The explosion had been heard for miles around, even across the English Channel as far as Calais. Across the county of Kent people were woken from their slumber and glanced bleary eyed at alarm clocks, wondering what the hell had jolted them awake at 03:23 on a bloody Tuesday morning. Most thought it the beginning of the “mother of all storms” that had been predicted again and again by meteorologists all over Northern Europe, before ducking back under duvets grumbling about getting up for work in a few hours. Sure enough when the rain began pelting against their window panes they were soon soothed back to sleep, for a few more minutes at least.
The more awake and those that were working night shifts looked east and saw the huge plume of flame and subsequent mushroom cloud towering into the turbulent skies somewhere off the Kentish coastline. The debris from the explosion was snatched out of the air by the violent winds of Storm Daenerys and drawn into it swirling vortexes, dragged with it along the path of the storm and heading toward the southeastern most peninsula of the county. In awe those night owls and night workers watched the encroaching storm, breathing a sigh of relief as it headed passed them toward the unfortunate people of Thanet. The explosion was terrific in its size and power but the storm was awesome to behold in all its majesty, Mother Nature at her most resplendent and destructive and only enhanced by the flecks of residual flame from the detonation. In the first 20 minutes of Daenerys hitting land over 100mm of rain had fallen, this on top of an already saturated ground following a particularly wet Spring. Water poured into the drainage ditches that crisscrossed the flatlands that formed the ancient border of the Isle of Thanet, and fed into the river Wantsum, a grandiose name for what was essentially a small stream that groaned under the pressure of the influx of so much water.
12 minutes after the explosion and the landfall of Storm Daenerys the first quake hit the county of Kent, measuring 7.5 on the Richter scale. Those people who had fallen back to sleep moments before found themselves being rudely awoken again as buildings shook, roof tiles fell like the angry rain from Daenerys. All across Kent car alarms went off, their strident cries a backdrop to the rumbling of the tortured earth as it buckled and tore apart under the immense strain. For 3 long minutes the citizens of the South East of England clung to one and other trying to make sense of what was happening. Unused to tremors, all they could do was speculate to the cause, most incorrectly (sort of) attributing it to the storm raging across the breadth of Thanet. All along the marshy flatlands that formed the ancient Wantsum Channel, from Marshside near Reculver in the North to Sandwich in the South, centuries old silt beds loosened by months of rain and now saturated again by the storms ferocious downpour now shifted and moved, mud oozed and then flowed along the banks of the streams dragging more and more of the surrounding banks with them as the land eroded under the pressure. There would be two more serious aftershocks to follow about 5 minutes apart, each lasting a minute or so and each measuring over 6 on the Richter scale. More and more silt shifted along the now widening banks of the Wantsum that was fast becoming the river it was in the past.
By 03:50 hours emergency services were being dispatched to the buildings that had suffered structural damage and to the growing number of injured people. Firefighters tried to rescue those that were already being flooded. A major incident had been declared in a very short period of time and additional responses were being requested at County and National levels. Response was being severely hampered by cut power and communication lines and interference from the powerful electrical storm that rampaged across the Thanet peninsula. For another 30 minutes the emergency services worked tirelessly trying to get to the stricken residents of the battered Isle but Mother Nature hadn't finished with them yet. At 04:24 oceanic sensors located in the English Channel off the coast of Whitstable, Kent noted a marked rise in the sea level by over 15 feet. By the time the swell had hit the beaches around Reculver it had grown to 25 feet and was considered a Tsunami. As it broke along the already battered, eroded coastline it was channeled by the centuries old boundary of the Wantsum, completing the job started by the “Mother of All Storms”, sweeping all before it and carving out a renewed and reinvigorated river. The Isle of Thanet was an island once more, cut off from the rest of the county.
