Planet Zod. Part 6. Dark Knights

sprayThe Planet Zod series of play-through Savage Worlds fictionalizations continues after our RPG heroes’ disastrous failure at S.T.A.R. Labs. Their hope to obtain a weapon that might defeat the tyrant now dashed, they’d barely escaped with their lives. Standing in the dark underground lair of one of America’s famous industrialists, Bruce Wayne, has their luck turned — or have they gone from the frying pan into the fire?

Detectives Irving Stone and John Bottom both had their guard up. There was something fishy about this whole situation. Why had Gotham’s celebrity tycoon taken an interest in the S.T.A.R. Labs murder case case? What was his angle? And who really was this lurking old man who’d driven them here, who gave off an impression of being far more than just Wayne’s pinstripe-wearing servant?

“Luthor is the key to all of this,” Bruce Wayne said. “We’re so close. It’s a good thing we got to you in time.”

“The key to what, Mr. Wayne?” Stone asked.

“I know you’ve seen a piece of the cloth,” Wayne said. “But you haven’t seen the whole tapestry. This is a lot bigger than a murder. A lot bigger than the things they get up to at S.T.A.R. Labs — though it’s a good thing I’m on the board of directors for that particular holding company of Wayne Industries. It keeps me in the know.

“I know what you were trying to do,” he continued. “But that’s over. Mr. Luthor here will not be making his appointment in Washington, D.C. — at least not on his own schedule. We’re going to surrender him and his little sample of Kryptonite over to General Zod.”

“Are you nuts?” Detective Bottom asked, breaking his monk-like silence with a snarl.

Alfred, Wayne’s servant, seemed to be studying their visitors. Sizing them up. He reminded Stone of the actor Sean Connery, but if the old man had kept up the workout regimen of a professional boxer. They wondered just what this man was capable of; and hoped they wouldn’t have to find out.

“I understand that my plan might seem… odd, to you,” Wayne admitted. “I mean no disrespect, particularly to decorated policemen like yourselves. I’ve always had a high respect for law enforcement, since my parents were murdered in an alley by a common mugger. But I’ve also seen that men like you are fighting an uneven battle. The criminals and the corrupt have always had the upper hand, particularly in Gotham. This city is at the mercy of evil men and always has been, despite all my efforts to put my considerable resources to prevent it. This city… my city… needs a Dark Knight to end the corruption that brings it low.”

Stone didn’t say anything, but thanks to his forensic psychiatric specialty, he could already tell that Wayne had gone off the deep end. There was just something wrong about him. It was something he’d carefully hidden in his public personal

“At first, like everyone else, I saw the coming of General Zod as a terrible thing,” Wayne continued. “And it is. But I’ve also come around, like many of my colleagues in various levels of government, to realize that this extraordinary being presents us with an opportunity. You’ve heard that there is to be a parade in two days — the first such event Zod has commemorated. Surely, this is to bring him into the next phase. First, he wanted to terrorize us. Now, he will rule us. But if we can be useful to him, then he will be able to grant favors in return.”

“You want to trade him Luthor and the Kryptonite so you can clean up Gotham,” Stone said. “And give up humanity’s last, best chance to stop Zod. The rest of the world might not agree with that strategy.”

I don’t care about the rest of the world,” Wayne said through gritted teeth. “Gotham will be a shining city on a hill. An example unto the nations. With the power invested in my regime by our otherworldly benefactor, this city will finally see justice. The criminals will hang from the lampposts — and the good people will live in a world without fear.”

“Except fear of you,” Stone said. “I think I’ve heard enough.”

“Albert, why don’t you take Mr. Luthor into the next room where he will be safe and secure,” Wayne said. His intimidating servant had already managed to slip behind the scientist and wrapped his wrists behind him with impressive speed. Luthor winced and shouted. “Now, I’m sure I can persuade you gentlemen to go along with this plan,” Wayne continued. “After all, in a lawful paradise, you officers will be well taken care of…”

“This stops now,” Bottom growled, pointing his gun at Wayne. Stone sensed things were about to get out of control very fast.

