Wednesday, July 23, 2008

17 July 2008 Fight or Flight Reaction

“Well we’ve riled the red jackets’ nest now.” Doctor Chambers sat on a crate in the middle of the HangOut. He looked somewhat forlorn as he let his head sag; a little less than a score of faces surrounded him. It had been about three hours since the group had returned from the warehouse where they had snatched the rather disappointing point of contention between Gade and his well-armed past associates. Dr. Tom Chambers was not sad, he has mad.

The Doctor took a long breath still not lifting his head from where it had a good view of the deck plate. “Gade here will be fine, he’s entering the duelist tournament…”

“Prophet save him” interjected Carmichael from behind his flask.

“…Gade 'll be fine, the rest of you though, is another matter altogether. Not only will Green and his crew be gunning for some retaliation, but it's clear to me that this caravan has garnered the dubious honour of being the flagship of the Guild and as such, will be in the sights of the Granis”

A long silence filled the space in the Longrunner. The Doc felt the weight of that silence: he was leading these people, only that was never the plan. These were Kain’s people, his crew, the ones who left with him and walked away from Baja and what the Doc was doing there. Now Kain was off doing God knows what and Tom was left to deal. Left with Gade’s mess, with the damned Granis situation - which was escalating out of his control - over which he had felt almost no leverage. Only impediments. He looked up from the floor and found Tessa and Karin. Anger swelled up in him: civilian children caught up in this mess. He scanned more faces, some anxious like Ellen’s. He was reminded that Sam was nowhere to be found since Father Lelland had…

“So no one else is going to get in trouble over this. If this caravan is a liability then there is no caravan” Getting up slowly, the Doc looked to Kelly, she knew what he was getting at, Avatanya looked at her cigar choosing not to make eye contact with the Doc. 'Good,' he thought, 'she knows too.'

“Wait a tick Doc, believe me it pains me to say it, but shouldn’t Kain be making this decision”

'Damned right!' thought Tom, turning to face Ben and taking two short steps to be up close to him. “Yes Benjamin he should, but I seem to have gotten something entirely different from what I bargained for when I hired this crew, and now you all get to share that feeling too. Ben, you and Avatanya will take the girls. Josephina, you go with Knox and Carmichael. Ellen and Prabal are with me. Ari, Peter, I want you guys tailing Gade. Make sure he stays OK.”

Tom looked over the faces again, they were all accustomed to taking orders. Well, most of them were. He saw that they were torn, not exactly sure how to react to his leadership, to the hard edge in his commands. Tom knew that Kain did it better, he did it dispassionately, he almost asked people to obey his orders. He was so damned laid back about it. Kelly was the same and even Avatanya, though marked by a different style, got better results.

“Avatanya, get them moving. We are out of here in 30 minutes, I’ll get you the resources you need. Kelly, we’re getting rid of the Longrunners and gears with the Imeshen. Then you find Sam and Kain and tell them what is happening.”

“Doc I don’t know about all this, shouldn’t we stay together, isn’t that safer? Surely we can…” Tom Knox interjected suddenly.

“ Do what exactly?” The Doc growled back at Knox, “what good did our pickets and guns do for the preacher?”

Tomas Knox was back up against the Longrunner wall now, averting his eyes; he was hurt and ashamed and mad all at once. Tom Chambers however was incensed to the point of shaking: if he could burn down the young medic with his eyes he would have. The frustration and anger reached a boiling point and the Doc spilled over, but instead of erupting, all his fear, anxiety and frustration dissipated, his shoulder drooped as tension melted in him, his face eased and deep creases of fatigue replaced the taught lines of fury.

“Tom, everyone, I’m not laying blame, just assessing the situation. As a caravan we are moving and that provides safety, as a stationary target we are vulnerable. Things are going to get worse before they get better. I know this because I am going to make it happen and because of what I am going to do, there is the probability you will all be targeted for pressure or retaliation. I can’t have that.”

