie’s girls whom they have coerced into leading them to their quarry. They threaten to slit her throat if Naz doesn’t drop his gun, and give her a little prick with a knife to show they ain’t bluffing. They’re so focused on the Regulator that they are taken completely by surprise when Toshido bolts out of the room across the hall and drops one of the attackers with a single karate chop.

Cat and Becca have also entered the hallway from their own room down the corridor, and they are ready for action. Cat aims her crossbow low so as not to hit the hostage and pierces the knife-wielder’s leg with a hunting bolt. As the bully boy drops to his knee, Becca adjusts her aim and puts an arrow right through the man’s hand. His blade thunks harmlessly to the floor and the man starts caterwauling. The newly-liberated chromo puts a stop to that by turning round and laying out her former abductor with a single punch.

Meanwhile, back in the deluxe room, Naz’s playmate remains singularly focused on the chief Regulator. He lets loose a bellow and charges at Naz, quite possibly with the intent to stomp him to death. Such is the force of his rage and momentum that it takes two 9mm slugs at point-blank range to bring him down. Naz has to scootch a little to avoid getting pinned beneath his attacker’s corpse.

The gunshots wake up Lynn, who had been sleeping up on the flat roof of the cathouse. She’s still a bit groggy as she kicks free of her bluey and scans about, so she almost doesn’t spot the five figures on horseback about three hundred yards north of the bordello. They appear to be watching the establishment until one of their number suddenly wheels their horse around and rides east. Another of the horseman stands up tall in his saddle and waves a red cloth around his head a few times.

The sound of breaking glass and crackling flames reach Lynn’s ears. Fully awake now, she gathers up her bedroll and heads to the side of the roof she came up from the night before. She stops in surprise as she reaches the edge, for somehow during the night the back yard had been transformed into a graveyard. Crude wooden crosses fill the space between the house and stables, each one etched with a name Lynn cannot make out from this angle.

Collecting herself, Lynn lowers herself over the edge of the roof and through the open window into Toshido’s room. Jimmy Valentine is right where they left him last night, still shackled to the heavy steel bedframe and still complaining about it. He pleads with Lynn to free him, but she ignores the rogue and runs into the hall to find the other Regulators.

Smoke is starting to billow up from the ground floor of the Happy House and there are other fires throughout the bordello. Someone has gone around pitching firebrands through every open window, and even tossed a Molotov cocktail through the swinging doors of the main entrance. The Regulators scramble to help put out the fires and evacuate the girls and any lingering clients. Cat is one exception, as she chooses to keep close watch on Jimmy Valentine in the belief that all of this is somehow his doing. Zar is another, and he races out the swinging doors to see if he can find any of the arsonists.

It’s not until he is out on the street that Zar realizes that the fires might be a ruse to get the Regulators out to of the building for an ambush. Feeling awful naked out there by his lonesome, the burly woodsman takes a quick stock of his surroundings. By now the other inhabitants of the settlement have roused and, dependent on the Happy House’s customers for their livelihood, are doing what they can to save the establishment. Zar treads cautiously around them at first, but after a few minutes devoid of assassination attempts he starts to breathe easier.

That’s when the four riders Lynn spotted come tear-assing down the road. They nearly run down Zar as they ride hell for leather past Josie’s and into the high brush. The giant Regulator briefly considers giving chase – one of the horses leaves a very distinctive print – before thinking back a few minutes and reconsidering. Maybe the fires were a set-up, and these riders are another part of the same plan. Rather than risk running into a trap, Zar circles round the cathouse to make sure the riders didn’t leave anyone behind to make further trouble.

When the trailsman reaches the back yard, he, like Lynn, is stunned by the presence of the makeshift graveyard. Zar is in a much better position to read the names on the shabby wood crosses, and what he sees causes him to swear softly.

By now the fires are under control. A few curtains, a rug, and some bedclothes are the only casualties. Little permanent damage has been done to the building itself. Josie is plum grateful for the Regulators’ help and offers them all “free rides” the next time they’re in the area. The “heroes” are sheepishly grateful and plan on blowing town before anyone realizes that there wouldn’t have been any fires if the Regulators hadn’t show up in the first place.

Zar turns up a bit breathlessly and hustles the posse round the back. Along the way, he mentions that he checked the horses and gear they had left in the stables but nothing seems to be damaged or stolen. However, the bordello’s stable boy had been stabbed to death in the night.

Once they reach the yard, Zar points out the grave markers that have turned up overnight. Each is etched with the name of a Pingberra resident; Doc, Matty, the Vicar, Toshido’s gal Eddie, Zar’s parents – anyone the Regulators might care for back home. Zar is hopping mad, and Naz’s Changed eyes literally blaze red with fury as he orders Brian and Balthazar to fetch Jimmy Valentine.

Still shackled, Valentine is dumped directly at the feet of the head Regulator (thanks to a skillful kick in the rump provided by Cat). Naz hauls up the traitor by his collar and, shaking him in the direction of the crosses, advises him to spill. Fast.

Properly apprised of the seriousness of the situation, Jimmy is quick to announce this as the work of “Scarface”, aka Mary Ellen Caffey. She had plenty of time during her stay in Pingberra to make note of these names and, unlike McLaren, the lady takes special delight in dealing revenge. ‘Sides, Mary Ellen is still seething over the wicked injury Lynn the Blade dealt her and wants to see the thief suffer greatly. (The fact that most folks in town never bothered to learn her real name and instead stuck her with that horrid nickname is a mound of salt on the – er, wound.) Jimmy concludes by suggesting that the posse return to Pingberra in order to safeguard the village against attack by McLaren’s people.

The Regulators dismiss that notion. Having foiled McLaren’s attempt to heist the guns from the Trade Meet, they are reasonably sure he does not have the firepower needed to take Pingberra. However, Scarface’s knowledge of the town and its defenses remains a major threat. The little diorama in back of the Happy House only underscores the need to track down the murderous moll and her man. And Cat reminds her ex-lover that the only reason he’s still alive is that he supposedly can lead the Regulators straight to the bad guys.

Jimmy balks a little, not flat-out refusing but doing his best to dissuade the others from their plumb foolish course of action. As he said, McLaren doesn’t go in for things like revenge his own self. Odds are good that the man would be happy to leave Pingberra all alone if the town just gave him back his stuff. You know – the weapons, vehicles, equipment and gear stripped from the Auburn Slaver’s compound. And the slaves, of course. McLaren is going to want all of his property back before agreeing to a peace.

Cat cuffs Jimmy alongside the head. The looks on the faces of the posse all tell the same story. No dice on the Regulators handing women and children back into a life of slavery. No need for anyone to waste their breath asking.

At this point, some of Josie’s hands appear toting the bodies of the raiders killed by the Regulators. Before they are stripped of their possessions and tossed onto a bonfire, Jimmy looks them over and announces that he doesn’t recognize any of them. One of the hands chimes in that these are all local toughs, bullies and wannabes that never had the stones to try their luck in one of the bigger settlements. Jimmy nods sagely and admits that he thought the Regulators handled them a mite too easy. McLaren’s real gang is comprised of top-drawer material, not tube-munching losers like these.

Cat cuffs Jimmy again.

The posse rides out from the Happy House after a hearty breakfast. Jimmy, fearful that Cat will slit his throat once his usefulness is at an end, remains a bit vague as to their destination beyond confirming that it is on the north side of the Bay. Toshido and Naz plot a bit of a meandering course, avoiding the main highways in favor of lesser-traveled roads so as to lessen the chances of being spotted by scouts on McLaren’s payroll. The Regulators have to spend long hours in the saddle to make up for the time lost by their circuitous route, but it beats riding into an ambush.

Along the way, Jimmy Valentine is doing his best to make amends with the (one of the many) gal(s) whose heart he broke. He begs Cat’s forgiveness and tries to convince her that everything he did was for both their sake. His real crime was foolish naiveté – he never put much stock in Cat’s tales of life outside Pingberra and never truly realized how good he had there. Then he got to the big city and found out the truth his own self. He should have listened to Cat all along, and is truly sorry for hurting her. Besides, he adds ruefully while holding up the stump of his right hand, hasn’t he been punished enough already?

Cat cuffs Jimmy again.

Towards the end of the second day after leaving the Happy House, Jimmy announces that the party has nearly reached its destination. He finally reveals that McLaren is holed up in Blues Point Tower, a pre-Ruin building on a spit of land directly across the Bay from the Duchy of Sydney. As the group slowly approaches through the remnants of a residential area, the Tower juts up above the landscape and looms over its surroundings like an evil omen. Wild growth flourishes along the base of the tower and weedy vines hang down from the roof. Most of the windows on the lower floors are smashed. Signs of rain damage and long-ago fires scar the exterior. It is 25 stories of hideous concrete and dirty glass that no one in their right mind would call home.

