Real Date: February 27, 2012
In-Game Date: December 15, 2011
In-Game Date: December 15, 2011
Session Title: What has the world come to...
Greg: "Everybody's gotta keep busy with doing something..."
Refugee Camp Resident: "I keep busy with eatin' Catfish."
Before them to the north, the piled cars proved to be a significant obstacle to a northern detour. Since somebody obviously put a lot of work into erecting the wall, the group decided against tearing it down. Instead, a southern route was chosen to hopefully bypass the zombie hoard ahead of them on the interstate. Working from a map with limited detail, it looked like the best way to go would be to go south through Carrollton and then back up on Highway 16 to the interstate.
|Planned Detour Route|
A few scattered abandoned vehicles encountered along the roadside proved to be a relief from the tight confines of the interstate traffic. After only a few cautious, yet uneventful, minutes of travel a pickup truck was spotted pulling out of a convenience store parking lot onto the road heading towards them. Chet brought the big rig to an easy stop in contrast to the screeching halt the driver of the faded orange pickup responded with. An additional squeal of the tires, accompanied with the smell of hot rubber and a small cloud of smoke, returned the pickup to the parking lot to make way for the cage and spike equipped semi cab and its occupants.
Easing the cab forward, Chet crept ahead a few yards to return the pickup to their line of sight. Chet and Greg both gave a friendly wave and called out to the truck which was met with silence as the three occupants of the orange Ford were seen deliberating within. Two others could be seen in the back of the truck recovering their positions amongst the suddenly shifted duffel bags, cases of water, sleeping bags, and even a couch and rocking chair. Soon, however, a quivering voice came from the driver: "Hey, we don't want any trouble...". Chet and Greg hollered back in agreement and the two groups began talking more openly.
The pickup and its five occupants had heard the radio broadcast in Carrollton and were heading north to catch the interstate west to the refugee camp. Chet and Greg warned their new found friends about the hoard of Zombies heading westward that would impede their progress if they continued that way. Fortunately the driver of the old Ford was from the area and knew a back road not on the high level road map. It would avoid Carrollton and the raiders that the pickup occupants warned the group. In addition, the back roads would be a lot shorter.
|Back Road Detour Route|
B: Ambush site
C: Triangle intersection
D: Back on the interstate with no Zombies in sight
E: Refugee Camp
Jed, the pickup driver, offered to lead the caravan with his pickup and the whole group headed on their new course southwestward. Chet and Greg followed behind in the Semi with RV and van following in line. (Kim and Colton slumbered in the sleeper...aka not playing yet...)
After only a mile down the road the screeching of the pickup tires brought the caravan to a halt. Greg could see ahead of the truck from his point of view atop the semi that there was something in the road ahead. Before any details could be gathered, everyone instinctively cringed and ducked at the sharp crack of gunfire. Greg grabbed on to the top of the semi as Chet slammed it into reverse and began backing up following suit with the pickup in front of them.
Dust kicked up as Jed sped past the semi in an effort to outrun the gunfire barrage only to have a rear tire shot out resulting in an abrupt stop at the side of the road. Chet's eyes darted back and forth looking around for the source of the gunfire, but backing up the truck took too much concentration to see anything else. Greg scanned the area as well, but was also preoccupied by clinging on to the roof of the semi while slamming in slugs to replace the shot he had loaded. Chet brought the semi to a halt once he reached some mature trees between the road and the houses - better than being completely in the open. Now taking fire from several of the houses, Chet and Greg heard the howl of pain from someone in the pickup. The rest of the occupants drug the injured person out and towards the opposite side of the road. Unfortunately, the there was not much of a ditch to provide cover and the poor souls were pinned nearly in the open.
Ducking from the clanging of bullets ricocheting off the semi, Chet had a hard time finding a target as he scanned the houses through his .308 scope. Greg spotted someone shooting from a window in a building close to them and sent a slug towards the assailant, but it failed to find its mark. A quick second pull of the trigger of the semi-automatic shotgun resulted in a dreaded 'click' with no 'boom' following - a dud. Fumbling to clear the round took his attention away from the ensuing battle for a few precious seconds.
Adding to the cracks of gunfire, the rev of a large diesel engine rumbled from the road where the caravan had passed just moments ago. A tractor pulled a large wagon across the road blocking any retreat. Fortunately the RV and van which carried the other survivors from the Home Depot and Fairfield Inn were able to make their way down the road to safety before the tractor moved into position.
