Leo and the “otherworlders” (eg fae) headed out towards the town of Cold Steel. Following normal fae movements the process was fairly slow. So Leo and his group (other than Emily the doctor who stayed with the rest of the fae) joined Connor on recon missions ahead of the fae.
There they uncovered some abandoned towns like Buhl, and a still occupied town of Sacred Waters. Sacred Waters was formerly Twin Falls Idaho and the home of a faction of the Knights of Genetic Purity. Calling themselves the silent brotherhood they ran the town under the new “Morman Renewal” church. A conservative religion that reformed after the fall of the world with the idea they were right to begin with.
Leo scouted the town and found some details, mostly that Cold Steel will want nothing to do with a town and organization that stakes out non-humans with warning signs. On his way home he spotted a family of anthromorphs (fox) that had been captured.
Not able to let them be killed he snuck out and freed the family, and also learned of a stash of weapons that the Silent Brotherhood wanted the location of from Peltor, the fox husband. He gave the location up to Leo for Leo to take care of.
Leo snuck in and blew up the supply cache that was one of the original founding members of the church, but at some point in the last five hundred years the location had been lost. He also met Colonel Aram Yeager, commander of the silent brotherhood and who owned a set of combat armor.
Not to be deterred, Leo stabbed the colonel in the thigh with his tarvon blade, and was able to escape before the explosion with Jeff. They returned home with two top of the line communication suites and the fae in tow. Talking with his own Lt. Colonel he established relations between Cold Steel and the fae while settling into another winter in Cold Steel as he had finally arrived home in mid/late September.
Adventure Name: “Anya’s Homecoming” Brief Description: Leo, Aleph, Anya and Jeff along with their new scientist Emily head north and east into Idaho. There they find Anya’s family, or at least what is left of the home she grew up in. They also find some unexpected visitors.
Sally, Conner, Marisa all part of a “otherworldly” contingent.
Altive, a Squanto historian
Russian Armor Battle south of Orofino
Destroyed on US 12 and Michigan Ave Intersection
Anya’s Town’s Medical
Orifino on the river
Walking down street in Orofino
Google map Orofino
Satellite map of Orofino bridge
The group arrived south of Anya’s home near Orofino. First then encountered a Squanto librarian in his wilderness home named Altive, he made friends with the group quickly and indicated that the town of Orofino had been overrun and they had left. He gave him the information he had in his libraries (Anya “stole” a copy of one of the boxcar children books). In return Leo set up an electronic/computer repository of books that he carried.
The group continued on after staying the night towards Orofino. Just south of the town they met up with something new. There they found wreckage of two Russian main battle tanks, 2 BMP-1s and assorted wreckage of unidentifiable vehicles. The most peculiar part was that they were Russian soldiers and equipment, not American. Destroyed outside of the town.
Further inspection revealed that some of the equipment was destroyed by other human weapons, some of it was destroyed by human weapons, but with bizarre black residue/after effect around the damaged areas and finally one of the large main battle tanks (looks like an upgraded T-72) was ripped open by what appeared to be claws. All of this seemed to happen a long time ago, although not the full 500 years that should have passed.
The group then arrived outside of Orofino on the bridge connecting I-12 and Michigan Ave. There they found a burnt out BMP-1 that seemed to be placed in front of the bridge, defending the town. The group crossed the bridge and found that the town had been surrounded by iron pilings. The bridge even had an iron lip, except for a small section that had been recently removed just a couple of years ago… about the same time the town seemed to have ran away.
In the town the group found State Hospital – North, an old psychiatric hospital that in the last days was converted to a testing facility for Dr. Griesick’s program. This was not one of her “farms” but she knew the man in charge and said he wasn’t so carrying about his subjects. Anya’s people seem to be a combination of those patients and the Russians that arrived hundreds of years ago to save the town.
Leo deduced the Russians arrived and for whatever reasons defended the town and intermingled. He found out that originally Anya had said her last name was Granger, a name her family told to give out when outside of the town. However, her full name is Anya Natasha Petrov.
While in Orofino they found five Russian bodies spiked to trees, their insides pulled out and tortured for a long long time. Anya had one of the memory spiders crawl into one of the soldiers and has yet to give it to Leo.
Also outside Orofino Anya warns Leo away from a homeless vagrant wanderer named Ioann Patmosskiy. He has rumored to live outside of Orofino for generations, unable to cross the iron encirclement, and yes he turns out to be one of the black mists’s minions… his name translates from Russian to “John Patmos” or “John of Patmos”.
There is a small confrontation between Leo, Aleph and Ioann, but the group takes Ioann down quickly and decided to follow the path the survivors of Orofino left, which was towards Spokane.
During their four day travel to Spokane they encountered a black mist storm, with things writhing in the mist. The area they had stopped at seemed to have higher then normal iron deposits… perhaps old vehicle had rotted into the ground giving a high iron content, or some other reason. While the mist surrounded them, a nanite storm came and collided with the mist, leaving the group safe, but covered in iron filings they had rubbed all over their body as a last ditch effort to avoid the mist.
They also came across a group of Martok who were trying to take tolls from travelers and made short work of them.
