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The Cold War turned hot as the United States and the Soviet Union sought each other’s destruction in the hellfire of atoms! A Nuclear World War! The bombs have seemed to have stopped, after two whole days of increasingly intermittent strikes, but the survivors will now have to contend with … the Collapse.

Your name is Reginald Mantle; you are a homesteader and junk collector/peddler who moonlights as the Animal Control Officer for Debouche, a relatively isolated lakeside community in Northern Maine. One of Debouche’s leading citizens, and its wealthiest (year-round) resident, Erwin Parasol, figured out that the Nuclear World War was imminent, and invited you into a small group of citizens, most of them members of Debouche Public Safety or the Piscataquis County Sheriff’s Office, who sought to pool their resources and skills to survive any disruptions that would follow the strikes.
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>>4504670
http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive.html?tags=TrashQM

Previously
Parasol’s original plan to feed any resident of the lake willing to cooperate with his group was abandoned after Chickless asked the question that no one had an answer for; what would the 2000 people living around the lake eat through the entire Winter? And so, in the Blue Sitting Room of the Parasol Family Lodge, hearts were hardened, and neighbors and friends became just names or numbers. In the end, the size of the group was soft-capped at 250 people, and the remaining 1750 residents around the lake and the 200 prisoners in the Consolidated Somerset-Piscataquis Jail would be cut loose.

The new plan was to have members of the group, primarily Deputies, considering that they were to most likely to be obeyed by non-group members, to go to locations around the lake that had critical supplies or infrastructure and then just sit on them, while the group sent a large armed party to the jail, to oversee the release of the prisoners. The idea was that between a jailbreak and Nuclear Strike, the non-group members living around the lake would either flee or be tied down defending their property. And if they were either gone or hunkering down at home, then they were not out on the streets competing with the group for critical supplies. The plan looked good on paper, and Mantle was sent home to catch some sleep and await further instructions.

Unfortunately, the plan fell apart almost immediately. Undersheriff Carter pretended to go along with the commands of his superior, Sheriff Arthur, a member of Parasol’s inner circle. But as soon as he could, he contacted the Maine National Guard, and informed them of a ‘brewing insurrection’. It is unclear if Carter was deputized by the Guard, and told to start apprehending members of Parasol’s group, or if he did so on his own volition. Either way, with the Sheriff busy trying to convince his other undersheriff, Warden Polk, to let him and his party into the jail to release the prisoners, after Polk had been set against the Sheriff by Carter, the small group of ‘loyalists’ had the initiative.
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>>4504679
And to their credit, they capitalized on it. Even as the power went out, they moved into the Public Safety Building, secured a good portion of the Sheriffs Office’s arsenal, and detained the dispatcher, effectively cutting communications between the Sheriff’s party at the jail and the individual group members scattered across the lake. From there, the loyalists started a sweep around the around the lake, working their way towards the town center, capturing individual members of Parasol’s group as they held their position, unaware of Carter’s double-cross. Luckily, Senior Deputy Bean was able to get in touch with you, and after making some arrangements with a former safecracker to care for your homestead in your absence, you briefly returned home to grab your ‘new-to-you’ M240b, and then drove to the Debouche Municipal Airport, figuring that it would be just ahead of Carter’s convoy.

Your gambit paid off, and you got there before Carter did. Unfortunately, the group members guarding the airfield was the Paramedic Oher and his grandson, Matthew, and not a pair of well-armed Deputies. Still, it was better than nothing, and after arming them, the three of you headed out, to collect the remaining Paramedics in the area, ahead of Carter. This is where your luck ran out. At one of the three intersections in the entire town that has a stoplight, you came across the ‘Loyalists’, formed up in a convoy, moving towards the airfield to apprehend Oher. Up to this point, things had been completely bloodless, for both sides, and you had a chance to retreat and regroup. But if you did, you would run the risk of losing the eight or so group members that Carter already captured forever, so you committed yourself to stopping the convoy, and disabling the prisoner transport.

With some fancy shooting you did succeed in immobilizing the lead cruiser and then the transport, in the process driving off the notoriously ‘gun-shy’ Carter, but you took a ricochet to the back in the process. You managed to stave off shock and unconsciousness for long enough to make a decision; you would seek medical attention at First Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, even if it meant that you would need to figure out a way back to Debouche on your own. After passing in and out of consciousness in the ambulance ride over, you finally came to a full two days later, in the Dialysis ward of the hospital, shackled to the bed. You discovered that you were being held as a material witness by the Maine National Guards Military Police, and that you were going to be questioned; or rather interrogated, soon.
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>>4504681
You had never been particularly clever, and under the coldly efficient examination of Officer Spry, you sort of slipped up, and indicated that you had foreknowledge of the Nuclear Strikes, which to Spry, was evidence that you were an insurrectionist. The interrogation immediately turned to torture with an Iron Claw pic related, a device that had been used in corrections and prisoner transport, but was phased out for humanitarian concerns, as even when it was being used properly, it had a bad habit of breaking bones.

Spry used it to incrementally crush your left testicle, then your collarbone. After that, he plucked out three of your fingernails, and crushed the fingerbone underneath with the claw. Strangely (and perhaps fortunately) enough, the questions that he asked you under this torture did not make any sense to you. He asked what the insurrection was going to do with ‘the trains’ and demanded to know the significance of a graduation ring that he claimed had been left in your possession after you were dropped off. You were honestly able to answer that you had no idea what he was talking about, and after throwing him off the trail a bit with this, you were able to taunt the wound-up MP into beating you unconscious, prematurely ending the torture without revealing anything incriminating.

You woke up, very early on the morning of the next day in what appeared to be a dinning room of a private residence that had been converted over into an operating room. You had been saved from further torture by your attending nurse, RN Gunther Peake, and the hospital’s administrator, Dr. Jack Grisham. Despite missing several fingers on his right hand, and having limited feeling in his left, Dr. Grisham was able to repair much of the damage that was done to you at the hands of Officer Spry. Unwilling to let his hospital become a ‘charnel house’, him and Gunther snuck you out, and has arranged for you to make your way back to your homestead, along with Gunther and his cousin Petra, as the Guard is now looking for them.

Gunther has just returned; Dr. Grisham will drive you, Gunther and Petra as close to the Maine National Guard’s checkpoint as he dares, and then the three of them will sneak you past the checkpoint and to a safehouse with a vehicle to take you back to the lake. Dr. Grisham will sneak back into the city, and dispose of Gunther’s truck. This is the plan. With any luck, this one will work.
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>>4504683
>Garage of the Grisham Residence, Bangor Maine
>2:07 am on 10/31/2020
>36 degrees Fahrenheit, Slightly Cloudy, Hazy(?)
>Waxing Gibbous Moon, provides some visibility in open areas, sets around 3:00am
>Sunrise around 7:00 am

Bundled up under the thick gray throw, you were trundled out to the garage as soon as Gunther confirmed that everything was ready to go. Mrs. Grisham stood with you, holding a large candle, the only source of light in the garage, beyond what moonlight filtered in through the windows. The Grisham’s had a generator, and used it briefly during your surgery, but there were rumors that thieves had were targeting houses based on the telltale dull roar of portable generators. Because there was not anyone in a position to confirm or deny this, everyone more or less concluded that they should work under the assumption that it was true. And so, the generator remained off, the electric lights stayed dim and the final preparations for your flight were lit by Mrs. Grisham’s candle and the moonbeams that had made their way into the garage from the nearly full moon.

You fondle the Iron Claw that Petra had given to you, after having found it tangled up in your sheets. Must have gotten there after Spry threw the thing at you. For something that must have been at least 40 years old, its in really good shape. Someone clearly was taking care of this thing … Spry, obviously. God, your head is still foggy from the painkillers. You hope it clears soon … and that you can bear the pain without anymore pills once it does. Petra comes into the garage and offers you one last drink of water for the road, which you accept. After you greedily bolt that down, she carefully places an oddly shaped plastic jug on your stretcher. You must look confused, because a mischievous look crosses her face.

“It is a portable urinal. If you need help, feel free to ask Gunther. That said, if you are up to using that thing –” with a snort, she points to the Greener Martini Harpoon Gun lying on top of you “- then you shouldn’t have any issues.” What? What the Hell does that even mean?

You are about to ask her what she means by that, but then Gunther announces that they are ready to load you up. You are about to say your final round of thank-yous and goodbyes to Mrs. Grisham, who was going to stay here at the house to protect it, when all of you are interrupted by a massive tremor, strong enough to shake oil and paint cans off of a shelf. Petra clings to Gunther, and Mrs. Grisham drops the candle in her fright. Dr. Grisham goes to put the candle out and comfort his wife. Your immediate thought was to get to somewhere that was not at risk for collapsing, but you knew that trying to walk so soon might risk the stitching on your kidney, which was metaphorically and actually worth your life. Failing that, you protected your head by covering as best you could with your arms and the gun. Not an ideal helmet, but better than nothing.
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>>4504686
But thankfully, beyond the cans that were on the shelf, nothing else came crashing down. Luckily, Dr. Grisham is not in the habit of using the rafters of his garage as a storage space. If he had, and something had bonked you on its way down, then you might have needed a third surgery in as many days, considering the state you are in. In the shocked silence, Gunther is the first to speak.

Still.”That single word is spoken with the venom usually reserved for curses and slurs. Nothing else needs to be said. It has been nearly three days since the first strike, and it seems that the Soviets are still managing to hit the mainland United States. “What the fuck happened! Were we asleep at the fucking switch, or something?” Gunther kicks his own truck in anger, and then winces. It seems that sneakers are not adequate footwear for truck punting. After watching him try to shake the pain off while providing a shoulder for Petra to cling to for several seconds, you find your tongue.

“Should we take shelter?”

Everyone just sort of looks at you. After a moment, Dr. Grisham speaks. “I don’t know. No one does. No one managed to tell us anything before the power went out, and if there have been any radio broadcasts with instructions during the past three days, then I haven’t heard them. God knows I listened to enough dead air waiting for them.” You have never heard a doctor sound … scared before, and now that you have, you find yourself starting to lose your own nerve. But before you can spiral down into complete panic, you are interrupted by the sound of a distant klaxon.

“Does anyone else hear that thing?” Everyone just looks at you, but after a second, Petra tilts her head, then starts nodding. “Yeah, I can. Barely. Is that some sort of alarm?” Confused, Gunter untangles himself from his younger cousin and with a bit of a limp makes his way to the side door of the garage. He sticks his head outside and listens intently. After several-several seconds he pulls his head back inside, and closes the door. “I think I can hear something, could be an alarm or siren.” He looks to you, clearly impressed. “Damn good ears you got.” Dr. Grisham just looks at him, then Petra and then finally you. “I suppose I will need to take your word for it. Still, this is curious. There have not been any alarms after any of the other intermittent strikes.”
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>>4504690
>Listen, if there are still strikes going on, and they are coming down nearby, then we need to take shelter for a few hours. We can either make the escape just before dawn, during the day, or if necessary, we can wait until tonight. We still have options here.

>Listen, if this alarm thing is new, then that means we cannot rely on the Guard behaving the same way that they have been. We need more information. If they are looking for Gunther, then Dr. Grisham, can you take your car and go see what you can? Do not draw any attention to yourself, and do not take longer than an hour.

>Listen, we need to move now. If the Guard is worried about a nearby Nuclear Strike, then that means that they are not looking for us. But while we wait, the Guard could be redeploying, or they could be changing their rules of engagement or whatever. Our only chance to leave the city safely might just be slipping away as we speak.

Sorry it took so long for me to get the third post up; my schedule got really tight all of a sudden, and I had to work through it. Glad to be back.
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>>4504670
Glad to see you're back.

For everyone new, here are the archives of the previous two threads:
>http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4413945/

>http://suptg.thisisnotatrueending.com/qstarchive/4455000/
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>>4504698
>Listen, we need to move now. If the Guard is worried about a nearby Nuclear Strike, then that means that they are not looking for us. But while we wait, the Guard could be redeploying, or they could be changing their rules of engagement or whatever. Our only chance to leave the city safely might just be slipping away as we speak.
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>>4504698
>>Listen, we need to move now. If the Guard is worried about a nearby Nuclear Strike, then that means that they are not looking for us. But while we wait, the Guard could be redeploying, or they could be changing their rules of engagement or whatever. Our only chance to leave the city safely might just be slipping away as we speak.
Rough question. It's a gamble, but the alarm is an unknown variable. There could be something going on that is rallying the guard against some call to alarm, and if it is unrelated to prior strikes then that seems like a good bet. I don't like idea of asking Dr. Grisham to stick his neck out for us after he's done so much already. Lets roll, and hope for the best.
>>
Alright, consider this vote closed. Writing!
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“Alright, listen up. If we are not bothering with sheltering, then it seems to me that now is the best time to leave. The Guard will be busy, either hunkering down or watching the sky. Which means that they are not out there looking for any of us, or on random patrols.” Gunther at least is nodding along, but the others just look at you blankly in the gloom of the moonlight garage. “This is the third day of this shit, sooner or later, something is going to have to change in the situation with the Guard and the city. And if this strike did get the Guard shaken up, then it might be what changes things. It might be the motivation for them to … who knows what. But our plan for getting out of here relies in no small part on our knowledge of the stationing and the behavior of the Guard at the city limits. If that changes …”

You trail off, but it seems to have gotten through to the rest of them. You will proceed with the plan to escape immediately. Mrs. Grisham gets the candle lit again, and with some difficulty, you are loaded into the back of Gunther’s truck. Ignoring everything else that was loaded into it, the cap to the bed of the truck is only cab high. On top of the gurney, your forehead is about an inch and a half away from the cap. It is strange saying goodbye to someone without being able to look at them, but between being stuffed in the back of the truck and in brace around your neck, Mrs. Grisham is understanding. Or at least, she sounds understanding. The tailgate, then the cap is closed, and you are all buttoned up the ride. Its almost comfy, until the truck starts up. You have never ridden inside the cap of a truck before, and honestly, it is a bit louder than you thought it would be.

Still, you are not going to complain. You’ve probably used up several lifetimes worth of luck in getting into the hospital in once piece, getting treating, then being snuck out of the hospital by Good Samaritans after you were tortured, getting treated again, and then having a ride arranged for you to get back home. Immediately on the heels of this good thought, you realize with a start (and a pang in your heart) that you don't know if your mother made it to Debouche or not. She was running late ... Could she have gotten caught up in something? God forbid, did something happen to her? Or did she make it to the house, hear that you were in Bangor and ...

The truck hits a bump, and your head bangs against the fiberglass cap!

>Two rolls of 1d6; if either of them are 1-3, then you have been knocked unconscious.
>The bonus to resilience rolls provided by the Iron Claw Trophy only become active once the Trial to bring the Trophy to the homestead is complete.
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Rolled 3 (1d6)

Glad to have you back trash! though I must ask, since it's the second time you posted it... was there no picture of this claw thing that is not so ridiculously offensive?
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Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>4505027
>>Two rolls of 1d6; if either of them are 1-3, then you have been knocked unconscious.
ah shit. well, there goes that. I suppose there isn't much we could really do in the meantime however.
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>>4505040
I thought I had one, but I couldn't find it. Oh well. I'll crop the screenshot down for next time.

Okay; well, looks like you are going to catch up on your sleep here. I'll get to writing.
>>
>Exact Location Unknown, Presumably in or near Bangor Maine
>Currently dark out, no moonlight, presumably (hopefully) still 10/31/2020
>Cold, Slightly Cloudy, Hazy(?)
>Can't see the Moon

You slowly come to, and after several-several moments of confusion, realize that you are looking up at the roof for a porch that overlooks a fenced in yard. You can see your breath billowing up towards the rafters, where what appears to be a lantern, or maybe a bug zapper hangs. Groaning, you try to get a better grasp on your surroundings, but with your neck immobilized by a brace, this is easier said than done. But even handicapped as you are, you manage to get a good look around you. Well, after careful examination, you can definitively say that this is a porch. Furthermore, the supplies and the equipment were neatly stacked all around you. You still have the iron claw and the harpoon gun with you. Everything is accounted for … except of course, your companions. Your first thought is that they are all making one last trip from Gunther’s truck, but as you lie there waiting, and minutes keep slipping away, you start to wonder. You cannot tell for certain, but it looks like everything that was loaded into the truck is here with you, on this porch. So what exactly are you missing here? What are they doing?

>Wait silently and patiently for them (will require roll to stay awake)
>Call out for them (will not require roll)
>Attempt to get off of the gurney and go look for them (will require roll)
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>Wait silently and patiently for them (will require roll to stay awake)
If whoevers porch you are at meant you harm, you wouldn't have the harpoon gun still. Might as well wait silently but remain cautious.
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>>4505429
This. Solid.
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>>4505296
>Wait silently and patiently for them (will require roll to stay awake)
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>>4505296
also welcome back OP
>>
>Wait silently and patiently for them (will require roll to stay awake)
>>
Alright, sounds good. I suppose this could be considered a minor resilience roll, so it will be 1/3 as difficult as a typical resilience roll.

Can I get two rolls of 1d6? If either of them roll ones, then you fall asleep again.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>
Rolled 5 (1d6)

>>4505765
>>
Rolled 2 (1d6)

>>
Alright good stuff. I'll get to writing.
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It is really unnerving waking up alone like this; for them to have managed to get you out of the truck, pass the roadblock, and then on the porch here, you must have been really out. Thinking about it, you realize that after you were knocked out, you could have hit your head again, maybe multiple times. And while your head does not hurt now, you presumably still have painkillers in your system …

After several more minutes of straining to hear anything, you start to worry. Clearly, nothing that bad could have happened while you were unconscious, otherwise you would have been killed or abandoned somewhere, or at the very least, you would not still be armed. No, you were deliberately left here, you could even say that you were hidden here, so clearly the escape proceeded to plan up to the point where you reached the safehouse on the other side of the checkpoint … well, actually, no, you don’t know that. You have no way of knowing if this is the safehouse or not, for all you know, you could still be in Bangor. What the Hell happened? More minutes pass, and with nothing to do but watch your breath billow out into the cold night air, you are becoming more and more unnerved. For a second, you actually consider trying to get up off the gurney and … you do not know what, but just laying here like a sack of No. 2 Potatoes is getting to you. But that madness passes as quickly as it came, and you resolve to just wait.

Several-several more minutes of this now aggravating wait pass, and finally you hear something. Jets. You cannot see anything from your current position, but the noise has set your mind running a mile a minute. If jets are still in the air, then that means that America is not completely defeated. Your immediate patriotic elation gives way to a more pragmatic concern. If the US still has the resources and coordination to ‘Keep ‘em Flying’, then that means they probably are still organized enough to deal with ‘rebels’. Further reflection on this worrisome point is cut off abruptly when you hear someone or something stirring. There is the sound of a door opening and closing, then footsteps.

You shift yourself into a sitting up position, doing so as quickly as you can without risking passing out from any sudden movements. After a split second of consideration, you shoulder the harpoon southpaw, figuring that it would be better to fire from your non-dominant side than with an injured hand. Thankfully, it does not come to that; Petra rounds the corner and then lets out a stereotypically feminine shriek at the sight of you leveling the gun at her. You set it down, carefully avoiding your lap, as she catches her breath.

“You scared me!”

“No fooling?”
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>>4505860
You look at her as she regains her composure. Things have been moving so fast, and you have known her for what, a matter of hours? But now that you get a good look at her, you realize just how young she is. Going through something like this as a teenager must be the worst; you are still a kid and completely out of your depth, but you are also sort of an adult, and now you have to take on all sorts of responsibility. She looks tired and scared … and as uncomfortable as it is to admit, quite attractive. You hadn't noticed, but she is only wearing a varsity jacket with a t-shirt underneath, what must be an uncomfortably tight pair of jeans and sneakers. She looks good ... and really unprepared to be on the lam during a Nuclear World War. Come to think of it, Gunther was wearing sneakers as well. Had you noticed earlier, you would have told them to wear boots; this is no time for footwear that prioritizes comfort. But before you can ask her if she has more apocalypse-appropriate clothing to change into, Petra speaks, and derails that entire train of thought.

“The battery is dead. Of the truck-thingy, the one that we were going to get into. They tried to swap out the one from Gunther’s truck, but it didn’t work. They went to put it back in Gunther’s truck, and then, um … I dunno, come right back, I guess?”

Of all of the stupid, fucking things to screw over an escape, a dead battery on the get-away vehicle has to be up there. And of course, now that everything has gone to absolute fuck it is not like you can just wander over to a 24/7 Thrallmart and just buy a new one.

“And then one of those robot things started flying around, so I figured, um, I should check on you.”

You are dumbfounded, absolutely dumbfounded. You had no idea that it was humanly possible to have luck this bad. If the Guard has deployed a mech, a flying mech, no less, then that means they could simply fly it on over to Debouche at their leisure and just curb stomp Parasol’s group into oblivion. That is what mechs were designed for; bringing overwhelming force to bear on unsupported or undersupported targets. You need to get back to the lake as soon as you can. Just as you are about to ask for more details, Gunther and Dr. Grisham return.

Both of them look frustrated, though upon seeing you, Grisham winces, and tells you to lay down to not put strain on the stitching after asking if you are alright. Once he is done mother henning you, and Petra mentions that she brought you up to speed, Gunther speaks.

“We have two options. We could try to find a working battery for the truck here, but who knows how long that would take. Or if we could ever find one. Alternatively … the guards have left the checkpoint that we have been sneaking around about half an hour ago, and no one has come yet to replace them. We could try to run it, and hope that the tin soldier up in the air isn’t looking, or it is, then it has better things to do.”
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>>4505864
>Look for a working battery that fits the getaway vehicle.
>Have Gunther attempt to drive the truck through the abandoned check point.
>Have Gunther attempt to sneak up to the abandoned check point to ensure that it is safe.
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>>4505865
>>Have Gunther attempt to drive the truck through the abandoned check point.
All in. I don't think we have anything to worry about with the mech. Why burn the resources putting one up into the sky if it's just meant to watch abandoned checkpoints? Seems wasteful. Going on what we know:
-another strike
-Guard's unknown alarm sounds
-ground forces here and potentially at other checkpoints mobilize, go somewhere else
-mech takes flight
Suppose there could very well be looters here at the abandoned checkpoint, Gunther's done a lot for us already and we have no idea if he is up to the task of sneaking up there, potentially to get shot down by some looter or skeleton crew.
I think running the checkpoint might be risky as well for those same reasons, but is it really worth the risk of sending him up there alone?
Stressful choice.
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>>4505865
Wouldn't we just need a starter cable?
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>>4505907
Yeah. Wirth some luck, it is not dead, but only discharged. Feels like the best move at this point is to just charge it enough to reach our homestead.
>>
>>Have Gunther attempt to drive the truck through the abandoned check point.
>>
>>4505919
just need to jumpstart the engine, then keep it running until we are in Debouche
>>
Jump starting the truck with cables is an option, but you would need to bring Gunther's truck to the get-away vehicle in the first place, not to mention cables that you don't have.

I'll let this sit for a bit longer, then I will close it and get to writing, rolling to break a tie, if needed.
>>
Well, I let that sit a lot longer than I intended. I need someone to roll 1 1d10; and in the meantime, I think this should be put to a vote:

>Temporarily switch perspective with Gunther as he attempts to break through
>Remain with Mantle as he waits with Petra and the Doctor
>>
Rolled 3 (1d10)

just spotted the new thread, whoo
>>4506076
>Remain with Mantle as he waits with Petra and the Doctor
>>
Well, I already burnt a lot of daylight earlier, so I think I will close this one, even if it only has one vote. I'll get to writing this up immediately.
>>
“Gunther, I … I just don’t see us finding a matching car battery any time soon. Maybe I am being dramatic, or maybe I am allowing my encounter with Spry to color my perceptions or whatever, but it really seems that things are just getting worse and worse around here. We need to get out – and for that matter, the Doctor here needs to get back to his missus. I mean; look – I don’t see any other way. Just, do it and do it fast.”

Doctor Grisham shifts nervously, and looks for a second as if he is going to say something, but before he can, Gunther cuts him off. “I suppose I have gotten worse advice. Acted on some it too.” He absently scratches the back of his head, then stops and lets his hand fall slack. “It should be alright, I suppose. And your right, there isn’t anyway that we can count of finding a battery.” You can tell that he is trying to pep himself up for this, and to his credit, he seems to have succeeded. As he looks over his shoulder, presumably in the direction of the road, he starts nodding to himself. “Okay, then here is the plan. We can’t strand ‘doc’ out here with everything that is going on, so the two of us will sneak back past the checkpoint one last time, and I will drive him as close to his house as I can, without risking anything. Then I drive straight to the checkpoint, and I run it. The two of you wait here, hidden in the backyard with the supplies. So then I drive up, and we load you and the supplies as quick as we can. Any objections?”

>Do you have any objections to Gunther’s plan, as it is stated?
>No.
>Yes. (Write in)
>>
>No.
I can’t think of anything else here.
>>
>>4506205
>>No.
pretty solid. sounds good to me
>>
Alright, closed. I'm writing.
>>
You answer truthfully that no objections come to mind. And when Petra and Doctor Grisham do not raise any, then plan is decided. After he bids Petra farewell, the good doctor, the very good doctor, gives you a letter, containing detailed instructions to follow for your recovery. As you take the letter in your hands, you find yourself tearing up, regretting that you could not convince the man to come with you. It is a dark, cynical thought, but you don’t know how long Bangor has left, and as much as you admire the man’s courage and values, you have a sinking feeling that he probably will get caught up in helping someone else, and it will be the end of him. You hope you are wrong, of course. But the worst thing about all of this is that odds are you will never know if he made it or not. The odds of him tracking down the high-end radio equipment required to contact you, then to power it without drawing the attention of gas-thieves and to broadcast out from it without drawing the attention of the Guard is probably vanishingly small. So you will never know what happened to him; Hell, you won’t even know for sure if he made it back to house tonight.

You are almost about to make one final attempt to convince him to come along … but in your tired, drugged and battered state, it seems that you can’t even articulate your thoughts, let alone an argument. So, you leave it all unsaid, and just thank the man. “Thank you, for everything.” At first, his only response is a smile, but after a second, he speaks these words to you in parting.

“I hope you don’t think less of me for it, but all of this was as much for you as it was for me. I became a surgeon to help people in ways that no one else could, to save people from certain death; but after I hurt my hands in the accident, all of that was taken from me. I can’t blame the Board for that, but that doesn’t make being benched for the rest of life any easier. When you are a doctor, or I suppose, in any position where you can and will save lives, the job has a way of becoming an indelible part of you, and you can’t just lose that in a car accident, or have it ‘gently rescinded’ by a licensing board. You hear about cases, people, some of them who made it, and some of whom slipped away, and you wonder if it had been you, would you have saved them? In this line of work, answering that question becomes central to your sense of self-worth.
>>
>>4506380
“And for twenty-two years, I couldn’t answer that question, and I couldn’t really help anyone, not in any meaningful way. I just had to sit on what was left of my hands, and watch day in and day out as people lived and died, not being able to help. Can you imagine how that would eat at a person? But then, in the middle of all of this insanity, right out of left field, finally, here was someone only I could save. And I don’t think you will ever know how much saving you means to me. So thank you, Mr. Mantle.

You cannot think of anything to say to that, beyond ‘you’re welcome’. And so, with laughter, smiles and tears all around, Doctor Grisham waves goodbye to you and Petra, and with Gunther walks off into and the night. You listen to their footfalls for as long as you can, but eventually they fade into the stillness of the night. At some point, the Mech must have either landed or flown away, you cannot hear it. More than that, you realize that the Moon is setting, as the night has gotten noticeably darker. It makes you remember a saying of your Grandfather’s, one that he was quite fond of; ‘darker looking into a pit than looking out of it’. That one took you some time to unravel when you were younger, but you were fairly certain it was just his version of ‘darkest before the dawn’. Just fairly certain though, the old man never explained his sayings, or much of anything really.

Petra, having moved into the screened in porch and perched herself on a small crate of disposable surgeon’s gowns sighs. “Doctor Grisham is pretty incredible, isn’t he?” You nod, and then realizing that she isn’t looking your way, you vocalize your agreement. There is a moment of silence, then from her seat she starts rummaging, looking around the gathered supplies. After a moment, she shifts something heavy sounding and pulls free a large jug of water. She pops the lid, and takes a swig. “Soda would be good right now, something to keep you up … or beer. Beer would be even better.” After a moment, she looks to you, and asks if you want a sip. You wave her off. While you are a little thirsty, you have already drunk more than a bit of water, and you don’t want to have to bother with that damned urinal, especially if you are going to be under the cap again.
>>
>>4506384
You have half a mind to ask what was so funny about the harpoon and the urinal earlier tonight, but after thinking about for a bit, you realize she was probably making a ‘gun-owners and their small penises’ type of joke. Well, whatever. You sit in silence, and reflect on how everyone seems to be trying to act as normally as possible about all of this. Maybe it is just a pretense or vanity … or maybe it is a genuine survival strategy. Faking it until you make it, that kind of thing. You know, there is a lot of sense to that. If everyone just said that everything was going to be fine, and stuck together to help each other out, then things like this might just turn out quite a bit better than they could have. Of course, people would still die. Of course, people have already died …

Your thoughts turn to Matthew, the kid with Oher who fought with you in the shootout. He’s of an age with Petra, maybe even younger. And he shot that Deputy, shot him dead where he stood, just to protect you. That has to be tough; you honestly cannot imagine what that kid is going through right now. You know that moving to the cover of the utility box was the right decision, because if you had not, you would never have been able to disable the Prisoner Transport from behind Fleckkers truck. But now, finally with the time to think about it, in a dark parody of Grisham’s unanswerable question, you can’t help but wonder if there had been another way, an earlier decision that could have ensured the confrontation with Carter’s convoy stayed bloodless. You wonder if Grisham knew that you actually were everything that the Guard claimed you were, if he knew that you had simply declared 1750 of your neighbors as dead weight and had committed yourself to not raising a finger to help them, if he knew … would him saving you still mean as much to him as it did?

You don’t have an answer for that either, and you just stare up at the rafters on the porch as your breath billows and dissipates into the cold night air. As you watch, a new thought occurs to you; shouldn’t you be wearing masks? When he called you from outside of the jail, ‘Beans’ did say something about getting respirators, but you didn’t see them pack any. What about a piece of cloth or something like that?

After a moment of thought, you judge that as you are under the cover of the porch, you are probably alright. But as you are about to ask Petra if Dr. Grisham said anything about masks, you here the unmistakable sound of a gunshot. No, gunshots. Judging by her startled reaction, Petra heard them too. You hiss at her to prop the gurney up, so you can shoulder the gun. Petra rushes over but she is clearly having trouble getting the mechanism to work. Shortly, you hear the sound of an engine.
>>
Rolled 5, 1, 4 = 10 (3d6)

First off; the encounter. >>4506082 rolled a 3. Could have been worse, but could have been a lot better.

Roll of 1: Post is manned after all, Gunther’s truck is damaged and he will be pursued from the station
Roll of 2: Post is manned after all, Gunther’s truck is damaged and he will be pursued from a muster

Roll of 3: Post is unmanned, but being ransacked by Looters who will attack and attempt to pursue him if he attempts to run it
Roll of 4: Post is manned by a corrupt Auxiliary, who demands gasoline as a toll
Roll of 5: Post is unmanned, but there is some remote alarm system that goes off
Roll of 6: Post is unmanned, but Gunther accidently damages the truck on a trap or barricade driving through
Roll of 7: Gunther startles a family trying to escape on foot and must make a choice
Roll of 8: Someone calls for help from inside one of the temporary structures around the station
Roll of 9: Post is completely abandoned, and Gunther just drives through.
Roll of 10: Post is completely abandoned, and [Random Supply Item] is available


So, the first one of these rolls is Gunther's Modifier on a handling test, and the second and third rolls are the Looters Modifier on a handling test.
>>
Rolled 18, 18, 8, 19, 4, 10, 12, 13, 2, 10, 15, 16, 5, 12, 20, 2, 3, 5, 14, 4, 14 = 224 (21d20)

>>4506404
Handling Modifiers
Roll of 1 means 0.125x modifier
Roll of 2 means 0.25x modifier
Roll of 3 means 0.75x modifier
Roll of 4 means 1x modifier
Roll of 5 means 1.125x modifier
Roll of 6 means 1.25x modifier

Gunther has 1.125x modifier
Highwayman-1 has 0.125x modifier
Highwayman-2 has 1x modifier

Alright, Gunther is doing really well here, so we should get a good show of my 'donut steel' car chase mechanics. The next set of rolls are the Gross values of the driving test; the first 7 are Gunther, the next 7 are for Highwayman-1 and the last 7 are for Highwayman-2. The road here is straight, and is in good condition, but it has hills and dells, and beyond the headlights, it is pretty much pitch black, as the Moon has finally gone down. Under these conditions, the road rolls a 4. If any of the three vehicles roll lower than that 4, then that means that they need to roll a recovery (basically a resilience roll except for the vehicle instead of the character). If they fail that, then they crash.

Beyond that, we will take the sum of the five rolls, after they have been modified by the handling. The sum of the net rolls reflects the distance traveled during the chase, so if Gunther gets the highest sum, then that means he was able to outpace the others. If either Highwayman-1 or Highwayman-2 get the highest sum, then that means they were able to get out in front of Gunther, and can attempt to force him off of the road. Don't worry, Gunther had a head start, so to reflect this, I will replace the two lowest rolls of his with 13's, unless of course that would drop his net.
>>
Rolled 1, 3, 3, 8, 4, 2, 4, 5, 8 = 38 (9d8)

>>4506437
Holy shit, Gunther is driving like McQueen tonight.
18 * 1.125 = 20.250
18 * 1.125 = 20.250
13 * 1.125 = 14.625
19 * 1.125 = 21.375
13 * 1.125 = 14.625
10 * 1.125 = 11.250
12 * 1.125 = 13.500
As none of these are lower than 4, he doesn't need to make any recoveries. He rolls a 115.875

Highwayman-1 is in a lot of trouble, lets see if he can stay on the road.
13 * 0.125 = 1.625
2 * 0.125 = 0.250
10 * 0.125 = 1.250
15 * 0.125 = 1.875
16 * 0.125 = 2.000
5 * 0.125 = 0.625
12 * 0.125 = 1.500
Jesus, that is pretty brutal. Highwayman-1 will need to make 7 consecutive recoveries to prevent crashing, and even if they do, they will only score 9.125

Highwayman-2 seems to have had much better luck, lets see if they give you a run for your money.
20 * 1 = 20
2 * 1 = 2
3 * 1 = 3
5 * 1 = 5
14 * 1 = 14
4 * 1 = 4
14 * 1 = 14
So, Highwayman-2 needs to make two consecutive recoveries to prevent crashing, and if they do, they score 62. Without giving too much away, you want both of these bastards to crash.

On this post, the first 7 rolls belong to Highwayman-1, and the last 2 rolls belong to Highwayman-2. If any of the rolls in the respective pools are 1s, then that means they have crashed.
>>
>>4506461
The sounds of the engine grow louder, and Petra is getting more flustered trying to get the gurney into position. As she is hammering away at the levers behind you, the roar of the engine gets closer, and then you can hear wheels screech and gravel rustle. Abandoning the doctors advice, you sit up on the stretcher and start to shoulder the gun, but before you can, Gunther shouts out from the driveway, barreling into the fenced in back yard before he can finish speaking.

"We got a problem! There were some guys picking over the checkpoint after the Guard abandoned it, and when I drove through, they tried to stop me. I ... I think I knocked one of them down by accident, I'm not sure. They started shooting, and when I drove off, they got in cars. Two followed me, and one of them is still out there, behind me, but at the checkpoint another headed back into Bangor. There's no where to hide a truck this size on this fucking road. What the Hell do we do?"