Greg heard the wiz of a bullet fly by ending in a sharp pop next to him. Looking to his side, a thumb-sized hole was neatly punched through the fiberglass of the semi's air foil forming their crow's nest. Greg's short life of studying, hanging out at the beach house, and driving around with his buddies quickly flashed before his eyes as he knew what it would mean to be wounded without the proper equipment to provide medical care. Even worse, he realized he was the only medic around and shuddered at the thought of whose untrained hands would be digging around in his body... Fortunately, he wouldn't have to worry about that right now and quickly shook of the idea as he spotted movement in one of the windows. Blasting with his newly loaded slugs, the crunch of bone being shattered was heard as he put down one of the gunmen.
Chet shouldered his .308 as he turned from the doorway of the semi and took aim at the tractor driver. With an focused squeeze of the trigger, the side window glass of the tractor cab spider webbed and the driver slumped forward. A split second later, Chet was ducking back behind the door of the semi as shotgun pellets rained across the aluminum hood next to him. Spotting the source of the blast, Chet snapped his rifle to his shoulder and hastily pulled the trigger. Wood fragments blew from the doorway, but the gunman went unscathed. Skillfully manipulating the bolt action, a quick second shot caught the left shoulder of the gunman and tore it from his body.
The piercing scream of one of the pickup's occupants was the next sound which barely made it above the din of the gunfire. Looking over, Greg could see that three of the five lay just off the side of the road. The other two began to move hunched over with hands over ears towards the cover of the semi.
Greg scampered down the back of the semi yelling to Chet "I'm goin' for the Tractor!". Dust kicked up just a stride behind him as shotgun pellets threatened his plan to reach the tractor. Greg took a brief moment to catch his breath, probably lost due to the previous adrenaline filled moments rather than the short sprint his toned body should have had no trouble with. He then flung open the tractor door to reveal the slumped figure at the wheel. Yanking at the arm of the young man, probably no older than he was, Greg easily dislodged the corpse from the seat and subsequently slid it down the tractor stairs and into a heap on the ground. Pulling himself up into the cab, Greg's eyes widened at the sight of a hole he could fit his fist through and matching spider webbing - painted with a dark red mist - in the opposite door's window.
Greg scanned over the blood spattered levers and knobs of the tractor in an attempt to get it moving. Another shotgun blast broke up part of the rear window of the tractor which fortunately damaged nothing else besides Greg's concentration. Chet hopped out of the cage of the semi and headed up along the treeline to provide some cover fire. His aging, yet still quite able, ears led his eyes to one of the lower windows of the two story house (#6) which was the source of the shotgun fire aimed at Greg. Chet fired a round at the figure and heard a grunt as it disappeared from the window.
Finally finding the right combination of levers and figuring out the clutch, the tractor lurched into motion. Greg cranked the wheel around to line up on a collision course with the closest house (#6). A few seconds later, the tractor was enveloped in a cloud of dust as the aged wooden siding popped and crushed at the relentless advance. Breaking down the corner support for the house, the wheels then crashed through what once was a living room before crashing out the adjacent side of the house. Shattered fragments of wood, insulation, and other derbies filled part of the wagon as it followed behind the tractor.
Circling around, Greg set his sites on another house that he remembered gunfire coming from (#3). This smaller house yielded in a similar way, but not before taking its toll on the cab and one of the front tires of the tractor as well as snapping off the derbies filled wagon at the hitch. Half of the cab had collapsed breaking out what remained of the already weakened glass and steering became increasingly difficult as the remaining front tire strained to keep on course. Greg lined up the tractor as best he could with the next house down the line (#4) and jumped out of what remained of the cab. Clearing the dirt from his eyes, he was able to note that the tractor skimmed by the next house - taking out some siding, but leaving it structurally intact before continuing on its wayward course into the woods.
As the rumble of the tractor gave way to snaps of tree branches and finally silence, Chet hurried over to one of the houses (#5) to make sure it was clear. Peaking a searching eye into each of the ground floor windows revealed nothing so he slung his .308 over his shoulder and smoothly drew his 9mm handgun from its holster. With gun at ready, the fingertips of Chet's free hand tentatively turned the old glass doorknob to unlatch the back door. Slipping inside, Chet moved through the lower level scanning each room for danger. The gently blowing curtain from the open window in the dining room caught his attention and upon further investigation, the body of a younger man, probably in his 40's, lay on the floor - missing a good part of his shoulder. Judging from the bloody trail leading from the window back 10' to where the body rested, someone drug this man after he had fallen.
