|by Mark Finn|
Chapter Fourteen: Roll to Hit
It took longer than Larry expected to get out of town. Navigating Berkeley while looking for Interstate 5 proved to be almost more than Larry could handle. Burt and Turk giving contradictory advice didn't help, either.
Eventually, Larry caught I-5 going south, and everyone settled down. It was eight hours to Los Angeles, providing there weren't too many pit stops. After the group's needling and chit-chat had devolved into the occasional comment, Larry announced, "Okay, I've got a surprise." He handed a short stack of index cards to Burt, and said, "Pass these out."
Burt noticed his name written on the topmost index card. He took it, and handed the other two back to Turk and D.J. "What's this?" he asked.
"Your character sheets," said Larry, smiling.
Burt stared. He had stats. Larry had actually written up his friends as LegendMaster characters, right down to their skills. "Larry," said Burt slowly, "I don't know what to say."
"That's funny, because according to your character sheet, you've got the highest communication skill," said Larry with a pleased grin.
"Hey, Burt, what's your Attractiveness?" asked D.J.
Burt glanced down at the index card. "Fourteen."
"Lar, how did you figure these stats?" asked Turk.
"I think I know you guys pretty well," said Larry coolly.
"Then how come Burt is more attractive than me?" asked Turk.
Burt leaned around in his chair. "Do you want me to say it out loud?"
"Hey, look," said Larry, "these stats and skills are based on what I know about you, translated into game terms. It's not intended to be an insult, so don't take it that way."
"You remembered that I could juggle," said Turk, quietly. "Not sure how that'll work into the game, but..."
"Okay, Larry, where's your character sheet, then?" asked D.J.
Larry frowned. He tapped his head. "Up here. I'm an NPC for this adventure."
"Wait," said Burt. He searched for the words. "We're actually going to play with these?"
Larry's smile came back. "Yep. We're going to run through the plan, using these character sheets!"
Burt bit off his comment. "Deej, hand me a Coke, will you?"
"Sure," said D.J. quietly.
As D.J. passed the Coke forward, Burt turned around to take it. "Thanks," he said, but as he said it, he cut his eyes at Larry, who was busy driving.
"Uh, Larry," said D.J, "don't you think that'll kind of bias things? I mean, you want this plan to work, right? So, of course it'll go smoothly, right?"
Larry jerked his head around. "Hey, what do you think, I'm some kind of idiot, or something? This is a game, just something to pass the time." Burt, his eyes on the road, tapped Larry frantically on the shoulder, and Larry swung back around in his seat in time to correct the van's course. "I just thought you guys might like to do a little gaming, since we didn't get to it on Tuesday . . ."
D.J. kicked the back of Burt's chair. Burt hung his head. "Hey, no, that's a nice thing, isn't it guys?" he said.
"Yeah," said Turk, "I mean, will, like, these experience points carry over or something?"
Larry grinned and shook his head. "No, Turk, it was just a little one-shot. Keeps us from getting cabin fever, that's all." He glanced at Burt. "We don't have to play if you guys don't want to."
"No, let's play," said Turk.
"Sure, why not?" said D.J.
"How are you going to roll dice?" asked Burt.
"Okay," said Larry, "the ninja pulls out his last throwing knife and flings it at the computer console."
"I use my held action," said Turk. "I try to intercept his throw."
"With what? Your hand?"
"Uh, no. What's nearby? Any computer manuals?"
Larry scratched his chin. "Okay, you can snatch up a computer manual and hold it like a shield, but that's two rolls. One on general agility, and one physical success roll."
"Burt, I need percentiles," said Turk.
Burt sighed and reached into the open Styrofoam egg carton and found the plastic bubble with two ten-sided dice inside. They were the kind you could find in vending machines outside of big discount stores, clear plastic, completely rounded, with a flat, translucent lid. He handed them to Turk, who shook the dice in the plastic bubble vigorously, and passed the bubble back up into Larry's waiting hand.
Larry glanced inside, holding the bubble upside down so the dice rested on the inside of the lid. "34, not bad." He handed the bubble back. "Okay, now you've got a Linux manual. Now, see if you can put it between the knife and the console."
Turk repeated the procedure, and Larry swore when he saw the result. "24! Lucky bastard." He scratched his chin. "Okay, the knife is now sticking through the book. The ninja takes a step forward, but just then, the rest of you get there."
Burt said, "I say, 'who's the ninja?'"
