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Monday, 12 August 2019

Becky and Mission St Mary - The Red Jade Buddha

In Changoon Gabrielle had taken a blast of buckshot to the chest, she needed medical attention quickly, the pellets had not penetrated deeply but she was in great pain and there was lots of blood, which made the situation appear more serious than it actually was.
When the girls made their rendezvous with Captain John Hawke on the river he had a ready answer and quickly got them loaded in the old flat bottom boat he ran up river carrying goods and people, well anything that paid its way, he told them of Mission Saint Mary. It was a small missionary station run by Reverend Green who had the help of two Sisters of Mercy, Sister Matilda and Sister Monica, but more importantly they had some rudimentary medical facilities there. These were run by Maria Radomira, no one is quite sure if she is a Doctor, a nurse or had once read a book about first aid, she was quite reticent about her past. What was known was that she was an expert on stitching, binding and generally patching up the sort of injuries that most folk got around these parts, broken bones, cuts that sort of thing. Not bullet or pellet holes – well not usually but they were similar to most accidents and she was good at those.
Captain Hawke had a lot of confidence in her and besides that he had a close relationship with Sister Matilda and calling in at the Mission was always high on his agenda and he was sure she would help if at all possible.
There was a need for speed because in this hot steamy climate the big worry was infection, infection from the pellets but more likely from the clothing that had been carried into the wounds, although the good news was that the small bikini top Gabrielle was wearing didn’t have a lot of material in it.
Mission St Mary on the River Changoon, this is just an overview to get an impression of the lay of the land.
It’s only a small mission but they still require financing, however Reverend Green acknowledges no higher authority than God and so they receive no financial support from the local official Church funds and his Bishop has given up trying to enforce his will on the stubborn Priest. Unperturbed by this the Rev being a resourceful man has income coming in from the local community, mind you, if you’ve seen Changoon and realize that is the local community you might wonder why they support the Mission. Anyway it might not pay to enquire too closely into his revenue stream.
The euphemistically named hospital is top left, Maria the Doc and her dog Major are just outside it.
Worship is conducted in the open air before the large wooden cross this was the first structure raised at the mission. The other two building house the helpers and the staff. The tent is new.
The jungle is continually trying to overrun the place, like a living thing but it finds Gods hand everywhere, holding it back and rooting out the weak and lame.
Ok final set up shot. Of note is the tent, a sign of welcome guests or maybe unwelcome ones.
OK maybe not the final set up shot, the landing stage on the right has a couple of boats pulled up on the river bank but there’s a boat on the other bank? The sun is rising in the East and it looks a calm, peaceful and idyllic setting.
Maybe this is a clue to the additional revenue the Reverend has coming in.
Of course if you’ve not been following my stories or indeed not being paying attention to them this will mean nothing to you but don’t worry, nothing ever really becomes clear.
One of the few shots in focus, it has nothing to do with the story, but as it’s in focus I thought I’d put it here ;)
The Reverend is being interviewed by a TV Reporter who is following up on a rumour she has heard and trying to get the Reverend to confirm it, she’s also getting general background information for a piece on the Mission and it’s activities. The Reverend seems strangely reticent on the subject and continually brings the interview back to the subject of the weather and how hot it’s been.
These two tough looking characters are probably the bodyguards for the Reporter.
It’s early morning and the water girls in the distance are carrying – well – water, from the river, the needs of the small community require this to be done twice a day.
You can see Major, the dog, Maria’s closest companion, Maria is not generally concerned about her personal safety with Major around but should she need it her second closest companion is a Webley revolver carried at all times in a big pocket sewn into her voluminous skirt.
The girls get out of the pickup truck and prepare to embark on the dilapidated boat Captain Hawke calls Esmeralda, she is the one true love of his life, although Sister Matilda comes a close second. They’ve been together many years, Esmeralda I mean and with her he is able to run his precarious business and eke out a reasonably comfortable living. If only he had invested in that steam engine she would go much faster and a canopy would also be useful, maybe later.
You will have to imagine Gabrielle has a bloody bandage wrapped round her chest as I’m certainly not buggering up my figure to put one on for authenticity’s sake.
