Wednesday, February 18, 2009

17 February 2009: Horizons of the new cycle

Two vehicles bounced one after another, like children playing a game. One would hop a bump on the rough caravan road, only to be mimicked by the other seconds later. It wasn't yet four o’clock and the desert travelers had already been driving for hours. Helios was low on the horizon, at their backs. The air was crisp and the dew glistened orange hues.

Voneran was speaking to his passenger, but Dr. Chambers was only half listening. In the other car, Delacroix was confiding to Tarmalin the reasons behind their recent abduction of a Peace Officer Corps detective and what he and the Doc had discovered in the desert over the last two days. The conversation, like the road, was bumpy and slow-going. As agreed, Chambers spoke not a word of it to Voneran. The Doc didn't know Delacroix's reasons for apprehension, but Chambers had enough of his own to suffice.

Some hours later, they were resting at a homestead: refilling on water and fuel while escaping the mid-day heat. Chambers was noting his findings on the interrogation of subject 339 Zulu. His observations were clinical, precise and suggested hope for more efficient interrogations in the future. He opened a new case logs to investigate genetic drift discrimination as well as enhanced interogation techinics and jotted down some notes on how to proceed. His mind drifted in the heat, recalling gruesome memories of how this information had been obtained. They replayed vividly in his mind. He concentrated on his work to drown the memories under the tangible results they had produced. He marveled at Delacroix's detachment and hoped he hadn't shown any weakness to the other man. Chambers hoped he hadn't shown any of the doubt and disgust he had felt during the interrogation.

Delacroix was analysing the road ahead, consulting maps and way-points. Occasionally his mind slipped and he thought of the parcel that was travelling to a remote location and its elusive recipient: the so-called Targeter. He was relieved by Tarmalin's calm reaction to the list of agents and the Targeter mission as a whole. Recently, his partner was showing more of his old self as he emerged from the worst of the morose and self-destructive behaviour he had displayed in Khayr-ad Din. Delacroix had tried to convey the magnitude of the information which they had obtained. Tarmalin didn't grasp the science but had seized on the essentials: they would have a new weapon to weed out the Keff infiltrators.

Voneran emerged from the shade to check on the two vehicles. If they were ever stranded in the Karak Wastes or the Western Desert, they wouldn't last long. He knew the importance of his part in keeping them all alive, but he also knew that the bonds of necessity right now were greater than those of trust. He felt Chambers' distance since New Baja - maybe even since Salome. Voneran also knew that Chambers and Natty had shared something. He didn't know what it was, he just knew he was being kept in the dark. Voneran kept his secrets as well: too many secrets. He looked to the horizon and thought of New Baja, and unfinished business. Further beyond still was Natty: the distance became more than he could bear. More than just distance separated them now.

Tarmalin cleaned his guns: sand got into them and made them dirty. His mind paused on the irony that sand had a different effect on him. Delacroix and Chambers had more stuff to worry about. He had been told and he knew he would do his part. He let the sand do its work on him while his hands did their's on his guns.

Somewhere, a crate of living cargo moved in secrecy to its destination; a woman lay in her bunk, weak but determined; a distant and shadowy threat moved inexorably towards the light of discovery; guilt and confusion receded in the presence of duty and understanding. The travelers drove westward towards Helios as it fell behind the curtain of mountains and a new cycle watched as another day passed.


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