Valentine has never set foot in the place but he learned a lot from jawin’ with McLaren’s other men, so he is able to tell the Regulators that McLaren’s band is settled on the top three floors of the building. The Tower was an apartment complex before the Ruin and is still pretty comfortable by modern standards. The raiders get to their quarter via a lift, which is hand-turned by slaves in the basement. There are also two stairwells, one for the use of “servants” and the other booby-trapped to hell and back. Jimmy has no idea which stairwell is which.

The Regulators decide to approach the Tower as carefully as possible. They establish camp in a former dress shop and hide everything except their weapons amongst the rubble. They hobble and feed their horses, and Zar and Becca set up a couple of booby-traps to discourage would-be thieves. Lynn and Naz leave to scout ahead while the rest of the posse eats a cold meal as they wait for darkness to settle.

Naz returns with more info on the area and the beginning of a plan. He sketches a rough outline of the apartment complex in the dirt and points out a low structure a hundred yards or so from the main building. Most of the area directly surrounding the Tower is covered in wild growth, but Lynn spotted a section near the street that looked a little dry and brown compared to the rest. It was a blind, a stack of cut brush tied together to hide an entrance into the cracked concrete of a car park in front of the Tower. The flat building Naz identified is being used as a stable and garage. A makeshift barricade has been placed in front of this entrance and a couple of guards are inside the garage itself.

Naz’s plan is to split the posse into three groups. Cat and Becca will be placed among ruined buildings to the east of the Tower; their job is to watch for snipers in the apartment windows facing the garage and try to provide cover against them. Naz and Zar will be targeting the car park from the overgrowth to the west. The stealthiest Regulators, Lynn and Toshido, will sneak directly into the stables, take out the two guards posted there, and start a fire. Anyone who comes out of the Tower to deal with the blaze can be caught in crossfire between all three groups. Naz doesn’t expect the entire Tower to empty, but the plan should allow them to winnow down the opposition some. With luck, they may even be able to capture a prisoner to question.

Jimmy points out that this plan sounds eerily similar to the one McLaren’s men failed with at the Happy House. Cat cuffs him again.

Cat and Becca, a still-restrained Jimmy in tow, pick their way silently across the rubble of burnt-out homes. Their footsteps kick up ash and the smell of burning wood, so these building must have been destroyed relatively recently, probably put to the torch by McLaren as a safety precaution. There isn’t much cover to hunker behind but the gals do the best they can. From their vantage point, they can make out light from several windows in the tower, and even the glow of flickering flames from some oil drums set out on a few balconies facing away from the Harbor. Jimmy pleads for a gun to protect himself with, and Cat cuffs him again.

Meanwhile, Zar leaves Naz halfway between the two buildings and continues on through the rough brush to get closer to the Tower. He’s so low to the ground that he’s nearly crawling, and this is what potentially saves his life. The woodsman feels rather than sees a tripline, invisible in the darkness, poised to send a sharpened stake swinging into the leg of whoever sets it off. There’s something nasty spread on the tip, too, and Zar sends a silent prayer of thanks to whatever deities watch over him.

The big man lets out a soft whistle to signal the chief Regulator to delay the fireworks a bit. He wants some time to search the rest of the area as slowly and safely as possible. Sure enough, he picks out and disarms two more traps, and Zar is certain he would have tripped at least one of them if he hadn’t spotted the first. Whoever set these up has skills that rival, if not surpass, the Pingberra trailsman’s own. Satisfied that he has cleared the area he intends to nestle in, he gives the signal for Naz to set Lynn and Toshido loose.

The duo easily scales the old chainlink fence circling the garage and drops silently on the other side. Lynn goes first, belly-crawling along the front of the building and passing through the barricade like a rumor. Toshido gives her a minute or so before setting off in a crouching run. He leaps over the barricade and is on one of the guards before the man can see him coming. Lynn steps out from behind a stack of hay, wiping the blade of her knife on someone else’s handkerchief.

There are a couple of automobiles in the garage. Toshido looks them over and ascertains they are in working order. He has Lynn help him push the vehicles near the front of the entrance where they can be used for cover and a quick getaway if necessary. The mechanic is bent on leaving with these cars no matter what else happens this night.

He is less sanguine about the half-dozen horses stabled in the building. While Lynn gets the fire started, he tries to work out the best way to get the horses free if the blaze gets out of control.

The smoke billowing from the garage is the signal for the Regulators to get ready for action. But they wait, and wait, and wait, and still no one leaves the building. The only visible response to their intended distraction is for all the lights in the Tower to wink out in quick succession. Naz and Becca think they see some movement in a few of the darkened windows, but nothing they can risk taking a shot at.

It gets to the point that Toshido feels compelled to set the horses loose, less they die in the fire. He is almost killed himself by flailing hoofs, but he manages to drive the beasts out of the barn. The horses mill about the car park a bit before settling in a corner as far from the flames as possible, right near the front doors of the Tower. Naz hopes this will encourage some of the raiders to leave their nest using their mounts as cover, but no dice.

Naz reluctantly gives the signal to withdraw. The shrill whistle can barely be heard above the roar of flames and whinnying of frightened horses, but the Regulators have had their ears peeled for it. They vamoose as quickly and silently as they can, Toshido only sparing a brief longing glance at the two motor cars before heading out.

Becca, Cat, and Jimmy pick their way across the rubble. They are so intent on not making any noise that only Jimmy notices the figure that pops up from nowhere to level a rifle crossbow straight at Cat. Jimmy shouts a warning and pushes his ex-girlfriend out of the way just as the bolt is loosed. Jimmy falls, the shaft sticking straight out of his chest, and his assailant turns to flee. Becca lets loose an arrow of her own, which takes the crossbowman low in the calf. The force of the projectile kicks his leg out from under him and he falls hard, his head hitting a chunk of concrete with a sickening crunch.

Cat tends to Jimmy while Becca makes sure their attacker is dead. He’s wearing a sort of poncho daubed with mud and ash and even thin splatters of cement, resulting in a perfect camouflage for this environment. As she strips the corpse of this treasure, Becca notes a square of plywood on the ground decorated in a similar manner to the poncho. She gives it a push with her foot and uncovers a perfectly round hole in the ground. It looks to be part of the pre-Ruin sewer system, with rungs set in its concrete wall leading down to tunnels beneath the streets. Becca thinks back to her recent experiences and shivers.

Cat and Becca manage to drag Jimmy back to the rendezvous point. While Toshido patches him up to the best of his ability, Becca lets the rest of the team in on her discovery. Naz reckons that the crossbowman must have been a scout or sniper who used the sewers to sneak in and out of the Tower. The Regulators decide to use the same route themselves.

The posse move swiftly and silently in the darkness as Becca leads them to the secret tunnel entrance. Jimmy is left back with the horses and gear, sedated with some of Zar’s homebrew. It’s pitch black out, the moon and stars hidden behind a cloudy sky, so the Regulators have to watch their step carefully. For all they know, McLaren sent out more than one scout, and someone might be viewing them through a gunsite at any moment.

Arriving at the entrance, Zar and Naz lift the plywood cover without making a sound. Lynn is always on point thanks to her superior stealth skills, but she hesitates a little; like Becca, Lynn is still nervous after their recent barney below the streets. She hops in anyway and helps guides the rest of the team down. Zar is the last one in and drags the plywood cover behind him.

The sewer is dank, foul, and cramped. Rain run-off must still flow through this system, or maybe water from the Bay backs up. In either case, it’s not a pleasant place to be, especially after Naz and Cat break out lanterns and all manner of vermin can be glimpsed scrambling away from the light.

Using the lantern light, Becca chalks a marker so that the Regulators can find the way out again. Zar moves up the front next to Lynn so he can try picking out a trail. It’s not easy, as the sewer is vastly different from the woods and trails he is used to, but Zar does pick out a couple of signs that indicate a way to travel. Naz confirms the general direction with his compass, so the posse moves on.

It’s not long before their path leads them to another set of rungs leading up. The distance feels about right for this to be the way into the tower. Zar climbs up to the top and finds a trap door. The door looks to be chained down and secured with a combination lock; the scout that shot Jimmy must have locked the door behind him when he left the Tower. Zar nudges open the trap just enough that dim light shines through the crack; Lynn angrily slaps the burly Regulator’s leg until he lowers the door again.

Lynn sidles up the ladder and squeezes past Zar. She examines the edges of the trap door very carefully and then starts to poke around with a slim metal stick she picked up somewhere. After a while of this, she mimes for Zar to push up the trap door very slowly and not more than a couple of inches. The bald Regulator then slips a hand through the crack and begins to fiddle around again. Just when everyone is getting tired of waiting, Lynn turns her attention to the combination lock and manages to get it open with a few deft twists. She gives a nod to Zar and he pushes the trap door up just enough for Lynn to wiggle through the gap and into the Tower.

A few tense moments later, Lynn opens the trap door all the way and motions for her friends to come up quietly. As they enter, she indicates the crude crossbows pointed at the entrance and a makeshift alarm system connected to the door, all of which have been disarmed by the nimble Regulator. Toshido points to a dead man sprawled in a chair near the trap door; Lynn mouths the word, “guard”, and mimes being asleep.

