28 November to 4 December 2000. Atlantic City, New Jersey.
A high rise hotel with no electricity
Maks had grown up with the stories of old Poland. People that fell out of favor with the local baron got thrown in the Loch (“Dungeon” in English).
Likewise, the Indian had thrown Maks and Wojciech into HIS dungeon on the 10th floor of the Taj Mahal Hotel.
A week ago, they’d been marched up 10 busy flights of stairs, down a murky hallway, and into their room. The door was barred shut from the hallway; the metal hasp latch was clearly not original equipment. In a reversal of the old days, the higher floors were less desirable when you have to climb all those stairs.
They were situated half-way up the 20-floor tower. Lighting was only what came through the window of their room. It was a good view at least: North out over Atlantic City’s harbor and inland waterway.
Nights were dark. They weren’t given any source of light.
Their room, their cell for the last week, was in poor shape. Wallpaper was peeling away in spots, mold growth evident everywhere. The carpet was filthy. And the bed… Maks and Wojciech slept in shifts, always on top of the soiled bed linens. Atlantic City was apparently already a dive before the war and certainly hadn’t improved since then.
Frankly, they had it better than their guard, who often sat in darkness outside their door. When food was brought twice a day, they could see out into the hallway. Without windows, the hallway was lit only by carried lanterns.
There were two guards at the beginning of their captivity, but now it was just this guy. Twice a day, he’d bang on the door, tell them to assume their positions on the wall, unlatch the door, and bring in passable food and a bucket of water to drink and run the toilet. The guard wasn’t any friendlier now, but at least he wasn’t pointing his pistol at them the whole time.
There was occasional activity in the hallway visible during feeding time in the guard feeble lantern light, usually porters carrying supplies to and fro. Other than their interviewer earlier in the week, they’d seen no high-ranking members of the Indian’s gang. They could be distinguished by their business attire and better weaponry.
But most of the rank-and-file, like their guard, wore ruder garb, a pale imitation of their bosses. Lowest in rank were the porters. Maks couldn’t tell if they were slaves or not, but in this dark high rise, the porters were essential, hauling everything up and down the stairs.
In one instance, during chow time, their guard was visited by a comrade, who’d been pushing a utility cart. Maks could see a radio, car batteries, and a spotting scope while the two gang members chatted. It appeared that he was heading to the west wing of their floor.
The walls were sheetrock. Maks and Wojciech [“Voy-check”] drilled small holes in inconspicuous locations with the back of a spoon to observe the rooms on either side.
The room to the east appeared to be another cell. It was unoccupied. During the week, Wojciech had dug a man-sized hole in the sheetrock behind their bed into the east room, crawled through into the room beyond, and confirmed it was indeed locked-up from the outside like their own room.
The west peep hole revealed that adjacent room was occupied. It appeared the man was part of the Indian’s gang in some manner; he came and went with some regularity. During the times he was not present, Maks or Wojciech created a passage hidden by the battered bureau in their room, and the man’s bed in the adjacent room.
Wojciech made a good Observation roll, and found a length of thin-walled copper tube that he was able to work back and forth, and it broke off quietly. It was sharp on one end; he gave it to Maks as an improvised weapon.
4 December 2000. Invasion.
Maks and Wojciech were startled in the pre-dawn hours by explosions and gunfire in the city. From the muffled shouts in the hallway beyond, this was a shock to the Indian’s men as well.
They could only see north out over the city’s former pleasure boat harbor. Soldiers were storming out of landing craft and a couple of tracked amphibious APCs crawled out of the water. Maks could see flashes of small arms fire up on the nearby Brigantine Bridge.
Out in the waterway was a coastal patrol vessel, perhaps a former US Coast Guard cutter. Maks wasn’t sure. Naval craft wasn’t his area. The vessel was engaging targets on shore with cannon and machineguns.
The other activity was not visible to him, but more explosions were maybe coming from the west. This had to be the MilGov invasion.
