Jump to content

Aberrant RPG - War Journal: Rubble Rat


Recommended Posts

Author's Notes:

This is a work in progress, and will be added to over time.

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.

Rubble Rat

It wasn't easy, but apparently one could live on a diet of cold baked beans and fruit cocktail, as long as you never tried to mix them together. Eighteen-year-old Lynn Epstein had become quite the expert on the do's and don'ts of scavenger cuisine, and she'd given serious thought to writing her own cookbook on the subject. Or rather a non-cookbook, because fire was a bad idea in the Rubble; fire meant heat, which meant thermal imaging, which meant a squad of Grays from the DAD knocking on your door to borrow a cup of sugar. And Daddy didn't like Aberrants like Lynn.

Lynn was young, but she wasn't stupid; sooner or later, she knew they'd find her. She'd been forced to relocate her squat twice in one week, which was not a good sign; the Boys in Gray would find her during the next sweep, in two if she were insanely lucky. The Grays peered under every rock, poked what they found with a stick, and vaporized it if it so much as quivered. Downtown Seattle was strictly off-limits to civilians – six years of rockets and quantum blasts had left most of the business district unstable, and the Army Corps of Engineers blew up another building every day. A squatter had to be sharp if she didn't want to be picked up when the DAD swept a sector marked for demolition.

First came the warnings over the loudspeakers; after five minutes, canisters of MOX came bouncing through the shattered windows, and if you were a baseline, hey, you'd been warned. Then the Grays swarmed in, faceless in their Blackstar suits, totting shock batons and needleguns full of supertranq, ready to pound any survivors into submission. If you resisted arrest, they were more than happy to scream you into a soggy bag of bones; Lynn had seen bodies hit by screamers, faces like wet rubber masks seeping into the gutter, and it was not a pretty sight.

However, all things considered, she felt reasonably safe – her senses were sharp enough to warn her when a roving patrol got close, she had no taint to speak of, and she spent as much time dormed down as possible. Her signature should barely register above the background taint left over from the big battles back in '54. She'd also been lucky enough to stumble across a Gray crushed by a cave-in when she was out squat-shopping. Miraculously, his Blackstar suit was still functional: gas seals intact, a spare set of filters in the zippered chest pouch, and three out of four camo modes still online. Best of all, he still had his screamer, the one thing that made everyone in the Rubble crap their pants.

Her current squat was on the eighth floor of the Paramount Hotel on Pine Street; most of the building was gutted by fire, but the south corner was still largely intact. The stairwells had all collapsed, so the only way to reach her room was to climb up the outside and enter through the window, or squeeze through an HVAC duct less than a foot across, neither of which presented a problem for Lynn since her eruption. She wasn't much for decorating, but she always at least tried to make her place livable; a pile of dusty blankets for a bed, a pleasant outdoor scene in a shattered frame propped in the corner. Her kitchen was a chest of drawers that held her canned goods, some pots and pans, a screwdriver and a tarnished ladle.

As dusk rapidly approached on this cool summer evening, Lynn lay barefoot on her bedding, her screamer close at hand, and gazed out her broken window. She could see the charred trunk of the Bank of America Tower to the southeast, sliced cleanly off at the fifty-ninth floor; she knew people up near the top, fliers who perched on the blackened supports like vultures waiting for the city to at last give up the ghost. Air Force jets and Army choppers routinely fired rockets into the Tower, hoping to bring the whole thing down, but somehow it still stood - the Abbies inside must have been working their mojo to keep their home from falling out of the sky.

A soft stealthy rustling from outside shocked her into overdrive - she blurred up and backwards, the screamer suddenly in her hands, her nimble toes gripping the twisted rebar jutting from the ceiling. Lynn hung there like a bat, her sonic weapon humming, eyes locked on the window, waiting. After an eternity of rapid heartbeats, her sensitive ears picked out the beating of heavy gossamer wings, and she let out an irritated sigh; it was not the Grays, not instant death, but merely Bugs the delivery boy, making his rounds.

"Jesus, Bugs!" she fumed. "Give me a heart attack!"

Bugs' head popped up over the window ledge, a sticky mass of feelers and mouthparts topped with a pair of glittering compound eyes that somehow still managed to look sheepish.

"Sorry, Epstone," he mumbled in a wet crackling voice. He hauled himself into the squat with two chitinous arms, the other pair clutching faded plastic shopping bags stuffed near to bursting.

Lynn dropped to a crouch, tucked the screamer under her bedding, and helped Bugs unload the groceries. More cans. A lot more.

"Can't you find anything else?" she groaned. "Anything even remotely fresh?"

Bugs rattled his wings and snorted through his mandibles.

"Oh yeah, sure - I know this great little bakery on Denny that makes the best croissants." He clutched his limbs to his thorax in mock-rapture. "Simply to die for!"

"Forget it," she grumbled as they crammed the last of the cans into the bottom drawer. "I can dream, can't I?"

"Too bad you can't fly, give my sorry ass a rest."

"You don't have an ass, Bugs. Just an abdomen."


When everything was squared away, Lynn snagged two warm beers from a crate by the window. Bugs pried off the caps with a pincer and they both took a breather.

"You still up in the Tower, Bugs?"

He took a long pull of his beer and shook his grotesque bristly head.

"Nah - too much politics. There's a whole pecking order, and a lot of ass-kissing on some truly hideous asses. I'm over it. I'm done."

He nodded to himself.

"Got myself a new set-up."

He looked about to say more, but his mouthparts just worked silently more a moment. Then he went back to sipping his beer, his alien eyes unreadable.

After their beers, Bugs made ready to leave, wadding up the plastic bags and tucking them into a flap of his carapace. He had a leg up on the ledge when Lynn remembered his fee.

"Wait, I forgot to pay you!" She fished around in her fanny pack and pulled out a pistol clip. "This cover it?"

He paused in the window; one arm started to unfold out to the offered clip, but it hesitated and was withdrawn.

"Nah, keep it. Get you next time."

"Something wrong, Bugs?"

He turned back to the window.

"Nothing. Just tired, I guess. You take care." And with that, he was gone.

Lynn stared after him for a moment; Bugs didn't seem right somehow. Then she shrugged, flipped the clip into the air, and expertly caught it back in her pack.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in

Sign In Now

  • Create New...