Apocalypse World: Orphans

Kile and Toms
Prelude to Episode 2

The sun was down, but nobody was at rest. Not even the dead, Toms thought as he wrung his hands together. They had moved the mourners across the street, but he could still hear their sobs through the window. White strips from the work lights below danced on the wall as volunteers crawled around the lower levels. Beams of stray light poked through where the gunshots had pierced the ceiling.
A hospital is usually a place that smells like death. But not like this, he thought to himself.
Toms took a deep breath and poked his head around the doorframe.
“Hey. Kile? You okay?”
Kile put one hand up to silence him. He was leaning over the bed, hands folded under his chin as he stared at the form laid out beneath him. Grast was tied to the bed, hands and feet, and he had straps keeping him down across the chest and pelvis. He relaxed into the bed, not fighting his restraints as he spoke.
“I was outside the door with Lem, we were waiting for Pigeye and Craw to get around the other side so we could surround ’em. I was finished checking my ammo when I looked at Lem, and…” he trailed off, studying the ground.
“And what.”
Sweat dripped from his hair as he lifted his head towards Kile, anguish and confusion plain on his face.
“I had to do it.” He started to tremble. “Jeez, I don’t know why, but I never known nothing more than that I had to do it.” He grabbed at his head. “It… goddamn it, it seemed like the right thing to do.”
Kile stepped closer and put a hand under Grast’s chin. “Look at me.”
He assented, and Kile stared into his eyes.
“Try to remember that moment as hard as you can.”
Grast’s expression shifted from anguish to confusion as he reflected Kile’s stare. Then, he started to fight his restraints and terror crept across his face.
“No… no no no no…”
Toms did his best not to watch as Grast’s protests became wordless grunts as he tried to back away from Kile’s iron grip.
He remembered the first time he saw Kile do this, how the room grew warm and the hairs on Toms’ arms stood at attention when Kile had turned his focus on a con from Glencoe. How the man had spoken at length about how and why he killed Leona and her sisters. How he had collapsed, spent, that unsettling blood dripping slowly out of his ear. How he had spent the rest of his short life wandering around Dustwich, muttering to himself and jumping at shadows.
The people’s memory of that is what kept Kile strong enough to deal with Glencoe. His “honest eye,” he called it. Whatever it was, it unsettled Toms to no end. Men shouldn’t be able to see into other men’s minds.
That’s what we have women for, he added, sadly, despite himself.
His own recent loss to painful to dwell on, Toms focused back on Grast. His pupils became huge and his brow mopped with sweat.
Then, all of a sudden, the fighting stopped, and Grast spoke with a voice not his own.
“Kill the other guy!”
And he promptly collapsed, coughing and muttering softly to himself.
Kile rose solemnly, and in the impossibly long silence that followed, Toms suddenly found words.
“What does that mean? How did he do that with his voice?”
“Lingering psychic energy. Some sort of compulsion.”
“You’re saying they made him do it?”
“Not exactly. But yes.”
“This is the same people who killed Kettle and stole the medicine?”
Kile nodded once.
He walked past Toms to the bed to retrieve his jacket.
“I’ve already sent Pants out to find them.”
Kile shrugged into it.
“She can take care of herself.”
“She’ll be killed!”
Kile reached for his long staff and paused, feeling its smooth surface with his thumb.
“Then they’ll have another death to answer for.”
Toms held his breath as Kile studied Grast on the ground. Grast flinched away from his eyes, but raised his head to meet Kile’s outstretched hand.
“Thank you for your help, Grast. Now go to sleep. We’re gonna put these freaks down.”

"What is Your DEAL?"
Jethro Deals With the Problem His Way

“What is your DEAL?”
If he hears the words come out of Franky’s mouth, he doesn’t indicate it. He just looks at the hole in his puffy jacket where the bullet grazed him.

“Damn. I love this this jacket.”

Flash back to six months ago at that bullshit junkyard he calls his workshop. Not a bad spread, he’s got something resembling a shed, but it extends about four stories up.

