Y’all ready for a treat? Cameron wrote this sessiomn!
The other part of the treat is that I wasn’t going to write it up for, like, days yet, so this is technically early. I’M A TERRIBLE PERSON.
Also also, I’m really sorry that he hasn’t come around the forums himself. I don’t think he’d want me to talk about his illness, so I won’t, I’ll just say that he pretty much lost a year, and he’s been very, very tired, and he sees the forums as a way to expend energy rather than to recoup it.
So… he’s running a game for me and Q, and he’s resting, and he’s (at least for this session) writing. That’s a win in my book, okay?
Enough of the prequel, here’s the narrative:
Road to Amarillo
A dry summer day in Sweetwater, Texas, just outside Rolling Plains Memorial Hospital. Two young woman and a dog slumped outside. The blonde went by Frost, the brunette by A.Moral. The dog’s name was 3Dog, but he went by whatever Frost called him.
They’d parked Frost’s custom cycle and A.Moral’s rusty Dodge just outside. 3Dog was lounging the cycle’s sidecar, waiting for his humans to stop mourning.
Frost glared at the pavement, “So. You shot him.”
“In the foot! I shot him in the foot!”
“I still can’t believe you shot him.”
“I still can’t believe he died from it.”
Mr. Johnson, small-time hustler and all-around bad dude, still owed them pay.
A.Moral spat and rolled off the hood, “So what do we do?”
Frost leaned her head back, eyes closed, then sighed, “We do a bad thing.”
A.Moral grinned, “Yeah?”
Frost’s lips twitched, almost a smile, “Yeah.”
Well after dark and across from McCoy’s Funeral Home, the two women prowled a ruined storage facility. Johnson made his office here out of one of the unbroken storage units. A swamp cooler hung its butt out of a thin, hand-cut window, the only entrance besides the locked roller door.
It was dark: Johnson never spent a dime on electricity or gas he didn’t have to.
Frost’s bolt cutters made short work of the padlock, but she missed the alarm wire. Within minutes of stepping inside, they heard Mrs. Johnson’s beat-up pick-up crunching the gravelled entrance.
A.Moral ripped the cash register out, and the lockbox and shotgun beneath the counter. Frost flipped the bed in the back and threw the stash beneath into the blanket on top. A.Moral grabbed the blanket, tossing her take in, and began running. Frost paused only long enough to grab the canister of gasoline by the generator.
They split up, ducking and dodging Mrs. Johnson through the maze of storage sheds, and reconvened at the Deep Six Motel.
The stash was pretty good by A.Moral’s standards: a canister of gasoline, high-quality wool blanket, two cases of beer (and a Rebecca Creek pre-crash whiskey!), a six shooter with spare bullets, shotgun, a candy bar still in the wrapper, cash, and a lockbox.
Frost was working on that last item now, brow furrowed in thought. A.Moral was working on a shot of whiskey, and feeding 3Dog a strip of jerky.
An audible click, and Frost finally flashed a real smile: more cash, receipts, a working ink pen … and tucked under the other items, a map with directions to a dollar sign sigil.
A.Moral perked up at the map, “You think it’s a treasure map?”
“I think it’s smack dab in the Gul Gang.”
“Huh. Wish I’d known Johnson had a bone to pick with Gul.”
“Everyone has a bone to pick with Gul.”
A.Moral’s smile showed entirely too many teeth, “Think we could do it?”
Frost took a long look at her partner, “If you don’t get distracted. We just get in, grab whatever’s there, get out.”
“Hey, I don’t wanna die.”
Gul’s Gang was a group of bikers who’d moved into the Chapparal Mobile Home & R.V. Park. Twenty-two trailers and two houses (a one-bedroom and a three-bedroom), with roughly 2-3 gangers per trailer. Most of the trailers were retrofitted with a gun or two, but unarmored: no cycle gang has that kind of money.
Gul himself was an ogre: a pre-crash military experiment who escaped his holdings during the collapse. He rode a massive hog and lived in the “big house.” He and his cycle gang “knights” claimed ownership of all of Sweetwater, though in practice this amounted to little beyond a protection racket. Frost and A.Moral had both grown up as slaves in the gang, and bought what limited freedom they had with stolen cash.
The treasure map pointed at a trailer a bit behind the big house, and exposed on every other side … but there was a path via the trees between the big house and the treasure trailer.
Which was where Frost and A.Moral were now.
