Grandfather's Bastards

Session 7
Friends and Neighbors

Dutch, Smith, Moe, Marmot, and Klarssen had stayed overnight in the bowels of the Plant, marvelling all the while at the ancient constructions. They had meetings scheduled that morning, but as soon as breakfast ended things started going wrong. Marmot tried to open his brain to the maelstrom, but was sucked into an eddy of emotional chaos and memetic slogans. One he remembered as he came out, “Violence is the monopoly of the state.” The guards assigned to the meeting area were concerned upon hearing this out loud, and recommended that the group see an additional person before they left.

A short time later, the meetings started. First scientist the group spoke to was Preston. Preston was earnest about trade, and the group had a short conversation about commodities and routes. Preston seemed all right, even though everyone in the group was initially suspicious of him. Next in came Charles, who spoke more broadly about diplomacy and the “civilizing influence” he expected electricity to have over the area. His ability to hide his contempt for those outside the Plant was…not suitable for someone who was supposed to be an envoy.

The final official meeting was with a man named Winslow. Winslow was neither earnest nor contemptuous, but spoke bluntly about violence in the world and the plans the scientists had for expansion. He made an offer of giving the Waystation a high-level radiation payload to attack Scarytown, much like how the scientists had already attacked the Hunters. This gave the group pause.

There was a break in the midday and the group had their “unofficial” meeting, under the cover of showing off Marmot’s truck. The senior scientist they met with, who kept his identity secret, revealed the sorts of schisms happening in the senior leadership at the Plant. Many in junior positions thought the most vocal senior scientists were power hungry, and the group’s representative confirmed that those who spoke out against the leading bloc were intimidated into silence.

This was driven home after the last meeting of the day. The three representatives met to give the group a consolidated agreement. Winslow once again pressed the chemical weapons issue, something the group had been worried about. Before he could cajole or bully further, Winslow was interrupted by Preston, who ensured that no one had to commit to anything prior to Marco seeing the agreement. The mood in the room was cold, but the meeting seemed to have gone well overall.

As they left, the group gave a note to the resistance contact they had spoken to earlier. It revealed the location of a psychic emitter that Klarssen found while investigating Marmot’s strange psychic dalliance. After that, the group left, and the ride home was uneventful. Just as Marmot was about to put the Unimog away, Preston rolled out from underneath, having hitched a ride in the frame of the truck. Apparently, his choice to speak up for the group and prevent the intimidation tactics Winslow was planning was very dangerous to him, so after he made his public show of defiance, he fled. Now more than ever, it was unclear what needed to be done…

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Moe Interlude #3

“See if I’m ‘voluntold’ again, will you.” Moe is currently in his new guest accommodations, those he was sent to by the dignitaries. He kicks gently at the furniture of his current quarters, a tad bit annoyed that it is of a finer quality of what he would normally afford his guests.

It’s not that he feels that he couldn’t acquire such furnishings. No, far from it, Moe has made a fortune of getting something for someone at some point. It’s just….the obviousness of it, the sterility of which it has been applied.

ok, thats’s grafted off a run, with a couple of certain favors…but man, to keep it up and for that long?

Moe looks around, tilting the sparse ornaments of the room.

“But they sure as shit took my mead didn’t they?” Moe looks around. He steps up on his bed, placing his heel on the wooden rim of the bed.

And I wouldn’t put it past them to have recordings in this room. Maybe. Maybe not. But it never hurts to play for a crowd

“Aww hell their consumption.” Moe falls back on his bed giggling. “It’s so cute, it’s so cute. ‘We don’t need anything outside. No one has superior goods? No one can attack out trade routes and leave us with little intake shiny boy. It’s not as if they have a thriving group of workers to possibly be peeved. I mean they, have something good going here, but I would hate to see those wires cut. Everything on the power, and not a damn thing to enrich the world with it, just gladhand themselves on how clever they are…”

“So yeah, they get power. Power all in one place. Good for them. Let’s see them actually use it for something. They were so happy, they never bothered with the basic:n And then What?

It was a basic query, and, if Moe was paranoid enough, it would be a real one

Moe clears his throat. “If only there were a group who had protectivr outwards range with details to maintain a power base like this. Le sigh.”