Although the flat lands that formed the ancient channel were mostly empty of human activity, there was loss of life during those first few hours immediately following the first explosion. The tidal wave that swamped the marsh lands caused land slippage and destroyed the road network that led out of Thanet, sweeping the few cars that were using them at the time away and killing those inside with ease and cutting off any outside help from rest of Kent. Pleasure yachts kept in the town of Sandwich were swept out to sea as the River Stour broke its banks following the tidal surge as were the few working boats that plied the South coast. Storm Daenerys directly claimed dozens of lives when it tore through a Travellers site outside of Birchington, ripping up caravans and throwing them and the terrified people over great distances, destroying an ancient family bloodline that had survived through centuries of persecution and conflict. An isolated farmstead provided more solid material for the storm to use as missiles within its buffering winds, hurling a 12 tonne tractor through an elderly residential home 5 miles away in Minster, killing 4 and injuring 10 others. In total the blood price demanded by Mother Nature was over a hundred deaths and hundreds more severe injuries on its destructive rampage through the Isle. But these were only the first deaths, easily attributed to an obvious cause, what was to follow was far more insidious and came to light over the next few days after Storm Daenerys had blown itself out in the far southern reaches of the English Channel were it fell as a light Summer rain along the coastline of France.
The residents of Thanet battered and bruised from the “Mother of all Storms” woke up the following morning to a changed landscape, to emergency services stretched to the limit on the “New” Isle of Thanet, but more importantly and unbeknownst to them at the time they woke up to a new era in the history of mankind, an era where humans were no longer the apex predator on Earth, the final era of man….
Andy “da Gobbo” Wosa looked down at the Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) on the centre console of the ambulance and swore robustly. “What the actual fuck!” Andy muttered to himself, grimacing at the gruesome nature of the call.
+++CAT A Red 2 emergency response required+++
+++ 20s YOF assaulted+++
+++Call from remote observer+++
+++Scene unsafe+++ attacker on scene, appears to be biting patient+++
+++police en route+++
Anna “Putters” Parker, stared at the screen reading it carefully before returning her attention back to watching nervously as her crew-mate negotiated the waterlogged and debris strewn road that cut though the centre of Ramsgate town. Brow furrowed she reached overhead to hit the 999 button on the light array control panel activating the emergency beacons or “Blues” on the roof. “Did I just read that right Gobbo?” She asked with a sense of resignation that finally she was about to see just about everything. “Are they actually biting the patient?” With a kick of his left foot Andy stomped on the floor switch in the footwell of the drivers side activating the emergency two tone sirens or “Twos”. Hampered by the amount of detritus strewn across the carriageway he attempted to bring up the speed of the 4.5 ton vehicle and at least attempt to make some progress.
Andy looked briefly back at the MDT with an angry look on his normally very placid face, the older of the two person crew he was usually very laid back in the job with few things phasing him. In the four years since he had joined the service he had been to almost every “job” that emergency care could throw at him, he had bought babies into the world and held the hands of those that had left it, he had been to horrific car crashes and tended to the burns of those whose every earthly possession had been destroyed by flame. He had seen the very best of humanity - those who battled desperately to save complete strangers for no more reward than knowing that they have tried to help another living being AND the very worst of humanity – those who wilfully destroy themselves or others in the most obscene ways. Four years that felt like forty at times and four minutes at others! As an EMT he had seen a lot and had learned a lot in his short career and still had a ways to go before he qualified as a paramedic later on in the year. Fists clenched and unclenched on the steering wheel as he tried to process the information as he drove the ambulance. “Yep” he growled, “even when the wrath of fucking God crashes through their lives, these fucking idiots still prey on each other!!” Breathing deeply, he tried to find some calm drawing on his martial arts training in an effort to regain some discipline.
“Chill Gobbo,” Parker chided “you're no good to this girl angry, she needs your A game mate” at 25 years old Anna was 17 years Andy’s junior but as a paramedic and his clinical mentor she was wise beyond her years and was able to bring Andy some focus, drawing him back to the patient’s needs not his own. “Let the police get this prick and we can sort the patient, yeah?”
“Sorry Master Yoda” Andy drawled, “nice speech though Putters….” He added, throwing his trademark cheeky grin at the young woman. She’d done it again, he thought to himself with a snort. This young woman was capable and smart, getting the older but slightly less wise EMT to forget about some street restorative justice and concentrate on what was more important…. Not that he would tell her that of course! “I was just gonna let you kick the shit out of him anyway Putters, while I acted the hero and swooped in to save the damsel in distress”
The banter carried on for a few more minutes as Andy picked his way through the streets of Thanet. To outsiders it may have seemed callous as a young female was being assaulted not too far away but the dark humour was an important tool for the crew to shield themselves from the horrific nature of the call, a necessity that kept them from crumbling under the pressure of the situation. Both the medics had been on shift when “Daenerys” had swept over Thanet and both had been working non-stop since. Their shift had officially ended 4 hours ago and they were now into the 17th hour since picking up the ambulance from station. Stopping only to grab some breakfast from Andy’s house and reassuring his family that he hadn't been swept away in the tidal wave, they had been on the way to speak to Anna’s fiancée when the call had come through.