Eyes wide, Chet scanned the remaining corners of the room and concentrated on the sounds around him. Almost as expected, a board creaked directly above his head. With that, Chet crept towards the staircase he noticed during his walk of the house, but found a few creaky boards himself. The squeal of the board was felt through his spine and his face grimaced as he froze in his tracks listening for any additional movement from above. Finding the stairs to be as creaky as apparently every other board in the house he was sure his position had been given away. Reaching the top of the stairs, Chet's eyes began adjusting to the minimal light forcing its way through the thick shades of the windows.
After clearing the first room on the way to the area he expected the noise to have come from, Chet stood in the hallway with 9mm pointed forward. Listening again, the dead silence was a bit unnerving and known to be the calm before the storm. With a quick breath, Chet mustered his strength, pivoted into position and slammed his foot into the door. The latch tore through the frame as the door flew open punching a doorknob sized hole in the adjacent wall before swinging lazily on its hinges. Chet rolled out of the way as a shotgun blast tore through the upper corner of the door frame. "Drop the gun and come out!" Chet barked as he regained his breath from the close call. "Go away and leave me alone!" cried a woman's voice from the room followed by another shotgun blast aimed towards the doorway. Chet calmed himself and tried to talk the woman out of the room, but the sobbing and incoherent screaming coming from the room led him to believe that she had totally lost her nerve and was not coming out any time soon. After the 4th shotgun blast, Chet did a quick slide-by of the doorway and shot blindly into the room. That seemed to silence the woman and a few seconds later he heard a clicking noise coming from the room. Breathing heavily, Chet was suddenly met with a scream as the woman charged out of the room and at the same time both weapons discharged.
About this time, Kim woke up in the semi (Sheila arrived and joined the session) to the frightened sounds of the two pickup truck survivors. After taking cover behind the semi, they had climbed up and hunkered down in the relatively safe confides of the cab. Grabbing the cool metal of her AR-15, she climbed out and smoothly pulled herself up to the crow's nest. She scanned the houses and listened for any further gunfire.
The slug that the woman had unknowingly loaded whizzed past Chet's ear, but the 9mm round found its mark and pierced the woman's heart. Chet trudged a few steps down the hall, pushed the heavy curtain aside, opened the window and exclaimed "Chet lives!". The anxiety that briefly welled up inside both Greg and Kim as the muffled gunfire broke the silence was relieved at the sound of Chet's strong voice. Ears still ringing from the confined gunfire, Chet ruffled through the pockets of the woman's body which now rested in a slowly growing pool of blood before he continued on to clear the rest of the rooms. A pump 12ga shotgun and a couple handfuls of shells were added to the growing arsenal of the group.
Greg peered through the windows of the smallest house of the series (#4) before finding himself at the back door constructed of scraps of partially rotted through plywood. Kicking the door open, he burst into a living room area. As he navigated a path through a floor littered with empty beer and food cans along with other garbage, Greg found the house empty with nothing of value save a couple unopened canned goods.
Chet made his way northeast to the largest house (#6) to verify it was clear. Kim saw movement and leveled her rifle at the target before realizing it was Chet. Fortunately she held her fire as Chet made his way around the house. Having an entire corner ripped away left this house in a very unstable condition. Chet realized the hazard and avoided going up stairs or even near the damaged area. He did, however, find blood on the walls and along the floor in what once was a mud room entry way. The spatter of blood trailed back to the kitchen. Leading the way with his handgun outstretched, the entry opened into a kitchen. The picked through contents of a first aid kit strewn all over the table was the first detail to draw Chet's eye. A small pool of blood at the edge of the table which still dripped to the floor below ended the trail. The back screen door stood open and lazily swung with in the limited breeze from outside lead Chet to poke his head out and begin searching for the gunman. Chet was not able to pick up a trail by looking for blood on the ground, but a series of broken branches and crushed weeds led in the direction of an outbuilding (#8). Moving to the large metal structure revealed a bloody smear along the door and handle. Finding the door locked, he scanned the area once more before considering it too dangerous to follow into the woods and headed back to the rest of the group.