A close up of the water girls and Nyla has seen the activity on the other bank of the river and starts to hurry back to report this. Activity on the Changoon River usually means trouble is heading your way.
Under way at last, both the boat and the game.
It’s Katie Monk who’s conducting the interview, you may remember her from the Scoop, the game I haven’t written up yet from DevLAM 18. She is a forceful character and lets no one get in the way of a good story, well any story that will enhance her reputation and increase her pay packet and she can tell evasive answers a mile away, so this might be a big story.
A slightly out of focus Sister Monica has been watching the interview with disapproval but then she thinks she hears, or sees something, she’s not sure what.
Turning towards whatever caught her attention she tries to discern what it might be – a noise, a movement.
There are 8 pygmy warriors moving stealthily towards the mission, I can only see 5 but I’m sure they were all in the shot, checking against her awareness level she doesn’t see anyone.
I’m using a random direction and movement dice kindly donated by Moonraker Miniatures, well I refused to let him have it back after DevLAM 17 and it gets used all the time. Each turn the main active characters roll a dice to see where they will go. They are not expecting this incursion and so are not acting as sentries as was the case in the Boucharde Raid but the effect is the same. At some point they will discover the Pygmies, hopefully before it’s too late.
She trusts her instincts and moves closer to the cause of her concern, but still sees nothing. The Pygmies freeze, they are consummate hunters and have been tracking and killing game all their lives so are very hard to spot if hiding.
Just to show the Pygmies exist.
Sister Monica has moved a little closer to the river off to the right and Big Freddie and Gasper the bodyguards have seen her indecision and have come to see if there is cause for concern. Their instincts for trouble have been honed to razor sharpness by actions across the globe, from bar room fights in Alaska, to covert operations in Borneo to babysitting a Columbian Drug Cartel informant, to … well you get the idea.
All three of them make a slight movement in the general direction of trouble but still don’t see anything. Big Freddie is sure there’s something there, but what.
Meanwhile Captain Hawke has grounded his boat and everyone disembarks, they are moving into the illusory sanctuary of the mission to see if they can get help for Gabrielle.
Big Freddie has moved into cover, there’s something out there, the hairs on his head stands on end, no I mean the hairs on the back of his neck stand on end, Gasper who missed out on the Special Operations in Borneo but made up for it in bar room brawls sees nothing, he’s not trained to this “in country” stuff, he’s far better in the city.
I’m using a 2 stage test, first they test against their Awareness to see if they are aware of anything even if they can’t see it and if successful then I’m doing an opposed roll, their awareness v the Pygmies Stealth, Freddie was passing the first but failing the second, Gasper just failed.
Calling out a greeting Captain Hawke enters the Mission, the Reverend turns with a big welcoming smile when he sees who it is but Katie gives him a venomous glare, I’m conducting an interview here she states aggressively.
Hawke takes a Brains test and ignores her but asks the Reverend where’s the Doc, saying “I’ve got a wounded girl here, she needs medical attention”, Katie immediately realizes she might have a better story than the one she was chasing, which was something about drugs being grown deep in the jungle.
The Rev sends Ato the cook’s boy off to get Maria the Doc!
Everyone is milling about as they wait for the Doc, Big Freddie has decided that he must have been wrong and returns to see what is happening, Sister Monica goes with him.
Gasper visits the Outhouse.
Note this is still random movement for these characters but it’s building the tension for me, as well as suggesting the story line.
Keep the camera rolling Katie instructs Donald the cameraman as Hawke, followed by the rest of the Girls comes into the Mission, Hawke still failing Brains tests, introduces Becky to Reverend Green in front of the camera.
With Gasper in the outhouse the Pygmies finally start to move forward. One goes behind the small building and nocks an arrow, aiming through a crack in the woodwork.
I built it so well that you will have to imagine the crack is there.
Katie’s eyes widen when she sees the blood soaked bandages around Gabrielle’s chest she sidles over to Rebecca Salerno and starts to ask questions. Rebecca passes her Brains test and gives nothing away. In the far distance the Doc is returning with Ato.