>If you can't hide the thing here, then you drive it to somewhere that you can hide it, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up. (80% for another car chase (which means a chance to wreck the truck) and will take some time)

>We need to leave as soon as we can; and that means abandoning some of our supplies. (Depending on how much you are willing to abandon here, you can guarantee that you will not be chased. You could load everything, and have as high as an 80% chance for another car chase. Alternatively, you could arrange a load that was associated with a chance for a car chase between 0 and 80%)

For reference, here are the supplies. Most of the stuff's value/use should be fairly self-explanatory, but if you have any specific questions, just ask. Counting the Dialysis Machine twice, there are 26 items. If you want to abandon things, you can take 6 things for free without any risk of a car chase. Taking the time to load 7 items carries with it a 4% chance of a car chase. Taking the time to load 8 is an 8% chance. Odds of a chase increase by increments of 4% for each item until all items are accounted for, and the risk of a chase is at 80%.

26 (6 free)
Set of 3 5 Gallon Jugs of Clean Water
Set of 3 Basic First Aid Kits
Set of 3 Basic First Aid Kits
Assorted Medical Equipment and Supplies
Assorted Medical Equipment and Supplies
Assorted Medical Equipment and Supplies
Assorted Superior Medical Equipment and Supplies
Assorted Superior Surgical Equipment
Assorted Superior Surgical Equipment
Assorted Medical Texts
Assorted Medical Texts
Assorted Medical Texts
Dialysis Machine (Counts for two)
Set of 12 Dialysis Liquid doses
Set of 12 Dialysis Liquid doses
Typical Bedding Set for Twin Bed
Typical Bedding Set for Queen Bed
Collapsible Cot
Collapsible Cot
Two Person Tent
Typical Sleeping Bag
Typical Sleeping Bag
Damaged Superior Sleeping Bag
Charcoal Grill and Bag of Charcoal
Typical Flashlight and Spare Batteries (also the Oil Lamp)
>>
>>4506517
Gunther made it sound like there is only one truck, so instead of fleeing, let's fight. I'd say prepare an ambush, then loot their truck and drive off again.

Plus, that way the good doctor can complain to the guard about the bandit should the MNG follow the sound of gunshots.
>>
>>4506552
Well, I suppose that is could be option. There is the one harpoon gun though, and it is single shot. So you can't afford any mistakes. I'll

>If you can't hide the thing here, then you drive it to somewhere that you can hide it, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up. (80% for another car chase (which means a chance to wreck the truck) and will take some time)

>We need to leave as soon as we can; and that means abandoning some of our supplies. (Depending on how much you are willing to abandon here, you can guarantee that you will not be chased. You could load everything, and have as high as an 80% chance for another car chase. Alternatively, you could arrange a load that was associated with a chance for a car chase between 0 and 80%)

>Hold fast, and attempt to ambush the remaining Highwayman. You will also use this time to load up the truck with everything, but by remaining here you will not be able to avoid a confrontation.
>>
>>4506572
>>Hold fast, and attempt to ambush the remaining Highwayman. You will also use this time to load up the truck with everything, but by remaining here you will not be able to avoid a confrontation.
Shit, is it just one guy in the pursuit vehicle?
Even with our limited ammo, we should be able to pull this off.
>>
>>4506593
I'd caution you on making assumptions like that. All that Gunther knows for certain is that there there were two cars following him, then one of them of the crashed. He doesn't know how many got in, or more importantly, what they are 'packing'.
>>
>>4506646
Fair point.
I think I'll change to
>If you can't hide the thing here, then you drive it to somewhere that you can hide it, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up. (80% for another car chase (which means a chance to wreck the truck) and will take some time)
In this case. Assuming no one else supports fight, that is. I don't want to be the sole voter making that decision, especially if no one is around to roll.
If someone else does vote to fight however, I'll go back to supporting that vote. I don't want to draw things out by having a tie that has to be roll broken.
>>
>If you can't hide the thing here, then you drive it to somewhere that you can hide it, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up. (80% for another car chase (which means a chance to wreck the truck) and will take some time)
>>
Alright, there has been some pretty good back and forth. Even though having Gunther drive off and hide has a solid lead, I think I am going to leave the vote overnight, as I am getting kinda tired, and I don't want to half-ass anything.
>>
>If you can't hide the thing here, then you drive it to somewhere that you can hide it, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up. (80% for another car chase (which means a chance to wreck the truck) and will take some time)
Fighting is just a little too risky. Should have rigged up a few molotovs.
>>
>>4506572
Wait a second. if Gunther leaves and hides the truck we have 80% chance of car chase and spend time, if we load everything and leave we also have 80% chance of car chase? Why not load everything then? this way we also still have a chance of harpooning the driver during car chasechase!
>>
>>4507102
The idea is that if you wanted to reduce the 80% chance of a chase, you could forfeit some of the cargo.

Well, that seems to be a solid lead for Gunther driving off and hiding. One important question remains. Do you give him the Greener Martini Harpoon Gun?

>Hold onto the gun
>Give Gunther the gun
>>
>>4507177
>>Give Gunther the gun
Where he's going, he might need it. Hopefully the Highwayman following him didn't see him stop here.
>>
>>4507265
Explicitly tell him to turn around here if it seems like they stopped here. We'd be fucked otherwise.
>>
As Gunther runs over to the door of the screened in porch, from your position siting up on the gurney, you glance at all of the supplies stacked neatly inside. If you wanted to make a clean break, you'd only have time to take the barest of essentials ... but what is essential for you is not essential for Gunther and Petra. They don't need a dialysis machine. And while things like surgical equipment might not be needed right now, odds are that this stuff will be worth its weight in gold soon enough. No, you can't just give this stuff up. On the other hand, with a single shot weapon, with four cartridges and two payloads, fighting your way out of this doesn't seem like a viable strategy. Gunther has been driving really well, if he can just keep it up, then you might be able to make a clean, bloodless break. But you have to commit yourselves; there isn't any way out of this.

"Gunther, If you can't hide your truck here, then you'll just need to drive it somewhere that you can, and wait for these thugs to pass you by and double back to pick us up."

He is standing in the doorway of the porch, breathing heavily enough that if you didn't know better, you'd think that he'd outrun the looters at the checkpoint instead of simply outdriving them. He looks at you, and even in the darkness of the now moonless night, you can tell that he is wide-eyed. The man is high as a kite on adrenaline, but after a moment he starts nodding. Before he can turn away, you shove the harpoon gun, the spare harpoon and the three remaining cartridges towards him. "It is pretty intuitive; most firearms are. Load the cartridge in to the gun, then the harpoon into the cartridge. And it goes without saying, that you need to bait these fuckers away from us. If they come for us, you need to come back." He blurts something out, that might have been an 'alright' and roughly grabs the weapon from your outstretched hands, jamming your injured fingers in the process. The painkillers must have started to wear off, as the pain is enough to make you see spots and dots. But as you bit your tongue, Petra, who had been behind you, still trying to get the bed into position bolts forward suddenly.

"I'm going with you!"

>Do not try to stop her. Even if she is putting herself in more danger than she would by hiding here with you, she might be able to help Gunther.
>Try to stop her. She isn't thinking straight right now ... besides ... you don't want to be left alone like this.
>>
>>4507295
>>Try to stop her. She isn't thinking straight right now ... besides ... you don't want to be left alone like this.
>>
>>4507295
>Try to stop her. She isn't thinking straight right now ... besides ... you don't want to be left alone like this.

screeching girl would just be a distraction for the man
>>
>>4507315
>>4507313
"Petra, listen to me, you'd just -".

But she isn't paying you any mind. She's moving after Gunther, who is already heading for his truck. Shit! At this rate, you aren't going to have any time to convince her. You'll need to do something a bit more drastic!

>Shout at Petra to stay behind
>Shout at Gunther to tell Petra to stay behind with you
>Attempt to grab Petra to stop her from leaving
>>
>>4507330
>Attempt to grab Petra to stop her from leaving
I'm not sure we can afford to shout right now.
Hopefully we don't tear anything open.
>>
>>4507334
>I'm not sure we can afford to shout right now.
Excellent point. Support.
>>
Alright, this will be a physical test. 5 rolls of 1d20. The difficulty of grabbing and holding Petra with an injured hand while partially strapped down to a hospital gurney is set at 80, so the sum of these 5 rolls needs to be greater than 75. If no one has rolled in several minutes, feel free to roll again to keep things moving along.

>5 rolls of 1d20 please!
>>
Rolled 6 (1d20)

>>4507349
>>
Rolled 19 (1d20)

>>4507349
>>
>>4507361
>>4507355
If either of you are still around, you can roll again.
>>
Rolled 4 (1d20)

>>4507371
>>
Rolled 6 (1d10)

>>4507378
Uh, by my math, at this point, there is no way that we can pass the test. Alright, I need to run a quick errand, but after that, I will be able to keep the run going. Also, you want a 9 or a 10 on this roll.
>>
Rolled 6, 4 = 10 (2d6)

Part of you worries that Gunther will have trouble handling both the bandits and his cousin, and part of you is legitimately worried about being left alone, unarmed. Honestly, if you knew that Petra was going to be leaving, then you probably would have seriously considered holding onto the Greener-Martini. So you shift your position on the gurney to the extent that you can while being restrained by the neck brace, and reach out to grab her. You don't think that in your condition you would be strong enough to restrain her, but the idea is that by touching her, you would be sure to get her attention. But she's too fast, by the time you've started to reach, she is already further away than your arms length at the fullest extension possible from this position. The door clatters as she bulls through it, and she dashes after Gunther. For as second, you consider shouting out after her, but the more you think about it, you don't know how close the pursuers are; all you can here is the idling engine of Gunther's truck, if there is another engine approaching in the distance, then you can't hear it. For all you know, pursuers could be right on top of you, and as bad as being left alone in your condition in current circumstances would be, telegraphing your position to these bandits would be even worse.

There is a roar of an engine. Gunther has taken flight.

Several seconds pass, and Petra has not returned. Its fairly obvious what happened, but you find yourself waiting for a few more seconds before completely giving up hope. Petra, for better or worse, is with Gunther. And you are alone. You strain your ears, listening as Gunther's truck roars into the distance, and as the noise starts to slip away, you catch the sound of a second engine, a sound that grows louder with every second. Pursuit. You know from the sound that Gunther's truck made when it pulled in to the safehouse's dooryard, that there was a gravel driveway. If these bandits hadn't already seen him in the distance, if they were looking for hiding spots along this road, then there is a chance, a very slim chance that they might notice that the gravel had been recently torn up and decide to investigate further.

But you can't do anything about that, just like you can't do anything about Petra leaving, or about how Gunther does. All you can do, just like Doctor Grisham, is to sit on what is left of your hands, and wait.

Rolling for a new Handling Modifier; both Gunther and Highwayman-2 are use the standard table. The first roll is for Gunther, the second roll is for Highwayman-2
>>
Rolled 20, 12, 14, 8, 14, 18, 1, 14, 17, 1, 4, 1, 9, 20 = 153 (14d20)

>>4507556
Well, talk about emergent storytelling. At this rate, Gunther will definitely be getting a chance to take a Handling Trophy, and regardless, I will be touching up his background to include an interest in driving. Alright, so the first 7 of these rolls are for Gunther, and the last 7 of these rolls are for Highwayman-2.
>>
Rolled 2, 8, 5 = 15 (3d8)

>>4507563
So the donut-steel rules for car chases work like this; they will either go until one of the side has crashed all of its cars, until the 'chased' have scored 400 points, or the 'chasers' have scored 450 points.

First Leg of the Bangor Sprint

Gunther and Petra
20 * 1.25 = 25.000
12 * 1.25 = 15.000
14 * 1.25 = 17.500
8 * 1.25 = 10.000
14 * 1.25 = 17.500
18 * 1.25 = 22.500
1 * 1.25 = 1.250
Gunther and Petra will need to make a total of 1 recovery, with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 108.75 on this driving test.

Highwayman-2
14 * 1.00 = 14.000
17 * 1.00 = 17.000
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
4 * 1.00 = 4.000
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
9 * 1.00 = 9.000
20 * 1.00 = 20.000: Critical
Highwayman-2 will need to make a total of 2 recoveries, with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 66.000 on this driving test.

There are three rolls on this post. The first is for Gunther and Petra, and the last two are for Highwayman-2. If there is a 1 in either of these dice pools, then that means that the car the pool belongs to has crashed.
>>
Rolled 20, 11, 13, 17, 4, 1, 6, 3, 13, 1, 11, 17, 17, 15 = 149 (14d20)

>>4507595
Oh boy, if that 2 was a 1 then this story would really fall off the rails, huh?

I feel really strange, doing all of these rolls myself, but I have asked several times throughout the quest, and I have been told that players prefer to not roll for NPCs. Alright, anyway, same as before, the first 7 of these rolls are for Gunther, and the last 7 of these rolls are for Highwayman-2.
>>
Rolled 4, 4, 2 = 10 (3d8)

>>4507601
Second Leg of the Bangor Sprint

Gunther and Petra: 108.750 of 400
20 * 1.25 = 25.000
11 * 1.25 = 13.750
13 * 1.25 = 16.250
17 * 1.25 = 21.250
4 * 1.25 = 5.000
1 * 1.25 = 1.000
6 * 1.25 = 7.500
Gunther and Petra will need to make a total of 1 recovery (again), with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 89.750 on this driving test.

Highwayman-2: 66.000 of 450
3 * 1.00 = 3.000
13 * 1.00 = 13.000
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
11 * 1.00 = 11.000
17 * 1.00 = 17.000
17 * 1.00 = 17.000
15 * 1.00 = 15.000
Highwayman-2 will need to make a total of 2 recoveries (also again), with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 77.000 on this driving test.

There are three rolls on this post. The first is for Gunther and Petra, and the last two are for Highwayman-2. If there is a 1 in either of these dice pools, then that means that the car the pool belongs to has crashed.
>>
>six 1s in 40 rolls
Wow, that's a lot.
>>
Rolled 3, 6, 7, 2, 15, 2, 11, 11, 14, 8, 3, 12, 13, 7 = 114 (14d20)

>>4507617
Well, it looks like Highwayman-2 isn't going to go quietly into that night either!
The first 7 of these rolls are for Gunther, and the last 7 of these rolls are for Highwayman-2.
>>
Rolled 2, 7, 6, 8 = 23 (4d8)

>>4507622
Third Leg of the Bangor Sprint

Gunther and Petra: 198.500 of 400
3 * 1.25 = 3.750
6 * 1.25 = 7.500
7 * 1.25 = 8.750
2 * 1.25 = 2.500
15 * 1.25 = 18.750
2 * 1.25 = 2.500
11 * 1.25 = 13.750
Gunther and Petra will need to make a total of 3 recoveries (yikes!), with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 57.500 on this driving test.


Highwayman-2: 143.000 of 450
11 * 1.00 = 11.000
14 * 1.00 = 14.000
8 * 1.00 = 8.000
3 * 1.00 = 3.000
12 * 1.00 = 12.000
13 * 1.00 = 13.000
7 * 1.00 = 7.000
Highwayman-2 will need to make only 1 recovery, with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 68.000 on this driving test.

There are four rolls on this post. The first three are for Gunther and Petra, and the last one is for Highwayman-2. If there is a 1 in either of these dice pools, then that means that the car the pool belongs to has crashed.
>>
Rolled 2, 2, 16, 4, 8, 3, 4, 1, 18, 1, 2, 7, 13, 19 = 100 (14d20)

>>4507634
With that last set, there have been 10 rolls of a 1d8, and not a single 1! We're overdue!

Same as before, the first 7 of these rolls are for Gunther, and the last 7 of these rolls are for Highwayman-2.
>>
Rolled 2, 4, 7, 5, 3, 7 = 28 (6d8)

>>4507639
Fourth Leg of the Bangor Sprint

Gunther and Petra: 256.000 of 400
2 * 1.25 = 2.500
2 * 1.25 = 2.500
16 * 1.25 = 20.000
4 * 1.25 = 5.000
8 * 1.25 = 10.000
3 * 1.25 = 3.750
4 * 1.25 = 5.000
Gunther and Petra will need to make a total of 3 recoveries (yikes again!), with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 48.750 on this driving test.

Highwayman-2: 211.000 of 450
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
18 * 1.00 = 18.000
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
2 * 1.00 = 2.000
7 * 1.00 = 7.000
13 * 1.00 = 13.000
19 * 1.00 = 19.000
Highwayman-2 will need to make a total of 3 recoveries, with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 61.000 on this driving test.

There are six rolls on this post. The first three are for Gunther and Petra, and the last three are for Highwayman-2. If there is a 1 in either of these dice pools, then that means that the car the pool belongs to has crashed.
>>
Rolled 19, 16, 12, 18, 8, 11, 16, 2, 9, 13, 16, 11, 16, 1 = 168 (14d20)

>>4507651
16 rolls of a d8, and not a single 1! I really thought that this was going to end in a crash you guys; but it might just go all the way.

You know the drill now, the first 7 of these rolls are for Gunther, and the last 7 of these rolls are for Highwayman-2.
>>
Rolled 5, 7 = 12 (2d8)

>>4507655
Fifth! Leg of the Bangor Sprint

Gunther and Petra: 429.750 of 400
19 * 1.25 = 23.750
16 * 1.25 = 20.000
12 * 1.25 = 15.000
18 * 1.25 = 22.500
8 * 1.25 = 10.000
11 * 1.25 = 13.750
16 * 1.25 = 20.000
Gunther and Petra will not need to make any recoveries with 7-in-8 odds to pass. They have scored 125.000 on this driving test, and in doing so, have 'won' the car chase. The only question now is will Highwayman-2 crash or not.

Highwayman-2: 272.000 of 450
2 * 1.00 = 2.000
9 * 1.00 = 9.000
13 * 1.00 = 13.000
16 * 1.00 = 16.000
11 * 1.00 = 11.000
16 * 1.00 = 16.000
1 * 1.00 = 1.000
Highwayman-2 will need to make a total of 2 recoveries, with 7-in-8 odds to pass. If they do, then they score 68.000 on this driving test.

There are two rolls on this post. They are all for Highwayman-2. If there is a 1 in either of his dice pool, then that means that his car has crashed. Independent of Highwayman-2 crashing or not, Gunther and Petra have managed to escape pursuit.
>>
I need to do a couple of things around the house, but I should be ready to start running after dinner, around say 7:00pm. After a bunch of false starts, finally, you are going to be heading home.
>>
We better be given the Parasol version of a Medal of Honor got all the shit we went through for him. I mean on top of it all were even bringing back some top notch medical equipment.
>>
Hey guys, I thought I would be able to finish all my work for tomorrow by now, but I am still trying to get stuff done. I should have a post up either over night or in the morning.
>>
>Porch of the Safehouse, Outskirts of Bangor Maine
>Currently dark out, no moonlight, Morning of 10/31/2020
>Cold, Slightly Cloudy, Hazy(?)
>Sunrise around 7am

Gunther has driven off to get to the truck somewhere it can be hidden, and you were not able to stop Petra from running after him. He has the Greener-Martini, the truck, and his cousin. If he had not already stuck his neck out for you by getting you out of Eastern Maine Charnel House, then you might just start to worry that he would just drive off. That, and you are with all the supplies. You take a moment to look at them again, the neat stacks of boxes and bags all around the gurney.

Your immediate thought is to find something that could be used as a weapon, but the only thing that you can think of to weaponize would be a surgical implement, and not only are they out of reach, they are all packed up, so you would need to tear up a box or two to get it. Nah, your first … and last line of defense here is going to be concealment. So long as the gravel drive in the dooryard of the safehouse is not too torn up, there should not be anything that would draw attention to this house, out of who knows how many there are on this road. As you reflect on this, you think you hear an engine in the distance, but it either is far away and not getting closer, or it is just your imagination.

Minutes pass, and you find yourself again wondering if you should be wearing a mask. Who knows how many nukes went off all around the world, and here you are, sucking in air like a fucking vacuum. You try to remember what exactly you were taught about fallout and that sort of stuff. There were a few drills in grade school, when you were younger that touched on this stuff. It is basically just dust, right? Dangerous dust, like the kind you get when asbestos breaks down. Something like that. Well, you are not dusty, and the air seems … just like cold Autumn air normally is, but you suppose that does not really mean that much. If Tinn was here, you would ask him what to do, he would know what’s what with this stuff.

Your thoughts turn to Tinn, and how he was making out through all of this insanity. The man knows his stuff, he is armed and laagered to the gills, but at the end of the day, he is all alone. He is not the only one doing this thing solo though; there are a number of widows and widowers all over the lake, not to mention a fair number of bachelors and spinsters. It is to be expected, most of the permanent residents were retirees who sold their place and winterized their vacation property. A common joke was that Debouche was an open air retirement home, or a free range tapioca farm, things in that vein. It was funny then, troubling now. You knew some of these people through your work as a junkman; lot of them wanted to downsize, get rid of things they accumulated over a lifetime of … living, you guess, and they’d call you.
>>
>>4508769
‘Non-essentials’. That is what that Chickless guy called them; and that was all it took for you to start thinking of these people as dead weight. And that is what has you worried right now. That you have become dead weight to Petra and Gunther. You suppose that’s the counter-argument for cutting of the ‘non-essentials’; if you cut someone off, you make it easier for others to cut you off when your time comes. When your time comes.



Jesus Christ, you need to pull your head out of your overly dramatic ass. You are not dying, and you are not going to be left to die here. And for what it is worth, Parasol’s group is not abandoning its members in their time of need, if they were, they would have left you at that fucking intersection. They are going to take care of their own, the members and their families, or there would not be any members. For that matter, they are not abandoning the others around the lake – they are not the group’s responsibility. Feeling frustrated with yourself you carefully set yourself down on the gurney (that Petra never managed to get up) and hike the blankets and comforter all the way up past your nose, as a temporary consideration against fallout. Pressing your head into the pillow, you just listen and wait.

You are not sure how much time passed, but eventually you can hear the sounds of an engine approaching. If you had to guess, you would say that it is Gunther’s truck, but you have no way of knowing for sure. But it is coming in towards Bangor, which is a point in favor of it being Gunther and Petra, and when you hear it slow down and pull in to the gravel drive in the dooryard, then that means it has to be either Gunther, because if it isn’t-

“Mantle? You okay back there?”

Thank God. There is the sound of footsteps, then a squeak of what sounds like a gate, presumably an entrance to the fenced in backyard here, then finally Gunther and Petra enter your line of sight. Both of them are shaking; Petra seems to be shivering in fright, but judging by Gunther’s smile, he seems to be excited. He has earned it; you know from casual talk with Deputies that managing to outrun pursuit is no small feat, especially in a fucking truck. But before you can congratulate him, Gunther gently places the Greener-Martini next to you again, and then speaks.
>>
>>4508772
“Alright, Petra, you start packing the back of the truck. I am going to have to siphon gas from the would be ‘get-away vehicle’. I have half a tank left, that works out to about 50 miles. Mooseleg Lake is what, 80 miles away? Hopefully, I can get enough out…”.

>Load up in the truck as you were before, protected under the cap, but unable to see or do much of anything.
>Ask Gunther to dump the cap of the truck, so you do not hit your head again and you can actually help on the drive (either in keeping a watch or if necessary, shooting the Greener-Martini

>I should have a post up either over night or in the morning.
It is still morning.
>>
>>4508779
>>Load up in the truck as you were before, protected under the cap, but unable to see or do much of anything.
We probably should cosnider this, but there is no fucking time. Let´s just go and wrap a blanket over our head to prevent any brain damage.
>>
>>4508779
>>Load up in the truck as you were before, protected under the cap, but unable to see or do much of anything.
Probably best to make sure they have the Greener-Martini up there with them. Not much use back here. I say we should get the hell out of this risky area as soon as possible after loading the supplies. Maybe once we got some more distance between us and Bangor, we can afford taking the extra time to dump the cap. Though, I guess the extra protection is pretty nice and he could make better time without being concerned with our safety in the back.
>>4508840
>Let´s just go and wrap a blanket over our head to prevent any brain damage.
Sounds like a good call.
>>
Just caught up to this thread after going over the last two overnight, good quest you've got going on here op. Happy to be along for the ride.
>>
>>Load up in the truck as you were before, protected under the cap, but unable to see or do much of anything.
>Let´s just go and wrap a blanket over our head to prevent any brain damage.
>>
Alright, closed and writing!
>>
Jesus Christ. The last place in the world you wanted to go back to, excluding Eastern Maine Medical of course, is under that fucking cap. But if there is fallout or whatever in the air, then you really should be exposed. Not to mention if, God forbid, those bandits come back, you do not want to be out there shooting the breeze. What you will do is make sure that you get a good cushion going between your forehead and the fiberglass. Petra seems to have snapped out of it, at least for now, and has started looking around at the supplies, probably trying to remember how the truck was packed last time. Nah, forget the cap, but there was an important question you needed answered (besides of course, did that joke of a ‘get-away’ vehicle even have gas in it).

“You ever siphon before?”

Gunther had already half turned, but he stops and looks at you for a moment before speaking. “No, actually I haven’t. But I think I know how. Have you?” You chuckle darkly at that. “Once was enough. Give me a minute to remember, and I will walk you through it.”
>>
>>4509323
Siphoning gas with your mouth is unpleasant and unhealthy, to put it mildly. After your disastrous attempt at it, you made a point of finding out how it is properly done, and thankfully you were able to remember just about everything you learned. First thing you need to do is get the hose in the proper position in the tank. If it is too low, touching the bottom of the tank, then you will have to suck harder, and the harder you suck, the more likely you are to get a mouthful of gasoline. If it is too high, then you risk losing the suction mid siphon and having to start all over. You want to get it to the sweet spot, with the mouth of the hose at the level the tank would be when it is between half and one-third full (assuming of course, you are siphoning a full tank) The guy you talked to, some twitching looking regular at a scrapyard you frequented, said that the trick he had learned was to feed it all the way to the bottom, and then back it out a bit. Once you positioned it, blow into the hose. If you can hear (and feel it through the hose) bubbling like milk when you blow into it with a straw, then you are at a good depth for siphoning. If just sloshes around instead of bubbling merrily, then you need to go deeper in, and if it isn’t bubbling anywhere near as much as you are blowing, then you need to ease out a bit more.

Now that the hose is in position, there are two mistakes that you, and apparently most first-time siphoners frequently make. The first is a fairly forgivable oversight, but the other is honestly a pretty retarded thing to not think of. The forgivable; you can crimp the hose. Most people, including yourself assumed that once the gas was moving through the hose, you immediately needed to get the hose as is into the bucket or whatever the fuck you were siphoning into or you will ruin the suction. This is not true. Once the gas in the hose, you can crimp the hose and the suction will keep the gas in there long enough for you to get your end where you want the gasoline to end up; the only real risk here is that you move the other end of the hose in the gas tank out of position, that would kill suction. On that point, an easy way to self-diagnose for suction issues on that end; if the hose is clear, and you can see bubbles in the gasoline as it leaves the tank in the hose, that means that you are siphoning gas and air. So bubbles in the hose mean that you have probably already lost too much suction, and will need to need to restart, as well as indicating that the hose is sitting at or near the top of the gasoline in the tank.
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>>4509327
The unforgivable or the retarded mistake is forgetting how fucking quick straws work. Ever watched liquid move up and down a straw? It is pretty fucking fast. You have enough college under your belt to know that the speed that a liquid (actually, a fluid if you want to be a real egghead about it) is sucked through a hose (a duct) is relative to the diameter of the straw or the hose. And the hoses that are typically used in siphoning are a lot wider than the straws you get at fast food places … but they really are not that much bigger. Once the gas is in the hose before you even know it, you will have a mouth of the stuff. Those are the mistakes that you made; you did not think it would be knocking down your door as soon as it did, and you did not think to crimp the damned hose. So you got it in mouth, got it on your skin, your clothes, your raggedy work boots. You got it on everything, and more of the stuff went on the grass instead of in the bucket you were siphoning into.

Gunther is a quick study, and during your explanation, he asks several questions that indicate that he is thinking ahead about all of this, while Petra flits back and forth, loading the truck. His question about using a garden hose for the siphon gives you some pause; but after several-several-several seconds of thought, you are almost certain that gasoline is less viscous than water, so it still should be possible to create enough suction with your mouth to make it work, so long as the garden hose is cut to size. You make sure that he has one of the jugs of water nearby, to rinse, and have him instruct Petra on how to induce vomiting or perform the Heimlich maneuver in case he swallows any, and in the process somehow becomes incapacitated. As a final consideration, you tell him to look for any dry gas, isopropyl alcohol to mix with whatever he is able to pull out of the tank. Between the possibility of the gas being stale or getting contaminated with water in the garden hose, there is a real risk that all of this work could be for bad gas; isopropyl alcohol could at least protect against mixed in water.

Without any prompting from you, he repeats everything back to you, to make sure there are not any slip ups. He thanks you and heads off. Several minutes later, as Petra is putting away some of the final things, leaving just you and the dialysis machine, as it is too heavy for her to move alone, Gunther calls her into the garage. For a minute or so, you really cannot make anything out beyond footfalls, but then there is some swearing and clattering. Several minutes later, Gunther and Petra return, and Petra is carrying a now empty 5-gallon jug of water. You look at the two of them, but before you can think of what to say, Gunther speaks first.
>>
>>4509328
“It really is pretty fast.” You cannot help but snort at that.

“We did get what we need, eventually. Took several tries to get what I could; I do not think that gas tank is sitting level … or something. Spilled what was left of the water after I rinsed with it too. But we got enough. 35 maybe 40 gallons; with the half-tank in there still, that should be enough to get us to your place.”

“But there wasn’t dry gas in the garage, was there?” Gunther does not need to answer that, but being the diligent sort, he does. “No, not that I could see. Petra looked too.”

Stale or wet gas is nothing to play around with. Even in tiny amounts, it can cause performance issues, and if Gunther needed to repeat the McQueen act that he did earlier, then you need all the performance that you can get of that engine. And God forbid, if all of that gas he just siphoned is bad, and it gets mixed into the engine, then you won’t have half a tank of gas, you’ll have an almost full tank of a worthless gasoline-equse liquid.

“Listen, bad gas is bad fucking news. So here is what we do. We bring it with us, instead of putting it in now. Worse case scenario, we are stuck 30 miles away, instead 80. Any objections?”

Of course, there are not any forthcoming, and your stay at the safehouse finally comes to an end. With the addition of the siphoned gas, the back of Gunther’s truck is even more crowded than it was before, and now it smells like a filling station. Honestly, the situation back here is some kind of terrible. You got medical grade equipment next to gasoline, next to water, all rattling around underneath you, with your face being practically shoved right into that fucking cap. At least Petra spends a minute to make a bit of cushion for you. After she is done, you hand her the Greener-Martini, and after some coaxing, she takes it … though she looks terrified of the damned thing.

Several hours after you left Dr. Grisham’s house, you are finally leaving the safehouse … and the relative safety of Bangor.
>>
>Traveling in Coach, to Mooseleg Lake from Bangor Maine
>Some time after 5:00am on 10/31/2020
>Cold, presumably above freezing
>Sunrise around 7am

There have been a couple of good bumps here and there, but Petra’s handicraft with the pillows has held up, and you have remained conscious … though considering the conditions, perhaps being knocked out for this wouldn’t be the worse thing in the world. The gas! God, those fumes. They are enough to make your eyes water in this enclosed space. And while you are not sure, the smell might have gotten a bit more intense. Hopefully, none of them opened up. But just when you thought that things could not get any worse, there is the unmistakable sound of a gunshot. Jesus Christ, that was close enough for it to set your ears to ringing. You need to get out here!

But instead, the truck comes to a complete stop, and the engine is shut off. Your panicking now, and the reeking enclosed space under the cap starts to feel eerily similar to a coffin. How the Hell did you never notice that before? Oh yeah, you were unconscious …

Throwing caution to the wind, you start yelling. “Gunther! Get us the fuck out of here!” But still, the truck does not move. What is going on? Is the road blocked? Is this a stick up? Maybe it was not a gunshot after all, it could have been the engine. This truck was not built for high-speed chases after all, something could have just violently broken. After a second or two, you can hear the driver side door open, and then there is the sound of Gunther’s footfalls approaching the tailgate.

As unnerved as you are, for him to behave this causally, then that means, at the very least, you aren’t in any immediate danger, and you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief as Gunther opens the window on the cap to speak with you.

“We are down a harpoon. She’s alright, but … Petra was holding the thing, and she must have touched something.”

“I’ll tell you what she touched. It was the trigger. And I will give you three guesses as to how I know that. Listen Gunther; I am sure she is a nice girl, but you need to take her in hand here. She should not have been with you during that chase and she should not have been fucking with the gun. If she is not adult enough to know how to conduct herself, then you need to guide her.”

“Alright, I get it. But we are down a harpoon … I had undone the line, I don’t know where it the thing went. Without it, that means we only have a single shot left – or three, if we can somehow manage to retrieve the harpoon three times.”

>Spend some time looking for it, but leave the truck running and don’t leave line of sight.
>Forget it, we need to keep moving. With any luck, that will be the first and last time the gun fires on the trip anyway.
>>
>>4509383
Depending on how far away we are from our final destination, it may be a good idea to cut out losses and just fuck off without the meme machine.

The idea of being out and about unarmed isn't fun, but wandering around on foot also unarmed to find an inefficient single shot weapon doesn't bode well either.

>Forget it, we need to keep moving. With any luck, that will be the first and last time the gun fires on the trip anyway.

if it shows up in an enemy's hands later, imma be salty af though
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>>4509443
Oh no, it isn't that bad. We had two harpoons and four cartridges. Petra had an ND, then we have three cartridges and one harpoon. So we still have the weapon, we just are down a harpoon; they are intended to be recovered and reused. The gun itself is still safe in our possession.
>>
>>4509383
>>Forget it, we need to keep moving. With any luck, that will be the first and last time the gun fires on the trip anyway.
Just cranked a shot off in the dead of night. If there's anybody around here, they may be coming to investigate, probably armed. Or they could see us searching, and decide to ambush us up the road. It'd be best just to forget it, and get out of here before trouble finds us.
>>
>>4509464
Oh sick, in that case yeah i definitely got no problem leaving it behind. Reinforcing my stance, let's skedaddle.

On a long-term thinking tangent, I'd imagine we could maybe make some harpoons out of scrap metal? But the usefulness of that is probably dependent on how we could manufacture the pressurized air cartridges, which are probably a step or three more complex.

Not to mention there are more important potential projects to put the resources into tbqh.
>>
>>4509529
>>4509490
Alright, sounds good. I'm cooking dinner right now, but I should be able get at least one more post before the overnight vote.

>>4509529
>>On a long-term thinking tangent, I'd imagine we could maybe make some harpoons out of scrap metal? But the usefulness of that is probably dependent on how we could manufacture the pressurized air cartridges, which are probably a step or three more complex.
First, yes, you certainly can attempt to build harpoons out of scrap metal, or commission a metalworker to make one, which would probably be a better use of your time. Second, the Greener-Martini doesn't use pressurized air, it uses proprietary .38 caliber S&W Special Blanks. So that is a mixed bag; having a gunsmith make special brass for the blanks would be much easier to get right than to make decent single use air cartridges. On the other hand, air is a lot more plentiful than gunpowder.
>>
>>4509584
>On the other hand, air is a lot more plentiful than gunpowder

The renewable potential of pneumatic weaponry, harpoon aside, is something I'd seriously consider researching if ammo/gunpowder scarcity becomes a late game concern.

If people could make it out of the subway scraps available in the Metro 2033 universe (pic related), I can't imagine it'd be a stupidly tall order to get something with the penetrating power of a relatively weak .22 shooting out cast balls of scrap metal.

But that's for way later, if ever. We haven't even gotten back to home sweet home yet
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>>4509616
If you ever think that people wont make guns, think again.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQG1bHugZRA

now this is some hot fucking garbage right here.
>>
>>4509383
>>Forget it, we need to keep moving. With any luck, that will be the first and last time the gun fires on the trip anyway.
>>
“Jesus Christ. That thing weighed what? Pound? Pound and a half? How far could that spear travel after blasting through the roof?” You can hear him shifting, maybe to shrug, but all you can see is the roof of the damned cap looming out of the darkness. You cannot even shift yourself to try to look at him, or you risk losing the cushioning Petra pulled together for you. Everything about this situation is frustrating, but at least you can give the man an answer. “I don’t know, if it were the only one we had, then yeah, it would probably be worth the time. But we got a spare. Just forget it. Leave it for the next guy.”

“I don’t know, I mean … if we give it up, that means all we realistically count on is one shot.”