He’s working and his eyes have that glazed look they get when he’s playing with tools. He has a pneuma-claw on his left arm and he’s twisting a sheet of metal into something wicked, probably not for recreational use. His radio makes a clicking sound and he’s back in the real world—focused, agitated. If he knew his mother she’d have said he was at home when he’s got his hands busy. When they’re not he’s gonna be looking for something to do—that’s why it’s better to keep him busy.

“Yeah that’s my fuckin’ name I’m engaged what do you want?”
“I’m calling because— What the hell’s your problem?”
“I’m engaged. Talk.”

Jethro puts the radio down, powers up his sculpting arm and he’s back at it.

“You don’t know me. But there are some people who know you, and they don’t care what you’re doing, they’re coming. Now. And if you want to live longer than the next two minutes you’d better pick that radio BACK UP and SHUT UP.”
“You can see me?”
“What didn’t you understand about shut up?”

Jethro freezes and reaches across his shoulder to power down his left arm, and with a hiss it’s inert. He slides out of it, unlatching the harness around his waist and it CLANKS down on the ground. The radio’s making some buzzing some something whatever Jethro’s in it now and he’s seeing the waves oscillating in front of him and he’s following the lines they leave in the air. He follows them about 1000 yards down the dirt road and they’re bouncing like there’s a whole lot of business coming from out over that way.

“Aww, damn this ain’t my day.”
“Get out of there. NOW.”

His brain’s moving fast, calculating.
“Only thirty of ‘em.”
“Are you LISTENING?”
“Nah, I’m gonna wait it out—“
Jethro clicks off the radio, and he mumbles.
“…see what happens.”

He’s all action now. He grabs a well-worn jacket, off a nail in the wall and slides it over him while he’s running. Goose-down, it’s really comfortable, well insulated, but breathes in the summer. And when was the last time anyone saw a goose?


He’s flying now, he runs up the circle stairway and he’s going all the way up. Jethro storms up past his Sleeping-Room, up to the Eating-Room, and he’s where he’s going—the Fuckyou-Room. He slams down the heavy latch, and he’s ripping at the ignitions to four generators he’s got set just for this moment. They sputter to life, one at a time, and the room lights up bright enough that everybody sees it: The chopper gang with their rusted, broke-down bikes they’ve come to “request” Jethro tune up, Franky from her vantage some half-a mile the other way. She mutters under her breath.

“The fuck?”

A tremor rocks the junk-tower, and Jethro looks down the road at the massive explosion he’s triggered. Mutilated bodies and bikes litter the ground, and he tracks the shockwaves as they travel back to him. About a dozen bikers farther back seem to have missed the brunt of the blast and charge forward. They’re freaked the hell out but this group’s more disciplined than most. Bad news.

From the top of the tower Jethro chews the side of his cheek.

“Well sheeit. Ok.”

He lifts up a rigged up box under the console with a clump of wires spilling out of it. He pops it open and there’s a yellow smiley button he’s waiting to press. Almost—aaaand:

The earth collapses underneath the wheels of those bikers. There goes another six, hopefully those bikes might be good for salvage still. Gotta focus six to go.

The gang is wising up now—best not to stay on the road. Jethro’s out of road traps anyway so he’s weighing his options. Pretty much bark and pray. He flips on a megaphone.


A big guy, really big—leader big, right as he pulls a sawed-off shotgun out of his pack, booms back.

“You’re dead now! We’re comin’ up there!


He flips off the megaphone, well aware that he’s running out of options. He slams down his 9 mm onto the console, checks his belt to feel the weight of his hunting knife. Six on one. Bad. He picks up the radio.

“All right beautiful stranger you wanted to keep me alive here’s your chance. Didn’t think these guys would stick around.”

There are three popping sounds, almost like whispers, and there are three crumpled dudes on the ground. The big guy and the last two lackeys are at the foot of the tower, and they duck inside as two more shots ring off of the scrap.