Ok, was that too obvious? They seemed so simple minded that Dutch could teach them lessons in sophisticated politics

Moe looks over blankly at the door. I told so much,,,and so little. It’s better this way. If it comes out, i am dead enough that it don;t make a difference.

Moe grabs a flask and drains it, flopping onto the bed.

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Session Six
The Lights Come On

Moe has not slept, but is awoken by Shiva. Being asked to walk with her outside the Waystation, he takes his trusty “second bartender” and follows her out into the woods. In the overcast night, they see a glow on the horizon. Moe knows almost immediately; the amount of energy it would take to generate this sort of light is immense.

The next morning, the away team that discovered the dam has returned. While debriefing Dutch and Smith, Marco is interrupted by Apollo, one of Grav’s ‘students’. Apparently Grav has been reduced to a catatonic mess, leaving a binder full of arcane scribbles about electricity. The project to figure out the plant’s intent has hit a wall, which Marco is aware of. When Moe enters to talk about the glow he saw, there is now urgency. Marco calls for Klarssen.

Moe goes out to find Klarssen and spots him on a roof. Klarssen extends his hand, and Moe helps him down…which of course gives him an opportunity to use his violation glove. Seeing into Moe’s mind, Klarssen sees all the anxiety about Moe and Amos…and makes connections. Amos’ mind was snuffed out when Moe shot him, similar to how the mind reaching out in the maelstrom that Klarssen had seen was snuffed out. Amos was trying to reach out psychically. Moe looks Klarssen in the eyes, and Klarssen only says three words. “You’ll be fine.”

Klarssen follows Moe back to Marco’s office, where Marco, against his better judgment, asks him to open his brain. Like the aura of the lights, Klarssen sees a massive aura on the horizon, with the psychic energy reflecting against the concrete of the nuclear power plant. Among the mass are a dozen strong souls, exulting in recent accomplishments. But more important than these souls are the hundreds upon hundreds of people.

After some discussion, Marco, Moe, Smith, Klarssen and Dutch start to come to a conclusion. Talk is more likely to work than violence, and Moe finds himself “volunteered” to be the face of the operation. Thanks to Smith and Dutch’s brawn, and Klarssen’s “unique” view, the entire group is conscripted into a roadtrip down to the Waystation’s mysterious neighbors. Moe goes and checks the radio, while Dutch goes to check with security. Thanks to help from The Farm, Moe’s able to dial the radio straight in, and have an awkward but productive conversation leading to an invitation. The team is heading to The Plant.

Dutch has a last chance to talk to Shiva before leaving…or rather, he’s unable to avoid her. After a lot of hemming, hawing, and confusion (in-character AND out-of-character), Dutch sucks it up and apologizes. It’s not clear there will be another rendezvous anytime soon, but their friendship seems to be on the mend. For now. After their conversation, Shiva headed to the stockades, about to see something very unpleasant.

After seeing her father gone, Shiva demands to speak to Marco, who gives a non-answer answer about her father’s whereabouts. When Dutch interrupts, Marco responds curtly. “He was a traitor, Dutch.” Shiva reads between the lines, and is off, into the woods. It’s not clear she wants to be followed or is going to come back.

Dutch heads to Moe’s, needing a drink. Moe, sensing Dutch’s angst and his ignorance, chooses this time to tell Dutch the truth. Not only telling him the truth about who killed Amos, Moe tells the whole story about Amos, the psychic outreach, and the designs for Dutch. The note is conveniently left out of the discussion. Moe and Dutch reach an understanding, and Moe agrees to Cyrano a note to Shiva for Dutch.

When Marmot arrives back at the Waystation, they quickly head out towards the Plant, driving the Unimog across broken pavement which slowly transitions to gravel. As they’re allowed in, they see just what Klarssen described: a massive settlement, dwarfing the Waystation in pretty much every metric. Their vehicle is invited into the inner perimeter, and parked near a bunkhouse where they’ll be accommodated. The group is then invited for dinner.

