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Almost Killed on the Fourth of July

Page history last edited by Michael 6 months, 1 week ago

back to the Index, or to the list of R36 reports, or to Team R36


report covers early June 2141 to 4 July 2141


     A montage ...


  • convoys of colonists arriving on wagons in Kentucky, from East Broad Top and Princeton, being directed to freshly-built homes around Lexington and Louisville

  • the drums of old cement-mixer trucks being dragged to Louisville, as a concrete-making plant is being constructed

  • a network of telephone and power lines begin to connect the towns of central Kentucky

  • sawmills being established in the forests

  • a bank opening in Mount Sterling

  • one of the old "downtown" buildings in Mount Sterling is now the "research lab", with the analysis gear from the hovercraft, and various items recovered or purchased over the several months

  • open sheds near the Morrow Project "headquarters", with a dozen or so clean, freshly-painted armored vehicles (none of them in working order, though)

  • dozens of applicants inside, and outside the doors of, a small office in Mount Sterling -- the new medical school is openiong

  • coal and firewood being piled up near the mills and worksites

  • a biodiesel refinery being established near Louisville

  • workshops, storage sheds, and barracks going up at Louisville

  • bridges being enlarged or rebuilt, especially between Louisville and Mount Sterling

  • the crack of gunfire some evening, as the militias drill with their new weapons from East Broad Top

  • steamboats arriving every few days at Louisville with supplies and resources from all along the Mississippi River and tributaries -- chemicals, fuel, electrical components, tools, tires, books, and some specialists (including more members of the Tool Collective).

  • instructional/educational meetings between the Morrow Project teams and the new colonists

  • greenhouses with new-grown yam plants

  • mail wagons, horse-mounted couriers, clattery old motor vehicles, and the telephone system busy with messages

  • the big spring fair (mid-June), with showmen coming up from along the Mississippi River

  • a couple of limestone quarries being re-opened

  • schools with Tool Collective teachers

  • the first distribution of "home AM radios" to the inhabitants of Mount Sterling

  • evening meetings at the towns around Bluegrass Country, as discussions of the Commonwealth's constitution and laws continue

  • teams of horse-drawn equipment, old diesel bulldozers, and fusion powered frontloaders, clearing land, building roads, digging the canal and carrying gravel


     Booth and a couple of assistants were busy all day keeping in contact with East Broad Top, Princeton, and Kaskaskia; and listening in on other broadcasts, including several in Spanish from Latin America, a few in English from "The Voice of America" in Africa, and a bunch of Balkan and Middle Eastern languages from ... well, the Balkans and the Middle East. Booth thinks he might have heard one in Hebrew, but none of the team members speak that language. A couple of items from him:


  • Funds for the canal project (and other plans, like colonist support, electrification, military improvements, etc.) would need at least $100,000 this year. Issuing bonds or creating a stock company to raise that sort of scratch would mostly involve East Broad Top (and thus Otto Sanna). Princeton, and perhaps Kaskaskia or Memphis.

  • Speaking of raising money:  the Kaskaskians could have a lot of uses for a fusion reactor. If nothing else, they could expand their "wake up Morrow teams" transmissions from "2 every Sunday" to "4 every day". While giving them a reactor would be nice, selling or trading is probably more, uh, enterprising.

    • Being "mercenary" about the reactor might result in them in turn becoming mercenary about loaning vehicles, equipment, fuel, and transmissions, however.


     He also noticed that Howard Crittenden, the Knights of Columbus contact in Princeton, had missed two of his weekly "check in" broadcasts. By the middle of June, Booth had gotten in contact with the Archbishop of Pennsylvania, in Lancaster; the Archbishop's staff told him that Crittenden had been assassinated!

     Since the Morrow Project had business in East Broad Top anyway, they decided to pay a visit to Princeton.


Saturday, 24 June 2141


     The V-150 armored recovery vehicle was loaded up, and Benefiel, Turner, Begay, and Jocelyn Tayler headed off. The journey to East Broad Top took five days, and they spent a day in Altoona (Thursday, 29 June 30th), meeting Otto Sanna and discussing ongoing projects (and buying a few knick-knacks).


Friday, 30 June 2141


     On the next day they followed the old Pennsylvania Turnpike through the Appalachian Mountains, past Harrisburg to Allentown, and then in a big curve southeast to Princeton (skirting the radioactive zones around Three Mile Island). The weather was much nicer than during their previous visits.

     At Princeton, they noticed a few changes, especially people in military uniforms on the streets. Reading the newspapers revealed that the Empire of the East was suspected of preparing for an invasion:  the factories and mills of Philadelphia were busy, and double-X-wing airplanes from Atlantic City had been flying over Princeton every so often for a few weeks. Local (to Princeton) miltiary units were drilling and training more often.

     Crittenden had been shot while asleep in his home three or four weeks ago. Since he'd been in charge of arranging for colonists from the Princeton area, there was some "paperwork" and payment of expenses for the team to take care of.

