Saturday, October 24, 2015
Rust : Apocalypse World
After playing so many games that were Powered by the Apocalypse, we realized we had yet to take a dive into the Apocalypse World game itself. So this day, we opted to do so. The cast of the game is as follows:
Humphrey, the Driver. Played by Urim.
Humphrey was a Transgressing Cool and Sharp No Shit Driver with Daredevil tendencies. He wore leatherwear, had a gorgeous face, pale eyes, and a solid body. He barely recalled life before the Apocalypse.
Gritch, the Brainer. Played by BJ
Gritch was an ambigious Cool and Weird figure with an Unnatural Lust Transfixion and Brain Puppet Strings. S/he wore a plastic raincoat, had a sweet face, no hair, caring eyes and a soft supple body.
Fluffy, the Gunlugger. Played by Rocky
It was hard to tell his gender under the mismatched armor that matched his Hard and Cool exterior. He had an opaque biker helmet that covered his scarred face, sad eyes and a huge body.
The group felt this overlying need to get to the Nexus, a place which Gritch kept babbling about but could not really define. Fluffy joined the two since he owed his life to the Brainer. It was a world of Envy and Fear, with groups forming their own little communities to make sense of it all.
Among the threats were the Medicant, whose Prophet build the Fortress that promoted fear. They believed Brainers were here to evolve humanity into a hive mind and were the cause of the Apocalypse. The Robinsons on the other hand were a family of Brainers that envied the Prophet of the Medicant. They sought to find their missing child, Gritch, who escaped from their clutches. And the Vikings, the hunting packs that sought to find and kill any Brainers they could find.
The group were moving on the road, seeing the Medicant's cult dotting the landscape with the lights of their churches. The 4x4 off-road vehicle proudly showed its neon-green body against the rust-colored landscape. Fluffy found himself remembering moments of the world before the Apocalypse, the day when technology stopped working and mutants began to take over the cities. Now, most cities have been abandoned and groups have carved their own little niches to call home. Nature has taken over the rest. Humphrey found himself remembering the words Gritch mumbled, "The Nexus.. We have to find the Nexus.." They've been moving around blindly for months, it is only lately that her words have shifted to claim they feel closer than before.
A sound. Something seems to have hit the car from underneath. A cursory glance, however, reveals nothing. Gritch fondles the her jack, the place where computers used to be plugged into her, as she worries over what the sound was. Humprey checks the gauges and the gas tank seems fine. Water levels are good. Another sound. Fluffy preps his machine gun. He loads his shotgun, anticipating trouble. "Four," Gritch mutters despite knowing there are only three of them in the car, "There is an unknown variable in the identity equation." Fluffy asks where, and Gritch responds, "My mistake.. five." Gritch stares at the leather of the seats for anyone sitting beside them, but she finds none. Fluffy slides open the sun roof, climbs out, and looks at the roads and tries to catch anything but isn't sharp enough to notice anything out of the ordinary. Save for long humps on the road. Humps. People lying on the road. A Viking emerges, hanging from behind the car, and flings a knife at the Gunlugger. Fluffy stabs it with the knife, and it bounces away, clattering to the street. A knife. Fluffy opens fire with the machine gun.
The side door pops open, and Gritch sees a face staring back at her! Hearing the door, Humphrey yells, "No body touches my car!" and swerves the car to make the Viking lose balance. The door slams closed, pinning the Viking's fingers in the doorframe. The bullets of Fluffy's gun miss, balance lost by the swerving car. Another Viking clamps a hook onto Fluffy's arm to pull himself up onto the car. Fluffy impales his own knife into the Viking's face and he falls onto the road. Fluffy swings the machine gun at the other guy, blowing him off the car. Gritch sees a vision of mutants standing. She realizes and tells Fluffy, "You're calling their attention!" Fluffy spits out a cuss and shoves his machine gun back into the car. "Knives it is."
Another Viking tries to pry the door open. Gritch opens the door, causing the Viking to slip off and fall into the road. Humphrey stomps on the gas. The car accelerates, and occasionally bounces off the ground for a few seconds. Again. Again. Fluffy sees the bodies on the ground rolling away in pain. It seems the Vikings had been waiting on the road, hooks ready to latch onto any vehicle driving by to grab hold from underneath. Humphrey spins the car, hoping to knock the others off the vehicle, but loses control of it! As Humphrey tries to recover, they slam against the side of the road. Sparks fly as Humprey reengages the engine, and the car growls down the road. Gritch locks the doors shut. And they move again.
"..three.. only three.." Gritch finally mumbles, "We have successfully performed the simplification. Identity matrix is intact again."
"Do you ever speak in English?" Fluffy snarls.
"English is crude," Gritch mumbles.
The trio continue down the road, knowing the cities are not safe with all the mutant cannibals. They know, however, there are small settlements within which use the cannibals as "front line defenses," and the cannibals have learned not to waste their lives trying their defenses. Humphrey takes the rest to one settlement where an old friend of his, Kim, a Savvyhead, stays at. Gritch remembers this place had a massive bonfire at its center. Fluffy hates how that makes them seem like such a beacon to others. They arrive, are given a quick check, and are allowed to approach. "Are you here to Barter?" They seem unhappy to see the group, more so with Fluffy holding his shotgun out. "What's she, your wife?" he points at Gritch. Gritch simply tells them she is their wives. The guards decide to them them through. An outline of light reveals the door beneath the car, which then slides at an angle to allow them down. Fluffy realizes there are snipers in position, ready to shoot any by the bonfire if need be. Gritch wonders aloud if it would have been better if she appeared as a man.