For God’s sake. You have always been pretty even keeled, but after everything that you have been through you are seriously tempted to start yelling at Gunther. It is a temptation that you are able to overcome, this time at least.

“Gunther, running the risk of sounding passive-aggressive, I’m not exactly in a position to stop you from looking for the damned thing. But by the same token, if anything were to happen, I wouldn’t be much help, now would I? Okay, sure. We can only realistically count on one shot. And if we had the other one, we could realistically count on two shots. Think about it like this, how many situations could we get out of with those two shots, that we could not get out of with the one we actually have? Can you think of any? I can’t. So that means there are two types of situations that we are going face. Ones that we’d be screwed in, even if we had both of the harpoons, or ones that we can get through with just one skewer. So, forget about it, and let’s get going. Stopping like this is dangerous.”

You are not entirely sure if you were able to articulate the point you were trying to make about having both harpoons compared to having just the one, but its seems that the message got through regardless, as after a second or two, Gunther agrees with your assessment. Before he buttons up the cap again, he mentions that he will have Petra open the back window on the cab, so the three of you can talk. He had kept it closed, thinking that you would want to get some sleep, which strikes you as a non sequitur. It is only until Gunther turns the truck back on after having Petra open the window that you understand. Over the ruckus of the engine, you can hear the unmistakable caterwauling of a boyband. Of course, Petra’s listening to tapes, so now all of you are.
>>
>>4509752
A dozen tracks on the cassette and an eternity later, you are just about at the end of your rope. But as you were about to ask Petra to shut the window, Gunther says something that you cannot quite make out. You can clearly hear Petra say ‘what?’ though. Before you try to get their attention, Gunther speaks up, loud enough for you to hear.

“Mantle, can you hear me back there?” You tell him that you can now, and luckily, it seems that he can hear you too. “Tell me what you make of this. There was a sign that was taken down, we just passed it.”

A sign? You think on it for several-several seconds. If you had to guess, then someone has taken it upon themselves to make this neck of the woods harder to move through for people not from the area. Honestly, it isn’t a bad idea … something you might want to mention to Parasol. You explain your theory to Gunther, of course, excluding any mention of Parasol or a group in the process. His follow up question gives you more than a little bit of pause, however.

“So, should we be worried about it?”

A fair question. It shows that someone ‘smarter than the average bear’ is in the area, someone who is willing to disadvantage others to protect themselves, and possibly their neighbors. But it is a leap from obfuscating locations to actually trying to target people passing through. If the signs were swapped or altered to funnel people into an area, then yeah, worry about that, obviously. But just removing them? It is a pain, and at a certain level it could be considered malicious, but it does not seem to you to be something that a would-be highwayman would do.

You explain your thoughts on the matter to Gunther, who readily agrees with your assessment of the issue. And that is all that is said on the matter, for several-several minutes.

Until you got to the bridge. You never actually saw the thing, but Gunther did a pretty decent job of describing it. Spanning a small tributary river was a trellis bridge. Like the route you were on, it was two lane, but it was a really narrow two lane. Narrow enough that it maybe should have been considered as a one lane. At the very least, it was narrow enough to have precipitated an accident. Just about in the middle of the bridges span, there had been a head on collision between a small pickup and a mail truck. It was a mess; the road was blocked. Obviously, under normal circumstances, you would take a detour. But its still dark out, and the road signs in this area have been removed. You cannot afford to waste gas getting lost … but is it safe to try to clear the bridge? While the blockage is almost certainly exactly what it seems, it does not change the fact that on the bridge you are pretty exposed.

>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
>Signs or no signs, this is a river for Christ’s sake. How can you get lost if you just follow the river? There has to be another bridge sooner or later.
>>
>>4509757
>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.

Gunther holds the weapon while Petra clears the shit up. For the love of god, I don't trust her hair-trigger ass to make a good shot.

What's our ETA to Mantle's place by the way? Either in miles, or time wise assuming typical conditions. I forget if Mantle's homestead is even the intended destination at this rate, this is one dense and m e a t y quest to digest info from

>>4509684
Fuckin love Ian and the wacky firearms he manages to show off.
>>
>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
Odds are, even if this is intentional, its more likely at this early point in time that it is the work of someone deterring raiders than someone hunting others. That's my guess.
>>
>Addendum: Advise Gunther of thoughts on this being to deter raiders and to use his best judgement if confronted while clearing the road but remember that people are scared and parley is an option.
>>
>>4509757
>>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
I'm positive that we're going to have to lose out on some of our supplies to get back to Mooseleg. Hopefully these people won't demand any. Fucking around in the dark looking for a bridge while burning gas is barely worse than fucking around on a sketchy bridge that is going to get us into a confrontation.
>>4509817
>>Addendum: Advise Gunther of thoughts on this being to deter raiders and to use his best judgement if confronted while clearing the road but remember that people are scared and parley is an option.
Sure, why not. He should scope out the wreck on the bridge with the Greener-Martini before getting to work clearing anything. If there is anybody lying in wait to ambush them, best to find them while he's ready and alert.
>>
>>4509878
Agree with this post
>>
>>4509878
sounds smart enough, +1
>>
>>4509757
>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
>Addendum: Advise Gunther of thoughts on this being to deter raiders and to use his best judgement if confronted while clearing the road but remember that people are scared and parley is an option.
>>
>>4509757
>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
You know, this might be just a baseless supposition, but perhaps whis is why Parasol´s group stole the train wagons? They could act as mobile barricades and they are heavy enough to stop any would be attacker for a long time. Hell, if there are old ass wagons, they migh be made out of steel, which could make them into poor-man´s bunkers.

>Signs or no signs, this is a river for Christ’s sake. How can you get lost if you just follow the river? There has to be another bridge sooner or later.

I really hope this has been prepared by Parasol´s group.
>>
>>4510114
>No need to make a mountain out of a molehill; clear the blockage and move on.
>Addendum: Advise Gunther of thoughts on this being to deter raiders and to use his best judgement if confronted while clearing the road but remember that people are scared and parley is an option.

Change to his. I messed up.
>>
Alright, pretty solid support for clearing the blockage. I will get to writing it up.

>>4509792
We are about halfway there, roughly 40 miles out. And yes, the final destination is intended to be your homestead, but if you want to send them somewhere else first, you could do that too.
>>
"Gunther, I need you to reiterate something for me. You say that it looks like a head on collision. But can you see debris, damage on the trucks themselves?"

"Uhh ... yeah. There are a few bits and pieces on the pavement, and I can see where the pickup crumpled up a bit." There is a pause, and blessedly, he shuts off the cassette player. "Were you thinking that this was a set up? Like it had been staged?"

"The thought had crossed my mind, yeah. But if you can actually see damage and debris like that, then that points to this being the real McCoy. Still, that doesn't mean that this situation is safe here. Just because the accident was genuine, that doesn't mean that someone could have set up an ambush over it later. Of course, if there was an ambush, it might not be on the bridge, it might be further down the road on a potential detour. Honestly, I - actually, another question. How much gas is left in the tank?"

"Bit under an eighth on the gauge, so probably around a tenth of a tank left. 10 miles and change."

Jesus. The sun will be coming up soon, and you aren't entirely sure if that is a good thing or not. Underneath you, there are 35 to 40 gallons of very questionable gasoline. Assuming it runs, it should be enough to get you home, even with a few small detours, so it isn't if as you didn't have options here. You sigh in frustration as you wrestle with this latest hiccup.

"Gunther, you are going to need to clear this. We can't afford to play Lewis and Clark with barely enough gas to get to the lake. Have Petra switch over to the driver seat, so we can get moving as quick as possible if we need to. Don't bring the truck in until the last possible moment, we don't want to get boxed in on the bridge. Clear the debris around the wreck by hand, and then see if there is enough room to squeeze by. If there isn't we will just have to push through it with your truck. And don't forget to bring the gun with you."

>Can I have one anon roll 1d10 please? (As always, higher is better)
>>
Rolled 4 (1d10)

>>
>>4510215
Alright, I will get to writing.
>>
Any method Gunther knows of to check the gas quality now that time is slightly less scarce than it was back at the checkpoint? Burning a sample on the ground maybe?

Wouldn't be surprised if that would require an intelligence/perception or "did this draw attention" check though, but I thought I'd put it out there.
>>
>>4510257
Gasoline doesn't burn slow like oil, it is much more explosive. And beyond visual checks, no, there really isn't much you can do to diagnose the quality of the gas. Almost done with the post.
>>
Gunther has been working at it for several minutes now, and Petra has moved over into the driver seat, even though her worth there is questionable, considering that she does not know how to drive stick. Quite honestly, you would be surprised if she knew how to drive period, but you leave that thought to yourself. Some more time passes, and Gunther comes back, sounding slightly out of breath. He managed to clear away the debris on the ground around the wreck but was unable to push or shift the wreck clear on his own. You had figured that he probably would not be able to, but it was worth a shot. Petra shifts back over to the passenger seat, and then Gunther coasts his truck onto the bridge.

If there is an ambush set over this bridge, then this is the optimal moment to spring it. All you would need is a comparably sized truck to come up and block your escape to the rear. Even if Gunther was to try to push his way through, there is still the risk of being pinned between the wreck and the ambushing truck. But after a moment of thought, you realize that odds are good that with everyone as on edge as they are, if there was an ambush, it would have been sprung, probably as soon as Gunther left the truck … for fear of letting the ‘prey’ get loose.

Maybe there really is nothing to worry about here.
>>
>>4510360
In the end, you are half-right. The ambush on the bridge that you worried about did not materialize. There were no bandits or locals to threaten you and your companions at gunpoint. But that did not mean that you got through this ordeal unscathed. The first two attempts to gingerly push through the wreck only made more of a mess. Further complicating all of this in the angle that the wreck sat at. Attempt to drive straight down the middle of the bridge through the wreck was impractical. To line things up optimally, Gunther had to position himself right next to the guardrail on the left side of the road, and then carefully make a hard right turn into the wreck to try to get between the two of them.
It was on the third try, the most forceful attempt, that you broke through, though considering the toll that it took on the truck you cannot in good consciousness call it ‘charmed’. It was not like passing through a turnstile, where each of the wrecks spun open to admit passage. No, the wrecks, have already been snagged together by the collision were now snagged on Gunther’s truck as well, and his unfortunate pickup now was dragging everything with it, and attempts to reverse out of were not successful either.

At one point Gunther actually got out again, to try to untangle the latter-day Gordian Knot with no serious success. Your nerves had begun to fray again from the delays in the overexposed and compromised position, you suggested Alexander’s tried-and-true method. Brute force. The wreck clung to the truck nearly to the end of the bridge, and you were considering telling him to stop, when finally, one after the other, the remains of the pickup and the mail truck gave way. But even as you drove away from that bridge, you could already feel that something was wrong with the way that the truck was driving. Gunther kept needing to make corrections, and the engine sounded much raspier than it had before.

The full damage report did not come until later, after an appreciable distance had been placed between all of you and the bridge. After some discussion, Gunther and you decided that it would be best to put the questionable gas in while there was still some clean stuff in the tank, in hopes that it would help overcome any shortcomings of the siphoned stuff. After passing a visual inspection in the headlight of the truck, the questionable gasoline was poured in. Before starting up the engine again, Gunther filled you and Petra in on the condition of the truck.

The front left wheel was visibly out of alignment, and the intake on the front end had been stove-in, now coolant was leaking inside the engine bay. Even if the gasoline was clean enough to run, this could be the last trip this truck ever made. And if God forbid, you got in another chase with this thing, you could not count on a repeat performance. [In Driving Tests, Gunther’s truck now rolls 1d4 for Recoveries, 1d6-2 for Handling Modifiers and 5d12 for scoring].
>>
>>4510365
It is kind of sad, really. From what little you saw of it, it looked like Gunther had been taking good care of this thing. To see … or to be told at least, about how it has been stricken like this, is unfortunate. Especially considering how valuable good vehicles are with the way the world is right now. In fact, now that you think about it, this truck is the most valuable thing that Gunther owns right now. Does this mean that you … owe him? One of the reasons you hate unsolicited favors is that you are never entirely certain how to (or if to) repay them.

>By making a place for him and Petra in your homestead, you are saving their lives as he is saving your life right now. This is all a part of the ‘deal’, such as it is.
>You should help him source materials and cover the costs of labor to rebuild the truck to the point that such a thing is possible.
>You should use one of the several big favors that Parasol owes you to get him a new truck, or at least some sort of vehicle.
>You have two trucks, if he is going to be living with you, then really, giving him your ‘commuter’ really is not that big of a deal.
>Giving him your spare truck, burning a favor from Parasol to source one, or fronting the materials and pay for the labor to rebuild this is a bit much. He should get something, a big gift, nice and practical certainly, just … not that much.
>>
>>4510368
>You should help him source materials and cover the costs of labor to rebuild the truck to the point that such a thing is possible.

Never hurts to show a bit of good faith. Or to have another vehicle in good condition hanging around and available at the stead.
>>
>>4510372
Yeah, supporting this.
Guy's done a lot for us.
>>
>>4510372
On second thought, this stance may change depending on how further fucked the truck may or may not be from the questionable gas. If the engine itself starts approaching uselessness, then it may not be worthwhile to follow through with a repair effort.
>>
>>4510381
>>4510372
Okay, I guess I will count this a tentative vote for sourcing materials and covering repair costs, conditional on the practicality of the repairs.
>>4510378
And this will be a definitive vote for.

Alright, I guess that will be enough. Consider the vote closed, and I will get to writing.
>>
>Traveling in Coach, to Mooseleg Lake from Bangor Maine
>Probably a bit before 7:00am on 10/31/2020
>Cold, definitely above freezing
>Sunrise around 7:00am

Under the current circumstances, Gunther has made an incredible series of sacrifices for you. He deserves something beyond room and board in exchange. Assuming the truck is has not been completely totaled by the time you make it to the homestead; you should do your best to source the parts and cover the labor to have it completely rebuilt. If you had ruined or seriously damaged one of your trucks doing an incredible favor for someone else, that is what you would want (though admittedly, you would not actually expect that of anyone). There is a part of you that wants to promise this to Gunther right now, because telling him will hold you to it … but you decide to wait. First, the truck might not make it to the homestead at all if the gas is bad, and bringing up the future like that sort of feels like jinxing it. Secondly, you would want to surprise him with it.

Your thoughts on the matter are interrupted by the sound of the engine attempting to turn over. There had been some consideration about filling the tank with the engine running, simply out of fear that in its current condition it might not start again, but in the end, you were all more afraid of the truck catching fire than being stranded, so the engine had been shut off for the refueling. Might not have been the best decision, honestly. You had not thought about it, but with two potential points of failure; the damaged engine and the questionable gas, then diagnosing problems would be –

There is a loud thump, but then the unmistakable sound of an engine turning over. Gunther experimentally presses the gas, and you can hear the engine’s straining roar. The truck is put in gear, and with a lurch, the last leg of the journey begins. Gunther is laughing with relief, and Petra is just saying “Oh, thank God” over and over.
>>
>>4510576
Time and miles pass. Compared to the preparation, start and the first leg of this journey, the last leg is smooth sailing, especially once you moved out of the area where the signs were taken down. The engine sounds maybe a little bit worse than it did when it first turned over, but it is hard to tell. You suppose that the important thing is that it is still running. The smell of gasoline is still pretty strong under the cap, even what must be nearly an hour after the gas had been removed. As you shift your swaddled head slightly, trying to scratch an itch on your forehead, you find yourself wondering what is worse for your health, gas fumes or fallout. But it is not all bad; there is noticeably more and more light filtering into the cap, and that is not even considering that all of the windows back here are tinted. The bumps and jumps are beginning to get to you a bit more though, so you would imagine that at this point whatever was left of any painkillers have worn off.

You hear Gunther murmur something, and the truck comes to an unexpected stop. Even over the rasp of the engine, you can make out the noise of him shifting in his seat to face you.

“Mantle … the road here is blocked”.

“Another accident?”

“No, this is deliberate. There are loose piles of wooden utility poles on both sides of the road, and they got those metal pegs or rungs sticking out of them, and some other scrap metal sticking up out of the tangle, like small spikes. And parked in the road, one in each lane, are two snowplows, both of them facing us. There is something painted across the blades … ‘Lake Closed’ on the left and ‘No Entry’ on the right.”

“What color are they? The trucks themselves?”

“Uh … Petra, what would you call that?”

“Looks like Aquamarine. Kind of a strange color pallet for a plow truck, but it looks better than I would have thought.”

You never thought that you would be so overjoyed to see – or rather, to be told about the ridiculous paintjob on Debouche’s dedicated snowplows. A year or two before that you moved in, Public Works bought several vehicles, including those tacky trucks, at auction. They were scheduled to be repainted in the typical blaze orange before they needed to be put into use, but apparently the snow came early that year, so they were put on duty without the repainting. Public works was then planning on painting them during the off season, but apparently people liked the look. Honestly, you were pretty sure that it was some sort of DOT violation or whatever, but the trucks never were repainted.

This is it. You made it back in one piece … more or less. Now the only question remains is to how to get to the homestead.

>Have Gunther go in on foot to find someone to move the trucks
>Have Gunther fire off the Greener-Martini to signal to whoever made the barricade here
>Have Gunther backtrack a bit and find another way into the town if he can
>>
>tfw begin reading the quest archives for the first time
>check the date on the corner of my eye
Fuck, I'm going to have to take notes.
>>
>>4510578
>Have Gunther go in on foot to find someone to move the trucks

Make sure one of the first things he says is our name. Assuming the Public Works vehicle indicates this was made by Parasol's group, letting them know they're here to help Mantle get home vs just some potential highwayman randos wandering around.

>>4510579
Welcome, comrade. Welcome to the end of the world.
>>
whoops, messed up that post
>>4510578
>Have Gunther go in on foot to find someone to move the trucks
Mantle's back, time for what's probably going to be an incredibly disappointing homecoming.
>>4510610
and yeah, mention our name immediately
>>
>>4510616
As long as his mum and the lock-picking dude are there and well-ish, I'm sure that will be a solid serotonin boost for Mantle.

But yeah, no doubt there will be further troubles to tackle ahead, seen and unforeseen.
>>
>Have Gunther go in on foot to find someone to move the trucks.
>>
Alright, I will get to writing this up.
>>
>>4510610
Damn, I've read through the archives. Every paragraph is the apex of brilliance. Mantle has some balls.
>>
>>4510900
He's one tough cookie. Downing a bull moose with a sidearm, firing an LMG like a boss, and standing up to torture pretty damn solidly as far as I'm concerned. Not to mention his wit.

but at this rate, he's got more like a ball and a half
>>
>>4510910
Yeeeeeah. Shit is irreparably fucked. Parasol owes him, big-time.
>>
Also we should've greased Carter when we had the chance. I don't even care that he's a manlet or doing what he thought was right, dude's the exact type of sanctimonious faggot I cannot comprehend. If anything it's even worse that he was in the right, albeit not from a utilitarian standpoint, but we are a FUCKING big dick minus 0.5 testicles objectivist, so who cares? Fuck. I hope we don't get rolled by the Maine National Guard once they begin to consolidate. Our best chance is sunk cost fallacy, make them pay more to deal with us than it's worth. Christ's sakes, all we ever wanted was to salvage.
>>
>>4510939
Now we can say we literally busted our balls for him.

Curious to see what options this open up to us, regarding his trust.
>>
>>4510965
Think about the weight of everything he's managed, from Parasol's point of view.
>budget game warden that collects garbage to pay the bills
>more than possibly autistic, almost no obligations toward him
>in the span of one week-
>recovers a (small, stranded) tank with an M240
>nigh-singlehandedly saves the lives of eight loyal men
>prevents the complete undercutting of the operation, is captured
>withstands prolonged testicular torture without spilling the beans
>brings back an (apparent) nascar hobbyist and random thot with an easy ten or fifteen childbearing years left
>along with a small ward of medical equipment, the totaled remains of a truck, and a legitimate harpoon
That's huge.
>>
Hey guys; quick update. Working on the next post took a little longer than I thought it would, largely on account of needing to figure out what the situation looks like in the town. Wound up falling asleep on you guys again, sorry.

I have an assignment due at 10:00am Eastern Standard Time, but after that, my day is pretty damned free, so I should be able to get the posts up around noon. Thanks for understanding, and while I am at it, I'd also like to thank the several new players who have come along for the ride.
>>
>>4511404
No worries, man. Looking forward to our return to Mooseleg after all this time. Good luck on your assignment this morning.
>>
>>4511404
Take all of the time you need, your work is worth the wait.
>>
>>4511404
No problem, thanks for running. Really enjoying the quest, glad I jumped into the first thread instead of waiting to see if this lived.
>>4510625
>As long as his mum and the lock-picking dude are there and well-ish, I'm sure that will be a solid serotonin boost for Mantle.
Oh yeah, if mom is alive and we haven't been robbed then we're already off to a really good start.
>>
>Traveling in Coach, to Mooseleg Lake from Bangor Maine
>Well after 7:00am on 10/31/2020
>Cold, definitely above freezing
>Sunrise around 7:00am

“Those are Debouche’s snowplows … we just need to find someone to move the trucks for us, and we can get to the homestead.”

Petra starts to cheer at that, but is abruptly stopped by Gunther. For several seconds, all you can hear is the rasp of the engine as it idles. Then Gunther speaks, his voice sounding a bit huskier than usual. “Before I do anything, before Petra and I get inextricably involved in whatever this thing of yours here is, I want to know everything. I said I was going to get you home, and I intend to, no what matter what. But if the situation here is too dangerous, then … I don’t know about all of this. Maybe the two of us could find somewhere else to stay.”

Is he fucking serious? You are a stone’s throw away from home, and now he springs this dogshit on you? You take several increasingly deep breaths as you try to focus. If you really think about this, his hesitation is reasonable. He does not really know anything about you or the situation beyond the Guard implicating you with a group of overambitious trainrobbers. No doubt that he has a lot of questions, and with everything that has been going on, there really have not been any opportunities for him to ask you. And of course, he is responsible for Petra. If you were in his position, having to provide for yourself and a relatively defenseless relative with noting more than a dying truck with about 10 miles of gas left and a fucking harpoon gun, you’d probably want to know about the situation here on the lake before making any serious commitments.

You have been through so much to get back home, this is just one last little bump on the way. So, you shift yourself on the gurney and resign yourself to explaining the situation from the beginning, starting from when you received the call from Parasol, just before midnight on the 27th. But you had only gotten to the point where he explained how he figured out that a Nuclear World War was imminent before you were interrupted by the sound of an airhorn, followed by two more in quick succession. No doubt about it, there was someone watching you in one of the plowtrucks!

>Tell Gunther to drive off for now, so you can take your time explaining the situation to him.
>Tell Gunther to kill the engine and wait for the watchman to make the next move. While you wait, try to bring Gunther and Petra up to speed as quickly as possible.
>Tell Gunther to kill the engine, get out of the truck and approach the barricade unarmed to identify yourselves before things spiral out of control here. While you wait, try to bring Petra up to speed as quickly as possible.
>>
>>4511531
>Tell Gunther to kill the engine, get out of the truck and approach the barricade unarmed to identify yourselves before things spiral out of control here. While you wait, try to bring Petra up to speed as quickly as possible.
This is the likeliest to keep everyone alive and they don't have to invest themselves immediately. Gunther's a decent guy, he'll understand and if Petra goes into hysterics, he can calm her down.
>>
>>4511531
>Tell Gunther to kill the engine and wait for the watchman to make the next move. While you wait, try to bring Gunther and Petra up to speed as quickly as possible.
Wait, rescind >>4511534, I forgot we aren't able to move yet and an unknown male approaching the wall could be a bad idea. Is it possible to roll down the window and shout our name?
>>
>>4511534
+1

how reasonable would it be for us to get out and present ourselves? are we still too weak? with some luck, we could deal with that situation with ease.
>>
Shit, will the watchman even recognize us by name? This is hopefully one of the deputies we saved, but chances are they're doing something more important, like resolving the situation at the prison.
>>
>>4511531
>Tell Gunther to kill the engine, get out of the truck and approach the barricade unarmed to identify yourselves before things spiral out of control here. While you wait, try to bring Petra up to speed as quickly as possible.

Verbally introduce ourselves loudly from our position BEFORE we move to exit the vehicle. Let Gunther be our human crutch if need be, asking someone to come out from their defensible position to come take a look would reek of suspicion.
>>
>>4511538
>>4511541
I agree with both of you. What's important is that they know who we are and pass that on up the chain to Parasol and co. They might not know, but they will, and we've done a metric fuckton for them.
>>
>>4511541
+1
>>
Alright, I will get this written up.
>>
Jesus Christ. “Gunther, roll down the windows and then kill the engine.” He does not respond to that immediately, and the engine continues to rasp on idle. “Gunther, please. We are going to need to identify ourselves, and for that, they are going to need to be able to hear us.” But still, the engine continues to run. Even in your exhausted and frustrated state, you have managed to puzzle out what is going on. Gunther is almost certainly worried that if he were to kill the engine it would not start up again. It is a legitimate concern; earlier you had been wondering if it sounded worse, but now that it had been idling a bit, you could tell that it quite obviously was. But as you were just about to get desperate, Gunther finally kills the engine, and its rasp coughs and sputters into silence. Thank God. Thank Gunther.

“Thank you, Gunther, thank you. Now, I think we are going to need to identify ourselves. If you would be willing to get out and –

“This Parasol, the one running this thing. I want to meet him; talk to him. Then I … then Petra and I will make a decision on if we stay here or not.”

“Sure, that shouldn’t be any problem.”

There is a moment of silence, but it is shattered by another series of blasts from the airhorn on one of the plows. Damn it, Gunther is going to need to identify yourselves before the watchman progresses beyond honking at you. But just before you ask to reiterate your instructions, Gunther beats you to the punch with another demand.

“And I want a guarantee from you that if I go to speak with this Parasol, they he isn’t going to steal my truck, or any of its cargo, regardless if I stay with you or decide to move on elsewhere. And compelling me to exchange it for something, or if I decide to stay with you, having it be ‘held’ for me by this group of yours counts as stealing, at least in my book.”

That … could be a problem. You understand where Gunther is coming from; this load of medical supplies is probably actually worth its weight in gold. It represents an incredible bargaining chip; and excluding the truck, it is his only bargaining chip. In his position, you would be loathe to just hand it over, no questions ask. No one, not even someone as congenitally caring and benevolent as Dr. Grisham would. Admittedly, you had sort of started thinking of it as ‘your’ supplies too, but so long as you are able to use the dialysis machine as needed, then you should be alright with whatever arrangements. The sticking point is the rest of the group; you have no idea how the group is dealing private ownership of critical supplies. And if Gunther does decide to move on, then would the group just let him drive off into the sunset with them?
>>
>>4512177
Lots of choices on this one. I had a hard time figuring out how I wanted the arrival to shake out

>Promise Gunther that his property rights will not be violated, and use whatever favors or influence necessary to ensure that this is the case.
>Promise Gunther that his property rights will not be violated, and advocate for him without explicitly calling in favors.
>Promise Gunther that his property rights will not be violated, and just hope that it will work out that way for him.
>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but you will do everything you can to see his property rights respected by calling in favors.
>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but you will do what you can to see his property rights respected by advocating for him, without calling in favors.
>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but tell him that he should have nothing to worry about.
>Tell Gunther that what he is asking for is unrealistic; if he does not decide to stay on the lake the group will no doubt take the supplies by force
>Tell Gunther that what he is asking for is really unrealistic; the group is going to lay claim to the supplies the minute that they see them.
>>
>>4512183
>Promise Gunther that his property rights will not be violated, and advocate for him without explicitly calling in favors.
If he's going to be living with us then touching his supplies is the same as messing with the Mantle faction. If not... we can try to help him best he can and ensure nothing happens, he's been fine to us. That shouldn't be impossible. That's unless he wants to take the dialysis machine with him of course, in which case we simply can't let him leave whether we want to or not.
>>
>>4512183
>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but you will do everything you can to see his property rights respected by calling in favors.

It's the most factually accurate statement we can give, especially since a lot could have happened in the two (three?) days we were KO'd and otherwise out of the loop.

Would help our case to explain how "in" Parasol's group we are, and how much we did for him, to elaborate on how much leverage we've got. And that at the blue sitting room meeting at the start of this mess we did ad a group agree on a "no mandatory communal resource pooling" stance
>>
>>4512183
>>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but you will do everything you can to see his property rights respected by calling in favors.
Yeah. We did a lot for Parasol. Gunther, and Grisham have in turn, done a lot for us. I think we owe it to him to reciprocate that by calling in some favors, even if it is a bit of a waste burning them on something like this. Hopefully this won't be necessary, and he decides to stay. Parasol seems like the sort who can make a good impression, he seemed like he had it figured out during that first meeting. Hopefully he's still holding his composure together after the time we spent in Bangor.
>>4512217
>Would help our case to explain how "in" Parasol's group we are, and how much we did for him, to elaborate on how much leverage we've got. And that at the blue sitting room meeting at the start of this mess we did ad a group agree on a "no mandatory communal resource pooling" stance
Definitely. Be sure to mention this. Inner circle and all that. May not exactly be an essential cog in the machine, but certainly a valued one.
>>
>>4512217
Just double-checked near the start of thread #2 to see if I misquoted, and yeah, we did agree on the housing on demand stance.

I know that was more a "public housing at a tribute cost vs free-for-all" discussion, but I really can't imagine them wholesale commandeering a valuable resource by force. Especially with us vouching for them to, y'know, not do that.
>>
Alright, I will leave this up for a little bit longer, and then I will close it and get to writing.
>>
>>4512291
hey op, idk if I say this enough but thanks for running this quest. It's really fun to see shit unfold, and you're A1 when it comes to fleshing out the setting and making dynamic npcs
>>
>>4512291
>>4512292
>hey op, idk if I say this enough but thanks for running this quest. It's really fun to see shit unfold, and you're A1 when it comes to fleshing out the setting and making dynamic npcs
Couldn't have said it better myself. Haven't been this into a quest in a while. I'll be around till the end, OP. Glad I hopped in after seeing the first thread in the catalog.
>>
>Explain why you cannot in good conscience make a promise like that, but you will do everything you can to see his property rights respected by calling in favors.
I'll switch to this. In hindsight my other stance was a bit too stingy, Gunther has metaphorically saved our ass and literally saved our nut, and even if he left I don't think he'd try to take the dialysis machine with him. Plus, best to be transparent with him.
>>
>Promise Gunther that his property rights will not be violated, and advocate for him without explicitly calling in favors.
We have few favors to spend. I like Gunther but he kinda let us get tortured in the first place. We have family and survival to worry about.
>>
>>4512245
+1 to all of this.

Nice to see you again Trash, get in panic after seeing the second Thread fall into the archive and not see the third arrive until now. Thank you for sharing your story with us and letting us be a part nvn
>>
“Gunther, I … don’t think I can promise that. I don’t know how exactly they are running things now when it comes to personal property of group members, or in your case, potential group members. That said, I have a bit of pull with Parasol, and after everything that I have been through, by my reckoning he owes me several really big favors. If it does come down to it, then I’ll call those favors in for you. And I want to put this out there; if you were to stay, then odds are whatever arrangement you want as to the medicine and stuff here would be accepted. I just can’t guarantee that because it won’t be my decision. And if you decide to try your luck elsewhere, then … after everything that you have done for me, I will do everything in my power to ensure that when you leave you do so with everything you came in with.
You can hear something that might be murmuring up front in the cab, but as you try to eavesdrop there is another series of airhorn bursts, and by the time the last one has trailed off, whatever you had heard in the cab had stopped. After an agonizing few seconds, Gunther spoke up again.

“I appreciate your honesty, Mantle. Alright. You say that you will do everything you can, then I guess under the current circumstances, that will have to be good enough. So, I suppose I need to get out and introduce ourselves now, huh?” A wave of relief passes over you, and you realize how tensed up you were. You give Gunther the instructions on how to approach the blockade, and what names to drop to ensure the fastest possible response. And within a minute, Gunther had left his truck, walked a few dozen yards towards the snowplows and was speaking to the watchman. Petra was narrating the scene to you, but there really was not much to describe.
>>
>>4512444
Several minutes later, there was the unmistakable sounds of cruiser sirens coming up from behind you. A deputy, whose voice you did not immediately recognize came on a bullhorn and instructed everyone to get out of the truck. Petra was kind of shaken at that, but apparently Gunther was gesturing that it was alright, and after a moment to regain her composure, she complied with the order. You could hear her yelling to the deputy, explaining that you were still ‘all bundled up in the back’ and ‘couldn’t go to the bathroom on his own, let alone get out of the truck’. Jesus Christ, Petra.

You might still have been blushing about that crack when Petra, following the instructions of the deputy on the bullhorn opened up the back of the cap and dropped the tailgate. But you had recovered your composure by the time the deputy actually physically came over to check on you. No doubt he was really suspicious about the blanket that had been wadded up over your face, but you had already started talking to him, and at this point he was probably almost convinced that you were who you said you were.

You recognized the deputy, a relatively newer member of the office named Brill, and thankfully he recognized you too. He placed in a few calls on his clip radio, and after checking the rest of the truck he was satisfied that everything here was on the up and up. With that done, your 'great escape' was finally completed as asked you the million dollar question; who do you want to see first, Officer Mantle?

>Go see Oher and the Paramedics, partially to get a clean bill of health and partially to check in on how they are doing (especially Matthew)
>Go see Parasol and the Inner Circle, partially to follow through with your promise to Gunther and partially to warn them about the situation in Bangor
>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.
>>
>>4512450

>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.

I seriously doubt Gunther will mind if we want to make out first stop at home sweet home. Everyone else can be radioed in to let them know we plan on visiting in due time.
>>
Oh I knew I forgot something; I have been meaning to thank everyone for all the kind words of encouragement. I'm glad everyone has been enjoying the quest, I've had a lot fun writing it.
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>>4512450
>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.
Hopefully things haven't gone to shit while we were out.
>>
>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.
Do you guys think that his truck can make it to the homestead on the back logging road with the gas we have remaining? Might put the thing out of commission entirely. While we do have other trucks to fall back on, I'm a bit skeptical. Hopefully Gunther won't mind us checking up on the place, however.
>>
who were the "two other hired men" we're expecting at our place again? Not the Light brothers I think, we declined to take them in after the blue room discussion iirc
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>>4512488
>who were the "two other hired men" we're expecting at our place again?
Deputies we asked Oher to have keep an eye on the place, iirc. When we were about to pass out, and were worried about Fleckkers living alone on the property. Hopefully he isn't too pissed about that arrangement, and hopefully the deputies didn't connect all the gear Fleckkers hopefully sourced us with some kind of report from Prague Farmer's Union reporting it missing. Probably some strife between them, assuming they know who he is. Hopefully that's not a permanent arrangement, and now that we're back they can take care of other duties.
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>>4512488
nvm, looked back through the thread. It was two of the deputies rescued from the convoy, one of Mantle's last requests before he passed out and got shipped to the hospital.
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>>4512492
>Hopefully he isn't too pissed about that arrangement, and hopefully the deputies didn't connect all the gear Fleckkers hopefully sourced us with some kind of report from Prague Farmer's Union reporting it missing

shit, that's a good point I didn't think of. Hopefully the three of them (plus mom would make four) aren't at each others throats due to either that or some other miscommunication
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>>4512497
>(plus mom would make four)
mom turns out to be the glue holding the rest of them together
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>>4512499
>mom making home cooked meals and sitting them down at the table like three grumpy brothers
>successfully threatens them into compliance with a wooden spoon probably because they know Mantle would flip shit if they retaliated
>but also because they're lacking a comforting maternal figure in these trying times
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>>4512503
>probably because they know Mantle would flip shit if they retaliated
Heh. The situation when we arrive is sure to be an interesting one. Hopefully we can finally catch a break.
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>>4512505

>yare yare intensifies
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>>4512450
>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.