The mood in the Plant is jubilant, but still tense. The group is able to recognize a group of elders by logos sewn onto their uniforms, but only get the most basic understanding of how the leadership structure works. They’re given a brief overview of the Plant’s most recent accomplishments, and get to see a surface view of some of the underlying drama, thanks to Moe’s decision to bring some of his Special Reserve. Exactly what’s going on isn’t clear, and it looks like that may have to wait until tomorrow…

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Moe Interlude #2

Moe is the the corner of the bar. The usual lights of his “confessional hour” are off tonight. The new radio crackles and sputters in the corner, and Moe’s official reason for the change is that he wants someone on watch with that thing until the search group comes back. A bunch of people assume that Moe wants to fiddle with his new toy and make sure it’s up to his typical standards. The real reason…

An empty cask of the Special Reserve is next to him, one he has just emptied moments ago. He swirls the drink in his mug, staring into the liquid. The radio signal fitzes and flutters beside him as he stares on, lost in thought.

The note is on the table next to him. And as the takes another sip, Moe thinks about the circumstances of which he had aquired it.

_*Bang*

The sound of the gunshot ringing in his ear, the look of…betrayal on Amos’ face.._

Moe had returned, fully intent on burning the note that Amos had handed off in his last request. But as he sits here, he can’t bring himself to do it. He can’t bring himself to open it. So he just sits, sipping his drinks. Waiting.

It’s for what exactly he’s waiting for he doesn’t know.Moe

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Session Five
The (Apocalypse) World keeps turning

In light of the palpable tension of the day before, Marco sent the Bastards off on an overwatch and trade ride to Poland. He stayed up until they left, talking with Moe and doing his best to ease his mind. The next day wouldn’t be any easier.

There was still a nip in the air when three people came to the gates of the Waystation. Two of them were wearing gas masks, the traditional garb of the Hunters. The third was Hatchet, Hallux’s uncle. Marco invited them in, and got the story from Hatchet. Hatchet had dropped Hallux off the day before, and ended up getting fired upon by a group on the road. He tried to run, but they gave chase, up until he found a larger group of them exchanging fire with a group of Hunters. The two Hunters he was now with saved his life, and as they were waiting for the heat to die down, they told him about Grav and how he knew about the Lodge. It was revealed that the opposing group were likely the Scientists, and the Hunters had seen them with a large spool of electrical wire.

While the rest of the Waystation is beginning to wake up and start their mornings in earnest, Marco calls Hallux, Smith, and Sander, and tells them what he just heard. He wants to set up an advance scout crew to go investigate, but is worried his best sniper is still liable to fly off the handle. He tables the thought, and goes to get breakfast.

Dutch is in Moe’s, barely tolerating the presence of the two Hunters. He has asked Moe to help him find a quantity of spray paint and glitter; he has cooled down from wanting the Bastards dead to merely wanting to vandalize their bikes. Of course, it doesn’t all work out as planned…the settlement with the best access to paint is Poland, and Moe’s contact there gathers the supplies and sends them back…with Hooch and the Bastards. After delivering the package, the fixer asks Hooch “he said he needed enough paint to mark up 30 bikes, any idea what that’s about?” It seems the prank may not work out quite as planned.

Marco, though watching his tense exchange with the Hunters carefully, is satisfied. He calls the team back, and asks for Dutch, Smith, Hallux and Sander to take Hatchet out to the wire site using Sander’s truck. While Marco is busy figuring out the rest of the holding’s business, he leaves Moe with the shortwave to monitor the team. Moe is able to get himself a signal booster, but is still initially unsure about his contact stability, and opens himself to the Maelstrom to try and pin down the team. What he sees instead are visions of hatred, violence, and death, a two way conversation between Amos and someone in Scarytown. He rushes to get Marco.

Meanwhile, the away team is trundling down a gravel road at Hatchet’s instruction, until they see a length of high-gauge wire strung over the road. Hatchet confirms it, this is the spot. The group gets out and looks around, getting their bearings. The road is heading East-Northeast, so to the left of the road is a northern area that would eventually lead in the direction of The Plant. To the right of the road is territory less known to the Waystation and its inhabitants. Dutch and Smith lock and load, and start slowly following the wire into the woods. They come to a camp with eight armed men, and right near it is a spool of wire. There is a small lean-to, but no other arrangements they can see. Attempts to conduct any sort of reconnaissance without alerting the men to their presence do not go well. As they attempt to fall back, one of them makes a noise, and suddenly the guns are out. Both Dutch and Smith split, trying to get out without being seen. They end up splitting up, and both booking it back towards the road.