"Get him," shouted Turk. "He's trying to get the module location from the computer!"
D.J. said, "I grab an office chair and throw it behind the ninja, to cover his retreat."
Burt rolled his eyes, and was about to hand D.J. the percentile dice bubble, when Larry said, "Before you can do that, the ninja jumps straight up through the hole in the ceiling and disappears."
"Can I use my perception to tell if that was a supernatural jump?" asked Turk.
Burt tsked in his throat. "It was no more supernatural than you successfully surviving a ninja attack in a small office."
"GM's pet," said Turk.
"Okay," said Larry. "The ninja's gone. What do you do?"
"Let's go get him," said Turk.
"No, let's get out of here," said Burt. "We'll unplug the UPS computer and take it with us. He doesn't have the tracking number of the pallets, so he won't know where the modules are going to, or when they'll get there."
Larry said, "I agree."
"Come on, guys," whined Turk, "these are ninjas here."
"And there's a half a million dollars worth of product we have to protect," said D.J. "Let's get out of here. We got what we came for."
"Fine," said Turk.
"Cool," said Larry. "So, we go out through the warehouse, and we get in the van. And then we take off," Larry finished. "That's that! I was going to give us a few mutants on the road to deal with, but you guys nailed the UPS shipment. Everyone, you done real good," said Larry, grinning broadly. "This is going to be a snap."
Burt shut the egg carton and glanced behind him. He was relieved to see D.J. and Turk looking as worried as he was. Larry was dragging them into a large-scale fantasy game. For the first time, they realized that Larry wasn't kidding. They were going to do this, and ninjas and mutants notwithstanding, there was an excellent chance that they were going to fail miserably.
"Deej, I'm going to need a sandwich up here," said Burt in a flat tone of voice.
Larry glanced over his shoulder and said, "Make it two, Deej. Your mom makes the most kick-ass ham sandwiches in the world."
Burt quietly chewed his sandwich and watched Larry wolf down his food, grinning like a man possessed.
Chapter One: The Navel Adventures of Larry Croft
Chapter Two: 1123 Miles to Tempe
Chapter Three: Enter the String
Chapter Four: The Waiting is the Hardest Part
Chapter Five: Rutlege's Story
Chapter Six: The Plot Thickens
Chapter Seven: The Fifth Man is Revealed
Chapter Eight: It's a DRY Heat
Chapter Nine: Preparing to Lam
Chapter Ten: The Mislaid Plans of Mouse and Man
Chapter Eleven: The Danger of Talking to God
Chapter Twelve: Anchors Aweigh, Let's Go Men
Chapter Thirteen: The End is Near
Chapter Fourteen: Roll to Hit
Chapter Fifteen: Six Feet of Beef Stick for the Soul
Chapter Sixteen: Hello, My Name is Indio, California
Chapter Seventeen: Threadgill Takes Charge
Chapter Eighteen: The Players on the Other Side
Chapter Nineteen: On the Road to Perdition
Chapter Twenty: Welcome to Tempe
Chapter Twenty-One: The Game is Afoot
Chapter Twenty-Two: Should Have Known Better
Chapter Twenty-Three: Test-Run at the Waffle House
Chapter Twenty-Four: The Supply Run
Chapter Twenty-Five: The Backhoe
Chapter Twenty-Six: A Frank Discussion
Chapter Twenty-Seven: A Brief History of Larry's Van
Chapter Twenty-Eight: Go Speed Racer, Go
Chapter Twenty-Nine: The Owner of the Thumbscrews
Chapter Thirty: Brain Teasers
Chapter Thirty-One: Frick and Frack Check In
Chapter Thirty-Two: Scouting
Chapter Thirty-Three: The Stakeout
Chapter Thirty-Four: The Food Fight
Chapter Thirty-Five: Time to Dig
Chapter Thirty-Six: Deep in the Night
Chapter Thirty-Seven: Paydirt
Chapter Thirty-Eight: The Phallus of Ebon Keep
Chapter Thirty-Nine: Otto and Stacy Make Good
Chapter Forty: Thieves in the Night
Chapter Forty-One: Critical Failure
Chapter Forty-Two: Downtown
Chapter Forty-Three: The Hoosegow
Chapter Forty-Four: An Emergency Breakfast
Chapter Forty-Five: Two Early Phone Calls
Chapter Forty-Six: Threadgill Meets the Gang
Chapter Forty-Seven: Back to the Van
Chapter Forty-Eight: Five Days Later
Table of Contents