Below, with the rigged lighting, gaslamps, and electricity, the group are greeted by four people with guns. They are escorted to lot A-4, and park the car. They are greeted by Prim, who asks what they are here to barter with. Humphrey stresses they are here for Kim, and that Fluffy is just "cleaning the sight." He adds Kim helps maintain his car, Rosie, once in a while. They aren't too happy to see a Brainer but Fluffy warns them that she's protected. When they are told to leave all their claws and teeth at the car, Fluffy opts to stay in the car given his desire to not give up his weapon. Gritch weirds out the others, showing she has nothing under her translucent raincoat. Prim leads them to Kim so they can barter. Gritch mutters that she thinks they will need a duck. Gritch opts to head for the market place with Fluffy.
Maser Kim is wearing the robes of the medicants. Humphrey looks shocked to see his friend has become part of the Cult. The two quickly get reacquainted and catch up on old times. Humphrey makes sure to tell Kim that "Rosie" is now a green "Cobra." Sort of like how the Saavyhead is now a Priest. "It is so easy. They just ask you for advice and you tell them any shit. And if it doesn't work, you tell them they need to be more penitent."
At the Marketplace, neon lighting and stalls are all one can see from wall to wall. People of all sorts run around. The two ask for a duck, a strange request which Gritch admits she simply understands they need. "I'll understand it when I see it." They opt to try eating a duck, given its at least a step in that direction. Prim pats Gritch's raincoat hood and tells them she will find them the duck. Humphrey blocks her hand and reminds Prim no one touches her. They go to a Chino-Resto and order some roasted duck. Prim shares with them how they work with the Medicants now, standing as the front line between the Cannibals and the people. Gritch touches Prim's hand caringly, and they stay silent for a moment of intimacy. Gritch ends up deeply Brainscanning Prim without realizing it. Gritch learns Prim's partner used to be obsessed about finding the Nexus, and was once a Robinson too. Prim excuses herself, and quickly hurries out. Gritch notices Prim's jacket shows an old cartoon character who looks like a duck! "She's the duck!" Gritch mutters aloud. They have some more tea. "We need to kidnap her, I guess. But we can try to get her to go willingly, whichever would be easier."
Kim and Humphrey talk more about his new gig as a Brother Medicant and how some even think his hands can heal. They cook up a scheme where Kim will help Humphrey but in return he can claim that the Brother Medicant had healed him of something. Something they can "prove" afterwards. Humphrey suggests he can claim to have been converted but that's what Medicants do. Proper arrives, asking to see the Medicant. Kim makes a show of "completing" Humphrey's transformation to now be completely "a man." Humphrey sees Proper and realizes she sounded exactly like Prim, even looks like her, but she's not the same person. Proper reports that they recognize the Brainer with the group, and of "the Nexus". Kim admits not knowing about the Nexus and this just has Proper walk away. Kim hurries after her to discuss things but she is gone. They gather their things and make their way back to the car.
The group heads out of the restaurant, searching for any sign of Prim. Gritch hates how there are too many people, however. Too many touching her. When one asks how much for some time with Gritch, Fluffy pushes her back as he catches the other's hand with his own. "Walk away." Fluffy picks Gritch up entirely to carry her for the rest of the way. They opt to head back to the car for now. Gritch sees a white dove suddenly getting snared inside a net. She warns the others there may be a trap waiting for them. True enough, they see one waiting for them.
At the distance, seven men and Prim are waiting by the car. Fluffy goes aggro, flinging knives at them. Gritch slinks around the sides to get closer. As one of the men accosts Humphrey and Kim, telling them they are going to commander the vehicle, Fluffy's knife lands in his throat. Humphrey runs to slide into the car if possible knowing he works best within it. Staying low, Fluffy rushes forward to bear tackle the closest men. He slams into the ground, pinning three of the men to the floor. Prim yells at everyone to hold their fire. Gritch emerges from behind, hugging Prim and asks, "Why must we resort to violence, Prim?" the two find their minds linking and Gritch can see the images of a man holding Prim, talking about getting to the Nexus, to change things and bring the Spark back. "It is you, Prim, you are the one I must bring to the Nexus," Gritch hears the man tell Prim in the mindlink. The connection, however is too way, and Prim sees a glimpse of Gritch's own past: Of loose jacks, of Gritch wriggling away from it to emerge from the vat, gasping for air. As she crawls up, "mom" and "dad" are distracted, not noticing her, as she crawls out to grab stuff from the medicine room and escape. Humphrey revs the engine and Kim slams the door shut as he joins him. He blasts the horn to distact the others. Fluffy grabs Gritch to head for the back seat. Gritch yells at Fluffy to wait and she pulls out her implant syringe. She trains it at Prim's neck and tells her it is poisoned. She tells Prim to tell the others to lower the ramp so they can leave. Humphrey moves Cobra to interpose between them and the guards. Prim relents and the ramp is lowered.