Meanwhile home sweet home:
>Fleckkers: Oh, so soon back? Do you want some beef? It is fresh.
>Officers: It is so soft.
>Farm animals: * ded *
>>
>Go see whoever is on the homestead. Besides Fleckkers, there should be two other 'hired men' ... and if she made it through, mother.
I don't got friends, I got family.
>>
Alright, that is pretty damned overwhelming. I need to take care of a few things, and then I will get to writing.
>>
“Deputy Brill, I would like nothing more than to just go straight home. There is somebody important waiting for me there, and I don’t wanna keep them waiting any longer.” Obviously, you are talking about your mother. You wrestle with asking Brill if he knows if she made it in … but he probably would not know. No doubt he could call and ask someone for you, but as you are working up the nerve to ask him to make that call, he’s already on his clip radio, making arrangements for an ambulance and a second cruiser to get you to your homestead. The request for a second cruiser strikes you as odd, if not alarming. With the fuel situation as it is, this is not time for honor guards. If they are calling for an escort, then it is because they think they might need it.

Your thoughts on this matter are interrupted by the sound of a much larger and healthier engine than the one on Gunther’s truck roaring to life, accompanied by the groaning and grinding of metal. Exhausted as you are, it takes you several-several moments to realize that one of the plowtrucks is moving to let you through. Brill starts to head back to his cruiser, but before he can get out of earshot, you explain the promise that you made to Gunther about no one molesting his supplies, regardless if he decides to stay with the group or not. As you could have expected, Brill says that it is not his call, but you push the point and insist that he keep an eye over the supplies until that ‘call’ has been made. The response you get to that is fairly noncommittal, but before you make a third appeal on Gunther’s behalf, or for that matter, ask him to inquire after your mother, he moves off, bellowing for Gunther and Petra to get back in their truck and drive through the barricade.

Petra, who was much closer to the truck than Gunther, gets back in first, and makes a point to thank you for telling Brill not to let anyone help themselves to the supplies. Gunther gets in several-several seconds later, and after a few abortive attempts, manages to get the engine to turn over. You make a point to ask him to take it slowly, as your head is not swaddled anymore, and finally, the truck creeps its way through the barricade. A voice you do not recognize, presumably the watchman, instructs Gunther where to park, and soon, for the first time in this debacle, you are being unloaded while you are still conscious. You are rolled over to a small pavilion, whose normally open sides have been covered up with tarps, and once you are underneath it, you see that it has been internally partitioned as well. The watchman, who is all wrapped up and wearing a full face-mask and respirator offers Petra and Gunther what appears to be a bath brush.
>>
>>4513157
“It’s a bath brush. For the fallout and the ash. It is not that bad now, but its better to get in the habit before it gets worse.” The man instructs the two of them how to decontaminate, hands them what appear to be cloth masks and then puts one over you. “Again, we are still probably a day or two out from the worst of it, but by now the ash is starting to settle. Inhaling it does permanent and cumulative damage to the lungs; it actually turns into cement inside of you.”

Gunther hesitatingly accepts the brush, takes his jacket, and starts scrubbing at his clothes and exposed skin. Meanwhile, Petra looks at Gunther, you and then the watchman questioningly. After a bit, she speaks up, and asks an obvious question. “What’s the difference between fallout and ash?” Even from your angle, you can see the watchman’s discomfort in the way he sort of just shrinks at that question. Eventually, he just sighs, and then gives the three of you some of the worst imaginable news.

“The ash isn’t from a nuclear strike, it’s from Yellowstone. Somehow the Reds managed to strike deep enough to induce an massive eruption. The resulting mess … they were still trying to figure out how bad it was when we lost our ARPAnet connection for the last time. Parasol says that since we got our entire first wave of IBCM’s off, and at least some of the second, then the commies shouldn’t be in any condition to invade or anything, at least not any time soon. But as far as the whole ‘war’ thing is concerned, we are losing badly … if we haven’t already lost completely, that is.

Petra has started to hyperventilate, no doubt made worse by her mask, and Gunther drops the brush to comfort her. But even with his face partially obscured with the mask, you can see that the news hits him hard too. You are just kind of shocked, unsure of how to process all of this. At no point did you ever seriously consider that America was going to just straight lose like this. In your mind, you had figured that both superpowers would get knocked around until they ran out of nukes, and then they would be in no condition to continue fighting. There might be a formal ceasefire, or maybe the fighting would just stop because there was no one left to keep it going. Then the US and the USSR would just sort of fall apart. Maybe they would Collapse completely, or maybe they would just contract before eventually reestablishing themselves. But the prospect of an actual, definitive defeat like this, even after all of the continuing intermittent strikes the Soviets were still getting in … you had at least expected America to give as good as she got. But now, on top of everything else, you are now under the threat of an actual communist invasion at some point in the future.
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>>4513161
How should you deal with a situation like that? How can you? It is clear that you needed to start planning for this yesterday; while you doubt that there would be an full invasion during Winter, it is possible that they might try to establish footholds on the coasts before Winter starts in earnest, in preparation for a full scale invasion later. As you work yourself up over this, the bizarre mental image T-72s and T-94s making their way across the Orr's Island bridge as seals and puffins look on flashes before your eyes.

It is a bizarre thought, but unfortunately, it is not completely fantastical. Despite Parasol's assurances, they could be landing right now!

>Use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for militarizing the group to the greatest extent possible.
>Use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for taking the group ‘underground’, concealing it to the greatest extent possible.
>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for any of these positions; if the Soviets capable of invading Northern Maine, then fighting or hiding from them is not going to be a realistic option.

Also:
>Use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for a conditional peace with the Maine National Guard, so they are better able to defend against a potential invasion.
>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for conditional peace with the Maine National Guard; considering recent history, they will probably not be amenable to any reasonable terms, nor would they offer any serious resistance to an invading force.
>>
>Delay making a decision on either and investigate the local situation as well as Parasol himself further.

Anyone else getting a feeling that Parasol might be a secret Communist?
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>>4513169
We are not Tinn nor do we have the knowledge within our group, nor the weapons, so the option of:
>Militarization
It is not viable.
We are in a semi-mountainous area but still around a lake, the sediment under the ground is not stable enough to support improvised structures without taking risks. We don't have the knowledge or resources to build interconnected bunkers or a large central bunker, that's why we take the prison as our common home, so the option of:
>Bury us underground
It is not viable.

>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for any of these positions; if the Soviets capable of invading Northern Maine, then fighting or hiding from them is not going to be a realistic option.
I think it is our best option, BUT if someone else from the group proposes any of the previous two in a solid way and showing means, we must support it. The military option including Tinn, If he wants to join, it could be interesting for ingame story.

Also:
>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for conditional peace with the Maine National Guard; considering recent history, they will probably not be amenable to any reasonable terms, nor would they offer any serious resistance to an invading force.
I think we have plenty of reasons to know that if we give them one hand, with the other they will crack our nuts with whatever they have on hand, one by one to all of us in the lake.
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>>4513169
>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for any of these positions; if the Soviets capable of invading Northern Maine, then fighting or hiding from them is not going to be a realistic option.
>Do not use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for conditional peace with the Maine National Guard; considering recent history, they will probably not be amenable to any reasonable terms, nor would they offer any serious resistance to an invading force.
There's too much shit to deal with here to worry about being invaded by foreign forces.
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>>4513189
supporting.
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>>4513169

+1'ing >>4513189 's decision.

We're waaaay too out of the loop to make any of the listed decisions. A catch-up meeting with what the hell happened while we were gone, and what resources we have at our disposal (personally and as a group) would be prudent, after we've taken stock of what's happening at home.
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>>4513184
Supporting this. I don't think we know enough currently to really make an informed decision on either of these options.
Not quite sure about Parasol himself either.
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>>4513235
>>4513184

What makes you two think he's a secret communist/commie empathizer?
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>>4513242
>What makes you two think he's a secret communist/commie empathizer?
I don't necessarily think that he is a commie, but I don't think we're informed enough to make a decision based on any of these right now, and that we should save this decision for later, after we've heard his own opinion on it. He probably has some skeletons in his closet, we all do. He seems like an okay guy, but we'll probably eventually find out more about him.
>>
Alright, I'm seeing support for continuing to monitor the situation, but not committing to any course of action yet.

>>4513189
I suppose it wasn't clear, but I mean go underground in more of a figurative sense, spread out and create several semi-independent cell, like an actual insurgency.
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>>4513169
>Use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for taking the group ‘underground’, concealing it to the greatest extent possible.

by which I mean: further removing road signs, destroying bridges and infrastructure, just make the place hard to find and hard to get to.

>Use your position in the Inner Circle to advocate for a conditional peace with the Maine National Guard, so they are better able to defend against a potential invasion.

by which I mean a ceasefire, united front style.
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>>4513242
Communists subvert and divide. Right now our group is another thing the National Guard has to deal with instead of defending the country. Maybe Carter "learned too much." Maybe Parasol and others like him around the country are running groups like this to distract the National Gaurd or local equivalent. Then the Soviets come in and the deal is "convert or die."

The National Guard's response of "fuck these guys" seems way too extreme instead of the expected "we're here to help but actually take all your stuff and conscript you" that I expected. Do they know something that Mantle doesn't or is this just unexpected command decisions?

Or maybe I'm just waaaaay too paranoid.
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>>4513250
Are we not already a kind of insurgency? One made up of older people and part-time animal control people? Or did you mean an insurgency of the insurgency, against what remains of the American government and now the Soviets? Because the same is the same, Just change the letterhead of our cover letter :v Perhaps you have to dig deeper into that line of thought, because against the Soviets, fallout and a mega volcano, going underground sounds promising with the resources.

>>4513242
Millionaire proposing a communal house to help the people by making them share goods, benefits, work and effort. Maybe we are preparing a red outpost and we do not know. We should try to speak some Russian near our "boss", so say "how I miss the vodka of the mother land" with an accent, just to see if his reaction is a tear of nostalgia.
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>>4513256
OP already clarified that the loonie who tortured us was acting on his own and basically going rogue
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>>4513264
WAIT A MINUTE! there actually IS a strange Chinese guy hanging around in town!
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>>4513256
>>4513267
Ok, "go underground" against Parasol then? We're doing this? Or are we just drawing conclusions while our dear QM tries not to choke on us with laughter?
>>
This entire conversation is reminding me of this old sketch
https://youtu.be/HBURlcNpfoo
...so yeah, we just need to tell Parasol 'good morning' and see what happens
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>>4513275
Just suggest ceasefire then, reaction should tell if the man is really a rusky
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>>4513242
Also, while we get plausable explanations for the information he has got, predicting the initial strike was suspiciously spot on.

I'm also nervous about choosing so much loyalty to this guy without knowing more about him. He also could turn out to be like the guy who made the Snowpiercer train or be some Jeffrey Epstein or Michael Jackson-esque wierdo. Makes me wish Mantle could snoop through Parasol's home office or filing cabinet but that's suicidal levels of brazen that leads to massive negative consequences if caught(assuming a high likelyhood). A more continuous, low level watchfulness and suspicion could yield results though the cost there could be strained relations and take a long time to even have a -chance- to uncover anything-or so I assume.

In the end we have little other choice in who/which group to align with unless we find out Parasol(and perhaps the Sherriff considering Carter's actions) is a commie agent and turn him into the national guard in a daring series of feats that would make Solid Snake look like an amateur.

I guess I'm slow to assume I'm the good guy.
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>>4513326
You're overthinking this - our priority isn't to be some hero, its to fucking survive.

If worst comes to worst, and parasol is some commie infiltrator, i'd rather be on his good side if the commies invade.

Better to rule in hell, than dead in a ditch.
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>>4513256
>>4513326

Siding with >>4513343 on this one; even if your extrapolation of a theory is correct, I'd really rather be alive in a post-fallout environment than a dead patriot of a crumbled nation.

Pretty sure our utilitarian-minded Mantle would agree.
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>>4513318
>>4513284
>>4513326
Ok, I have been absorbed by paranoia, and decided to google a little who our Parassol irl could be. According to ancestry.com, The surname began to appear from 1880 in America, but with marked income to the country from USSR in the 1950s, Being a marked exponent Grigori Parassol and family.

But I just thought, because of how the communists work and how their systems in one way or another corrupt, seeing that the government has fallen and the Maine National Guard may go after us, Does it matter if it is red? Even by being by his side in a faithful way we gain some power in our "little Russia". Survive at all costs, correct?
We could even name our tank the "Aurora", to see if it raises any approval views.
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>be Parasol
>Commies cause the apocalypse
>try my best to just stay alive
>weird antisocial animal control officer who who got injured shows back up in town
>call him over so I can thank him for engaging that tight-ass Carter in a gunfight
>get ready to update him on the situation
>upon arriving he immediately asks me if I have any vodka
>suggests naming the tank he found the Aurora and winks at me three times
>nudges me in the shoulder and mentions that my collective housing idea really was a good idea
>seems encouraged by my confusion and starts talking in butchered Russian
>tfw the dude I was planning to make one of my right-hand men is actually a commie
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>>4513385

Red Scare paranoia at its finest!
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>>4513385
had a chuckle

let's not put his autism on full throttle and do more listening than rash action
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>>4513385
Ok, Where do I sign for this to be canon?
Please, don't ask to Parasol if he is a red or not, but I need to see "vodka time" happen, even if it's because of the memes. After all, Mantle has to show some post-traumatic effect from the torture, That after the theme of the ring, the letter and the trains, it is not surprising that we develop some paranoia.
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>>4513409
+1
Perhaps I got a little ahead of myself with the paranoia.
>>
Your head is spinning a mile a minute as you try to process everything that the watchman just dumped on you … and your paranoia taking you to some very strange places. You had not given it much thought before, but if you recall Fleckker’s testimony correctly, then the power had been out for nearly an hour before you felt the first strikes. Loss of power in the immediate run up to any military action raises legitimate questions about sabotage. And of course, for there to be sabotage, there must be saboteurs. Now, there are alternative explanations; it is possible you weren’t able to feel the first strike because it was far enough away … but if it was far enough away that you couldn’t feel it, would it be close enough to completely knock out the power? You do not know enough about nukes or the power grid to definitively answer that.

Sabotage would explain the convenient loss of power, and it would also explain why the Maine National Guard and especially its Military Police regiment was on such a hair trigger that just saying … something wrong, you still are not sure what exactly, was enough for them to immediately go ‘medieval on your ass’. So, they thought you were a fifth columnist? Given what you know that they know, the misunderstanding makes a lot of sense. Especially if you remember that your group also went and stole a bunch of trains, that does sound like something fifth columnists would get up to. You shift in the gurney to try to get comfortable as the watchman continues leading Gunther and Petra through a full decontamination process, in the small portion of the pavilion that allowed in sunlight, strange reddish sunlight. (Just like in the Dialysis Ward. Was it caused by the Yellowstone Detonation?)

The trains represent a question that you do not have an immediate answer for. Why exactly did your group steal trains? Was it all to get at the diesel in their fuel tanks? Maybe, but that is a lot of fairly dangerous work for fuel, and it drew the attention of the Guard. Was it to keep them out of the Guard’s hands? Well, when Grisham told you about it, he said it sound like it was only a ‘few’ trains, implying that there were more left in the trainyard, and if the group destroyed or sabotaged the others, then the doctor probably would have mentioned that. So, it does not look like it was done to keep trains out of the hands of the Guard. Logically, the only reason to steal the trains, knowing full well the attention that it would inevitably draw, is that there is something important, something necessary that could only be done with trains. It is the simplest explanation; the group stole trains because the group needed trains. But for the life of you, you cannot figure out what they were needed for.

Without any explanation for the group’s actions in Bangor, you can only attempt to make conclusions instead. Conspiratorial, paranoid conclusions.
>>
>>4513643
Parasol. Everything has been hinging on Parasol. He had information … from somewhere … that seemingly no one else had access to. He convinces a group of locals to follow him as he ‘gets the lake through Winter’, those were his own words. After everyone else has implicated themselves to the point where they cannot just walk away, he orders a seemingly pointless and attention-grabbing raid, right under the noses of the remaining civil and military authorities. Was the entire group conceived of as a way to distract and to bleed the strength of American Remnants as the Red Army prepares for an invasion? Have you been duped by a fucking Red?

Not for nothing, one of the few suggestions that he made in the Blue Sitting Room was communal housing. And him and his family were always doing charity work. If you think about it, no one would expect a rich guy to be a communist agitator!

But before you can fall any further down this hole of speculative paranoia, you are abruptly snapped out of it. The watchman had apparently been instructing the two Peakes through the decontamination process. Gunther had apparently stripped and scrubbed himself down, and was now getting dressed in fresh clothes that had been provided by the watchman. Petra, with her back facing you, was now scrubbing herself down with the brush, in a state of nearly complete undress. Her only remaining clothes were a high-cut pair of socks and very low-cut pair of panties. Both Gunther and the watchman, being gentlemen, had turned their backs to provide some semblance of privacy for Petra as she decontaminated herself. Unfortunately for her dignity, you had been left in a position where you could still see her, even as she removed the last of her clothes to finish the decontamination process, placing them with the rest of her clothes in a black trash bag, matching the one that Gunther had at his feet. As much as you enjoyed the sight of her surprisingly athletic build as she vigorously scrubbed herself down, and how light golden tan on her toned back and legs abruptly gave way to an equally toned lily-white ass, in the end (so to speak), the affair was unfortunate for you as well.

It seems that the condition that the good Officer Spry had left you in was one that was not conducive for physical arousal. Far from it actually, the pain was enough that you were seeing spots and dots.

>I need two anons to roll 1d6. If either of these rolls are ones, then that means that we draw attention to ourselves and our peeping. The post was getting long, I have an assignment I need to finish for 11:30 and it still wasn’t at a point where I could get to a ‘serious’ vote, so I figured after all of the discussion and memeing tonight, a goofy vote like this was appropriate.
>>
Rolled 6 (1d6)

>>4513646
>>
>>4513646
>>
Rolled 4 (1d6)

>>4513646
Troll dice powers activate!
>>
Good job everyone! We have managed to suffer in silence, without drawing attention ... to our attention. Unfortunately, we have to live with the knowledge that we were cock-blocked by our own left nut. I don't think I am going to have time to keep writing tonight, so we will pick this up tomorrow morning. See you all then!
>>
Sleep tight QM.
>>
>tfw Mantle's left nut was cracked when all he wanted to do was survive
Poor bastard.
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>>4513646
I've heard about busting a nut, but this ridiculous! *laugh track*
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>>4514019
Doc saved the majority of it, but the trauma of undergoing nonconsensual CBT will always haunt us
>>
It actually takes a lot more willpower than you would have thought to not make a scene. You cannot exactly turn your head away with your neck in the brace, but you can close your eyes. Unfortunately, the mental image of Petra is not as easy to block out. God, she looks good. An unbidden fantasy, of taking her out to a back field somewhere for a picnic or something, peeling her out of a sundress (did she bring any sundresses with her?), and then bending that ass over … mphft! You need to stop this nonsense before you burst a stitch down there or something. And anyway, with concerns over fallout and volcanic ash no one is going to be wearing sundresses outside for the foreseeable future or going on picnics in random fields. Not to mention, she is what? 16 years old? Okay, so she’s legal, but that doesn’t mean that it would be a good idea to romantically pursue her … if Gunther and Petra join, then they will probably be living you. So, if you tried to … you guess court her would be the word, and it all blew up in your face, then that would be hanging over your household. Could you imagine how awkward it would be between you and Petra, or worse, between you and Gunther? Not to mention it might weird out the hired men, or –

Mother. You still do not know if she is there waiting for you. It should be a simple matter of just asking the watchman to call in and ask if she has made it in yet; someone in the Group would have to know. You hate how you are hesitating to ask, like some sort of child. She is either waiting for you at the homestead, or … she is not.

But before you can work up the courage to ask after her, you hear the sound of vehicles approaching. It must be the ambulance – and its escort. With everything that had just been dumped on you, you had not given that much thought to why an escort was necessary. As you mull this over, you can hear a rustling noise approach you, and you open your eyes to see the watchman walk over to you to start the decontamination process with you. You are considering asking him about the escort, but then you wonder if that is a good idea with Gunther and Petra still in earshot. You do not want to break ‘infosec’, or for that matter, you do not want them to be scared off. On the other hand, showing that you are willing to bring them into the loop at this point might make them more comfortable about joining up. Well, at the very least, you should ask about your mother while you can; clearly, the watchman has some sort of radio set up here.

>Ask the watchman why escorts are needed and then ask if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
>Only ask the watchman if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
>>
>>4514326
The fear of disconnection is real. I wonder if medical technology is advanced enough to do corrective surgery in this setting, though I STRONGLY DOUBT any of it would be accessible to a known traitor to Maine. We need to get a codpiece ASAP.
>>
>>4514391
>Only ask the watchman if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
Let's ask Parasol when we get the chance. No need to get further anxiety over our situation, that would be bad for our already declining health.
>>
>>4514391
>Only ask the watchman if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
>>
>Ask the watchman why escorts are needed and then ask if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
>>
>>4514391
>>Only ask the watchman if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.
I want to bring them into the loop, but there is a very real fear of scaring them off. I think Parasol could explain it better to the both of them, rather than some hasty explanation from the Watchman. If Parasol is actually some deepcover commie who has pulled the wool over all of our eyes, he certainly would have a better chance at dampening a potential blow.
>>
>>4514391
>Only ask the watchman if he could check to see if your mother arrived yet.

As others have noted, let's not raise what may end up being undue panic. Especially since we basically know jack-shit regarding recent developments.
>>
Alright, that is a 4 to 1 lead by my count. Consider this closed. I will get to writing.
>>
>>4514326
>casually using an abbreviation for "cock and ball torture" as if it's common knowledge

sometimes I forget I'm still on 4chan here...
>>
It is not that you are trying to keep things from Gunther and Petra, its just that … you do not want them to get scared off before anyone can properly sell them on joining up. They are not going to be in the dark forever, just let them hear the good before bad, that is all your doing here. So why does it feel kind of slimy? Maybe it is just a question of nerves about your mother. Well, if you aren’t going to ask about the escorts, then you should at least ask about her. The watchman, having since shuffled and rustled his way over to your gurney produces a third black trash bag, and carefully removes the comforter that Mrs. Grisham had put over you. As he folds it up, he conversationally explains the basics of the cleaning process that the heavy blanket and the other clothes are going to go through.

You are about to interrupt the watchman, who you still have not recognized, to ask about your mother, when someone pushes through the improvised tarpaulin walls of the pavilion, and immediately cries out “Mantle!”

You instinctively try to turn your head to see the newcomer, having forgotten in your surprise that your neck is in a brace. It hurts, but nowhere near as much as the situation with Petra did, just a minute or two before. The newcomer moves into your line of sight, standing by your bed. Like the watchman, he is all bundled up, rustles incessantly as he moves, and is wearing a full-face mask and respirator, though he also has an armband with a red cross on it. The newcomer removes his mask, and you finally recognize the beaming face of Oher, the most senior of the Paramedics, and the one who alongside you and the kid, Matthew, drove off Carter’s convoy. He speaks first.

“Jesus Christ Mantle, I can’t believe you’ve made it back already. We were planning another trip back to Bangor, either this night or the next, depending on the situation here at the lake, and at the top of the list of things to do was to see if we could get you out of there. God, your mother is going to be so relieved.”

My mother? Oh thank God, she made it after all.
>>
>>4514830
“She showed up around an hour after we left to take you to Eastern Maine Medical, but no one knew until about two hours after that, when the party we sent to watch your place found her, and that Fleckkers character that you got working for you now. She was already worried when you weren’t there, but when she found of that you had been involved in a shootout – honest to God, I thought we might need to sedate her. I can’t imagine how relieved she is going to be when she sees you.”

Putting it mildly, you are relieved yourself to hear that she made it in alright. Though admittedly, you can imagine that after he relief wears off, she will probably be furious about, oh, a whole lot of things. Still, neither you or Oher want to delay any reunion longer than necessary. He assists the watchman in decontaminating you, and you notice the alarm that is plainly written on his face when he sees the injuries that you received at the hands of Officer Spry. But maintaining professional discretion, he does not ask you about them. In the silence as Oher and the watchman finish decontaminating you, you introduce Gunther and Petra to him, making a deliberate point to emphasize that they are potential group members. Oher seemed to pick up on that, even as he profusely thanked the two of them for saving you.

Once you and your two travelling companions had been decontaminated and dressed, Oher popped out of the pavilion to bring the ambulance over. When it was in position, Oher wheeled you out to load you in. The appearance of the ambulance was enough to make you do a double take, or as much of a double take as one can do if their neck is immobilized in a brace. The ambulance had been outfitted with what looked to be … an attempt at sloped armor, made out of corrugated steel roofing. As if reading your thoughts, Oher explains that this ambulance, the one he and Matthew used for cover during the shooting, had been armored, and was also doing double duty as a personnel carrier. As he walked on over to the rear door and knocked on it, he mentioned that corrugated steel roofing protected the cabin from flames and underneath it was a nearly solid wooden frame, that provided some appreciable protection against small arms fire.

Before you can process that, there is a soft thump behind the door on the back of the ambulance, and it opens. To your continually increasing alarm, the Paramedic opening the door is armed with what appears to be one of the automatic rifles from the Sheriff’s Office armory, just slung over his back. He has to take it off before he can help Oher get you up in position for your trip home, and as your eyes wander over the interior of the cabin, you notice what are quite obviously gun ports. Forget scaring Gunther and Petra, you are starting to get scared. What the Hell is going on here that requires armoring ambulances and arming paramedics?
>>
>>4514832
But before you can put that question to Oher, it seems that he has something else to say. He leans in conspiratorially, speaking as quietly as he can and still be understandable through his respirator.

“Listen, two nights ago, there was a bit of a situation at your place. Nobody with Parasol’s group was hurt – actually, scratch that, your pig was stabbed. Well, none of us, and that includes your pig, died, but that hired man of yours, Fleckkers, ventilated a Firebug, and might have seriously wounded another. Setting aside if there are going to be reprisals for that death, your homestead looks really rough right now. If you are worried about scaring these two off, then maybe you want to send them off to see Parasol without you instead, buy some time to make the place presentable.”

After everything you have been through, you are a bit slow on the uptake here. Firebugs? As far as you know, that is just a colloquial name for pyromaniacs, but the way that Oher is talking about it makes it sound as if it was some sort of gang. There is so much to work through here, that it hasn’t even really registered that Fleckkers killed one, maybe two people protecting your property. Or … what the fuck, Dander got stabbed? But before you can ask any clarifying questions, Petra and Gunther come out of the pavilion, and Gunther asks if he can follow the ‘truck’ (he does not even recognize the damned thing as an ambulance, and had you not seen it before, you probably would not either) to your homestead.

Damn! You are going to have to make another snap decision here.
>Tell Gunther that you are probably going to be a while at the house, and that he should take this time to speak to Parasol instead.
>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.
>Simply tell Gunther to follow the ambulance.
>>
>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.
>>
I don't want to close this with just one vote, so I guess I will leave this up overnight. See you all in the morning (and I really do intend to start the run early).
>>
>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.
>>
>>4514835
>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.
We've been level with him so far, no reason to change now.

>>4515005
Thank you for running.
>>
>>4514835
>>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.
Gunther would probably appreciate the choice being left to him, rather than ordered around. Is him being able to reach Parasol's place alone, in that truck a concern?
>>
>>4514835
>Tell Gunther that he can follow the ambulance, or he can go to speak to Parasol now. Leave the choice to him.

also, ask Oher about the mystery ring at the earliest convenience
>>
Alright, consider this closed. I'm going to grab some breakfast, then I will get to writing.
>>
“Listen, I am probably going to be a while once I get to the homestead. If you want, I’m sure someone would be willing to take you to see Parasol right now. It would save you some waiting around, but if you wanted to stay together, then I’d understand that too. Your choice.” Even with half his face obscured with the cloth mask, you can tell that your question here has thrown him for a bit of a loop. But after a few moments, he decides to remain with you for now. Well, you might have expected that, considering that you have not had a chance to tell anyone (besides Deputy Brill) not to make off with the shipment. If the positions here were flipped, you would stay with him as long as possible.

Oher and the other paramedic finish getting you secured in the armored ambulance, and after instructing Gunther to stay right behind him the whole way over, he buttons the cabin up, before you even had a chance to say ‘see you soon’ or anything. God damn it, if this keeps up, you will definitely scare them off. But, there is a silver lining here; you are alone with Oher, and if you are where you think you are, after your brief time outside moving between Gunther’s truck and the pavilion and then the pavilion and into the armored ambulance, then you are only a few minutes away from the homestead. Should be enough time to ask a question or two, without having to worry about Gunther and Petra getting the wrong idea about the group and the situation on the lake here.

>Ask about the situation with the Consolidated Somerset-Piscataquis Jail
>Ask about the situation with non-group members in Debouche and around the lake
>Ask about the situation with the trains that were ‘procured’ from Bangor
>Ask how the group is currently situated with medical supplies and personnel.
>Ask if he knows anything about the class ring from a Bangor High School that Spry showed you
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead
>Ask how he and the kid, Matthew have been holding up after everything
>Ask what, if anything, happened with Carter and the remains of his convoy after you routed them
>>
>>4515551
Whoops, didn't specify. You can only choose two of the eight.
>>
>>4515551
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead
>Ask about the situation with non-group members in Debouche and around the lake
>>
>>4515551
>>Ask if he knows anything about the class ring from a Bangor High School that Spry showed you
My guess is that it was meant to hint toward where we could meet Oher or whoever else came to pick us up, if we needed to.
>Ask how he and the kid, Matthew have been holding up after everything|
Sure to raise Oher's opinion of us. The kid killed a man, man. We'd have been in a much rougher situation if he didn't. Asking this seems kind of obligatory.
>>
>>4515551
>Ask how he and the kid, Matthew have been holding up after everything
>Ask what, if anything, happened with Carter and the remains of his convoy after you routed them

I wanna be caught up to speed with what happened immediately after we got KO'd
>>
>>4515551
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead

we really should know a thing or two about the guys who raided our hone and stabbed our pig (who even does something like that?)

>Ask if he knows anything about the class ring from a Bangor High School that Spry showed you

because it's just bugging me, and probably a question only Oher can reply.
>>
>Ask if he knows anything about the class ring from a Bangor High School that Spry showed you.
>Ask how he and the kid, Matthew have been holding up after everything
>>
>>4515607
I'll admit there are more pressing questions bit these two are ones Oher is best suited to answering. We'll get caught up on the rest at the house or with Parasol. Its tempting to try get ahead of it all so we can sell it to Gunther but I think if we just deal with him on the level, he'll stay because its his best option and he can trust us not to bs him.
>>
>>4515551
>Ask if he knows anything about the class ring from a Bangor High School that Spry showed you.
>Ask how he and the kid, Matthew have been holding up after everything
Gunther's getting frustrated but that's okay, he has the right to be but we'll touch second base with him once we've had some time to sit down and communicate.
>>
Alright, lets see.
>>4515555 Firebugs 1, Non-members 1
>>4515559 Firebugs 1, Non-members 1, Class Ring 1, Oher and Matt 1
>>4515587 Firebugs 1, Non-members 1, Class Ring 1, Oher and Matt 2, Carter 1
>>4515595 Firebugs 2, Non-members 1, Class Ring 2, Oher and Matt 2, Carter 1
>>4515607 Firebugs 2, Non-members 1, Class Ring 3, Oher and Matt 3, Carter 1
>>4515630 Firebugs 2, Non-members 1, Class Ring 4, Oher and Matt 4, Carter 1

So, we will be asking him about him and Matt, then about the ring.
>>
You have so many questions, but there is only so much time away from Gunther and Petra. Admittedly, waiting to ask these questions away from them does feel kind of lousy, but at this point, you are more concerned with getting them on board with joining the group than doing things in a completely open, ‘above the board’ manner. As you are gathering your thoughts, the ambulance starts to move out. You decide that in this small window of opportunity, it would be best to ask Oher questions that he would be the best able to answer – that means about him and the kid, Matthew, and about the ring that Spry showed you. But before you can start asking him, Oher having removed his mask and respirator, beats you to the punch.

“Mantle, I didn’t want to say anything in front of the others, but I know for certain that your collarbone and your fingers were still in once piece when I dropped you off. What the Hell happened to you in that hospital? Did that guy have anything to do with it?”

“Who, Gunther? No … he really did save my life. Snuck me out of there with Dr. Grisham, he was the one who patched me up the second time. Now that I think about it, there was a letter he wrote for me – Ah, shit. Did it get lost in the blanket?” Oher shakes his head ‘no’, and then points to a small grocery bag. “No, I picked it out when we were cleaning you down, that and some … I don’t even know what I’d call it. A ratcheting carabiner?” You have to laugh at that. “I was wondering where it had gotten to. The thing is called an ‘Iron Claw’, they used to use them in prisons to manhandle inmates. I guess you could say that I was tortured with it, by a Criminal Investigations Warranted Officer or whatever the fuck – he was an MP with the Maine National Guard. Named Spry.”

Oher kind of just sinks back against the small countertop that runs alongside the walls of the cabin. “Jesus Christ, Mantle. I’m so sorry. I was … we all were worried that we might have issues getting you out of the hospital, but if we thought that the Guard would work you over like this, then I would have waited.” He looks towards the bag for a second or two before continuing. “We had just dropped you off, and you were taken immediately into surgery. We were doing the report when the Guard first started to mobilize; there were ‘copters flying around, and I think I might have heard a mech in the air too. We knew that Carter had tipped off the Guard about our thing here, and we knew that Chickless’ raid on the trainyard would only draw more attention towards anyone from Debouche.” Chickless’ raid? You had figured he was behind it, but you had not thought the man would actually go out and do something like that.
>>
>>4515871
“We wanted to make to sure that there was as little linking you back to the rest of us as possible in case the guard was going to sniff around the hospital. Unfortunately, when we handed you over, we already had ID’d you, if we had been thinking ahead, we would have said you were a John Doe, or even just make up a name. I had written up a letter, do you remember me showing it to you?” You try to nod yes, again forgetting that your head is in a brace. Oher seemingly doesn’t notice and continues on; “The letter explained the situation as best we could, and it gave a rough time frame of when you could expect us to pick you up. And if we weren’t able to get you out of the hospital, or you were moved elsewhere, or whatever, there were directions to a cache we were going to set up for you.

“But now with the Guard moving around, we were worried that they might hear about us dropping you off and start to look into you. And even if we could somehow get you out of surgery halfway through it to take you back to Debouche, there was no guarantee that you could make it that long without proper medical attention. Basically, you were stuck in Bangor for the immediate future, and we couldn’t just keep waiting indefinitely. The traffic leaving the city was terrible, and it was only going to get worse. Not to mention that we were in an ambulance with ‘Debouche EMS’ plastered all over it. So, Martin came up with another idea, a Hail Mary; instead of the letter, we’d leave his you his graduation ring, but on the inventory slip, he called it a ‘cereal box toy ring’, you know, like one of those ‘decoder ring’ toys?

“The hope was that regardless if you remembered to look for a letter or not, finding a random class ring in your effects that had been blatantly mislabeled would have given you pause. It was something to let you know that something was going on behind the scenes, and we were going to try to come back for you. And admittedly, it was a stretch that you or anyone would ever think of this, but we set up the cache for you at the school the ring came from, John Bapst, in locker 1989, the class that the ring was for. That’s where the ‘decoder’ came in. You know, getting to the school to hide the cache was a lot harder then just burying it in the Bangor Public Libraries garden, like we were originally intending to, but our hands were tied when we settled on replacing the letter with the ring. It was pretty obvious that someone had broken in after we were though there, but the hope was that if nothing was obviously stolen, then there wouldn’t be a big search or anything. I don’t see the ring with you, though …
>>
>>4515872
Well, that answers your question about the ring. As far as secret messages go, you suppose it was better than nothing, and certainly better than something openly incriminating like a letter, but you doubt that you ever would have thought to look for a cache because you found a ring. Oher interrupts your thoughts.

“Mantle, I swear. If I had known that you would get … tortured, I never –”

“I know you wouldn’t’ve, but torture or no torture, if I didn’t go there, I don’t think I would have made it through this as well as I have. The important thing to focus on - really, the only thing worth focusing on here is that I am still alive and that I am going bounce back from this. And that it is in no small part because I made it to the hospital in time, thanks to you and Martin. I’m just sorry that I don’t have his ring to return to him.”

“Ah, forget the ring; with the way things are now, the spare coat and disposable masks he left you are much more valuable. And I’m sure he will forgive you for those getting left behind if you forgive him for leaving your Berretta and 30-06 in the cache.”

