Purple Poison Adventures in the Pecos Empire By JohnS Hook. The characters are called to investigat e a recent rash of bandit activity near the Rio Grande. The characters can either be CS soldiers assigned to the job, mercs hired by another town, a gang of Pecos Bandits scoping out the competition, or simply adventures who run afoul of these new bandits. Part I - Attack of the Purple People The characters will come under fire from a desperate and vicious band of raiders, mostly armed with primitive weapons and armor. A few mega damage rifles and modern armor are mixed in with old-style SDC weapons. The characters will be somewhat surprised as the humanoid bandits seem to survive laser blasts and ot her mega damage attacks. The characters should easily handle the bandits, who are really no more than armed peasants and vagabonds. Size of group: 3D6 Hand to Hand for bandits: 3 attacks per melee +1 to parry and dodge No Weapon Proficiencies Weapons: 30% armed with L-20 Laser Rifles or equivalents (2D6, 6D6 MD) 70% armed with SDC Assault Weapons & Rifles (3D6, 5D6 SDC) Armor: 25% wearing Huntsman or equivalent (45 -55 MDC) 75% wearing no armor (1D4x10 MDC) After the battle the characters will likely investigate the bodies. If they do, they will notice large purple blotches and bulging purple veins on most of the dead bandits. The marks will appear clearly unnatural. Any one with medical skills will surmise they are mut ants, they will also notice classic signs of malnutrition and starvation. Any prisoners will be very delusional and incoherent, speaking in a mix of gibberish and Spanish. General words and phrases may be discernable, but conversation is difficult. Psychic probes reveal a very confused mind. Tracking the bandits backwards should prove relatively easy for the characters (Tracking +20%) as the bandits are very inex perienced. If the characters choose not to track the bandits simply have them come upon the village of Bosquecillo Púrpura as a stopping place for the night. Part II - Bosquecillo Púrpura (Purple Grove) On the northern bank of the Rio Grande, nestled in a grove of alien fruit trees is the small village of Purple Grove. The people are mainly Spanish speaking, hard working folk who harvest and maintain the fruit groves, other foods include a small supply of livestock, but the fruit is the main staple of life. The residents use the fruit to make juice, deserts, preserves, and a host of other original recipes including a powerful moonshine. What little is left over is preserved and given to the village’s “protectors ” a roaming gang of Pecos Bandits known as the Leatherbacks. The Purple Pine (reprinted and expanded from Juicer Uprisings) The Purple Pine looks vaguely like a pine in the distance has a dark, purple trunk and straight branches covered with thin, spiny-looking leaves with dark green hues and purple 'veins'. The tree seems to require very little water to survive and can suck all the moisture it needs from the air around it. The Purple Pine produces an edible fruit that looks vaguely like large pine cones or pineapples known simply as 'purples '. The locals use this fruit in every part of their cuisine and it is an impo rtant staple to their lifestyle, dependence on the fruit is so high and food so scarce that if the supply were threatened the village would be in dire straights. As the characters enter the town they will be besieged by a group of people with the same purple affliction. Characters may notice that the bulging veins on the skin of the infected are very similar to those found on the purple pine trees seen on entering the village. This encounter can be a violent confrontation using similar stats as above, or a more peac eful one. The residents of the town are mostly starving waifs and will beg food st uffs from the characters, or attack them and try to steal it. If the characters are attacked and defeat the bandits, the town “leader”, Maria Sanchez, will approach the characters and beg for mercy. Conversation with Maria Sanchez: Sanchez was once a beautiful woman but has since been afflicted by the purple bulging diseas e. She tells a long story in Spanish or broken Americ an: - The village relied on the fruit of the purple pine trees (purples) as their primary food source. There is very little in the way of alternate food available. - A few weeks ago, people eating the fruit started showing signs of purple discoloration, then huge bulging veins. The villagers linked this disease to the latest harvest , and were at a loss for what to do, they quickly went through their preserves and ate the fruit anyway. - Now most of the town is afflicted and there is no food to eat, in desperation they sent out raiding parties to attack travelers and steal food supplies or items to trade for food. - A figure has been seen in the groves at night, tampering with the trees, the villagers have been unable to catch the intruder. - A unique side effect of the disease is a transformation to a minor MDC being. - Sanchez will implore the characters to help catch the intruder in