Katie is thinking “I’ve seen those Tomb Raider movies and this girl looks just the part, what the hell is going on here.”
The Doc! finally arrives and she gives Gabrielle a quick once over, she looks pretty good to me but I’m not a Doctor, and then with a peremptory command, orders Gabrielle into the building she calls the Medical Centre.
Captain Hawke and Sister Matilda are deep in conversation, she leans forward to catch his every word!!! Is he going to turn out to be like Big Jim in Little Whiskey my western town, do all the girls like a rough looking fellow with a beard?
Big Freddie can see everything is OK with Katie and is obviously still not sure about what he might have noticed earlier so has returned for another look. The goats haven’t moved, it all looks quiet and then he sees a pair of white eyes staring at him through a bush not 10 yards away, they both react.
Freddie is fast, in his line of business you have to be fast but the little man is faster, maybe a bit too fast though because his arrow thuds into the veranda post just by Freddie’s head. Freddie spray’s the bush with sub machine gun fire, but the arrow must have disconcerted him as he also misses.
The other Pygmies also react but the bush is so thick only 2 of them can see Freddie, they’re cool customers and take careful shots.
Freddie looks down to see an arrow piercing his right leg. He’s been shot with pistols, machine guns, even a tank gun once but never an arrow. The sight of it sticking through his leg is unnerving and he faints. OOF.
You remember the little chap behind the outhouse, well he fires at Gasper’s unprotected back but something must have distracted him, I daren’t even think what it might have been, but he missed from a couple of feet away and Gasper is out of there as fast as he can go. You can just see him running into the compound.
Everyone reacts to the sound of the SMG bullets and Gaspers throaty roar “Someone shot at me” Katie and Donald dived into their tent followed closely by Gasper. The help mainly ran away, well they were mostly women and unarmed, what else can you expect?
Maria with Roxanne’s help has taken Gabrielle into the Hospital.
The others form a rough line and wait on events.
The Pygmies, following up their initial success rush forward, they must have had some Zulu blood in them because they form the traditional head and two horns of the Impi’s attacking formation. 2 go right and 2 go left with the remaining 4 moving straight forward. Well it’s similar to an Impi.
As they come into sight everyone takes a test to see who will react first, the number on the dice is the number of passing dice they had rolled and they test in descending order, the test results mean they may shoot, not shoot or even run away.
John Hawke has passed 4 dice and so is first to test his reaction to seeing a group of hostile Pygmies appear out of the undergrowth.
He passes the test and pulls out his weapon on choice – a catapult. It does have lead shot and in my defence this was the character I played my first campaign game of All Things Zombie and in the initial aftermath of the apocalypse this is what I armed him with, it could have been a baseball bat or a hockey stick but it was a catapult. One day I’ll maybe post his initial scenario.
Anyway this is the first time he’s been in a shooting match since then and I’m still using his original character card, well to be fair he’s the same character. He does have a knife as well, and he’s pretty good at throwing it, although why you would throw your weapon away is anybody's guess.
To continue, he pulls out his catapult and fires the first lead shot, it flies true as a die and hits the building by the Pygmy.
Becky and one of the other Pygmies react simultaneously, I decided they would shoot at each other, normally in this sort of situation I go with the nearest target or sometimes a dice roll determines it. She is an ace shot with either hand, slightly better with her right than left, but can fire at the same target or a different one with a loss in accuracy. She hits him with one shot from each pistol and he dies immediately, but his arrow is already in flight and she is hit in the right leg, which disables her. OOF, these leg shots are proving deadly.
Bullets and arrows fly back and forth, Rebecca the Tomb Raider girl is also a deadly shot and she kills one of the pygmies, Sister Matilda has a steely glare, useful for deterring vampires and ghosts, she turns it on one of the Pygmies, the one who is about to fire his arrow at her, he quails before the glare but still manages to loose the arrow, however he was trembling so hard that it disappears into the undergrowth, doing no damage at all. Susan Gunn has a sawn off, pump action, shotgun, and the reason for her weapon choice is obvious, she’s a hopeless shot but by spreading so much lead about she hopes to hit something, not today though. The arrows missed everyone else.
