Planet Zod. Part 4. Warehouse 13

WarehouseIn the last episode of our fictionalized playthrough from our latest Savage Worlds RPG homebrew campaign, Planet Zod, Detectives Stone and Bottom had made an astounding discovery in Smallville while investigating a murder. Now they’re closing in on the killer — but he in a world where General Zod runs the show, what does it mean to be a criminal?

It was a gloomy, overcast day, so when Detectives Irving Stone and John Bottom made it to the waterfront industrial zone, the long shadows from the warehouses made it seem like night. There wasn’t much activity around Warehouse 13, the second-last building from the far end of the dock. Dockworkers were on strike since the Church of Zod lunatics had rampaged through the area looking to steal whatever they could get. The thugs got chased off by the burly no-nonsense longshoremen long before any cops had shown up, but the union was still telling its people to stay on the picket line until order could be restored. Good luck with that, Stone thought.

Stone had called into the Precinct after they got near the Metropolis city limits. He didn’t like Luthor’s condition for meeting one bit – but from what he’d learned of the suspect, he was no cold-blooded killer. The S.T.A.R. Labs murder was looking more like a botched burglary, and if half of what the former scientist believed was actually true, then he’d had an awfully good motive. John Bottom was silent beside him on the drive over, but Stone figured Bottom had already come to his own conclusions about whether their perp was on the right side. He’d committed a crime; no doubt about that. But with everything they now suspected about that green rock, the astonishing photograph of that rocket ship in Smallville and its bizarre skeletal cargo, maybe this truly was the one case where the ends justified the means.

Still, they had to be careful. Luthor was a killer. He was still armed. And no one really knew what he was up to.

There were no clues to be had outside the building. The cops had their guns out as they checked the entrance door along the side, next to the big garage-type door.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
Ali. As I go inside, I’m making a Notice roll.
Ali. Snake-eyes again! Aw, come on!
GM. The dice are not with you this game, dude.

Detective Bottom went in first. It was dark in there and they couldn’t immediately find a switch. Bottom got about ten feet in, edging forward the whole time, when he heard the gun cocking from somewhere he couldn’t see. “Drop your weapon, Detective Bottom,” came the voice Stone had heard on his cell phone. “Kick it in front of you. Same with you, Detective Stone. I promise I’m not going to hurt you, but I want to make sure we don’t get off on the wrong foot.”

Bottom still couldn’t figure out where the voice was coming from. There were faint lights off in the distance, probably from electronics. But it wasn’t enough for him to see much beyond the outline of some big cargo boxes. He did as ordered. Stone reluctantly followed his lead.

No lights came on, but Luthor kept talking. They still couldn’t pinpoint where he was; terrible acoustics in this place. “Four months and seventeen days ago, General Zod came to Atlanta. You remember what happened next?”

The officers remembered. Zod’s atrocities were so horrendous that even as they piled on, no one could forget the horrors.

“He told the people of Atlanta that if any white people were left in the city by midnight, he would throw all of the black families’ children off the edge of the Grand Canyon the following day,” Luthor said. “You know what happened next. Most of the targeted group fled. Of course, the few whites who refused to leave were slaughtered in their homes by their panicked neighbors. It was the worst racial violence in America since… well, probably since the days of slavery in the South.”

“We remember,” Stone said.

“You know what happened after that,” Luthor said. “Reprisal attacks in cities and towns across the United States. Overnight, America nearly had a race war on its hands. The wounds are still raw. This is what Zod does – he strips away our facade of civilization. He unleashes the evil that was always there, underneath. Takes away our courage. Neutralizes any thought besides submission. If Zod orders it, that is the new morality – even the most horrendous, objectively immoral barbarism we can imagine. It takes a strong spirit to stand against that kind of tyranny. Few men could.”

“Why are we here?” Bottom said.

“Because I think I can trust you,” Luthor said. “As I said on the phone to your partner, I’ve been doing my own investigating. You’re good officers. You’ve seen the worst criminal scum that humanity has to offer and you just keep at it – even after Zod has turned this world upside down. Besides, since you’ve been to the Kent farm, now you know what I know, or at least the edges of it.”

The lights came on in the warehouse. The back of the room was filled with astronomical maps, work tables strewn with charts and newspaper clippings and at least five desktop computer terminals running at the same time. Luthor was standing just five feet from Bottom with his gun pointed at the officer. The thin, bald man in old workmen’s clothes looked wretched, his eyes rimmed by deep blue bags like he hadn’t slept in days. His eyes were bloodshot and almost manic. But there was still something human about him – vulnerable. He didn’t look like a killer. He just looked like a man at the end of his rope. That could still be dangerous…

“Your wife said you were trying to save the world,” Stone said.

Luthor nodded. His haunted eyes watched the policemen for any sign of a threat.

Can it be done?” Stone asked.

Luthor nodded again. “But I need your help. If you arrest me… it’s all over. For everyone on Earth.”

Bottom seemed to be waiting for Stone to make the call. Finally, Stone let out a hint of a smile at Luthor. “We’re not going to arrest you. Why don’t you show us what you’ve got? We’ll do all we can to help. But the first thing you’ve got to do is put down that gun before Bottom does something with it that you’ll regret.”

Luthor put down the gun.

Stone’s smile widened. “Now, why don’t you take us through this from the beginning…”

Continued in Planet Zod. Part 5. Return to S.T.A.R. Labs


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