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.


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