Last session we had no London as his player was sick, no Leningrad because Borderlands 2 came out, and instead made do with Tokyo, Nomad 6 and Miami. Tokyo quickly got them up to speed (a difficult task since Tokyo has Eidetic Memory and her player does not) when they found themselves in the drop ship alone (no refugee family, no London and no Leningrad) speeding through stormy clouds. Nomad 6 tried to take them down and eventually touched base with some sort of flat surface.
They hopped out of the dropship and Tokyo recognised the brick floor as being from the courtyard as before although this time with the ashen clouds whipping around they couldn't see more than a foot in front of them. For some strange reason, the ashen cloud didn't get up their nose or sting their eyes. It just obscured their vision. Hearing a noise and remembering Tokyo's tales of fear, they ran forward through the ash cloud until Nomad 6 tripped over a loose and rusty bit of chain with a butcher's hook on the end - just like the one used on the fountain. Nomad 6 picked it up as he was otherwise unarmed and they kept running. He ran headlong into a brick wall and bloodied his nose but soon picked out that through the window he could see static-filled television sets of the old bulky kind rather than the modern thin forms.
They get in with the quick use of lockpicks and find themselves in a television store with a Mexican porno mag half hidden beneath the counter. Going through the door at the back they pass through an office and into a plain lino-lined corridor. A bit of exploration later and they find themselves in the middle of a three-storey mall. This mall was clearly from 1996 judging by the dates read on the newspapers - the ability to read being a minor clue that this place was real - which made the Fallen beneath it must be a dream all the more because the nukes didn't hit until 2022 so why would the mall have been abandoned with everything still inside it? They also figured out it was in Dallas, Texas.
Funnily enough, they were discussing who might be enthused enough that an abandoned mall might be their dream and Tokyo correctly guessed that a teen might like it. It might have been helped by me playing Placebo over the loudspeakers. Tokyo also guessed that it might especially be a skateboarder wanting to grind along a public place. I had just the person in mind before she'd spoken those words so I enthused over the player's cleverness (or at least our power to think alike) and they heard someone grinding down rails earlier on.
Through clever deductions and checking out the liquor store, newsagency, underwear store, and mattress store they figure out that its likely to be either a teenage girl or a more sensibly-minded boy of fifteen or older as there was a consensus that a boy between twelve and fifteen would have used a lot of tissues or such-like in a bra shop rather than dressing up random teddy bears with brassieres and spears which is more something either a bored and unsupervised child, older teen, or adult might do. Ironically enough, maturity sometimes means people are more blaise and therefore silly about sex.
Of course, after several months the novelty would be bound to wear off on anyone and any childish amusement would do.
They went to find him in the Arcade but found instead that there was a giant mist-filled crater that had also taken out one wall of the arcade and that half the floor had cracked and was sloping down towards it. They couldn't stand long because these sooty footsteps started approaching them and they correctly surmised it was dangerous and that they probably couldn't fight it and therefore fled.
Anyway, they tracked him down and Nomad 6 ran around the corner only to receive a crossbow bolt in the shoulder for a whopping four lethal. The kid then ground down the side of the stopped elevators and hid behind a pillar below the balcony they were on. Tokyo, reasoning that she looked fifteen anyway and correctly assuming a teenage boy is unlikely to strike a teenage girl, begged for him not to shoot and crawled down the escalator behind cover. He spoke to her a bit but was pretty anxious - even if they weren't raiders (he seemed to be post-nuke American), he did shoot one of them after all.
Then a Critterbug broke in through an upstairs doorward on the third floor (that they hadn't explored) which is a large creature that has the broad body like a cricket and a mouth like a lipless human jaw but bigger and with pincers on either side. They could also reach four feet wide at the 'shoulders' and ten feet long and this one was about that size.
The kid escaped through a vent and Tokyo easily followed, slowed down simply because she didn't run up the wall high enough straight away and it took her two turns to get in. He ended up hiding in a blanketed, supply filled 'nest' under the stairs and offered her to come in with him. He was innocent enough looking in a hoody, baggy pants, expensive sneakers, with a straight black fringe. His irises though were black and there was these shadowy fronds that passed across his skin as though his pigmentation itself were occasionally changing and she could see that a part of the back of his pants twitched occasionally like he had a tail. Still, she got in after being shy for a few moments.
When he offered her alcohol she said, "No, thanks, my father would kill me."
Meanwhile, Nomad 6 and Miami took on the Critterbug in apocalyptic form, taking a bit of Torment (they could afford it, they were ridiculously low on 2.9) and managed to repel it. Then they followed using Nomad 6's Lore of Paths as they were a bit big for those vents (especially Nomad 6 who was defined as muscular).
They all then tried to convince the kid that he was dreaming - which the kid wasn't buying. They learned that he was originally from Washington and heavily mutated from the nuclear fall out there, just like most of the kids. There'd never been any raiders here, only Critterbugs and the 'ghosts' (those footprints) but he hasn't seen anyone else here.
He wasn't all too sure that it was just a dream because it had gone on for six months and, yes, he was fixed now and had other changes but he believed in the supernatural. The dead could walk, after all. Nomad 6 tried to convince him that zombies were known and not supernatural to which he replied, "They weren't known to exist until they were found to exist. Same could be for whatever happened to me."
There were indications that there was a time he couldn't remember and then he was in this mall looking like he does now. He didn't much want to wake up. He offered to show them the mall and Dallas from the roof but the Fallen realised that out of the mall was a place they couldn't go. Those that stepped out disappeared, presumably to their Hosts.
Nomad 6 tried one last time to convince the kid he was dreaming and the boy simply stated, "How do I convince myself I'm dreaming? Jump off the building? You can't die when you're dreaming."
Nomad 6 tried an Intelligence + Occult roll and got a dramatic failure. "That's right. You should do that."
"Will you come with me?" the boy asked.
"I can't. If I step out there, I'll disappear."
"What if I jump off the cliff at the Arcade?" the kid asked.
So they went down to the Arcade. Nomad 6's player sensed something was up due to the certainty of his character's convictions following a Dramatic Failure and because I took a bit of time in describing their approach of that cliff and how the kid looked back at him briefly and smiled before taking a leap of faith with a bit of extra encouragement. Only to hit a ledge in the crater 18 feet down with a sickening crunch of bones. When Nomad 6 ventured to take a look, he could see that the kid's right arm and leg were at an odd angle though he might not be dead.
Nomad 6 returned to the dropship wondering if he had indeed killed the boy and planning to head back on his own while the others dealt with business in the city so he could see if the boy were really there or if he was wherever else they had been - perhaps dead in his dream or perhaps never having existed at all.