Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Badlands Caravan Guild Racers

Guy Ramon exclusive for the Daily Republican
1 Spring, TN1920

LANCE POINT--The early morning routine begins with the trucks: there are a half-dozen Longrunners, a Camel, an Elan, an Antelope, and a Behemoth gear carrier. The crew of the Badlands Caravan Guild are up before Helios' harsh rays hit the tops of the oil derricks. Everyone contributes to vehicle maintenance, from the mechanics, to the drivers, to the accountant and the gear pilots.

"Without the trucks, we're not a caravan," explained Karin Hassan, 19, from Baja, "we all pitch in and get maintenance done in record time."

The Badlands Caravan Guild, the brainchild of Dr. Tomohiro Chambers, of the Mekong Dominion, is now in its second cycle of operation. It's only one of many organizations that have taken advantage of the Hermes72 satellite network to form long-distance business ventures. So far, the Guild focuses its efforts in and around the Westridge Mountain range settlements of Lance Point, Prince Gable and Fort Neil.

"So far, we've really been focusing our attentions on the Westridge Range area and the Gamma Maglev, it's true," Dr. Chambers confirmed, "but we do have Guild members who operate globally."

After a quiet breakfast, the caravan crew go about their daily routine with great energy. Drivers become salesmen, hawking and haggling with passers-by. Those not involved with the races here in Lance Point often handle larger sales negotiations, deliveries, and accounting. Of course, the Caravan Guild is in Lance Point not only because of the sales potentials.

"Yes, business is good," Ms. Ellen Cranby, the official accountant and cook for the caravan said over cawfee and biscuits, "but we're here in Lance Point for the races! They're not exactly lucrative, but we're all in this for the business and networking contacts these large scale events promote."

As I followed Karin around on her daily routine, she elaborated on the allure of the races.

"Well, it's complicated. Some of the racers are die hard adrenaline junkies. Others love engines and gears. Some of us just like competing."


"Oh sure, I raced! Didn't win, mind you, but it was a close thing." Karin showed me her gear, a modified Northern Ferret Gear she and her mechanic and racing partner Tessa Lin have dubbed 'Moby Dick.' The gear was entered into the 400-meter drag races and made it to the final race, losing in the end to a Chasseur hover-gear. "We didn't mind losing to Zephyr," Tessa Lin told me, "Hayden is a good pilot, and he's pretty cute." Karin reassured me that chasing boys was not the reason she and Tessa entered Moby Dick into the races.

"Don't get me wrong, Hayden is cute," she laughed, "but when the caravan picked up Moby Dick, we just fell in love with the little guy. Ferrets are just so much fun. And we're the only two who are small enough to drive it anyways. We knew we were coming to Lance Point, so we worked hard to get him ready."

Two other racers from the Badlands Caravan Guild entered the Lance Point races. Ari Mendelbaum, from Siwa Oasis has shocked the racing circuit here by winning the Urban Obstacle Race in a Warrior III he has dubbed Corsair. Mendelbaum is the antithesis of the gear pilot image: tall, lanky, and freckled, he nevertheless has all the cocksure confidence of a racer.

"Adrenaline junkie? Nah. Well, a bit, I guess. You have to like the rush. Otherwise I'd be sitting behind a desk in Siwa Oasis."

I caught up with Peter Smit, a retired Mercantile racer who was a contender on the Innsbruck Deathtrack 1000 before the War. Smit was reluctant to talk about his racing record before the War, but he did account for himself well in the Lance Point 500 Cross Country Endurance race.

"I placed third. Not bad. I had some experience on and off the track with long-distance, high speed gear driving, so the Endurance race seemed like the choice for me." I talked to Peter as he worked on his Hunter heavy gear, Bulldog. He was quite reluctant to divulge anything, but I managed a brief interview.

"Basically, I just like driving gears. I was always good at it, and I guess you can find my Death Track footage somewhere."

Peter denies being an adrenaline junkie, despite the speed addiction, "yeah, I like going fast, kicking up a ton of dust. Sure. Who doesn't? But adrenaline? No, not really. I think after Baja, my adrenaline gland gave up the ghost."

Baja. It turns out that the ghosts of Baja haunt this crew like no other.

"Yeah, we were all there," Karin confessed to me, "at least, most of us. I lived through the occupation. Most of the crew fought in the thick of it for the North or South or were Resistance members. It's not an exclusive thing or nothing. I guess we have a story to tell about Baja and about the Badlands. Maybe that's why we like traveling so much. All the stories just add up."


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