Session Summary #9 -- "The Grand Ole' Opryhouse"

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Dead Lands Session Summary #9: The Grand Ol' Opryhouse

The Posse, still in the town of Barrett, has had time to patch up wounds and catch their wind, though they still have to find a way out of the town. While Yotee and Bluefeather are off tending to the wounds of the pack of wolves that had been swayed by the powers of the vampire they defeated, Leonard and the others investigate the bunkers to each side of the entrance to the manor. Leonard discovers a row of bodies in one of the bunkers, lined up with rusty rifles. Before Leonard gets a chance to check the bodies for traps, Barney barges in and tries to grab one of the rifles, moving the first body. There is an audible click. Karl and Jim dash for cover, but Leonard botches his attempt to get out of the bunker, and ends up blocking the doorway, preventing any chance for himself and Barney to get out in time. A pipe bomb explodes, amazingly only causing a light wound to Barney's head, and no damage at all to Leonard, since he's still wearing the heavily armored HEV suit. Leonard loses his temper and takes his frustrations out on Barney.

Once that's done, Leonard salvages a piece of thick metal from what he can reach of the hum-vee buried in the rubble of the vampire's manor, and he uses this as a blast shield, as he then proceeds to try to disarm the traps on the other corpses. One of the other pipe bombs goes off, but between the blast shield and Leonard's HEV suit, he comes out unscathed, and fortunately there are no secondary explosions. Leonard comes out of this with four pipe bombs.

Bluefeather and Yotee come back in response to the sounds of the explosions, and Yotee notices an approaching vehicle. Everyone scrambles for cover, save for Yotee (who watches the limousine approach), and Bluefeather and Barney (as Bluefeather argues for Barney to hide, too). A stretch limousine of ridiculous length drives up, complete with a pool in the back. A window rolls down and a hand sticks out, waving a makeshift white flag. Karl keeps his rocket launcher trained on the limousine from the bunker, while a man in a suit gets out to greet Bluefeather and Barney ... and Yotee runs to the back and jumps into the pool.

Colonel Andrew T. Christopher The man introduces himself as Colonel Andrew T. Christopher, proprietor of the "Opryhouse", and explains that he had heard about the vampire ruling this town and how he saw the explosions and presumed that it must have been some heroes come to deal with that monster. He also indicates that the townsfolk seem none too friendly, as punctuated by a few fresh bullet holes on his armored limousine. Bluefeather is evasive, wondering why the Colonel would think she would know anything about this, and the Colonel's response is, to paraphrase, "Well, I suppose it's because you're standing right here," and he gestures toward the devastation around the group.

The Colonel explains that he runs an establishment that entertains travelers through the "Wasted West", and how normally he just has showgirls and singing and dancing and the occasional additional acts ... but he has it in his head that what his audience really needs is not just entertainment, but hope. The Colonel gives a big speech about how most people live in fear of the terrors of the Wasted West, and how what they need is to be able to hear stories of brave heroes who can stare down the forces of darkness and put a bullet between their beady little glowing red eyes. Bluefeather ventures that the Colonel expects people to pay for this "hope", and the Colonel doesn't deny that, as he is an entrepreneur. Bluefeather is disgusted by the whole idea, and wants nothing to do with the Colonel, but when he mentions that he's willing to pay, then Leonard steps out of the bunker and is ready to negotiate.

After some more questioning and negotiation, during which time Karl still keeps his rocket launcher trained on the limousine (and Yotee, wet from the pool, jumps inside the limousine and shakes himself dry, to the consternation of a few ladies the Colonel brought with him) the group reluctantly agrees to go along, though Bluefeather refuses to ride in the limousine, and stays behind long enough to use her rituals (when nobody is looking) to take the form of a condor and fly after the group, carrying her weapons in her talons.

The Posse Arrives The car manages to get out of the town, which is in a state of chaos, and makes its way up to the mountains, where it arrives the next morning in a settlement that looks like a mock-up of a "wild west" town, complete with storefronts and facades on a main street. There's a saloon to one side, which the Colonel owns, and the rest of the storefronts house businesses run by other people, such as a General Store and the local Smithy. The car pulls into the "Corral", which is a parking lot, and the passengers get out.