Once the entire posse has clambered up the ladder, they take a fuller stock of their surroundings. They appear to be in an old boiler room, though most of the metal fixtures have long been scavenged. Light is provided by a small lantern lying next to the dead man’s chair. The hole in the floor was a drain of some kind, widened and covered for use as a means of egress. Aside from the security measures and the dead guard, there is little of interest in the room, though the jagged ends of rusted pipes sticking out from the ceiling remind Becca uncomfortably of teeth.

There appears to be only one exit from the boiler room, a sturdy metal door that, when Lynn gives it an exploratory tug, is shown to be locked. Lynn hunkers down to get to picking, but Cat brushes past her with a set of keys she retrieved from the corpse. The third one on the ring turns the tumblers and the door slowly creaks open from its own weight.

Toshido slips through the doorway to take point. He does a quick recco before motioning his teammates forward. The first thing they notice is the smell. It’s the stink of human beings wallowing in their own filth, of wounds festering untreated, of despair and misery. It’s the odor of slavery and, sadly, most of the Regulators have no problem identifying it.

Moving silently towards where the smell is strongest, Toshido and Lynn encounter a series of cages made from chain link and steel slats. Pre-Ruin, this was probably a long-term storage area for residents of the Tower. The ragged wretches cooped inside the cages begin to stir, so Toshido quiets them down while Lynn works her magic on the locks.

Zar fetches the lantern from the boiler room. Its pale glow throws eerie shadows around the voluminous, dank space. It looks to be a maintenance area for the Tower, though once again anything of value seems to have been stripped out by previous explorers.

There’s an elephant in the room, however; a massive turnstile fashioned from an old cable spool. Chains and steel cords flow from the turnstile and up through a hole in the ceiling. Naz has Zar bring over the lantern for a better look. They are able to ascertain that the turnstile is being used as a windlass to move an elevator car up and down. Slave labor must be used to power the device.

Meanwhile, Lynn has freed the prisoners. Toshido, Becca, and Cat share some of their food and water with the captives while (gently) squeezing them for all the info they can.

  • McLaren’s gang numbers about 20 all told. They occupy the top three floors of the Tower.
  • The 25th floor belongs to McLaren and his chief lieutenants. The armory and treasury are also on the top floor.
  • The 24th floor houses the living quarters for the rank and file.
  • The 23rd floor is used for storage and food preparation. Cooking is done on makeshift balconies facing away from the bay so that the fires are not easily seen in central Sydney
  • The female slave pens are also on the 23rd floor. Only the male slaves are kept here in the basement.
  • There are two stairwells in the Tower, but only one goes all the way to the top of the building. Even then, the top three floors are locked and slaves must knock to request passage. Access to all the other floors is blocked off from the inside.
  • The second stairwell can be entered from the lobby on the ground floor, but it is blocked off from every other floor. The stairwell is littered with booby traps and exists only to ambush intruders.
  • The elevator provides access to every floor, but it kicks up a hell of a racket when in use.

There is no escape route for the captives but through the sewers, which are tricky to navigate and may be crawling with muties. The Regulators get the slaves to agree to stay put until the posse has its shot at taking control of the Tower. In case things go South for the heroes, they part with a few knives and a compass for the captives to use in their escape.

That settled, the Regulators begin the long climb to the top of the Tower.

Along the way, they sketch out a course of action. The archers, Zar and Becca, will hold the top of the stairwell while the more experienced lawdogs storm the 25th floor. The Regulators aim to kill every soul that draws against them. No mercy and no second chances. It’s their only hope of coming out the other end of this alive.

Naz suggests using whatever furniture the archers can find to barricade the top of the stairs; the idea is not to make the stairwell impassable, but simply to slow down the enemy long enough for arrow, knife, and bullet to do their jobs.

After a last breather on the 22nd floor landing, the Regulators go in for the kill. As soon as Lynn has cracked the lock on the top floor, Toshido kicks the door down and goes in shotgun first. Lynn skitters past him, eyes constantly darting for traps, ambushes, and safe places to hide. Naz and Cat back up Toshido, and Becca covers the landing with her bow as Zar starts to manhandle furniture from the nearest apartment into the stairwell.

There’s a lot of hoo-rahing as the slavers realize they’ve been invaded. Most of the commotion comes from the 24th floor as the grunts start to get their act together. Lynn can hear motion from some of the apartments on this floor, but it’s tough to tell which ones; the occupants on this level must be cagier than their followers. Every apartment door seems to be open so that attackers can spring from anywhere. Each member of the posse can feel their nerves jangling as they edge through the corridor.

Suddenly, an odd cranking noise commences, and an odder contraption slides into view at the other end of the hallway. Toshido and Lynn are up front, and they catch a quick glimpse of a gigantic crossbow and a seated gunner set atop a wheeled pallet. The crossbow is loaded with three bolts, two resembling sharpened broomsticks and thicker, steel-tipped missile in between. There is a loud twang, and Toshido screams for his comrades to kiss the carpet. The slender bolts rebound and ricochet unpredictably off the narrow corridor walls. The thicker bolt flies straight and true and slams partially through the metal door leading to the stairwell, which Zar has hastily shut. The weapon rig slides out of sight again, and the Regulators can hear the crossbow mechanism being wound up for another shot.

And then all Hell breaks loose. Slavers start popping up from every doorway. A chain skids off of Toshido’s motorcycle helmet, and the Japanese lawman turns and loosens a load of buckshot at point-blank range. A figure hurtles at Naz, and the chief Regulator pistol-whips the man and finishes the job with his elbow spike. Still on the floor, Cat puts a crossbow bolt through an attacker, then pushes aside the empty weapon and unslings her L1A1.

That heavy cranking noise sounds again, and the Tower’s defenders fade away as quickly as they appeared. Another giant crossbow slides into view, this time from behind the invading lawdogs. But Cat has been waiting for something like this. Before the gunner can pull his trigger, she puts him down with a rifle round through the head.

Meanwhile, a mess of slavers have come boiling up the stairs, only to be halted by the debris strewn in their path. Suddenly, the two raiders in front sprout arrows from throat and eyeball. Their fellow gang members are stunned for a moment, giving Zar and Becca time to crouch back behind their makeshift barricade before a hail of bullets and bolts slam into the walls behind them. Zar strikes flint and tinder to light the fuse on the homemade grenado Becca has pulled from her pack, and the fiery chemist flings the bomb into the middle of the horde below.

The noise from the explosion is deafening in the enclosed space.

Once their ears stop ringing, Becca and Zar peer over the balustrade at the carnage below. The only movement visible is the rising curlicues of smoke and final death twitches of a few lingering unfortunates. The archers push aside the barricade and cautiously descend the stairs.

Back upstairs, the other Regulators have scurried out of the corridor and are attempting to clear the apartments. The rooms are dark and still a bit smoky from quickly-extinguished candles, and there are plenty of open closets and heaps of furniture to provide hiding places for the enemy. It’s a nerve-wracking situation, made worse by the fact that the lawdogs have inadvertently split themselves up.

Still, they cautiously prowl from room to room, and quickly discover that holes have been cut in the floor. Ropes and ladders are placed to allow passage between these two floors without using the stairwells. The interior walls of each apartment have also been breached, so that nearly all of the units on either side of the hallway are connected. Only the last apartment at the end of the corridors appears to be intact; Naz recalls the slaves downstairs mentioning that these contain McLaren’s armory and his personal quarters, and he heads in that direction.

Unfortunately, the remaining crossbow gunner and his crew are occupying the next-to-last apartment on that side. The gunner swings his weapon in the Regulator’s direction and grins. But before he can take his shot, Lynn the Blade pounces on him from behind, throws one arm around his neck and stabs, stabs, stabs with the other into his chest and abdomen. The gunner slumps in his chair like a ruptured balloon. His two assistants stand slack-jawed long enough for Lynn and Naz to dispatch them with knife and bladestar.

As there is no access to McLaren’s rooms in the apartment, Lynn and Naz step out into the hallway. Lynn is instantly gunned down by an Aborigine man wielding two crude pistols. The homemade zipguns are single-shot, but each is loaded with a massive .50 caliber round intended for heavy support weapons. The newcomer’s second shot is aimed right at Naz, but when the slaver pulls the trigger there is no fire. The man throws down both pistols and steps back into the apartment he came from, drawing an Aboriginal wooden sword as he does so.

Naz yanks his Barracuda from his holster and starts after the slaver, but freezes in mid-stride as a familiar green egg shape lands at his feet. The chief Regulator throws himself back into the crossbow gunner’s lair and dives for cover. The grenade rolls in after him and, amazingly, right into one of the access holes in the floor. The explosive goes off in the apartment below without injuring Naz.