OK FRANK YOU CAN LOOK BACK NOW. No more dice on the table.
After the initial bout of firing everyone pretty much jumped back into cover, except The Reverend, Sister Matilda and Ato the cook’s boy, they tried to help Becky back into shelter. Although the Rev was a bit stunned by it all and they couldn’t lift her because he didn’t activate.
A quick round up so far, Becky and Big Freddie are out of action, two of the Pygmies are dead and Katie with her crew are hiding in the tent.
Gasper recovers his nerve and steps out of the tent holding a big Magnum in one hand and his knuckle dusters grasped firmly in the other. He sees a Pygmy and fires, misses of course. Roxanne and Maria are firing from the hospital and Maria kills one of the little chaps, it’s the chief in the feathered head piece. Susan Gunn continues to blaze away with the shotgun, this time slightly wounding another of the poor wee fellows, the return fire is inaccurate, arrows flying past harmlessly.
It’s very rare that I’ve thrown so many bad dice for one side and good ones for the other, it’s just not the little men’s day.
With their Chief down the guys in the centre run for it but there is one Pygmy remaining at either side of the head, the tip of the horns so to speak, they haven’t seen the chief die and they are both bold brave fellows so remain in cover returning arrows for lead, a bit of a thankless and very dangerous task.
Katie and Donald pluck up their courage and emerge from the tent clutching pistols but there is no enemy to be seen.
The Reverend has still not activated but Ato and Sister Matilda have managed to move Becky and are almost in the cover of the hospital.
Rebecca shoots the remaining left horn and on the other side of the compound Captain Hawke finally manages to hit something, well somebody and the last Pygmy is down, lead shot is obviously not as powerful as lead bullets and the guy is wounded, the only one not to have been killed or run away.
In the aftermath of the attack Reverend Green is perplexed, there hasn’t been any trouble with the locals at all although the Pygmies are not that local.
Fortunately he can speak Pygmy and is able to ascertain that they were trying to capture Katie Monk so they could sacrifice her to appease the Forest Gods as well as placate their Ancestors Spirits. Apparently she had desecrated their Ancestral burial grounds for a documentary on little known tribal religions and had taken their sacred Tribal Totems to substantiate her facts, and probably for profit in the auction houses in New York.
Her sacrifice would have ensured the Ancestors could return to perpetual slumber and the current tribal elders would have fulfilled their duty. He decided to keep this information to himself for the time being, until he could decide on the right course of action to take.
Final view of the table.
Well this was supposed to be the introduction to another game, an introduction explaining how Gabrielle was left behind in a safe place to recover from her wound. Probably with one of the other girls to look after her and explain why there were fewer in the party going forward. I always envisioned that the party would reduce in size due to wounds, deaths and maybe other things as well.
As I was getting the figures out, I thought, hum Katie Monk, maybe she could be in the Mission getting a story, that would add further complications to the plot. I know that the police in the last tale are going to be after Becky and there are various other strands to come into play mainly from the Changoon tale but a bit of extra tangling won’t go amiss.
The Pygmies were just sat there waiting to be used, so now there is enmity with the small folk, enmity with the police, even if they are the biggest crooks in Changoon, and rivalry with various other groups and of course Count Spaarks hasn’t been heard of for a while either, so there’s plenty to go at.
Well I can’t continue without Becky so the group will have to stay at the Mission until she recovers. The dice decided both she and Gabrielle do recover and at the same time as each other so that’s a relief and no one drops out at this stage. However it’s a 2 week recovery time before they can continue, it gives rivals the time to catch up or indeed get ahead in the race for the Red Jade Buddha.
Will Katie Monk want to get a new story? Probably. How will they keep her quiet? Dunno.
Tune in some time in the future for the next thrilling episode…. Well if you’re at a loose end, it’s raining and there’s nothing on TV, or your Dad’s grounded you and the pocket money’s run out. ;)
You can then watch the story unfold…. Slowly.
Well if you’re still here thanks for reading and hopefully you enjoyed the tale as much as I enjoyed writing it :)