“Aódhán Ó Ríórdháín, dead in one hit?” – bandit graffiti seen in Clontarf.
The Monk’s bandits are making a big push on all other factions in North Dublin: Duty, Freedom and Red O’ Neill’s clan. No one has ever seen them this well organised or armed before. Aódhán Ó Ríórdháín’s ‘Department of Zone Exploration and Research’ or DoZER for short is no exception. He’s pinned down in St. Paul’s College in Raheny, along with his stash. The bandits have linked him to the raid on the St Anne’s slave labour ring, and are out for blood and gold.
Can the party contain the bandits and rescue their comrade? And can they find out what’s triggered this onslaught?
There is war in the air as the party wait in Marino for the new DoZER recruit. There are distant gunshots as the Bandits manoeuvre through North Dublin, pushing hard for territory. The party will need to reach the DoZER base in the north in St Paul’s school, where they discovered the poltergeist, as the base is already under siege. The players get a ping on their PDA – 1 friendly and 3 hostiles. When they make it to the roundabout in the estate, it seems their newest addition has already been held up by bandits. Kenji, the new stalker, is trying to talk his way out of the fight. But Brownbag, the bandit lieutenant holding him up, isn’t having any of it. Brownbag is armed with a modern AK74 and has body armour, while his two pals have leather jackets and sawn-off shotguns.
The party decide to spread out and make themselves seem like the scouts of a bigger party: Trapper hides in the house and overwatches the roundabout with his new FN FAL (1d10 +2. Pen 2. Min 2 damage. 20 shots. Full auto for 10 shots. Reload 1 full action.) MC Geist hides in the woods and revs his chainsaw to intimidate the bandits. The Webber calls out the bandits, and asks them to let their friend go. Otherwise there will be blood when the rest of their group comes. Trapper attempts to snipe the leader but his rifle fails to fire (no round in chamber).
Brownbag is not intimidated as they have a platoon of 40-50 Bandits coming from the East, and the advance party take Kenji hostage. The Bandits hunker down behind the cars at the roundabout, and gunfire from Brownbag erupts as the tension spills into violence. The Webber takes a bad wound straight off despite hiding behind a brick wall and patches himself up for much of the fight, contributing some suppressive fire. In the confusion, Kenji is able to knife his captor and escape the grapple. However, Brownbag catches him and kicks him to the ground once more. Just before Brownbag shoots Kenji, Trapper puts an aimed shot into his back, taking him out of action with a serious injury. Kenji decides to turn the tables on the bandits, and patches up Brownbag to take a prisoner.
Meanwhile, Trapper initially has a good position for the fight, but he comes under machinegun fire from about 400m out from the advancing platoon, ripping up his cover. He is able to snipe the gunner to delay the assault thanks to his excellent scope, but the assistant gunner recovers quickly and continues suppressing Trapper whose position is now known, and the other stalkers. Meanwhile, the first two bandit fireteams of 3 men each begin to leapfrog from cover to cover, one shooting, the other rushing forward each turn, putting heavy pressure on the stalkers. MC Geist has been running from the concealment in the woods and prepares to throw grenades at the bandits who are now close by. Disaster strikes however, and his second grenade bounces off the bus in front of him, landing at his feet. He is able to dodge away, but Brownbag is killed in the blast. His other grenades extract a heavy toll on the advancing bandits.
The party decide now is the time to go and dump their magazines in the directions of the bandit advance before breaking contact and escaping the map. They may have killed or injured the entire first squad of the attacking platoon, but have used a lot of their ammunition and taken some bad wounds. As they break away, an emergency call for help comes from other Free Stalkers, lead by the O’Donnell, in the Clontarf rail yard – the bandits are making a final push to capture the hill and O’Donnell cannot hold without help. Briefly after, the party gets another emergency call from the Spinner – the Bandits have surrounded the school and he is cut off. The players must make the difficult choice to help fellow free stalkers or their own faction leader.
The party get to the rail station, and O’Donnell, the Tánaiste or second-in-command from O’ Neill’s group say the attacks are intensifying all week. No one has ever seen bandits this organised before, or in this many numbers. They report similar tactics to the earlier fight the party was in, which indicates someone is training the bandits. O’Donnell tells the party the only reason they have held this long are the deep bonds of loyalty O’Neill commands with the North Dublin stalkers and the pooled resources of the clans. O’Neill is moving to unite all the stalker clans for the push to Mosney, so he can save Ireland with the Wish Granter rumoured to be there, and O’Donnell asks the party to bend the knee and swear fealty. Once this attack is beaten off, O’Donnell promises to aid DoZER. O’Neill’s unified stalkers have 15 of their initial 50 dead or seriously injured, and many of the remaining stalkers are in a makeshift hospital. They have reinforced their position with trenches and revetments. They also have 2 prototype “GALLOWGLASS” exoskeletons (8 Armour, +20 to strength checks, double your carrying and lifting capacity, user cannot run, must be calibrated and fitted to the user) named for the ancient Gaelic heavy infantry, able to wield a machinegun like a rifle, and proof against most small arms. Against them, the bandits have light mortars firing on the railyard and two machine guns supporting the assaults. There are perhaps two platoons out there. They are holding this section at the railyard to stop Bandits from surrounding Marino. If they hold this bridge, they can keep control of the turf and can persuade the Monk to stop expanding. O’ Neill is away negotiating. The party resist the temptation to bend the knee to O’Neill, preferring to keep their freedom and help the Spinner. As they are moving away, a hulking figure in the GALLOWGLASS exoskeleton calls them back. It’s Avalanche, the stalker who showed them the ropes when they were rookies. He appeals to the party, says the Zone is changing, and O’Neill is the only one with the vision to save Ireland with the Wish Granter. Trapper and Kenji are stirred, and take up a safe position to help in the fight. MC Geist and Webber try to scout a way through the siege, and discover a secret pumping station tunnel from Furry Park to the back of the school.