B: something spotted on the road
1: house - first gunshots fired from - gunman escaped
2: machine shed - one gunman firing a shotgun
3: house - another gunman
4: empty very run down house
5: two story house - one gunman and lady upstairs
6: two story house - two gunmen - one escaped out the back
7: machine shed - tractor pulled out with wagon to block escape
8: machine shed - bloody smear on the door, but nobody found
Once all of the houses had been quickly gone through to verify they contained no hidden gunmen, Greg sprinted across the road to the three motionless bodies of the pickup truck group. Checking for vitals confirmed that all three had bled out from their various gunshot wounds. Jed, the driver of the truck and once familiar with the back roads, was among the casualties.
The rest of the houses were then searched and some shotgun ammunition along with a broken double-barrel shotgun was found. In addition, some food supplies were found in the houses. Having already fully stocked up on the supplies found at the fallen checkpoint back on the interstate, there was no room for any of the food in their vehicles so it was left.
Chet and the two hiding in the semi changed the pickup's blown out tire in silence as Greg went to get a closer look at what Jed had spotted on the road before the chaos erupted. A makeshift tire spike strip cobbled together from some plywood panels pierced with a series of nails stretched across both lanes of traffic. He drug the panels off to the side of the road and roughly flipped them onto the embankment.
After about two hours from when the caravan's travel was disrupted, the group was back on the road. This time Chet led the rest of the vehicles in the semi. Fortunately Chet had a good memory and was listening as Jed explained the alternate path and the group found their way back up to the interstate without getting lost. Save a couple reassuring mentions between the group that it was all in self-defense and there was nothing they could have done to prevent the incident, traveling along the back road went by in silence. Attempts to rationalize how fellow humans battling the same unimaginable undead terror could so viciously attack one another went without answer.
The somber mood was broken as they left the nearly empty back roads and were once again negotiating the semi along the crowded shoulders of Interstate 20. Several miles down the road, a new obstruction made itself known. Across all lanes of the interstate, a 10' high earthen embankment had been pushed up. A white sign contrasted with the natural earth and had written "Refugee Camp" along with a red arrow pointing towards the exit. Chet guided the caravan down the exit ramp and around the embankment before climbing back up to continue the path down the interstate.
A short while later, another sign along the side of the road indicated that the camp was to be found by exiting onto a dirt road leading north. Less than a mile down the heavily forested roadway, another earthen wall could be seen towering about 20' above the ground. The path continued on and led to a large metal door embedded within the wall. The camouflage painted gate began to open, withdrawing to within the walls, and allowed entrance to the camp. Chet, Greg, and Kim hopped down out of the semi, reluctant to pull the entire caravan within the walls without first checking it out on foot. As the group passed through the gates they were met by two men dressed in camouflage uniforms topped with helmets and toting the bull-pup weapons identical to the one found at the checkpoint encountered on the interstate.
Another man, also neatly dressed in a uniform minus helmet, approached the group and introduced himself as Bing Yi. "We welcome you to the camp. Please follow me and we will get you right in." Bing Yi said calm and reassuring voice. His English was perfectly spoken and had a noticeable, but not distracting Chinese accent.
The group questioned Bing Yi about what he knew of the outbreak and about the camp itself for several minutes. Bing Yi responded and did not seem bothered by the many questions. Everything he could not answer, he referred the group to Wu Chang - the person in charge of the camp.
Chet offered the supplies they had brought from the checkpoint, but Bing Yi encouraged them to give the food and water to other survivors and that they had plenty here. Supply drops supplemented by the nearby catfish farm kept the camp of about 200 residents well fed.
Eventually the group finished their questions of Bing Yi, but still refused to become official 'residents' and requested to see Wu Chang before making a decision. The rest of the survivors made their way in to a what was once a small farmhouse. The once open living area had been neatly separated by white screen dividers which formed separate screening areas in which blood was drawn to screen for infection. Photographs, names, and previous occupations were also taken before a thermal printer powered by an unknown source spit out a badge with all the new resident's information printed on it. An attendant attached a lanyard to the badge and handed it to the individual to whom it belonged. The whole process was reminiscent of waiting in the DMV for a driver's license crossed with a trip to the doctors office - neither of which would be happening again in this day's world.