Gritch, however, still plunges the syringe in and stuns Prim. Fluffy shoves them both into the back seat and shuts the car. Humphrey gives Fluffy the signal and he shoots off the tires of all the other cars in the vicinity, but when some shots hit people, the others begin blasting back at them. As the others are shooting at Cobra, Humphrey takes a moment to stay calm. Fluffy yells out the best exit path to take. As they drive off, however, they realize the group is sure to be chased by others given the belief that they've kidnapped the Medicant. Kim has been shot however. And as he keeps bawling about how much it hurts, Gritch slides up to him and uses a medikit to dig the bullet out. Prim asks them to give her a gun, but Fluffy insists he can handle it. Gritch argues they should trust her. Humphrey insists she should have one, but Fluffy counters she won't get one of his.
Cobra roars down the road as they make their way towards the great bonfires in the distance. Prim learns from Gritch that they are also looking for the Nexus and that she would have gone with them willingly. "You don't know my sister." Proper hears about the news of what had transpired and tells them to prepare what cars can be used. She tells them she will take the Chopper.
They approach the Vikings camp, car rumbling down, heedless of the noise. They close in on the camp and Vikings on watch see the car and begin their initial assault. They run along side the street from above the rooftops and start hurling things at them. The bags splatter on the windshield, gooey and dark and obscures their vision. Humphrey opens himself to the psychic maelstorm to see what's outside of the car despite the stuff on the windshield. The group drives closer to the camp and they can hear music blaring from the camp. Tied to the camp, a brainer is held prisoner.
Viking jump down from above, chains to keep them from hitting the ground. Gritch focuses on pulling the bullet out, but she finds herself shocked to see Humphrey reach out to the Maelstorm. Fluffy shoves open the sunroof to draw out his machine gun. But before he could unleash hell, the machine gun jams! Vikings land on the roof of the car. Cobra slams against the gates of the village, dislodging a few of the vikings. Another leaps at Fluffy, mouth agape to tear into his throat. Fluffy draws a knife and cuts at the Viking's chest. The cannibal tries but cannot break open the mask. Gritch sees the machine gun Fluffy dropped back into the car and turns to Prim. "Miss Prim, I believe someone just gave you a gun."
Guns fire. Tires squeal. Gritch mutters about needing one of the Vikings, while she finishes patching up the Medicant. A chain smacks Fluffy in the face, temporarily blinding him, and a Cannibal clambers atop the car. Gritch reaches to pull the Viking inside, but Prim pulls her down and kicks the guy off the car. "I needed one!" Grabbing Prim's heel, Gritch whispers to Prim to bring one to her. Prim feels the commands wrap around her and take control. She jumps down the car. Humphrey stops the car. Prim drags one of the Cannibals she knocked unconscious towards them, even as a second one closes in to stab her from behind. Fluffy fires his shotgun at the attacker, but the shot clips Prim's arm - breaking the mental controls. Gritch takes the Cannibal close and kisses him, wrapping her puppet strings around its brain. Gritch leaves the Cannibal the command to save the "other Brainer." As she releases it, she tells them they don't have to save the brainer themselves. But Humphrey slams the car against the poles holding the imprisoned brainer to have the prisoner fall into the car.
They hear the sounds of a helicopter closing in from the distance. Suddenly, Gritch slams against the door window! Prim growls and warns her never to do that again. Kim trains a gun at Prim to drop it. Humphrey asks if Prim has a helicopter and learns they always had one. They roar away from the camp, with the weak brainer inside, unawares of the one cannibal gasping, "Must save brainer" and runs after them. Behind them, the company of the helicopter finds the cannibals stopping their pursuit. The helicopter follows the Cobra, choosing not to fire with the sniper. They were more curious to see where they are headed.
The Cobra drives on. Humphrey admits this is why he doesn't visit often. Gritch and Prim start talking about the Nexus, something Kim doesn't really know anything about. Gritch admits she just knows about it without knowing how. "It is the only way to bring back the Spark." None of them really know what that means, however. Fluffy grumbles about not being permitted to shoot it down. Gritch talks about how her brain is always nagging her to find the Nexus. Prim shares her partner's name was Drummer. And he too sought it. Kim insists there's no need to get rid of anyone as he can claim he volunteered to ride with them. Prim assures them her sister won't shoot at them as long as she is safe. She admits she searches for the Nexus now with them in Drummer's memory. Gritch admits she isn't him, and won't replace him, but she can pretend. Prim thinks she has an idea where it might be.
Elsewhere, a man in all white in a room just as white receives a messenger. The man informs him that the medicant had been shot and abducted. The Prophet receives the "photographs" of the assailants, sketches of them, and he mumbles, "Humphrey. Prepare the barge. We are getting back Rosie!"
The Cobra continues across the landscape. Humphrey considers laying low, but Prim suggests they head West. It was where Drummer wanted them to go. Gritch admits there's no way to hide from the helicopter. Kim suggests the tunnels, which Humphrey counters given the Mutants tend to live down there. Gritch admits its not the most elegant solution. "Leapers, those things allergic to the sun. They live down there," Humphrey warns them and then reminds them to make sure the other Brainer is tied up. And to put something in her mouth. They continue down the roads, making towards one of the tunnel entrances. Gritch moves to the side of the Brainer and realizes she's been fed on. She sees her mouth had been stitched closed. Gritch begins to snip it open, sharing a quiet moment of intimacy. Fluffy retrieves his machine gun and begins reloading it. Prim admits she might be better with the chain and asks if she can keep it. Fluffy allows her to arm herself.
