Session Summary #11 -- "War 'n Peace"

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War 'n Peace
Dead Lands Session Summary #11: War 'n Peace

Our heroes make camp, after breaking up a battle between mutants and "normies", and capturing an Anti-Templar who was leading the "normies" into battle. They take turns keeping watch over the prisoner, and though he attempts to speak with his guards (and, of course, demand that they release him) they largely ignore him. In the morning, Barney has mutated even more.

The Posse makes plans to split up and visit each of the settlements. It is decided that Bluefeather the Shamaness and Thirteen (the robot) will stay and guard the Anti-Templar, while the rest form two groups to visit the settlements. One group consists of Brother Joy and Barney, heading to the mutant encampment. The other, comprised of Karl Dracomortat the Vampire Hunter, Neo-Samurai Jim and Mountie Samuel Steele, heads to the "normie" settlement. Sweet Sue, the rodeo girl, has wandered off. When Barney tries to get his horse ("Trigger"), however, it bolts and runs away in fear.

Anti-Templar Kane While the two groups are traveling to the settlements, the Anti-Templar once more tries to strike up a conversation, though he's certainly no smooth talker, and his abrasive nature is evident. Bluefeather threatens to gag him if he won't keep quiet, but she is unable to figure out how to remove the helmet of his armor in order to do so. She therefore orders Thirteen to stuff the Anti-Templar into a barrel. The Anti-Templar, however, pulls rank on the robot -- by giving his name, rank and serial number ... as a colonel in the U.S. Army. The robot stops, and then proceeds to free the Anti-Templar. Bluefeather "ghosts", turning insubstantial, just as the Anti-Templar tries to grab her ... and his arms pass right through her. He then draws his sword, which crackles with energy. Bluefeather, fearing that this sword might be able to harm her even with her power to pass through solid objects, dives into the ground.

Thirteen, having obeyed the Anti-Templar's order in freeing him, but still subject to conflicting instructions to keep the Anti-Templar a prisoner, attempts to pursue him. However, the Anti-Templar doesn't waste any more time with Thirteen, and steals Bluefeather's horse, riding away. Bluefeather pops up behind some trees, turns material again, and stuffs her weapons into the hollow of a tree trunk, then invokes a favor from the nature spirits to turn her into the form of an eagle. However, she makes an unexpected botch while trying to contact the nature spirits ... and instead comes face to face with an evil spirit of immense power that has been hunting her down. It gives her a spiritual backhand, then prepares to enter the physical realm in pursuit of her. Bluefeather runs away, heading for a nearby stream, and tries to get as far away from the point of contact as possible.

Bonebreaker Skullcrusher Meanwhile, in the fortified "normie" settlement, Karl stays outside with the horses while Samuel Steele and Neo-Samurai Jim (traveling in disguise, opting not to reveal his Templar status) head in -- as Samuel Steele is able to gain entrance on account of his being a Law Dog. Inside, they find that most of the survivors there are young savages, not terribly bright. (The closest equivalent they have to a "leader" calls himself "Bonebreaker Skullcrusher".) The heroes try to reason with the group, indicating that they've slain the battle leader of the mutants, and that the Anti-Templar was actually working against the interests of the settlement ... and that the Posse can arrange for some sort of a peaceful resolution. The warriors seem eager for a fight, but at last they agree to meet for a talk arranged by the Posse. They witness the sudden formation of an unnatural storm and hear booming laughter and a cry of "NOW I have you, Bluefeather!" and rightly assume that Bluefeather is in trouble. They take to their horses and make haste back up the mountainside.

In the mutant camp, Brother Joy and Barney ride into town. The mutants there immediately recognize Brother Joy's purple robes, marking him as a Schismatic, and attack -- as they've been indoctrinated by an evil Doomsayer into believing the Schismatics to be their enemies. The battle is quickly joined and quickly ended, as the disorganized mutants are hardly a match for the two heroes. However, Barney loses control of himself and starts munching on one of the corpses of the mutants. At this time, they witness the storm and the booming laughter of the evil spirit, and figure out that something's wrong. Barney, however, starts to go over to a wounded mutant for "dessert", but Brother Joy intervenes, trying to knock some sense into Barney ... and knocking him out in the process. Brother Joy ignores the wounded and cowering mutants, grabbing Barney and heading back up the mountain as fast as his wall-crawler mount will take him.

Samuel Steele arrives at the camp first, and finds Thirteen there, banging his head against a tree. Steele learns that the Anti-Templar has gotten away, and Bluefeather has fled. Steele tries to track the Anti-Templar, but with no success. By the time he has finished, the other horses arrive, and the group heads downstream in pursuit of Bluefeather. Brother Joy, on his slower-moving wall-crawler, arrives and finds Thirteen still there. He orders Thirteen to guard the camp ... but then, the evil spirit begins to materialize right where Bluefeather accidentally contacted it. Brother Joy changes his orders, instructing Thirteen to run, even as he does the same. The evil spirit materializes in the form of a hideous giant warrior riding a black, winged horse. The horse begins galloping in the direction of Bluefeather ... piledriving Thirteen right into the ground in the process, while Brother Joy manages to get out of the way of the charge. The pack horse (once ridden by Leonard) falls over in a dead faint at the sight of the horror.

The monster catches up on Jim, Karl and Samuel as they're heading downstream, and they manage to notice its approach just before it's upon them. Karl tries to get his horse to leap across the stream, but a botch ends up with him in a tree, knocked off his horse by a low-hanging tree branch. Sam and his horse, Chretien, manage to rush on ahead, while Jim's horse bucks him and then runs off in a panic. As the giant horseman gallops past, Samuel finds that Chretien is able to keep pace -- as his wonder horse is not only exceedingly fast, but never tires and thus has no need to pace itself.