Back at the Waystation, Moe has found Marco and told him what he saw in the Waystation. The conclusion he has come to is that Amos is too dangerous alive, as he’s being in psychic contact with the holding’s enemies. The two argue back and forth, but eventually Marco is won over after being reminded that Amos has been asking to talk to Dutch since he was locked up. The two men share a look, and then Marco hands Moe an old revolver. No other instructions are given.

Smith heads straight back to the truck, unaware he’s being followed. Sander and Hallux, however, understand the danger immediately, and take up defensive positions on the truck. Smith goes back to the woods to check his back. Dutch exits the woods just in time to see three of the men pop out from the tree line. Smith is able to take out one, and Dutch another. The third out in the open makes a break for it. Smith is about to come back out onto the road when he feels a gun barrel at his back…there were two more of the men he missed. He pretends to cooperate, but then goes for his chain when the group are out of sight of the truck. He isn’t quick enough, and the two men knock him out, intending to carry him the rest of the way. Dutch sneaks in behind him, and is able to take out one of the men, taking a bullet for his trouble. Hallux rushes down to help Dutch wake up Smith, and then they try to follow the men through the woods.

The camp has already been abandoned, and the wire spool is gone. They follow the wire further into the woods, to a point where the wire ends, and the spool is sitting there on the ground. Sensing a trap, they stay back, covered by some trees. After looking around a bit, they hear a faint roar coming from ahead of them. Just barely through the trees, they can see an old hydroelectric dam. It looks like the Scientists have taken it and are using the wire to connect it to something. Now completely outnumbered, the three retreat back to the truck, and report to Sander what they saw. “You wouldn’t need to connect two power sources together,” Sander says. “There must be something else that needs a lot of power.” The plot of the Scientists thickens.

Moe goes into Amos’s cell, trying for answers. They go back and forth, and finally Amos presses a small sheet of paper into Moe’s hand, asking for him to give it to Dutch. He says one more thing, revealing that he was talking to someone who would respect the sort of strength he and Dutch possess, and was only trying to get Dutch to go to somewhere where he’d be respected. Moe thinks on this, and then says to Amos “he’ll never see this, I hope you know that.” The last expression on Amos’s face is one of betrayal as Moe pulls the trigger.

Moe returns to his bar, where Marco is sitting. He returns the revolver, and no words are exchanged. Moe has not yet opened the sheet of paper Amos gave him.

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Dutch Interlude #2
Life's a Bastard

Dutch was having one of the worst days of his life, naturally right after a really good one. I thought today would be a good day… I mean, Shiva and I had something starting… and then it all went to *shit* he fumed. Jake was at home, cleaning his weapons, a pint of bitter next to the gun oil. I mean… I thought Shiva and I… oh, screw it. Just focus on getting back at that coward motherfucker Hooch he thought, grinding his teeth loud enough to be heard outside – he thought anyways.

He rolled a shoulder, stretching one of the bruises the Bastards had left on his side. C_hrist that hurt… and the little shit is too smart to go anywhere without ‘enough’ of his gang. Frakkin’ cowards…_ he thought, already working a plan on how to get them back. And without actually hurting them. Because even if they are a pack of raving psychotic asshats, they help keep the Waystation safe. They took my dignity in front of people I care about; I’ll just have to take theirs right back he thought, snapping the action on his subgun back into position with an audible ca-click. Just need to talk to Moe for a few supplies… he thought, biting his lip.

A knock at his door brought his attention up. “Yo, Dutch, you in there?” a nasally voice sounded into his shack. Dutch sighed, then looked up at the door. “It’s open Bob, come on in” he replied, grabbing a second beer and slinging it up on the table. Dutch’s… what is the word? He’s not a friend, really, but he’s not an asshole either, and we work together a lot. He saved my ass spotting that one trip down by Bars & Nob he thought, trying to figure out what as Bob entered.