Gritch reaches out to the Brainer in a shared mind-palace. Soft music plays. They talk about helping each other, and of the story of a witch helped by a powerful queen, but betrayed the queen because in her mind though she was saved, she was raped by her captors twenty times over. "You are no longer as you are." Gritch tells her they have two choices: to be with them in a dangerous journey, and probably die anyway... or... the Nexus. The Brainer admits she can hear the Nexus too but does not understand what it is. They both feel the compulsion to find it. They consider finding a way to end it together. Gritch remembers his actual name was Matthew Robinson, but doesn't say it aloud. The other knows herself as Barker. "We shall speak again soon. But for now your friends need you. We are about to die."
Seconds before, as the group enters the tunnel, the darkness suffocates them. Only the Cobra's lights provide some semblance of visibility ahead of them. Humphrey stomps on the breaks to stop the moment he sees something in the distance. Kim smacks his face on the windshield. Prim, Fluffy, Gritch and the Brainer are forced against the seats. There is a massive hole ahead of them, with hundreds of broken cars down below. Above, hanging platforms stir and things leap from above at them! "Gun!" Prim screams out that moment. Fluffy throws Prim the machine gun while he uses the shotgun at any leapers that get too close. Humphrey yanks the stick to go on reverse, but a ruined car slams down on the road behind them, trapping them. It must had been hanging above on a platform as well earlier! Fluffy shoots at the closest leapers, blasting holes into the chests of the goat-legged monstrosities that close in. Humphrey stomps on the accelerator, hoping his daredevil sense kicks in into the darkness, hoping luck holds out! The car is airborne, but leapers slam upon the car at the last second, and it falls upside down as they hit the ground. Gritch's eyes open to see the shattering glass in all directions. They are miraculously alive, but battered. Rattled, Fluffy crawls out with his guns to shoot at the leapers. Humphrey pulls himself off the steering wheel, in pain and hating the fact he opted not to have that airbag repaired.
Gritch crawls out, hoping none of the mutants spot him. Fluffy fires at the other leapers that have landed closely, but have stalled - perhaps to wait for their companions. Well-placed shots remove their heads easily. Gritch stops. He realizes he sees Kim on the ground. He must have fallen out of the car during the drop! Gritch pulls himself close to Kim to see if he's still alive. "Guess I am luckier than I thought," he mumbles. Underneath him, a leaper crushed from the fall. Gritch feels suddenly someone grab him from behind, and he is lifted up. He slips out, ditching his plastic raincoat and dropping to the ground. He channels his rage outwards in a way he didn't realize he could before and the psychic assault causes the leaper's face to contort in pain. Freed, Gritch searches Kim's clothes for the gun he used to threaten Prim earlier. Humphrey can hear the fighting outside. He pulls his gun free, and shoots at the Leaper near Gritch. He begins crawling to get out of the car. Fluffy shoots a few more Leapers down and he is unable to maintain a perimeter. Sliding out, Humphrey looks up as three more Leapers land in front of him. "The car's a goner," Gritch yells out. "Fuck you," Humphrey snarls and he starts stabbing those close enough with the shard of glass he picked up from the ground.
The staccato sound of sniper rifles. Leapers drop, heads popping like shattered eggs. Spotlights erupt as a helicopter hovers near a break at the top of the tunnel. From above, armed men rappel down. A voice asks, "Is she hurt? Bring her to the light!" Gritch looks for Prim and sees her still in the car. He whispers to himself, hoping she would wake up. Her clothes are stained red. Humphrey recalls she carried a lot of knives. He quickly pulls out a medpack to try and staunch her bleeding. "Guess we won't get to the Nexus, huh.." she mumbles. Gritch fights back the tears. "I guess not." Proper walks up to them, warning them they will all pay for this. Fluffy tells her that Prim wanted to come. Humphrey hisses at her to let him finish. Proper lets them know the Prophet will cure her sister. And when they question her trusting the Prophet to cure Prim, she reminds them she is giving him a Brainer. Humphrey claims Prim's a Brainer, a statement Proper takes as an insult. Fluffy hits Proper just enough to cause the shot to miss. Gritch corrects them that Prim isn't a Brainer. "Only half one." Proper takes charge of the situation and makes them all her prisoners. Humphrey realizes Proper and Prim might indeed be Brainers, given she knew where to find Prim despite driving down the tunnels. Fluffy's eyes widen, "Are they a Brain... together?" Proper asks Gritch why this is happening. Why now? Gritch admits its because he is a Robinson. "You better be right about this," Proper hisses and warns them if they're wrong, she will throw them to the Prophet. Kim, who miraculously is still alive, groans he can still fix the Cobra. Gritch admits if they are wrong about the Nexus, she would rather die to stop the voices in her head.
Proper warns them to shield their eyes. Groaning noises from above. Topside, the large metal shields are pried back to reveal the sinkhole they are in. Proper's men now work to get them out of the hole, dragging it back to the headquarters.
