Returning to their vehicle after an unrestful night hiding from the horde rain storm, the group decides to take the long way around the Red Zone on Deckar’s map. They decide to take the highway east towards Imboden, and then make their way north on surface streets.
The going is slow. It becomes obvious that this was a major evacuation route, and many people either abandoned their cars…or never made it out. They persist, with no sign of a weather repeat, for about 3 hours. They pull off the freeway with intention to find a gas station and locate a map. Shortly after exiting, Brady notices a car in the rear view mirror. Following at a distance, the driver begins to flash the headlights. Skilbo looks through the binoculars and sees a young man alone behind the wheel. Brady slows down and makes a u-turn, blocking the way for the car as it pulls to a stop about 10 yards behind them. The young man gets out of the car and starts walking towards the van, with his hands above his head. Refusing to expose themselves, the group questions him from inside the vehicle. “We don’t have much time, and I need your help”, says the young man. He introduces himself as Taren, and continues to plead for their help. He says they need to get off the road.
Distrustful and expecting an ambush, Rich draws his weapon and restrains Taren. They establish a timeline with Brady and Cady, who keep guard at the vehicle, and Skilbo rigs a cry-baby on a nearby car as a diversion plan. Rich escorts the young man to a nearby building. There’s an infected inside the building, which Rich handily fights off. As he clears the rest of the building, Pary watches Taren, and searches the body of the infected. She finds a dead Kindle Fire, and stashes it in her pack for later. Having cleared the building, Rich questions Taren.
He finds out that Taren and his brother Milo live in imprisonment at a nearby hotel, run by a woman named Mama. When they were young, they were friends with her two children. One day they disappeared, and she was the main suspect in their disappearance, and suspected murder. There was a massive search and rescue effort, and stories surfaced of her affair with the search and rescue captain. She divorced her husband, attempted to change her name, and moved away. Years later she would return, and her ex-husband would disappear shortly before the DXK7 virus exploded in the media. She was lost to law enforcement in the internment camps, but Taren and Milo had been following her since her move back, and had hatched their own scheme of revenge.
Taren’s job in the compound is to recruit new survivors and bring them back to the hotel, where they will be ambushed, bound, gagged, and slaughtered for consumption in the hotel kitchen. He thinks Mama serves her people human meat as a means for controlling the population. The only way to find new meat is to send her imprisoned population into the world to recruit them and bring them back. He’s expected to rendezvous with two guards before sundown tomorrow, or they’ll come looking for him. As punishment, they’ll hurt Milo, and his friend Nila. Their best chance at taking out Mama and her guards is for the group to let Taren take them in as a new group of recruits, and then with Milo’s help, take the guards out right before they’re slaughtered. Milo and Taren have worked out a code for this plan. Milo will know the plan is on when everyone in the recruit group has a red scarf somewhere on them. Then, they’ll take out the guards together on the bottom floor, free Taren and Nila, and fight their way to the top floor where Mama is. He promises all the goods in the compound in return for their help.
After Taren tells his story and explains the plan, Pary and Rich are not convinced. They return to the van and communicate the story to Brady, Skilbo, and Cady. After much back and forth, and further questioning, the group cannot decide, and they put it to a vote. Staunchly opposed are Pary and Rich. Cady and Brady, seeing potential in the goods at the compound, are for. Skilbo, with the tie breaking vote, takes on a chance and votes yes. Playing eyes in the sky, Skilbo and Pary go ahead of the group to scout out a vantage point on the hotel.
Gaining the trust of the group, Taren will lead them to the meeting point where Mama’s guards are waiting, as promised. As they approach, Rich will recognize on e of the guards as an old acquaintance named Socket. He successfully plays off the interaction as a crazy person, as per the plan, and fools Socket and the other guard as less than a threat. The other guard is a very quiet, very disturbing creep. Cady manages to fool him too, by playing into his pervy psychopathy.
The hotel is five miles from the gas station where they rendezvous, and their true character is revealed on the long walk.
As Cady, Rich, and Brady enter the lobby of the hotel, they are asked to drop their equipment, and are captured, bound, and blindfolded. They are moved to another room, and their knees are kicked out as they are forced to kneel on a cold floor. When their blindfolds are removed, they see that they are kneeling in front of a trough that leads to a drain in the floor of the industrial kitchen they were moved to. As expected, they recognize Milo. Brady exchanges a meaningful look with him, and they are able to take out the two guards in the kitchen. They arm themselves with knives and cleavers from the kitchen, and proceed to the first floor where Milo says Nila and Taren will be.
They find Taren in a make shift guard shack being interviewed by two more guards. They take out these guards as well, and stop only briefly to witness the horror of the people kept prisoner in this hotel. They are chained to tables in the indoor pool area, and look malnourished and truly tortured. Brady gets to the window of one of the rooms and signals to Pary and Skilbo that they’ve cleared the first floor and are moving to the second.
When the group reaches the fourth floor, they find the rest of the guards. There are three of them, and a woman sitting in the lobby area in the center of the fourth floor. The men move to draw their weapons, but the woman stops them and attempts to de-escalate the situation. Knowing this to be Mama, our heroes don’t take anything she says at face value.
Seeing the interaction through the window from their vantage point across the street, Pary fires a warning shot with her rifle through the window at the guard closest to Cady. This insights a fight with the guards flanking Mama. The heroes trade blows, and Pary fires a few more shots, and in a short time the group handily reduces the fight to just Mama. Cady, seeing that Rich was severely injured, moves towards him to help provide care.
But something strange is happening between Taren and Milo. Sometime during the scuffle, they began to fight each other. As Milo sees Brady go in towards Mama with the killing blow, he screams and runs for him. Cady moves to intercept him, and lands a hefty blow. Brady takes out Mama, and Taren is consumed with concern for his brother.
Having completed their quest to rescue the prisoners of Mama’s horror hotel, they being searching her suite for useful items to be scavenged.