>Removed from your Collective Inventory and presumably still located in locker 1989 of John Bapst Memorial High School:
>Our Grandfather’s Winchester 1895, 5 rounds loaded with 8 loose rounds of .30-06 (FMJ)
>Our sidearm, the M9A3 Beretta, 17 rounds loaded with an additional magazine and about 20 loose rounds of 9mm (FMJ)

You try not to let your dismay show on your face. Those were two of your most reliable guns, and the ones with the most sentimental value to you. The Winchester was one of the few things you were able to grab from your Grandfather’s dairy, before your father started his ‘cleaning’. And that Beretta, not only was it your daily carry, but you also actually bought that thing new. Still, you cannot let yourself get mad about this. If Gunther and the doctor not been there to spring you, and had this rescue mission of Oher’s not materialized, or if there had been some issue and you were left alone in Bangor, then those guns, assuming you could have cracked this riddle, would have been a genuine Godsend. Before you can let your frustration slip, you change the subject as smoothly as you can.
>>
>>4515877
“Well, enough about me. How are you, and that kid, Matthew doing after … everything?”

Oher makes a sound that is somewhere between a choke and a sigh, and for a moment you worry that something happened to the kid. But then a sad little smile crosses his face. “Matthew, my grandson, he is … keeping busy. With everything that needs to be done, no one has had any real time to themselves for the past three days. There have been one or two times where we were working together, without anyone else, and he brought it up, on his own. Asked if he did the right thing. Of course, I told him he did, but I don’t think he really believed me. Still, he is able to talk about it, and I can say from experience that is typically a good sign.” You feel like you should say something to that, but before you can even begin to think of what to say, Oher continues, and his voice gets noticeably huskier.

“Honestly, I’m scared. Eventually, there isn’t going to be enough work to keep him constantly busy, and I can’t have the boy watched around clock. Sooner or later, he is going to be left alone with his thoughts.” The most senior of the Paramedics wipes at his eyes angrily with the back of his hand. And every time I can’t be with him, every time I have to leave him somewhere, or just turn my back for a minute … I’m going to have to wonder if … wonder if … What was I thinking? Letting him come with us like that.

Jesus Christ. What makes this worse, is that Oher raises a pretty good point. Without a single thought, you armed and brought along some random kid you literally had just met to a shootout; you didn’t even know his name until afterwards. And as bad as him killing someone was, things could have gone worse. How the Hell could you have lived with yourself? Abruptly, the ambulance stops, and the other Paramedic shouts back that they will have to cart you across the bridge to your house. Oher has finished wiping his eyes, and moves to put his mask and respirator back on. Shit! After all this time spent trying to get back home, you now find yourself wishing that you weren’t quite there yet. You should say something to Oher, but what? You only have a little bit of time to get a private word in.

>Pick ONE of the following:
>Oher, if you are going to be upset at someone, be upset at me. I was the one who gave him the gun, and I was the one who forced his hand by breaking cover.
>Oher, things are going to have to be different from now on. We are all going to have to get comfortable doing … uncomfortable things to survive.
>Oher, Matthew protected me, and because of that, I could get into a position to disable the Prisoner Transport, and save everyone on board.

>Pick ONE of the following:
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
>You should probably make a point to avoid Matthew for as long as you can. The sight of you might stir him up.
>>
>>4515879
>>Oher, Matthew protected me, and because of that, I could get into a position to disable the Prisoner Transport, and save everyone on board.
If Carter had managed to win the day, or at least escape, imagine what kind of treatment awaited them from the Guard. Assuming Carter handed them off to the Guard at all. We still have to figure out what the hell happened to him. Anyways, Spry opened up with mangling our left testicle, when there wasn't really even conclusive evidence we were involved at that point. Compared to what he had on us, there would've been a mountain on them. They probably would've gotten a much worse treatment then we had, at least until they realized that those guys likely didn't know much at all about the group's plans.
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
Worth a shot. Hopefully this doesn't wind up backfiring horribly.
>>
>>4515911
Supporting. Especially the part with the guard.Kind of bad logic, since we knew nothing about Friendly Officer Spry until after the shootout, but I don´t think Oher is goinf to focus on that
>>
>Oher, Matthew protected me, and because of that, I could get into a position to disable the Prisoner Transport, and save everyone on board.
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
>>
>>4515879
>Oher, Matthew protected me, and because of that, I could get into a position to disable the Prisoner Transport, and save everyone on board.
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
It's the least we can do to put his worries to rest and try our best to help.
>>
>>4515879
>Oher, if you are going to be upset at someone, be upset at me. I was the one who gave him the gun, and I was the one who forced his hand by breaking cover.
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
>>
>Oher, Matthew protected me, and because of that, I could get into a position to disable the Prisoner Transport, and save everyone on board.
>You should make a point to seek out Matthew as soon as you can. A talk with you would help.
Honestly, I don't know, but the other Anons seem pretty sure about these choices, so I'm in.
>>
Alright, that is a pretty substantial lead. I will get to writing that up. By the way, almost forgot; Happy Halloween everyone!
>>
You need to hurry up and say something before the opportunity passes; but for the life of you, you are not sure what Oher needs or even wants to hear right now. Taking a shot in the dark, you decide to focus on all of the good that came from the victory. “Oher, please listen to me. If Matthew wasn’t there to watch over me when I broke cover, or if that – I mean, if I was taking fire the entire time I was shooting at the Prisoner Transport, then I might not have been able to knock the engine out. The guys we were able to spring would almost certainly have been handed over to the Guard. And if they were willing to torture a grievously injured suspect, then I don’t want to imagine what would have happened to them … if Matthew hadn’t been there to help save them.” Judging by Oher’s face, he does not know what to make of that. Unsure if you are helping, you continue on, more than a little daunted, but desperate to help Oher and Matthew deal with this.

“On top of that, he very well could have saved my life. Now I don’t know what he needs to hear right now, you know him much better than I do. But if he is going to keep dwelling on the … incident, then he probably should be reminded about all of the good that came of it. When things start to finally slow down, why don’t you bring him over to the homestead, we’ll have the place all cleaned up, and we can invite everyone we saved, so we can all … I don’t know, coalesce over it or something. Now that I think about it, if I remember, I promised that I was going to thank him person, so as far as I am concerned, that settles it. I’m not giving you a choice in the matter.”

Oher is quiet for several seconds, and you wonder if he has not realized that you were joking about ‘not giving him a choice in the matter’. The noise of other Paramedic moving around the front of the ambulance provides a sort of counterpoint (if that is the right word for it) to the absolute silence and stillness of Oher as he just looks at you. Finally, he blinks, and even under his mask, you can recognize that his smile is much more genuine than earlier. “I think … yeah, that sounds good. But you aren’t going to be able to get everyone you rescued together. Lieutenant Reitz, one of the firemen that you rescued, was shot and killed in an ambush, responding to a fire set downtown by a Firebug. I know it sounds kind of callous, but if there is a ‘reunion’, then I guess I am worried that his … absence … might be hanging over the whole affair. If it is just one or two of them, or alternatively, an entire party or celebration for the defeat of Carter, then it probably won’t be that big of a deal. Or maybe I am worrying too much, and getting everyone together for a reunion won’t be a problem.”
>>
>>4516662
>Pick ONE of the following:
>Keep the meeting with Matthew between you, him and Oher.
>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, several (but not all) of the freed captives, and yourself.
>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, all of the remaining freed captives, and yourself.
>Turn the meeting into a party, celebrating the defeat of Carter, with Matthew as the guest of honor, and invite lots of group members (including all of the remaining freed captives).
>>
>>4516662
>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, several (but not all) of the freed captives, and yourself.
>>
>>4516664
>>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, several (but not all) of the freed captives, and yourself.
Lets not overwhelm the kid.
>>
>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, several (but not all) of the freed captives, and yourself.
>>
>>4516664
>Hold the meeting with Matthew, Oher, several (but not all) of the freed captives, and yourself.
>>
>>4516669
>>4516672
>>4516696
>>4516707
Well, that is probably enough to close the vote, but I am about to fall asleep here, so I will be calling it for today's session here. Should have the post up tomorrow morning. See you all then.
>>
“Hmm … If the kid is feeling overwhelmed, then a party might be a bit much for him. And as for a reunion; I get where you are coming from, with your concerns over the absence of Lieutenant Reitz. If the idea is to get his thoughts off of … death … then we don’t want to draw attention to any of that. Once we have a better idea of when things are getting – Well, I was going to say ‘ back to normal’, but I suppose that isn’t in the cards, at least for the foreseeable future. When there is … more of a routine then there is right now, then we can start to plan this thing.

Oher has been nodding along to all of this, and even after you have stopped talking, his head keeps bobbing along. But beyond a little bit of sniffling, and the ‘plastic-y’ rustling sound of his outfit as he moves to the door, he is silent. For the first time, you notice there are wooden drop bars, bracketed across the back the door. At first you have to wonder at the rational of baring a door that opens outward, but then you realize that this has been taken into consideration. Instead of only having one bracket on each side of the door, there is a bunch of brackets all in a line, so when the bar is down, the door cannot be opened or closed. For what they had to work with, it seems like a lot of though has gone into armoring this ambulance. As Oher finally pops the door open, it occurs to you that he never really addressed how he was doing after the shootout, beyond simply saying that he was scared about Matthew having to deal with the killing. The other Paramedic moves from the front to the back of the cabin, and helps Oher get you out onto the dirt drive, before retreating back into the ambulance and buttoning up the back door. As the gurney trundles its way towards the remains of your bridge, Oher finally finds his tongue.

“Your right, of course. What happened there, as hard as it may be to accept, was for the best. If Matthew could just believe that …” Honestly, you are beginning to wonder if Oher himself believes that. “Thank you, Mantle. I am sure that this is just what Matt needs right now.” You tell Oher that he is welcome, but before you can think of anything else to say, you are interrupted by shouts on the other side of the ravine. Lying almost completely flat on the crash cart with your neck immobilized by the brace, you really cannot see that much in front of you. But you can just sort of make out a bundled-up figure rushing down the drive towards you. Mother!
>>
>>4517141
Oher has to tell her to wait on the other side of the ravine as he trundles you across the improvised bridge, which you realize must have been widened by someone, probably Fleckkers, if the gurney can make its way across. By the time you have reached her, the two of you have already started crying. Nothing particularly intelligible is said by either of you, as she finally makes her way to your bedside. Even so, in the distance, you can hear Fleckkers telling Oher to hurry it up and get inside. The steps to the front porch are a bit of hassle, and Oher has to recruit your mother to get you up. But finally, you are under your roof. You are wheeled into your living room, and after a minute of fiddling, Oher manages to get the back of the hospital bed to stay up, giving you the first proper look at your surroundings since you managed to sit yourself up hours ago.

Immediately, you notice that there are cots in the room, positioned by the woodstove, and that all along the walls there are these boxes. It takes you a bit to realize that they are all from Prague Farmer’s Union. Strangely enough, there seems to be boxes of binders and loose papers all around the coffee table … as well as a small stack of dollar bills. Someone has been up to old tricks. As mother continues to fuss over you, Oher mentions that Petra, Gunther and the escort are taking the long way in down the logging road you reopened, and will be here in a minute or so. There are footfalls from the kitchen, and then a man you do not recognize quietly walks in the room. When he notices your gaze from behind your mother, he gives you a toothy smile and casually raises a hand in greeting. He must be one of the captives that you freed from Carter’s clutches, come to live with you. A thought occurs to you, there should be enough time to squeeze in one more question before Gunther and Petra rejoin you.

>Pick ONE of the following:
>Ask about the situation with the Consolidated Somerset-Piscataquis Jail
>Ask about the situation with non-group members in Debouche and around the lake
>Ask about the situation with the trains that were ‘procured’ from Bangor
>Ask how the group is currently situated with medical supplies and personnel.
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead
>Ask what, if anything, happened with Carter and the remains of his convoy after you routed them
>Ask about how (and what) Fleckkers has been doing in your absence
>Ask about Dander, your boar that apparently survived an attempt on his life
>Ask how Parasol has been running things so far
>Ask about the security on the homestead, before and after the attack
>>
>>4517143
>>Ask about Dander, your boar that apparently survived an attempt on his life
There are more important things than our pig, but we should probably ask anyways, I assume we're much better informed about Dander's needs than others and might be able to unfuck any after-affects of the attack that they haven't noticed yet.
>>
>>4517143
>Ask about how (and what) Fleckkers has been doing in your absence
Fleckkers pulled through. What a guy. Definitely should ask him how he's doing later.
I've been real goddamn curious about how the hell Dander got stabbed, the other post makes a good point about Dander's needs and potential health complications of his wound, but I don't really want to be the guy who finally makes it home after a three day long nightmare, and the first thing he asks about is a boar. Fleckkers shot and killed one, potentially two firebugs, and seemingly made off like a bandit from the Farmer's Union. I think we should prioritize how our own people are doing right now. Fleckkers seemed really cagey when we met him, and while he could be considered a criminal and poacher, it's one hell of a leap from cracking safes to gunning down pyromaniacs prone to stabbing farm animals. Offer some praise, thanks, and consoling if necessary.
>>
>>4517165
+1
>>
>>4517143
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead

really, who are these guys? who stabs a pig?
>>
>Ask about these ‘Firebugs’ that attacked your homestead.
>>
In order to break the tie, I'll swap my vote to asking about the Firebugs
>>
>>4517178
Supporting

Flekkers gang all the way
>>
>>4517216
>Supporting
>Flekkers gang all the way
Well, fuck. Guess I'll switch back then. Didn't realize there was any other Fleckkersbros. Happy to see the quest get so much attention.
>>
Well, by my count, that is a three way tie. I will go grab lunch, and then if there isn't a tiebreaker, or anyone changing their votes again, then I will roll for it.

>>4517222
Yeah, this is definitely the most popular quest I've run; no doubt.
>>
>>4517143
>Ask about how (and what) Fleckkers has been doing in your absence
We can ask everything we want to know from Parasol down the road.
>>
Alright, that settles it. I will get to writing.
>>
>>4517246
Probably because it's amazing - it's drawn me into a world quickly, and it's interesting because it's all fucking Mayhem, just like I'd expect.
>>
Then again, it could be worse. I don't have the absolute "So long" feel you get from the end from TNO, so I guess the apocalypse could have hit even harder.


but who knows, there's just been a few days since the strikes hit, I have no doubt it's going to be way, way worse before it becomes better.
>>
If anything, you have more questions than you did on the ride over. For that matter, you have more worries too. About Matthew and Oher, and about the situation with these ‘Firebugs’. But right now, you should focus on things close to home, so naturally, that means you should ask after Fleckkers … if you can get Mother to stop her fussing long enough to speak. When Oher gets her attention momentarily, to hand her your effects and Dr. Grisham’s letter, you take the opportunity to talk to your ‘hired man’.

Gesturing with your hand at everything stacked neatly around the room, you jokingly ask him if he has “Been busy lately?” He chuckles softly at that, then nods his head yes, with his mouth done up in a sly smile. But then he gets this look in his eyes, and his smile melts away. Several-several seconds later, and he still has not actually said anything, he is just looking at you, with this kind of blank, far off look on his face. Your immediate thought is that he is having flash backs or something, about the Firebug attack. But then he does something strange. His eyes focus again, looking at you intently, and then he breaks eye contact. At first, you do not know what to make of it. But then you realize that he is not just looking away from you, he is looking equally intently at Oher. Then he repeats it. You to Oher.

Well, this is unexpected. And honestly, more than a little unnerving. Clearly, Fleckkers is not willing to talk about … something … in front of Oher. After seeing that you have picked up on his signal, Fleckkers abruptly starts talking about the attack. Which you were pretty obviously not asking about. But no one in the room seems to have picked up on the incongruity here but you. This message is clear; do not talk about the supplies in front of Oher. You will play along here, and will not bring up the supplies again in front of Oher, but you have to wonder what the Hell is going on.

“ – didn’t have a clock handy, but I think it was after midnight, so that would make it the 29th. After everything that had happened, the three of us decided to have someone stay up to keep watch. I drew the short straw, so I was sitting on that rocking chair you have on the front porch, wrapped up in a blanket. Honestly, I don’t know what exactly I was thinking, just sitting out there with no cover, but after the day we had, we were all just running on autopilot.
>>
>>4517470
"Next thing I know, I hear something moving around the paddocks. Several somethings. My first thought was that I needed to wake up Tolle and Norton before I do anything drastic. Somehow I manage to get inside without making too much noise, and then I got the two of them up.” At this point, he nods to the man flitting around the edge of the conversation, who for the second time, gives you a toothy smile and raises his hand in greeting. “So they get their guns - I already had mine - and then we move to the windows. We listen for a bit, and none of us heard anything around the paddocks anymore. So we carefully unblock the windows to see what’s going on.

As Fleckkers pauses in his account for dramatic effect, and there is a simultaneous lull in your mothers conversation with Oher, with a start you realize that you can hear movement around the paddocks right now. Ah shit! It must be Petra and Gunther heading towards the backdoor. You are in a fucking pickle right now. You can tell Fleckkers to stop with the story, but then everyone here would know that you are trying to sanitize things for the pair. That might be a good thing, getting everyone in the room on board and together present the best possible picture of the situation on the lake, but if it came out later that you were high handing the two of them like this, there might be resentment ... a breeding ground for second thoughts. You could try to change the conversation without being explicit, but who knows how that would end up, or you could just say nothing, and let the Peakes get an unfiltered look at the situation here.

>Explain that you are trying to present the best possible imagine to the Peakes to convince them to join the group
>Attempt to steer conversation in a new direction, away from any unpleasantness
>Allow Fleckkers to finish his story, you cannot hope to hide everything from Gunther and Petra

>>4517333 I am glad you like it!
>>
>>4517485
>Allow the story to continue
I kinda feel this might not win over the two, but I am very fucking invested in this story and I think Mantle is too
>>
>>4517485
>Allow Fleckkers to finish his story, you cannot hope to hide everything from Gunther and Petra
Whatever, keep going
>>
>>4517485
>Allow Fleckkers to finish his story, you cannot hope to hide everything from Gunther and Petra

It's the apocalypse, sugarcoating things is harmful.
>>
>Allow Fleckkers to finish his story, you cannot hope to hide everything from Gunther and Petra.
They might reactively feel uneasy about being on our side but deep down, being on the same team as decisive, supplied asskickers in a dangerous time/place is going to be a comfort.
>>
>>4517500
>>4517499
>>4517498
>>4517494
Alright, I will get writing.
>>
>>4517500
>being on the same team as decisive, supplied asskickers in a dangerous time/place is going to be a comfort.
Definitely. The walls fucking lined with supplies, and the pair making their entrance as Fleckkers vividly recounts his heroic defense of Dander. One hell of an introduction, Fleckkers seems to be a natural story teller. The situation sure doesn't look pretty, but we currently seem to have things all under control. I mean, sure things are going to get much worse later, and Parasol may have a massive infodump on why everything is balls to the wall fucked, but as of right now, we're finally home, in our well stocked homestead, surrounded by family and friends who seem to be getting along, with a slightly stuck tank sitting right outside. The situation is bleak overall, but we're sitting pretty.
Speaking of the tank, has anyone else considered using the ravine as a defense? It could make a nice natural border for Mantle's group's set-up.
Would it be suitable for that, Trash? Just thinking about it gets my head going with ideas. We could probably take a few pages out of Tinn's book, and look to his place for inspiration.
>>
Ah fuck it. You are not going to be able to sugarcoat everything, and if you keep trying to keep things hidden from them while they are staying with you, then at this rate, you will never learn anything. Besides, if they figure out that you are deliberately trying to keep information from them, then that would almost certainly do more to scare them off than some run of the mill bad news. So you let the moment pass, and soon the Peakes have made their way into the living room. Conversation stops so introductions may be made, and then Fleckkers continues his story, after catching the newcomers up to speed.

“So everything that we could see from that window was fine; the paddocks you got were all wrapped up like we left them, to protect the ducks and the geese from all of the shit in the air, the stacks – um, well, suffice to say, everything looked just how we had left it. Of course, we weren’t ready to just write this off as a bump in the night. So we went into the other room, and unblocked that one … and immediately saw that someone had opened the barn wide up. Now all three of us are freaking out. Norton pulled himself together first; he headed upstairs to wake Mrs. Mantle up and see if he could get a bead on anything from one of the upstairs windows. But Norton isn’t even halfway up the stairs, when your pig starts squealing in pain; that was when the bastards tried to stick him. Near as we can figure, their ‘plan’ was to kill and butcher the boar here, and then haul off the meat. Which is a remarkably terrible plan, even if they knew what they were doing.

“And they clearly had no idea what they were doing. They didn’t stun him, I don’t think they restrained him, they – and I apologize if this is too graphic – they didn’t even know enough to slit the throat. They tried to stab that poor thing in through heart. Like he was some sorta vampire. With nothing more that kitchen knives! The kind that come in the block you leave out on the counter. We know because we found them scattered on the floor of the barn. Just three short of a full set!” There are a few polite chuckles at that, but you can tell that Fleckkers thought that it would get some real laughs because he looks a little disappointed at the response. He continues momentarily.

“Once the squeals started up, then you could see shadows moving in the barn, and from the window where we were situated, from out of those shadows there was this figure, running towards the big doors. I don’t know if they were trying to run away, or close the doors so the pig couldn’t get out, or what. Honestly, I don’t think he knew exactly what he was doing either. By the end of that day, everyone still on the lake was at least a little out of their heads.
>>
>>4517670
“Anyway, I shot him.”

Jesus. Fleckkers does not seem shaken up by this at all. It could be some sort of bravado, but if it is, is really convincing. There is a real disconnect here between this guy and the bundle of nerves that you ran into at the farmer’s union, or for that matter, caught poaching three times. When you get a minute, this is almost certainly going to be something worth talking about with him.

“– the chest, but idiot that I am, in the excitement, I forgot that there was a window between us. And it wasn’t a safety glass window either, the damned thing burst like a balloon, right in our faces. We get our nerve back up, and stick our heads out of cover just in time to see that pig bolt right out of the barn. Then there is shouting as they try to clear out of there. Judging by the footprints we found, there were at least four, maybe five of them – that is counting the one I shot. Most of them left from the back door, and we never got a good look at them, but there was one that went out the side door, and I just opened up on him. Tolle did too. Anyway, when we were checking the property afterward, there was a small blood trail leading out of the area where he was shot, into the woods around the property. Of course, with the way things are, none of us were exactly keen to go tracking a potentially armed man through that mess, and when we called it in, we were explicitly told to leave well enough alone.

“Compared to the first night, things have been pretty quiet since then.”

After the story ended, there was a brief silence in the living room. Petra was the one to speak first.

“Mr. Fleckkers … the guy you shot. Was he armed?”

Fleckkers looks a little taken aback at the question, but eventually says that he was not. Petra looks at him, then at Gunther, then back to him. In a small sounding voice, she asks another question.

“Isn’t that kind of like murder, then?”

>Let Fleckkers explain his actions in his own way
>Attempt to defend Fleckkers' actions here
>Declare that it is not, and change the subject

>>4517588
Certainly, there are several things that I could think of, and I am always willing to accept suggestions and write ins.
>>
>Defend Fleckkers' actions here
>>
>>4517677
>Attempt to defend Fleckkers' actions here
Trying to steal a bunch of our food is basically delayed murder, we're just protecting our own.
>>
>>4517691
+1

Realistically, attacking and looting is something that is going to be seen as murder very very soon. She might be scared, and there is no need to bully her, but she needs to understand the reality of the situation we're in.
>>
>>4517677
>>Attempt to defend Fleckkers' actions here
Hm. This is kind of a rough spot. We should defend his actions, but avoid sounding eager about it. It's grim. It's unfortunate a man died, but it's us against them. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Some ugly things are going to happen.
I wonder if they're going to be back for blood. Best not to mention this, though. What seems to be a fair sized gang of pyromaniacs who have already killed a fireman, out for revenge probably isn't a very good selling point. Property value is going down the tubes.
>>
>Let Fleckkers explain his actions in his own way

Let Fleckkers exposite on the Firebugs. I'll bet they aren't exactly innocent. Besides, he seems smart enough to explain the tragic and cruel calculus of survival and how the food to person ratio is in the area. These Firebugs have no more right to choose who eats and who starves then anyone else does. The only innocents and heroes are children and the dead. Seems like a man with Fleckkers' background should be good at justifying things.
>>
>>4517745
>Seems like a man with Fleckkers' background should be good at justifying things.
Good point. I'll switch votes and support this.
>>
>>4517677
>>4517745
Fleckkers is a thief, he knows how to handle himself better than we can. Supporting.
>>
So its 3-3 Mantle Explanation vs. Let Fleckkers Explain, right?
>>
>>4517677
>Let Fleckkers explain his actions in his own way
>>
Alright, so I should be able to get a post up for an overnight vote.
>>
Thanks QM, your post rate and content are seriously impressive.
>>
damn, too late for this vote. I hope Flekkers isn't going to go at this in a "listen here you little shit" vein
>>
Fleckkers looks at Petra for a moment, and in the silence, you start to think about saying something – anything, to defend the man. However, before you get anywhere with that, Fleckkers starts to speak in his own defense, and thankfully enough, he gives a very deliberated response.

“Well, I don’t want to downplay anything here. A man is dead, by my hand. But there is a lot more to murder than that, isn’t there? I mean, a group of people had snuck onto a completely isolated property in the middle of the night, and were in the process of trying to kill an animal who I had been charged with protecting. I didn’t know if any of them were armed, or what they were intending to do next. And of course, with the way things are now, I have no intention of letting anyone take food out of my mouth. Now, what happened that night was a very sad thing, and I am not going to stand here and say that me killing a prowler that might have just been trying to feed himself is a good thing. But just because something is sad, that doesn’t automatically make it wrong.

You think Petra looks a little reassured by Fleckker’s explanation, but if you had to guess, you would say that she still harbors some doubts. In the awkward silence that follows, Oher mentions that he should be heading out – his presence here is keeping people waiting the other Paramedic who has been waiting in the ambulance this entire time, and the deputy in the cruiser that was assigned as an escort.

>Ask Oher one final question in passing (if this response wins the vote, then there would be a separate vote for the actual question that is being asked)
>Ask if Oher could stick around a little longer (multiple opportunities to ask questions of Oher)
>Allow Oher to leave, he has other responsibilities (no opportunities to ask questions of Oher until you meet again)

I actually had a lot harder time than I would have thought figuring out how Fleckkers was going to respond to this.
>>
>>4518115
>Allow Oher to leave, he has other responsibilities (no opportunities to ask questions of Oher until you meet again)

I think we already asked all the Oher-specific questions, Flekkers can bring us up to speed about everything else.
>>
>Allow Oher to leave, he has other responsibilities (no opportunities to ask questions of Oher until you meet again)
>>
>>4518115
>>Ask Oher one final question in passing (if this response wins the vote, then there would be a separate vote for the actual question that is being asked)

I wanna know about the firebugs
>>
>Allow Oher to leave, he has other responsibilities (no opportunities to ask questions of Oher until you meet again)
>>
>>4518115
>Ask Oher one final question in passing (if this response wins the vote, then there would be a separate vote for the actual question that is being asked)
>>
>>4518131
This. It was good to see them and everything, but lets let him get going.
>>
>>4518115
>Allow Oher to leave, he has other responsibilities (no opportunities to ask questions of Oher until you meet again)
>>
Alright, consider this one closed. I will get to writing this up.
>>
Impressed with how many posts you got out yesterday, Trash. Love the quest, I can tell we'll have some good times. Despite the usual glacial pace of the updates, they're always quality. I'll stick with you guys until the end, interested to see what you have in store for us.
>>
Hey guys, sorry for the lapse today. I had a lot more work to do than I expected. At the very least, I will try to get a post out for an overnight vote.
>>
No worries, real life comes first.
>>
>>4518798
What >>4518806 said. You can't spend all day on the ARPAnet after all. Then you might turn out like Mantle.
>>
>Living Room of the Mantle Homestead, Debouche Maine
>8:43 am on 10/31/2020
>41 degrees Fahrenheit, Cloudy
>Near Negligible Ash and Fallout
>Sunset around 5:00 pm

No doubt Oher and the other two guys with him have better things to do than cool their jets here. Oher heads to the door, and starts to pull on his respirator and mask ensemble. Before he is completely out of the door, you are able to thank him for everything one more time, and say that the next time you meet, you will make a point of scheduling a time for Matthew to come over. Oher nods along at that but does not actually say anything about that … situation. Instead, his parting words are a suggestion; to cut down on the amount of ash and fallout that will make its way into the house, you should give serious consideration to enclosing the front and rear porches, maybe even going as far as dedicating a part of one as a decontamination vestibule, like the internally partitioned pavilion had at the road block.

It is a great idea, of course. But already, you can see an (at least to your knowledge) unaddressed issue; wood may indeed grow on trees, but the structural lumber that you would need for building is the result of a fair amount of processing. As establishing a cooperative lumber mill and yard for the group is almost certainly not a priority of anyone in the inner circle, for the foreseeable future, you and the rest of the group will probably have to resort to cannibalizing redundant and abandoned housing for building materials … assuming that these Firebugs have not burned them all down.

You hear the ambulance and the escort cruiser start up, and soon you are listening to the sounds of their engines fade into the distance. Since the chorus of ‘goodbyes’ and ‘thank yous’ since Oher left, everyone is just standing around. Fleckkers and the guy with the toothy smiles, either Norton or Tolle are looking at each other, as well as the area by the entrance, presumably thinking about the recommended decontamination vestibule. Gunther and Petra are looking at each other, as well as you … and the boxes of supplies stacked all around the room. Mother, the only one in the living room that is sitting down, is looking at you with a loving mixture of relief and unabated concern.

Well, it seems like the proverbial ball is in your court. You have a lot of questions, but it seems that several are either more time-sensitive or … sensitive-sensitive … than others. Off the top of your head, these are the most pertinent or pressing. No need to fuss over it too much, for the next few hours at least, you will be waiting for your ‘audience’ with Parasol, so you will have a chance to ask most of these questions. .
>>
>>4521046
Well, I am still swimming in work, and there are more midterms approaching, but I have enough of a handle on everything to start posting again.

>Please pick ONE of the following:
> Ask Fleckkers about how your boar, Dander is doing.
> Now that Oher is gone, ask Fleckkers again how he made out from the Union.
> Introduce yourself properly to Norton or Tolle or whoever he is.
> Ask Gunther if he would like Fleckkers or Norton/Tolle to take a look at the truck, to see if it is worth repairing.
> Ask Gunther if he is willing to trade items from the truck, and if he is, what would he be interested in.
> Ask Gunther an awkward question … is he going to make you pay for the dialysis machine and dialysis fluids?
> Ask Gunther and Petra if they have any specific questions about the group that you or anyone else here could answer for them.
> Ask your Mother to show Gunther and Petra around the place, giving you an opportunity to speak with Fleckkers and Norton/Tolle alone.
> Ask your Mother how she has been holding up with everything

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Offer everyone something to eat and drink.
>Offer everyone something to drink.
>Do not offer anyone anything yet
>>
> Introduce yourself properly to Norton or Tolle or whoever he is.
Really wanna look over Fleckker's loot but introductions with the hired men or talking with Mom or sorting out dialysis or Gunther's truck are all jst more important right now.

>Offer everyone something to drink.
I'm not cooking so I'm not dictating when meals are served.
>>
>>4521151
This is the most immediately important. Hospitality is a serious virtue.
>>
>>4521151
>>4521159
Alright, I'll get to writing immediately.
>>
The man next to Fleckkers stands with a noticeable slouch in his back, and you can’t help but wonder if his muscles are all out of whack, like yours. Of course, before you can even think to broach that conversation, you will need to have been properly introduced. Fleckkers mentioned a Tolle and a Norton, so presumably, this must be one of them. You clear your throat, and speak as clearly as you possibly can. “I don’t believe we have been introduced.”

For the third time, in what must be a matter of five minutes, if that, the man casually raises his hand in greeting, and gives you a particularly toothy smile as he approaches. At the very least, this time he actually speaks. “Please to meet you, Mr. Mantle. The name’s Tolle; Doug Tolle.” Seeing that you have started up a conversation, Fleckkers comes over to your bedside as well, and Gunther and Petra turn to look at you almost expectantly. “Well, does anyone want something to drink? I have water, sparkling water, a few soft drinks for special occasions, and if any of you are up for it, there is some alcohol that I got from jobs downstairs. And, uh … could I impose on someone to go get the drinks? I don’t think I will be doing stairs anytime soon.”

Before the round of polite chuckles has ended, Fleckkers had already volunteered, and was heading into the basement to bring some of them up. For a former safecracker, he is not particularly subtle. Clearly, he does not want Gunther or Petra going downstairs, or perhaps anyone but him. Not to mention, he already seems to have figured out where you keep everything, which indicates that he has been snooping. It is awkward, and when you are able to make the trip upstairs to your bedroom, you are going to have to make a point to check that nothing was ‘misappropriated’, but you knew that this was going to be par for the course when you decided to take him on. At the very least, only a thief would have been able to make out of the Union as well as he did. Looking around the room, you find yourself wondering what he left instead of what he took.
>>
>>4521241
Before the round of polite chuckles has ended, Fleckkers had already volunteered, and was heading into the basement to bring some of them up. For a former safecracker, he is not particularly subtle. Clearly, he does not want Gunther or Petra going downstairs, or perhaps anyone but him. Not to mention, he already seems to have figured out where you keep everything, which indicates that he has been snooping. It is awkward, and when you are able to make the trip upstairs to your bedroom, you are going to have to make a point to check that nothing was ‘misappropriated’, but you knew that this was going to be par for the course when you decided to take him on. At the very least, only a thief would have been able to make out of the Union as well as he did. Looking around the room, you find yourself wondering what he left instead of what he took.

You speak to Tolle some more, as the sounds of Fleckkers picking his way through the basement come up through the floorboards. He was a Firefighter, but not one of the ones that you rescued. When he mentions in passing that Norton was one of the ones that you save, you ask him the obvious follow up question; ‘and where is Norton?’ Oddly enough, he looks kind of … uncomfortable at that question, but after a moment explains that Norton is splitting his time between the homestead and the Mt. Kineo Big House with his family. Apparently, he comes and goes whenever he can catch a ride out to the homestead or back to Mt. Kineo. Tolle looks at Gunther and Petra for a moment, as if he is unsure of how much to say in front of them, but eventually admits that neither Fleckkers or him were comfortable questioning his arrangements, even though it was, in Tolle’s own words, ‘a complication’.

You are beginning to get the sense that Fleckkers has coached Tolle not to speak more than necessary about the situation here … or perhaps that Tolle is just kind of naturally tight lipped. Mother interjects here and starts to talk about this Norton in positively glowing terms; it seems that his trips back in forth to Mt. Kineo allowed her to pass on her messages (or perhaps demands is the better word) that the group mount a rescue operation to get you out of Bangor. From here, Mother starts talking, monologuing really, about all of the people that she was talking with to get a rescue mission greenlight.

As Fleckkers is still occupied down in the basement, and Gunther and Petra are tied up politely listening to your mother ramble away, you could take this opportunity to ask Tolle more about Norton and this ‘complication’, or you could simply move on to other matters.
>>
>>4521252
>Please pick ONE of the Following
> Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’
> Ask Tolle about how your injured boar, Dander, is doing.
>Ask Gunther and Petra what they think of the group so far.
>Ask Gunther if he would like Tolle to take a look at the truck with him, to see if it is worth repairing.
>Ask Gunther if he is willing to trade items from his personal stock, and if he is what does he want.
>Ask Gunther if he is going to make you pay for the Dialysis Machine and the Dialysis Fluid.
>Ask your Mother to show Gunther and Petra around the place, giving you more privacy to speak with Tolle
>Ask your Mother how she has been holding up with everything.

>Please pick ONE of the Following:
>Seriously consider giving a gift to Gunther and Petra for everything that they have done
>Hold off on giving gifts right now, it might seem too much like a bribe.