Hours later, the Cobra is red again. Gritch muses it will be called Rosie again. Wounds are patched up and bruises are fading. Prim asks to see the others later, revealing she kept Fluffy's machine gun safe. She is alive, but broken and crippled from the fall. Pulling out a knife, Fluffy hands it to Prim and smiles. "You are not the kind of woman who should be unarmed."
Kim, with an arm in a sling and lots of bandages all over tells Humphrey that though he can try to explain what happened, the Prophet probably would hear more from others about the kidnapping. The Prophet becomes their topic as they realize the lawyer named Partridge whom they once stole Rosie from does somewhat looks like that man. Kim wonders if this has anything to do with his quick entry into the order.
The rescued Brainer had been locked up. Proper tells them the Grant Medicant never shows up without a present waiting for him. It was either her or Gritch. Gritch realizes Barker will understand that it is needed to get to the Nexus. "Perhaps I am a Queen after all."
Horns announce the Grand Medicant's arrival. Everyone in the Market watches as they arrive. The Medicant's Whitecoats force everyone aside. They throw out blessings, perfumed water, and those who are wet all exault in being "blessed." Gritch crawls into Prim's bed, hugging her tight. Prim whispers to Gritch that they can still get to the Nexus. They can still take her with them. The door opens, and Proper tells them both that the Grand Medicant has arrived. Grtich tells Prim to close her eyes, and tells her she can pretend he is Drummer. "I can make you believe."
Gritch slips into a memory of his first encounter with Fluffy as a bunch of ruffians assault the Brainer. How he saves Gritch despite having a job to watch over some client. It was that moment that Gritch first heard the word Nexus slip into his thoughts. Gritch then sees a memory of Prim's of her walking with Drummer on the street when a commotion can be heard in the distance. Their hired gunlugger runs off to help. Prim rushes after and sees the Gunlugger helping some ruffian. It was their first meeting... so long ago, without realizing it. Prim was the trigger to Gritch knowing of the Nexus. Prim and Gritch pull back, staring at each other, realizing they met that night, and that Drummer's desire to find the Nexus was something that awakened in Gritch. "It seems he is my ghost."
Fluffy is forced to wear a collar. Long poles keep it extended away from the guards who escort him. Gritch is forced to wear a dark bag over his head too, a precaution to keep the Brainer from being dangerous. Outside, Humphrey's arms are held behind him, then a plastic strip is locked around his wrists to contain him. Kim is injured, but is drugged enough to be carried with them to meet the Prophet. Finally, the doors shove open and they reach the platform to head outside. Chanting is repeating outside but as they emerge to the street level, the cheering shifts into booing and hissing at them. They see the Prophet pointing at them... calling them Viking Whores... and the crowd screams for their blood. He claims he will allow the crowd to decide on the judgment they will deserve. The Prophet has the lights focused on them, and he stares at Humphrey, finally realizing he recognizes the man. "You!!! What is your naaaame?"
The Prophet begins to realize who Humphrey is and true enough, Humphrey admits that he used to sleep with him. Fluffy tenses, realizing this can go bad. Humphrey hurls a few more factual statements which come off as insults while he slowly backs up towards Rosie. "Anette," the woman declared by the Prophet as the Mother Goddess of Healing, with a beauty mark on her cheek, the very same beauty mark on Humphrey's cheek. "You cannot. Be. Her." Gritch hears in his head, "It is almost time." When he mumbles about not being able to see anything, the voice reminds him to not look with his own eyes. He reaches out into the Psychic Maelstorm and tries to see through it instead. He begins to see in a dizzying way through the eyes of the other people, jumping from one perspective to another as he tries to focus his sight. Fluffy clicks his boots together, and a knife poops out of the tip. With a swift roundhouse kick, he buries the blade into the nearby guard's head! With everyone too stunned by the revelation that their Mother Goddess is now a man, none see Fluffy's act of violence. Gritch's vision snaps to match that of Fluffy. He drops to fall down and disable the other guard holding the poles keeping him restrained. The Prophet declares that Humphrey had stolen the Goddess' face, rallying the others to a fury.
Humphrey and Kim break for the car. One of the guards moves to tackle Humphrey even as he snarls, "You dare touch your goddess!" They hit the ground, but the guard begs forgiveness while pinning him down. Gritch's vision shifts to the guard holding her down. Gritch kneels, reaching into the Maelstorm to give Fluffy an ultravision-viewpoint of the area. Fluffy realizes he can see everyone who is a threat, and is now able to plan better. He realizes the safest place is the car! He grabs the dead guard, picking him up as a shield, and flings a knife at the nearest guard along the way. The blade stabs the guard between the eyes and as he falls dying, the gun in his hands discharges. Humphrey leaps into the car, revving the engine into life! Kim stares at Humphrey, then looks at the Prophet who yells, "Take him but do not harm his face!" Kim leaps into the car to joins Humphrey, muttering he is "trying to claim the face." Gritch stares through Fluffy's eyes and sees the nearest guard closing in. He projects a psychic assault at that guard through Fluffy's gaze. The guard drops, feeling his head burning. Fluffy realizes Gritch is somehow helping him. He drags his meat shield with him to get to Gritch, and when the bullets fly, the body takes most of the strikes.
