Friday, October 24, 2008

All we ever do is talk: Part 3

Ellen was busy at work. Between the tournament, the Badlands Caravan Guild and the new confounded Casino idea, she was swamped in paper work. She heard the office door chime and looked up as Konnor came striding in. He flashed her his patented smile and a wave of his hand. But before she had time to speak Tom was out from his office and by her side. She frowned. She never got to have any fun.

"Konnor!" the Doc began, "good timing! Come on in. Ellen drop whatever you’re doing."

'Sure,' Ellen thought, standing while managing to stifle a sigh, 'it's just your work anyway.'

She and Konnor entered the Doctor's office. It was a little less sparse now that a number of trinkets and ornaments from various sponsors adorned the shelves and walls. Bill Pearce was sitting in a chair opposite Tom's desk. Ellen sat on the couch with Konnor and took out her electronic note pad and stylus. Tom pulled his chair from around the desk and scooted up close to them next to Bill. Before speaking he surveyed the faces around him.

"I’m leaving town for a while and I need you all to hold the fort," Doc Chambers began, "Bill, the caravan is pulling out of Khayr-ad Din by week's end. Right now it’s our second best recruiting tool and I need you to keep doing what you've been doing until we pulled into this trash heap. Talk to caravaners, homesteaders and clans and get them onboard. You guys will be moving a bit. Ben and Avatanya will be in charge of destinations, but wherever you go, you are the diplomatic corps. Keep the message alive in my absence Bill." Tom slapped Bill on the back. The young man and the Doc had gotten pretty close since Bill had been shot. Ellen swallowed hard and kept taking notes.

"Which brings us to our number one publicity device," Tom turned to Konnor who had the good sense to realize that the Doc was talking about him, "I would just like to congratulate you, Konnor, on another great score yesterday in the dueling tournament. You are doing wonders for the BCG. Why, Ellen can barely keep up with the applications and the ballots for the Neil Motor Works prize."

Ellen smirked. She was keeping up just fine. The Doc continued:

"I need you to do me a favour Konnor. Whatever happens in the tournament, I need you to represent the BCG next week when we draw the winner for the Longrunner. I spoke with the NMW rep and some of the Spider's people, and we're all doing a hoopla just before the end of this series. Will you do it?”

Konnor shifted a bit in the Barnaby-leather couch. "Uh Doc, I can do the thing, that’s no big deal, but I got a question: if the caravan is moving out, um, well I hate to seem ungrateful but..."

Tom waived him off and stopped him from stammering.

"I’m sorry Konnor, I’m going about this all backwards. First things last and all. I’ve just finish a lease deal with the Spider’s midget today: we have a place for you and the Cardanos to set up shop to continue working on your gear. Trust me, you’ll find it a bit roomier than sharing the Cave with Gade and Carmichael. In fact, you will be kind of christening it." Doc Chambers smiled at Konnor's confused look. It wasn't that Konnor was stupid. It was just that he had other things on his mind nearly all the time. All the logistics that the Doc was so good at didn't come easily to Konnor at all. But that's what Hector Cardano and his son Leon were for.

"You see, this is a gear bay capable of housing a score of gears, it will be the base of our duelist-themed casino. The high rollers'll come to gamble where the Duelists work on their gears and carouse. It’s actually just outside my window here, right next to this tower."

Tom was up now and pointing out of the office window. Konnor just smiled.

"Doc, you guys are too nice. And just think, if I hadn't scrounged up Gade's big ol' revolver like that out in the Maze, we'd have never met." Konnor chuckled as he followed Tom's finger to a little patch of free space in the Core, "alright, sure, me and Hector and Leon...we can handle that sort of thing."

Tom sat back down and looked smug. He turned his attention to Ellen and some of his joviality waned. She was sitting crossed legged, her arms crossed, with an accusing brow raised right at Tom. He cleared his throat and tried to regain a cool disposition.

"Ellen, I need..."

"Save it Doctor Chambers," Ellen used Tom's full title to denote just how nonplussed she was. "I’m not going to stay here alone while you take Sam to run off somewhere and the Caravan leaves town. What am I supposed to do in Khayr-ad Din alone? I didn’t sign up for this."

"Ellen, please." Bill and Konnor did their best to admire the scenery.

"No." Ellen had learned much from the other strong female caravan members.

"But Ellen, no one else-" the Doc began.

"Take as much crap from you," she interjected, "I know" pause, "I told you before, I don’t work for you."

"Ellen," the Doc knew that he wasn't going to get any help from Bill.

"Save it, I’m sorry," she said flatly, "I don’t want to make a scene Doctor."

"Guys, will you step outside just a minute?" Tom breathed out slowly, "Konnor stick around. I want to show the place."

Bill and Konnor left the room with obvious relief and closed the office door behind them. Ellen sat resolute, her position was the same, her body language was unmistakable.

"Actually, Ellen," Tom began, "you work for the caravan and the lines are pretty blurred where that ends and where the Guild begins. We all have our roles, for some of us like Jo and Pete that means taking bullets. I can’t do much more for them, but they are staying here in town under medical supervision and that means someone has to stay here with them. I am taking Sam on a little trip to try and see what I can do to shake him out of the funk that has lingered over him since we got here. I am also going to go and take care of a personal matter and try and make up for a very big mistake I made at the expense of the woman I hope will forgive me and spend the rest of her days with me. But the larger picture is that the Guild needs to be stable here for a while and the Casino is still in its fledgling phase. I need you to do your part and allow me to do mine. I need you to stay here with the wounded and maintaining this base of the organization that Bill is going out there to help build. Will you do that for the caravan if not for me?"

Ellen didn’t make eye contact with Doctor Chambers. The edge in his voice, the switch from his exited cheery disposition to the stern paternal figure that chastised her sense of devotion made her shy away from his eyes. She thought he was being selfish at first, but it was about duty. It was always about duty. He was doing his and she had to do hers. She simply nodded, and he didn’t say anything as he left.


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