Alright, I know that wasn't much of a run, but I need to get to sleep now, otherwise I will never be able to get ahead of my work. Thanks for sticking around guys, I really appreciate it!
>>
> Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’
> seriously consider giving them a gift
>>
>>4521259
>Ask your Mother to show Gunther and Petra around the place, giving you more privacy to speak with Tolle

mom can sell the place and we get to ask our questions. Gold standard solution!
>>
>>4521259
>Hold off on giving gifts right now, it might seem too much like a bribe.

but give the man a truck later
>>
> Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’
>Hold off on gifts for now.
We can always ask them what they need later and make good on a tepaired or new truck.
>>
>>4521259
>Ask your Mother to show Gunther and Petra around the place, giving you more privacy to speak with Tolle
>Hold off on giving gifts right now, it might seem too much like a bribe.
The former's a courtesy, the latter's taking advantage in a way that hurts nobody.
>>
>>4521374 : Complication 1
>>4521494 : Complication 1 Mother 1
>>4521553 : Complication 2 Mother 1
>>4521580 : Complication 2 Mother 2
Well, I will wait for a tie-breaker on this one. But we will hold off on gifts for the immediate future.
>>
>>4521259
>Ask your Mother to show Gunther and Petra around the place, giving you more privacy to speak with Tolle

I think it'll be best for them to stretch their legs a little and get comfortable too tbqh.

>Hold off on gifts for now.

Plenty of reasons behind this, but I personally want a full inventory list before we start dishing things out
>>
>>4521651
Alright, it looks like we are going to be able to talk to Tolle one-on-one. I will get writing this up.
>>
When mother pauses her story to take a breath, you ask politely if she would be willing to show Gunther and Petra around the place, so the could decide if they wanted to stay here while they made up their mind on joining the group or not. You definitely want them to join, and you would be willing to make room for them here and feed them, but they do have options. If they wanted to, no doubt they would be allowed to move into an abandoned property, or they could be accommodated at Mt. Kineo. And, if they made connections with other group members, then they might decide to move in with them instead.

And you really could not fault them. Even after all of your work, the farmhouse is still in pretty rough (or as mother insists, ‘rustic’) shape. It was a lot nicer once, and larger too; long before the Lasky Family Farm went on the market, there was an entire two-story wing of the house that burnt down when its upstairs kitchenette caught fire; all that remains of that wing is the buried fieldstone foundation. There was a second smaller wing built on to the other side of the house to replace the first, but it had been poorly designed and improperly insulated. And that was before the property sat unattended for a year before it went up for sale. When you bought the place, the replacement wing was in such a state that if an inspector saw it, they would probably condemn the entire house. You had done what you could to stabilize it, but your long term plan was to simply keep it from collapsing and damaging the rest of the house long enough to pull the money together to get it professionally taken down. Even with you shoring it up as you had, you were unwilling even to use it as storage, electing instead to seal it up and let it sit empty.

Obviously, the situation here has changed a lot. With things the way they are, it might be worth trying to restore the replacement wing to a point where you could use it as storage or even as living space. Alternatively, you could excavate the old foundation of the original wing, and then build new construction on top of that, instead. Or there was that trailer on the Morrison property – as per your agreement with Reaves, it belongs to you now (assuming he does not welch on you again). And in the long term, there is nothing stopping you from doing all three of those things.
>>
>>4521842
Back in the present, you mother looks surprised at your request to show the Peakes around the place, but then starts smiling at the notion. She gets up, gestures for Gunther and Petra to follow along, and then starts telling the two of them about how you were able to buy this place at such a young age without a loan or mortgage. Tolle, overhearing this look impressed, and what you can see of Gunther as he leaves the living room, he looks impressed as well. While you understand that mother just wants to brag about you, she does not know the entire story. If she did, she probably would not be so willing to talk about it – but here and now, that is immaterial. You turn your focus towards Tolle, as he quietly walks over to the seat your mother was in, by the side of your gurney.

In the relative silence of the living room, you can hear your mother chattering away as she leads the two Peakes upstairs, and the increasingly frustrated sounding shuffling and grunting as Fleckkers struggles downstairs to make his way to the drinks you offered everyone. You are curious to see how much he managed to squirrel away down there, but it will be some time before you are able to do stairs. In the meantime, you can finally ask a question or three without worrying if others should be party to the answers.

>Please pick THREE of the following:
>Ask Tolle to tell you about himself
>Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’ and ask him how he would resolve it
>Ask Tolle what he thinks about Fleckkers, and how he is doing after the Firebug attack
>Ask Tolle how he thinks your Mother is holding up, it seems that she was frantic when she got the news
>Ask Tolle his opinion on Gunther and Petra, and if he thinks you could manage having two more mouths to feed
>Ask Tolle if there is a rough inventory of everything that Fleckkers brought over
>Ask Tolle if he needs or wants anything in particular
>Ask Tolle about the Firebugs attack here and the one earlier that day that killed Lieutenant Reitz
>Ask Tolle how and what group members have been doing in your absence
>Ask Tolle how and what non-group members have been doing in your absence
>Ask Tolle about what happened to Carter’s convoy, after it was routed
>>
>>4521846

>Ask Tolle to tell you about himself
>Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’ and ask him how he would resolve it
>Ask Tolle about the Firebugs attack here and the one earlier that day that killed Lieutenant Reitz

First introductory question aside, I wanna focus on stuff that may have unsavory answers, to best take advantage of Gunther and Petra's absence.
>>
>>4521846
>Ask Tolle to tell you about himself
>Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’ and ask him how he would resolve it
>Ask Tolle about the Firebugs attack here and the one earlier that day that killed Lieutenant Reitz
>>
>Ask Tolle about the Firebugs attack here and the one earlier that day that killed Lieutenant Reitz
>Ask Tolle about Norton and this ‘Complication’ and ask him how he would resolve .
>Ask Tolle about what happened to Carter’s convoy, after it was routed.

Id like to change my answer to this, this is all the sensitive stuff. We can ask about him after Gunther and Petra get back.
>>
Hey guys,I've figured out Tolle's rudimentary character sheet, but I am still working on the other two parts. I normally don't post until I am all done writing, but I need to take a break for dinner soon, so I figured I get this out there. It is also worth noting that it references some mechanics that have not come up yet, so I apologize if I cause any confusion.

You have a lot of questions you want to ask, but you do not want to start off on the wrong foot, so you ask Tolle to tell you a bit about himself. With one of his exceptionally toothy smiles, he obliges you …

NPC: Douglas Dill Tolle, 42 years of age. A bachelor with no immediate family on the Lake.
Professional Firefighter with the Debouche Department of Public Safety.
Recognized as a lay-member of Parasol’s Group; has Firefighting and First Aid Skills

Desires: Unknown
Fears: Unknown
Strengths: Unknown
Flaws: Unknown

Uses the Improved Modifier Table for Driving and Skill: Firefighting Tests
Uses the Standard Modifier Table for Shooting, Knowledge, Speech, Skill: First Aid and Stealth Tests
Uses the Sub-Standard Modifier Table for Search, Salvage and Handiwork Tests

Benefits:
‘Okay Shape’ gives +2 to Athletic Tests and +12 to Health Tests
‘Smoked Hams’ gives +5 to any Athletic Tests that involve smoke or fire as a hazard
‘Low-Viz’ Benefit quarters all penalties to any Test from low visibility caused by smoke
‘Steady Under Fire’ gives +5 to all Mental Tests, with an additional +5 if the source of the Break is fire-related.
‘Ponderous Practice’ gives +2 to all Driving Tests for vehicles with three or more wheels, and an additional +3 for all Driving Tests for vehicles with three or more wheels and both the ‘Ponderous’ and ‘Oversized’ Traits
‘Naturally Quiet’ gives +6 to all Stealth Tests [Permanent]

Maluses:
‘Uncomfortably Toothy’ gives -4 across all types Speech Tests. [Permanent]
‘Distractable’ gives -4 across Search and Salvage Tests, as well as -2 to Knowledge Tests [Permanent]
‘Lousy Chef’ gives -4 for Handiwork: Cooking Tests
‘Bad with Animals’ gives -4 for Handiwork: Animal Husbandry Tests
‘Indifferent Gardener’ gives -2 for Handiwork: Plants
>>
>>4522039
>>4522039
Oh, and as an apology for the lapse the other day, I have decided to fudge the restriction on 'Ponderous Practice' so that the full bonus (+5 to each of the 5d20 rolled for a driving test, applied after it is modified by the table) will apply to treaded vehicles that have 'Ponderous' and 'Oversized' traits as well.

And the attached picture is completely and utterly unrelated to anything in this post.

If it wasn't clear from the benefits and him having the Improved Modifier Table for Driving Tests, he is one of the fire-engine drivers.
>>
>If it wasn't clear from the benefits and him having the Improved Modifier Table for Driving Tests, he is one of the fire-engine drivers.
You can't fool me. I know that Tolle and Gunther were part of a Nascar team together.
>>
“– really don’t have any experience with farm animals or crops. Haven’t even had a pet since I was a kid, and beyond managing to keep a Ficus alive in my apartment, haven’t done much with plants either.” Perhaps he thinks the look you are giving him is reproachful, or that you are having second thoughts about him staying here, because he quickly stammers out an addendum. “But I learn really quick, and of course, with these Firebugs going around, and how isolated this place is, it seems that having a Firefighter with you could be a real lifesaver.”

Actually, you were not having second thoughts, if for no other reason than there has not been enough time for you to have even ‘first’ thoughts yet. Obviously, a farmhand that by his own admission is not good with animals or plants is not optimal, but taking him at his word that he is a fast learner, then it should not be an automatic dealbreaker. And even if you were to ignore his value as a trained, professional Firefighter, then there is a great deal of work on a farm that is not with animals or plants. So long as you give him tasks that he is good at, or at the very least, not bad at, then he should free up more capable workers. Absolute worse case scenario, you could consider sending for someone else, but that strikes you as more than a little ungrateful, considering that Tolle has already been here, helping you.

There is of course, one final consideration in estimating Tolle’s value here on the homestead. A Firefighter does not put out flames with his bare hands, he requires specialized equipment and consumables to properly do his job. But when you ask if he brought his gear with him, his expression falters noticeably. “Well, uh … no. All of the remaining gear and the engines are all kind of tied up.” The way he says ‘remaining’ gives you enough pause to ask what he means by it – and while you certainly do not like the answer he has for you, at the very least you finally learn more about the Firebugs.

After the group reclaimed the Public Safety building and reestablished communication between all of the members who were out around the lake sitting on critical infrastructure and supplies, things were seemingly back on track. Carter was nowhere to be found, and Polk and his guards were still adamant on conducting themselves as if it were business as usual, so the entirety of the lake was control by Parasol’s group. A ‘posse’ was mustered, comprised of well-armed deputies, who swept the entire lake and the surrounding area only to come up empty; the remains of Carter’s convoy was last seen on the solitary northern road at the far opposite end of Mooseleg Lake that leads into the Northwoods. After setting a sentry, the posse returned to the Public Safety building, and was then commandeered by Chickless for his raid on the Bangor and Aroostook Railyards. This all squares with what you got from Oher about what happened in your absence.
>>
Everything was once again going according to plan; any critical supplies that could be hauled off easily were taken to secure locations, while anything requiring more than a handcart to move as well as critical infrastructure was simply left under armed guard. However, non-group members started showing up and asking questions, in a few notable cases, owners of businesses were asking Deputies why they were robbing them. The official line that the group members had been told to say by the Sheriff was that they had standing orders to stockpile supplies and protect infrastructure in the event of a Nuclear Strike. The deception apparently worked well enough on most and bought the group enough time to secure just about everything they had been hoping to their hands on.

But when the time came to explain the situation to non-members, the situation deteriorated predictably. Having Deputies drive into neighborhoods and address everyone at once over bullhorns without leaving the cruiser may have been the efficient way to do it and as far as the Deputies were concerned, the safe way as well, but it was also almost comically insensitive to the non-group members. Tolle doesn’t know the exact words used – there was actually a script – but the substance of the announcement went something to the effect of ‘there is not enough food and fuel available to keep everyone alive through the Winter, in the event of complete Collapse after this Nuclear World War. Everyone is going to have to go to the smaller cities and the larger towns, because there is not enough here for us all.’ Of course, this message did not go over well, especially among those non-members who had seen or heard about the group’s stockpiling efforts.

There were a lot of incidents where non-members approached cruisers demanding and pleading for answers and further explanation, and it was no surprise to hear that one or two of these encounters turned violent ... however, because the Deputies remained in the safety of their cruisers, no blood was shed by either side. While a number of the non-members did end up packing up and permanently leaving after the message, most of those that ventured from their houses after the first day did so intending to get supplies and then return to their homes to shelter out what they presumably hoped would be a relatively short disruption. Finding that all critical supplies in the immediate vicinity of the Lake had either been pilfered or had been placed under armed guard inflamed a lot of anger, but it did not boil over into open violence, not yet. Instead, the non-group members who were looking for supplies simply kept driving until they were outside of the area that Parasol’s Group had claimed and picked over. Some of them managed to get what they were looking for, some did not, but nearly all of those that set out intending to return home did so, even as your group finished the first round of supply consolidation.
>>
I am sorry to call tonight's run without providing a vote for everyone, but I really need to get to sleep, and I am some way away from getting to a choice. I intend to resume writing in the morning, but I probably won't put it up until I have the rest of it entirely done, so it might not be up until the afternoon. Thank you all for your understanding.
>>
Things finally came to a head several hours later, as those non-members who left to scavenge for themselves had started to show up back in town. There was a small party in the town center that was in the Stressless Moose Pub, trying to get the place’s walk-in freezer hooked up to a portable generator, so they can save the food inside. Suddenly, one of the guys the party left to guard the trucks sees smoke coming from just a block away, which would put it pretty close to Debouche Gas.

“ -wasn’t, and still isn’t a group member, at least to my knowledge, but we didn’t want to lose out on all of that gas and oil, so the call was put out, and all of the Firefighters who were scattered around the Lake rushed to their engines. Myself included; I drive Ladder 5 after all.

“So, I drop everything to head over quick as I can to the Public Safety Building, then from there get the Ladder and her crew over to the fire, and we all dismount to have at it. Most of the other Engines were there, Engine 4 came in after us. But by the time we have all the hoses going, someone realizes that Engine 2 isn’t here with us. Now, Engine 2 isn’t stationed with the rest of the Engines, it is in a small freestanding station on the ‘Boat House’, the property where Public Safety stores and maintains its watercraft. Now, with the ‘Boat House’ all the way out on the Strip, technically, not even in Debouche, compared to how the Public Safety Building is smack dab in the middle of downtown, the immediate thought was that they were just running a bit behind.

“But we could only raise one of the five members of Engine 2’s crew, and he was running really behind; wasn’t even at the station yet. The dispatcher at Public Safety tried too, and they didn’t have any luck in raising the four either. Everyone’s immediate concern was that Carter had returned, so the fifth member was told to forget it, and reunite with the rest of the party he had just left as soon as possible. At the same time, another party of Deputies was raised, and then sent out in force to the ‘Boat House’, expecting to find Carter.” Tolle pauses here to take a breath, and when he continues, his voice is noticeably quieter. “Pulling up, the Deputies could see that Engine 2 was still in her spot, two abandoned pickup trucks with Firefighter license plates were on the lot, and the station was an absolute mess. Hundreds of gallons of fire-retardant had just been dumped, equipment had been broken, and it looked like someone attempted to burn the station, but it did not catch, thankfully.
>>
>>4523262
“The Deputies found the missing Firemen inside – dead, of course. They had been ambushed as they were suiting up together. It was – well, have you ever been to that station before?” You explain that you have not, and Tolle takes a minute to explain. “With the way the place is set up, you have the suits and some of the lighter bits and pieces of gear that don’t need to get locked up hanging along one of the side walls. If there was more than four feet between that wall and the Engine, I would be surprised.” Tolle swallows, and looks away. “The point I am trying to make, is that it must have been like shooting fish in a barrel; they were stuck more or less in the middle of a four by forty foot corridor with no cover. That – that isn’t something that you can get out of.” He looks back to you. “It was basically an execution; they were unarmed and had nowhere to run.” He pauses a moment, and he blinks a bit, before clearing his throat and concluding his account.

“When the fire was finally put out about an hour later, we recovered the remains of an I.I.D, an improvised incendiary device. Pretty much all of the senior Firefighters agreed that the device appeared to be better thought out than most arsonist’s bombs they had seen, but the alarming thing was that there was no evidence of a delaying mechanism, no timer, no slow fuse, nothing. Which means that there might have been two of them; one to set the fire, the other to set the ambush. Of course, it could be possible for one person to have set the fire and then rushed over to the ‘Boat House’ to do the deed, but that would have been pretty tight. Anyway, since then, there have been other fires set, some of them seemingly at random, others on group members houses. None of them have been home at the time, thankfully, but everyone is on edge.” He raggedly sighs, and then rubs his temples with his hands.

“What kills me about all of this is that if we had realized that something was up, then we would never have let the crew of Engine 2 go off on their own without an armed escort.” While sending off group members on their own, especially unarmed, was only ever going to end like this, even with your social ineptitude, you know that is not what Tolle needs to hear right now. So instead, you try to comfort the man, by telling him that there was no way he or anyone else could have realized that something was afoot. But he just laughs humorlessly at that. “Mantle, the fire that started all of this – the sick fuck set it in the bait shop”.

Please pick ONE of the Following:
>Drop the subject for now, and ask about Norton and this ‘complication’
>He called the prowlers ‘Firebugs’, how does he know they are connected to the earlier attack?
>He is a Professional Firefighter, does he know anything about protecting buildings from arsonists?
>>
>>4523265
>He called the prowlers ‘Firebugs’, how does he know they are connected to the earlier attack?
>>
>He called the prowlers ‘Firebugs’, how does he know they are connected to the earlier attack?

Already thinking of ways to neutralize them, but lets see what all we know about them, their operating procedure, and their area of operation.
>>
>>4523301
>>4523378
Alright, I will get to writing this up.
>>
>>4523565
Well, I managed to fall asleep again on you guys, sorry about that. I'm going to try to finish up all the work I have left today, so I can start posting again regularly. That said, I will get the next post up around dinner time today.
>>
It seems that at least one of these Firebugs has a real cute sense of humor, or perhaps a twisted sense of sportsmanship. Either way, the guy behind that bait stunt has been watching too many movies. You do not know much about this sort of … what would you even call this, guerilla warfare? But you would guess that anyone who would do something like that is willing to put more importance on theatrics than tactics. Something to consider if these Firebugs become a chronic issue; and no doubt if you have thought of it, then the Sheriff or Chickless or someone has already started planning on how to take advantage of that proclivity. However, before you get to far along on that thought, another more time-sensitive question dislodges it.

“Wait a minute, before I forget. You’ve been saying – and Fleckkers’ said it too – that the guys who came by the homestead that night were Firebugs. How could you know that? Did they have stuff to set another fire or something?” At first, the only response you get out of Tolle is him exhaling through that thicket of teeth he has in mild frustration, but several-several seconds later he explains.

“Well, to be honest, we don’t know. The Deputies who came through the day after think they might be, on account of the one that Fleckkers nailed might have been kitted out for arson. There was stuff abandoned in barn, but most of the stuff that we recovered was from the backpack that we pulled off of the dead guy. He was travelling pretty light; the closest thing he had to a weapon was this old hatchet – no guns. But among a few other incidentals, he had a flashlight, a Yippo Lighter, and matches, the big kind.” After a second, he clarifies; “Not the big big kind, like for furnaces, but bigger than the kind that they give out for free, and they weren’t made out of cardboard either.” There is a loud noise in the basement, and Tolle stops for a second to glance down before continuing. “The stiff also had a bunch of grocery bags in the backpack, plastic grocery bags, some old newspapers, and a ball of yarn.

“I’m sorry - he had yarn? Like wool yarn, for knitting?”
>>
>>4524924

“Yeah. The first thing that we thought of was that after butchering Dander, they were going to wrap up the meat in the bags and the paper for transport, and maybe use the yarn to tie the wrapping down. But then the Deputies came along, and they point out how it is kind of suspicious for someone traveling so lightly to carry three potential sources for light. Maybe the paper was for kindling, maybe the yarn was for something – a fuse, I don’t know what. After the Deputies left, Fleckkers started telling anyone who would listen that he got one of the Firebugs, no doubt about it.

“I don’t want to cast aspersions here, maybe he really was convinced by the theory. But it could be … I don’t know if ‘politically motivated’ are the right words here, but Fleckkers is kind of in a disadvantaged position inside our group. Where just about everyone knew each other through Public Works or Public Safety, he is an outsider – worse, a retired career criminal. And he isn’t even a Mainer, he’s from away for God’s sake. But, if the bastard he plugged was a Firebug, was one of those responsible for that slaughter in the ‘Boat House’, then he’d definitely be more … shall we say, enthusiastically accepted. Of course, if the stiff was just after a pork chop, then that isn’t as heroic, now is it? He isn’t the only one who has had to draw in defense of life and property recently, and he isn’t the only one who had to kill either.

What do you think about all of this?

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Fleckkers is not ‘politically motivated’ here, he has been genuinely convinced by a logical argument, there is no need to discuss this with him at a later date.
>Fleckkers has been convinced by a logical argument, but is ‘playing politics’ here by advocating a theory as truth without mentioning alternative explanations. Talk with him at some point, feel him out.
>Fleckkers probably doesn’t care if the guy was or was not a Firebug, but is transparently ‘playing politics’ by claiming that he was. At some point, you should talk to him about this, and his feelings.

Please pick ONE of the following:
>There is nothing to definitely tie this botched raid with the Firebugs, simply take further precautions.
>There is enough circumstantial evidence to assume that it was Firebugs, give your attention to improving security over other concerns, even if it is at their expense.
>There is enough circumstantial evidence to assume that it was Firebugs, use the favors that Parasol owes you to improve security at your homestead.
>>
What I think is
Fleckkers has been convinced by a logical argument, but is ‘playing politics’ here by advocating a theory as truth without mentioning alternative explanations. Talk with him at some point, feel him out.
but what I want Mantle to reply is
Fleckkers is not ‘politically motivated’ here, he has been genuinely convinced by a logical argument, there is no need to discuss this with him at a later date.

So I'll go with:
>Fleckkers is not ‘politically motivated’ here, he has been genuinely convinced by a logical argument, there is no need to discuss this with him at a later date.
and
>There is nothing to definitely tie this botched raid with the Firebugs, simply take further precautions.
>>
>>4524953
+1
>>
>>4524925
>>4524953
+1, can we also throw in a quick
>Also, how is Dander doing?
>>
>>4524953
+1

I am so tempted to pick the second choice for the first talking point to put in some healthy skepticism, but last thing I wanna do is cause friction under the same roof by casting suspicion.
>>
Alright I will get to writing this up.
>>
The idea of Fleckkers playing ‘politics’ like this gives you a little bit of concern; assuming that this was just some pork thieves then him making himself out to be some sort of Firebug killer could – in the absolute worse-case scenario – draw down the attention of the actual Firebugs. Of course, you are already assuming that these were not Firebugs; which is not an iron-clad assumption. But the more you think about it, the more solid it feels.

These prowlers never even attempted to set fires; either to force the men out of the farmhouse by lighting it on fire, or baiting them to the barn by setting a fire over there. So, there were no tricks with fire. Maybe the trick was instead to bait you all into the barn with Dander’s screams; with that explanation, the comically botched slaughtering attempt would become deliberately produced and deployed bait, just like the stunt with the old bait shop. But if that was their intent, then they fucked it up almost immediately by losing control of Dander and then running out of the barn as if it was a clown car. What really sticks out to you was that if this was the work of Firebugs, then they went from pulling off a flawlessly executed ambush with guns and decent self-made improvised weapons and probably multiple groups in tandem to bumbling through something out of a sketch comedy in a matter of hours.

Not to mention, the ‘Pagliacci’ that got clipped was armed with nothing more than a hatchet. Really, the more you think about it, the more superficial the connections between this and the Firebug attack seem. In fact, there is nothing that would indicate that this was supposed to even be an attack and not just a robbery; or why on Earth the Firebugs would immediately target your homestead like this. While you will never know for sure, you feel pretty confident that these were just thieves. No doubt, with imminent food shortages for all non-group members, the first of many. And maybe at some point, the Firebugs will really target this place.

And as for Fleckkers … after everything he did for you recently, you are going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this ‘politicking’ dogshit. You said the worse-case scenario was that his bragging brings attention of actual Firebugs, but you can recognize that as the absolute deep dive paranoia worse-case. It is not realistic. There is no reason to potentially damage or strain a budding relationship with the most senior of your employees by making a stink where there probably is not. And if this was actually some sort of PR play with the group or whatever, then make sure he feels appreciated here, put in a good word or two when you can, and you are certain that he will no longer feel the need to play games.
>>
>>4526026
“Well, to be honest, I think the three of you had it right originally. This doesn’t sound like Firebugs, at least, with what I little have heard about them. And as for Fleckkers playing things up that he might or might not actually believe, really, I don’t see the need to make mountains out of molehills. What he is right now is a bit out of place, that’s all. If we want him to stop trying to impress us with this talk, all we need to do is make him realize that everyone is already impressed. Seems to be the gentlest way to quiet him down on this – if that is even necessary.” Tolle nods along, with noticeably widened eyes. He seems to be impressed.

“Now why don’t you fill me in on this situation or whatever you mentioned with Norton; he is splitting his time? With his family, right?” The nods abruptly stop, and Tolle reverts back almost immediately to that vague look of unease from earlier when the topic was first broached.

“Well, the thing is – I mean he has been a lot of help around here, did good work getting everything squared away here. And when things got bad that first night, he had the best instincts of any of us. Go upstairs to get some height on the bastards and make sure your mom is alright. But … he is eating here, and he has been cooking here for us too; good meals, just … ya know, with everything going on maybe the portions are a hair larger than they should be.”

“So then just tell him to tighten things up then. I don’t –.”

“The complication is that he’s getting a food allowance at Mt. Kineo. What Fleckkers and I think is going on, is that he is giving what he gets there to his family, and then he comes here to eat our food. I really don’t know that much about the situation there, but I know he is set up there like everyone else, and I know everyone else gets food. With everything that has been happening, especially here on the farm, I don’t know how the Hell to broach the subject. He has seniority on me, not to mention several ranks. And he certainly ‘outranks’ –” Tolle actually made the air-quotations “ – Fleckkers. If I am being honest, the group members that know about him probably think of him like the few prisoners we took on as probationers, which while understandable is also kind of uncalled for – if that makes any sense.
>>
>>4526094
“And Christ, this is the best explanation. Worse explanation is that he is helping himself to two sets of meals. Now, I know this guy, and I don’t think for a minute that he is doing that. I like the man, everyone likes him.” Tolle pauses here to gesticulate towards the ceiling. “Your mother likes him. He is a good guy, a genuinely good guy. It isn’t like he is sneaking food out, or anything like that. He isn’t getting more than his fair share – well, maybe he is sort of, but he isn’t eating more than his fair share. The problem is that he splits his time, every day between here and Mt. Kineo. If he was here permanently like he should, then there would be no issue here. But with all of the upheaval no one really knows who has what authority over who – I’m not sure who I would even talk to over there about this …”.

Well, really is a complication.

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Even though he clearly has the best of intentions here, this is not a good way to start a relationship. Make it clear that as long as he splitting his time, he cannot eat any of your food.
>Even though he clearly has the best of intentions here, this is not a good way to start a relationship. Make it clear that he needs to be here full-time … or not at all.
>Maybe his intentions are good, but this is raising a serious red flag. This complication … you don’t need it, just like you don’t need him. Request a replacement; and make bachelorhood a requirement.
>Maybe his intentions are good, but this is raising a serious red flag. This complication … you don’t need it, just like you don’t need him or anyone else beyond the possibility of Petra and Gunther.
>>
>>4526096
>Even though he clearly has the best of intentions here, this is not a good way to start a relationship. Make it clear that he needs to be here full-time … or not at all.
I feel like this is probably just going to be the third option but indirectly, but the first option is even more passive-aggressive- no food, no reason to come over. He can visit his family occasionally, but he needs to live here.
>>
>Maybe his intentions are good, but this is raising a serious red flag. This complication … you don’t need it, just like you don’t need him or anyone else beyond the possibility of Petra and Gunther.

I'm assuming this choice means we let him go gently, to his family, but not drive off Tolle and Fleckkers, right?
The place is already getting cramped and I think we stand a good chance of sealing the deal with Gunther and Petra.
He is probably the best around the place with farming and animals, but my spidey sense is telling me that Tolle is making this an issue for more than food concerns.
>>
>>4526149
You are correct that you would be only cutting Norton loose.
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>>4526149
Will change to this because now that I think about it I'd like to guarantee Norton is gone. I've been worried about our food supply and lasting through the winter and 6 is already pushing it a lot for me, this is a great chance to cut down. [Us, mum, Fleckkers, Tolle, Gunther, Petra]
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>>4526149
I agree here, while he is absolutely nice, we got many to take care of as it is. He's a capable man and should probably serve more useful elsewhere.
>>
Alright, consider this one closed. I will get to writing.
>>
I'm still catching up, but I just wanted to say this quest has been extremely good so far. I'm really invested.
>>
You can certainly understand the delicate nature of the complication, and you can even sort of understand why Tolle and Fleckkers did not exactly confront Norton about this … duplicity on their own. It was not their place to do so; it was yours. There are no two ways about this, this is a serious red flag. And despite knowing even less than Tolle does about the situation at Mt. Kineo, you are going to go out on a limb and say that if anyone over there knew that Norton was doing something like this, they would be less than pleased. You are not trying to condemn the man or anything like that, but with things the way they are, you will have to take a hard line on this – Norton is redundant, and there are legitimate concerns about his integrity. At the absolute least, you will cut him loose, albeit as gently as you can. It feels strange, passing judgement like this, especially considering the judged is not present, but if what Tolle says checks out, then there is nothing that he could say in his defense anyway.

“His good nature and his good intentions aside, this isn’t something that I can overlook or willingly forget. Assuming that he is getting meals here and there – that is unacceptable. Petra and Gunther might be living with us, and even if they decide not to, you and Fleckkers with my mother and me once I heal up is more than enough hands to keep a small operation like this productive and secure. As things stand, I am cutting him loose.”

Tolle looks mortified at that – no doubt he expected you to hand down a warning or come to an alternative agreement instead of just booting him out. His mouth opens and closes silently, those preposterous teeth of his sliding in and out of view behind his relatively thin lips. Before he can muster a supply, you hear the sounds of Fleckkers mounting the basement stairs as he makes his way up to the first floor. When he gets into the room, carrying a small and battered cardboard box of assorted drinks, the man is noticeably disheveled, speckled with dust and dirt. He speaks first.

“Where are the others?”

When you explain that you had your mother take them on a tour of the farmhouse so you could get a private word in with Tolle, Fleckkers gets a little aggravated. “God damn it; the last thing we want is outsiders nosing around here, getting an idea of what we got.” When you explain that all they have seen is the upstairs, and that your mother has probably already gotten side tracked and started up a long (and probably pointless) conversation, Fleckkers calms down a bit.
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>>4527324
“Well, alright. The only thing worth hiding upstairs is the bathroom, and I don’t think your mother would show them that …”. He trails off, but when he realizes you are confused he explains that the they had been using bagged ice in the tub as an improvised overflow for your chest freezer. While you had been able to get most of the bull moose meat into the freezer, with the addition of Tolle’s and Fleckkers’ frozen food, freezer space was at a premium. And that is not even considering the ice that had to be stuffed into the chest to keep it cool after the power went out. It is good to know that no food here has gone bad, but this is not a long-term solution by any stretch of the imagination. But before you can ask more about that –

“Mantle, please … you have to reconsider.” Ah. Tolle seems to have found his tongue here. You take a second to get Fleckkers caught up on everything that Tolle mentioned to you, and then you repeat your judgement. “Tolle, I understand you like the guy. But if what you said is true, then I don’t see any reason to keep him around. This isn’t the time to be dealing with unnecessary messes – now, I will be gentle about it, and considering the help he has been, I will be as discrete as I can about this. But he can’t be here with us.”

“That is not going to work out.” This time it is Fleckkers that is objecting. So much for passing judgement like some sort of lord. “Listen, when I … went into business for myself, one of the first things I learned is that the best way to protect something worthwhile is not guns or alarms or dogs or the latest and greatest safe. The best way is ignorance. Barring freak accidents, people cannot steal things that they don’t know about. Which is why I was so cagey earlier when you tried to steer the conversation towards what we scavenged.

“The problem is that Norton knows just about everything we have here; as well as the layout of the property and the surrounding area. So if you just have him shipped out, we will need to be worried about not just him, but anything that could let slip, to anyone really. There are two ways around this. One; see to it that his departure isn’t a demotion or reassignment, but a promotion. Parasol owes you a lot – pressure him to give Norton a better assignment, preferably with an improved meal plan or whatever. No doubt he will be as happy as a clam, and with any luck, he will be as quiet as one too. Of course, that would burn up a favor or two and it still wouldn’t be a sure thing. There would be a lot less to worry about if you simply had him and the family booted out; the draft of the Compact that I signed stated that stealing or accepting food known to have been stolen is considered a capital offense. Him and his wife would probably have their sentences commuted to exile, considering he was well liked and they have a family … unless you pressured the right people to see him hung.
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>>4527484
Tolle goes ballistic at this final suggestion, and bolts out of the chair next to you to glare at Fleckkers from his full height. He looks as if he is about to throttle the slightly built former safecracker, but manages to satisfy himself by angrily swearing at the man.

Jesus Christ, this is spiraling out of control here. This really is one Hell of a complication – if what Norton is doing is actually some sort of hanging offense according to this group charter that Fleckkers mentioned, then that really puts all of you in an incredibly awkward spot. Tolle clearly doesn’t want to see Norton get in trouble, which further explains his reluctance in reporting this to anyone. Fleckkers makes a solid point about why just cutting ties is not necessarily the best call here, considering what Norton already knows about the homestead. Assuming that these accusations pan out, and Norton has been ‘double-dipping’, then what on Earth are you supposed to do?

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Okay, this is a bit more complicated than you thought. Reverse your decision, and allow him to remain here.
>Okay, this is a bit more complicated than you thought. Reverse your decision, and allow him to remain here, after making it clear that he cannot ‘double-dip’ with your food supplies.
>You are going to stay the course you planned. Be gentle, be discrete, but be done with this man.
>A slight change in plan is required. You will call in a favor to ensure that Norton is promoted out of his assignment here. If he gets caught elsewhere, then that is not your fault, nor your concern.
>A slight change in plan is required. After checking that these accusations are true, then you will have the man reported. Without any intervention, him and his wife will be exiled; his children will be adopted (probably).
>A slight change in plan is required. After checking that these accusations are true, then you will have the man reported. With your intervention, he will be hung, possibly alongside his wife. If she is not, she will be exiled; their children will be adopted (probably).

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Inform Fleckkers and Tolle of your decision right now.
>Lie to the two of them, and say that you need more time to decide.

>>4527043 I am glad you are enjoying it!
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>>4527487
Welp, this absolutely complicates things. I think this could be excused if we could get him to live full time here, or not take part of the food, Either or works good, but apart from that the only possible way is to demote him upwards - Essentially, we'd be trading an favour from parasol to Norton. Anything else would be absolutely ridiculous.

Steal or no steal, He's still far to useful to be let go, and the fact that he's a friend would make exiling him hard. - However he needs a stern talking to about this.
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>>4527576
I suppose it is worth pointing out; we don't know the man very well at all. Tolle, however is good friends with him, and has informally vouched for him.
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>>4527609
No, but he seems a good and more importantly, useful fellow.
>>
>Get Norton's side of the story before deciding anything. Perhaps he commits more time and labor out here or maybe he can do us some favors to earn his way. We can even discuss logistics if he wants to bring his family out here because Fleckkers is right about loose lips being a problem, as it is even now with him splitting his time.

