Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Road meeting: Before Tulsa

The Shop was rolling along the caravan trail in the southwestern part of the Western Desert. The Longrunner truck's huge balloon tires minimized the bumpy ride, but everyone's cawfee was in a lidded cup as the meeting began.

"So then people, give me a status report," Doc Chambers' voice came in through the speaker.

"Well Doc, it was a busy time in Lance Point," Ben Cantor began, "and it's been a real challenge getting our inventory straightened out, but everything's fine now."

"How'd we do?" Doc Chambers got right to the point.

"In the black, Tom," Ellen reported crisply as she listened, seated next to Ben around the conference table. "We did alright. Nothing spectacular in terms of liquidity, but our inventory is bursting." Ellen looked at the datapad in her hand, "hang on, I'll send you the data." She tapped the screen of the datapad a few times, and then set the device down on the table.

"Thank you Ellen," the Doc replied. The speaker warbled, "yes, I see. Alright. These numbers are acceptible. Thank you very much, everone." The speaker then cut out.

"Alright everyone, give me your opinions," Ben began. Now that the Doc had been given his update, it was time to get down to the brass tacks of running the caravan.

"Well," Avatanya began, "Ellen's right. Our holds are still bursting. But I don't think it'll be a problem as we head into the mountains. Lots of little settlements'll be needing what we have. And we're down to two gears stowed: that extra Warrior, and that Hunter Recon."

Ben nodded, "Guillaum, how'd the salvage and parts exchange go?"

The dark-haired salvage operator nodded, his Badlander accent thick, "We did well in Lance Point. Lotsa good parts, lotsa good contacts. I don' see us needin' parts for a while."

"Yeah, you got that right!" Carmichael grunted, nodding as he leaned back in his chair, "I've got me some ideas about getting the gears and vehicles kitted out nice. Our parts surplus should help us out there considerably."

"You want to put more guns on the gears?" Ellen was a little exasperated.

Carmichael glared back at Ellen gruffly, "look cupcake, the rovers 'round here are gonna get worse before they get better."

"Yeah?" she shot back, "we haven't faced anything we can't fight off with little difficulty so far," Ellen was arguing from a position of weakness and she knew it. Still, with Sam and Kain and everyone else she cared so much about in those gears, she had a sneaking suspicion that less firepower meant more caution.

"We've heard tell about rover gangs all through the Westridge sector, and not just the Desert Wolves, charming hosts they might be," Ben consoled Ellen with a smile.

"Bah! It's not rovers I'm worried about-" Carmichael shot back. Then he stopped himself when he realized Ben, Kelly, Avatanya and Prabal were all glaring at him. He mumbled into his beard, "er...it's the lack of good whiskey!" he sat on his hands.

Ellen frowned. She wasn't stupid. She knew there was always something going on with this caravan that she wasn't privy to. It kept her up at night, mainly because she knew that Sam Tarmalin was always in the thick of it. Still, she couldn't help but think that it was best that she didn't get involved. A vision of Kain's hardened, pained face, just after Malachi Flats, flashed in her mind. She knew what made him look like that and Ellen knew that it had happened at least once between the time Kain left Khayr-ad Din, and the time he rejoined the Caravan in Lance Point.

"-guard duty rosters have been updated to include our latest additions," Kelly had been talking for at least a minute before Ellen realized that she had let her mind wander. "I've taken the liberty of making sure that Torch is always paired with someone."

There were firm nods around the table.

"Why?" Guillaum asked, slightly oblivious.

"Because," Avatanya said, giving him a dark glare, "she's fucking loony. I wouldn't be surprised if she gutted you in your sleep, and then barbequed you on a stick, pally."

The young salvage operator swallowed hard.

"Any other business?" Ben looked around the table. Prabal shrugged. Avatanya shook her head. Guillaum managed a mild 'no' with his hands. Carmichael was already fishing out his flask. Kelly closed her eyes and relaxed for a moment.

"Yes," Ellen spoke up, "I have one concern to raise."

"Eh?" Carmichael sneered reflexively. It was no secret that he hated these little caravan pow-wows with the Doc.

"Yes, one more thing," Ellen nodded, "we've got no bunk space."

"Hmm?" Avatanya looked over her datapad, "says here that everyone's got a cot."

"Oh, yes, they do," Ellen frowned, but her eyes were mirthful, "but only when someone else is on watch. And there are ... five cots set up in the Garage. That's hardly living. We've got too much cargo, and too few bunks. We need to get everyone into a permanent bunk."

Kelly nodded, "it'll grind us down sooner or later, you know."

Prabal nodded, along with Guillaum. They were sleeping in the Garage as of two weeks ago.

"Alright," Ben nodded, understanding just how important even a little personal space could be. "I'll talk to Kain about it. I guess we'll need another Longrunner?"

Carmichael spoke up, "A Mother Barnaby would be better!"

"Your mother was a barnaby," Avatanya growled.

"Meeting ajourned!" Ben cut in.


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