Samuel calls out warnings to Bluefeather, and she opts to try contacting the nature spirits again, this time taking the form of an eagle not to pursue the Anti-Templar, but in an attempt at escape. As she takes to the air, a lightning bolt of unholy energy crackles past, almost hitting the bird. Her nemesis takes to the air, pursuing her. Bluefeather, desperate, calls in favors from her Guardian Spirit, and calls upon the nature spirits, promising that she will pursue the Old Ways with renewed diligence, realizing that none of this would have happened if she had not trusted technology (in the form of Thirteen). The nature spirits are appeased, and grant Bluefeather her request -- a blast of wind to take her far away from her pursuer. Bluefeather is over the mountain, faster than her enemy can pursue. In his rage, he stampedes across the valley, laying waste to large parts of the forest, while lightning bolts blast the ground.

When it's all over, that evening, under cover of night, our heroes manage to regroup at the camp site (or what's left of it). Sweet Sue shows up, returning from over the mountain, and she brings with her a wounded eagle she found along the way. Jim and Karl manage to find their horses, and Leonard's horse ("Killer") is still at the camp. Neo-Samurai Jim uses his Lay on Hands ability to heal the eagle, while the rest of the group patches up wounds, and they give Barney a bath to wash off the mutant guts he has all over himself.

Doombringer Mortimer Crown Before Barney has a chance to put his armor back on, the sounds of chanting can be heard, as some Trogs march toward the camp. Some of them look similar to mutants Brother Joy saw in the camp earlier ... but it looks as if they have been subjected to an accelerated state of mutation, quickly turned into Trogs. The Posse looks around and discovers that the Doombringer (an undead Doomsayer) has come back again, despite Jim's "killing blow", and is lurking in the forest nearby, accompanied by a couple of Rad Zombies ... and there's no indication as to how long he might have been hiding there.

Neo-Samurai Jim charges into battle, engaging the Trogs across the stream before they can reach the camp, and single-handedly (well, actually, he uses both hands) holds them off with lightning-fast slashes of his blades. Brother Joy lets loose with a Nuke blast that destroys the Doombringer's cover and annihilates his two Rad Zombie escorts, but doesn't so much as scratch the Doombringer himself. Bluefeather, still in the form of an eagle, takes to the air. Karl goes for his rocket launcher. Sweet Sue tries to quick-draw her gun, but fumbles and drops it to the ground instead. Barney grabs for his assault rifle. Samuel Steele draws his pistol and begins firing away.

Volleys of radiation-based attacks are fired between Brother Joy and the Doombringer ... the latter dropping a Nuke right in the middle of the camp! Sweet Sue dives into one of the barrels, while Barney and Brother Joy dive underneath the Doomsayer's pet wall-crawler, "Spikey", and Steele hits the ground and orders Chretien to flee. Bluefeather and Jim are out of the blast radius, but Karl (on the fringe of the area of effect) just stands there, determinedly lining up his rocket on the Doombringer, and shrugging off the effects of the blast. Karl fires his rocket ... but it doesn't go out of the tube! Karl quickly realizes that something has gone wrong with the rocket launcher, and throws it with all his might toward the stream. The rocket detonates in the launcher, not quite reaching the stream, causing even more massive an explosion than either of the Nukes. In the ensuing blast, Sweet Sue is knocked unconscious, some of the horses are killed, Karl is badly wounded, the Trogs (already softened up by Jim) are wiped out, and Barney is blown apart.

Now, only the Doombringer is left, and Neo-Samurai Jim charges the undead radiation priest, engaging him in hand-to-hand, while Bluefeather (still in eagle form) makes divebomb attacks, pestering and distracting the monster. Steele makes trick shots with his pistol from afar, while Brother Joy and his wall-crawler charge in, ending up in the stream, as Brother Joy lobs bolts of energy at the Doombringer.

At last, the Doombringer, missing one arm, and barely staying intact as it is, begins to glow ominously, as a humming sound fills the air. Brother Joy realizes that the Doombringer is activating the "Ground Zero" power, which will result in self-immolation ... but also an escape from the Posse, as the Doombringer will constitute itself and then come back for revenge. Brother Joy unleashes a desperate last blast at the Doombringer, seeking to fell it before it can let loose with the blast ... and he succeeds at killing the monster. However, this happens just as the Doombringer's explosion is going off. Bluefeather "ghosts" and drops into the ground like a rock through a cloud, while Brother Joy and his wall-crawler dive under the water. Neo-Samurai Jim, however, is blown clear through the air by the explosion, and lands somewhere upstream.

As the smoke clears, the Posse manage to pick themselves up, and start bandaging wounds and applying various healing powers. The area is marked with craters, to the point that the flow of the stream has been diverted. Thirteen is finally helped up out of the ground, and Bluefeather returns to human form. Those who were knocked out regain consciousness ... except for Barney. Once everyone is more or less fixed up, they gather up Barney's remains and use the pit formed by Thirteen's little trip into the ground and bury the former security guard, using the legendary "Barney Stick" as a grave marker, while Brother Joy gives a eulogy. Sweet Sue's horse and Jim's horse are tended to, the only surviving horses of those that didn't run away. (Chretien, of course, is unharmed. Barney's and Bluefeather's horses are still unaccounted for. Leonard's and Karl's horses, however, are dead.)

So, with heavy hearts, our heroes pick up the pieces, pay their last respects to Barney, and prepare to move on to the next town.

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