Frost was a good ten yards ahead of A.Moral, silent as death. A.Moral was following slowly and carefully, keeping an eye on Frost’s one ungloved hand - the only thing she could see.
A frantic wave of the hand, stay back, down, and then the hand disappeared.
A.Moral lay flat and waited. And waited. And then watched as Gul stepped out of the big house, walked right past the spot she’d last seen Frost, and took a leak into the bushes.
A brief war of thoughts. Gul was vulnerable now. Weak. But he was still an ogre, and she might kill him, but not before he could shout for help. And then … She lay flat and waited.
Gul walked back into the house, the hand reappeared, and the two young women continued to crawl along the brush, then under the trailer.
A brief consultation of the notes on the map, and the two began quietly digging at the ground with trowels. An hour. Two.
A.Moral wiped sweat from her scalp, and whispered, “How much deeper?”
Frost glared at the earth around them, “Another hour. Then we quit.”
A.Moral shrugged, grinned, and started digging again.
At 15 feet deep, they found Johnson’s stash: a few pre-crash gold bars, a life’s savings of worthless dollar bills, a long-expired hoard of prescription bottles, and a 1-carat psi-augment sapphire on a thin silver chain.
Frost looked at the expiration dates, “He buried this right before Gul moved in.”
A.Moral, teeth white in the shadowed pit, “No wonder he was grumpy.”
Frost dug around listlessly a bit to make sure there were no further boxes deeper down, and then they snuck back out. As they passed Gul’s window, they heard Mrs. Johnson’s voice drifting out of the window …
“I don’t care about that anymore. Those two ****s killed my man, I’ll show you where it is, if you’ll take care of them for me.”
The women looked at each other, and gave up stealth for speed, sprinting until they reached their vehicles. Somewhere behind, they could hear Gul’s howl when he found the hole.
A.Moral, an unrepentant ear-to-ear grin, and wheezing with effort, “We gotta leave town.”
“No crap. Gul’s gonna hunt us like dogs.”
“But where to? We don’t know anyone who’ll take us in.”
“Well, maybe you could stop shooting people who hire us.”
“In the foot and he was being grabby!”
“I know, I know, I’m sorry,” Frost pinched the bridge of her nose and shut her eyes, “No, we don’t know anyone, and we’re broke, and …”
Frost glared at the gold bars, “Okay, we’re not actually broke. We just can’t spend it here. Lubbock’s no good …”
A.Moral snorted, and Frost continued, “But we have gas for Amarillo, and there’s courier work between there and Albuquerque. We could make that, I think.”
Lamar out of Sweetwater turned into Highway 70 just out of town. They could have taken I-20 and gone north through Lubbock, but … Lubbock was run by Sherrif Dyer, another ogre with funny ideas about citizen rights.
Between the gas in A.Moral’s trunk, what remained in their tanks, and the extra bit Johnson had so generously “donated,” they could make 300 miles easy, and Amarillo was only a hair over 200.
So they push up to a blistering 70 mph down H70, dodging potholes and bits of metal and glass. Gul was sharp in their minds, and better a flaming wreck than capture.
At the one-hour mark, they passed a sleeping trade caravan. Friendly hand gestures, guns aimed down and away, and the caravan let them pass, but didn’t offer solace.
Half an hour after that, A.Moral spotted some wreckage and they slowed down to take a look. A pair of trucks, Vigilantes in bad shape but definitely repairable … then closer, two corpseworms – six-foot-plus maggots often found at kill sites – in the truck cabins.
The girls continued on.
Near the outskirts of Amarillo, the city’s concrete facade just visible on the horizon, a dust cloud in the rear view mirror catches the dawn light and Frost’s eye: a cycle gang! A.Moral grimly nurses her car along at its top speed, and hand-signals Frost to shoot ahead.
The cyclists come into range for potshots a hair before A.Moral gets into the circle of protection from the wall guns, and the Dodge Rattler takes a beating to the rear before the cyclists veer away.
A Danny’s Diner is blinking a welcome sign from just inside. A.Moral whoops and hollers, signs “eat” at Frost, and they both pull into parking for Danny’s famous backyard eggs.
A new city, a new life! With Johnson’s treasure in hand, they fill their tanks to the brim, buy a Texan King steak for 3Dog (and gnaw on it a bit themselves), crack open a few beers, and rent a tiny flophouse.
“Things,” opines A.Moral to Frost, “are looking up.”
As the sun rises into the sky, the two women and their dog sleep the sleep of the just.