Gritch hears a voice telling them to hurry and find the Nexus and not to forget that they will need "one of them." A voice suddenly demands everyone to stop! Proper emerges with a shotgun in her hands as she tries to control the situation. Humphrey steps on the gas, risking the gun firing as he attempts to drive into her. He ends up flooding the engine, and the car stops. Proper lands on the hood, pressing the barrel at his direction. She hisses at him to step out or she will fire. Fluffy realizes the shotgun in Proper's hand is his. Gritch reaches through her connection to Prim to see if it can extend to Proper as well. Gritch discovers the link is there, and she whispers to Proper to come with them, easily manipulating her as if with puppet strings. Fluffy collects his guns and quickly hurries into the car with Gritch. Proper joins them, much to everyone's surprise. The Rosie roars back alive and the Prophet realizes Proper has been taken over! Strangely none of the Prophet's men stop them. They drive into a nearby truck which is large enough to house Rosie, an old truck which Humphrey recognizes. The truck has mounted guns and grenade launchers. They take the truck and leave.
"Go," a voice tells them psychically. "We will hold them as long as we can," a second mental message reaches them. "You have to find the Nexus," a third telepathic voice says. "We can only hold them for so long," they whisper in unison. And as they leave the vicinity of the camp, the voices fade away. The group realizes the voices were probably other Brainers the Prophet had held prisoner with his barge. Had they helped them escape?
They continue past the city, guided by the stories Proper shares of a well which supposedly houses the Nexus. She, however, confesses it was just a story they made up when they were kids. Gritch however admits it was a story made by twins who when together act as a Brainer. Gritch's childhood was in a vat. Kim mumbles to Humphrey how if he played this right, he can actually take over the church of the Prophet.
A rust storm looms ahead. The swirling red cloud of metal is even rumored to have once been the things that circled outside the earth. When the Great Crash happened, the lighter than air metals on those things swirled in the winds, gathered together like a thousand knives that would tear through anything it passes over. Fluffy stresses how much like knives they'd be. It is not intelligent, but it follows an intelligent pattern, Gritch believes, and that he can reduce the damage to the truck to minimal. Brainers can't do this.... but a Robinson can. They park the truck, move to the back of the trailer, and Gritch settles to the floor to meditate. They choose to stay in the dark, with Humphrey reassuring them he is sure they will be okay. Metal sounds begin to rake the outside of the truck. Rattling sound grow in intensity as the storm hits their location. As Gritch reaches out into the Psychic Maelstorm, however, he realizes he can sense... one extra person with them. Hands suddenly wrap around Humphrey's throat, choking him. Humphrey digs for his magnum, whips it out and bashes it at the figure. It pulls back, hit, and runs off. Gritch mutters to Fluffy he has a flash light in his bag. Humphrey yells at everyone to duck and trains his gun to shoot at it. Gritch mutters, "We already have our duck." Gunshot. A shriek. Something brushes close to Fluffy, and his battlefield instincts kick in, and he realizes its a bald woman. The figure drops to his feet and Fluffy realizes its Proper who asks him to untie her. Fluffy digs into Gritch's stuff for the flashlight. Kim grabs Gritch, vigorously shaking him as he asks if he can sense the other in the truck. He does not realize if the Brainer loses focus, the truck will get torn through by the storm. They are all blinded by a light that suddenly opens as Fluffy trains the flash light at the group. There is a trail of blood on the floor towards the car further in the trailer. Fluffy draws his machinegun. Humphrey activates the car alarm to shock the thing hiding there, and turns out to be one of the Vikings! Fluffy riddles the body with bullets. Gritch struggles against all the noise to maintain his focus, but fails! Immense raking sounds tear at the truck, the trailer shakes violently. Gritch realizes the Viking was the one he had whispered to and he just wanted to "save the Brainer...."
A few hours pass. The group is thankful to learn the trailer mostly survived the storm, although all feel strained from the constant barrage of noise they had to endure. They emerge to see the ruin around them that the storm had left in its wake. They prep to continue their journey, with Kim and Fluffy taking charge of each gun turret. Gritch apologizes for failing, but Proper reminds him though that he actually did hold the storm at bay to some extent. Humphrey starts the truck and they continue for the "Nexus" following Proper's directions. As they hit the dirt road, however, they realize the full weight of the trailer, all of them, plus the car is too much for the wheels given the Rust Storm. The group starts calling Humphrey "Goddess" for fun, given the circumstances, and they inform him they may have to junk the car. Humphrey insists instead that someone drive Rosie alongside the truck. Kim, left at the turret, peers through the scope and gasps in worry. He sees something coming after them. A helicopter and a large cloud of smoke... vehicles.
Gritch chooses to untie Proper, knowing they will need every able hand. Proper is instructed by Humphrey to take Gritch and use Rosie to reach the Nexus. The rest of them will buy them time and hold the rest back. "You are trusting me to take him to the Nexus?" Proper asks. "If anything happens to her," Humphrey reminds her, "You will never see your sister again." Proper agrees and if anything, they will see it is just a story. "But everything is just a story," Gritch mutters.
