The Cody Book Club

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1×05: Day Five

  • Inside the bunker, the team begin discussing what they’ve found and the electronic voice announces that it is changing to English for understanding. A recorded message of Heinlein’s Grandfather appears, though he does not have the stoop and appears to be moving more quickly. This recording begins in a language that no one recognizes but shifting to English and stating that he is not from Earth, but rather from a world far away. His name of origin he gives as Rabaka Wepwety Arth, and he is a “Bystander of the Glorious Taareh Kingdom of Qebe.” His entire crèche was inserted onto Terra in 1909 after being surgically altered to blend in; they were tasked to observe and report sign of the “Defector,” known to them as Gen-Hisis, one of the “Masters” who fled the “Sk’ranu”. He adds that these Bystanders have been noting increased solar and NEO activity, so they expect an invasion soon and will likely be the first targets.
  • Terra’s best hope for survival is the Defector, according to Grandfather … er … Rabaka Wepwety Arth. Gen-Hisis has been kept in secret under a “Project Genesis” and was recently relocated from Area 51 to somewhere in Colorado, probably Cheyenne Mountain, after some sort of “incident.” The recording also references a datachip with all knowledge about the Sk’ran – which the team presume is the name given to the bugs – and states that this bunker will be destroyed once they leave to avoid it falling into enemy hands. With that in mind, the team spend the rest of the night studying what they can in shifts.
  • Despite there now being questions about his origin, Grandfather is laid to rest in a traditional Arapaho ceremony attended by many of John’s cousins. They look at him askance when he tells them the truth but generally shrug when he offers to show them the proof in the bunker below. His son, James, is a little troubled too; if they’re part alien, does that mean they’re going to develop powers? John has no idea but promises to be there for him nonetheless.
  • In the morning, after sealing up the bunker so it can self-destruct, the team set out once more, aiming for Fort Washakie, Wyoming. They are not on the road for very long when they observe a cloud of flying insects. They do no real damage – apart from smearing themselves all over the windows and exposed people – but it is still a troubling event regardless. A plague of locusts … is a rain of frogs next?
  • They pass on, eventually reaching a bridge that is partially out. Even worse is the presence of an old station wagon that is tottering on the lip, barely balanced in place. Calls for help from the car reveal that it is occupied by injured! The team scramble out to assist, with everyone but John actually being rather helpful; in the water nearby, Jules notes another of those drop-pod things. Based on the angle, he suspects that the pod smashed into the bridge and broke it. As everyone is coordinating to rescue the trapped civvies, a new kind bug waddles up on the bridge. John is having none of this, however, and goes for his rifle immediately, riddling the thing with bullets; later, he will note that the bug’s dangerously sharp-looking “beak” and opts to cut it free with an intent on turning it into a makeshift katar or hay bale hook for later. The others will successfully extract the injured men from the car, one of whom needs some emergency medical attention from Jules. They exchange stories, learning that these men are heading toward Seattle despite the fact that it seems to have been lost because one of them has a fiancee there! Damien, being a selfless sort, gives the men some extra rations to make up for their lack, earning a grumbled complaint from Robert.
  • While investigating, they also discover what appears to be a bunch of bug eggs under the bridge. No one questions the decision to use some of their fuel to set these eggs on fire.
  • From the bridge, both groups backtrack a bit to find an alternate route over the river, then continue on their respective ways. The team observe a wandering herd of bison on the road which slow them down a bit, before passing through Dubois – hilariously pronounced “Dew-Bois” in Wyoming instead of the more traditional French “DOOb-WAH” – though they do pause briefly to pass on the usual intelligence to those in positions of authority.
  • Some distance north-west of Dubois, they encounter a wildfire on one side of the road; some campers are present along with some local, mounted ranchers, and they tell a tale of a surprise attack by some sort of … fire creatures. There is some discussion about how best to proceed – everyone is quite concerned over the fire spreading, but none of them have the ability to properly fight it – but both John and Reece are not caught by surprise when they see a trio of unusual-looking bugs creeping out of the forest. Recognizing these from the bunker’s data as fire-breathers, the two immediately open fire and cut down the creatures; one of them explodes upon death, causing another fire. An effort to retrieve the campers’ gear is considered but promptly discarded as they all note the scope of the fire. Instead, they pile the campers into the truck and backtrack to Dubois to drop them off before resuming their trip, this time having to brave the fires a bit.
  • Entering Jackson a short time later, they proceed directly to the prepper’s bunker, halfway expecting everything to blow up around them while they’re there. They discover the prepper’s house to be effectively abandoned, but there is an entrance to the bunker nearby along with an outbuilding some distance away. While John bangs on the bunker’s door, everyone else mostly spreads out to investigate; Damien will discover that the owner appears to have been a SeeBee in the Navy and Reece discovers someone has written HELP ME in the outbuilding window. John momentarily observes a woman with a cast on her foot appear inside the bunker through a second door but she’s wrestled out of sight by another man. When Reece joins him, they discuss options before John hits upon using the super-sharp bug’s beak to cut in. They are surprised at the the ease with which it cuts through the steel (though cutting through metal is rather loud) and in mere moments, they’ve got a fairly decent-sized hole that they can shout through and be heard.
  • And then, the man John saw earlier pops into view, shouting “Die, commie alien scum!” before opening fire with a firearm!

Player Notes:

  • The delay in this recap is entirely my fault. I was feeling lazy. Again.
  • Giger and I have worked a bit on figuring out the Taareh culture principally for The Verge, my Traveller campaign set in this same universe (though many centuries later and thousands of light years away.) He used the same naming sequence for Grandfather – translated, his name would be Rabaka, Bystander, Earth – that we developed there, though the addition of dogs not liking Taareh is new to this game … but will show up in mine at some point as well. It’s kind of neat to see how that back-and-forth has worked out.
  • Lucky for us that Heinlein decided to take a trophy from one of those bugs! I’d already considered having him start taking trophies from these critters, but the way Gigermann described the one with the long beak made me think it was important. When I had Heinlein use it against the steel door, my thought was “Huh. That was some pretty good set-up on his part.” Imagine my amusement when he told me later that it was just a happy coincidence and he’d already forgotten that I had the pseudo-knife.
  • Speaking of it, I was envisioning making it into a jury-rigged katar or maybe a hay bale hook; CommJunkee suggested the fishing gaff but strongly recommended not just Googling “gaff” … I second that recommendation after having accidentally done so.
  • I was amused that Gigermann did not expect me to have watched 10 Cloverfield Lane which he’s ripping off and was quite surprised when I recognized that plot device; I don’t recall it very well, but I did watch it once. Sorta. Though it’d be more accurate to say I just sort of let it play in the background while I was doing something else. I think I only watched it because I like Elizabeth Winstead.

See the Daniverse Blog for the GM’s post-game debrief.