On the face of it, Fort Gingrich was like any other former military base in the southern United States. It had been closed in the mid-1990s when the Cold War came to an end, although a small National Guard armoury and training facility had remained in place for several years thereafter. Most of the site had been leased to the private sector—in this case to Walmart, which had shown a particular interest in its high concrete walls and deep military bunkers. Over the next several years, the company invested millions to upgrade the site, with Korean contractors constructing a small geothermal power plant, installing lab equipment of unusual design, and renovating the barracks to serve as quarters for the Walmart Corporate Security Division.
Despite hopes that such investment would be an economic boon to the local community, however, very few locals were employed in what residents soon dubbed “Area 52.”
Following the zombie apocalypse, Area 52 continued to function. Its defences were reinforced with barbed wire, floodlights, and intrusion detectors, and the Corporate Security Division personnel were quickly outfitted with new body armour and submachine guns. Terrified citizens who sought safety at the facility were turned away at gunpoint. Even more strangely, survivors began to disappear, leading to rumours that they were being held at Area 52—although whether for slave labour, outlandish experiments, or consumer focus groups no one really knew.
It was here that the brilliant but absent-minded research scientist Dr. Myles Boffin was imprisoned after his capture in Phirul. It was here too that young Bobby Bayou —the youngest member of Herd #704 of the Mooseketeers of America—was taken.
Ironically, this would prove a vulnerability that the planners of Area 52 had never anticipated. The Mooseketeers, you see, never, ever, EVER leave a moose behind.
Survivors: Mr. Moose (Big Moose of Herd #704); Jessy, Tommy, and Willy (mooseketeers), Helga Frankfurt (moose mom), Laurie Kraft (ex-mooseketeer and former Olympian), Cindy-Lou Bayou (Bobby’s older sister), Tex McClintock (Cindy-Lou’s boyfriend), Harry Montana (Cindy-Lou’s ex-boyfriend).
In addition, Bobby and Myles are imprisoned within the facility. Bobby has a loaded revolver hidden within his Mr. Moose plushy pyjama bag.
Primary objectives: Rescue Bobby and Myles, then safely exit the board via one of the roads.
Special rules: Test when crossing the perimeter wall: on a 1-3 the zombie intrusion detector is set off (+2 to roll if stealthy). The intrusion detectors for a 6″ section of wall can be disarmed with a double action by a survivor within 1″ who has the looter or handy trait on a roll of 4+ (although a roll of 1 means the alarm has been set off instead).
Corporate Security will use tear gas or tasers on a roll of 4+ if a human target is within range, otherwise melee or MP5s. They will shackle incapacitated survivors. Three of the guards will be designated as sentries.
The electrified barbed-wire cell in which the prisoners are held counts as barricaded. It may only be opened from the inside if no security personnel are within 6″ and LoS.
At the start of each turn, players may elect to collectively recite the Mooseketeer Motto:
To do my DUTY to GOD and MY COUNTRY
To uphold our CONSTITUIONAL RIGHT to BEAR ARMS
To OPPOSE the New World Order in ALL its forms
And to NEVER LEAVE A MOOSE BEHIND.
If so, all Mooseketeers gains a bonus +1″ to movement that turn.
For obvious reasons, Tex and Harry don’t get on. If they start their turn within 3″ they both lose an action as they trade shoves, insults, and angry looks.
* * *
Deep within the heavily-fortified grounds of Area 52, a quiet sobbing could be heard. Young Bobby Bayou hugged his Mr. Moose Plushy close to his chest, feeling the reassuring shape of the 0.357 Magnum hidden within. “Don’t worry, Mister,” he said the the tearful research scientist curled in a ball on the ground beside him. “The Herd will be here soon. We never, ever, EVER leave a Moose behind!”
Bobby was right—the herd was on the way. But to reach Area 52, his rescuers would have to first traverse the nearby zombie-infested town.
After much discussion, Mr. Moose devised a plan. He, moose-frau Helga Frankfurt, former mooseketeer Laurie Kraft, and the members of Herd #704 would head towards the oddly-named “Red Orktober” factory, near the east edge of the fort. From there, they would sneak up to perimeter wall and disable the zombie intrusion alarm before entering Area 52.
At the same time, Cindy-Lou, her boyfriend Tex McClintock, and her ex- (and would-be) boyfriend Harry Montana would take up positions in the tall apartment building overlooking the front gate of Area 52. As the Mooseketeers infiltrated the base, second team would pin down the guards at the front gate with long-range gunfire.
