Milk Run, part 1
Looking for more taking work, we got a job line from Big Joe Robinson. Big Joe ran a distribution network for dairy cow farmers in this region of the Loss, supplying capital equipment to the farmers, and wholesale buying their product. Big Joe had a reputation of being an upstanding community builder; but also ran a somewhat monopolistic distribution network in the Loss, so naturally he had disputes and disagreements with his clients. Additionally, our research revealed his dairy business had a hidden co-owner, who had many less qualms, who was much less upstanding. The shady partner (we knew of the partner's existence, but got no name), based out of the Vancouver, Canada area, had ties to "Mad Max style" raiders and warlords. Some of these bandits now worked as associates in Big Joe's dairy distribution--Big Joe claimed they were rehabilitated, but rumor had it many were still into their previous behavior.
The job itself centered on a farmstead run by two families (the Kavinskis and Jamalies). The two families had recently begun agitating for better contract terms with Big Joe. Big Joe had sent out a negotiator, but had lost contact with the negotiator, and the farmstead itself: the job was to investigate why they were no longer in contact.
There was some competition from a group of Randian arbitrators out of Dream Factory (the "Centrists" or "Middle Ground"), but basically no one out of Navy Town could compete with us: the Bacon Eaters were a bunch of gauche racists (and the Jamali family were Pakistani), and the Plurality of Roosters were basically devastated into non-existence. In the end, we ended up getting the job, along with a laptop with a networking component on non-Ubiq frequencies.
We took leave of our loved ones:
- Spartacus annoyed that her daughter, Taylor, had been holding hands with Rex
- Prime, grimly reminding his family they may have to kill him at some point in the future
- Salt, chatting with his significant other, who asked him to buy some cheese for her
- Wellington, reminding his husband, Billy, that they could get rich by Wellington's taking (Spartacus noted how depressed Billy was, and gave Wellington a Soma pill--Wellington pocketed it, but just kept it, since he didn't want Billy using something as addictive as Soma).
We set out in the early morning. It was wildfire season, so the sky was smoggy. (Within all the local farms, meanwhile, the harvest was approaching: preparations for a winter which could be incredibly harsh). Outside of Stanwood, by a golf course, we approached a quintet of Shepherd cultists. The Shepherds had decided this place was a place of pilgrimage: a family of casualties were strapped into the seats of a small SUV. We, naturally, wanted to drop the Cs, but, by the Shepherd's ideology, the Cs were still people. In the end, the two parties compromised: we didn't drop the Cs, but Prime cowed the cultists into letting him lock the SUV's doors, and also Prime took the time to loot a medkit from the SUV's hatchback. (We did mention among ourselves the desire to return, and pop the Cs, on our way back home).
We camped on top of an old Sonics in an exurban strip mall. We had our dinner, consisting of such food stuff as canned chile, chipped beef gravy, hardtack, and blackberry-derived sweeteners.
We set out toward our objective the next morning, but received an SOS ping over Ubiq. Prime answered on his specs: a party of newbie takers (so new, they hadn't even settled on a crew name) out of Dream Factory had been beat up bad by some raiders, and weather. We agreed to render aid, but also insinuated that we would need some sort of reciprocation. (The newbies appealed to Prime's "humanity" for charity, to which Prime just laughed). There were five takers in the newbie crew, several of them just teenagers:
- Morgana, the crew face, who had a maimed leg, and a C bite
- Flintlock, a fighter
- Steve, medtech, whose supplies had been exhausted, and probably was the most normal of the crew
- Tincap, a techie, who was literally wearing a tinfoil cap
We cowed the newbies into compliance, and tested Morgana for infection: she tested positive.