As the group waited, Bing Yi provided a document containing the rules of the refugee camp. Questions around having to stay within the complex were then attempted to be cleared up by Bing Yi. He stated that it is not uncommon for organized groups of scavengers or others with specific business to be issued waivers to allow the coming and going. The rule is just to prevent attracting unwanted attention by people meandering around the camp. There were no requirements that had to be met by the residents except to help out the camp with what skills they had and to follow the rules for the safety of all. Bing Yi explained that residents were encouraged to carry a side arm or hand weapon in case of a breach, but should not fire or make other loud noises within the walls for any other reason. The military would provide food and shelter to each resident and provide for the bulk of the security needs.
After about a half hour, Wu Chang walked through the inner gate and greeted the group. The formal hat he wore atop his head helped him almost top 5' tall. Although his accent was a bit thicker than Bing Yi's, he was still very easy to understand as he firmly spoke "Hello. How may I help?". Wu Chang's uniform included an overcoat which was decorated with a few sewn on medals. As with the rest of the camouflaged soldiers, an emblem of China's PLA was affixed to his jacket's right upper sleeve.
One bit of interesting information acquired from Wu Chang was the status of the various countries. He reported that the US, Mexico, parts of South America, and Western Europe had the highest infection rates. Eastern Asia, India, and the bulk of Africa each experienced some levels of outbreak, but to a lesser scale.
Once several more questions were answered, telling the group mostly what they already knew, the group shared their plan to bring more people back to the camp. Wu Chang took interest to this and inquired as to their interest in a mission. A group of six soldiers and two technicians responsible for setting up the television and radio broadcast was more than 24 hours overdue for their radio check-in. Wu Chang indicated that he would be able to give a satellite enabled phone for the group to report back their findings. As a sign of trust, however, the phone would only be given to someone who committed to be a resident of the refugee camp.
After much deliberation, Greg finally accepted the offer and had his blood drawn, gave his name and occupation, and was given his resident badge. Wu Chang then led him into the camp to give him more details on the mission and to retrieve a radio.
|Refugee Camp Overview|
From far right to left: main gate and refugee processing center, parking area, medical and mess hall, resident tent area (built up on a 10' mound), military barracks and offices
Wu Chang and Greg made their way through the various gates until they reached what was once a small machine shed. The farm equipment had been replaced with several cubicles constructed out of corrugated metal. Wu Chang grabbed a printout of the area surrounding the television station as well as a satellite phone and vehicle charger off of a desk. He gave both to Greg and gave some quick instruction on how to turn the phone on and off and where to push to talk. The phone would automatically (and exclusively) call into the camp.
|TV/Radio Station Area Overview|
Greg kept up with Wu Chang's quick moving legs as he looked at the map as the two briskly walked back to the entry to the camp. Upon Greg's return, Kim and Chet headed back to the RV to get some dinner. Greg headed back inside the gates to check out the tent area and see if anyone was walking around.
Soon after climbing up the hill to reach the columns of olive green tents, Greg met one of the residents walking toward his general direction. The man in his late thirties seemed friendly enough and the two talked about where they came from. He said he was from Birmingham and was part of a group of four. Six other group members fell dead as they attempted to acquire some supplies from the Anniston Army Depot. Greg described their situation and then asked how the conditions were here in camp and if everything was going well. The resident confirmed with confidence that the place was safe and other than one trouble maker trying to pester some of the women in camp, uneventful. Also, the food was pretty good and usually warm.
The two then headed down from the mound to the mess hall. The building was not overly crowded and going through the food line was a quick procedure - a little like a high-school lunch line. Greg noticed that there was electricity in the building which lit up the lights as well as powered some sort of fan system drawing the food smells down into the ground.
Food trays in hand, the two brought back the evening's meal to the man's tent. As they talked further, the resident asked Greg if he planned on picking out a tent. Greg responded by stating that he and his friends planned to go out to rescue other survivors and bring them back. The refugee asked why he wanted to do that - it sounds dangerous! Greg replied: "Everybody's gotta keep busy with doing something..." to which the resident responded simply: "I keep busy with eatin' catfish." as he plucked another tender morsel of fish from his plate.
Greg finished up his food fairly quickly and headed back out to join his friends in the RV. Greg and Kim mentioned in passing that they were surprised that the place seemed to be run in such a Democratic sort of way. Chet seemed a bit disturbed as to how the youngsters could mistake this Socialist/Communist society for a Democracy. Whatever the social underpinnings, the camp seemed to be keeping the people safe for the moment and he decided to drop it before it turned into a political debate. The group found the beds of the RV and semi sleeper to be of great comfort after the mentally exhausting day and hoped for a better tomorrow.