Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?   Posted by Dragondog.Group: 0
 GM, 11 posts
Thu 17 Oct 2019
at 00:53
Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?
You arrived at the intersection in Plaster City, California. Yes, there was only one. You had been driving westward on County Route S80 for a couple of miles since you left Interstate 8. Through an arid landscape of small bushes dotting the sand. When you pulled over on the south side of the road.

Dean had been driving for the past six hours and the temperature had dropped and dropped from the 100oF peak earlier in the day. Cooler and cooler as evening turned into night and Sunday transformed into Monday. It was about 1 AM, 13 May 2019, when the pickup came to a stop next to the Jade Dragon and you exited the car into the cool, but not cold, California night.

As you stepped out of the luxurious car that Abe had arranged for this road trip, a small black bus, with room for about 20 passengers, turned left in the intersection, and traveled north towards Naval Support Activity Colorado Desert. And it was time for a final break, the final driver change, and the final time to fill up the tank.

There were a couple of lights near the truck stop and the gas station, but the night was otherwise dark. The clear sky sprinkled with stars and capped with a waxing gibbous moon, barely past first quarter. A gentle breeze ensuring that the parking lot smelled like all gas stations do.

A brass bell jingled when you entered the Jade Dragon truck stop and everyone inside looked at you, but most of them quickly returned to whatever they were doing. There was one person behind the counter and 14 guests. Smells and sounds from the out of sight kitchen were proof that others were working in the back too. It was a typical truck stop, not a rare oriental variant one might expect from the name.

As you looked around, you saw a soda machine, a coffee station, two glass door coolers, several square tables with waxed, red tablecloths, a lot of art on the walls, and a flat-screen TV.

This message was last edited by the GM at 01:43, Thu 17 Oct 2019.

Dean Mason
 player, 4 posts
Thu 17 Oct 2019
at 01:27
Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?
Dean stepped out of the truck, his sneakers kicking up fine dust as he raised up his arms and yawned loudly. He stretched first this way then that, then tucked his arms in and turned his torso from side to side in an effort to work out the sore spots. Six hours might not have been a tremendously long time, but it was certainly enough for him to stiffen up, and for his body to get a little restless after having been in the truck for so long.

Dean had met the group back in North Carolina with a backpack over one shoulder and a duffel bag in hand. He had dressed for comfort in some gray basketball shorts and a sleeveless blue under-armor shirt, his ruddy face a little sun burned, his meaty calves white as wonder bread in comparison.

After the obligatory selfies and the winch to bed inspection of the amazing vehicle, he had loaded up his things and climbed in with the others.

He was pretty talkative, all things considered. He had grown up in the Coechella Valley (Which was just north across the Salton Sea from where they currently were) but had moved to San Diego around the time he entered high school. His dad apparently built pools there, and made a decent living doing it.

He was big into football, and big into fitness, as quickly became apparent when they started stopping at places for food. He was on a strict diet, even if he seemed to get hungry even two hours. He had also recently won defensive rookie of the year for the Croatan Marauders, something he had mentioned twice during the ride. He seemed pretty excited about that.

He had his own truck, an aging F-150 which he frequently compared their limited run beast of a vehicle too, but no girlfriend. As much as he seemed to want to find one, he had not found one in North Carolina yet.

Other than the other "getting to know you" conversation, he seemed like a pretty normal guy, friendly, and prone to joking about this and that. He also seemed to have a high degree of respect for military and law enforcement, and to be something of a patriot, which had helped smooth things over at that start.

Now, stretched out and getting a little bleary eyed, he entered the Jade Dragon and scratched at his stomach.

"Bro, I'm starving" he said to nobody in particular, and glanced over the racks of gleaming energy drinks and slowly rotating hot dogs before he glanced back over his shoulder. "You guys want to stay and eat? or try to get back on the road?" he asked, and glanced to his smart watch for the time.

This message was last edited by the player at 01:33, Thu 17 Oct 2019.