“So that’s the way it’s going to be,” Wayne said with a cold look. “Albert…”

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
GM. (Deals Initiative cards). Looks like Bottom goes first, then Wayne, then Albert, Stone and Luthor.
Ali. I try to subdue Bruce Wayne with my fists. We want him alive. (Rolls a 7 — a hit, but the damage roll is pretty wimpy).
GM. Looks like Wayne can take a punch. In this reality, he’s not the Batman you know from pop culture, but it seems he’s got better self-defence skills than Donald Trump. He slips out of your grasp.
Next up is Albert — and he’s basically got the Fighting stats you’d expect Batman to have! He dives in towards Bottom, to protect Wayne, and gets a 14 on his Fighting roll. That’s definitely a hit with some extra Damage. He’s got the Advanced Martial Arts Edge, so this is probably going to hurt (Rolls for Damage. 12). Yup. You’re Shaken and have one Wound — you feel like you just got drilled by Mike Tyson in his prime.
Ali. Balls!
Dave. Stone gets his gun out. Then he…
GM. Sorry. Getting your weapon out is an action.
Dave. (Face-palm).
GM. What about Luthor?
Dave. He hides behind me. He’s on Full Defense.
GM. Okaaaaaaayyy. In that case, we’re into the second deal for cards. Here we go…

Bottom was a fierce hand-to-hand combatant, but the playboy tycoon had some skills — enough that the cop realized pulling his punches was a bad mistake. Albert turned out to be a beast — Stone felt like he was moving in slow motion as he pulled his gun to fire on the man who was laying into his partner with abandon.

Bam! Ka-Pow! Albert delivered a vicious kick to Bottom’s leg; it was a miracle the limb didn’t snap in two.

His partner was down on the ground, fighting for his life. In a desperation move, Bottom raised his gun — Wayne somehow knocked it out of his hand…

The men were right on top of each other, but Stone would just have to risk shooting into the fray. His partner was about to get his clock cleaned.

Blam! Blam! 

What the hell?

Had he missed or was the savage old man wearing a bulletproof vest? Stone started to wonder just how much it would hurt when Alfred got hold of him. Now he could see that he’d at least got the martial artist’s attention.

In a flash, Alfred was launching himself towards Stone like he was on a coiled spring.

Another shot rang out. Alfred was caught in mid-leap, his brains spraying out of the side of his head.

At first, Stone thought he’d fired instinctively, but the angle of the bullet was all wrong — then he remembered that Luthor still had his gun from the laboratory robbery…

Luthor stood there, seemingly in shock. He was trembling as he pointed the gun at Albert’s fresh corpse.

With his servant/ninja bodyguard down, all of the fight seemed to go out of Bruce Wayne. As Bottom picked himself back up, the industrialist got down on one knee. “It’s over,” he said.

“For you, maybe,” Bottom said, cuffing Wayne’s wrists behind his back.

Stone came over to their prisoner. He could see that his megalomaniacal side had dissipated in an instant. Now, Wayne just looked… pathetic.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
Dave. Wayne has lots of resources. Maybe we can use him now. I use Persuasion to get him to help us (Rolls a 15 — a Success and 2 Raises).
GM. Well, you Persuade the hell out of him. He’ll help you do just about anything.

“You’ve got access to S.T.A.R. Labs, the Pentagon, just about any big defence contractor in the country,” Stone said. “We still need a weapon. We’re going to kill Zod. You want to help Gotham? Fine. Do it after he’s gone. Your insane little plan is over, Wayne.”

The man who normally exuded confidence like a modern-day Pharaoh had shrunk into himself. He stared at the floor. “Official channels will be too complicated on this short notice, even for me. It will attract attention. But unofficial channels could still be useful. I can help you with that.”

“What do you mean?” Stone asked.

“I wasn’t waiting until General Zod or some other monster took control to do something about these Church of Zod maniacs that have been making life hell for Gotham’s citizens,” Wayne said. “My city was dying. I had to do something.”

“What have you done?” Bottom said, tapping the barrel of his pistol against Wayne’s shoulder in a meaningful way.

“I hired a freelancer,” Wayne said. “A… terrorist. He calls himself the Joker. Him and his men have been killing the Church of Zod thugs since they turned up in this city, on my dime. He’s an effective killer… a mastermind. He’ll be able to get his hands on the kind of weapon you need. I’m sure of it.”

“You can set up a meeting?” Stone asked.

“Yes,” Wayne said. “I’ll make the arrangements…”

Continued in Planet Zod. Part 7. The Joker’s Wild

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