Monday, February 23, 2009

Destination: Lance Point

The Warrior III heavy gear rolled through the rocky, broken terrain. It was half-crouched, autocannon shouldered and ready. The gear's sensor eye moved from left to right, scanning carefully. The gear did not kick up any dust; it wasn't rolling quickly enough. Instead, small loose rocks cracked and popped under the machine's weight as they were crushed under its tires.

The gear rolled down into a gully, and that's when all hell broke loose.

There was a flash, a loud crack, and the a cloud of smoke and dust. The Warrior III reeled backwards, a projectile having impacted with its chest. The force of whatever hit it caused it to overcompensate violently. A lesser pilot might have lost control of the war machine and landed it on its ass. But not this pilot. The gear tripped and then twisted, its secondary movement system wheels squealing as they burned rubber. The gear got its footing and tore off towards the left side of the gully, as two more projectiles slammed into the gully floor, where the machine had been a moment before. The pilot began riding the gully wall, using it to correct the gear's course, and pointed it back into the length of the gully.

Inside the cockpit, the neural net was apoplectic:


The pilot ignored the computer, and opened the throttle.


This elicited a response. The pilot flicked a switch, turning the engine safety warnings off. The gear weaved left and right, avoiding autocannon fire coming from both sides of the gully. The rovers out here were well-equipped. The shells were exploding everywhere, ripping into the terrain and showering everything with bits of stone and metal fragments When they did hit the Warrior III, they glanced off the armour or exploded harmlessly. Explosive shells were meant for softer vehicles like those found in caravans.

These rovers didn't expect a gear. And that meant that they didn't expect five.

As the Warrior III wove down the tightening gully, the machine's sensors picked up the report of loud gunfire and explosions as its radar registered four other heavy gears.

"Report!" the radio rang out in the cockpit as the machine slowed down. There were no more shells. All the pilot heard was the gear's engine rumbling as it slowed to a stop.

"BRIMSTONE 1, here." That was Josephina in the Spitting Cobra, Lex Talionis.

"BRIMSTONE 2, reporting." Avatanya Brom growled into the comm from her Warrior III. "They blow up real pretty."

"BRIMSTONE 3, all systems check." Ari Mendelbaum chimed in from his Jager.

"BRIMSTONE 4," Peter Smit sat in the Warrior III in the gully, "I've got minor structural damage. Looks like they were better equipped than we thought. What hit me?"

"BRIMSTONE Leader, let's get back to the Caravan," Kelly Lebeaux said from the Iguana called Scrapnel.

"That was a triple-rocket launcher, pintle mounted," Ari said consolingly, "we got it right away."

"Yeah, no problem Ari. Looks like I'll need to work over this gear again," Peter frowned to himself as he finally allowed himself to relax.

"Scooter, Thom," Kelly called into the radio, "check the wrecks, see what's left."


Later that evening, the caravan galley was alive with the day's excitement as four friends sat around the table:

"I dunno Peter, yer slowing down. I saw you duck an ambush just like that one before. What's wrong?" Natty chided her friend gently, pouring him more Wounder Rotgut into his glass. She snorted. The drinking had been going on for some time, so at least as much booze ended up on the table as it did in the glass, "getting old?"

Peter rolled his eyes and tossed the shot back silently. He grunted after a moment. Wounder Rotgut was particularly vile.

Josephina chuckled, "awww Natty, you're just angry cuz," she hiccuped, "you gotta get parts outta storage, and that means letting Guillaum oogle your tight ass!" she grinned cheekily.

Natty made a cute scowl as she crossed her arms. Then she made a face, "that dirty little man just makes my skin crawl."

"Well, so long as he looks but doesn't touch," Avatanya chimed in with a growl. She tottered on her stool, "Prophet be damned, pass that Rotgut!"

"Bah, Natty, you just wait for Gade to get back," Josephina giggled, "and you'll remember how you like the dirty little guys!"