hopes of a c ure. The town has little in the way of resources, but surely everyone will die if a cure is not found. If the characters still refuse, the townsfolk will say they understand and will welcome the characters to stay. Throughout the night they will attempt to trick the players into drinking moonshine or other food derived from contaminated fruit, hoping if one of them is afflicted they will have to help find the cure. The Purple Bulging Disease Linked to eating the fruit of the purple pine at the last harvest the disease causes purple discolorations and blotches on the body, culminating with bulging veins. Once the veins begin to stand up the afflicted is nearly dead, but will live for a few weeks (1D4) as a minor MDC being. Characters with the appropriate skills and equipment (i.e. Analytical Chemistry, Botany, etc.) may be able to determine that the fruit appears normal, but wit hout an uncontaminated sample can’t draw any clear conclusions. A sample may be available in preserves someone is hoarding. With a clean specimen the trained character will notice genetic manipulation within the fruit. Any further research would be much to complex. Autopsies (Criminal Sciences & Forensics) will also reveal a high level of genetic fusing with the fruit and the pers on, causing the veins to harden disrupting circulation and event ually causing death similar to that of a heart attack. The Stake-Out If the characters decide to watch the grove for the intruder they will not be disappointed. The figure, clad entirely in dark camouflage, will enter the grove around 2:00 a.m. The figure (Joseph Richter) will be very wary, but moves around the grove with ease and familiarity. If a trap is set the intruder may notice something amiss. If Richter escapes the characters may be able to track him with a large penalty (Tracking -15%). If they manage to capture him, without killing him, they will only have a small window to question him. If he is left alone or inadequately guarded for any amount of time, he will attempt to escape or kill himself. Interrogations are likely to reveal little as Richter is very strong willed. If the players allow him to escape, he will be sloppy and lead them toward the lab. Psychic probes will reveal flashes of a laboratory, with many “purples” in cont ainers, etc. Object read on his possessions will reveal similar images. Less scrupulous characters may infect Richter with the bulging purple virus. This course of action will lead him to spill his gut about the lab, and hopefully, an antidote. If Richter isn’t caught, tracked, or is killed, or if the players choose not to conduct a stake-out of the groves, use the following hook: A fruit picker named Carlos Rivera comes staggering into town in the last phases of the diseas e. Carlos has been missing since the beginning of the harvest season. Although he speaks gibberish and broken Spanis h he offers some clues. - He speaks of a lab and being abducted and experiment ed on - He is unsure of the location, but his trail can easily be followed toward the nearby foothills. Discovery: The Lab Whether by tracking Richter, interrogating him, or following him after an escape or through following the escaped Carlos Rivera’s trail. The characters will uncover the lab, this secret facility built into the low hills outside of town is very modern. Inside the characters will find some very surprised genetic researchers, and the rest of Richter’s men. The men are mercenaries or CS soldiers under the orders of Dr. Desmond Bradford. They will th defend the lab and are very deadly combatants (avg. 6 Level CS Commando). Additionally the lab houses three genetic scientists (use Rouge Scientist OCC). After the fight the characters can try to forc e one of the scientists to devise a cure, or the adventure can continue as the player’s are forced to hunt down a variety of exotic items to concoct a cure. Part III - Ongoing Adventure Ideas The Great Quest. The scientist requires a rare, plant, item, piece of scientific equipment, etc. in order to develop a cure. In order to save the townspeople the player’s must go on high advent ure to acquire their prize. Doomed Negotiations. After question Richter, his men or one of the scientists the players learn that the people of Purple Grove are only guinea pigs. Bradford’s real target is the city of Los Alamo. Many people there depend on the fruit of the purple pine as a food sourc e. Currently, the CS and Los Alamo are in discussions on Los Alamo joining the CS. Bradford hopes that by afflicting their food stock with a disease that they will turn to the Coalition for help, and when the CS “miraculously” cures them they will gladly join the Coalition. The play ers will need to race against the clock to expose the truth. Reloc ation. Although the people of Purple Grove are cured their food supply is forever destroyed. The play ers will need to escort them to the nearest settlement to help them try and find a new home. Leading the entire town through the Pecos Badlands is a challenge for even the noblest Cyberknight.