Across the hall, the grenade thrower is prepping another bomb when Zar and Becca climb up through the hole from the floor below. Having found the 24th level clear of combatants, the duo decided to come up and lend their friends a hand. The grenadier – whom the archers immediately recognize as the Colonel, leader of the mercs who cut off Pingeberra Stream some months ago – cuts loose with an oath and rushes through the breach into the apartment next door.

He leaves a little present for Becca and Zar, however.

Becca topples a sofa over onto the grenade, and she and Zar hit the deck. The explosion shakes the walls but, thanks to the Bombshell’s quick thinking, fails to hurt anyone.

At roughly the same time, Cat makes a move to see to the wounded Lynn, who is barely hanging on to consciousness. But before the pilot can take a stride, “Scarface” Caffey springs out of nowhere and falls upon the bald girl. McLaren’s woman puts a blade to Lynn’s throat and insists that Cat surrender.

Cat can’t risk a shot at Scarface as long as she’s on top of Lynn, but that doesn’t mean she’s out of options. She makes a big show of putting down her rifle, but at the same time she’s clearing her mind and summoning up her willpower.

While all this is going on, the Aborigine and Toshido are dueling to the death. The pair had come across each other in the maze of apartments Toshido, seeing the slaver was armed only with a wooden sword, set down his shotgun and drew his twin sais. Neither man gains a clear advantage in the pitched battle that follows; Toshido’s sais do little more than bruise and batter his opponent, and the traditional wooden sword can’t cut through the martial artist’s leathers. Then, the Aborigine takes a swing that would break Toshido’s ribs if it connected. The Regulator jumps back out of the way, but doing so causes his leather jacket to ride up and expose the flesh beneath. The leather sword leaves a nasty slash across the lawdog’s stomach. First blood goes to the Aborigine!

Meanwhile, the archers have decided not to give the Colonel another shot at them. Staying on their bellies, Becca frees one of her own homemade grenades from her kit and Zar lights it with one of his precious few matches. As soon as the fuse sparks, the Bombshell hurtles the ball of death over their cover and through the hole the Colonel had evacuated through. There is a brief shout and then two explosions so close together they almost sound as one. The mercenary must have been “cooking” his own grenade when Becca’s bomb went off.

Scarface is distracted by the big boom and lowers her knife from Lynn’s throat. It’s the opportunity Cat has been waiting for, and she sends a blast of psychic energy at the traitorous slaver before she can recover. The force of the mental blow is enough to stun Scarface; Lynn summons up the last of her strength and performs a reversal taught to her by Shinichi Toshido. The thief is still seriously wounded and surely bleeding out, but now it’s her knife at the other woman’s throat.

Across the hall, the smoke has cleared and Zar is cautiously approaching the Colonel’s last known position. He finds that what’s left of the merc, which could comfortably fit into a shoebox. The grenades have also set several fires, so he and Becca work quickly to put them out.

The duel between Toshido and the Aborigine continues. The martial artist has been working his opponent’s leg, and now it can barely support the man’s weight. But Brian isn’t doing all that great himself, as his belly wound is seeping blood and he has no idea how bad the damage is. He decides to go for broke and feints an attack that leaves him wide open for an upward strike. The Aborigine takes the bait and swings his wooden sword in a vicious swipe at right at Toshido’s nethers. Brian blocks the attack with one sai and drives the tip of the other straight into the older man’s eye. He’s dead before he hits the ground.

Scarface has recovered from the mental attack and has easily overpowered Lynn once again. Cat scoops up her rifle and yells for the slaver to give it up. But all the raider does is smile as McLaren himself appears from nowhere. He points his .44 magnum at Cat and cocks back the hammer. Cat has no choice but to let the rifle slip from her fingers. Scarface practically howls with glee as she prepares to take her long-awaited revenge on Lynn the Blade.

But then Naz materializes in the hall, his Barracuda leveled straight at McLaren’s woman. The five survivors stand their grown, eyes locked with their enemies, no one daring to do more than breathe.

McLaren finally breaks the silence. His voice, once level and commanding, is now nothing more than a ruined whisper thanks to the injury he received during the Blue Mountain ambush.

“I guess we got ourselves a Mexican standoff.”

Naz is unfamiliar with the expression but readily grasps its meaning.

“You really think you’ve got a chance, boy?” The slaver continues, “You couldn’t outdraw me last time when it was just the two of us. You haven’t a prayer of taking us both down before I end you.”

Naz gives an almost imperceptible shrug. “If you believed that were true, you would have already pulled the trigger.”

Swiftly as a darting snake, McLaren’s pistol swerves from covering Cat and towards the chief Regulator. But Naz is faster still, firing a round that punches Scarface high in the shoulder, causing her to rear up and drop her knife. He lets the recoil lift his gun up and over to McLaren’s position and fires as soon as the big man is in his sights. The second round creases McLaren’s skull; the slaver collapses into unconsciousness as his own pistol shot goes wild.

Scarface screams and grasps her knife with her good hand, intent on taking Lynn with her to Hell. Cat’s mind and body flow as one; her telekinesis lifts her rifle from the floor and into her hands as she assumes a fighting stance. Her snap shot catches Scarface right between the eyes, and the last of the McLaren’s gang goes to judgment.

Toshido staggers on the scene, having stopped to bandage himself up. At the sight of the wounded Lynn, he rushes to her side and starts first aid treatment. The .50 cal round tore a hunk out of the thief just above the hip, but appears to have passed through her body without hitting anything she’s going to need later. Still, the Regulators realize they need to take her to Doc MacReady as quickly as possible.

Zar and Becca turn up, having ascertained that none of the enemy are left in the building, and the reformed posse swiftly formulates a plan. Toshido will take one of the slaver’s vehicles and drive Lynn back to Pingberra as quickly as possible. Becca will accompany them as bodyguard and nurse, and they’ll stop to pick up Jimmy Valentine along the way. The rest of the Regulators will follow on horseback and in the other car once they finish what they set out to do all those weeks ago.

It’s just after dawn, and all is quiet in the settlement built on the site of Blues Point tower.

McLaren awakes to find himself bound hand and foot, sitting in a wheeled office chair at the edge of a balcony facing towards downtown Sydney. There’s something rough and scratchy around his neck. Still a bit foggy from his wound, the big man cranes his head around to see the grim faces of Naz, Cat, and Zar, plus a few other dirty mugs that look vaguely familiar. His slaves, he realizes, and that’s when his head clears and he begins to grasp the situation. He looks down at the noose around his neck and, below it, a wooden sign labeled “SLAVER”. He glares back at Naz and spits on the floor.

“Well, let’s get on with it,” McLaren croaks.

Naz gives the chair a push.

Plot Points:

  • The death of McLaren and Scarface, and the final end of the Auburn Slavers.
  • Becca is incredibly dangerous. Because bombs.
  • She’s still adorable, however. Becca’s player was surprisingly giddy at the thought of the posse spending a night at a cathouse, but we just let it go. Then, during the fire, while everyone is talking about saving the girls and the customers, she leans in all serious and asks, “What about the cats?”
  • Speaking of “cats”, Catalin is NOT HAPPY that Jimmy saved her life. I am pretty sure she would have rather been killed by that ambush instead.
  • It remains to be seen how Jimmy integrates back into the Pingberra community.
  • Lynn took a lot of damage from that .50 cal round, but luckily not enough to kill her. She rolled a critical success on her Shock Factor save and was able to remain conscious, if greatly debilitated.
  • She also scored a crit on her Unarmed Combat attack against Scarface, allowing her to reverse the other woman’s hold, albeit temporarily.
  • As the posse learned during their last encounter, Scarface is Changed and has telepathic powers. However, the dice just weren’t cooperating with her this time and she had to resort to physical violence.
  • It was a marathon session, and the dice were rolling hot for the PC’s. Naz scored a crit on his Pistol attack on McLaren. Zar rolled crits with Stealth and Archery, Toshido on his Rifle skill, and Cat on Rifle – twice!


The posse claimed 5 shotguns and 20 rounds of 00 Buck for expenses, but left the rest of McLaren’s armory to the former slaves.

Lynn needed to get back to Pingberra quickly as possible, so no one had objections to the posse claiming the two working autos. None of the former slaves could drive, anyway, and they were more than happy to “settle” for the slavers’ horses and gear.

Additionally, Toshido took the Aborigine’s wooden sword as a souvenir. He also found nine construction hard hats in the trunk of the car he commandeered.

Cat claimed the flak jackets the crossbow gunners wore. She figures they will come in handy on her helicopter.

Naz has McLaren’s pistol and 30 rounds of .44 Magnum to go with it. He’s not sure if he’ll keep it or donate it to the village defenses.

Slippery People
A Minor Excursion

On the way back from the trade meet, a few of the Regulators break off from the convoy to spend some quality time with their prisoner, Jimmy Valentine, They hole up in the former headquarters of the Auburn Slavers to interrogate the traitor without interference. However, Jimmy manages to steal away while the Regulators are in conference, dropping through the same hole into the sewers that Cat and Lyn explored the last time they were here. Confronted with evidence that Jimmy has been captured by sewer-dwelling muties, the posse eventually goes in after him, albeit reluctantly.