Barney stays behind to talk to the chauffeur, while Neo-Samurai Jim scouts around behind the building, Karl walks up to the front of the saloon with his rocket launcher over one shoulder, and Yotee and Leonard go on into the saloon. Barney asks the chauffeur a few questions about the town, but Barney makes a lot of strange statements about the "potato people" that prompt the chauffeur to question Barney's sanity. This is not helped by Karl, who "joins in" on the conversation through Barney's headset ... though since the chauffeur doesn't have a headset of his own, he can't hear what Karl has to say. Barney does learn, however, that the star performer here is a singer named Ariella, and that some of the past acts (the knife-thrower, the guy who would shoot an apple off someone's head, et cetera) have ended up with some pretty bad results.

Vivian Crowley Jim heads around the back, and encounters Vivian, the cook, who is taking out some garbage, and muttering to herself. Vivian gives Jim a nasty glare, and Jim tries to stare her down ... but fate doesn't seem to be smiling on him, and he ends up losing the stare-down contest. He declares, "You win!" and tosses a quarter to her. She ignores it, glares daggers at him some more, then stomps back into the kitchen. Jim retrieves his quarter, then continues on around, observing alternate doors leading out of the saloon -- to the kitchen, to men's and women's dressing rooms, and a service entrance on the other side. He also spies a large auditorium back behind the line of facades. He heads up the path through the trees that goes up to the auditorium and finds that it's closed, and he doesn't see anyone around. A sign on the side indicates that there are "Performances Nightly", but as for the current attractions, it says, "New Shows Arriving Soon".

Karl Steals Pants From a Drunkard Karl, standing outside the saloon, attracts the attention of a drunkard lying on the boardwalk right outside the entrance. The misfit, in a drunken attempt to win a "friend" (and bum some change for a drink), tries to complement Karl on his nice clothes and that he "doesn't stink". Karl hands him what's left of his bottle of vodka that he got on the limousine drive. The drunk guzzles the drink ... then passes out, and begins snoring. Karl pats down the drunk to see if he has anything worth filching, but only finds some empty shell casings. Karl sticks two casings in the drunk's nostrils, and flips him over ... then steals his pants. This prompts people out on the street to look at Karl strangely and keep their distance.

In the saloon, there are some girls dancing up on the stage, and a piano playing. Yotee rushes in and jumps up on the stage and begins running circles around the girls. The girls start screaming, and someone shouts out, "It's a wild dog! Shoot it!" and the guns come out. Barney rushes in, drawing his gun, and yells, "Don't shoot him, he's my dog! I've got a gun!" whereupon several of those with guns turn to train them on Barney, while Yotee escapes into the women's dressing room. Leonard, seeing that this might get ugly, backs into a corner. Karl prepares to wrap a grenade in the pair of pants he stole and to toss this into the saloon ... but before that can happen, the Colonel gets up on a table and puts on an act as he gives a spiel to the customers. "Well, thank you ladies and gentlemen! This was just an example of the action and excitement you'll see tonight at the Opryhouse! Now ... let's say we have a round of drinks for everyone, on the house?" Barney catches the idea, and puts his gun away, bowing. Some of the patrons clap weakly, but as they start to get free drinks, spirits lift considerably, and the music starts up again. Karl ends up throwing the pants into the saloon after all, but minus the grenade.

Leonard, meanwhile, goes over to a table and talks with the Colonel about details -- basically, the Colonel wants the members of the Posse to stay for a week (after that, he prefers to bring in a new act, to keep things fresh), and each night, he'd like them to tell the people stories about their adventures ... and if there are any special tricks or performances they can do on the side, that'd be great, too. In return, the Colonel offers free run of the establishment, food, drinks and a place to stay, and additional payment to be negotiated. Leonard indicates that he would be interested in a vehicle, and the Colonel suggests that he presently only has access to some cargo haulers, but that he has connections, and might be able to come up with something more suitable.

Barney trades in some bullets and gets some tokens and loses them playing roulette and the slot machines. The drunk wakes up and goes into the saloon for his pants ... then gets promptly thrown out. Bluefeather and Jim meet up with Karl. Karl and Jim come up with a theory that the auditorium out back is actually an arena where fights are held, and that the Colonel might actually plan to force the members of the Posse to fight to the death against each other. They figure that it's time to get everyone out. They drag Barney away from the roulette table, and pry Leonard away from speaking with the Colonel.