Fluffy takes a bead on the chopper, trying to see if he can aim on the pilot. Kim starts to freak out, admitting he doesn't know how to use the mounted turret. The truck makes a turn to allow the car to easily drive off the ramp and continue on. Gritch and Proper quickly scale the side of the truck to head into the trailer, but Gritch flinches and falls. Proper grabs her hand before she hits the ground. Fluffy fires, and the shot hits the pilot. The helicopter begins to spin erratically. Return fire. The incoming enemies have their own snipers, and one bullet shatters the windshield, and Humphrey is blinded for a moment, and instinctively he taps the brakes. The jerk causes Proper and Gritch to drop, and they hit the ground painfully. The truck clips them as it moves over them, and the raincoat is crushed as Gritch pulls Proper low. Naked, Gritch gets back on his feet, and with Proper, the two hurry once more for the back of the truck. Kim sees them and realizes the hatch is still closed, so he hurries down to unlock it. The cars close in. Fluffy counts five cars and one truck closing in. The helicopter crashes. Shots are fired once more by the snipers. Fluffy focuses on one, and realizes the sniper is trained at him! He risks it and takes the shot. He feels his shoulder get hit, but his aim is truer and kills the shooter. Rosie emerges from the truck, driving off. Humphrey stops the truck, realizing Kim had left the ramp down, and hurries to close it. They hoist back the hatch. Fluffy reloads. Humphrey teases Fluffy that this makes it even for them. Fluffy shows a knife with notches on its handle, "I've saved you this many times."
Emerging from the dust cloud, six motorcycles emerge and close in on them. The group braces themselves for a big fight. Fluffy grabs the grenade launcher and hits perfectly, blasting them all but one of them to the ground. Humphrey closes in on the last one, but Kim uses the turret to shoot the guy down before Humphrey could get close enough to use his magnum. Kim doesn't realize he missed, and it was Fluffy who shot the guy down. When Kim celebrates his kill, Fluffy raises a knife with notches telling him that's the number of times Kim has annoyed him. "But we just met!" Kim protests. Fluffy inwardly laughs knowing he just showed the same knife he showed Humphrey.
At the distance, Rosie drives on. Proper and Gritch reach the hill which Proper claims is the entrance to the Nexus. They see the dirt road heading down a path. Proper questions how Gritch knew where she and her sister were. She claims Brainers were kept away from them for a reason, and that Drummer was a mistake. He was a Brainer they were to entertain for fun but Prim fell in love with him. Proper accuses Gritch and "all the other Brainers" for sniffing them out, tracking them down. But Gritch questions why would they care for half a Brainer? Proper suddenly stomps on the brakes, and Gritch painfully hits the dashboard, as Proper's foot lands squarely on Gritch's throat... or would have if he did not block it with his hands in time. "Don't you dare compare yourself to us! We made you!" Gritch stares at Proper, the words of her outburst slowly sinking in. Gritch uses the puppet strings connection she has to cause pain to surge through Proper, and she screams with blood oozing out of her nose and ears. Gritch reminds her she is supposed to come with her to the Nexus. "It is real, isn't it?" Proper finally admits that the Nexus has not been operational for years. And that they shut it down years ago. Gritch asks what is it, why does it call them, and what have they done? The winds blow, and the dirt on the ground is blown away, revealing a metal floor. A logo is on it, as are the words: Nexus Industries.
"We're already here," Gritch realizes. "All the brothers and sisters that died. We all were drawn to go here."
Proper finally admits that she and Prim were the first Brainers that Nexus Industries discovered. They had found what made them different, and they tried to grow their own. That's where the Brainers came from. Nexus was not salvation, it was where they were born. They hear explosions in the distance.
The cars close in. Kim clearly is losing it, fear setting in. He asks what the plan is, and all Humphrey says is "Don't die." Out of the blue, Kim admits he never really got introduced to Fluffy. Fluffy turns to look at him, flabbergasted this would be his concern this very moment. And that's when a sniper bullet ricochets off the helmet, breaking it. Taking it off, Fluffy drops it to the ground, to reveal a tremendously scarred visage. Ignoring the loss of the helmet, Fluffy takes a bead on the sniper and fires, killing the fool. "I liked that helmet." The truck charges forward, the other truck charges too. A dangerous game of chicken. None seem to be willing to swerve out of the way, but Humphrey then fires at the driver. Both trucks barely miss each other. Men with chains leap from the other truck to Humphrey's truck. Fluffy shoots one of them in the stomach, spilling his guts all over. The second one swings a hook at Fluffy, but misses. Fluffy fires a second shot to blow the guy's head off. The wounded one emerges through the spray of gore, and swings a machete at Fluffy. Fluffy catches it on a chain, yanks the machete from his hands, and returns it blade first.
Down a curving path, Proper and Gritch reach the entrance of a facility. The remnants of a guard post can still be seen. They move into the darkness, feeling for a door. They find a glass panel instead that lights up, and it responds to Proper's eyes.
Robinson, Philomena -- Confirmed.