Plot Points:
• The Regulators done got messed up in this one, nearly losing their lives in a pointless struggle in the filth-choked tunnels beneath the streets of Auburn.

• Lynn took a pick through the shoulder and Becca had her arm near crushed by a makeshift mace. Ironically, they were the advocates for going after Jimmy.

• The Posse never did get a good look at their adversaries. Each Regulator describes them rather differently. Doc is pretty sure they are all wrong.

• Jimmy valentine was brought back to Pingberra and judged by the town council. He was sentenced to twenty years labor, avoiding a death sentence only by promising to lead the Regulators to McLaren.

Not a brass razoo.

Damaged Goods
Too Long at the Fair

Write-up forthcoming.

Take Me to the River
A Minor Excursion

A group of mercenaries divert Pingberra Creek in an attempt to lure the town’s defenders into a trap. The Regulators show them what a bad idea that was. Zar gains and loses a dog, Cat misses the broad side of a barn, and Becca gets to blow everything up.

Plot Points:
• The leader of the mercs is known only as “the Colonel”. A former guard commander under the New Duke, he is now looking to build his own power base.

• The Colonel was tipped off to the existence (but not the exact location) of Pingberra by “an old friend”.

• The Colonel manages to get away in the aftermath of the Regulators’ attack. Oops.

• Considering the merc base was an old ranger station, the posse ended up with a surprising amount of loot.

• Becca scored a pre-Ruin pillow, still comfy and clean, and a set of 6 matching bowls. While the rest of the team are scouring a post-Holocaust wasteland, she somehow located a Bed, Bath, and Beyond.
• Zar found an almost functional portable television and a metal pail. A fella can have a lot of fun with those.
• Lynn wound up with 8 metal folding chairs and a war surplus gas mask
• Toshido turned up 12 canning jars with lids and clips, and a single AA battery.
• Cat scrounged a good quality magnifying glass.
• Naz located a set of jumper cables.
• Cat and Naz really need to pick up Search.

Seven and the Ragged Tiger
A Minor Excursion

An unknown predator is stalking Pingberra’s livestock. When a child from an outlying farm goes missing, the Regulators are called to track down the beast.

The creature turns out to be an ancient tiger from the New Duke’s private zoo, somehow set loose during the turmoil gripping the Duchy. After rescuing the child and putting down the tiger, the posse encounter McCulloch, a hunter from Sydney hired to retrieve the big cat’s pelt as a prize for one of the barons. McCulloch and the Regulators end up striking a deal to avoid further bloodshed.

Plot Points:
• First appearance of Becca Bombshell and McCulloch.
• Naz is out this time. He was still recovering from the gunshot wound he received from McLaren.
• The Regulators learn of the power struggle between barons in the wake of the New Duke’s death.

Toshido, Cat, Lynn, Zar, and Becca each kept a tiger claw as a souvenir.

Cemetery Gates
Showdown at Rockwood Cemetery

The convoy from Auburn has barely passed through the gates of Pingberra before Naz and Toshido are organizing a second salvage raid on the slavers’ compound. While Daylight and the town council help the newcomers get settled, the rest of the Regulators gather up a few volunteers. Tradesmen Stiv, Ben, Hannah, and Lucky all step up to join the to help strip the old factory right down to the stone walls.

Unfortunately, the leaders of the slaver gang have returned in Regulator’s absence. They capture the Tradesmen while the lawdogs are scouting the bowels of the factory and try to use their hostages to force the posse’s surrender. Ben and Lucky are executed to underline the seriousness of the situation. The Regulators are having none of it, however, and hole up in the factory determined to fight it out. A pitched battle results with the slavers taking the worst of it.

Eventually, the four remaining slavers ride out with their hostages. Naz reckons they are going to torture the Tradesmen for the location of their home settlement, which makes their rescue doubly urgent. The slavers have made off with every operational vehicle in the compound, but the posse had left one hidden a few blocks away. They mount up and head after their abducted comrades.

The trail leads to Rookwood Necropolis, the largest cemetery in the Southern Hemisphere. Posse ditch their vehicle and begin to creep stealthily through the long grass and tombstones, following the trail that Zar picks out. It isn’t long before they spy their quarry.

The raiders are sheltered between their two trucks and a high brick wall. McLaren, confident that the supposedly vehicle-less Regulators have been left far behind, has begun interrogating his captives just as Naz predicted. Hannah is strapped to a large statue of an angel. Stiv’s feet are bound to the back of one of the slavers’ trucks and his hands to the other. The truck engines are running, burning precious fuel in order to drive home exactly what will happen to the Tradesman if he fails to answer McLaren’s questions.

Naz and his deputies have no choice but to go for an ambush. The Regulators spread out and crawl through the wild growth. Lynn, the sneakiest damn thing on two legs, manages to get all the way on the other side of their targets before most of her friends have made it halfway. Toshido is no slouch in the stealth department, either, and manages to bellywriggle right up alongside one of the slaver trucks without anyone the wiser. There is a flamethrower mounted on the back of this truck, and Toshido decides to risk a foolhardy move.

The Asian Regulator jumps up on back of the truck, spins the nozzle of the flamethrower around, and sets a burst of unholy straight at the slavers. McLaren manages to tumble out of range, but his three companions are not so lucky. The screams will likely stick with the posse their entire lives.

While the lawdogs are taken aback by the carnage, McLaren makes good his escape. Lynn hurls a knife but misses, and Zar has no shot with his bow. The fire started by the flamethower is starting to get out of control, so Trip and Cat move to free the hostages. Toshido jumps down from the flatbed to help put out the flames before they can damage the trucks. That just leaves Naz to go after the slavelord, and he bounds after him like a hound dog on the hunt.

The chase lasts near half a mile before the Regulator catches up with McLaren in a field of broken, weather-beaten grave markers. The big man has made to effort to hide or ambush his pursuer. He stands calmly, his expression giving away nothing. Naz is equally inscrutable beneath his shades. Yet lawman and outlaw seem to come to an understanding. McLaren slowly thumbs back the restraining strap on his hip holster, and Naz does the same. Then, as if by some prearranged signal, both men draw and fire.

McLaren is faster.

McLaren’s slug hits Naz square in the chest, sending him sprawling backwards into the tall grass. The Regulator lies still one the ground, his breath coming out in rasps. The slavelord strolls over to his downed opponent, intent on finishing the job with a second shot.

Suddenly, Zar and Trip burst onto the scene. They pause only long enough to loose a pair of arrows at McLaren, but the big man is already diving for cover. Before the two Regulators can circle around their quarry, a fist-sized object comes flying over the tombstones to land near their feet.

“Grenade!” shouts Zar, and he and Trip run hell for leather.

They manage to plop behind a low stone wall before the explosive goes off with a loud crump and a cloud of dirt and debris. When the smoke clears, McLaren is long gone.

Trip rushed over to attend to the wounded Regulator. Naz is still alive, thanks to the Kevlar vest he stripped from the corpse of one of McLaren’s men the night before. He’s in no shape to go dancing, however, as the slaver’s .44 slug has cracked or maybe broken Naz’s sternum. Trip and Zar help the chief Regulator stagger back to join the others.

Plot Points:
• First appearances of McLaren, Trip Patton, and Saru.

• Ronin sits this one out, having been bit by a brown snake while changing a flat tire on the bus he was driving. Luckily, wandering mendicant Trip Patton was passing by at the time.

• Daylight also stays behind at Pingberra, just in case the slavers counterattack while the main posses is away.

• During the initial battle with the slavers, Cat and Lynn scouted the sewers beneath the factory for an escape route. Sadly, they both scored critical misses on their Stealth rolls. Spooked by a strange noise, the duo tripped over each other and ended up covered in sewage. This several dampened their enthusiasm for exploring, and they headed back to join the others, smellier if not wiser.

• Zar’s archery skills and Trip’s psychic abilities made for a devastating combination in the firefight with the slavers.

• Toshido’s stunt with the flamethrower meant I had wasted all that time statting out and finding pictures for McLaren’s three lieutenants. Thanks, Toshido!

• Naz didn’t receive critical damage from his wound, but he took enough Lethal to damn near kill him.

Mostly raw material, such as copper tubing, metal pipes, and what was left of the M60 machine gun that got hit with a Molotov cocktail the night before.

Additionally, the Regulators claimed the two flatbed trucks used by McLaren’s Crispy Critters Elite. Each has a weapon turret mounted in the back; one truck is equipped with a fully functional M60, the other a M9A1-7 flamethrower. The weapons and trucks will be donated to the Pingberra community.

Zar also found an old fashioned garbage can lid that had been fashioned into a crude shield. It actually proved useful during the firefight and Zar has kept it as souvenir.

Master and Servant
Pingberra vs. Slavers

It is a sweltering August night, the hottest most folks can remember since the Ruin. It being Saturday, Eddie and Toshido run a double feature in the school parking lot. Nearly the whole town turns out, as always, sitting on spread blankets and bedrolls, watching in awe at the dazzling fantasies projected on the makeshift screen.