The group arrived outside Spokane (the city is uninhabited and most of the locals live outside in the suburbs) to the Squanto library of Moran Prairie Library. There they were told that a contingent of “otherworlders” had rented the library and they would have to wait.
Not to be pushed away, Leo approached that contingent and met a gentleman named “Sally” (actual name not pronounceable easily), Marisa his guard, and Conner one of his soldiers (along with a ritualist who hasn’t directly introduced himself).
There things got friendly between Sally and Leo and Leo learned that Sally’s people are from another place and that a long time ago what lives in the black mist forced them from their own plane of existence.
Sally is obviously looked on as “touched” or just plain wrong in his cry of the black mist returning by most of his people. He is surrounded by a loyal group of what seems to be a faerie tale of creatures. After a lot of discussion Sally has agreed to follow Leo back to Cold Steel and to trade information.
While Sally seems like a different class from some of the common folks in his entourage, Sally, Marisa and the rest at that level all seem to glow with an inner light. He met Conner who was a beautiful man, but seemed more real, more on the level with Leo in both class and outlook.
We left the group getting to know the outworlders.
Adventure Name: “Working in the Mine” Brief Description: Leo, Anya, Aleph and Jeff search out the secrets of Coyote Springs and find it is being held by Major Richardson as a side place he and others from outside Cold Steel own. The result is a uranium mine with things alive inside.
A follow up to Todd’s incarceration, trial and punishment as unvieled a hidden community just south and east of Cold Steel. Coyote Springs which was in the pre-war an uncompleted rich development needed to be investigated for nano-scanners and any possible nanites that might be stored there.
The group made their way down and found Coyote Springs fully developed into a town of about 500 people, plus slaves. The place itself looked almost like a pre-war town except for the additional slave pen facilities and the “miners” as they were called being shipped by bus into the mountains.
Leo and Aleph investigated where the bus went, leaving Jeff to guard Anya and found a uranium mine that had been used for the last several hundred years. It was carved out by hand tools and very deep. During Leo’s investigation into the dark of the mine he came across something else. Vaguely humanesque things that seemed to glow partially in the darkness and were natural there.
After a quick bit of combat and quick thinking by Leo. both Leo and Aleph were able to get to the surface and with the help of Anya and Jeff seal off the mine. It appears that the mine produces very low grade uranium. The question now is who would need low grade uranium that isn’t weapon or power quality. Even if it was that begs the question on who could use that as well.
Leo also found that Julio and his team had been using Coyote Springs for years as a base to stash extra things they found or to sell off slaves. Neither of these are allowed by Cold Steel. After being confronted Julio admitted this to Leo but claimed he never was part of the slavery ring, that he only used it as a safe base to stash things.
The group returned back to Cold Steel with a full report, in which Cold Steel themselves secured Coyote Springs, released the prisoners and are trying to determine what to do with that facility/town.
Leo did discover several nano-scanners along with a stash of nanites that matched what Todd used. He also discovered these nanites were being used on the miners as well (but not on the slaves being held for auction).
Adventure Name: “Memories and Monsters” Brief Description: Leo and Anya happen upon an old energy farm, and learn some bewildering things. They then move on to Delta, a small town with even more secrets of the final war. All this leads up to meeting a stranger, and finding the world may not be what was taught to Leo.
Anya and Leo talked the following morning and began traveling north, along Veterans Memorial Highway. After a couple of long days of avoiding the debris, they were interrupted by Leo’s tablet vibrating. The map indicated a place a few miles away off the freeway of interest, a place called Enel Energy Farm.
Leo arrived at the farm and found a gigantic solar and wind farm, outfitted with technology far higher then his people are used to. Supplies and parts were assembled everywhere, it was obvious that survivors had come here, or had been here to begin with during the war. He also noted that there was no sign of those survivors now. He interacted with the computer systems, finding it response and reporting that no one had been in the area for almost 500 years.
Everything was exactly where it was 500 years ago, except none of it was rotten.
Later that night they were under attack by a small swarm of Tarvon. Leo beat them off but noticed they seemed to track electronics and Anya, Anya especially. The next week members of Cold Steel arrived to help break the energy farm up and take it home, while they secured several Tarvon samples.
Todd… (an eyeroll with that name is necessary) one of the young recon soldiers had accidentally cut himself on a Tarvon spike through his body armor. Anya took his hand and thousands of tiny spider like things seemed to erupt out of Anya’s skin in the same part and engulf Todd’s arm, which quickly knitted up. Leo realized that the wounds Anya had healed on Todd had appeared on her, but her abilities, which turn out to be a naturally born nanite hive, healed it fairly quickly, making her incredibly famished.
Anya was protected by Leo and the women in the Cold Steel force from grabby soldiers and doctors with needles, and soon after securing the facility Leo and Anya moved on north, following the same highway until they came to an abandoned town of Delta Utah.
Delta was abandoned, but the tablet had alerted Leo to something there, which turned out to be a mining vehicle. While in town Anya showed him how to get into vending machines, which he found odd considering the vending machines were more than 500 years old, but the food was edible and the pop still cold, he tried Doritos for the first time, unsure how he felt about something so awful yet so tasty.