The HangOut was awash in emotion and palpable indecision as the thoughts that silently silently filled the tight confines churned turmoil into solid impasse. 'Make or break time,' thought Tom Chambers, as the milliseconds dragged on heavily. Everything was pointing to the latter.

Then Avatanya got up and bellowed a command or two. Everyone broke into motion. Like a well-oiled machine just waiting for the lever to be pulled. Kain ran a tight ship. These were good people, the best.

'Too bad they aren't mine,' Tom thought.

Conversations about a Gun

Gade sat down in the courtyard of the caravan compound, leaned his back against the Behemoth's tire and looked across at his almost-complete Tiger heavy gear, Gun. The gear stood silently in the shade, somehow forlorn. His mind played over recent events and the conversations he just had...


"Look, Natty, I just thought that you'd have found at least a radio, you know?" Gade sighed as he peered into the armoured head of the Tiger. Natalia was standing across the gear's torso from him, looking at the same thing: no electronics.

She grunted, somewhat hurt, "Gade dear," this was a warning, "it doesn't work that way. I can't install just a radio. You need all sorts of supporting electronics. And then there's the neural net," she sighed, "or lack thereof. It'd be much easier if we had a neural net to work with."

Gade dismissed her hurt tone. They had agreed that she'd have a solid electronics suite ready when he got back, after all. "Yeah, I know. I would have transferred Scrap, but it took me about two seasons just to get him used to that Iguana. He'd have to be wiped before we put him in here."

That was out of the question, Natalia's pained grimace indicated. "We'll just have to find another N-Net."

"Yeah. Know anyone with anything good?"

"N-Nets are rare in the heaps, you know that," Natalia helped Gade get at the cockpit controls. She sat in his lap.

"But you know someone, don't you?"

"Maybe. Zania's not easy to find. But she owes me," she double-checked the connections and the chips that were intact, "the thing is, you really will need the perfect N-Net."

"Something stubborn like a Barnaby?" Gade chuckled.

"And evil as a Pack Lizard?" Natty caught the reference and started quoting the lines of the old song.

"Fire in its eyes."

"Poison in its gizzard!" Natty laughed. She turned and kissed him happily.


An hour later:

Gade was looking at the state of the armour. Or the lack of armour, it seemed. He could have sworn he had found two wrist pieces, but now there was only one. Eduardo probably took one for a dueling gear he was backing while Gade was away. Didn't matter anyhow, and Gade was still going to be looking for other armour plates regardless.

"Just one more thing to collect," he muttered to no one in particular. A scraping noise on the ground behind him made him stop and turn.

"Ladies," he said, looking unpreturbed by the sudden appearance of Tessa Lin and Karin Hassan.

"Hey Gade," said Tessa, almost sheepishly. The girls had been rather cold to him since Natty arrived on the scene. Karin nodded her greeting.

"Ladies," repeated Gade.

"So, we were thinking," Tessa looked up at the pilot/mechanic, the pitch of her voice rising as she spoke, "that it would be alright if we ... er ... stopped our arrangement. You know..."

"Yes, alright. I think that'll be fine. You don't need me looking out for you anymore, that's for sure," he chuckled, "so you don't have to...?" Gade paused and looked at Karin, who was trying her best not to cry.

"It's ok Gade," Tessa frowned, putting a hand on Karin's shoulder. Gade moved closer to the two girls, comprehending suddenly.

"I'm a little too old for you, Karin. And I'm in the wrong line of work," he looked around at his gear and the caravan, "and I'm from this place."

Karin looked up at him defiantly, "you're a good man, Gade. No matter what stupid stuff you did before, you're a good man. You took us in...after...after..."

Tessa's look of exasperation was all Gade needed, "c'mon girls, there's some armour that needs repairing. Grab a glue gun, we're going in."


Returning from the kitchen with a big piece of salted jerky, Gade found that Gun was already being looked at.

"Carmichael," nodded Gade and chewed slowly. He watched as the older man climbed down off Gun's back and gingerly put his feet to the ground.

"Gade," the reply was typical of Carmichael. He was a Westerner, and he could smell his people a mile away, "nice gear you've got here."