First, however, Cindy-Lou stopped to check out the sleek sports car parked beside a dry cleaners. If there was one thing she liked more than rugged young men it was fast red cars. Sadly it was out of gas, and the keys were nowhere to be found.
Not far away, the Mooseketeers paused a moment as they heard the sound of a runner-zombie prowling in a nearby. They quietly recited the Moose Motto, then ran across the street and hid behind a garbage truck while the creature’s back was turned. Helga stood watch, her antique but well-functioning Maschinenpistole-40 at the ready.
Cindy-Lou slipped inside the ransacked dry-cleaner to check it out, but was ambushed by an ankle-biter. Tex and Harry jostled each other as they ran back to help.
The Mooseketeers stopped a moment beside the factory to wait for Helga, then Mr. Moose pried the boards off one of the windows. “Inside, boys and girls!” he chuckled, “This can be our new Moose mansion while we wait for Cindy-Lou and the boys to get ready.”
“Moose, moose, m-m-m-moose!” chanted the children, excited at the thoughts of more adventure.
* * *
Meanwhile at the front gate of Area 52, a zombie with a twisted, shattered leg slowly shuffled towards the Corporate Security personnel on duty there. They laughed inside their gas masks as they opened fire, riddling its already lifeless body with bursts of gunfire and dropping it in a bloody pile in the middle of the road. It seemed like any other day.
Almost immediately thereafter, another zombie clambered over the fortress wall, attacking a sentry. The perimeter alarms flashed, and other guards ran to his assistance, eliminating the menace.
Later an ankle biter would appear in the same area—perhaps it had been clinging to the undercarriage of the truck since it had last been out on the zombie-infested roads, or perhaps it had been packed in one of the barrels that were often loaded as cargo.
As they waited, the Mooseketeers searched the factory. To Jessy’s delight, she found a submachine gun hidden behind some crates. “Can I keep it, can I keep it, Mr. Moose?” she said excitedly. “Why, of course you can Jessy,” chuckled the wise herd leader, “Small arms and light weapon ownership is the right of every American!”
Further searches revealed an emaciated zombie in a utility closet, which was quickly dispatched with a few blows of Mr. Moose’s sturdy bat, a bow and several arrows, and a large German Shepherd. Helga quickly adopted the latter “I vill call him Adol… errr, no, Fritz. Ja, I vill call him Fritz.” The dog wagged its tail, clearly happy to have found people who didn’t want to devour his canine brains. Helga and Fritz moved to a second floor window, from which Helga could see into Area 52 without being seen.
Having finished off the ankle-biter in the dry cleaning store, Cindy Lou and the boys crossed to the apartment building—only to find it heavily barricaded from within. “Do y’all reckon thar might be someone livin’ inside?” wondered Cindy-Lou out loud. “I can get us in there, sugarcakes” replied Harry, as he threw his shoulder against the door—to little effect. “Why, yer as full of wind as a corn-eating horse,” sneered Tex, as he pulled his rival aside. “Big hat, no cattle.” With a blow from his leather boot he kicked at the door. It still didn’t open.
“Perhaps y’all should just pull these little handle things?” grinned Cindy-Lou as she slid a series of bolts aside and opened the heavily-reinforced door. She entered, followed sheepishly by her two suitors.
Inside the two heavily-armed men awaited for them. “What to you think you’re doing, $%^ers–coming inside our %$%ing building? Do you see %$*&ing welcome sign?” shouted the larger of the two, as he pumped his shotgun for emphasis. The other, a pale bookish-looking fellow with a revolutionary beret and a rather sad attempt at a goatee, pointed his assault rifle at the trio nervously.
“Well now, don’t get all swole up there,” said Tex as he flashed a smile. “We sure ain’t aimin’ to cause no ruckus.” The men seemed to relax a little, so Cindy-Lou stepped forward to further break the ice. Her movement seemed to alarm the younger of the men, who drew a bead on her with his gun. Before he could fire, however, he was distracted by the sudden movement of Harry rushing back out the door and into the street. Rule 15: Always know your way out. Taking advantage of the distraction, Tex and Cindy-Lou followed him. A loud stream of swearing could be heard, as the two men angrily started to chase after them.
“Quick, in here!” shouted Harry as he pushed open the door to the delicatessen next door. Cindy-Lou and Tex followed him in. Moments later, their pursuers burst in too. A fierce brawl erupted, with Tex and Harry punching the larger man senseless, while Cindy-Lou hit the other heavily in the head with the butt of her shotgun. They quickly stripped the bodies of weapons and ammunition.