With no way to pay for Suppressin (*right now* and *right here* in the middle of the Loss), there was no way (even if we were to take on a charity case) to deal with Morgana that did not involve her death. Some of the already-traumatized newbs started to snap, mentally; Morgana herself agreed to shoot herself, and grabbed a set of Ubiq specs to deliver her parting message. Meanwhile, we tested the other four crew members for immunity, and discovered (thanks to our Gen 2 BTU) Easygo and Flintlock were immune. (We suggested to Easygo and Flintlock that they get their asses to Navy Town ASAP, even disregarding their loved ones in Dream Factory). Tincap did end up giving us some actionable news: there was a jamming signal further south (around where they had fought the raiders, and the subequent Cs) which was blocking Ubiq access. Morgana, having said goodbye, killed herself. Despite being hardened takers ourselves, the whole event that the newbies had just experienced was fucked up enough to cause varying degrees of mental turmoil among some of us.
We took leave of the newbies (the survivors would presumably stagger back to Dream Factory), and continued onto the farmsteads. And, indeed, as we got closer, our Ubiq signals cut out. We observed some people hunkered down by the farmstead, along with evidence of a fire fight up the road. We ended up signalling the people by the farmstead by waving a cloth. A young Pakistani man, Raj, came out and parlayed with us: Raj said that they had never received any negotiator from Big Joe, and that they had been in a firefight with a crew of mercenaries (the ranchers had ended up capturing one of the mercs, who was being held in their homestead). We told Raj to tell his father that we had a comm unit capable of cutting through the jamming, and asked him to send his father out to chat with Big Joe.
Raj ran back into his homestead, and which point we noted a trio attempting a stealthy approach through the shrubs. We shouted at them to stop, but they continued to advance: three guys wearing semi-professional gear. Spartacus tossed a Molotov at them, making them drop to put out the fires. We noted that the two of the trio armed with assault rifles, one with an anti-material rifle. We ended up dropping the guy with heavy rifle, and one of the guys with an assault rifle. Wellington shot the other merc in the face, stunning and disorienting him, but leaving him alive. All this commotion had attracted some nearby Cs, so we took care of those--Prime grabbing the surviving merc, and tossing the merc's rifle to Salt, who is probably the best shot in our crew.
Once the rest of the Cs were dropped, Prime turned to the captive guy, and got out the info that:
- they were a crew of mercenaries, the "Golden Boys",
- lead by "Goldilocks"
- they had been tasked to set up a jammer
- there are four more of them back at their camp
- their mission was supposed to have been a "no fire" one, where they simply put pressure on the farmers
Prime ended up strangling the captive to death, and we headed to the farmstead.
Two patriarchs, Kavinski and Jamali, former war vets who had fought together, lead the rancher families. They held another of the Golden Boys captive, so we questioned him, although Kavinski and Jamali demanded we not torture the captive. From this captive, we further learned:
- there were two fixers who worked with Goldilocks
- Dr. Z (pronoucned "Dr. Zed"), a fixer operating with gangsters out of Vancouver, Canada (traids, etc)
- Rez, affiliated with biker gangs in the Tacoma-Portland corridor
We called up Big Joe on the comm he had given us. Joe assuaged (to an extent) our suspicion that he, directly, had something to do with the mercs; he also agreed that we had fulfilled the original terms of our contract. So, Prime was able to negotiate a supplementary contract for us to take out the merc's jamming. We let the farmers host us to dinner (the homesteads consisting of seven adults and two kids), while we planned on how to complete our second contract.
- 3 legs (2 done)
- 33 bounty
- 0 legs
- 23 bounty
- owed favor from the area fishers
- 5 bounty
- Laptop with non-Ubiq networking component
- heavy rifle
- assault rifle with functional suppressor
- assault rifle without suppressor
- 3 knives
- 2 tomahawks
- Little Andy, Salt's 6/7 year-old newphew
- Salt's significant other
Other Taker Crews
- "Centrists" or "Middle Ground": Randian arbitration crew out of dream factory
- the "newbs" out of Dream Factory
- Flintlock, a fighter, immune
- Steve, medtech
- Tincap, a techie, who was literally wearing a tinfoil cap
- Easygo, immune
- Big Joe Robinson, dairy distribution businessman
- Big Al, Big Joe's negotiator in Navy Town
- (silent business partner out of Vancouver)
- (Spartacus's whiskey dealer)
- Silvana dairy farming homestead
- golf course Shepherd cultists
- "Lutefisk: why do we keep eating it?"
- "No botulism in this"