     The team rented rooms in a hotel for the night. After dinner, Gerard Norben appeared, wearing a ridiculous (but effective) disguise -- he was worried about being assassinated! He'd originally been living at Crittenden's house in Princeton, but fortunately had been staying out late, drinking and carousing. Since that night, he had been living in Cedar Grove (a nearby village), under an assumed name.

     Norben told the team that nobody had heard the assassination of Crittenden, despite a half-dozen shots being fired. The spent cases found at the murder scene had Greek letters on the headstamps; he assumed that the assassination had been carried out with silenced firearms provided to the Empire by Trebizond. There was "word in the street" that a bounty had been offered for the Morrow Project members, Jocelyn Tayler, and Norben himself -- up to $1,000 for Jeff Benefiel, dead or alive, delivered to the Empire.


Saturday, 1 July 2141


weather: high temperature 91° F, low night time temperature 68° F. Clear skies, no wind except for strong gusts at 7 p.m. from the east. 


     The following day Jocelyn Tanner persuaded the Officer Training Corp to send Jeff up in a double-X-wing for an overflight of Atlantic City. The weather was nice, and up he went.


the dock is the straight section of waterfront just to the right of Harrah's


     At the Imperial capital, he saw a few disturbing sights:


  • some heavy machine-guns (or perhaps auto-cannons) on top of the major buildings

  • marks of a couple of tracked vehicles that had been unloaded at the docks within the last month or two, and driven to a garage near the armory

  • one or two motorboats patrolling the harbor

  • a cargo vessel or fishing trawler. It was 50 meters long, about 440 tons displacement, steam-propelled, with two "gun platforms" (it might well also have machine guns); it was flying a black flag with a white letter "T". It was tied up alongside the docks, close to the Trump Princess.

  • a military vessel, 63 meters long, about 1,000 tons displacement. It was flying the presumed Trebizond flag. It had one turret with a cannon, and a few AA guns or heavy machine guns. It was clearly a steamship.

the armed trawler, at Shipbucket scale


the small military vessel, also at Shipbucket scale


Trebizond flag


     A couple of Imperial double-X-wing aircraft were rolled onto the runway for takeoff, so Benefiel's plane departed.

     Back at Princeton, the team discussed the practicality of planting sea mines in the harbor at Atlantic City. They decided to visit the Archbishop of Philadelphia for more information about Vineland.


Sunday, 2 July 2141


weather:  daytime high 86° F, night time low 57° F. Partly cloudy, no wind except for gusts from WNW around 1 p.m.


Lancaster is the destroyed rubble area just south of the words "Pennsylvania Turnpike"


     A couple of hours drive back towards the Appalachians brought the team to Lancaster, Pennsylvania -- they skirted wide to the north of Pottstown, where the ruins of the Limerick nuclear generating station were still quite dangerous. Members of the Jinnet and Schneider tribes watched impassively from the woods as the silent armored car passed by.

     The Ancient city of Lancaster had been struck by a nuclear air burst during the Atomic War. By the 22nd Century, broad fields surrounded the old city; currently, civilization was centered on the former Lancaster County Prison.


the Archbishop's Palace


     The guards and farmers were Dominican nuns of the Perpetual Rosary; the guards carried weapons from East Broad Top, and a few cannons were mounted in the palace towers, along with some tall radio antennas.

     A meeting with the Archbishop was easily arranged. He and his staff told the team that fifty years ago Vineland had been the center of "yam medicine production", and there were no useful texts in the Church's hands about the process. As far as they knew, it involved distillation.

     The original yams had come from Puerto Rico in the early 2020s, along with some other technical and medical aid. Probably some appropriate soil supplies had come with the yams, but the Church didn't have any details.

      If the team wanted to sail from the East Coast to Puerto Rico, the Church knew of some cooperative coastal towns along the outer reaches of Chesapeake Bay (well south of Washington, D.C.).

     Benjamin Stinson, a Knights of Columbus member that the team had met before, could help them raid the factories at Vineland.


Monday, 3 July 2141


weather:  high temperature 78° F, low night time temperature 63° F, cloudy with no wind. Sunset 7:34 p.m., nautical twilight 8:48 p.m. 


     The team drove to the shore of Delaware Bay, just north of Wilmington, arriving deliberately late -- about 7 p.m.. Crossing the bay in the amphibious vehicle was slow (about 2 hours), but their silent motors and night-vision equipment allowed them to easily avoid Imperial patrol boats (which never came very close in any case). Driving through the wreckage of Ancient cities, refineries, and the New Jersey Turnpike took a fair amount of time.

     Once past the debris of the 20th Century, the vehicle hummed quietly through the pine forests, arriving at Sir Ben's remote home before midnight. He had been notified by radio of the team's planned visit, and invited them into his house. They laid out their plan over snacks, and he described the "town" and slave-worker camp. About 800 slaves were living at Vineland. He was concerned that workers would be killed in a "bombardment" attack.

     He would contact his agents among the laborers, and have them attempt to evacuate innocent people from the town when the attack began.