Meanwhile, the cook, Vivian, finds Yotee hiding in the women's dressing room. She coaxes him out with some food that has been in the refrigerator too long (but which the coyote likes just the same), and seems to be surprised at his appearance. Even more surprising, though, is that she can speak with the coyote. She reveals that she's secretly a witch, though she works here as a cook, and that she recognizes that the coyote isn't quite what he seems. Yotee tells her about his story and why he has come here, and why he's with the group. Vivian explains that the reason she's here is simply that, in addition to being a witch, she's also a good cook, and the pay is good here. Yotee is also able to discern that she doesn't care much for men at all, and that she thinks the Colonel is crazy for bringing in a bunch of gun-toting, trigger-happy so-called "heroes". Vivian makes an offer to Yotee that he could stay here with her as her familiar, but Yotee says he needs a chance to think about it. He indicates that he hopes to play some tricks while he's here, and Vivian offers her help should he need it, then shows him out the kitchen exit so that nobody in the saloon will see him.

By the time Yotee shows up to the group again, they've decided to get out of town at the first opportunity. They head over to the General Store to buy a few supplies, and they sell off one of the Fast-Heal packs for a considerable trade -- they manage to get five horses and tack for one Fast-Heal pack. (They also check with a peddler selling very cheap milrat packs, which prove to be highly tainted with radiation. Leonard wants to buy some anyway, but the others dissuade him from doing so.) The owner of the General Store proves to be quite nervous at Karl's penchant for carrying a loaded rocket launcher on his shoulder all the time, and Karl's careless comments about whether or not he could fire a rocket through the wall of the store before it would explode. The owner closes the shop "for lunch", and ushers everyone out.

During this time, Yotee has taken Bluefeather over to meet Vivian the Witch, and Vivian reveals that a few accidents have happened at this place ... but that a few of them were her own doing, though she excuses her actions by saying that those who were her victims "deserved it". When Bluefeather mentions the theory about the auditorium being a battle arena, Vivian breaks out laughing, and denies the charge, indicating that it's a place where the nightly shows are put on for the entertainment of those willing to pay for admission.

The Posse heads over to check out their horses. Karl picks a black horse with red glowing eyes named Beelzebub. Barney gets Trigger, Leonard gets Killer, Jim gets Lightning, and Bluefeather gets Daisy. The horses are in pretty good condition, and aren't spooked by gunfire. Furthermore, Bluefeather is able to use her powers to speak to the horses and discern a little more about their personalities.

While Jim stays behind to guard the horses, Yotee disappears to get into some mischief, and Leonard goes back to the General Store (where the proprietor lets him in when he sees that Karl isn't with him), the rest of the Posse heads to the Smithy. They try to bargain to trade on information of the whereabouts of the salvage of the hum-vee ... but when the blacksmith figures out that they're talking about the incident in Barrett, he wants nothing to do with it or any "salvage operations" there, and shoos them out.

Yotee, meanwhile, slips off to cause some trouble for a call girl and her "customer". When the man leaves, Yotee uses a mental power to "erase" the call girl's memory of the man paying her, and then the coyote runs off. An argument soon follows where the call girl accuses the man of not paying her, and this eventually escalates into a full-blown bar room brawl. Yotee stands out in the street, watching the occasional combatant get thrown out into the street. He figures out where people tend to land ... and does his "duty" right on that spot. A punk gets tossed out into the street and lands right on the spot ... but when he gets up and sees Yotee right there, he quickly figures out who is responsible, and shoots the coyote before he can get away! The coyote limps off, and Bluefeather comes to Yotee's rescue, trying to distract the punk ... and when that doesn't work, trying to knock his aim off while Yotee flees. The punk chases after Bluefeather, but she uses a supernatural power to become insubstantial (though she looks perfectly normal), and when the punk tries to grab her, his hand passes right through her! He is greatly alarmed by this, drops his gun, and runs away. Bluefeather returns to normal and picks up the gun, and then gets into an argument with Barney about what to do with it. (Bluefeather wishes to discard of it, disliking guns.)

Bluefeather bandages up Yotee, and the group gets prepared to head out of town. Karl wants to use the rocket launcher on the Colonel's limousine, but the others dissuade him from this course of action. They manage to ride out of town on their horses without meeting any opposition, bound for a town marked on a map as "Hope", about three days' journey away.

And so, the Posse rides off in search of new adventures, leaving the curious settlement built up around the "Opryhouse", and any mysteries it might hold, behind them.

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