Maybe vermiculturing some earthworms for food(eat the bugs anon) and soil enrichment, doing beekeeping to preserve those necessary pollenators, and building a greenhouse to winter ctops and countertact Yellowstone clouds(the possible stolen heavy duty tolls of clear plastic come to mind if Fleckkers got them) could work-especially considering long term environmental effects on worms and bees but he'd need to help acquire that stuff.
We'll need a root cellar built too if we don't have one already and more canning jars too.
With the lack of commercially produced fertilizer and animal feed we will likely need to expand and we might have to resort to non-treated woodchip hugelculture and/or biochar production which could be time consuming. Considering possible acidication and radiation poisoning of lakes, aquaculture on a bigass covered swimmingpool level is probably a good idea too.

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Inform Fleckkers and Tolle of your decision now.

If he is the blabbing type, a promotion wont necessarily help, killing him off is bad for team cohesion. Look, we're part of Parasol's group but we're also kind of our own group. When it comes to the rules we have been playing fast and loose starting with Fleckker's heist.

Perhaps we're being too uptight here. Maybe we can use his knowledge of our tolerance of his food hustle to rope him into unsavoury deeds that need to be done. Honestly, if he is an opsec threat, so is his wife by now. Tolle is too loyal to stand for the direct approach of executing the guy but if worst comes to worst we can dissappear his whole family to the hogs and say they took off or poison them or shoot them and blame it on Firebugs.
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>>4527680
supporting this, very good thinking
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>>4527680
Supporting. We should confront and hear him out before cementing a decision.
>>
Alright, well, I will get started on a rough draft of the post tonight, then finish it up tomorrow. Look for it hopefully before noon on eastern standard time.
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>>4527680
I’ll support this if it isn’t too late
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>>4527487
>A slight change in plan is required. You will call in a favor to ensure that Norton is promoted out of his assignment here. If he gets caught elsewhere, then that is not your fault, nor your concern.

>Inform Fleckkers and Tolle of your decision right now.

I kind of like the idea of having a good contact at the Big house, close to Parasol.
>>
Before sparks start to fly and Gunther and Petra get the wrong idea about the level of cohesion at your homestead, you will have to interject yourself – verbally – between your two ‘hired men’. Tolle is in the process of chewing Fleckkers head off in an agitated hiss for the admittedly drastic suggestion of using your pull to see Norton permanently silenced. Despite Tolle’s best efforts however, it does not look like Fleckkers is intimidated, he is just standing there with his arms crossed looking at him with poorly hidden exasperation on his face. You got the impression earlier that Tolle and Fleckkers might have some level of … mutual respect maybe? But at this rate, they will be at each other’s throats, proverbially if not physically.

“Tolle! Keep it the fuck down – we have guests.” The man actually jolts a little bit like that, and taking advantage in a lapse you press on before he can resume berating Fleckkers. “In case this was not abundantly clear; all of this is hypotheticals. And none of this comes into play unless Norton is ‘double-dipping’ in the first place. The man is just doing due diligence by discussing all of the options we have here – if he really wanted to put the screws to Norton, he has had all sorts of opportunities to do so.” You shift as much as you can in the gurney to look at Fleckkers. “And you – the suggestions, they are solid. All of them. But would it kill you to be a bit more tactful about this? Or about the farm attack, for that matter. I know you weren’t trying to brag about it, but maybe next time sound a bit more worked up or remorseful about killing someone for God’s sake.”

The two of them silent, but they are looking at each other, as well as you, angrily. Well, at the very least, you have stopped them from making a scene here, but you are pretty certain that there is going to be some tension and distrust between the two of them going forward. With a bit of luck and a lot of diligence, hopefully you can smooth things out between the two of them, but this sort of stuff has never been your strong suit. That being said, as long as you are mindful of potential conflicts, you should be able to keep the peace and get good work out of them, even if you never are able to make them see eye to eye again.
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>>4528375
>Tolle is ANGRY at Fleckkers
>Fleckkers is FRUSTRATED at Tolle

“Now listen you two. I didn’t realize just how much trouble Norton might be in when I decided to cut him loose. Considering that this could just be a matter of life and death, then I need to talk to the man before I make any commitments. Tolle, I can see that you really like guy … and Fleckkers, you’ve raised a really good point about leaks and liabilities. No promises, but maybe we can work something out where he stays with us.”

The two of them sigh in relief – for two diametrically opposed reasons – and before either of them have a chance to say anything, you direct the conversation away from Norton to a new topic.

>Please pick TWO of the following:
>Ask the two of them how they think your Mother is holding up, it seems that she was frantic when she got the news.
>Ask the two of them their opinions on Gunther and Petra, and if they think you could manage having two more mouths to feed for Winter.
>Ask the two of them if there is a rough inventory of everything that was brought over.
>Ask the two of them if they need or want anything in particular.
>Ask the two of them what they think the Homestead needs.
>Ask the two of them how and what group members have been doing in your absence
>Ask the two of them how and what non-group members have been doing in your absence
>Ask the two of them how your injured Boar, Dander is doing
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>>4528380
>Ask the two of them how your injured Boar, Dander is doing
>Ask the two of them their opinions on Gunther and Petra, and if they think you could manage having two more mouths to feed for Winter.
>>
>Ask the two of them their opinions on Gunther and Petra, and if they think you could manage having two more mouths to feed for Winter.
>Ask the two of them if there is a rough inventory of everything that was brought over.

We need to eventually talk about Mantle's Mom's blood pressure or whatever pills. Its likely possible to wean her down to a lower dose or off them entirely.
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>>4528657
+1
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>>4528380
>Ask the two of them their opinions on Gunther and Petra, and if they think you could manage having two more mouths to feed for Winter.
>Ask the two of them what they think the Homestead needs.
>>
Alright, so I will start drafting this up tonight, and I will try to get the post up around noontime tomorrow, again for Eastern Standard Time. I should be able to get up multiple posts tomorrow too, assuming nothing comes up unexpectedly. knock on wood.
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Anons, should we just move to Mt.Kineo big house? There´s the issue of the stolen supplies but that we could easily ask for the group to forget that or just say we found them somewhere. Also, Gunther is a trained nurse. After we are recovered, he should rpobably go to the place where disease is most likely to start.
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>>4529588
We lose our privacy, our animals, our house, and so on and so forth by moving there.
Also, we'd be commies and gosh darn it we know how that would end up.
No thanks.
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>>4529588
my gut tells me big house will turn to shit sooner rather than later
>>
I'm thinking again about the militarize/underground and alliance/vs gaurd choices.

With Invasion likely, making nice with the Gaurd seems the best route along with militarizing so we end up as equal partners instead of conscripts or worse.
>>
“Before I forget – Fleckkers, is there a running inventory or something for everything that you brought over from the union? Just so I can get an idea of what we have to work with now?” Fleckkers shakes his head no, but then elaborates. “I got a general idea of what I grabbed, but exact numbers? No, but once things calm down, and we get into a bit of a routine here, then that would be something worthwhile. On the topic of inventories however …”. He points at the coffee table in front of you, with the binders, the papers, and alongside the loose money what on closer inspection appear to be receipts. Fleckkers walks over to the other side of the gurney, opposite of Tolle, and leans in conspiratorially.

“I broke into the office, to look for the spare key to the tractor they keep on the lot. I was digging through the papers and stuff, when I realized … just how valuable all those papers could be.” He smiles, and steps away for a moment to grab a handful to show you. “Merchant’s copies of receipts from the last year, and where applicable billing and delivery addresses. There was also a bulletin board full of ads, you know, buying, selling, help wanted, work-for-hire, not to mention a bunch of Aunt Henrietta’s – those classifieds. Remember what I said about ignorance?” There is a smug look plastered across his face right now. “It stands to reason that people buying animal feed and farming equipment, or who were looking for farmhands or selling … I dunno, farm stuff – it stands to reason that these people have farms. Now, of course, I’m not saying that we just go out and rob them, but a number of these leads are pretty close by. We move quick, we might be able to track down farm animals before they all get eaten up, and even if we don’t manage to get a single animal we have an idea of where we can look for equipment or supplies later.”

Tolle speaks up, also moving in to speak conspiratorially. “I wanna reiterate the point that this is just not to steal from people, or loot things from them once their farms fail. We got – well, at least, I think we got enough land and hands to expand the homestead here, what we are limited by is food. But if we found someone who was making enough to feed themselves, wouldn’t we all be better off trying to convince them to either merge their operation with ours, bring them, their animals and stuff over, or alternatively get them established nearby as a sort of satellite operation?” Fleckkers is nodding along at that, then glancing at the ceiling, leans in further and whispers “and I should add, that no one but us – that includes Norton, knows about this.”
>>
>>4530270
Holy shit – Fleckkers for the fucking win! You had never thought that there would be an opportunity to expand the homestead through this, but here it is, delivered to you on a silver platter. Of course, there is one catch. To capitalize as much as possible on this information, you would need to keep this to yourselves, from the rest of the group. You don’t know exactly what would happen if it got out that you were hiding this information from the rest of the group, but you cannot imagine that it would positively impact your relationship. On the other hand, it has already been three days. There is not enough of you or time left to secure every possible animal, but if the entire group was brought into the know, then you all will no doubt be able to collect more animals, equipment and supplies. As it would be split across the entire group, it would effectively guarantee that your relationship with the rest of the group would improve, not to mention the groups prospects for making it through the Winter … at the cost of a smaller take for you and yours.

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Share the intelligence you have with the rest of the group, knowing that things will almost certainly devolve into a free for all where you will receive less than you would otherwise.
>Do not share the intelligence you have with the rest of the group, knowing that the Winter will be harder for them (collectively) and that there will be issues if it ever comes out.
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>>4530273
>Share the intelligence you have with the rest of the group, knowing that things will almost certainly devolve into a free for all where you will receive less than you would otherwise.

Lone wolfing will be a detriment in the long term.
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>>4530273
>Share the intelligence you have with the rest of the group, knowing that things will almost certainly devolve into a free for all where you will receive less than you would otherwise.
We'll play nice until there's good reason not to.
Although I'm curious at what point we would theoretically hit a critical mass of 'big enough be our own force that Parasol would lose too much by fighting' and how close we'd be if we chose the other option.
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>>4530273
As much as he's done a good job, i think it's better to tell - we can't do this alone efficiently - Besides, we shouldn't think about outcompeting parasol; we have more to gain in surviving rather than being king of the ashes.
>>
>Share the intelligence you have with the rest of the group, knowing that things will almost certainly devolve into a free for all where you will receive less than you would otherwise.

With the right leadership for farming and food production, things will get downright fuedalist- in a good way.
>>
>Share the Intel
> To present to Comrade Parassol our interest in recovering these goods for the people BUT clarify the good use that we could give them with our experienced hand.
In the middle of the apocalypse there is no corruption, only survival matters comrade anon.
>>
>>4530448
That is probably going to be quite a ways off. You also need to consider that the people in your orbit are not drones, they might not stick with you if you made them chose between you or Parasol.

Anyways, there is a pretty clear majority. I will get to writing this up.
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>>4530560
Oh, yeah, I harbor no thoughts of some suicidal rebellion when we currently benefit from being in his group. (nor do I expect us to actually become the guy in charge unless everyone else above us just dies, which probably means we're fucked)
I was mostly just thinking out loud.
>>
“Fleckkers, you did a good job pulling all of this information together, and I understand why you decided to keep it quiet, but as things stand it is already the third day. Farm animals are probably being slaughtered for food or being stolen as we speak. If we try to keep this to ourselves, then I don’t see this paying out for us. Consider this; I’m on bedrest for the immediate future, and we’ve said enough here about Norton’s arrangements. That leaves just the two of you to act on all of this. It is going to be slow going working through that backlog with just two people, and it will be even slower if you have to split your focus on other things, which is almost guaranteed. Way I see it, by the time you have made an appreciable start, getting through all of that, most of the animals and much of the supplies will have probably ‘evaporated’.” You pause to take a breath and to compose your thoughts here.

“We can either have a share of all of this, if we bring the rest of the group in on this, or we can have all of pittance, if we try to keep this to ourselves. Forget what would be best for the group, and forget what would just be terrible for all four of us if any hint of this … excessive self-interest … got out.” You know that you are laying it on really thick here, but it seems to be working. Fleckkers doesn’t look happy about sharing this windfall with the rest of the group, but you will take disappointed over angry any day. For all you talk about hauls and pittances, you doubt that you are going to get more by bringing the rest of the group in on all of this, but if you were to concede that, then you would be making an opening for Fleckkers to object to this. You doubt that Tolle would raise any objections to this, now or in the future, considering how ashamed he looks at the moment. A particularly loud creak from the upstairs draws all of your attention for a moment, but after it becomes apparent that your mother and the Peakes are still somehow not done touring the three rooms on the second floor, Fleckkers has another question.

“Alright – sure, we probably would have a hard time trying to get everything ourselves. But I spent some time looking through those papers, and I think I identified two or three ‘whales’, you know big spenders. Stands to reason that anyone dropping serious money at a ‘Farmer’s Union’ has a bit more than a vegetable patch and a chicken coop. So, you want to do right by the group, all well and good. But if we hand all of our leads over, then who knows if what happens is going to be in the best interest of the group? What if a group member or two uses the information we piss – I mean, we gave them … and they to do a bit of robbing and rustling on one of these full scale farms, the day before we, acting as representatives of the group, try to establish a working relationship with that farm.
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>>4530811
“All of a sudden, Farmer Brown probably isn’t that interested in trusting others. And God forbid, if it somehow came out that we were connected to the robbery, then we might not make it out of that meeting alive, let alone with a positive outcome. And it doesn’t need to be their farm either, we just need to be connected to people looting farms, then we’ll always be getting barn doors slammed in our faces.

"Understandably so. Imagine if I went to a bank, and tried to get a job as a bank teller, and when they said ‘are you crazy, you are a convicted safecracker’ I came back with ‘I don’t see the problem, I never robbed any of your safes’. That wouldn’t fucking work. Sure, if there is only the two of us, then we move slowly, and we will probably miss out on a lot, maybe even all of the small stuff. But if there are only two of us working, then we don’t need to worry about group members ruining our reputation, or setting potential allies against us.” Before you can respond to that, Tolle interjects here.

“It is one thing to be concerned about group members robbing a farmer that we are trying to recruit, but what about outsiders? Going back to the point about if someone is robbed, they are probably going to be less likely to trust strangers – even if we don’t tell the rest of the group about these ‘whales’ of yours, that doesn’t mean that no one is going to attempt to rob those farms before we reach out to the farmers, right?”
>>
>>4530817
Fleckkers has an answer for that. “So then we move quick as we can to reach out to these big operations, today if possible, tomorrow if not. Get them on board and signed up before things take another and sharper turn for the worse. And if they don’t want to work with us, then the effort and resources spent on negotiations aren’t a complete waste, because in the process we have cased their farms … if we were to have to go that route. And as for losing out on the rest, these non-whales, minnows, whatever the fuck – realistically speaking, it was always going to be high effort for questionable reward driving out to properties that bought two bags of chicken feed every month. I still think that we shouldn’t bring the rest of the group in on this, but if we had to, then we should keep the best for ourselves somehow – it really is in everyone’s best interest for us to take the point on dealing them.”

Please pick ONE of the following:
>Reverse your previous decision, and keep all of the intelligence to yourselves.
>Reach out to the ‘whales’ ASAP to recruit or trade with them. Then share intelligence on non-cooperating ‘whales’ and all ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group.
>Share all intelligence about ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group immediately, while planning on reaching out to ‘whales’ ASAP. Do not share any information about any ‘whales’ ever.
>Inform the group about the existence of the intelligence, but make sharing it with them conditional on your exclusive control on the dissemination of the intelligence, allowing you to target the 'whales' without competition or potential interference from the group.
>Share all intelligence, and just ask that the dissemination of the intelligence is tightly controlled, and that you are allowed to approach the ‘whales’ before any intelligence is released to the group at large.
>>
>Reach out to the ‘whales’ ASAP to recruit or trade with them. Then share intelligence on non-cooperating ‘whales’ and all ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group.
The way I see it we can get the top shelf equipment for ourselves and let the group know we can take some initiative to show were more than just a scav. I guess we could be seen as the new head of agriculture or something
>>
>>4530873
>Reach out to the ‘whales’ ASAP to recruit or trade with them. Then share intelligence on non-cooperating ‘whales’ and all ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group.
>>
>>4530820
>Inform the group about the existence of the intelligence, but make sharing it with them conditional on your exclusive control on the dissemination of the intelligence, allowing you to target the 'whales' without competition or potential interference from the group.
>>
>>4530820
>Reach out to the ‘whales’ ASAP to recruit or trade with them. Then share intelligence on non-cooperating ‘whales’ and all ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group.
The bird that gets up early ...
>>
>Reach out to the ‘whales’ ASAP to recruit or trade with them. Then share intelligence on non-cooperating ‘whales’ and all ‘minnows’ with the rest of the group.
>>
Alright, consider this closed. I will get to writing this up.
>>
Hey guys sorry for the delays, I forgot I have a test tomorrow. I will try to get a post up for an overnight vote tonight, and then hopefully, I will be able to start running again regularly after the test finishes up around noon time.
>>
Good luck on the test, QM.
>>
Good luck OP! Quick reminder: we also voted to ask Tolle and Flekkers what they think about the Gunthers
>>
>>4532300
Don't worry, I didn't forget that. (Also, they are Petra Peake and RN Gunther Peake, not Petra Gunther and RN Gunther Gunther.)

To get things moving along, I will put this to a vote right now. Parasol is going to try to come by to see you today. While you do have a lot to talk about, and some favors to discuss, any meeting with him would have an elephant in the room; you are currently planning on going outside of the group to recruit and/or trade with local farmers (to the benefit of yourselves more than the benefit of the group, if we are being honest here). The current plan is to not tell him or anyone else anything about the intelligence that Fleckkers gathered for you, until they have attempted to reach out to all of the whales. If you don't send word telling him that you are resting, then he will come at some point in the next 36 hours.

>Send word to Parasol that you are recovering, and to 'take a raincheck' on his visit for now.
>Do not send word to Parasol, and make some arrangements for an important visit.
>>
>Do not send word to Parasol, and make some arrangements for an important visit.

Parasol has likely heard of our torture, if we delay meeting with Parasol, he might take rash actions that would lower chances of making peace with the Gaurd. I think we should juggle things here at the Mantle House.
>>
>>4532499
>Send word to Parasol and ask to come at hour AFTER our hiredmans go after the whales.

IDK, sounds like a plan for me. If not, then

>Do not send word to Parasol, and make some arrangements for an important visit.

We have some vodka to offer him?
>>
Just to clarify, if we choose to not send word to Parasol we are delaying contacting the whales until after, right?
>>
>>4532576
+1
>>
>>4532612
Oh, no the opposite actually. It had already been settled that our character's hired men would be heading out as soon as they can to make contact with the whales - as the choices are presented now, your men going out to see the whales and deciding if you deliberately try to avoid him are independent of each other.

>>4532576
I can allow this.

Considering that there was some confusion over what was being voted on, I will let this sit for a bit longer before closing it.
>>
Two times in a row now, you have made and then announced important decisions, only to find that you did not have critical information. First with your ‘ruling’ on Norton, where you were going to cut him loose, only to find that doing so might lead to a situation where he would be expelled or executed, if the reason for his dismissal got out. Then there was this whole thing about acting on the intelligence Fleckkers gathered for you at the Farmer’s Union. While you definitely should not have just assumed that all of the leads that you had were of equal (potential) value, the fact of the matter is that Fleckkers should have led with the discussion of ‘whales’ and ‘minnows’. Instead it had to be drawn out of the man – which was more than you got from Tolle when the two of you were talking about Norton. If Fleckkers had not returned, you might never have known just how much trouble Norton was getting himself into.

It seems that neither of your two hired men have been particularly forthcoming with you here; and while you cannot say that you have gotten off to a bad start with them, things could be a lot … better? Transparent, maybe? The way you see it, there are probably three things contributing to the tightness of their tongues here. Point one; none of the three of you here know the others particularly well. You cannot expect the kind of openness that requires trust among passing acquaintances and strangers, especially under the current circumstances. Everyone is going to be playing everything closer to their chests.

Point two; the subject matter. Tolle being friends and colleagues with Norton, has clearly been trying to protect him by presenting the situation in the best possible light … by omitting information about the seriousness of his (alleged) infraction. And Fleckkers, especially with all of his talk about ignorance as the greatest protection against theft, probably is not use to talking about these things at all, especially with people who do not think like thieves … though you will admit that you should have considered that not all of the leads were of equal value, rendering many of your arguments for immediate disclosure weaker if not null completely. To be honest, the mindset and perspective of a good thief and a good scrapper are probably pretty similar.

Point three is probably the ‘lightest’ if you will of the compounding factors, but it is the only one that will not work itself out on its own over time. Personality. Tolle seems pretty straightforward; and his reluctance to share important information was (at least hopefully) only because of the exceptional nature of current circumstances and the fact that he was trying to protect his friend. You do not have any doubts that you can get him to open up to you with enough time. Fleckkers, on the other hand, is a completely different story.
>>
>>4532789
Point three is probably the ‘lightest’, if you will, of the compounding factors, but it is the only one that will not work itself out on its own over time. Personality. Tolle seems pretty straightforward; and his reluctance to share important information was (at least hopefully) only because of the exceptional nature of current circumstances and the fact that he was trying to protect his friend. You do not have any doubts that you can get him to open up to you with enough time. Fleckkers, on the other hand, is a completely different story. You thought you knew the guy … but now all you know for certain about him is that he holds discretion in high regard. Beyond that, the alarmingly jittery poaching scofflaw is completely at odds with the determined, hardened, and deliberate worker standing by your bedside right now. You do not have a read on the man anymore, but if you had to take a guess based off of what you know about him now, he is the sort who never really speaks freely about anything important – both a useful and frustrating trait.

“Alright, for now, we will keep quiet. Oher or someone said something about Parasol coming by, maybe today – but why don’t we plan on sending word for him to come over after whoever is heading out heads out?” To your surprise, both of your men seemed surprised at that announcement. After a moment, Tolle ventures; “Parasol is coming … here?” You try to nod, forgetting again that your neck is in a brace still after your collarbone was incrementally crushed. After the wave of pain subsides, you hoarsely croak out a ‘yes’. Realizing that he has not said anything yet on the topic, your eyes turn to Fleckkers, still standing to your right. His eyes have turned to the boxes of supplies all along the wall that he ‘scavenged’ from the Farmer’s Union. This time, there is no need to ask him what he is thinking; it is plain to see that he is concerned about Parasol and who knows who else seeing the supply situation on the homestead here. Less obvious is what, if anything, should be done?

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will fast track the meeting to the point where it will happen before you can send ‘feelers’ out to the ‘whales’.
>Do not ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will allow you to have the meeting after you send ‘feelers’ out to the whales. Do not bother trying to hide anything here, the time between now and the meeting maybe spent preparing for the ‘whales’ or on other matters.
>Do not ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will allow you to have the meeting after you send ‘feelers’ out to the whales. Discuss your options in hiding all or some of the haul here, the time between now and the meeting must be spent on preparing for the ‘whales’ and hiding the supplies.
>>
>Do not ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will allow you to have the meeting after you send ‘feelers’ out to the whales. Discuss your options in hiding all or some of the haul here, the time between now and the meeting must be spent on preparing for the ‘whales’ and hiding the supplies.

It would look super wierd to meet elsewhere and its not like we need to hide everything. Mantle is a junk cleaner and a farmer- both of which tend to be hoaders.
>>
>>4532819
>Do not ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will allow you to have the meeting after you send ‘feelers’ out to the whales. Discuss your options in hiding all or some of the haul here, the time between now and the meeting must be spent on preparing for the ‘whales’ and hiding the supplies.
>>
>>4532819
>Do not ask to meet Parasol at another location; doing this will allow you to have the meeting after you send ‘feelers’ out to the whales. Discuss your options in hiding all or some of the haul here, the time between now and the meeting must be spent on preparing for the ‘whales’ and hiding the supplies.
Don't hide the vodka my friends, comrade Parasol is coming
>>
Alright, I will get to writing this up.
>>
“If Parasol is going to be swinging by today or tomorrow, then we will need to straighten things up. Obviously, we want those papers under lock and key, but it probably would be a smart move to get all of the supplies here stashed out of the way. In the kitchen, there is a boarded up door that leads to an addition to the farmhouse that I had to seal up; it isn’t anything suitable for the long term, but for now we can stash stuff in …”

You trail off after you notice Fleckkers shaking his head no. “We already got it opened up – right now, it is already pretty full.” After a moment, you realize that your mouth is hanging open. “You opened up the old wing … and there still isn’t enough space? Jesus fuck – how much did you shit did you take man?” The retired career criminal looks genuinely indignant. “Mantle, I’m not some kleptomaniac packrat, I took only what was worth taking. But in case you didn’t realize, Tolle, Norton and myself all have homes here on the lake that we had to abandon. Anything we leave in them is as good as gone, so we’ve had to make a lotta hard decisions on what was worth keeping and what we were going to have let go.” You raise your hands in a conciliatory gesture. “Sorry – I’m sorry. Should’ve realized … Is there room upstairs then?”

Tolle speaks up. “It would be standing room only, but there should be room enough – unless those friends of yours are staying – if that was the case, then I don’t think that would work, even temporarily, as Parasol could be by today or tomorrow. But I got a couple of ideas. We got plenty of tarps on hand; we could make room in the wing by taking some of the stuff in there and keep it outside all wrapped up, either by the house or maybe just out of sight in woods. Then there is the barn. Leaves a lot to be desired in terms of cleanliness and security, but if you wanted to keep everything under a roof, that would be one option. The other option if you wanted to keep things under a roof … there are a couple of houses nearby – we could see if we could get one opened up.”

Please pick ONE of the following
>Store the overflow (the least valuable and most weatherproof items) under tarps by the farmhouse
>Store the overflow under tarps just out of sight in the woods
>Store the overflow in a corner of the barn, after attempting to clean and secure the building.
>Store the overflow on one of several nearby properties, after clearing, cleaning and securing the building.
>>
>>4534120
so, we can't just hide it by lots in the different rooms of the house right? hmmm i would like say something like "but we can hide it in the..." but dont have a idea to where, just a lot of meme's hide places. So...
Wait, we can ask to one of our friend, like comrade Fleckkers, to stay with the lot in the 4th option?
>>
>Store the overflow in a corner of the barn, after attempting to clean and secure the building.

Another excuse as to where some of this came from is stuff from our crew's houses. I think we'll be okay.
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>>4534120
>>4534511
>Store the overflow in a corner of the barn, after attempting to clean and secure the building.
I'd rather not leave anything outside, that makes us more of a target even if it is tarped. People don't just put tarps over nothing.
>>
Fuck it, I'm leaving that, I'm clearly incapable of quoting only the QM's post right now.
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>>4534334
ok I withdraw everything previously said, changing my vote for this >>4534511

But let Flekks stay in the barn taking care of everything.
>>
Alright, consider this closed for storing things in the barn. Next post will be you asking the two of your hired men what they think of the Peakes.

>>4534575
When the time comes, you could definitely have or someone stay with the stuff. Of course, the issue is that whoever stays with the things cannot be set out to negotiate with the whales on your behalf.
>>
The immediate frustration that you felt at being told that there was no room to temporarily hide the supplies in the living room here anywhere else in the house has now completely given way to a sort of cautious relief about your collective situation on the homestead. You still are worried of course, but you are not feeling as bad as you had been about everyone’s odds of making it through Winter and beyond. Supplies and infrastructure have been locked down pretty well from what you have seen, and serious precautions are being taken against further internal attacks from Firebugs or non-group members around the lake, in addition to the defenses against intrusion from outsiders.

Still, all of the supplies, infrastructure, and protection will not mean anything if there is not enough food. You never really gave much thought to the amount you ate cumulatively, beyond how much you spent on it, of course, but the more you think about what one person eats over time, the more you worry about how the group is ever going to be able to get 250 people through this Winter. You try to reassure yourself, by considering how much food could be had if you were able to bring on one or more of these ‘whales’ … but all that does is make you more anxious about the situation. Realistically, you can only expect one shot, if that even, at getting these ‘whales’ on board. And you and your men are going to be taking that one shot, not the group. Sure, if you fail to recruit them, then it is definitely possible to target them – but unless you or the group manage to take over their entire operation wholesale, odds are that you will not be reaping the kind of benefit that you would be if they joined up willingly. Which means that without exaggeration, lives very well could be hanging in the balance here.

As a way to distract yourself temporarily, you tenderly lift up your uninjured left hand, and with much more deliberation (and discomfort) than usual, you run your fingers through your hair. It is noticeably greasy, not to mention an absolute mess of tangles and you realize that you have not gotten a good look at yourself since you got shot, which by now has been three full days. At the very least, if you can move your arm, then you should be able to clean yourself well enough – better that than relying on someone else. After a moment, you notice that Tolle and Fleckkers are looking at you, and you realize that you haven’t made a decision.
>>
>>4535567
“Ah … well, I think – the barn. I like the idea of keeping it under a roof, and while it might not be the cleanest option, I don’t want us spreading ourselves thinner than necessary by just stuffing it into a nearby house, especially considering there have been attacks.” It might be worth considering having someone sleep in the barn for the foreseeable future, though you cannot imagine whoever you saddle with that responsibility will be particularly enthused about it. Changing gears for a moment, you ask the two of your hired men what they think of the Peakes. Tolle speaks up first.

“The two of them seem really nice, and someone with real medical know-how would be a great addition around here, especially considering your condition.” While Fleckkers echoes Tolle’s sentiment, he is noticeably more cautious. “Having a medic on staff would be good, but I don’t know if there is the room for two more people here, not to mention the food situation.” Tolle tuts exasperatedly at that and gestures at the papers strewn over the coffee table as he responds. “What do you mean, ‘food situation’? On top of production from the animals here, we’re sure to get something out of all of this.”

Now it is Fleckkers turn to be exasperated, sighing and shaking his head as he replies. “You can’t spend money that you don’t have. Plan with what we have now, not what we hope we can get later.” Tolle’s response to that carries a bit more heat than necessary. “What the Hell do you mean, you can’t spend money that you don’t have? What the fuck do you think debt is? And we got eggs and milk, and if it comes to it, meat. Regular production. So even if none of this pans out, there is going to be enough to split seven ways.” Just before combat is rejoined between the two of them and thing devolve into another hissing match, the sounds of your mother and the Peakes descending the stairs interrupt the two of them. As the three of you watch the three of them renter the living room, you reflect on what little Fleckkers and Tolle actually said about the Peakes.
>>
>>4535568
Tolle seems to be completely on board with them moving in, while Fleckkers seems to have reservations about space and food concerns. Importantly, both of them seem to like the Peakes, though both of them are not working on anything more than first impressions … as well as the knowledge that Gunther saved your life. Honestly, if you were to have guessed what their answers to the question would have been instead of asking them, you would have been pretty much on the money – though it is good to know for sure that the two of them will not have any issues with the Peakes themselves if they do move in.

Mother is in the process of herding your two guests, both looking noticeably tired, into the kitchen to continue her tour of your place.

Please pick ONE of the Following:
>Allow her to continue her grand tour of your homestead, and take the Peakes out of earshot again so you can continue to ask Tolle and Fleckkers questions privately.
>Ask her if she would be willing to cook something light for all of you, allowing you to ask questions to the Peakes and your hired men.
>Ask her to take a break, so you can ask questions from everyone.

Please pick ONE of the Following:
>Eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.
>Do not eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.
>>
>>4535569
>Ask her if she would be willing to cook something light for all of you, allowing you to ask questions to the Peakes and your hired men.
>Eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.
I'm split between the second and third options on the first choice but I feel like if we leave Gunther and Petra on the never-ending post-apocalyptic home tour extravaganza then they're going to get annoyed.
>>
>>4535569
>Ask her if she would be willing to cook something light for all of you, allowing you to ask questions to the Peakes and your hired men.
>Eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.
We'll need to talk more about the food situation. I wonder if Fleckkers grabbed any oats from the farm coop.
>>
>>4535571
Sounds good. food, then work.
>>
>>4535569
>>Ask her if she would be willing to cook something light for all of you, allowing you to ask questions to the Peakes and your hired men.
>Do not eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.
The Peakes' were referred to as noticeably tired. They've already done a lot for us, and deserve some rest. I don't know about immediately enlisting their help moving Fleckkers' haul out to the barn. Why don't we let them take it easy and talk for a little while, get a meal to them and ask if they'd be comfortable staying here with us while we eat, and allow them to rest before asking they play packmule.
Was on a hunting trip these past 11 days or so, banned on mobile so I couldn't vote during the brief stints of having cell service. I should be available for the foreseeable future.
>>
>>4535569
>>Ask her if she would be willing to cook something light for all of you, allowing you to ask questions to the Peakes and your hired men.

we can continue with this exchange of ideas later, is time to work... well, eat then work.

>Do not eventually ask your mother and the Peakes to help with moving the supplies in the room here into the corner of the barn.

>>Gunther, Petra, can both of u help my friends and my mom to hide this of my boss and comrade who is coming anytime soon and i dont want him seeing everything what we have here?
>>Also, everything was adquired in absoluty legal ways, dont worries abotu that hahaha

ahaha no, they're, rn, our guests.
>>
Alright, so lets see. Asking her to prepare something light to eat is unanimous, and asking your mother and the Peakes to help with moving everything into the barn is 3 to 2 against. I will get to writing this up.
>>
You better speak up, or mother will drive your guests into the ground without realizing it – from what you have seen here, the Peakes are too polite to beg off. “Mother, I hate to impose like this, but would you be willing to cook up something light? I actually don’t remember the last time I ate.” She stops in her tracks, and turns to look at you, blinking, for a moment before speaking. “Reggie, why the Hell didn’t you say so sooner – of course I can get something pulled together. A decent breakfast – and before you say anything, I know, I know, the food needs to last, I won’t go overboard or anything.” Perhaps coming from someone else that would be reassuring considering how tight things are going to be now, but your mother’s meals have never been particularly large (or good, but that is neither here nor there). She has always been able to sustain herself on remarkably little food and water, so whenever she prepared meals the portions were always to her size – unfortunately for you, as you did not have her Upside Down Metabolism.

Mother heads out to the kitchen, and the Peakes take a seat. You had intended to use the opportunity to ask them or your hired men more questions, but as you try to muster a question the only thing that comes to you is the realization of just how worn down, how tired you really are. You have been through so much, and you have not had the opportunity to properly recuperate – beyond the brief stints you spent knocked out, you have not had any shut eye for much to long in your battered state.

With our character confined to a bed, I am thinking that including the option for small time skips to keep things moving forward is probably the best call to prevent the quest from completely turning into a slog, now that our character is out of danger. Also, good news - I am all caught up on my work, so I can run more regularly again. Thanks to everyone who stuck with it through this lull on the end of the Bangor Arc.

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Make a resilience roll here to stay awake, allowing you to ask questions and make plans
>Allow yourself to pass out, time skipping to the arrival of Parasol (all of the supplies will have been moved to the barn, and Fleckkers will have set out to seek out the ‘whales’)
>>
>>4536983
>Allow yourself to pass out, time skipping to the arrival of Parasol (all of the supplies will have been moved to the barn, and Fleckkers will have set out to seek out the ‘whales’)
we should eat Mother's cooking first then sleep
>>
>Allow yourself to pass out, time skipping to the arrival of Parasol (all of the supplies will have been moved to the barn, and Fleckkers will have set out to seek out the ‘whales’)

The bed. It calls us.
>>
>>4537021
>>4536986
Consider this closed. I just need to take care of something quick, then I can get to writing this up.
>>
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You fight off sleep just long enough to eat the breakfast that your mother prepared for you – freezer waffles that had been toasted (and burnt) on the stove top with apple slices – before it finally overtakes you. Unfortunately, your sleep is not particularly deep, as several times you are inadvertently awoken as everyone else is clearing out the living room to receive Parasol and his entourage.

Eventually you find yourself being deliberately roused from sleep by your mother. The first thing that you notice is that the room has gotten noticeably darker. Either the windows have been sealed up tighter, and are not allowing in as much light, or the sun is already setting. Someone has put out candles on plates all around the room, but none of them have been lit yet. The box of assorted drinks that Fleckkers had struggled earlier had been cleaned up and left by the fireplace. The bedding on the cots had been properly made up, and to your pleasant surprise, you notice that one of the cots that the Peakes brought with them has been set up in the room here as well – if that does not mean they have decided to stay with you, then at the very least they must be giving it serious thought. Additionally, it seems that someone, probably your mother, has taken it upon themselves to clean you up a bit, judging by the almost overwhelming smell of soap and deodorant. As you blink yourself awake, you run your hand through your hair to find that it is noticeably less greasy than it was when you went to sleep – apparently, you were sleeping a lot deeper than you thought you were. You also notice that someone, almost certainly your mother, has attached a ‘clip-on’ tie to your neck brace.