Bob was 6’1” and clearly studied at the ‘be stronger than the other guy’ school of fighting, given how strong the sonuvagun was. He kept his brown hair trimmed short, brown eyes hidden behind a pair of safety glasses, and much like Dutch went almost nowhere without his body armor. Dutch and Bob had worked together a couple times previously, with Bob being one of Marco’s hardest – if not necessarily brightest – guns in the Waystation. Bob set a formidable looking shotgun down as he grabbed the pint Dutch had pulled for him.

“Heard you ran into some ugly bastards trying to pull Amos back” he said, motioning at the blotch of purple on Dutch’s face before taking a long swig of the beer. Dutch just nodded, slipping the subgun onto his back and plopping the rifle onto the table. “Yeah” he said quietly, grimacing. Bob just chuckled at that.

“Next time, don’t pick a fight with all 30 of them, dumbass” he said, clapping Dutch boy on the back. “Wait for one of them to be on the shitter, then get them with their pants down – literally” he said with a half-faked grin. Dutch paused to send Bob a death glare before extracting the bolt carrier from his rifle, then stripping out the barrel to run it through with a cleaning brush.

“Think I figured that one out, Bob” Dutch huffed as he cleaned his long gun. Dutch eyed Bob’s shotgun again, wondering what the heck his next move should be. Got a vague notion, but I’ll need to see a man about a few things for that he figured, looking back up at Bob. “Got a few other ideas on how to manage that, too, but we’ll have to see how that plays out” he said, looking back up at Bob.

The other shooter just nodded. “Figured you wouldn’t just roll over for the fuckers, Dutch. Arrogant little pricks who think the rules don’t apply because the Waystation needs them, and that goddamn group mentality they got. Get yours, ya hear, boy?” Bob said, downing the other half of the offered beer in a long pull. “Gotta get back to it. See you around, Dutch” Bob said as the big guy picked his shotgun up and headed out the door.

Dutch looked back down, brow furrowed as he reassembled the long gun. Three pounds of pressure on that trigger… he thought as he snapped the bolt carrier back into place, reassembling it fully. Dutch hefted it to his shoulder, feeling the cheek-weld, his hand supporting it perfectly. This I get. This is straightforward. Shiva… she isn’t. What the hell am I doing? he wondered, applying the three pounds of pull to the trigger. The resounding snap of a dry-fire echoed through his empty shack, the shooter feeling slightly reassured about doing the one thing he knew he was really good at. _ Better go talk to Moe_ about this he thought, a plan forming in his mind…

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Moe Interlude #1

Moe shakes off a yawn and rubs his chest as he rises. His schedule is different than most at the Waystation, and he’s tweaked it as best he can over the years, and he’s found use for this eccentricity. He had read once, as a boy, about a group of Blue Monks (he wasn’t sure if it was the same ones that were supposed to come with the luxe tunes as well) would wake up in all hours of the night for their work. When Moe started brewing on his own, the easiest time to sneak away for a spell would be in the late night hours, and that’s where he got some of his best work done now.

It’s early, or late, depending on how you put a spit in it. It’s been a few hours since he closed down the “confessional”, the time that he kept the place open with only himself out in the front for late night visitors. Sunny tended to be up at the crack of dawn to start things cooking, and that left him only a few hours to work in peace. She would chide him as he would laze in a couple of hours later, and then again take a drink or two and nap in the afternoon, but it meant that no one else was around to bother him as he worked. In theory, anyone could do what he did, and he always wondered if someone was willing to try to press the issue, maybe take a shot at it. But if any neophyte wanted to crack it, they were missing the work.

Moe flips open a very worn hidebound book, flipping through figures and charts. He walks down the aisles of his stock, paying special attention to the barrels still racked with aging product, draining a little and giving each a thoughtful sip while jotting down notes in his book. Mow notes, with some pride, a now empty small cask of special reserve. It had been a test batch, and he was rather proud of how it had worked for Dutch-boy and Shiva.