"Yeah, it is."

"Pity about the V-engine though," Carmichael took a swig from his flask and then looked over his shoulder to the spot where the gear's engine pack would be.


"Thought you should know," continued Carmichael without really pausing in the first place, "that if you're looking for a good engine, there's more options than a Jaguar's or another Tiger's."

That caught Gade's attention. Carmichael was actually being helpful. That's when Gade caught the look in his eye. Carmichael was hungry. Carmichael liked gears.

"Yeah," the older man let himself grin as he watched the younger man catch on, "you could probably do some work on a Sidewinder V-engine and get it to run on this machine just fine. It's a WV-series called the 733TCd. I saw the schematics during the War, when we were trading intel on design specs to make logistics easier. Northerners using Southern parts, and vice-versa."

"Thanks Carmichael. I'll keep it in mind."

"Wait son, I'm not done," he growled in retort, eyes gleaming, "the 733TCd is well and good, but the engine you really want. The engine you really, really want..." Carmichael lowered his voice conspiratorially, "is the WC-series they used for the Desert Viper Two. The 760J. It's designed for a gear with no wheels...and when I saw the specs for it, well, I knew right then and there that if you strapped that thing to the back of a Hunter, or, say a Tiger, with a little mods, you'd get some real juice. Perfect for a dueling gear, you might say."


Gade sat in the shade across from Gun, his back against the Behemoth tire and pondered the possibilities. It wouldn't take much to fix Gun up and put him in the tournament. Too bad Gade didn't know the first thing about dueling, or macromoves or any of that stuff. He learned from the ground up and didn't have time to refine his techniques. He sat in the shade as the midday heat made the ground just beyond the shadow sizzle wondering just how he'd figure out the finer points of dueling.

"Hmph," Peter Smit sat down next to him, taking off his hat. Beads of sweat ran down his face, "couldn't sleep," he looked over at Gun, then back at Gade, "yeah, I guess you couldn't either."

Friday, July 18, 2008

Commercial Gridlock

"Sorry Doctor," came the apologetic smile, "but I just can't do business with your guild."

It was the third such response Dr. Tom Chambers had received. The dry goods wholesaler that supplied caravans, the fuel merchant and now the freight carrier had all turned down his business proposition. The implication was clear: the Granis were applying pressure. The Doc straightened his duster and went outside into the morning air. There was no sense in talking to the caravan representatives either, he reasoned. They'd already have been told not to do any business with the Guild.

"That tears it," he said grumpily, "there's only one thing left to do then. Well, perhaps two."

The Doc went to find Trishaw Carmichael and his whiskey flask. Then he was going to send a message to the Granis.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Goodbye, Father Lelland

No, you know what, Kain? I ain't gonna say shit for him. All that spiritual bullshit is what got him killed in the first place, and it damn near got me killed too. I was doin that whole meditation jig the old hag showed me, and almost meditated myself a new hole in my head. Fuck it, it's for suckers. Ain't no spirit, ain't no "divine principle" or any kind of shit like that. There's just you, and me, and this here gun. That's it. The father's believin got him nothin but buried, and I ain't goin down like that, I ain't.

I'll be out shootin if you need me.


"I never had much use for preachers," Bill Pearce smiled at everyone assembled. The next morning after the destruction of Malachi Flats, the caravan stopped on a cliff overlooking the remains of an ancient Macallen tunnel collapse, "but we sure could use one now," he smiled sadly, "because I don't know the first thing about Sorrento Revisionist rites, and I expected Father Lelland to bury me," he looked sadly at the grave dug in the rough, rocky clifftop. The body of Father Lelland was lying next to it, draped in a rough canvas shroud, "I expected Father Lelland to bury us all."

