Most of the players hadn't caught up with each other for ages so even after we were all there we spent some time simply catching up. In the end we played for two and a half hours which just goes to show how much catch up time we had as its our Friday night game and therefore the one that can theoretically go for five hours. Those two and a half hours were further reduced by heaps of chit chatting and I found it difficult to keep people's attention. I think I need to bring my bell to the table. Its quite a monstrous sound and should classically condition us into staying on track!
Having said that, it is an ugly sound and I anticipate having the bell used on me if I bring it out so I'm not too sure about it.... I might have to get us to put our heads together on a good tactic. Last session was particularly bad, this is true, but while I don't mind if it takes us awhile to get into the game, it is annoying to only be able to talk to two of the five players at a time like last session as it means having to re-explain the situation, do recaps, or simply hold my thoughts for the five - ten minutes for people to get back on track.
The latter option is particularly aggravating as I normally end up in trouble for not getting it back on track!
Players: "Chit chat chit chat chit."
*ST waits patiently*
Player: "Er, ST, its 9.50pm, shouldn't we be doing something by now?"
ST: "Erm.... Screw you guys?"
Don't worry. That didn't happen this time as we were all well aware that we hadn't seen each other in awhile and needed some good old-fashioned chits chats. Reading this you might be forgiven for thinking that I'm cross but I'm actually not. It was a good night and a relatively rare event but such things can easily become a habit so that's why I'm having a cheerful rant (we all need one sometimes), bit of gossip about my players (hi, guys!), and a miniature brainstorm about it. If you've got any ideas, let me know.
So anyway, what *did* happen?
We roleplayed what happened when everyone else passed out and went into the dreamscapes, leaving Leningrad behind. Leningrad saw London glide down into the dirt. He noticed Tokyo fall asleep. Then Miami collapses next to him. He goes off to ask the pilot what was going on and Nomad 6 passes out at the controls as he was turning the dropship around to go fetch London. There's a stack of rock in the way of the turning cycle. Leningrad removes Nomad 6 from behind the controls. Then he hesitates. Should he jump out with Tokyo (whom he can carry)? But the dropship is lifted on these blue-heat-looking pads and he's worried he'll get burned up if they pass over him (this form of propulsion actually doesn't produce a scorching heat beyond a few feet because science! but he doesn't know this).
Leningrad also realises that the woman and little girl are gone. Ghosts, perhaps?
The dropship turns toward the stack of rocks and there's a few rough beeps before it turns in the opposite direction and starts to complete a turning circle to the right. *beep beep beep* It auto-adjusts and swings the other way. Rinse and repeat. Thank Lucifer for auto-pilot.
So anyway, Leningrad gets behind the joystick as well and looks for an Eject button. There is one but the seat is bolted to the dropship and there's no parachute (this model of dropship had a very hair trigger Eject button and being ejected into a radioactive dust storm is generally more dangerous than riding out a controlled crash so Nomad 6 got rid of it). Panicky now, Leningrad tries a red button that is up above the windshield and the radio comes on (country and western).
Then he tries one of a column of six red buttons and finds a sudden blast of propulsion sends it up and to the left. The next one down does the same but toward the right. They're basically strafe keys. Up-left, Up-right, Hard Left, Hard Right, Down-left, Down-right.
Then he tries the red button on the side of the joystick, finding that he has to squeeze the left side of the joystick to be able to push in the red button, and that is basically the turbo charge and he experiences some near G-Forces.
Leningrad is thoroughly sick of the damn dropship by now so he grabs Tokyo and gets up through the ceiling hatch and clings to the roof (the drop ship is now once again moving at about 25 miles per hour so its uncomfortable but certainly possible - their altitude is only about 80 feet off the ground as well).
Nomad 6 and Miami wake up. They have a short conversation about the mall. Then Leningrad and Tokyo re-enter the dropship. London picks himself out of the dirt and flies toward them. Nomad 6 heads toward him then hovers briefly so London can get inside. Nomad 6 explains the plan to go and pick up the kid at the mall, presuming it still exists.