A small smile touches his lips. “Now, that’s a thing.” Moe offers a shake of his head as he opens the cask. There’s something stuck to the underside of the cask, somewhere in the neighborhood of grainy and slimy. Moe grabs a chisel from a workbench and begins to scrape, collecting it and storing it away. The barrel would later be cleaned and reused, but what was left behind was too valuable to wash away. Any dolt could make some juice, and squander some of Monty’s hard earned fruit by making it vinegar. ‘Course that was as about as sure of a thing that could assure your trip to the man as you could have managed. One of those books that managed to get passed around liked to preach a bit about “natural selection”, which a lot of dick hardholders liked to insist meant it was justified that they got to lead. But one hadn’t been the sharpest knife, and left in a bit about the artificial type. It would take generations, countless generations to winnow what you wanted, but when you finished a batch in a few months, if you started at a couple of years, you got a lot of generations. And the more Moe worked at it, the more people wanted his stuff. And the more people wanted his stuff, the more they were willing to give him to help get more of it.

The secret, it seemed, was giving people the means to do what they wanted. Maybe it was offering them a simple drink to whet their thirst, maybe take away their pain for a bit. Then, it was offering them a place to play cards, for the simple price of paying for their drinks. They had always wanted to play, and he had given them their excuse, and when a man was up, he tended to play fast and loose with the jingle on drinks and tips. And the more that it seemed that Moe could offer, the more people were willing to ask, and the more they paid for the pleasure of doing what they were going to do anyway. Requests became more…esoteric. Specific. And if they needed a little push, well…

Dutch-boy. That was an interesting case, that it was.

Moe turns on a burner, heating up the water for his mash. He did he best to drown out the nagging idea of “personal responsibility” that did its best to keep him in trouble. He had promised…well, that might have been a bad idea.

“Stupid kid.”

Moe pours himself a draught of barrel of something finished and sips, thinking about the other night. Not the night of the kids hook-up (of which the pair seemed typically ungrateful of), but the one after that, with one kid getting very crispy around the edges. It was going to be a hard project to handle, and the line was tighter than he liked. Some test batches failed, after all, but the kid looked promising, if he wasn’t about to flame out right here. And if Moe could deliver…hell, who knew what people would ask him for next time.

Which led to the next problem. Moe gulped his drink a little deeper, watching the surface of the water begin to quake, a moment of calm, right before the boil came. Something was coming, he was sure of it. Something was always coming, but something was gnawing at his guts this time, something Marco had said. Moe had done his best to not look at the Maelstrom, had made it his policy not to look. They were just pictures in a book, he had once told himself, remembering another scrap of paper he had once read. But maybe, this time, he would have to.

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Hooch Interlude #1

Another night at Moe’s. Not after a long run around the Waystation’s turf, no, but they’d tracked down someone who’d done them wrong and then gotten into what was (for them) a mostly friendly fight. So the 30 Violent Bastards were as rowdy as ever. Pierre had already tried to bottle Rawsteak again, but the new recruit had ducked and laid the guy out with a right hook. Kid was learning fast.

“Hell of a day, huh Hooch?” Harridan said, sitting down besides the chopper. For his part Hooch was just sitting there, steadily draining a mug while Nuff argued with Moe over how to cook an actual raw steak. There’d been some confusion. But when Harridan spoke up, he looked over at her.

“Yeah. Girl doing alright?” he said, asking after Shiva.

“Well, that’ll all depend on what happens to her daddy, now doesn’t it?” Harridan replied, drinking from her own mug. “Stupid bastard. She’s holding together for now, though.”

“Well. That’s good. Seems tough. Should be fine.” Hooch said, nodding as he glanced over at the small mob of Bastards, feeling a pair of eyes burning into his back. He had a good idea who owned them. “Helluva day is right.”

“Trouble in the Waystation. Dutchboy getting in your face. Hallux getting in your face-”

“That’s nothing new. It’s, whatchamacallit,” Hooch said, snapping his fingers for a second, “standard operating procedure. The medic’s always had guts.”

“Yeah, sure, but that many of them? Last time she stood up to you it was in the safety of the ‘station, not out on the road when everybody’s got their blood boiling. Might be worth keeping an eye on her.”

“If you say so, Harridan. We might have a different problem, though.”

Harridan nodded at that, taking another swig while glancing in the same direction as those eyes burning a hole in Hooch’s back.