"I am not a religious man, where I am from I suppose that is to be expected," Doc Chambers smiled. If I had any latent prejudice against the Padre, he quickly dispelled it with his honest and friendly disposition. I’ll miss the passion of his convictions, his devotion to Revisionism as a religion and to moral righteousness as a code. When I arrived in Baja, he was the only one that didn’t view me with suspicion. When I rejoined you all in Massada, once again, he was the friendly face in the crowd. I’m proud to say he was one of my mentors. Some may consider it ironic to learn sniping from a religious man, but his background helped me overcome the moral dichotomy of doing harm for good. I owe him a debt of gratitude for his wisdom which I will sadly no longer be able to repay," Doctor Chambers said gently.

"Nathani Lelland was not a pacifist," Kelly Lebeaux sniffled, "no. Every Regulator remembers that comfort of knowing that Father Lelland was watching over us, and every Regulator has known the relief of the report of his rifle. I hope that he'll keep watching over us." There were numb nods of agreement.

Gade frowned, "I didn't really know the father. We barely spoke. But I know this: he was a great warrior and he cared for everyone. The world is better for having had him in it."

"He told me once that his sister in Sorrento...Katherine, I think...that she wrote to him all the time, imploring him to come back home. They lived together alone," Josephina Dragushan shuffled her feet, her hands clasped together in front of her, "but he told me that there was too much righteous work to be done here in the Badlands. He had been at Baja like the rest of us...he couldn't go home, not until it was set right."

"He told me to apply again," Thomas Knox said softly, putting the dead preacher's prayer beads on the canvas shroud in a pile, "to the Republican Academy of Music. He told me that my work was worthwhile and that I should apply again. I have a letter...for him...for when I got in...thanking him..." the young medic choked back tears, "he was a great comfort to us all."

Peter Smit wordlessly put the heavy bore rifle Father Lelland preferred next to the shroud. He stood, his face lined with sorrow and pain.

"Remember when we were in Massada, how his face came alive?" Ari Mendelbaum asked, and nearly sobbed, "he showed us around the churches like it was old hat, and not like they were important. They were, but he never made us feel like his faith was intimidating. He made us feel comfortable...that's the kind of faith I want."

Karin Hassan nodded quietly, tears streaming down her cheeks. Ellen pulled her close and kept herself from crying into the younger girl's hair.

"It ain't fair!" Tessa Lin sobbed finally, "they took me! They gagged me!" she shrieked, falling into Gade, nearly collapsing, "they had the gun...trained on me...and then...he just said 'No. Don't. She's just a girl. Take me instead.' Those fucking townies!"

Avatanya put a motherly arm around the distraught girl, "the funny thing is," she sighed, slowly turning her head to look at the shroud-covered body, "the funny thing is, this Preacher here gave them one last shred of decency. They could have killed a kid, but instead they took the old man when he offered himself. I don't know whether or not to love him or hate him for that. It was more than they deserved."

After everyone had said their piece, Kain stepped forward. "I'd never met a man like Father Lelland before coming to New Baja. I'd seen preachers before, prim, ascetic men, insulated from the rigours of life by their cassock. I'd never seen one club a man with a rifle butt. I'm glad I did," he smiled.

"Father Lelland was a good man. That's not something I would say lightly, and it's possible I'll never say it about anyone else, but it's true. He was a good man. And it's not insignificant that he chose this life, chose to live in the Badlands, and ultimately, chose to come with us, with you and me. He chose us. Maybe because we needed some ministering, maybe 'cause we were worth ministering to. Whatever the case, this good man chose our company, and that says something." Kain stopped; his voice had wavered just a bit on those last words, and the pause lengthened. Shifting his gaze to meet the eyes of the clustered mourners, Kain continued.

"Father Lelland's death was an expression of his faith, just as his life was. Though I only met Father Lelland a short while ago, not once in that time did he waver in his committment to his ideals, his desire to make this world just a little bit better, through hard work and wisdom where he could, through righteous anger and the scope of a rifle where he couldn't. Father Lelland's life of worship is founded on the notion of sacrifice, and that is what has brought us here, now. His is not the first, nor the last, that will be required as we continue on our path, but I know his example will guide me when the day comes that I have to make a choice like his. I think it will guide you too."

He turned to Kelly. "Sergeant Lebeaux."