Listening through the peephole into the west room, Maks could hear the occupant curse and storm out of his room. Wojciech, listening at their door, could hear their guard talking to someone briefly, then general sounds of commotion from other occupants of their floor.
It was time to act.
First Wojciech went through the hole into the room to the west, pushing the bed out of the way. Maks followed, attempting to pull the bureau close behind him to conceal their escape.
They rifled the room, looking for anything useful.
I had both characters roll for Scrounging. They found a length of steel pipe and a kitchen knife. Maks took the knife, and left the pipe with Wojciech.
The pair also found 3 candles and a book of matches. They also grabbed some of the man’s clothing, wearing his shirts in a feeble attempt to pass as a gangmember.
They stacked up near the door, and cracked it open, ready to jump their guard posted the next door over.
He was gone.
Maks and Wojciech made their way east down the hallway, toward the stairwell. He briefly considered searching for the radio room that was perhaps on this floor, but decided against. Who knew how long that’d take, or whether it was even still there. The last thing he wanted was to be stuck here if the MilGov invasion petered out.
The floor was surprisingly quiet for the moment, and they saw nobody in the feeble candlelight. Maks fretted about the stairwell, as he recalled it being very active when they were brought up here.
Further down, they heard the stairwell door crash open, then closed. Two of the Indian’s men were approaching, one carrying a lantern.
Maks and Wojciech were carrying a small wood chest, pretending to be porters. The chest was full of personal effects of the unnamed man whose room they’d dug into. He hoped they’d pass unnoticed.
As the two pairs approached each other down the dark hallway, I had each side make Observation rolls. Neither side rolled good until they passed each other, then both made successful rolls.
One of the Indian’s men was their guard! He was carrying the lantern, with a holstered M1911 pistol, and carrying a heavy belt of .50 BMG over his shoulder. The other man was better equipped with a small, boxy SMG that Maks didn’t recognize. It had a large barrel shroud, probably a suppressor he reckoned.
He, too, was bearing a belt of .50 ammo around his neck.
Maks and Wojciech had quicker reflexes. They dumped the chest, and each jumped an opponent.
Wojciech lunged for the man’s SMG.
I had my brother roll for a Grapple (page 198 of the Twilight 2000 v2.2 rulebook), except controlling hits would determine who had possession of the weapon.
Ingram M-10 (.45, Suppressed) ROF 10; Dam 2; Pen Nil; Bulk 2/4; Rcl SS 1; Burst 5; Rng 16
Wojciech and the man struggled for the gun. With one last yank, Wojciech seized the SMG.
Maks jumped their erstwhile guard with his knife, aiming for his head.
Aimed strike attack. Formidable: AMA. Maks has an excellent AMA asset, and my brother decided to take the slimmer odds of a called location (also page 198), as a Head hit can potentially disable the opponent with a Stun (page 211) or a Quick Kill (page 210). But he needed a 7 or less on a D20 to succeed.
The guard survived the Quick Kill roll, but failed his Stun.
Their former guard collapsed like a folding chair, writhing on the ground, bleeding and moaning.
The former Ingram owner cursed and swung a fist at Wojciech, missing.
Wojciech turned the Ingram around and fired a burst of 10 rounds.
In the past, I’ve used a house rule that automatic fire at point blank range is Formidable, and not Impossible.
I forgot this time. Despite being in contact range, out of 10 rounds only two hit the man, and the Danger Zone shots missed the downed former guard altogether.
Still Wojciech’s opponent stumbled to the floor [Knockdown], wounded but alive. He’d be back in action soon.
Maks grabbed the pistol from their former guard groaning mindlessly on the floor.
Wojciech this time squeezed off 5 single shots, slaying his opponent before he could recover.
Maks seized their senseless former captor in a chokehold, demanding his cooperation. Wojciech searched his dead opponent, and found another MAC-10 magazine of 30 rounds.
They heard shouts on their level, in the darkness to the west. The stairwell ahead of them was surely occupied too.