Planet Zod. Part 3. Secrets in Smallville

neat old farm houseIn Part 3 of our  fictionalized playthrough from our latest Savage Worlds RPG homebrew campaign, Planet Zod, Detectives Stone and Bottom are about to move from the preliminary stage of their homicide investigation at Lex Luthor’s apartment and try to understand their killer’s true motivations.

They would check out Smallville in in the morning. But in the meantime, Stone was obsessed with learning more about Luthor. His connection over at the FBI hadn’t been able to provide much help — and she seemed to be swamped with another case, something about a gang war between Church of Zod idiots and hardcore terrorists in Gotham.

Stone was left to his own devices, at his computer until late at night. He was no coder, but he was enough of a geek to be dangerous. In very little time, he’d managed to locate Luthor’s pseudonymous blog and gained insight into the man’s deeply warped mind.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
Dave. Before we head out to Smallville, I want to get inside the head of our suspect. Maybe he’s left some kind of record online. I’ve got d10’s for Knowledge: Computers and for Investigation (Rolls an 8).
GM. You find Lex Luthor’s pseudonymous blog. It’s not a typical “alien conspiracy” type blog. Still, there’s some stuff in there about Kryptonite and aliens and a government cover-up…

Above Top Secret, written by “Lyle Lambert” AKA Luthor was all about extraterrestrials from “Krypton” who had come to visit the Earth for their own unknown purpose. The blog had started three years ago, shortly after Luthor had gone to the Smallville site.

The writing was lucid for the most part. The astrophysics side of it was way beyond anything Stone could understand. It was dense, like something by Stephen Hawking. But sometimes the author would go on strange rants about aliens who could transform from their real bodies into the shape of whichever species was dominant on a given planet — in our case, us. That science-fiction style writing was where Luthor seemed to jump from point to point with very few connections, certainly no indication of any evidence. It was almost as though Luthor was hiding the key proofs that would have transformed him from anonymous crank to Nobel prizewinner. What had he been afraid of? But then, this was all bogus anyway, Stone figured. Aliens from another planet? Come on.

Then again… Zod was here.

Sure, there had been speculation by every pundit on the planet about from where the godlike psychopath had emerged. Most focused on nanotechnology or “super-serums”; the religious types actually thought he was some kind of devil — most people just shrugged their shoulders. But an alien? An actual ET? How could he look exactly like us? How could he talk like us? Why did he seem, despite his incredible powers, so very human? How could he be an alien from another planet?

Why not? Zod could lift an aircraft carrier out of the ocean without breaking a sweat. He sure as hell wasn’t human. Not really.

Stone got a chill in the pit of his stomach.

*

Smallville was a little hick town just two hours from Metropolis by car. Detectives Stone and Bottom pulled into the bumpy driveway of the Kent farm around 9 am. An early call for the city, but these farmers got up at the crack of dawn. They’d got the information from S.T.A.R. Labs about where to go, though the lab hadn’t been as cooperative as Stone liked over the phone.

Bottom pointed to an odd, perfectly smooth pit near the barn. Maybe twenty feet deep, shaped like a bowl. It looked like it was filled with fine sand, or ashes. Nothing grew within three feet of it. Weird.

Next, they walked up to the front door and were promptly greeted with the bad end of a double-barreled shotgun.

Holding it was grizzled, ragged old man with about five days beard growth. He smelled almost as bad as Bottom — the strong scent of homebrewed hooch maybe canceled out some of the body odor. The man looked pissed off and halfway insane all at once.

“Jonathan Kent,” Stone blurted out. “We’re… we, uh, wanted to ask you some questions. For, er, an investigation.”

“Don’t much like visitors round these parts,” Kent said without letting his eyes off either of them.

“We’re cops,” Bottom said.

For that, the shotgun was now pointed about two inches from under his nose. Kent smiled a wicked, drunk smile. “Don’t much like the po-lice, either.”

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
GM. Now this drunk maniac is pointing the shotgun at your face, Ali.
Ali. I try to disarm him with an Agility roll. (Rolls, gets some exploding dice: 16! A Success and 3 Raises).
GM. You’re now holding the gun and pointing it at him.

There was a flash of movement, a “clack” sound and suddenly, Bottom was holding the shotgun and pointing it at Kent.

The old man put up his hands. He slumped against the side of the door. Stone and Bottom hauled him inside and started questioning the old drunk.

Yeah, this was the spot where the meteor hit… Turned the whole sky red when it came down. Yeah, those danged guv’mint scientists had hauled away that queer green rock… along with the rocket ship.

An hour into it, the cops managed to convince Kent that they weren’t really there to kill him. That’s when he showed them the photograph.

It was his secret — he hadn’t even shown it his wife, who’d finally died last year from stomach cancer. He figured he was protecting her. What she didn’t know, those guv’mint types couldn’t try to get her for…

Even Bottom reacted to what they saw.

A real rocket ship. Not big, like one of those classic NASA vehicles. Just big enough for an engine that didn’t look like anything they’d ever built on Earth. The green rock was stuck in the hull like it had lodged in there from an impact. There was a little capsule near the front…

There was a little skeleton in there. A baby’s skeleton. Only… it wasn’t quite human. It looked like it was trying to be human. But parts of the skeleton included bones and structures that looked more like… well, Stone couldn’t quite figure out what it was supposed to be.

The detectives were shocked from their close examination of the photograph by a ring from Stone’s cellphone. Annoyed, he answered it.

“Detective Stone,” he said.

“Excellent,” the voice on the other end said. “I’m glad you’re able to get cell reception out there. A bit out of the way. You’re at the Kent farm, aren’t you? Putting it all together now?”

“Who is this?” Stone asked.

“You’ve been investigating me,” the voice said. “And I’ve been investigating you.”

“Luthor,” Stone whispered.

“A lot of cops have just given up these last couple of months,” Luthor said. “You’ve stayed on duty. You haven’t lost your sense of what’s right. Between those Church of Zod fools and killers on the street…”

“Aren’t I talking to one?” Stone asked.

There was a pause. “What happened at the lab was unfortunate. I did not want anyone to get hurt. I’m doing what’s right… just like you and you’re partner. It’s a hard world we live in, Detective Stone. But it’s times like these that we find out what we’re really made of. Whether we have the courage to do what needs to be done…”

“Where are you?” Stone asked.

There was another pause. “Come to Warehouse 13 in the waterfront district,” Luthor said. “Just you and your partner. No other cops. No one else. If I think you’re up to something… you’ll never find me.”

The call ended. Stone and Bottom were still on Kent’s front porch. His partner had listened in on the whole conversation — the man had keen ears.

With a nod to each other, they got back in their car and gunned it for Metropolis.

Continued in Planet Zod. Part 4. Warehouse 13

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