She nodded to her seven selections. "Detail, present arms! Ready, aim! Fire! Fire! Fire!"

10 July 2008 Malachi Flattened

Late Spring, TN1919:

Upon returning to Timmins, the caravan was approached by a fellow named John Maddox, who was willing to pay quite well to transport himself and a pallet of "supplies" to a one-Gear town named Malachi Flats.

Though this cramped the Doctor's plans for giving the Granis Cartel a bloody nose following their threats, a mission was planned and executed, with the able assistance of Ben Cantor and others of the former Timmins resistance. In a few minutes, the Granis operation in Timmins was torn out by the root: their collections men dead, gunned down in a hail of gunfire in a saloon, while the offices above a brothel were burned to the ground. All in all, a good night.

The caravan departed Timmins on schedule, and the first part of the continuing journey passed uneventfully. Maddox was a reclusive individual, keeping close to his goods. Too close, really.

Mid-journey, an ambush was detected, and though the caravan suffered some minor damage, the rovers were too poorly equipped to deal with a well-drilled group of hard folk. Quickly driven off, the rovers dropped a message cylinder. A vitriolic earning by the Granis cartel fell on deaf ears; with information from a prisoner captured during the skirmish, the rovers were put out of business...permanently.

Arriving in Malachi Flats, the local folk were discovered to be depressingly uninteresting, if not outright stupid. Maddox refused to leave the truck, and when pressed, revealed that he is carrying medical supplies for a desperate group. The locals claimed never to have heard of him.

Five new faces

The Imashen have decided to repay the caravan for their help by providing five of their best drivers for a five-cycle term of service. They are happy to volunteer and have extensive experience with desert driving and some light maintenance work. The five drivers are:

Silas Michels: 32 cycles. Silas' demeanor is similar to that of John Maddox': broods at the drop of a hat. He is a crack driver and carries a shotgun in the cab at all times. Tall, thin and lean, Silas has a severe haircut and a dark complexion.

Diego Tucker: 45 cycles. Diego doesn't really like outsiders in general, but he was impressed with the caravan crew's toughness and felt bad that they got dragged into the Imoshen's mess. He feels that the sooner the drivers pay the communal debt, the better. Diego is a portly, ill-mannered man who eats messily (usually while driving) and belches at the most inopportune times.

Selia Perry: 19 cycles. A quiet, serious young lady, Selia is a natural behind the wheel of any truck. She is eager to see the world and then return home to her seven brothers who clearly cannot survive without her.

Pankat Loran: 22 cycles. Gruff, tough, and takes no guff. Well, at least that's how he comes off. Pankat volunteered after the medicine that the caravan brought in saved the lives of his entire family. He is already old enough to have a moustache, despite weighing 150lbs wet. KIA: 35 Spring, TN1919 in Khayr-ad Din. Killed in a mortar attack by the Green Gang on the Caravan compound.

Jibrat Loran: 25 cycles. Pankat's older sister is pug-ugly and knows it. She behaves, but she can be sensitive enough and temperamental enough to make a Barnaby envious.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Badlands Caravan Guild

Welcome to the BADLANDS CARAVAN GUILD network portal.

Greater independence through interdependence.

-Your word is your bond. Make a deal and stick to it.
-Help Guild members and help yourself by sharing information on threats.

-Get more work, more income.
-Get information on weather, rovers and other Badland issues
-Grow as the business grows with Co-op shares.
-Keep your independence but gains from interdependence.
-Extra help when you need it.

Joining the Guild is easy if you’re hard working, honest and reliable. We have offices in more and more cities, towns and homesteads across the Badlands and savanna city-states. Come in and see if you are ready to get more out of caravaning. You can also be invited by a Guild member with recruiting status.

The Guild has made agreements with major shippers in the Badlands and the number of clients keeps growing as our service expands. Goods, people and commodities have always traveled by caravan but now we can offer more reliability to our customers by networking our comings and goings. Imagine knowing that a job is waiting for you when you get to your destination and not having to worry about how to provide for your crew or your family because the Guild has already made a contact for you. Or better still, you have your own routes and do just fine, but the Guild can help you get more business along your existing route without changing the way you run your life; we'll just help you make a bit more as you go.