"So you are family," Gritch mutters. A door opens. Gritch decides to call Proper "grandmother" from now on. More lights kick in, revealing a laboratory. The facility has artificial intelligence, and it asks them where they want to go. Proper asks it to bring them to the creche. They talk about how the Brainer clones are the products of their attempts to recreate Prim and Proper, and how the other brainers are probably others like the twins, now happening in the world out there. They find the chamber called the creche and see the massive unit that serves as the science-crafted womb. Photos are all on a wall, showing subjects numbers with M and F tags. All the subjects look alike. When Gritch asks what that makes Proper, Proper suddenly clicks her heels together. Recognizing the move from Fluffy's usual weapons, Gritch pulls back and dodges just enough to avoid the blade from Proper's heel from slicing too deep. Gritch hides behind some machinery, hearing Proper ranting about the Brainers never supposed to be, but Gritch inflicts another psychic surge of pain to bring her down. "I promise you, I'll let you break my neck yourself," Gritch tells Proper, "But I still need to know..." Gritch pulls Proper close and stabs her with her scalpel. Proper plants her hands onto Gritch's face, hoping to plunge her thumbs into her eyeballs, but Gritch suddenly realizes she can hear Prim in her head reaching out through the bond of intimacy they have. "She's a friend," Prim tells Proper, "You won't hurt her any more!" Gritch withdraws the scalpel, and tries to grab a hold of Proper once again psychically. Being linked, however, Gritch realizes both Prim and Proper scream in pain. All of them drop, exhausted.
Threat detected. Security Protocols standing by. Activation required? Please respond...
Gritch identifies himself as Matthew Robinson and asks if he is recognized. The voice, however, asks for Philomena instead to respond. Gritch mentally dominates Proper's body and makes it say Matthew Robinson is promoted to full Robinson. The computer accepts the command and declares no intruders are detected.
The Prophet emerges, a boomstick in his hands, as he stands on an all-terrain vehicle. He fires it and Fluffy yells at Kim to duck. Fluffy takes the blast, getting disfigured in the process. Kim leaps to his side checking if he's still alive. Fluffy aims the rifle and fires, aiming for the boomstick. The Prophet's weapon shatters in his hands. The Prophet digs for another weapon. Noting where all the vehicles are moving towards, Humphrey decides to bring the truck to a full stop and waits for the Prophet's all-terrain vehicle to close in. A man with a crowbar from the other truck has leapt to land on the hood of the truck. Humphrey grabs the crowbar before he can use it, and slams it against his face. He falls backwards off the truck.
As the Prophet trains his submachine gun at them, Fluffy hoists his machine gun to his feed and unloads on the grand manipulator. The bullets tear through him. Kim stands, celebratory, but a sniper takes the opportunity and fires. The bullet is deflected by Fluffy's machine gun. The others stop their vehicles, staring in horror as the Prophet falls to the ground from the all-terrain vehicle. Humphrey kicks the door of the truck open and runs to the downed Prophet. Fluffy takes the mounted gun and trains it on the others. Humphrey finds the Prophet barely dead, his clock almost empty, and Humphrey leans in. "Barter... I can barter," the Prophet gasps, "I can give you a city... I can give you a city each..." Humphrey ignores his begging and warnings, and drags the Prophet to the front of the truck. He pulls out a chain he's had and wraps it around the Prophet's body to tie him up to the front of the truck.
"You're crazy... you're insane... you're letting them know it was you!?" the Prophet, "You.. you have to let me live!"
Kim shoots at the other mooks, killing them, but leaving a few to spread the word. Fluffy tells him to stand down, and learns Kim's sudden surge of anger was upon seeing the machine gun break. He promises to do what he can to fix it. Fluffy smirks, "You did good, Kim." Humphrey revs the engine but sadly does not know where Gritch and Proper have gone. So they decide to drive back to the city, and parade the fall of the Prophet. Change is coming.
Back at the facility, Gritch limps around and explores the rooms and finds a cafeteria, sleeping quarters, and more. Gritch asks the facility to access historical data and learns why they left this facility, given its self-sustaining nature. He sees the historical data of how a plague has struck the world, and the Nexus Industries was working on creating a virus to wipe away specific undesirables. He sees Prim and Proper, still as very young girls. The virus, it turns out, was to be some kind of nanites which can be accessed via a wireless method. Gritch stares... confused with the whole thing.. more video clips showing scientists angrily attacking others having lost members of their family since the virus had a -/+5% chance of error. Gritch asks the facility to show him the pods and eventually gets there. He accesses the Psychic Malestorm... the wireless... and learns the nanite swarm is only reduced to 5% operational status. 95% of it has been destroyed. It still continues to travel, moving from city to city, searching for its targets. The rust storm.
Gritch asks for the facility if it has a self-destruct system. But he cannot hear it anymore. He decides to just declare for the nanites to be disabled. And for the facility to self-destruct. Darkness. Cold. Then hands. Gritch looks up to see Prim, in the darkness, standing with him. He asks her if he did it. If he saved everyone. She admits she doesn't know, but believes they did what they can.
Prim dies in her bed, miles away. Gritch dies alone in a dark facility that silently kills itself.
And at the cities, the people of the temple watches as Humphrey, Fluffy and Kim display the defeated Prophet, standing at the beginnings of a new tomorrow. And further distant, the Viking cannibals begin to rub their ears... words finally reaching their lips as they mutter... "Gone.. the noises are gone."
All of the nanites have gone to rust.
And the world can start again.