“Think we’ll have to deal with Dutchboy more permanent-like?”

“Don’t know. Hope not. We’ll see.”

Both grunted and returned to their drinks, attention stolen for a moment as Skidmark got thrown over the bar and desperately scrambled to get back across it before Moe could get to him. Rawsteak was laughing at him.

“You ever regret this?”

“Huh?”

“You ever regret tying the Bastards to the Waystation?” Harridan asked, seemingly sincere. “From a certain point of view, the last Rawsteak was right before you smoked him. If we’d stayed out on the road, we wouldn’t be dealing with problems like this. Diplomacy and shit. Playing nice. It’s great to have somewhere to rest our heads with a roof over ‘em, fix the bikes, get a drink, but it sure as shit ain’t simpler.”

“Heh, no, sure ain’t. Let’s see, wazzatphraseagain,” Hooch said, snapping his fingers at Harridan a couple times until she gave him the words he was looking for.

“‘Hell is other people’.”

“Ain’t it fucking just?” Hooch said, grinning. It faded quickly, however, as he thought about her question. Eventually, he shook his head. “Nah. Nah, I don’t regret it. Shotglass was right to bring us here and make the deal with Grandpa, and once I was in charge I was right to keep us here. This is better. Reliable food, reliable repairs, reliable fuel. People to watch our backs instead of knifing them. Anybody who gets fed up with the road has somewhere to settle, instead of us taking their bike and leaving them somewhere to die.”

It wasn’t common, but sometimes Bastards burned out, wanted to settle down. In the old days, that was a death sentence. Now, well, it didn’t make any sense to Hooch, but he’d swear that Seatbelt (Sam, it was Sam now) looked happier as a farmer and a father than he ever had as a Bastard. People could be weird sometimes.

“Besides, the road’s always there. Marco shits the bed for good, we can always leave. Maybe even set up a new deal with Poland, if we can get that bastard of a skinner to make anything besides gin.”

“Fair enough, fair enough. Not that I want to leave. But you know I gotta ask these things, Hooch,” she said.

“Sure, sure. Hey, you ever regret it?”

“Huh?”

“Me, rather. Could’ve taken over easy after Shotglass died, but you put me in charge. You ever regret it?” Hooch smiled, making the question more of a joke than serious. Harridan smiled back, cold, dead eyes locking with Hooch’s.

“Trust me Hooch, if I had any regrets, you’d have heard ’em by now.” she told him, voice pitched real quiet, threatening even if Hooch didn’t know her. He laughed.

“Well that depends strongly on if one’s sense of hearing still works for a few seconds after the bullet hits, now doesn’t it? ‘Cause if not, I wouldn’t hear a thing.”

He nodded at her rifle; before Hooch, before Shotglass, there’d been Oddball. And all of the older Bastards remembered what had happened to him. Harridan just chuckled, drained her mug, and pat Hooch on the shoulder as she walked over to Nuff. Hooch smiled into his mug as he drained it in turn, before noticing that Skidmark was trying to brain Rawsteak with a stool. Well that wouldn’t do. Moe hated it when the stools got broken or bloody.

Skidmark nearly fell on his ass when the stool he was holding suddenly turned into an anchor in the middle of his backswing. He looked over his shoulder to see Hooch holding the other end of the stool. He saw that very briefly, before the fist Hooch had made of his free hand slammed into Skidmark’s face.

The Bastards cheered. Just another night at Moe’s.

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Violent Bastards' motorcycle reference guide
A reference for the rest of us

Hooch rides a Harley-Davidson Sportster, a light yet traditional sport cruiser. Fast and relatively maneuverable.
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Nuff T’Eat rides a full-dress cruiser, like this Indian Chieftain. Powerful, heavy, and somewhat difficult to wheel around at low speeds.
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Rawsteak rides a Suzuki Savage (or Boulevard S40). Cheap, small, and light.
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Harridan has been working on her bike for a long time, and rides a custom bobber, designed for her frame and riding style.
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Session Four
Bad Behavior

Hallux returned to the Waystation with Hatchet in the early morning hours. At a particularly rocky section they needed to walk. Without the engine drowning out voices, Hatchet expressed his concern about Amos. The last time Hatchet had been to the Waystation, Grandfather was still alive, and the balance of power was different. Now, someone with a lot of ambition had a lot of power. As Hallux and Hatchet started the engine back up and approached the fork in the road near the Waystation, they heard, saw, and felt the rumble of 30 bikes flying banners of black flags and human skulls. The Bastards were back.