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Remove ‘clip-on’
>Keep ‘clip-on’

More importantly, the supplies that were crowded into towering stacks all around the walls of the room have been carried off, and the papers and binders (and loose money) that was smothering the coffee table have been cleared away. Your inspection of the room is interrupted by your mother gently poking you on your arm to get your attention. “Reggie, Mr. Parasol just pulled in. Fleckkers left about half an hour ago, he said that he was going to pick up Norton, and then take care of a few things. Everyone else is still here. If you need for us to clear out, please, just say so, we can head over to Tolle’s place and finish hauling everything over here.”

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Ask everyone to stay here for your meeting
>Ask everyone to finish clearing out Tolle’s house
>>
>>4537179
>Keep ‘clip-on’
thanks mom
>Ask everyone to finish clearing out Tolle’s house
On one hand we're probably not going to be particularly good at negotiating, well, anything in this state, but on the other hand Parasol probably would appreciate the privacy and without it we might not get told what the fuck is going on.
>>
>>4537179
>>Keep ‘clip-on’
Heh. Way too amusing to pass up on.
>Ask everyone to stay here for your meeting
We should let the Peakes meet Parasol. We don't want to upset them by keeping them in the dark and sending them off to play more pack mule when the big guy shows up. If Parasol needs them to clear out of the room for any confidential details, I'm sure it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to have them wait somewhere out of earshot.
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>>4537179
>Keep ‘clip-on’
make a joke about the tie when Parasol comes. Can be one with hearths or something like "this? was a gift from a girlfriend in the high school and well, is the only tie i want to wear in the end of the world" type of tie? Please, is everything what Mantle isn't.

>Ask everyone to finish clearing out Tolle’s house
if we don't ask it, Parasol will do it. But ask for the Peakes to stay and introduces them to Parasol.

QM, Mantle can drink something with alcohol in all this condition of "i need dialysis or i will die"? if we can, we can take somethin with Parasol to "make it casual", and if not, we can take somethin with Parasol just to acertate dominance? like "nothing gonna stop me now".
>>
>>4537221
>>4537226
>>4537282
I need to take a quick shower, but when I get out, I will close the vote and get to writing.
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>>4537282
I can definately use that joke. And for the drinking, I don't think it would fatal, but causal drinking like that is pretty out of character for Mantle. I will have to think about that some, see how the post evolves.

Anyway, I am out of the shower now (obviously) and I will get to writing.
>>
Before you can formulate an answer, your two guests enter the living room from the kitchen. They have changed some of their clothes, presumably after working outside in the barn. Both of them are looking pretty wan – it occurs to you a second later that neither of them have had the opportunity to take a nap, nor had they even had the questionable relief of being knocked unconscious for a bit during the flight out of Bangor. The two of them have been running longer and harder than you have been, and here you are considering sending them out to do more work for you. Honestly, you really are a lousy host, taking advantage of your guests like this. Still, you cannot have them here with you while you are catching up with Parasol – no doubt their presence (and your mother’s as well) will prevent him from getting into the ‘nitty-gritty’. You are not willing to spend any longer in the dark, even if that requires taking advantage of your guests’ good nature. Promising to yourself that you will find someway to make up to the two of them, you shift yourself as much as you can towards your mother to let her hear your decision.

“Why don’t the four of you head over to Tolle’s place now. Just … no need to push yourselves over there. Take breaks, take naps, take a quick drive around the lake to show our guests the sights. And if you don’t finish there before it is time to come back, then that’s perfectly fine. Whatever has lasted three days will probably be good for four – right Tolle?” The man looks confused, and maybe even a bit flustered (though you cannot imagine why) but he nods along at your suggestion regardless. Gunther looks like he might actually object to that, understandably so, considering that you have been doing nothing but high-handing him since you arrived at the lake, but before he can get a word in edgewise, you beat him to the punch.

“Gunther, my boss, Parasol, is here. I said I was gonna introduce you to him, and I will. But after the introductions, then I will be speaking to him. Alone. Probably for a while, there is a lot we’ll have to talk about. When I am done, I will send him over to Tolle’s house, so you can have your talk with him. Okay?” Before he can answer that, however, you find yourself hastily adding “Listen, if something happens to us here… with the Guard, I mean … then the less you know, the better it will be for you. For both of you.” Upon hearing that, you can see Gunther and Petra get noticeably more tired looking, but eventually, Gunther starts to nod warily. This definitely not how you wanted things to go here. There really is no way around this – sending him away here is a blatantly obvious signal that you do not completely trust him; there is no way to sugarcoat that, at least with your level of tact, and being honest about it is probably better than just ignoring the elephant your are sending outside of the room. Hopefully.
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>>4537425
Realistically speaking, being sent away like this is not going to be a dealbreaker – especially if Gunther and Petra have already decided if they are going to join – but being kept at an arm’s length like this will no doubt strain any fledgling relationship. For the immediate future, treat them with kid’s gloves, lest they start to get serious second thoughts.

There is noise at the front door, the sound of brushing and removing outer layers, as well as the crinkling of the improvised plastic-lined outerwear that your group uses. Finally, there is a knock, and your mother goes to let them in. Parasol is first through the door, immediately recognizable as he has already removed his mask and respirator, followed closely by a figure who after unmasking themselves is revealed to be Deputy Sheriff Bean. There are two others behind them, but neither of them remove their masks – judging by the rifles they carry slung over their backs, they are on duty here. In the darker corner of the room here, Parasol does not seem to have noticed you yet. With the arrival of these new guests, Gunther perks up, and it looks like he might say something.

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Offer him and Bean a drink as a way of saying hello, taking a carbonated water for yourself.
>Offer him and Bean a drink as a way of saying hello, make a point of having something with alcohol as well.
>Let Gunther speak if he wants to speak – if he does not, then you can take the lead here.
>>
>>4537429
>>Let Gunther speak if he wants to speak – if he does not, then you can take the lead here.
>>
>>4537429
>>Let Gunther speak if he wants to speak – if he does not, then you can take the lead here.
>>
>Let Gunther speak if he wants to speak – if he does not, then you can take the lead here.
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>>4537429
>Let Gunther speak if he wants to speak – if he does not, then you can take the lead here.
After
>offer Parasol, the Sheriff and the two guards a drink, and take four you a carbonated water.
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>>4537437
>>4537441
>>4537541
>>4537584
Alright, consider this closed. I will go grab dinner, then I will get this written up.
>>
There is a moment of silence in the room, as the two Deputies on guard move to cover the windows. Gunther still looks like he wants to speak, but is hesitant – understandably so given the circumstances. You could easily speak up here, make the introduction you promised, and then send him on his way, but you decide that you cannot keep high-handing him forever … if you want him to stick around. Eventually, Gunther does speak first, introducing himself and his cousin to Parasol and Deputy Sheriff Bean. The two of them are polite and cordial with these ‘interlopers’, no doubt Oher or Brill or someone passed along that you had guests with you, as well as what they had done. After the initial pleasantries, Gunther, having seemingly overcome all hesitation on his part, thanks Parasol for agreeing to meet with him later at Tolle’s house.

You instinctively close your eyes as you cringe in embarrassment. Nuts. Gunther clearly does not realize that you had not actually set up the meeting you promised him with Parasol – in retrospect, you could have guessed that speaking about it as if it was a done deal might have led to something like this. However, after several seconds, Parasol seems to clue into what must have happened here, and gracefully plays along, avoiding an awkward … um, would this be considered a ‘faux pas’? Well, whatever.

As you take a second look at your latest visitors, as a way to cleanse your palate of awkwardness, you notice that Bean is carrying a box with him; unlike the other Deputies, he does not have a rifle slung over his shoulder. Besides that, he seems to be outfitted identically with the two on duty. Curious now, you clear your throat and speak up. “It is good to see you again …”

>Please pick ONE of the following:
> … Erwin (Casual and Familiar)
> … Mr. Parasol (Formal and Deferential)
> … Boss (Subservient and Deferential)

Also, is everyone liking the smaller posts? I know it is a bit of change from the typical paragraphs upon paragraphs that I would usually post, but by shrinking them down I am able to keep things moving a bit more briskly. If it is a problem, I can definitely switch back
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>>4537938
> … Mr. Parasol (Formal and Deferential)
Polite, but not too polite.
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>>4537938
> … Mr. Parasol (Formal and Deferential)
As far as post size goes, long was good and so is short like these, go with what feels right for the circumstance, I'd say. :)
Also thanks for the mega updates today QM, you're on fire.
>>
Alright, consider this one closed, and I will get to writing.
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>>4538023
+1, agree with everything here

long posts can be good and so can short ones be - it depends on the situation completely.
>>
“… Mr. Parasol.” Despite how much this man owes you, you still are not comfortable speaking to the man so familiarly. Hearing your voice, you can see him light up as he looks for you, before noticing you in the corner. Your mother, Tolle and the Peakes excuse themselves, explaining that they have work to do elsewhere as Parasol and Deputy Sheriff Bean make their way over to your bedside. Parasol speaks first. “After I heard about the Guard moving into Bangor, I was worried that I was never –“ the man stops abruptly and chuckles nasally as he notices your ‘clip on’. Heh heh heh – you should follow this up with a joke.

"Oh, this? Thing was a gift from a girlfriend in high school and it’s the only tie I would want to wear for the End of the World.” Everyone just kind of looks at you, perhaps wondering if you got brain damage. That sounded smoother in your head, not to mention funnier. Thankfully, your mother saves you from further awkwardness as she heads out the door. “It’s the only tie he has!” There are chuckles all around at that, and some of them might even be genuine. After saying one last round of goodbyes, they head out to Tolle’s place, and you are left alone with Parasol, Bean and the guards. You have a lot to talk about, a lot of questions to ask, and you would be remiss to not receive something for your service here.

But before you do that, you should say something about your guests, to whom you owe so much. “About the Peakes – I promised Gunther that I’d get him an … audience with you. And admittedly, the way I worded it … might have given the impression that I had already set it up with you. Apologies for the imposition.” Parasol waves it off, and for a moment, you think that is all that is going to be said. But after a moment, he adds that he heard from Oher, the Paramedic and Brill, the Deputy about the two of them, as well as the request that his property remain unmolested regardless if he decides to join up with the group or not. “I’m going to level with you – if the two of them were to join up, then they will have the same rights and responsibilities as any member, which includes rights to any and all property that was in their possession when they signed the Compact. But if they decide to move on … then it will be without any possessions. We will drop them off where they want to go, within reason, of course, but no. We can’t afford to let things slip through our fingers like that.”
>>
>>4538982
You must be noticeably grimacing because Parasol’s voice takes on a bit of edge. “Hey, I get that you are out of the loop on the rules here now, but suffice to say, the books are supposed to be closed right now; no new members accepted. You have any idea how much of a headache I’m inviting by doing this, extending this offer to them? Can you imagine how many people we’ve – I’ve – had to turn away the past few days? How many members I’ve had storm out on me, some to even go as far as leaving the group, after I said that we couldn’t induct one of their friends or relatives? What has been keeping the discontent inside our group manageable is that since the first day, we have not accepted anyone else. Even if the members feel shortchanged on this account, they at least feel that they have been equally shortchanged – and believe me when I say that counts for something. If those two hadn’t proved themselves by rescuing you, and they didn’t have valuable skills or supplies, then we wouldn’t be making any offers at all.”

He seems to realize that he has been venting a bit, and makes a deliberate point to soften up his voice. “I’m sorry – I shouldn’t have chewed your head off like that. It is just … there is already muttering in the Big House about them being offered membership where others were not – if they were to turn it down and then leave, taking with whatever the Hell they got on the truck with them, then people would seriously question my decisions. And they’d be right to do so.” Honestly, this sucks. Parasol owes you a lot, but it clearly seems that he thinks he is doing you a favor by extending an offer to Peakes – following through on your promise to Gunther, to do everything in power to see that his cargo remains unmolested even if he decides to move on means that you will be out two very valuable favors. It would not be as bad if you knew exactly how many favors Parasol would let you call in before telling you to pound sand, but favors don’t work like that; you will just have to play it by ear to see if Parasol (or anyone else) still feels like they owe you something and if what you are asking of them is a reasonable exchange.
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>>4538984
>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Keep your promise to Gunther, and do everything in your power to ensure that he keeps his cargo no matter what, using as many favors from Parasol as necessary.
>Fudge your promise to Gunther, and do some things in your power to ensure that he keeps his cargo no matter what, using one favor from Parasol (One favor has an 80% chance of being accepted)
>Break your promise to Gunther, do not do anything at all to ensure that he keeps his cargo. Ask Parasol to make a false promise to Gunther that his rights to his cargo will be respected if he decides to move on.
>Break your promise to Gunther, do not do anything at all to ensure that he keeps his cargo. Parasol will tell the truth to Gunther, but you will ask Parasol to lie and say that you advocated for Gunther’s rights.
>Break your promise to Gunther, do not do anything at all to ensure that he keeps his cargo. Let Parasol say whatever he will on the topic to Gunther.

Sorry for the late start. The good news is that I am finally caught up on my work for the immediate future, so I should be able to post more regularly again.
>>
>Fudge your promise to Gunther, and do some things in your power to ensure that he keeps his cargo no matter what, using one favor from Parasol (One favor has an 80% chance of being accepted). Ask Parasol to make a false promise to Gunther that his rights to his cargo will be respected if he decides to move on and Parasol decides the Peakes can't keep their property if they leave.

I think this is fair and the best chance we have at also getting Gunther a new or repaired vehicle and keeping some spare social capital for if the shennanigans with the whales blows up in our faces.
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>>4538989
>Break your promise to Gunther, do not do anything at all to ensure that he keeps his cargo. Ask Parasol to make a false promise to Gunther that his rights to his cargo will be respected if he decides to move on.
Well, fuck.
Hopefully he decides to stay.
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>>4538989
How open would people be to

>Fudge your promise to Gunther, ensure that they can retain most of the not-so "big ticket" items to keep them from waking away with little more than the clothes on their backs. Ask Parasol to tell them this is the most he was willing to compromise, and that without your vouching fervent vouching for them, they would have been left with next to nothing.
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>>4539055
That works for me, although "fervent vouching" might be playing it up a bit too much
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>>4539089
lol yeah, fair point. guess "strong convincing attempts" would have been a better phrase
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>>4539014
Yeah. I'll support this. It's a tough situation. Hopefully things work out and he simply decides to stay.
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>>4538989
>Keep your promise to Gunther, and do everything in your power to ensure that he keeps his cargo no matter what, using as many favors from Parasol as necessary.
Fuckfuckfuckfuck, comrade Parasol you're a bad boy. technically Parasol owes us favors where we owe Gunther our lives. Besides, I think we should talk to Parasol to talk with Gunther the 3 together and seek to get him to join the group, grant the resources to "help the community" and thus "the community helps him". Also, ask that he have a medical position where he can have an eye on the correct use of resources but must keep his Hippocratic oath to "help all who need it".

Also
>Mantle uses Tie Joke
>It's not very effective
>Mantle: Maybe I hit my head too hard during the trip?
>Mom: * To the Peakes * He's always been special, isn't he cute?
>Me: YAAAAAZ
Can't stop of laughs QM, thanks for that moment.
>>
If anyone is still up, I figured I'd give an update. Started to work on the next post, should have it up before noon, eastern standard time. I don't want to rush through this stuff, but on the other hand, I would like to get to some more dynamic material soon.
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You made a promise to Gunther that you would do everything in your power to protect his rights to his cargo, but not that it is the time to make good on that promise, you find yourself balking at the prospect. As much as you hate welchers … if you were to go through with it, calling in your favors to ensure that he could leave and keep everything, and for whatever reason he decided to leave, then you would have nothing to show for ‘spending’ the favors. And if he decided to stay after you used the favors, then no one would have anything to show for it, considering that if he joins up, then his property was already going to be respected. You really, truly feel like a heel for thinking like this, but it is not worth keeping your word here. You squirm uncomfortably in the hospital gurney as you try to think up some clever way to make all of this work, but you come up empty. At the very least, maybe you can ensure that they are not dropped off somewhere with just the clothes on their backs.

“When you say that they will be dropped off without their possessions, does that mean … everything they have? Or what, exactly?” Parasol looks at you for a moment, and then gives you a small, tired-looking smile. “I suppose that would depend on what exactly they are carrying on that truck. Deputy Brill said that from what he saw of the cargo, it was a lot of medical supplies mixed in with more domestic necessities.” Upon hearing that, there is an uncomfortable churning sensation in your stomach. Fleckkers was right, absolutely, unequivocally right – ignorance is the best protection against theft. Thank God you went with his gut instinct and moved the supplies out of the living room here. But, getting back to the Peakes, how should you deal with this? You would say that you know with about 85% maybe 90% certainty everything on that truck. If you were to dictate an estimated cargo manifest to Parasol right now, then he could make a ruling on what Gunther could keep right here and now.

If you did that, you, or someone else, could go to the Peakes and say ‘no matter what, you can keep X.’ It is sort of what you promised, and it considering that Parasol does not seem to intend on taking everything, you would not need to burn a favor to secure this partial guarantee like you would for the complete guarantee. The issue is that to get the partial guarantee, you would have to dictate the estimated cargo manifest to Parasol … and the minute that anyone gave Gunther a line-item list of what he could keep regardless, then it would be blatantly obvious that you had told Parasol exactly (more or less) what he had in the truck. He had never said or indicated that you were expected to not tell anyone what he had, so it is not like you are breaking another promise to him … but it feels really two-faced to use him to help hide your supplies from the group, and then turn around and make an accounting of his supplies.
>>
>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Give an approximate accounting of the Cargo to secure a partial guarantee (hypocritically violates privacy, partly keeps your promise)
>Instruct Parasol to give Gunther the choice of giving an approximate accounting to secure a partial guarantee (maintains privacy, barely keeps your promise)
>>
>Ask Parasol to lie to Gunther IF asked about his property rights if he leaves and tell Gunther that his property rights will be respected. If Gunther decides to leave, figure out then exactly what is in his stuff and what the Peakes can leave with.

Not only does this maintain the best relationship with the Peakes, the lack of immediate accounting gives us an opportunity to stash a few essentials from their stuff so they don't get totally boned.
>>
I'm not sure if my post was clear on it, but I was suggesting that Mantle let Parasol(or a representative) choose what gets taken IF the Peakes decide to leave.
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>>4540001
+1
Plus, We should tell everyone to start talking about how hard life is outside now, what we can expect in the coming months, and how with the group they will be safer, Along with the invaluable help that it would be to the group to have a doctor in capacity. Appeal a lot to how Petra being so young is vulnerable outside, use the typical of: "Do you see that girl? How would you feel if something happened to her out there? How would you feel if, at a time when you split up, when you came back the worst happened to her?" I think it's an argument.
>>
Man, for an autistic hoarder who can't tie a tie mantle is becoming quite the calculating snake
>>
People dont abandon decency all at once, they do it one compromise at a time
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>>4540001
Sure, supporting this.
>>
What does "being in" even entail? As of now they are our guests, sleeping in our house and eating our food. Parasol hasn't done shit for them, or for us for that matter. He really has no claim here.
>>
I believe it is accepting Parasol's invitation into the group.

Parasol is dictating what happens because most of the cops and other fighters are part of the group and violence is the ultimate authority from which all other authorities are derived.
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>>4540306
I think what he's asking what 'being in' the group even entails.
I guess it means you can live in the communal housing, but I don't know if it provides any inherent advantages besides that. Not being attacked by Parasol and the rest of the group I suppose?
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>>4540349
>>4540301
Well, Mantle doesn't know exactly know what it entails yet, considering that the topic has not come up. There are quite a few advantages to membership but these will be discussed in a later post.

>>4540001
As for the write in, I am willing to accept it. Mantle has been comfortable enough with deception previously, so it isn't completely out of left field to try something like this.

I have an assignment due at 11:30pm, so I don't think I will be able to get another post up today, but on the other hand, I should be able to make multiple posts tomorrow.
>>
There is no good way out of this – you are not willing to use the favors required to actually follow through with your promise to Gunther, and getting a partial guarantee would require you to give an accounting of his cargo ... after you recruited him to help conceal yours. But just because there are no ‘good’ ways out does not mean that there are no ways out. You could lie to Gunther – or rather, you could ask Parasol to lie to Gunther. Moreover, the only way that Gunther would find out that you or Parasol would be lying would be if he actually decided to leave, which seems to be less and less likely as time goes on … and if he does decide to move on instead of join up, then you would probably never see him again. So really, who cares if this lie surfacing ruins your relationship? Ensuring that you part forever on good terms is not worth it, not under these circumstances … and if he did leave you, after everything, then really, you should not concern yourself with the feelings of someone so willing to leave you all in the lurch like that.

“Mr. Parasol, if – rather, when he asks about the guarantee, would you be willing to lie and say that he is all set? He is almost certainly going to sign up anyway, so it wouldn’t get out.” Parasol looks surprised at that suggestion. Surprised as in ‘taken aback’ and maybe even ‘reproachful’. It is at this moment you vaguely remember a story* from Ancient Greece … one of the myths, you think, about someone with a ring that made them invisible, and how they used it for all sorts of misdeeds. The point, or the ‘moral’ of that myth, was that the measure of a man was what they would do if they knew that they would never get caught. The last thing you expected (and need, for that matter) is for this to damage Parasol’s high opinion of you, but that proverbial ship might just have sailed. He speaks, hesitatingly.

“We can do that … I can do that. Definitely. Do you have a … preference on what I say to him?”

>Please pick ONE of the following:
>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that the group’s rules state that his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that the group decided that in exchange for rescuing you, his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that you vouched for him, and because of that, his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that you called in favors on his behalf, and because of that, his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave

*The myth of the Ring of Gyges, as referenced in Plato's Republic. Mantle's interpretation of the moral is a paraphrased quote from a 19th century British poet, Thomas Macaulay.
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>>4541222
>>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that you called in favors on his behalf, and because of that, his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
Half truth. Kind of. We do plan on burning a favor to get him a better deal if he decides on leaving, right?
The first option, the one involving the group's laws seems like a trap option. It wouldn't take much for him to ask one of the disgruntled people around here if there was any credence to this in the group's laws, or from what they've seen themselves.
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>>4541242
Actually, I don't believe it is. Going off of the clarification offered by >>4540025, what was voted on in >>4540001 means that if the Peakes are going to leave instead of join up, they will not be leaving with everything they came with.
>>
This is a fairly important choice, and I don't want to close it with just one vote. On the other hand, I do want to get at least one more post up today.

I will leave this up for another hour and a half - then at 7:00pm I will call it, rolling to tiebreak if necessary so I have enough time to get another post up.
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>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that the group decided that in exchange for rescuing you, his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
This comes off as 'the group rewards people' and probably seems less scummy to Parasol.
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>>4541222
>Have Parasol lie to Gunther that the group’s rules state that his property will be left alone regardless of him signing the Compact or deciding to leave
Think of it this way, if the Peakes think that the group is a just and civilized non-communist social structure (Ha!) then they will be more inclined to stay. I mean this in the sense that under any other option they would think "If it weren't for Mantle then what?" and well it could generate doubts about what would happen if their friend and neighbor the half kidney man Mantle is not there to support them. Think about it.
>>
Rolled 3 (1d3)

Well, I was not expecting this to turn into a three-way tie. Regardless, I said I would I roll the tie-breaker.

>>4541242 roll of 1
>>4541426 roll of 2
>>4541518 roll of 3
>>
>>4541540
Alright. Consider this vote closed. I will get to writing as soon as I finish up with dinner.
>>
“Couldn’t you just say that … the rules are kind of vague on this point, open to interpretation, and that in this circumstance you would be willing to extend a guarantee?” Parasol looks at you for a moment, softly sighs, then nods affirmatively. “Yeah, that would work – especially considering that the rules on this point actually are pretty vague. On that note, we should get you signed up as an ‘Orbital’. Bean, could you hand me the Compact?” Bean shifts the cardboard box he is carrying so he can hold it with one arm, slung underneath it, and then slices through the packing tape sealing it up with one of his fingernails on his free hand. Shuffling the flaps around, he manages to get the thing open, and pulls out a solid-looking metal clipboard document box. As you watch Bean try to set the carboard box down with just one hand, Parasol starts talking again.

“So, there are two types of group members. ‘Internals’ and ‘Orbitals’. ‘Internals’ live in Mt. Kineo, and receive food, heat, protection in exchange for work. ‘Orbitals’ live outside of Mt. Kineo, and what they are ‘taxed’ in exchange for support from the group varies greatly. For example, the ‘Orbitals’ we have at the Public Safety and Public Works buildings are responsible for protecting and maintaining the vehicles we have stationed there, as well as manning and deploying those vehicles when we call upon them. In exchange, the group makes sure that they are fed, clothed, armed, heated … et cetera. If they need something done that they can’t do on their own, like procuring fuel for a piece of equipment that is necessary for their work, then the group, when it can, will step up and do it … for free, when possible, or if not, then at, or below cost. Your homestead would be producing food … and knowing you, salvage – so that is what you would be ‘taxed’ in.

“Oh, it’s worth pointing out that the big distinction between ‘Internals’ and ‘Orbitals’ is that ‘Internals’ are ‘taxed’ individually, but ‘Orbitals’ are ‘taxed’ as a group. Take myself as an example – I’m an ‘Internal’, I do my assigned tasks, and in exchange, I receive a daily allotment of food with everyone else, along with everything else the group does for its members. But you and everyone else at your homestead would be ‘taxed’ as one big unit. In other words, it is the production of your homestead that is being ‘taxed’ instead of the individuals living on it. And it would be up to you to decide amongst yourself how to divide your collective labor, as well as make and administer your own rules … inside the framework established by the Compact.” Bean, having managed to set the cardboard box down, gingerly hands you the clipboard document box, and you open it up to see what appears to be twenty to thirty pages, handwritten in a neat, flowing cursive.
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>>4541822
Correctly judging you to be surprised and slightly intimidated at the length of the document, the Deputy Sheriff speaks up for the first time, and explains that most of the length of the document is given over to the signatures of members. You flip through the pages, giving everything a cursory glance … but nothing immediately jumps out at you. Looking up from the Compact, you notice that Parasol is intently looking at you. The smile he gives you is small and tired, and for the first time in the almost-gloom of your living room, you notice how exhausted and worn down the man is. When he asks if you have any questions, his tone is polite, but perfunctory – clearly, he intends to move things along here. And once you get your questions answered, you will let him. But first, what exactly are your questions for him, about the Compact?

>Write-In questions to ask Parasol – considering the importance of the Compact, every question you provide will be answered. If you have multiple questions for Parasol, please list them out separately, so I don’t overlook anything. Considering how late this is already, this one will be left overnight. Run should resume before noon Eastern Standard Time tomorrow.
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>>4541823
1. How my home is managed by itself and pays its taxes to the group, are we independent from the people we receive here?
2. If a person wants to go from "internal" to "orbital", is it possible in the normal way? Is there a procedure?
3. How many orbitals are there in town? Does the group ensure that the orbitals support each other or is it an individual decision between them?
4. When you say about my "orbital" and "... Knowing you, salvage" what exactly do you expect? Where are we supposed to recover resources?
5. In whose hands is the defense of the group in case of an external attack?

Offrol, We have to make sure that if the Peakes stay they stay with us before MT. Kineo, why then will Gunther's care become a group service, Which brings me to my last question:

6. What will happen to the load of the Peakes if they decide to stay with me and not at Mt. Kineo? (Please help me to ask this question less challenging for comrade Parasol, because before I think about taking resources away from the group I think it is a way to fulfill our promise, And offer medical services to "internals".)
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>>4541823
1. Are there any specific deadlines when taxes are due?
2. Besides losing out on services if we miss a deadline, are there any other penalties for being late on taxes?
3. With the current group on the homestead, and the potential for 2 more mouths to feed living here with us, there are concerns with our food production. If we're barely cutting by feeding ourselves, will we still be expected to pay a fixed amount of food output with our taxes? Or would the amount vary depend on what we are outputting?
These are what come to mind immediately, I may think of something else and drop another reply with more questions. Not sure. The other anon already covered the salvage question, which is a good thought. I'm sure some places could spring to mind, and Parasol himself set us up with salvage jobs in the past, but what exactly he would expect in taxes from our huge salvage lootpile is a little bit more concerning.
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What are the rules for salvaging and procurement?
More specifically if a non-group neighbor has land, animals, or property what are the rules, if any, on seizing them and if it makes a difference whether the owner is living or dead?
What process do we go through for requesting for example medicine or labor for fields either short term or long?
Is there a list of Orbitals available so as to avoid salvaging accidents?
Have the National Gaurd tried contacting the Group and what's our policy toward them, if any?
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Are the other Orbital farms expanding to meet the food needs come summer?
How does the labor pool look?
What are we low on, any salvage requests like fuel or food?
Who do I talk to about, say, intelligence on the status of gas stations in the surround area?
Would you like me to debrief the council in person on my experience with the Gaurd officer?
When is the next council meeting?
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>>4541823
>Collective labor
"so we would be operating like a Kolkhoz? "
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>>4542047
Good one anon
This plus the vodka, the Aurora, the eyeblinks, just like a "joke what isn't funny" just to see the Parasol's reaction, but we can justify in-rol the know of the term and something like the Aurora reference? Bcs I think this gonna clear the fog in the room. If everyone wants to try this all-in to get a more close link with Parasol In case he's a red, Or to ensure that there are no pressures towards our home making it clear that we are not the same from that day and we lost something that evolved in this terrible sense of humor.
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Alright, I will start working on getting Parasol's answers written up. Lots of good questions, everyone!
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1. How my home is managed by itself and pays its taxes to the group, are we independent from the people we receive here?

“Well, for starters, if it is the production of the homestead that is being ‘taxed’, then that means that the number of people living here would not effect the ‘tax’, correct?”

“Directly? No, not at all. But … that is not to say that it is not considered. The more people you have working here for you, the greater your production capacity is – so while the number of people you have does not effect the ‘tax’ rate, it does indirectly effect the amount you pay out.” Hold the fucking phone! Did he just say what you think he said? “Hold the phone! Are we being taxed on ‘production’ or on ‘production capacity’? Cause it seems to be that there is one Hell of a distinction between the two of them.” Parasol sort of winces at that. “Sorry – I should have been more specific. You are ‘taxed’ on the group’s estimation of your production capacity over the ‘tax’ period, as opposed to gross production.”

You sit yourself up in the hospital gurney a bit to give yourself a second or two to compose yourself. “So let me get this straight – if something happens, and we aren’t able to produce any food during a ‘tax’ period, you would still owe the group food?” Parasol kind of shrinks a little at that, but after a moment, sighs and then solemnly nods. “On paper, yes. But it wouldn’t come to that. Ever.” He straightens himself out a bit, and then after another moment tries to explain the reasoning here. “Listen Mantle, we aren’t in any position to verify production or run audits right now. If we were to base the ‘tax’ off of the actual gross production of our ‘Orbitals’ then we’d always have to worry about being shortchanged. If we do it like this, then we don’t need to waste time and skilled manpower we don’t have checking up on everyone.”

Bean speaks up here. “It is a bit of an imposition, but in exchange, ‘Orbitals’ get preferential treatment over ‘Internals’. They receive a larger allotment of critical and non-critical supplies, and unlike ‘Internals’, they can buy or barter additional supplies directly from the group’s strategic stockpiles. Not to mention, everything that isn’t ‘taxed’ is yours – you can sell or barter it to the group, group members, and outsiders … but outside trade might be prohibited soon.” Parasol, having regained his composure, adds that “we are still trying to figure everything out here”, and then after taking a deep breath, he continues.
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2. If a person wants to go from "internal" to "orbital", is it possible in the normal way? Is there a procedure?

Jesus Christ – these are more ‘quotas’ than ‘taxes’. This is beginning to sound more like a protection racket than anything else. Still, you can understand why they have to do things this way – especially considering that the ‘taxes’ are going to be paid in goods and labor as opposed to money. You decide to let this go for now, at least until you know more about the rules here, and throw Parasol a softball of a question. “If an ‘Internal’ wants to become an ‘Orbital’, or vice versa, is there a process for that? I guess what I am getting at is, if the situation here calls for it, can we head over to Mt. Kineo and recruit hands for the homestead, or is that against the rules?” Parasol seems relieved by this softball, and promptly explains that so long as the group is notified of any changes, then there is nothing stopping that kind of shuffling. He does however add that doing so would change the estimation of production capacity accordingly, with the arrival of an internal increasing the estimation and the departure of an orbital decreasing it.

3. How many orbitals are there in town? Does the group ensure that the orbitals support each other or is it an individual decision between them?

Alright, that makes sense. Your next two questions can sort of be combined into one; how many ‘Orbitals’ are there around the lake, and are the ‘Orbitals’ in one location responsible for supporting the ‘Orbitals’ in all the other locations, or is the only relationship supposed to be between the ‘Orbitals’ in one location and Mt. Kineo. Parasol answers promptly. “There are about 80 or so ‘Orbitals’ across 20 or so different locations across the lake; compare that to the 153 ‘Internals’ we have living at Mt. Kineo. As for the relationship, the only mandated one is between the station of ‘Orbitals’ – lets call that a ‘Satellite’ – and the group’s administration in Mt. Kineo. As a ‘Satellite’, you wouldn’t be required to pay ‘taxes’ to other ‘Satellites’; supporting them is the responsibility of Mt. Kineo. Now, we’ll use ‘taxes’ from one of the ‘Satellites’ to support the others, but there is nothing that you need to do. Of course, there is nothing stopping you from helping each other out, trading amongst yourselves or even entering into your own agreements, so long as those agreements are approved and arbitrated by Mt. Kineo.
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5. In whose hands is the defense of the group in case of an external attack?

So far, so good. While you are on the topic of Mt. Kineo’s responsibilities, you might as well ask who is responsible for defending the group from a unified, external attack. “If the group was attacked, from an outside enemy intending to capture, displace or even destroy us, like if Carter returned, or maybe the Maine National Guard decided to pay us a visit, who would have command? Would there even be a central command?” Deputy Sheriff Bean answers this one.

“The party ultimately responsible for the defense of the group is the Sheriff, regardless if the threat comes from within or without. Obviously, there is some delegation necessary, especially when it comes to the defense of the ‘Satellites’. While the Sheriff, and the group as a whole will do everything they can to protect all of our members, the ‘Orbitals’ living and working on the ‘Satellites’ have to be their own first line of defense. Of course, as soon we know that something is wrong, we’ll coming running, but with things the way they are, our response time will probably leave a lot to be desired. And as far as the big outside threats are concerned, it is the responsibility of the Sherriff to see that they are dealt with, or at the very least, turned back before they can make it to the ‘Satellites’.” Bean, who has been standing all this time, finally notices that there is another, smaller chair on the opposite side, and makes his way around your bed to sit down. On his way there, he nearly walks into the box of drinks that Fleckkers brought up for you earlier.

“Oh, I forgot about that. Had drinks brought up earlier. Find something you like, and help yourself.” Bean opens the box, and pokes through the offerings. “Really … eclectic dry bar you got here, Mantle.” As you try to think of something to say to that, you are interrupted by the sound of Parasol rummaging through the box that he brought with him. Leaning low in his chair, he remarks that this probably a better time than any to give you your homecoming present. He straightens up, and in his hands is the soda water siphon from the Blue Sitting Room. “I figured you would appreciate this more than anyone else. Brought a couple of canisters and glasses to go with it. You wanna drink?” Having learned the hard way to not nod your head, you deliberately and clearly enunciate “Yeah!” The familiar and comforting sensation of bubbles slipping through your mouth relaxes you more than you thought possible, and you positively melt into your bedding. You smack your lips once or twice, before realizing that it is impolite to do so, not to mention ridiculous looking, and find yourself blushing a bit at the bemused expressions on Parasol and Bean’s faces.
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