“You’re on your own now, there’s nothing I can do for you. If you survive this you’ll hear from me. Out.”

Jethro sits on the console chair and swivels back and forth as he feels them pounding up the spiral staircase. Three on one is still bad. Better than six.

Still bad.

Then an idea. A bad idea, but things being as they are—he looks at his chugging generators as their exhaust follows out the ventilation tubing, belching out black smog. He mutters,

“Damn this is gonna suck.”

And he’s slicing into the tubing with his knife, and the room’s filling up with smoke. He looks up to the removable panel above him onto the roof and the grunts outside indicate they’re now working on that latch. It’s getting real smoky and Jethro’s starting to choke but he’s gonna get through the rest of that tubing.

And he does. The door groans, he sees a pry-bar start to peek into the threshold and he knows time’s up. He climbs up on his chair, opens the panel, hefts himself up. He’s outside, and with his last move before the door goes he kicks the chair away, and he’s on his belly with his pistol looking over the console-room out of a crack in the panel.

The door crashes open, no one inside or out can see shit but everyone starts shooting, the crucial factor being that only Jethro knows the general location of his enemy. He empties the magazine, reloads, empties it again, reloads, empties it again. No more bullets.

And it’s still, everything’s silent. He waits a little while.

“Anyone alive in there?”

In response there’s a loud shotgun blast in Jethro’s general direction now, so he ducks, shuts the panel tight and starts climbing down the scrap tower. If he hit that guy it’s not likely he can follow. Here’s hoping. He finds some odd handholds, and cuts himself pretty deep on some jagged steel, but he makes it to the bottom. Without hesitating he immediately starts to run back up the stairs, he hears some hacking and coughing from the Fuckyou-Room and the second and third levels are starting to fill up with smoke. He gets up to the top floor, and he hears the source of the coughing. The big dude, he’s moaning and coughing, asking for help. Jethro darts to the door, grabs the handle, and slams it shut.


Jethro takes off his puffy jacket and pushes it into the crack under the door. There’s another shotgun blast but that door’s pretty thick. Another trigger pull, but only a CLICK. The biker sputters between coughs.

“Let me—out—please!”

“Hell no! You die in there instead.”

And this goes on for a little while as the big ass biker asphyxiates in the Fuckyou-room. And then he does. And then the only sound is the generators, chugging away.

Later, once the generators burn through all that fuel and the tower airs out enough to be survivable Jethro gets his radio.

“You still there mystery bitch?”

No response. Then—

“You’re on call. I call, you come running.”
“Now why would I do that?”
“I’m going to pay you, and pretty well for a scrap salvager like yourself, every month whether I use you or not. I could always use a techie that can handle himself. More importantly—you know someone I need to talk to. And if you say no…well…you’re not going to see me coming.”

A bullet screams through the scrap wall about six inches from Jethro’s eyeball. A moment.

“Sure thing. Now stop shooting up my place you crazy bitch.”

And we’re back to the present. Franky’s staring at him.
“I’ll repeat—WHAT IS YOUR DEAL?”
Jethro looks at her hard, and for an instant there’s some fire in there. Then—

He shrugs.

“Just the way I do things.”

Welcome to your Adventure Log!
A blog for your campaign

Every campaign gets an Adventure Log, a blog for your adventures!

While the wiki is great for organizing your campaign world, it’s not the best way to chronicle your adventures. For that purpose, you need a blog!

The Adventure Log will allow you to chronologically order the happenings of your campaign. It serves as the record of what has passed. After each gaming session, come to the Adventure Log and write up what happened. In time, it will grow into a great story!

Best of all, each Adventure Log post is also a wiki page! You can link back and forth with your wiki, characters, and so forth as you wish.

One final tip: Before you jump in and try to write up the entire history for your campaign, take a deep breath. Rather than spending days writing and getting exhausted, I would suggest writing a quick “Story So Far” with only a summary. Then, get back to gaming! Grow your Adventure Log over time, rather than all at once.


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