Afterwards, it’s too hot to sleep. Most of the townspeople simply move their blankets to the few green spaces in town that haven’t been given over to farming and spend the night under the stars. Cat lies awake in her tent trying not to think about Jimmy Valentine. A restless Daylight strums a guitar on the front steps of the police station. Balthazar is “sampling” his latest brew with Ronin and a couple of old-timers. Toshido wanders the village on an unofficial patrol. Lord only knows what Lynn gets up to.

Naz is about the only person in Pingberra attempting to sleep indoors. He feels too vulnerable sleeping outside, and years of experience have taught him the value of snatching sleep whenever possible. It’s too damn hot, though, and he gets little rest while tossing and turning on his cot in the sheriff’s office.

The bell above Naz’s cot starts to ring, and whatever hopes Naz had of getting any rest fall away instantly. He rises and, pausing only to grab his go-pack, heads out the door to run up the ladder leading to the look-out station erected in what used to be a parking lot. There’s a line that goes from the top of the tower to the bell in the sheriff’s office, so that whoever’s on guard duty can alert the chief Regulator of trouble instantly. Naz reaches the top of the ladder and asks what the fuss is.

The Regulator currently manning the tower, Stan Hollis, points off into the distance. Heat lightning rolls in the sky. Maybe a storm is coming to break the hot spell, but Naz knows that’s not why he was brought up there. “Wait for it,” advises Hollis, and sure enough a swaying beam of light appears off in the distance. Naz and Hollis agree that it must be a searchlight mounted on a vehicle running on the road leading into town.

Suddenly, flashes of light are seen out in the crops growing parallel to the road. Gunfire. To Naz’s experienced eye it doesn’t looks more like a hunt than a firefight. Hollis starts scanning the fields, then points out a patch where the long stalks are waving despite the lack of wind. Someone is running through the wheat and corn towards town. A moment later, the Regulators spot the signs of two more disturbances, both much bigger than the first, following on after the first.

Naz signals Daylight to get up on the East Gate. Daylight meets Toshido along the way and drags him along. They get up there just in time to see a small figure come hurtling out of the field and into the wide firebreak separating the crops from the trench around Pingberra’s walls. It is a young boy, maybe twelve, naked except for a pair of skivvies. He is barefoot and his feet are muddy and bleeding.

Toshido never hesitates. He leaps off the gate and runs up to intercept the child. Just then, a pair of men on horseback break out of the field and into the open. One immediately spots the tall barricade a few dozen yards away and rears up his horse. The other never takes his eyes off his prey; he spurs his mount and begins spinning a lasso, obviously with the intent of roping the youngster. Toshido draws and throws a shuriken at the rider without breaking stride. The man topples off his horse and hits the ground with a sickening thud. Toshido scoops up the boy, who kicks and fights for a brief moment before passing out in his rescuer’s arms.

The other rider wheels his horse around and bolts back into the fields. Toshido shouts for Daylight to open the gate and help the boy, then leaps up onto the mount of the man he felled. Lynn appears out of nowhere to vault up behind Toshido, and the two take off after the fleeing intruder.

Meanwhile, Naz is not about to let the mysterious rider run off with knowledge of Pingberra’s whereabouts. He slides down the look-out tower ladder and runs for his motorcycle, which is parked on the side of the sheriff’s office. Shouting for Hollis to put together a posse and follow him, Naz guns the motor and heads straight for the East Gate, which Daylight has just managed to open. Naz barks at his deputy to hop on, and the two speed off along the Pingberra Road, hoping to cut off the rider when he exits the fields to meet up with the vehicle down the highway.

Riding hard, Toshido and Lynn spot their quarry just as he meets up with his compatriots. They are in a small flatbed truck with an ominous-looking weapon mounted behind the cab. The rider is talking excitedly and gesturing back towards Pingberra. Lynn slides silently off the horse and vanishes into the night. Toshido tries to keep his mount quiet as he waits in the field for the right moment to strike.

Naz and Daylight roar up on the motorcycle. Another flash of heat lightning reveals the presence of the flatbed and Naz realizes he is hurtling right into the firing line of its intimidating armament. He brakes hard and attempts pull a 180 degree turn but stalls out the engine instead. Daylight, anticipating a total wipe-out, leaps off the back of the bike cursing. The driver of the flatbed swings his searchlight around towards the noise and captures both Regulators in dazzling illumination. The flatbed’s gunner starts up his weapon – a massive flamethrower – and launches a burst of fire at the pair, who are thankfully just out of reach. Daylight breaks for the cover of the crops while Naz scrambles to get his bike restarted so he can prevent the trailing posse from heading straight into a slaughter.

From the safety of darkness, Lynn launches a knife at the gunner and strikes his arm. The projectile does little damage but frightens the hell out of him; he lets out a yell and swings the mounted weapon around to face his unseen assailant. Momentarily forgotten, Daylight takes the opportunity to pop two slugs into the gunner’s back, and he goes down much chagrined and even more dead. Daylight leaps up on the flatbed, waltzes up to the cab’s rear windshield, and notifies the driver of his presence by rapping his pistol against the steel cage. The driver drops the CB mike he had been talking into and raises his hands.

At this point, the horseman opts for the better part of valor again and rides off hell for leather. Toshido urges his own mount on after him. They soon reach the makeshift barricade that isolates Pingberra Road from the highway, and Toshido can just make out where the wrecked cars were moved to clear passage for the flatbed truck. The first rider, however, doesn’t waste time heading for that opening and instead coaxes his horse into an impressive leap right over the smashed-up vehicles. Toshido momentarily considers following suit but ultimately opts to dismount and scramble up the barricade on his own. He unslings his M16, takes careful aim at the rider’s steed and fires a single round. The rider slumps in his saddle, obviously wounded, but the unharmed horse runs off into the darkness.

Meanwhile, Naz has caught up with a pick-up truck full of Pingberra locals, all armed to the teeth. He has them wait until well out of range of the flatbed’s weapon until he gets the all-clear from Daylight. The driver and his vehicle are taken into custody, and the townsfolk do their best to get the highway barricade rebuilt before daylight. Toshido eventually returns; he tracked the surviving interloper long enough to find his corpse.

Daylight interrogates the driver with the aid of Balthazar and Ronin. The preacher takes the soft approach, conning the outsider into thinking the Pingberra was a cannibal community and that Daylight was the only thing between him and the cookpot. Balthazar hams it up a bit with his cleavers, and Ronin just lets his massive size speak for itself. The ruse works surprisingly well, and the outsider spills his guts in an effort to avoid spilling his guts.

Between the driver’s confessions and the runaway boy’s ramblings, the Regulators learn the following:

  • The driver belongs to a slaver group based out of Auburn, right on the main railroad line. There’s about thirty slavers all told.
  • They send out scouts to locate communities that would make good targets.
  • The slavers overwhelm opposition with surprise attacks and heavy firepower
  • They kill the men and enslave the women and children.
  • They were on the way back from a raid when one of the new “acquisitions” escaped.
  • Not wanting to set a bad example for the rest of the slaves, a team was dispatched to bring back the runaway.
  • The driver radioed the location of Pingberra back to his compatriots, but isn’t sure if they received the message.

Daylight, Ronin, and Balthazar report to the Council of Elders, who discuss the situation until dawn. The crux of the issue is whether or not the driver’s message got through to the rest of the slavers. If it hadn’t, then there is no real need to worry. But if it had, at some point the slavers will show up on Pingberra’s doorstep. The town could shut itself up behind its gates, but it could be days, weeks, or months before the attack came – if it came at all. Pingberra could try to go about its business under a heightened sense of security, but eventually complacency would set in, and if the slavers were any good at their job they’d have scouts watching and waiting until then to signal a raid.

Naz suggests attacking the enemy first. He proposes using the captured slaver vehicle as a Trojan horse to get inside the raiders’ defenses, then striking hard from the outside with an assault vehicle prepared by Ronin and Toshido. Cat’s AS530 helicopter would serve as air support, dropping Molotov cocktails and pipe bombs onto the slavers. Even if the three-pronged attack fails, the chaos and disarray would give the town more time to shore up its defenses, and there would be no fear of reprisals as the slavers would have no reason to connect the assault with Pingberra. And if the attack succeeds, a blight on New South Wales would be eliminated, captured slaves would be set free, and Pingberra would continue to enjoy peace and security.

Sunrise is greeted by church bells calling all Pingberra residents into an emergency town meeting. The Council lays out the situation and, as with every major decision, leaves it up to the townsfolk to decide whether to wait things out or strike at the slavers first. The vote is close but ultimately the preemptive attack is the chosen course of action.