Tom Flanagan
 player, 3 posts
Thu 17 Oct 2019
at 05:29
Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?
Climbing out of the BM39, Tom still couldn't believe that they had such an amazing ride back to San Diego. The truck was a real monster, the most expensive vehicle he'd ever gotten close to. He still couldn't believe anyone would trust a bunch of college guys with driving it clear across country.

"I wonder why that bus was running so late," he had said musingly when the black bus had passed through the intersection. "Kind of late at night for a bus to be running up to the Naval base."

Tom was dressed in a t-shirt, cap, and Bermuda shorts, and was wearing Asics running shoes. He had a backpack over his shoulder with some changes of clothes, but he seemed to travel light.

During the trip from North Carolina, Tom hadn't been too talkative, content to let the others converse and chime in from time to time. He had been especially interested in Abe's stories and background. Tom told the group he was majoring in Broadcast Media Studies, but he didn't seem overly enthusiastic about his major, although he did seem to like his shift at the campus radio station. He was also in Air Force ROTC, and he seemed to take that seriously enough, though this might have been because his scholarship rode on how well he performed in AFROTC.

At the Jade Dragon, Tom had initially been upbeat about the possibility of Chinese food, though this far out in the middle of nowhere, he knew not to expect much. When he found that the Jade Dragon's menu was entirely mundane, he had resigned himself to basic truck stop food. He had gravitated immediately to the coffee station and poured himself a large coffee, mixing in a couple of Splenda packets and some non-fat dairy creamer.

"We can stay for a quick bite, I guess," Tom said. He picked up a protein bar and a sack of sunflower seeds and wandered over to the counter. "You have any hummus?" he asked, laying his purchases down on the counter for the clerk to ring them up.
 GM, 12 posts
Thu 17 Oct 2019
at 14:41
Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?
The unshaven, middle-aged guy provided the asked for hummus, registered his wares, and told Tom how much he had to pay for them. It was even more overprized than the other truck stops they had stopped at during the two past days.
Abe Griffith
 player, 2 posts
Thu 17 Oct 2019
at 15:16
Who wants to be normal when We can be Special?
"Top secret somebodies," Commented Abe, as he watched the bus turn north.  "Might want as few to see it as possible.  Nobody can talk if nobody sees it.  Or maybe they're just trying to make base security's life harder with a scheduled late-night arrival.  I give it about even odds."

Abe was a marine who had completed the first half of his enlistment doing just that - base security.  He was the one who had secured the contract for transporting the truck, and had given everyone several rules under the general header of Rule Number 1: "Don't be an idiot."  The major points under that were: no alcohol on the trip and if you're tired, say something.

Abe had a fairly full, tightly packed rucksack in the truck, and he was insatiably curious about everyone.  He closely questioned almost anything that was brought up, though he did carefully... and mostly... refrain from the standard interrogation technique of re-asking of every question to see how much people were making up.

When he had found that Tom was AF, there was definitely a bit of ribbing: Abe had Tom how he fit his blankie in the backpack with everything else.  Beyond that, Abe kept his thoughts about the Air Force mostly to himself... he didn't want to make Tom feel too badly about not being a Marine.

When they got to the truck stop, Abe slipped easily out of the shotgun seat.  He spent the last half of each driver's shift there, engaging the driver to make sure they stayed alert.  He got his own rest in the back during the first half of each other driver's shift.

Inside the Jade Dragon, Abe checked his phone for the time even though he'd looked at the clock before they left the truck.  He looked around the restaurant and considered for a moment.  He looked to make sure there was an open spot he could sit from which he'd be able to see the vehicle.  He knew who would be on the hook - likely just for paperwork assuming there was no negligence - if something were to go wrong.  He wasn't paranoid, but he was careful.

He nodded and spoke to the group.  "We are about 3.5 hours ahead of schedule, so I don't see a problem with it if you all want to."  He had tried to be careful about who he invited along for the ride, but he had built plenty of time for stops into the schedule, just in case.

He ordered steak and eggs, with homefries and a black coffee.