Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Meet the press

The SUV limousine wound its way through the clogged streets of the Lance Point caravan district. It was slow going. The streets were choked with dust, foot traffic, gears, cars and even the occasional barnaby lizard. All this was lost on the limousine's occupants.

"Guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuy," a groupie whined as the limousine's slight jostling caused her to spill some of her drink from its martini glass, "I'm bored! When are we gonna go back to the hotel!?" she giggled suggestively.

"Soon Debbie, soon," came the annoyed retort from across the limousine's expansive passenger compartment, "this is the last stop in this podunk bush league town," the speaker trailed off.

Guy Ramon sighed to himself as he watched Lance Point from the security of his air conditioned limousine. This town was a dust-choked place where oil crept out from the ground and lodged itself in his pores and under his fingernails. He just felt grimy, all the time. But it was the only gear racing rally that the Daily Republican, that trashy Port Oasis rag everyone loved to hate, offered Guy as a gig. He just had to go out there, pretend to be interested, and let amateur gear nerds babble about their pet project that's been living in their basement for the last fifty cycles. At least, that's what his editor said.

Guy gave a dirty look to Debbie and the stupid knitted hat some old batty woman from the Fast and the Ferrets racing team had given him. It was now precariously mounted on her head. Mercifully, Guy's drunken companion for this trip took to the hat with almost as much enthusiasm as she had taken to the mini bar in the limousine. He smirked to himself: he'd probably have a harder time losing the hat than the girl.

Sure, it wasn't all yokels and drunken party girls. He actually met some interesting people. But it was always the same old story: war veterans who couldn't fit in back home, driving gears at high speeds. Sure, you had the polar and corporate racing teams, but they were par for the course, as it were. After interviewing the first twenty racers, Guy quickly realized that the only stories worth selling here would be those the editors called "local colour." The crazies...

"Here we are sir," Guy's local driver droned through the limo came to an abrupt halt, "the Badlands Caravan Guild compound. I'll wait here," the driver let his audible smirk hang in the air.

"You do that," Guy replied icily. He took a brief account of how much alcohol was in the mini bar, opened the door, and stepped out into the raw, dry heat. He swore and then coughed, the dust getting into his eyes only a split second before it got into his mouth.

"Hey mister, you ok?" a girl's voice asked over the din of a passing truck. Even through the coughing, Guy could hear the bemusement in the question.

"Yeah, yeah, I'm fine, I'm fine," he replied and laid eyes on one of the most beautiful creatures he had seen in a long time. Dark hair, a deep tan, big, innocent brown eyes that took in the world with ease and agility. She smiled.

"You here to buy something?" Karin Hassan smiled again, "we got lots to offer."

"Buh?" Guy had been to Ashanti, where the clothing was as non-existent as the sexual restraint. This girl with her soft Badlander drawl still had him at a loss.

"Mister?" Karin smiled again, clearly amused, "c'mon, let's get you a glass of water. You look like you haven't slept a wink in three days!" Karin wasn't too far off. Between the partying, the drugs and Debbie, Guy barely had time to be a journalist, let alone sleeping.

Moments later, Karin had the reporter sitting in the shade of the Cave. There was a little table set up at the entrance to the big Longrunner truck used by the caravan as a vehicle maintenance bay. She brought out a single glass of water, sauntering happily. It beaded with condensation. Guy licked his lips.

"Here you are," Karin placed the glass on the little table, "on the house," she smiled.

Guy didn't take his eyes off the girl as he slowly sucked back the ice cold water. He took long gulps, and then put the glass down, "thank you." He meant it.

Karin shrugged, "ain't nothin', mister. Welcome to the Badlands Caravan Guild...er...Caravan." The girl frowned cutely. Someone had to pick a name, and quick.

Guy smiled, picking up on the girl's uncertainty with a predatory instinct, "who might you be then?"

"Karin," she replied, eyes narrowing, "look mister, I'm busy, so finish up your water and get to buying, or leave. I ain't got time to-"

"I'm not here to buy anything, I'm a reporter," Guy raised a hand, reassuring the girl. She's got really, really good instincts, doesn't she? I wonder what her story is...

"A reporter? What are you reporting on?" Karin played the game.

"The races. I hear the Badlands Caravan Guild put three contenders into the competition."

"You heard that right then, mister..." Karin's innkeeping instincts took over. She smiled disarmingly.

"Guy. Guy Ramon. For the Daily Republican." the girl's mild doting actually made the Southerner feel proud of that for the first time since he got into Lance Point, "you guys are my last stop before I head back to Port Oasis. Got any stories for me?" he cracked his most charming smile.

"Well, we just might," Karin nodded, warming to the man, "we just might."


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