The Regulators get to work. Toshido oversees tune-ups on both the slaver’s flatbed and the old pick-up truck used by the previous night’s posse. Ronin leads a crew that armors the flatbed with steel plate and fits a battering ram to the front. Cat works through a pre-flight checklist to make sure her beloved chopper is ready to rock. Naz spends his time making pipe bombs, and Balthazar and Lynn sharpen knives and clean guns. After a busy 36 hours, the team is ready to move.

The two trucks and Naz’s motorcycle leave the Pingberra gate at midnight and begin the sixty-klick journey to Auburn. They halt on the suburb’s outskirts, and Lynn slips off on foot to pinpoint the exact location of the slaver’s camp. She’s back within a couple of hours, having found an old factory near the railroad tracks with a freefire zone razed around it. Lynn observed the camp for a while and is able to sketch out a diagram.

Lynn notes the guards manning flamethrowers at the front gates, and the gunner’s nest built onto a smokestack. It looks like one person manning a heavy machine gun is stationed up there. Vehicles in various states of repair are scattered through the main yard, as are oil drums and old crates; they all can be sued for cover. The tents appear to be used as living quarters, but they are not large enough to accommodate the 30+ raiders supposedly on site. Most of the slavers must be inside the factory building proper.

The Regulators decide on a change of plan. Naz will find a good sniper perch and take out the two guards at the main gate. Toshido will then drive the slaver’s flatbed through the gates and start raising a ruckus. Lynn will be strapped under the truck, and once they are clear of the gates she will drop off and begin taking out slavers using stealth. Ronin will drive the armored truck through the fence at the northeast side, then continue on and punch through the northwest side. Naz will enter the compound through one of these holes. Daylight will ride shotgun with Ronin. Cat will drop bombs from the air as planned, but her first target will be the elevated gunner’s nest. If the slavers pour into the yard, the Regulators should be able to mop them up efficiently. If the bad guys hole up in the factory… well, then they’d come up with another plan.

Naz settles into position just as the sound of Cat’s copter can be heard in the distance. Toshido gets on the CB radio in the captured flatbed and informs Cat of the change in plans. She’s got Balthazar riding in the body of the copter, nervously holding a crate of gasoline-filled bottles and pipe bombs on his lap as he keeps an eye on the captured slaver, who sits bound and gagged on the floor.

The guards on the main gate crane their heads skyward to catch a glimpse of the approaching aircraft. Naz takes his shots. Two pulls of the trigger, and two dead men. Naz scoops up the precious brass casings ejected by his rifle, then keeps his sights on the main door of the factory.

At the sound of the gunshots, Toshido starts up his truck and stands on the gas pedal. He and Lynn had pushed the truck into position so as not to alert the slavers, but now the plan was to make as much noise as possible. Sparks fly as the truck crashes into the main gates. The impact causes Toshido to momentarily lose control of the vehicle; instead of punching through into the main yard, the truck gets wedged into position at the front gate. Lynn slips away as planned, but Toshido cannot get the truck loose. He abandons the truck and heads out of foot as well, half expecting to be cut down by the machine gunner above.

But that slaver is busy trying to get her weapon into a position where it can fire upon the approaching helicopter. The gunner’s nest was designed to target forces on the ground, and the slaver has her hands full trying to lug the heavy machine gun up onto enough sandbags to get a good lateral firing arc. She’s too slow; Cat buzzes the platform and Balthazar drops a Molotov practically in the gunner’s lap. Flames light up the sky, and a burning figure plunges into the yard below.

Meanwhile, Ronin has punched through the metal outer fence and through the chainlink separating the inner yard from the outer. Daylight, dressed int he captured slaver’s gear, hops off the truck and tries to blend into the chaos of the yard, hoping to sneak into the factory building and suss out the situation there. Ronin is about to punch through the northwest fence when he spots Toshido trying to sneak past the tents. An armed slaver rolls out from one of the tents and spots Toshido. Ronin whips the truck around and plows right through the slaver and the tent behind him.

At this point, slavers are swarming out of the factory and into the yard. A big man shouts and points at the main gate; two slavers run off to re-man the flamethrowers. The big slaver continues to bark out orders until one of Naz’ bullets hits him just over the heart. He goes down hard, and a couple of his underlings scoop him up and start to drag him back inside.

They are met by Daylight Johnson, and his disguise fools them long enough for him to draw his vintage Japanese officer’s katana and cut one of them down. The other drops the wounded leader and start hauling ass. Daylight takes a couple of steps and lays the fellow’s back open with a sword strike. He then walks over to the felled leader, notes that he is still breathing (thanks to a pre-Ruin bulletproof vest), and finishes the job that Naz started.

While chaos erupts all around her, Lynn has made her way to the gate leading to the boxcar storage area. She easily picks the old lock and makes her way to the nearest car. The Regulators had guessed that the slaves were being kept in the boxcar, and their hunch turns out to be correct. Lynn can smell more than see the presence of slaves in the car; a series of holes had been drilled at the tops and bottoms of the long sides of the cars to let air in and waster material out. The boxcar is kept locked with a simple peg bolt, but Lynn does not want to free the slaves while the fighting still rages for fear of collateral damage.

Toshido catches up to her at this point, and he agrees that they need to work out a safe way to get the slaves out of harm’s way. He spotted an old school bus that looked operational; it might even be the method the slavers used to bring their captives here in the first place. Toshido sneaks off to “liberate” the bus while Lynn checks the other boxcars for occupants.

Cat is in the middle of her third pass over the compound when assault rifle fire fills the air. The dashboard of the AS350 lights up in flickering red. Cat struggles to keep the helicopter in the air long enough to clear the slavers’ base, and barely makes it. The chopper hits the ground hard just yards outside the fence on the boxcar side.

Naz spots Cat’s trouble and makes a dash for his bike. He guns out onto the street, roars past the main gates (just out of range of the flamethrowers), and heads straight for the crash site. A half-dozen slavers are running towards the downed chopper, axes and shotguns in hand. Naz draws his naginata out of its sheath and bears down.

Meanwhile, the occupants of the helicopter are coming to. The pilot is pretty shaken up by the rough landing, but the sturdy Balthazar is barely phased. Both the captured slaver and the stockpile of Molotov cocktails have fared far, far worse, however; both lay broken on the floor of the AS530. Cat reaches out and a fire extension leaps out of its bracket and into her outstretched hand. She unbuckles herself from her seat and begins to douse the gasoline before it can catch fire.

Balthazar leaps out of the copter just as the slavers reach the site. The lead raider raises his axe to strike, but the Pingberra chef moves quicker than the eye can follow. “Jezebel” flashes out on her chain and tears through the man’s jaw like it was sculpted from butter. Blathazar carries through on the swing and keeps the meat cleaver whirling about his head, driving the stunned slavers back.

One of the slavers suddenly remembers he has a shotgun, but before he can bring it up to fire he is impaled from behind on Naz’s naginata. The Regulator had ridden with his spear before him like a knight on horseback, and the force of the blow almost tears him from his saddle. Naz rolls with the momentum and hops off the bike. He manages to tear his weapon from the dead slaver’s body, and holding the long blade aloft next to Kemp and his murderous meat cleavers the two Regulators make a fearsome sight in the firelight. The remaining slavers lose their water and turn to run, but are cut down before they can get far.

Toshido makes it to the school bus. No key is required to start it, and the engine turns over almost instantly. Brian wheels the big vehicle around and starts to head back toward the boxcars. He doesn’t get very far before he is swarmed by slavers trying to barge their way in through the passenger door or climb in through one of the open windows. One ambitious soul manages to leap onto the hood and tries to aim a pistol at Toshido while hanging on with one hand. Toshido raises his shotgun and deals with the would-be gunman. The other slavers take the hint and drop off.

Daylight, meanwhile, had continued towards the factory building, pausing only to cut down random slavers as the opportunity arose. He had just about made it to the main doors when a gruff voice barks at him. Another slaver leader, and this one has twigged to the fact that Daylight was an outsider. The slaver and Daylight make eye contact for a split-second. Then the slaver goes for the .44 Automag tucked in his waistband, and Daylight charges forward holding his katana behind him, just like the samurai in those old movies Toshido always makes him watch. The slaver clears his pistol and starts to line up his shot, but Daylight has already closed the distance and delivers a devastating passing strike at his opponent’s midsection. The slaver whirls towards Daylight’s back, gasping, choking, dying but still trying to raise his gun for a final shot. Without turning, Daylight jabs his katana back and up through the slaver’s torso. He pulls the sword free and the dead man slumps to the ground.

Ronin had pulled the armored truck up to serve as a shield for the captives as Lynn freed them from their boxcar prisons. Now that Toshido arrives with the school bus, the two men help the slaves get safely aboard the vehicle. They are a wretched sight, despite being in the compound for only a few days. Like the little boy outside Pingeberra, the women and children are naked except for a few scraps of underwear and covered in filth. Lynn knows form bitter experience that this is part of the process used to break down the will of new slaves, and she sstalks off into the night to get a little more payback.