There was a stunned silence. Peter's face lost colour. Avatanya suddenly found the floor particularly interesting as she studied it intensely. Josephina blinked, her eyes widening.

"Shit, Natty, I'm so-"

"YOU BITCH!" Natalia Meredine shot up in her seat, her stool falling over behind her. "YAAAAAAAH!" She lunged across the table, and grabbed Josephina. The two of them toppled to the floor, grappling and wrecking the small galley within seconds. Josephina was the larger, better-trained woman, but Natty was incensed. They were evenly matched. Only the furniture suffered as the two women tossed each other around the tight confines of the galley.

Avatanya grabbed Peter, a big grin on her face, "about fucking time she snapped," she muttered to no one in particular as she lugged the big drunken gear pilot out of the room. Something shattered behind her. "C'mon ya big lug, lemme find Carm'chael, we'll getcher good n' sauced."

Peter grumbled an affirmative.


The caravan was stopped in the early morning sun. The Western Desert was always beautiful, but Bill smiled, admiring the view. The canyon loomed below, and the little bridge that spanned the gap was ahead. He leaned against one of the Longrunner's huge wheels, watching the rest of the crew. They had about an hour-long stop before moving again. Carmichael was on the bridge, walking around, checking the superstructure. Bill watched the old man hobble around on his cane, pointing things out to Tessa, who followed the old man around with a bit of chalk, marking bridge spars.

After a moment, Bill turned his attention to the little scene unfolding in front of him. He sighed.

"-and another thing: the galley's gonna need some serious work. So you'll be doing the carpentry on it, and it'll be coming out of your paycheques, understood?" Kelly Lebeaux did not seem amused, Bill observed, as she chewed out her two charges with her trademark deadpan, cold delivery.

Natty and Josephina were standing in the sun, wincing and squinting. Both were badly hung-over and had been through the ringer: bruises, cuts, black eyes, puffy lips, and mild concussions. Thom Knox had been quite precise in his diagnosis: Drunk and Disorderly. Now it was up to Kelly to administer the proper disciplinary action.

"Until we leave Lance Point: no drinking. No carousing. No fun." she glared at the two women, both taller than she. "You'll be on watch, you'll be rebuilding the galley, you'll be doing odd jobs around the caravan. You'll be manning the sales stalls. You will not be enjoying yourselves, effective immediately."

Bill coughed, suppressing a chuckle. He watched Natty: she hadn't been in a military during the War. The young woman's face ran the gamut of emotions. She nearly spoke, but thought better of it.

"Now get to cleaning." Kelly spat.

After Natty and Josephina slouched away, Bill stepped out of the shadow of the truck, "don't you think that you were being a little hard on them?"

Kelly turned to face Bill, still in drill sergeant mode. Kelly was shorter than him as well. She blinked, her eyes fiery and alive. "Pearce, come with me."

The pair walked over to the Longrunner with the galley. They climbed into the trailer. "Bill, take a look." Kelly opened the door to the galley.

"Holy Merciful Prophet!" Bill gagged. He wouldn't have believed it otherwise, but the galley was coated in every foodstuff known to humanity. The stench of burned hair mingled with stale beer, vomit, blood and rotten eggs. The entire room had been demolished from the inside. The cabinets were destroyed, the doors hanging open. There were shattered dishes everywhere. The table had been broken in two. Something yellow and gooey dripped slowly from the ceiling onto the floor.

"How did...who ate the...I've never seen so much mayonnaise..." he turned to Kelly, dumbfounded, "it's ... it's ..."

"Yeah. How long before we get to Lance Point, Bill?" asked Kelly, closing the door.

Bill shrugged, "not long enough."


Certain Betrayal said...

Say Josh, If Jo and Pete are out of hospital does that mean Ellen left KAD too?

Heavy Josh said...

If she's still there, she won't be there for much longer. Between Konnor, the Cardanos and Miss Julie, Ellen's due for a rendezvous with the Caravan any day now.

I wonder if it will coincide with the PC's joining the caravan?

I wonder if the tides could get any more predictable?

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