The Bandits attack, and are thrown back once more. The players account for some high priority targets, but the toll on O’Neill’s stalkers is high. losing another 10 men to injury or death. The O’Donnell respects that the party stayed and fought beside their brothers, and sends Avalanche to accompany them to save DoZER.
The party sneaks through the old pumping station. They find a decayed, partially eaten bandit, who seems to have been thrown around before being killed. They find his pistol, similarly battered, with only one round having been fired. Further down the tunnels, they uncover a rats’ nest in an old office. Past the office is a flooded cistern full of chemical anomalies. The way ahead is blocked until they discover a way to turn the power on, and open the floodgates. As a former electrician, the Webber is able to find a schematic for the pumping station, and figures the door will open if they can pump out the flooded sewage. They make a lot of noise by using grenades on the rat nest, and attract a mutant from deeper in the tunnels. The party wrestle with the surviving rats, throwing one into the chemical anomalies, generating an artefact. The mutant is dwarf-sized and looks formerly human, possibly a failed experiment. They nickname it “Leprechaun”. It attacks with psi-blasts, attempting to wrench the weapons from peoples hands, and is protected by tough skin and a psychic forcefield able to deflect bullets. The party guess it is afraid of their lights, and rush to the backup power station. Meanwhile MC Geist goes temporarily insane from stress and attempts to attack Trapper and Avalanche. Avalanche and Trapper ready themselves, and tackle Geist to the ground. When he snaps out of it, he unlocks his latent personality: a former US president at the time of the Middle Eastern wars 2008 to 2016 when Geist was just a child.
The rest of the party get the power back, and the mutant retreats to the darkness. Webber recovers an artifact from the now-drained chemical anomaly. It spawned from the rat Trapper hurled into the pool. There, inside the rat, is a clear jelly about the size of a hand. The rat appears to be intact, but it is a surface-level copy. Further investigation shows the jelly has the ability to duplicate objects that are put into it, but these are “fakes” filled only with more jelly and have none of the properties of the original, apart from their appearance.
The party exit the tunnel for the final confrontation in St. Pauls.
Emerging from the tunnel, Trapper spots several bandits with his night vision. They get several pings on the PDA – looks like Áódhain Ó Ríórdáín is with friendlies. The party sneaks into the building, while a French SAFE officer by the name of Fabien Martel harangues the building through a loudspeaker, calling for their surrender, saying that the Zone is a deathtrap and there is nothing in Mosney worth dying for. When the party makes it to the offices above, Áódhain is negotiating Hugh O’Neill himself, and two of his GALLOWGLASS bodyguards. The Spinner will not surrender to either and bend the knee. Martel calls out O’Neill, calling him a traitor to the EU and a backstabber of their agreement. Seeing their time is short, Hugh makes a stirring speech on unifying Ireland and driving out SAFE and the Zone that any Gael must test willpower to resist. Any hardcore gaelic characters take a -20 to this. He plans to reach Mosney to wish for a unified Ireland free of foreign influence, restore the ancient Gaelic system tainistry and return to an agrarian, butter-based economy.
Downstairs, the Trapper and Kenji rig some traps to foul entry, and tie a string to the head of the statue that keeps the poltergeist contained. One of the players gets silhouetted against a window, and a jumpy bandit shoots. The SAFE special forces team leading the bandits is now outside and begins their assault, supported by bandits. The Webber tells them there’s a safe way out if they leave now, through the tunnels, and they agree to finish this later. The party grabs as much research as they can and they hightail it out of St. Paul’s college. As they escape, they unleash the poltergeist, delaying their attackers. Bar some stray shots, they make it back to the tunnels.
Deep below the earth, DoZER makes the case to O’Neill that they should be bannermen, not bondsmen. So they cannot swear fealty to him, as they need to be free to explore and research on their own terms. O’Neill is satisfied by this, and Trapper, who also seeks a return to the glorious, butter-based past, bends the knee to O’Neill. O’Neill uncases an artifact: a piece of bog butter, and with it anoints Trapper. Trapper swears a geas to never betray O’Neill, and and one of the conditions is he must always accept the hospitality of a Gael.