Planet Zod. Part 8. A Time to Kill

Patriotic Waving Tattered Shredding American Flag, Old Glory, The Red White and Blue, Stars & Stripes, That Ragged Old FlagIn this final instalment of the Savage Worlds Planet Zod RPG playthrough stories, our heroes are nearing the end of their self-appointed quest. Metropolis Detectives Irving Stone and John Bottom have already crossed the line many times, working with killers and terrorists to get what they need to stop General Zod. And now, the final chapter…

They’d driven through the night to before they saw the road sign, “Welcome to Washington, D.C.” with the cryptic District motto in smaller letters underneath: “Justice for all.” Stone felt a little chill as he thought about the possible meaning of that curt little phrase.

They’d been on the run for days, now; they had willingly gone over to the side of wanted criminals like Lex Luthor, the scientist-turned-Kryptonite thief and accidental killer; Bruce Wayne, apparently an unhinged mastermind and sponsor of the Joker, their terrorist ally who’d given them the means to murder a living god.

General Zod literally had the power to move mountains, to fly, to burn entire towns to a crisp with a look. But they had the glowing green rock and the modified rifle that was planet Earth’s last best hope. If Luthor was right — and it was a big “if” — the madman’s global reign of terror was about to end. The big parade was today; a day when the bigwigs and analysts of the world guessed would mark Zod’s transition from bipolar superhuman psychopath to a more traditional version of a ruthless emperor — something humanity wouldn’t like, but at least they could understand.

This was their only chance to stop him.

First, they’d have to get past the city’s security: just about every cop in the city was ready to put a bullet in anyone with a mind to take a shot at Zod. If the General stuck to precedent and someone even tried to take him out, he’d be liable to burn this whole city to the ground. No one was willing to sacrifice hundreds of thousands of innocents — maybe millions — for a bullet that wouldn’t make a damned bit of difference anyway.

Except that their bullet was different. And they were determined to take their shot.

A crowd was already gathering for the big event that would start just outside the White House. Sniper teams looked out from the upper floors of the low buildings along the parade’s path.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
Dave. Our best shot is probably to get into one of these buildings and pass ourselves off as one of the sniper groups that’s supposed to be there anyway.
Ali. John Bottom has no social skills at all. You’re going to have to bluff our way in, Stone.
GM. OK, Dave. Make your roll.
Dave. (Rolls a 5 for Smarts to trick his way in).
GM. Hmmm. Well, it’s good enough to get you into the building with Luthor in tow as Special Agent… Smith. But you’re going to have to make another roll when you encounter the crew on the third floor.

Taking a page out of Lee Harvey Oswald’s playbook, Bottom led their trio to what he figured would be the building with the best vantage point of the parade, though not too close to where the action would be; after all, the last thing they needed was for Zod himself to spot them with his telescopic vision and murder them with his eyes.

Stone managed to bluff them through the outer ring of security by flashing a badge. They got lucky. With every local police precinct sending down extra officers to provide security, none of the cops down by the entrance were even trying to identify other locals on sight; those cops also wouldn’t have even thought to check their faces to see if these folks with badges were really on the run from the law.

They found a squad on the third floor of the building, already setting up. Stone tried his old tricks again.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
GM. Let’s roll, boys.
Dave. I roll Smarts to Trick them into leaving. (Rolls a 6).
GM. This group is a bit more suspicious. They don’t turn on you, but they don’t seem to trust you, either. They’re giving you looks like they think something’s fishy. You could try rolling Smarts again, or Persuasion, but at a penalty.
Ali. Forget it. I’m intimidating them. My Intimidation is maxed out. (Rolls a 9).
GM. OK, they’re Shaken. Whatever you told them, you’ve totally freaked them out. You weren’t in combat, but basically, you’ve got a free move while they nervously look to each other for direction about how to react.
Ali. We can go first?
GM. You’ve got time for one free action. They can’t react.
Ali. We pull our guns on them.

“The Chief says you’re supposed to be set up on the second floor,” Stone said to the lead man setting up a rifle tripod.

“That’s weird,” the cop replied, not getting up from the desk he was sitting on. “We’re supposed to be here. I think you got the wrong place. Which precinct are you with, again?”

“The precinct of go fuck yourself, rookie,” Bottom growled. “You heard Detective Stone. Get off your asses and the get out of here. This is our floor.”

The cops looked at Bottom, Stone and Luthor with a mix of confusion and cold sweat. They didn’t recognize these guys. Besides, that bald one didn’t even look like a cop — skin and bones, deep bags under his eyes, rumpled clothes; he looked more like a homeless crazy man than an officer. One of them started moving his hand to his holster…

“Don’t even think about it,” Bottom said, training his gun on them. Stone and Luthor followed suit. They’d got the drop on them — they lost no time in cuffing, blindfolding and gagging the cops to keep them quiet.

Bottom had them kneel with their faces pressed up against the far wall. Luthor kept a nervous watch on them with his revolver, not quite sure if he could bring himself to shoot these officers if they actually tried anything.

The parade was starting outside. They could hear the military band playing “The Stars and Stripes Forever”. Bottom was just setting up their custom Kryptonite gun by the window as the second chorus started. They held on to hope that none of the other police sniper teams would notice the unusual weapon, or think to send someone over to check out their situation.

Bottom surveyed the scene. For the first time, he saw General Zod with his own eyes, about 150 yards away, levitating twenty feet above the heads of the soldiers marching under him.

“You see him?” Stone whispered nervously.

Bottom nodded. He cocked the rifle. Zod came into his sights. He could see the General’s eyes begin glowing red. Suddenly, a burst of red light blasted out, startling Bottom enough that he paused before pulling the trigger. His eyes went off the crosshairs and for a moment he watched as their would-be emperor was melting the soldiers who had come to march in his honor. Flesh fell off bone like these poor men were caught in an inferno. The road beneath the parade’s feet was melting into slag.

“Take the shot!” Stone croaked, snapping Bottom back into the moment.

Savage Worlds Gameplay for Planet Zod Campaign
GM. This is it, guys.
Ali. I’m rolling my Shooting. I’ve got a +2 bonus for taking an Aimed Shot and another +2 because this is a sniper rifle with a scope.
GM. Works for me.
Ali. (Rolls) OK… including bonuses… 16! Was it enough?

Almost as soon as the fiery carnage had erupted, its fury sputtered out.

The top half of General Zod’s head sprayed back into the crowd on the other side of the street. His body fell into the smoldering slag.

For nearly ten seconds, there was a silence over the parade; indeed, over the entire city. The air was still like all of humanity had sucked in its breath in a single instant.

Finally, a rapturous cheer went up from the crowd on the sidewalk; from the soldiers who still lived mere meters from the destruction; from living rooms and bars where television sets had tuned in to watch the prophesied inauguration of a tyrant.

It was over. Zod was dead.

Bottom kept looking through the crosshairs of his rifle at what he had wrought. For the first time since Stone had known his partner, he saw the man grinning broadly like a kid who’d just won the biggest stuffed bear at a circus target shoot.

He could barely believe his ears as the normally silent, savant-like Bottom began actually singing from the tune that the military band had begun playing moments before most of them had fled the flames of Zod’s power. The words came out as a whisper at first, growing into an uncertain warble that was still just barely intelligible:

“Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let despots remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever…”

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