While in town the team were led by Jeff to what appeared to be an old battle site. A Final War battle site with some dead bodies, a dead supply train and a last ditch firebase. The problem was, there were dead soldiers here just lying there from 500 years before, but some of the blood on them was still a bit soft.
They returned to the town when a Nanite Storm, starting as red and ending as blue tinged they hid out until they found four of those soldiers had gotten up and walked into town… dead. There was a small attack by the zombies as they tried to force themselves into the museum. They seemed to be tracking Anya. Leo had Anya stay within the sealed mining vehicle which then had the zombies focus on Leo. Leo found even if he shot them in the neck or head, they seemed to heal up and get back up, albeit a little slower. It seems the nanites in the zombies would use the flesh of the zombie for energy to heal the wounds.
Three zombies were tied up, Leo was going to wait for the storm to end to burn them when the fourth, the squad sergeant showed up again, this time with a nanite grenade which he threw in (obviously a smarter zombie). Jeff picked up the grenade and attempted to take it out of harms way but unfortunately both Jeff and to a lesser degree Leo were overtaken by the nanites as they invaded both their systems.
Anya ran out and was able to fix Leo and then Jeff, a nanite war raging across her and Jeff’s bodies as the invading nanites seemed to be attacked by the spiders inside of Anya. Jeff recovered and while seeming mostly the same, Leo has noticed some small changes.
After the storm Leo and Anya scoured the old battle site again, finding the nanite grenade seemed to be a defensive item, not an offensive weapon. Leo hunted for more deer, Anya was starving and brought it back. On a whim he fed the sergeant zombie (all had been tied up) and found it was healing when he fed him the meat. This continued for awhile when the zombie started responding to their words.
A short interrogation occurred, the zombie was Sergeant Tyrell Banks (at least according to the dog tags). In the middle of the interrogation, while the zombie was tied up, an arrow sunk into the zombie’s head. Leo watched as an altered animal/human (unknown at this point) that resembled a bipedal cat stepped out of the forest and knocked another arrow.
The cat did not approve of the “cruelty” it saw and a small conversation was had. Eventually the cat listened and told Leo he would be back while Leo fed the zombie more meat to heal.
Leo was almost done as much as he could when the cat returned and presented what appeared to be two bird hearts and fed the zombie those hearts. After a short time the zombie seemed to regain some of its humanity, it could say words and talked about he had failed to stop the world breaking.
Another interlude as Leo talked with the zombie/Tyrell and found that the unit had been destroyed in a fight during the Final War, something so horrific that the soldiers had decided instead of being killed/taken by that enemy, they would willingly subject themselves to the nanite grenade/device and become undead to keep on fighting.
This aspect concerned Leo, none of this was part of Cold Steel’s history or memories and it made a lot of dark possibilities arise in his mind. Meanwhile Tyrell/Zombie had tears coming out of one eye, and was talking about his family and where were they? It was obvious the zombie did not appear to be able to survive in the end, prompting panic from Anya.
Anya leapt over and attempted to heal the zombie, more and more of the zombie seemed to be refilling itself as Anya’s nanites flowed into it, a return set of nanites that were already there seemed to be doing battle. Anya continued to try and heal the zombie as Leo attempted to pull her away. Leo could smell bacon burning as she was attempting to heal him. Eventually he wrestled her away and the cat leaned forward and dispatched the zombie with a blade covered in something.
Anya sat back down and leaned over and some of her nanites returned, when a large one, the size of an actual spider came out and Luke captured it in his bottle as it was different then the rest of her nanite swarm.
A funeral pyre was set and the bodies burned, Leo showing them the same respect as any soldier from Cold Steel, after all they were all US Soldiers and fought for the same world, even if it was centuries apart.
Anya wanted to see the spider in the jar and Leo let her. It crawled along her, when she looked up and said it was for Leo, Tyrell wanted him to have it. Leo unsuredly allowed the spider thing to crawl up him, when it promptly crawled in his mouth and disappeared inside of him.
Leo was wracked by memories, dark wall of shadow that would float over troops, ripping them apart, twisting them. The largest firefight that Leo had ever seen, soldiers screaming, yelling attempting to retreat, finally back at the firebase several soldiers holding each other, whispering reassurances as Tyrell (point of view Leo sees) brings in one of the nanite grenades. He sets it down and they all embrace as life fades from them.
It switched to a second memory though, Tyrell the Zombie kept asking about his wife and kids, the tears were obviously his fear for them. This memory is of being in a tiny apartment, with a beautiful black woman and two children. It was a Christmas, the kids were so excited about their presents, and Leo could feel their love and in turn felt a deep deep love for all three of them. That is when Leo realized that Tyrell didn’t want this memory to fade into nothing and gave it to him.
After his recovery from the memories, Leo sat and ate with Anya, Jeff who seemed more responsive to commands, and the cat who they found out was named Aleph. They talked about how the stars sometimes don’t match what each was told, and how things don’t seem to age at the same rate. It ended with the group talking about relationships, with Aleph sounding like he wanted to follow Leo and Anya for awhile.