Tuesday, 4 July 2141


weather:  high temperature 80° F, low night time temperature 65° F, cloudy, no wind. Sunset 7:29 p.m., nautical twilight 8:42 p.m.. This day is the dark of the Moon. 


     Sleeping through the day, the team woke around sunset and prepared for the attack on Vineland. Most of them carried one or two white phosphorus hand grenades; Turner zeroed his rifle with the big PVS-4 Starlight scope.

     With Sir Ben, they drove into the quiet forests through the evening, and arrived at Vineland well after dark. The factory buildings were glowing with lights inside, but there was almost no electric lighting in the town. A couple of mounted guards were riding around the outside of the labor camp fence. All the trees within two or three kilometers of the factories had been cut down long ago; the dry grass hid concrete foundations, open cellars, and the rusted remains of automobile frames.


Vineland, circa 2140 AD. Gray lines are Ancient thoroughfares -- there were lots more "regular" streets.


     After dropping off Turner a kilometer or two away from the labor camp, the V150 moved slowly down to Landis Avenue, parking about a kilometer east of the factories.

      Workers were crossing the street in Vineland pretty often -- carrying fuel, yams, and other stuff from building to building. Thick white smoke belched from a score of brick or metal chimneys in the town; various tanks stood on tall wooden platforms; and lots of pipes connected the tanks and buildings. While there was a bear kennel, bears were not roaming around "on the loose."Chemistry and Engineering

      A tall antenna on the only two-story building in the labor camp was the guards' contact with Atlantic City. Turner took careful aim, and with a couple of silenced rifle shots managed to sever the antenna.

      Jocelyn Tayler took the controls of the armored car. Jeff would follow on foot behind it, while Begay and Sir Ben each took a bag of white phosphorus hand grenades, and split up to walk "behind" the factory buildings. Doc Aquino operated the radio in the armored car, and was ready to hop up to the belt-fed machine gun if need be.

     Turner took out the two mounted guards at the work camp, and then started firing at lamps, running guards, and lit windows in the guard barracks area. Sir Ben blew a horn, and then he and Begay began to trot along behind the factory buildings, throwing grenades into them, or onto the roofs.


The horn was a signal to alert the workers inside the buildings about the attack.


     The armored car drove slowly down the center of the town; Tayler broadcast some loud remarks over the vehicle's public address speakers:


"Death to the Emperor!"

"Long Live Americus!"

"Nothing Can Stand Before the Might of Americus!"


"Yes, your Majesty, they were saying something about asparagus."


    It turned out several of the wooden tanks perched over the buildings contained flammable or acidic substances -- some of them burst into quite nasty flames, and nearly a hundred slave workers streamed out into the street. Some workers were burned, or trapped in the buildings, which (shockingly) didn't meet 20th Century standards for fire safety and escape routes. A heavy fog of chemical smoke rolled through the main street, with rivulets of burning chemicals spraying from the doors, windows, and rain gutters of the factory buildings. The fires were out of control in a minute or so (and there were no firetrucks at the town).

     Tayler decided to speed through the town; a few guards fired ineffective shots which bounced off the armored car. Sir Ben and Begay decided to run, as the fire was getting quite impressive -- and it was difficult to throw the grenades far enough for safety.

     Benefiel, having followed the armored car on foot into the town along Landis Avenue, decided to turn south at the first main intersection -- walking through the smoky main street didn't look safe, even with a gas mask; and he didn't want to be seen by the guards at the work camp.

     The smoke glowed in acrid shades of yellow, orange and brown, as it slowly rolled west, hugging the ground. Workers stumbled in the fields, coughing and weeping; many stopped once clear of the smoke and sat down. The scruffy grass in the fields was starting to catch fire, as well.

     Walking through the smoke, peering through the plastic visor of his gas mask, and listening to his friends voices on the radio, Benefiel bumped into a dark figure in the smoke -- a guard! The guard brought up his weapon and fired ...


Benefiel Incapacitated


     To the west of the town, Sir Ben and Begay had found the armored car and climbed aboard. Looking back, they saw the town ablaze from end to end, with dark figures of fleeing workers and guards silhouetted against the fire and smoke. Turner had run out of easy targets, and was feeling a bit antsy being out in the bear-infested fields alone.

     Nobody could raise Benefiel on the radio -- the people in the armored car drove into the smoke, calling his name on the radio and over the public address system. Luckily, they didn't run over him in the smoke; he was found, with blood pouring out of wounds in his neck and face.


Game Mechanics:  Jeff took 4 points in his head, and thus fell unconscious. The attack caused him to lose 4 blood points, and each round he lost another 4. The team probably found him a minute after he was shot -- 5 turns, so he was down 24 blood points. He normally has 54 blood points, so he was missing 44% of his blood points. In another turn he'd have been missing just over half his blood points, and in danger of dying in a few minutes. He was rescued just in time!

He needed about 2.7 liters of blood or blood substitute (the Medkit can't produce blood).


Onwards to The Empire Strikes Back

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