The front gates need to be cleared in order to get the school bus out without damage, so Balthazar and Naz head there to see what they can do. However, the guards have given up on the flame throwers and take shots at the Regulators with their rifles. The heroes dive for cover. Lynn sidles up and tosses a few blades at the slavers’ backs. The injured men whirl about to confront their new attacker, but Lynn has vanished back into the darkness. (“It’s actually kind of creepy how she does that,” observes Balthazar.) The distraction is enough for Naz to stride up to the main gate and gun down both guards with his revolver. One of them doesn’t fall fast enough for Lynn, so she uses one last blade to speed things along. They clear the flatbed from the gates, and Ronin drives the freed slaves back to Pingberra.

Now, nothing is moving in the compound except for the Regulators. The captured slaver put the number of his comrades at around thirty, but the regulators can only account for about half that number. They have no idea if any of the slavers managed to escape, as they were never certain how many there were in the first place. Ultimately, however, the posse decides it’s not important. This operation has been broken up for good, and there is nothing to connect the attack with Pingberra even if there are survivors.

All that’s left now is to clear the factory building. Lynn and Daylight decide to shimmy up the ladders to the second story and sneak in while the rest of the team enter through the front door. Daylight peers through the window (ha!) and is shocked to discover a nursery. There are cartoon characters crudely drawn on the walls, there are toys scattered across the floor, and small mattresses and bedrolls line the walls. The cry of a child draws his attention to one darkened corner, where more than a dozen children huddle behind a handful of women – one of whom is raising a shotgun to blow off the preacher man’s head.

Before the slaver woman can get the shot off, Lynn pops up and whips a throwing dagger right at her face. The blade cuts a deep groove before bouncing off the bone, and the woman collapses in pain. Daylight fully enters the room and does his best to calm the terrified women and children while judiciously taking ownership of the shotgun.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Pingberra posse have cautiously entered the building. They find themselves in a large foyer, and Naz notes several murder holes and gun loops that thankfully seem to be unmanned. They begin to move forward into the hall beyond the foyer when a rifle cracks and the wall behind Balthazar’s head splinters.

The shooter is crouched behind an oil drum barricade jutting out into the hall a dozen meters away. Naz uses a captured slaver pistol to snap off a couple rounds of covering fire while Toshido races forward. The martial artist slides on his knees past the barricade and brings a sai up under the gunmans throat. He is startled to see it is a rather attractive, if somewhat bedraggled woman, who takes advantage of her adversary’s surprise to swing her rifle barrel around to his temple. Naz calls out, the woman’s eyes waver for an instant, and it’s all the opening Toshido needs. He snatches the rifle out of the startled slaver’s grasp and keeps her covered with it.

The Regulators reunite and exchange sitreps. They figure that when the captured slaver said there were about thirty slavers living here he was including the women and kids. This presents a big problem for the posse, however – what are they going to do with the slavers’ families?

There’s a lot of back-and-forth, and things actually get heated at one point. The Regulators agree to put off any decision until they clear the compound of everything valuable.

And there’s a lot of valuable stuff here. Food, auto parts, tools, fuel, sheet metal, ammo – slavery must pay very well. Once everything easily movable is loaded up, Balthazar and Daylight start on wiring and copper tubing. Meanwhile, Lynn and Naz keep the slaver families guarded, and Cat and Toshido do their best to get the AS530 up and running again.

Although the Regulators spend hours gathering up goodies, they don’t have any illusions about hanging on to all this stuff themselves. Firstly, they recognize that they are part of a community, and these goods would benefit everyone. Secondly, they are bringing back at least fifty new mouths to feed (the freed slaves), and while it is unlikely that the residents of Pingberra would turn away victimized women and children, the “dowry” of the slavers’ horde will make the population surge a bit easier to bear.

And it looks as though now the Regulators will be bringing back even more new residents. The attractive lady who drew down on Toshido approaches Naz and begs him not to abandon the slaver families, for the children’s sake if for no other reason. An angry Naz mutters agreement and storms off, knowing full well he’s buying himself future trouble.

Cat gives a whoop of joy as the copter’s engine turns over. Turns out she had lost a hydraulic pump and was able to make repairs thanks to the slavers’ stockpile of parts. The AS530 is ready to stagger back home.

The posse has loaded up four trucks with loot and refugges and they only have one driver among them, so Toshido and Daylight rig up a series of tow chains. Warm bodies in the towed vehicles will break and turn the wheel as instructed over the CB radios. The sun is high in the sky as the Regulators head back to Pingberra.


For the town: four trucks, loads of spare parts and tools, sheet metal (including yards of copper wire and tubing), five .38 revolvers with 83 rounds of ammo, three 12ga shotguns with 47 shells, three .243 Winchester rifles with 58 rounds, four 40# pull bows with 39 homemade arrows, a dozen bowie knives, several pounds of dried meat (probably rabbit), five jars of home-canned fruit, ten jars of home-canned vegetables, three ten-pound sacks of milled wheat, and more. Perhaps the most important “finds” are three working CB radios mounted in the vehicles.

Each of the Regulators claimed a .38 pistol and 2d3 rounds of ammunition. Additionally, they made the following personal finds:

  • TOSHIDO – 3 road flares and a hatchet, all of which he will keep.
  • LYNN – A full box of quart-sized ziploc bags, which she will keep, and a leather working kit worth 5 BP.
  • CAT – An 8lb hammer worth 6 BP. Huzzah.
  • NAZ – 3 life vests which are worthless anywhere except near the shore, where they are worth 10 BP each. He also claimed the bulletproof vest from the slaver leader he shot, and six extra rounds of .38 ammunition.
  • DAYLIGHT – The other slaver leader’s .44 Automage and 2d6 rounds of ammo. He also scouted up an old Chemistry textbook (Score 55).
  • BALTHAZAR – Four Jeep tires cached in one of the boxcars and a beginner’s guide to French (Score 25).
  • RONIN – The love and admiration of the freed slaves. Double huzzah.


Surprisingly, none of the Regulators took combat damage. Cat suffered 9 subduals point of damage in the helicopter crash, but Balthazar only took 1. They were both fine after a little rest.

Nearly everyone rolled a critical success at some point during the marathon session: Daylight with Con Artist, Lynn with Stealth, Toshido with Beast Riding and Throwing, Naz with Tactics, and Balthazar with Flexible Weapon – twice!

It was universally agreed that those without Automobile Driving would begin studying it immediately, and Ronin aims to pick up Beast Riding.

Police and Thieves
The Case of Cat's Copter's Carburetor

A daring midnight raid and a sudden betrayal draw the Regulators from the comforts of Pingberra to the chaos of Sydney.

Cat‘s lover, Jimmy Valentine, has collided with outsiders to steal a vital component from her beloved helicopter. The gang escapes through the secret emergency entrance in Pingberra’s south wall. Desperate to restore Cat’s copter and safeguard the secrets of their new home, the Regulators set out after the thieves.

However, the trail leads right into the lair of the New Duke himself! The theft was a plot to lure Cat into his clutches so that she may be forced to serves as pilot and flight instructor for his army. Instead, Cat blows his head up real good and the Regulators fight their way to freedom in the resulting chaos..

Plot Points:
• The adventure that kick-started the revival of our Aftermath campaign.

• First appearance of Daylight Coca-Cola Johnson, Jimmy Valentine, the New Duke, and the town and inhabitants of Pingberra.

• Lynn is appointed to stay in Pingberra in case the thieves double-back.

• The Regulators have a run-in with a pack of dog-men on the way to Sydney.

• Cat kept faltering with her psychokinetic blast all adventure, until the very moment she needed it the most. She failed to get Jimmy before he left Pingberra. She failed to take out any of the dog-men. Finally, she scored two critical success in her attempt to attack the Duke over dinner, giving him an aneurysm that kills him stone dead during the fish course. Apparently, Cat needs a comfy chair and a good meal to use her psychic abilities to their fullest.

• Cat shot Jimmy’s new gal dead, which made her unreasonably happy.

• Naz scored a crit with his naginata and took Jimmy’s right hand at the wrist. This also made Cat unreasonably happy.

• The death of the New Duke death is established, laying the groundwork for future struggles.

As a team, the Regulators scored eight 100ct bottles of 250mg Penicillin V Potassium tablets, twenty-seven 1mL ampules of Morphine Sulfate 15mg, and two large dog pelts. The medicine was donated to Doc MacReady’s surgery. I have no idea what happened with the dog pelts.

Toshido also acquired a pump-action shotgun with pistol grip and five shells. He also won fourteen .45 ACP rounds and eleven .30-06 rounds betting on himself during a “demonstration bout” for the Duke’s enjoyment.

Daylight skeeved twin M1911’s from the Duke’s arsenal, but they were only loaded with six rounds between them.

Cat picked up an army-issue L1A1 Battle Rifle with 13 rounds in the clip. Oh, and the part that was stolen from her helicopter.

Naz pulled a high-quality arrow with fiberglass shaft and steel hunting broadhead pulled from his thigh. When you don’t have Search, sometime you have to wait for the loot to come to you.


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