02 – Journey to Crestone
After a brief pause to get your bearings, the party sets off northwards towards Crestone. The morning is cool and crisp as the red sun rises fully above the eastern hills. Your surroundings are eerily silent, and you pass quickly through the surface ruins of Tau. For many years these buildings provided the parts and supplies that your community needed, until they ran out. There are still some signs of previous expeditions here – including the final diggings and excavations which proved that all items of worth had been scavenged already.
(The referee tosses some dice for Day 1.)
Broken sections of crumbling pavement lead northward. The vault elders have instructed you to stay on this road until you are clear of the valley, as the surrounding terrain is contaminated by the Creep. While there is some scrub grass and brushes here, to the west the terrain is rocky and barren. You stay together as a group, seemingly the only moving things in the entire world.
Eventually you leave the valley and the broken stretches of road end completely, swallowed by decades of dust and decay. You head to the northeast, away from the radiated badlands, and for several hours see no traces of mankind. The vegetation here consists of wiry grey roots or shoots, all of which weave together like a mat covering the earth. You try to avoid walking on the unnatural plants. You also see burrowing arthropods; creatures about the size of a mouse but looking more like giant louses. They stick their heads out of their burrows and make clicking sounds as you pass, but flee underground when you get too close.
After a while you find where the Ancient highway continues. It is much hotter now than in the morning and you stop here for a short break, unaccustomed to these long marches due to your life underground. Soon thereafter, you reach a crossroads and turn north. There are more rusted heaps of vehicles on this road than before, but none are salvageable. The road runs parallel to a calm blue lake, but you keep your distance from shore due to stories of contamination and vicious lake monsters. The afternoon passes quickly and the temperature drops as the sun sinks westward. You begin to look for a spot to camp.
(More dice are thrown; the referee grunts with disappointment.)
Exhausted by the long march, you all sleep soundly – except when on watch, of course. You contact Tau with your communicator and provide an update on your progress. The stars are bright and clear, and the evening passes without incident.
(Again you hear the dice. The referee makes rolls for Day 2.)
You wake up stiff and cold from sleeping in a tunnel, but quickly shake it off with your steady marching. This morning passes uneventfully, much like the previous day, and you begin to doubt the stories of peril and danger in the outside world. You arrive at your destination in the afternoon.
The ruins of Crestone are set on the northern shore of a long, narrow lake. The water is clear and blue and ominously still. Crestone appears to have been a small city, and there are more buildings here than the surface ruins of Tau, but many are partly submerged in the water. A peculiar odour fills the air, but you can’t identify its source.
The directions of your vault elders leads you to a low, squat building on the western edge of town. Its sturdy foundations have stood up well, but the main floor has crumbled to disrepair. In the back, there is a wide ramp leading down beneath the building. It is here that previous expeditions have set up an underground shelter and were repairing an Ancient vehicle.
Fumbling with your communicator, you appraise Tau of your location. Eralc from Expedition Control provides a warning before you enter: “Beware – if last year’s team has abandoned the shelter it may have become infested with dangerous creatures.” He pauses for a moment. “And be careful if you encounter Jomat. He became… unstable and was not permitted to return to Tau. There was some… anger on his part about this decision.
What are your actions?