Cindy-Lou, Tex, and Harry then headed back towards the apartment building, intending to take up the positions assigned to them by Mr. Moose’s rescue plan.
Back at the factory, Tommy pointed to a zombified child wandering in the street outside. “Look Mr. Moose, its Eric!” Indeed it was young Eric, a former member of the rival Possum Posse, gnawing on what looked like an arm. The Possums had often derided the Mooseketeers for patterning their association on a ruminant generally found in foreign, socialist countries like Canada, Russia, Sweden, and Vermont. In turn, the Mooseketers accused the Possum Posse of admitting atheists and having loose moral standards.
Mr. Moose turned to the children in a solemn voice: “See, that’s why Eric could never be one of us…” The children all nodded in agreement: A Mooseketeer would never eat their parents—even if they were Democrats.
As Eric wandered off, the runner they had seen earlier returned, attracted by sounds from within the building, Laurie rushed to the window through which they had all entered earlier, placing some boards across it to block the breech. Through a space between the planks, Tommy took aim with his slingshot, and hit the zombie, causing it to look around in confusion. Mr. Moose fired an arrow at it, missing. A good-natured contest soon started between the two as to who could hit the undead harbinger of hell, with the creature eventually succumbing to the stream of projectiles. Afterwards, Mr. Moose distributed smores to the herd—although everyone was told not to eat them yet—and gave some sandwiches to Laurie, whose blood sugar had dipped a bit from all of the recent exertion.
At the apartment building, Cindy-Lou and the boys found a large cache of supplies—indicating that it had been used as a refuge for some time. As they worked their way up to the second floor, they also found more survivors: in this case two cooks by the name of Hua and Yu. Fed up with the constant bullying of the larger man and the tiresome sociological theory of the other, they were quite pleased to see them go. They also harboured grudges against Walmart, both because of its impact on local small business and because of the periodic abductions or shootings of survivors by the Corporate Security Division After a few minutes of conversation with Cindy-Lou and Tex, they agreed to both join the group and participate in the assault on Area 52. With things starting to finally go their way, Cindy-Lou, Tex, and Harry were all as happy as a gopher in soft dirt. As the two good old boys took up positions with rifles at upper-story windows, Cindy-Lou led Hua and Yua down to the ground floor. “Now don’t y’all be cussin’ each other and gettin’ all agger-vated, boys–you keep your eyes on that there fort. I done told you before: Bobby’s in there, and we sure as hell ain’t leavin’ THAT moose behind!”
Once downstairs, Cindy-Lou and the two newest additions to the group stealthy moved towards an abandoned police car part to the west. While they couldn’t find the keys, it did make a good hiding place somewhat closer to the front gate.
With both teams in position, the Mooseketeers were ready to start the assault….
Carefully the herd crept out of the building and moved towards the perimeter wall, while Helga watched over them from a window above. Mr. Moose examine the intrusion alarm, and then pulled at a few wires to disable it. “Eat up your smores, Mooseketeers, you’ll be needing your energy!” he smiled. Hungrily, the children ate up.
Then they went over the top, climbing up the concrete barrier and silently picking their way through the razor-sharp wire on top of it. They jumped down on the other side. A couple of Corporate Security Division guards had been discussing everyday low prices when they heard the crunch of sneakers on gravel. They turned. Mr. Moose bludgeoned the first with a baseball bat, who staggered. Willy hit him hard with his bat too, bringing the guard down. Laurie tried pistol-whipping the other, but his body armour and helmet made him a difficult target to injure.
As the brawl continued, the guard shouted—alerting the base. Blue-clad goons began running to the noise.
CRACK! A single shot rang out as Tex fired upon the guards at the front gate. BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG-BANG! Harry opened fire too, spraying the distant guard post with a burst of automatic fire. Tex chuckled: “Why, that’s got them as stirred up as gnats in a hailstorm.” The commander at the front gate pointed to the building where the boys were hiding, and three of the guards started to advance.
“Yoohoo, boys in blue! I’m over here!” shouted Cindy-Lou as she broke cover, and started running back towards town. As hoped, the sight of the young brunette fleeing further distracted the guards, who quickened their pace—failing to notice Hua and Yu still hiding behind the abandoned car.
As they drew closer, one was wounded by Tex. Harry hit another, but the guard’s body armour absorbed the round.
A runner zombie had begun to stalk the guards from the nearby woods. Suddenly it pounced, killing one of them immediately.