The Brotherhood
But it ain’t just about money. Wouldn’t you like to know if rovers have set up along your route well in advance and wouldn’t you like to coordinate your caravan’s travels with others and share in defense. How about having preferential rates on watering and refueling at guild member homesteads and stations? Brothers of the Guild watch out for each other. Through this site you can share information with other Guild members regarding threats that concern us all. So you can let people know that rovers are harassing certain areas, or that storms are coming or if trouble is breaking out in certain cities that might make you change your plans.

Expanding our Brotherhood
The more we are, the stronger and more prosperous we will be. That is the strength of our Guild. However expanding membership doesn’t only benefit you in principal, it does in cash too! The Guild has a Cooperative incentive program. What that means is that for every member you bring to the Guild who become a member, you get more shares and therefore more of the returns on profit at the end of the cycle. But be sure of those you recommend, because if someone you recommended gets kicked out of the Guild you lose twice as much as you got for recruiting them. This is a reward for helping us grow with the right kind of folk, not a scheme to bloat our numbers with untrustworthy types.

Caravaning ain’t just life in a caravan either. Guild membership is open to homesteads, fueling stations and caravan parks. Anyone that can contribute and benefit can join.

The Business
Prices are fixed so our clients always know what they are getting: honest and reliable service. The Guild take a commission which is already factored in, what you see is what you’ll get. Your account will be credited or you can pick up your money at a Guild office when the job is done or you can also access it wherever you find a Guild office, earning interest while you don’t pick it up.

Your Service
The Guild just adds business to your trade, making contacts easier. You earn extra money, no haggling, no double-cross, you know what you’ll get, we guarantee it! The Guild can do your banking for you, we can transfer funds from one office to another, hold on to your credit and give you a competitive interest rate on your cash without service charges. If you need a little extra money, the Guild can also help you out, this is a brotherhood of trust.

The BCG portal
You can access the portal through the Hermes 72 network. Here you will find Jobs offered by our clients. You’ll find the Saloon bulletin board where you can leave information of use to other members and keep up to date on what is going on in your neck of the Badlands. We have a connection to SNS right there for your convenience. Weather reports for the Badlands, both imaged and real-time from offices and caravans with up-link capability. You can Communicate by video or trideo us directly or any of your friends through the portal, keeping easily in touch.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Two meetings in Zagreb

The warehouse off the caravanery in Zagreb was loud and full of activity. Work gears and fork lifts moved stock onto cargo pallets while workers were busy taking inventory totals. A mature-looking man, possibly in his early 50's (cycles) nodded as he watched. He had brown hair, cold eyes and was dressed in the finest work clothes from Zagreb's factories.

"You see Mr. Delacroix, this is our business. It doesn't seem like much, moving knock-offs out of Timmins to Zagreb and then across the North, but it is in fact a multi-million mark operation. The Forzi are grateful to you and your caravan personnel, Mr. Delacroix. We heard that you fought off a Federation team," he said with seriousness, "and while I might question your sanity, I do appreciate what you did."

"Thank you, Mr. Forzi," Kain replied, standing behind the Forzi cartel head in Zagreb.

Roman Forzi nodded and then continued: "your proposal is in line with our interests. The Forzi are looking for a consolidated shipping outfit for operations across the Badlands. This Caravan Guild you're involved with will be useful, and we will support it. You will have to visit our headquarters in Wounded Knee, however. I will arrange a meeting between you and the Capo, Constantin Forzi."

Roman turned and shook Kain's hand, "I expect that we will be seeing more of each other, Kain Delacroix."


The Caravan Saloon stood in a busy corner of the Caravanery, guests from across Terranova raising glasses and telling tales as they relaxed from the long haul caravaning lifestyle. In a quiet private room off the main saloon hall, Bill Pearce sat on one side of a table with Dr. Chambers, Kain Delacroix, Gade Voneran and Avatanya Brom.