Marco met with Hooch soon after their return, with Nuff T’Eat following Hooch into Marco’s office. Marco was also suspicious of Amos, and was looking for an assurance of loyalty. Hooch gave a very Hooch answer: they appreciated the stability of The Waystation, and would fight for it…but if the fighting burned everything down, they would move on. Marco accepted the answer with only minimal fuss.

Down at Moe’s, Amos had apparently decided to put the screws on Dutch, hassling him about Deathwish, and clearly knowing it was a sore subject. To make things worse, he had brought Shiva, his daughter, out with him, and was embarrassing Dutch in front of someone clearly his own age and persuasion. Hooch, trying to figure out what was going on, made an attempt to read Shiva. It was not a good attempt. Instead of finding out what she was thinking, he made Tormund eyes directly at her chest. Whoops. Amos was…not thrilled. As the argument began, the volume in the rest of the bar steadily decreased, until Amos realized that all 30 Violent Bastards were looking right at him. He beat a hasty retreat, leaving Shiva. Thanks to Moe’s wingmanning and the private reserve, Dutch and Shiva left together.

While this was happening, there was a new arrival sitting at one of the other tables. Smith had come in that morning, receiving a missive from Marco dating back to around Grandfather’s death. Marco was looking for a security insurance policy, possibly including some dirty work. Smith was an old mercenary, who fit the bill pretty perfectly. He sat at one of the other card tables, talking with Leon about what had changed and what was going on.

The next morning, Marco decided that Amos’s antics had been more than he wanted to deal with, and asked Smith to move forward with dealing with him. Smith approached Amos’s cottage, and accidentally tripped a booby trap, setting the cottage on fire. Thinking quickly, Smith saved a collection of notes left in the cottage and tucked and rolled out the window.

The fire woke up the entire Waystation, putting the fire out with a bucket brigade. It became clear that Amos had flown the coop…and worse, had stolen one of the Bastards’ bikes. Attempts to stall Hooch worked only in the most cursory of manners, and Hooch even resorted to opening up to the psychic maelstrom to track Amos down. The Bastards blasted out of the Waystation before anyone could catch up to them.

Dutch decided to side with his new paramour and bring Amos back alive. He attempted to contact Hallux, who had been called in to help Marco make heads or tails of Amos’s notes. His attempt to contact her psychically ended with him getting sucked into the vortex of negative emotion between him and Amos…and distracting Amos so badly he got thrown from the motorcycle. Knowing that he was running out of time, Dutch grabbed Hallux, explaining what was going on, and went with Sander, borrowing Marmot’s Unimog.

Unsurprisingly, the Bastards got there first, recovered Rawsteak’s bike, and tied Amos to it, dragging him along behind. The Unimog intercepted them, and blocked the road. Dutch got out, and told Hooch to untie Amos. Hooch, unsurprisingly, said no. Dutch then threatened Hooch. Like, directly. Hooch of course called his bluff, and before Dutch knew it, he was a live demonstration of how literal the title “Violent Bastards” was. The Bastards didn’t even seem all that receptive to Hooch’s orders not to kill him…until Hallux stepped in. She dragged him away from the beating he was receiving, slapped him in the face, and ordered him back to the truck. She then told Hooch to untie Amos, explaining it was her professional medical opinion that if he hurt Amos further, Marco would not let him hear the end of it. Hooch relented, and Amos was secured in the back of the Unimog.

Back at the Waystation, Hooch offered Dutch a round at the bar. Honor-bound as they were to defend their boss, the Bastards were pretty impressed at the sheer brass balls Dutch had. Dutch, on the other hand, was not having any peace offerings. It continued in the bar, where a good portion of the Waystation got to see the simmering feud metastasize. In the meanwhile, Amos is in custody and the position of Head of Security is, ostensibly, open…

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