They all strap into their seats and use the oxygen masks while Nomad 6 turbo-thrusts all the way to Dallas - which uses up a fair chunk of fuel but they have more fuel than time to spare. Tokyo has dealt with these kinds of speeds before but after awhile even she starts feeling uncomfortable because it normally doesn't last so long. Leningrad, London and Miami all feel god awful through this. Heck, Leningrad didn't even know these things existed because his host *died* in 2029 which was three years after the Nuclear War triggered by the collapse of the Masquerade.
They reach Dallas which is shrouded in mist and they cross through the large dried out lake which is cratered here and there. Its also honey combed with Critterbug tunnels that have mounds up around them from the Critterbugs' hardened spit. They can hear the loud drone of their wings. They reach the ledge where the boy hit. Leningrad grabs Tokyo and jumps the eight feet (using a touch of Fundament) to the ledge. London grabs Miami and does the same though he uses his wings (and brings his Halo back on as well, just in case).
The boy is unconscious but Tokyo heals his right leg (which seemed to have cork screwed under him when he landed). They return to the dropship quickly when they notice the two ashen footprints on the side of the cliff. When London looks away from them and looks back, the prints are closer. They strap in Dallas and Tokyo finishes healing him as Nomad 6 pulls them back up into the air.
Something screams in the crater, a scream that sounds like metal girders grinding together overlaid over something like trains screeching through a tunnel. A Critterbug also lands on the side of the dropship but Nomad 6 shakes it off and gets his propulsion gear up next to it and burns it down. Nomad 6 rises another couple hundred feet when there's another twisted roar and a chunk of corrugated iron flies up and smacks against their windshield.
That worries them.
They head back to base, Station 24-B, which is one of the many American outback stations known to be possible places willing to offer succor to travellers and refugees. Nomad 6 gets permission to bring the kid in to the station.
The kid asks them for their names and they mention their codenames so he introduces himself as Dallas. He explains that he was a mutant from Washington. His society came from a bomb shelter a few dozen miles south of Washington after equipment failure in the shelter and they kept being pushed north by monsters and zombies. Most of those creatures seem to have dispersed away from Washington and there isn't much there except for craters that have gashed open the underground side of the city. Dallas mentions great libraries have been revealed there.
Dallas was born top-side and therefore was badly affected by the radiation. He mentions that he had very little hair and his ears were fused to his head. The fact he now has a tail doesn't seem like that big a deal in comparison. He doesn't really remember what happened between Washington and Dallas.
Once they reach Station 24-B, Canterbury comes out with a tray of tea and scones. A mother cat comes up to her to show Canterbury her kittens one at a time. They seem only a couple weeks old. Canterbury acknowledges each kitten in turn. Then they go inside and have a movie night as a team building exercise showcasing movies from each culture. Nomad 6 can't read fast enough to keep up with the subtitles. London has trouble as well so Canterbury puts it on the dubbed versions.
They're to be 'grounded' at the station for the next two days to finish their assimilation into their human hosts.
While there, they mention their Fallen Houses and their human names, generally. Finally, some of them get drunk, others don't, and they're given rooms. There are three bedrooms each with a set of bunks to share between them. A very drunk Dallas wakes up from the breakroom and heads into a bedroom and collapses on a lower bunk. Miami bunks with him. Nomad 6 with London. Tokyo with Leningrad (sorta). Leningrad takes his mattress and sleeps in the corridor.
And there we are. A rather cute session.
Leningrad wants to return to the car to see if they are ghosts. Miami wants to return to his home city to see what's going on there. Those two issues will likely be the basis of the next session or so.
Canterbury has promised them that at some point they'll be assigned to undertake a mission in Dallas to figure out what's going on with that mall. Presuming they sign up to the Prometheus super-faction.