Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tools and the Trade

Gade spent most of the night by Nat’s side. She was asleep when he came in but she was coherent enough to mumble a question about the gala. Gade had no mind for that, regretting letting her go off without him. She brushed off his concerns explaining that her weakness had simply been the result of neglecting herself: not enough food or sleep the last few days because of all the work and excitement. Natty urged Gade to forget about it and come to bed.

The next morning Gade was still fitful, looking for ways to help. He found Doctor Chambers at a computer terminal in the Hang-Out. Here was an opportunity to at least put something right - though not the one thing that had the duelist really troubled.

"Look Doc” he started without preamble, “it’s come to my attention that Sam's little hissy-fit is starting to have an effect on the rest of the caravan.” Gade's tone was dripping with a healthy dose of piss and vinegar. He picked up a chair by its back and slammed it down backwards in front of the Doc.

Doc Chambers surreptitiously shut down the medical information he was researching.

“Personally I don't care about his problems, but when they affect the others they become OUR problems," Gade continued, hoping his demeanour would fool the Doc into thinking he was telling the truth. It was clearly a lie. Gade did care. Sure, it hadn't yet dawned on him how much he cared, but he had found a bone to gnaw and he was setting his teeth in it properly now.

“Problem with a broken tool is it doesn't care if it's broken, it's just a tool. Well I'm gonna really break it, knock a little sense into him, I just need you around to make sure he survives."

Doc Chambers sat at his desk quietly; he clasped his hands together under his chin and let out a long sigh. Sam was a problem, and the Doc was affected by him too. Tom's renewed interest in the crew made his inner deliberation a short one.

“Alright Gade, I appreciate the metaphor but a cracked tool needs to be broken so that it can be re-forged. And given the tool in question, I’m not too certain that either the breaking or the fixing are very straight forward proposals. So what do you have in mind?”

Gade settled a bit into his chair. Now he was no longer on a mission of converting anyone to his cause; he lowered his level of enthusiasm to a more conspiratorial tone. He leaned forward, into the back of the chair, before beginning again.

"I've seen people in Sam's place before. He's just digging deeper and deeper believing there is nothing else. I'm going to show him what his limits really are: with blunt force. He's only gonna smarten up if the sense is literally knocked into him. And if he really wants to continue as he is, he'll do so alone and only worse for wear"

Gade found himself rubbing his forehead, realizing just what it was he was proposing. He knew it was necessary, that the caravan and its safety were the priority. 'That boy wasn't not gonna stop until someone got hurt,' he thought. He saw that the Doc was still listening so he continued:

"I don't want anyone else to know Doc, those who should be aware, those closest to him. They already know what I'm gonna do, so let's just figure out when."

The Doc’s brow furrowed as he eyed Gade, trying to gage the efficacy of his proposed blunt approach. To the Doc’s reasoning, Sam was on a path of self destruction. Could such a selfish act be helped along from outside sources? The means may be the same but it did not necessarily follow that the end would be. Gade had good intentions, below that filthy exterior lay a heart of gold, that much was evident in his care for the girls and the love he inspired in Nat…Tom suppressed the wave of emotion that last thought evoked.

“Look Gade, I know Sam needs to get better, but consider this: If someone is striving to achieve a personal goal, be it positive or negative, handing it to them on a silver platter probably won’t fulfill their aspirations. Sam has lost faith, not in his body; I think the stubborn ass actually believes time will heal all that," the Doc considered, "no it’s his soul that is broken. If what you’re talking about is helping him hit rock bottom, then firstly we can’t act directly; he can’t know we are involved. And secondly, we have to fix his spirit more than break his bones”

Gade started shaking his head before the Doc was finished before retorting emphatically:

"Oh I know that Doc! If it was just a matter of bone-breaking he'd be out for the count already. But it must be US he sees as responsible. Even if it's just me breaking his bones, it's seeing what he's pushed others to that will reach his soul. Don't get me wrong, I’ll have plenty of words to share with him during the process. And I don't expect him to like it any either. But if that’s what it takes to get his psyche jump-started, then that’s the cost I’m willing to pay."

Gade had risen from his seat during his impassioned response, but his voice had lowered to a more conversational level. He needed the Doc for this: someone who was calm, collected and could help explain to those who cared for Sam just what would be needed for his recovery. Gade was now convinced that there was simply no one else that could both handle the situation and care enough about Sam to carry it through. He couldn’t know that a week ago or even 36 hours ago, the Doc was willing to walk out on all of them, not least because of Sam’s state.

“Ok Gade,” Tom started cautiously, “I don’t know if I share your conviction that he blames us, but I guess this is as good a way of finding out as any”

The Doc felt Gade’s strength of purpose. But he didn't know that Gade wouldn't act without him. In Tom's mind, Gade might take unilateral action and make matters worse, thus alienating Sam to the point of no return. Tom agreed however that action must be taken. Not knowing what, just yet, he had to buy time.

“Two days. I’ll start him up on a routine of daily medical care again, check what he is capable of enduring and it will give me some time to research the more subtle side of what we hope to achieve. Two days, then we do it. We’re also going to have to let Kain know that we are vanishing”

Gade was nodding in agreement now, logistics already running through his mind, like a mechanical problem to fix. He started making mental check lists.

"Two days then, I'll cram as much of my training in as I can until then. I'll leave explaining it to Kain to you."

“Thanks,” Tom said nearly to himself, as Gade headed out with renewed vigour and a purposeful gait. Tom switched his medical pad back on and saved the information on M.D.A. he was collecting. Letting out a sigh, he cleared the search parameters and called up psychological conditioning and psychoanalytics. He slumped a bit in his chair and, in spite of his more pressing concerns, he let his mind rest on Gade for a moment: the upstanding guy in the middle of his two patients. Tom knew he wouldn't let Gade go through with the plan, of course. That would piss off the would-be duelist mightily. Still, if a better solution took its place, Gade would get over it and find another means to vent his anger.


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