With the first two guards by the wall finally eliminated, Laurie ran into the compound with both guns blazing, hoping to take down more security and distract the guards from the children. She was partly successful, but then soon felt her blood sugar levels dropping once more. Helga provided additional covering fire from the upper floor of the factory. Mr. Moose and Jessy spotted two more guards headed their way. “Mr. Moose, what shall we do?” asked Jessy. “Why Jessy, just remember everything you learned at Moose Camp.” replied the herd leader in a reassuring voice.
With this the young red-head took up a firing position behind a set of sandbags, and started to fire controlled bursts from the submachine gun at the approaching targets. With rounds splattering around them, both guards dived for cover.
Billy and Tommy, meanwhile, were slowly working their way towards the electrified enclosure where their moosemate was being held, hiding among the strange machinery and many mysterious barrels.
Little did they know that Bobby and Myles had already decided to take advantage of the departure of their guard amid all the commotion elsewhere, and were at that moment feverishly trying to disable the electric fence and escape from their pen. It took several tries and several serious shocks before Myles—muttering under his breath that he was a brilliant biologist, not an electrical engineer—finally managed to short-circuit the fence and force the door open. Bobby pulled the revolver from hits hiding place inside his plushy, and crept out of their cell. He was scared, but resolved not to show it. “Come on Mister, that will be my friends! Now don’t be frightened, you can come with me.”
In front of Area 52, the guards were beginning to get the better of the zombie. Hua and Yu decided to charge into the fray before the guards could finish it off. They ran forward with a shout, brandishing meat cleavers and a taser. Cindy-Lou moved towards Area 52, and hopped over the concrete wall. Tex and Harry continued to fire at targets of opportunity.
One guard was stunned with a taser. Yu was killed.
Hua avenged his death, killing the wounded guard then finishing off the helpless taser victim as he twitched on the asphalt. He grabbed one of the guard’s weapons, patting it with satisfaction.
He would need it, for moments later three runners came around the outside corner of fort, attracted by the gunfire and other noise. They charged at Yu.
“Run!” shouted Harry from the fourth apartment, where he could see the drama unfolding.
“Shoot!” shouted Tex from the floor below.
“Don’t listen to him—shoot!”
Yu let loose a burst from the MP5, then another. One zombie stumbled, wounded. But soon they were on him, clawing and tearing into him with their ragged teeth. He dropped to the ground, dead.
“Yeah, I guess you were right,” Tex shouted up to Harry. It was the only civil words they had exchanged all day.
Back at the factory, Helga had problems of her own. The first warning came when Fritz began to growl. Then, suddenly, there was the noise of scampering as hundreds of rats emerged from hiding places and sewer pipes. Having gorged for so long on the decaying flesh of these infected, these rats were larger, stronger, and much more aggressive than any she had encountered before. Helga and Fritz jumped down to the ground floor and pried open a window to escape, with Helga suffering a bad gash from a jagged windowpane on the way out.
Unfortunately, the danger didn’t end there. Attracted perhaps by the sound of breaking glass, three zombies appeared suddenly in the narrow alley. Fritz bared his teeth, barring the passage to give Helga time to escape. He was soon ripped apart, but the precious seconds won by the German Shepherd allowed her to get up and over the wall into Area 52.
The herd-frau ran into the clear, the runners only a few yards behind her. “Achtung, Kinder!” she shouted to the children. “Ich werde von dem bösen Untoten verfolgt!” She turned and emptied the last burst from her MP-40 into the lead ghoul, terminating it.
Jessy, who already had her moosemerit badge in Eurosocialist languages, ran up to help. Her single hit burst hit the second zombie, shattering its skull.
Worried that the guards might start to target Jessy who now stood in the clear, Mr. Moose bellowed and charged the enemy’s sandbagged position. Laurie, recharged by another snack, followed. As the Moose battered one with his bat, Laurie tipped the other over the sandbags—just in time for the third runner zombie to arrive and start devouring him.
The guards and the zombie were eventually finished off after a fierce fight. Shortly thereafter, Tommy, Willy, Bobby and Myles came running up—the latter lagging behind a little because of his asthma. “Mr. Moose!” shouted Bobby, giving him a big hug. “Why Bobby Bayou, we couldn’t leave a moose behind, could we?” replied Mr. Moose with a smile. The Mooseketeers then all gave a moose-cheer and recited the motto, before reloading and heading towards the front gate.