Peering into the early morning gloom, Andy could see they were approaching the housing estate where the call had originated. “Game face on Putters, we’re getting closer…..”
Zombie Apocalypse (ZA) +1
So we get to the first day of the ZA, before we do let me introduce the two characters that star in this game. First up we have Andy “da Gobbo” Wosa, an Emergency Medical Technician working for the local Ambulance Trust and currently studying to be a paramedic. Married with two children, Gobbo was a civil servant until the children grew up and no longer needed their daddy to work flexible and short hours. Finally able to pursue a career that he found worthwhile he puts up with the crazy hours and working weekends and holidays in order to do the job he loves. Although his crazy work pattern has put a halt to his training recently he has in the past spent many hours in the dojo learning karate and aikido as well as some staff (Jo-do) and spear (Yari-do) training. An avid horror fan and wargamer he inadvertently has been training for the zed apocalypse for the last 25 years…..
Next we have Anna “Putters” Parker, a young paramedic from London, she has “an old head on young shoulders”. Crew mate and mentor to Gobbo she is teaching him all he needs to know about emergency medicine while he teaches her about life skills (or so he tells himself!). An avid hockey player Putters is rock solid on the field and takes no shit from the drunken idiots that blight the weekends across the towns of Thanet and adjoining areas. Despite the mentee/mentor roles Parker respects the older man for his life experience and often defers to him when the medical knowledge is secondary to the situation (I.e when the shit hits the fan!!)
In order to represent them on the tabletop I need to distill that background into a compatible form for ATZ FFO. For this campaign I'll be using Vampifan’s character sheets that he uses for his own games and for the first time I'll be breaking down the all powerful Rep characteristic into the sub categories that Vamps has devised. See his post **** for the way that B has sorted this out.
For Gobbo, as the “star” of my story he gets that very status, which infers some extra survivability to our hero. I also made him Rep 4, now normally I always start at Rep 3 and build the character from there but he isn't just any civilian - he's me! Well a slightly better version of me anyway. Breaking it down then he has been an advanced driver for the last four years, taught to respond to emergencies in any of the Trust vehicles therefore he gets a “drive” of 4. Gobbo trained in Japanese martial arts for several years following a street mugging achieving a fairly high standard before work commitments put the brakes on so his “melee” is a respectable 4. The last of his 4 characteristics is “people” as a cheeky chappie he gets away with an awful lot, combined with his compassionate nature he tends to be able to talk to most people hence the high score. Moving down to the 3 scores the first is “shoot” he has fired various firearms and bows over the years and although not a master he is at least proficient in their use. Technologically inept, he gets by but he does use a variety of specialised pieces of equipment and knows his way around a crowbar (maybe one day I'll tell the story….) so gets a midway score. Lastly he gets a 2 score for fitness, despite being very fit when he practised his martial arts, the combination of night shifts, bad food and a love for good beer and great wine has had a bit of a detrimental effect on his fitness levels. As for skills the first had to be “medic (2)” as an EMT and a final year paramedic student it couldn't be any lower really, the second one would be “born leader” because of his previous job roles where he has often led teams in all sectors of life, he tends to gravitate toward a more leadership position.
Putters, although Gobbo’s mentor has to be relegated to Grunt status as there can be only one star of the show this early on, there is also a certain amount of deference for his age and experience shown by the young paramedic (ahem, this is totally fantasy the real Parker [not her real name] generally just takes the piss…..) as for her stats although she also has attended advanced driving school Putters is more naturally cautious as a driver and a little bit more nervous hence she stays at 3 for “drive” she also has a 3 for “melee” to reflect that although she doesn't have formal fighting training she does play hockey!! 3 for “savvy” reflects the same level of equipment training that Gobbo has but has more tech based knowledge rather than the crowbar…. She can get grumpy and is a bit inexperienced so “people” 2 with “fitness” coming up last at 1 due to a series of injuries that still blight her. Skills wise she gets “medic (2)” naturally and “ hard as nails” simply because she bloody well is!!
Right that's enough writing for now, next time I come back to this we'll have the AAR for ZA +1.
Hope you enjoy