Across from them sat Ulrich Gellin. Behind him was a massive bodyguard who could easily have been mistaken for a GREL.

"The Granis Cartel is very concerned about your endeavour, Mr. Pearce. We have always maintained a network of affiliated caravans for mutual defense and profit. It is clear to my superiors that you have little interest in joining our cartel," the smaller man, a lean and predatory fellow in a nice suit, said. His eyes never left Bill's, "thus I have been instructed to inform you that the cartel would like a 10% cyclical cut of all your Guild's gross shipping incomes. Failure to pay this ... authorization fee ... would be bad."

"So it's extortion then?" the Doctor said indignantly.

"It is," the smaller man got up as the bodyguard glared at the others, "you have two weeks to either shut down your operation or begin payment."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

A Fool's musings

Dearest J,
I need to voice some thoughts out in order to better understand what I am thinking. You're pretty good at helping me do that so I beg your patience while I look for my point.

I overheard some comments between Sam and Kain the other day that have perturbed my sense of self. For a long time I defined myself as a student, then all of a sudden I was a doctor. That change was a monumental one, it was not only the realisation of years of effort, but a form of rebellion against my family, the actualisation of my desire not to conform and because another business man. The title defined me as much by what I was not as by what I had achieved in becoming.

Then the war came, I never chose to be a soldier and throughout those horrible cycles I truly became the doctor I had only presumed the title to. I was baptised in blood and fire and more than the cycles of cramming physiology and doing my residency, the war helped me define myself as a doctor. Suddenly it was over, and with keffers’ departure went my sense of being. Returning South to become a private practitioner not only held no appeal, but held no meaning. So I drifted and gambled. I never saw myself as a gambler either, like soldiering; it was incidental to the circumstances.

The data disk and that fateful encounter with Delacroix, Tarmalin and Voneran offered me with an opportunity to find purpose. Fate also led me to you. In Baja I found what I needed: a chance to build something. For the first time I think I could understand what attracted people to business, it was the idea of building something. I had to accept that I had become more of an entrepreneur than a doctor, what’s more, and thought it stings my pride to admit it; I am probably a better entrepreneur than I am a physician. I certainly demonstrate more natural talent for business than I ever did memorising biology. All too quickly plan realised themselves, sound decisions bore fruit and timing and fortune congealed and I was rooted and somewhat prosperous.

I became a business man after all, a community figure; while that was happening a more important change occurred, one with more important ramifications and more pleasant benefits. I become someone’s partner and began to redefine myself again in a new way, as a husband and as a father.

You’re a terribly bright woman; you know all this though I have never spoken so frankly about existential feelings. But now I am defined in a way which I can’t reconcile. I am a spy; I see the events leading to this moment but cannot equate the sum of those events with the result. What’s more, a sanguine assessment of my ambitions and strategies thus far reveal that I am bent on being a Master spy, running an information and covert operation ring. Though I can clearly see the path ahead and the goals which need to be achieved I don’t define myself by them. Does my reluctance to admit to myself what I appears to be result from an overriding sense of idealism? I can’t accept that, I know that I am a realist because I believe that the ends justify the means I must employ. I need to do this to protect what I have built and defend the ideals of personal liberty. What I do out here is not for glory, not for power for power’s sake, it is not for profit or control. It is a tactical necessity for the type of threats poised to undermine New Baja. On a larger scale, we are also trying to prevent another global war, one in which Terra Novans will be the only casualties.

Perhaps I am fool ( or dreamer?), what can I achieve out here, what difference can this bring? Can we really hope to stand up to the intelligence agencies of the poles and survive? Perhaps I am fool for not staying at home with you and making a family and enjoying what we have. I have defined myself by what I was doing, by titles and aspirations. I have failed to define myself by ideology. Perhaps I should define myself by how I live my life. I may be a spy at the present, but I am a committed dreamer (or fool) first and foremost. Though I wish I could share this, I am not so great a fool as to let my musings jeopardise what I am doing nor your safety my love. I miss you.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.