There they found Cindy-Lou examining a parked Humvee. “Well, y’all, it’s all gassed up and the keys are in the ignition. Who wants to go for a ride?” Jessy, Bobby, and Tommy piled in excitedly, with Jessy riding shotgun in the top hatch. They smashed through the gate and sped down the road a little to the west, crushing several zombies on the way. Jessy capped the few that Cindy-Lou missed.
As they watched, Helga struck up conversation with the stranger. “You are a scientist, ja? Mein father was a scientist too. V1s, v2s…” Myles replied tersely.”I’m a biologist—not a rocket scientist.” He was, in any case, much more interested in the Walmart-branded gas masks that the members of Corporate Security Division had been wearing, one of which he had pried from a corpse and was now examining. He had assumed that they had been meant to keep toxins or pathogens out. However, on closer examination it was meant to keep something in, to provide the wearer with a steady dose of some sort of special chemical. Clearly this was something worthy of further investigation…
There was no more gunfire and indeed little noise beyond the low moaning of a group of zombies that was slowly congregating around the barricaded apartment building in town where Tex and Harry were still holed up. Suddenly there was a ringing sound somewhere nearby.
“There, it’s that!” cried Timmy, as he pointed to a discarded satellite phone on the ground near the front gate. The children piled out of the Humvee to retrieve it.
Cindy-Lou called out to Mr. Moose.”I’ll just go get the boys, and be back. Judgin’ from all the firing before, they be done runnin’ low on ammunition.” Mr. Moose nodded. “Very good, Cindy-Lou! We’ll meet you by the church. Perhaps I can get that blue convertible there to run.”
Cindy-Lou careened down the road, crushing a half dozen more zombies on her way into town. She also made sure that Hua and Yu wouldn’t rise from the dead.
As she screeched to a halt, Tex and Harry ran out of the building, and piled into the back seat of the vehicle. They immediately started shoving each other and arguing. “Tex is taking up too much room,” whined Harry. “No I’m not–you are!” replied Tex. Cindy Lou turned the vehicle around and started back towards the others.
At the church, the convertible wouldn’t start. Furthermore, a large group of shufflers was headed towards the survivors. Jessy calmly headed-shotted one, and Tommy took another down with his slingshot.
Cindy-Lou arrived back in time to run over the rest with the Humvee, which was starting to look a little battered and bloody.
With no one serious injured, bitten, or dead—well, besides Hua, Yu, and the other two survivors they had encountered—the expedition had been a striking success for Herd #704. Their spirits buoyed, the group headed away from Fort Gingrich, and on to their next adventure.
* * *
Myles Boffin sat in the Humvee, examining the satphone that the children had found and playing back voicemail and text messages until the battery finally ran low. Walmart, it seemed, had another larger facility about 50 miles away near the coast. It seemed that the facility might be a pharmaceutical plant or refinery of some sort. Judging from the messages about “deliveries” and “doses” it certainly made something—something very secret, that the company didn’t want the world (or what was left of it) to know about it.
Was it linked to Z149x and the outbreak of the zombie plague? Was it related to the strange substance he had found in the gas masks? Could it have something to do with all of the runner zombies in the area?
As several of his new companions had noted to him in their rustic way, runner-zombies had been encountered around Fort Gingrich with much greater frequency than epidemiological statistics would have predicted. Why?
If there was something at the second site, what should they do? Destroy it? How on earth could they do that?
Myles’ train of thought was suddenly disturbed by Jessy tugging at his sleeve. Apparently he had been muttering out loud, as he tended to do when he was concentrating on a problem.
“We could always use these, Dr. Boffin” suggested Jessy brightly, pointing to a number of whitish bricks stacked in the back of the Humvee.
“Well, I don’t think we can really destroy a large factory with a few bricks,” said Myles, using the special patronizing voice that brilliant scientists use with normal people who say seemingly stupid things.
“But they’re NOT bricks, Dr. Boffin!” added Jessy. “It’s C4. Cyclotrimethylene trinitramine, mainly–you know, RDX! It’s mixed with a binding agent and a plasticizer. “
“I’m a biologist, not a chemist…” replied Myles. It wasn’t strictly true—he had a PhD in biochemistry as well—but he still wasn’t sure what she was getting at, and more than a little embarrassed that he was missing the point…. especially after he had used the patronizing voice.
“Its plastic explosive!” interjected Timmy, who like Jessy had been studying for his demolitions moosemerit badge when the zombie apocalypse struck. “There’s more than enough to take down a building here. Lots of them, perhaps….”
Cindy-Lou, who had been listening to the conversation while driving, gave a holler of excitement. Herd #704 of the Mooseketeers of America, it seemed, had another mission…