Monday, August 31, 2009

I'm Getting Too Old For This...

Barrington Basin, 40 Spring TN1920:

The machinegun finally fell silent. It radiated heat in the desert sun, causing all the air to shimmer around the barrel and the sights. The pistol grip was warm.

"Gade! Check in! Gade!" Kain's voice called in harshly through the commo. It snapped Gade back to the here and now, the adrenaline suddenly dumping out of his bloodstream. He took a deep breath.

"I'm fine. I'm fine," Gade called back hoarsely. He felt the buttstock against his arm, and realized how tightly he was gripping the pintle-mounted weapon to his torso. He slumped down a bit, "is it over?" His ears were ringing.

"Affirmative," Kain replied tersely, "go check on the others," Kain meant Ben and Isobel, and the gravely wounded Silas and Ethan.

"Right," Gade finally slumped down into the ruined cab of the Longrunner. The ambush had been well-executed. A single rocket hit the cab, immobilizing the vehicle and causing casualties. The assault teams had gotten close, and nearly stormed the truck's cargo bay. Ben had laid down as much fire out the back of the truck as he could, while Isobel lobbed grenades. There were bodies strewn behind the truck. But the only way to make Mordeds and Morganas stop an assault is to kill them outright. There was no such thing as suppressive fire when dealing with GRELs.

Kain and Sam managed to enfilade and flank, and started killing the GRELs that had hit the truck in the first place. Gade's job was to draw as much fire as he could by manning the machinegun that Kain and Doc Chambers insisted be mounted on the cab of each Longrunner in the convoy. "You never know, right?" one of them had said. He eased himself out the back of the cab and winced. The whole cabin smelled of charred flesh and burning metal. Gade patted himself down and winced again. His shoulders hurt and he had cracked a rib. The light flak bodysuit would have to be replaced. He had been shot at least four times, all flesh wounds, all minor.

They sure stung though.

"Gade, coming in," he called out before shouldering his way into the cargo bay of the Longrunner. It was a wreck. There were bullet holes everywhere, the living quarters, the galley and the trading shop were all ruined. Gade could feel the whole truck listing to one side. The wheels had been shot out enough that his beloved Longrunner wasn't going anywhere.

The smoke was irritating his eyes. He knelt down beside Ethan and Silas who were slumped on the floor of the galley. Silas was in a bad way, but Ethan needed a hospital, and soon.

"How bad are they?" Ben crawled over. His face was blackened and he had a nasty bullet graze along the length of his arm.

"Dunno, but I'm no doctor," was the reply, "does the girl know anything about patching up?"

"Don't think so," Ben slumped down against the wall and took out a first aid kit. He sprayed his arm down slowly, wincing as the disinfectant did its work.

"Gade!" Kain climbed into the galley, still running on pure adrenaline, "the commo system's out. We need to get to our gears and hook up the Hermes 72 to Lex." Kain was already onto the next obstacle, "take Sam with you. Get word to WestBase for a medivac hopper. Get word to everyone. I'm not losing anyone today."

"Right boss. On it," Gade winced as he got up.

Kain handed him back his pump-action grenade launcher, "take it."

"Nah. You keep it for now. I need both hands to drive and do the mods. And Sam can't shoot it worth shit."

"Fine, fine," Kain would have smiled in a less serious time. A motorcycle engine started up outside, "best catch up to Sam," he paused, swallowing hard, "stay safe."


Outside WestBase, Barrington Basin, 1 Summer, TN1920:

"Are you sure about this?" Natty smiled up sadly to her husband, "I can take care of myself, and if I can't manage, everyone here can help out."

Gade nodded, "I know. Think of it as a working vacation. I've got the tournament, and I've got a few projects to keep me busy," he patted his wife's belly.

"That project is already well-underway. You're just a not-so-innocent bystander at this point," Natty chided him, "but alright. I won't mind having you around, I know that. And when the little one comes, you won't miss it." Natty frowned, "Kain doesn't need you?"

"Nah, not really. He figures it's time to let me make money for the caravan as a duelist, and he's going on some little research trip. Besides, he's got Sam to protect him."

"Yeah, but who's gonna protect Sam?"

"Kain?" Gade grinned, and kissed his wife before she could protest.

Friday, August 28, 2009

27 August 2009 Bushwhacked!

Waiting for the evac, he put his time to good use. It turned out that Isobel really did know her way around field engineering; rather than her helping him, he helped her position the directional mines and throw up a quick berm around the feet of the Longrunner. What was left of the Longrunner. The old girl had made her last trip.

He cursed himself for never taking the time to have the armour refit done. It wasn't as if this sort of scenario hadn't been considered a possibility. And it looked as if that crazy girl was right; the GRELs really _were_ out to get her. And they weren't inclined to take no for answer. Stupid. He should have believed her.

Right now, all they could do was turtle up and hope that Sam and Gade made contact with someone who could help them. Ethan was in bad shape; maybe that had been a mistake too, prompting him to leave Baja for the considerably less secure life in the badlands. Ben was hit, and the Imashen...what's his name...Silas, that was it, was bleeding, and not in the good way.

It had been simpler when there weren't all these people around. They just got in the way. It had been simpler, before, when no one...depended on him.

'Cause then he could never let anyone down.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Westbase, 30 Spring TN1920: The dueling showdown?

Kain Delacroix was strapped into the seat of Lex Talionis, the Spitting Cobra heavy gear. The large v-engine on the gear's back growled smoothly: Carmichael and Gade had been doing their best to keep the beast running well. Everything was checking out as he rolled the gear into the dueling arena.

Behind Kain, Gade was driving Gun, his Tiger gear, and Sam was in Slick, the Blitz Iguana. Lex swept the arena with its active sensors and gave its pilot a decent map rendering. Gun and Slick were doing the same thing, and Kain watched their actives register on his EM sensors.

The three pilots were quiet. They had already discussed their plan, and there was little else to talk about. The arena was a jumbled maze of pre-fab ferrocrete berms and walls, all arranged in a 30 meter deep shuttle drydock. It must have cost a pretty penny to get a set up like this going, which struck Kain as strange, considering that the Indy Dueling League was supposed to operate on a shoestring budget. Either way, Kain let the gear idle, and watched his sensors. The opposition was entering the arena.

The IDL pilots led with their biggest gear as well: a Kodiak. How these guys managed to acquire a Kodiak heavy assault gear was anybody's guess, but the thing was so enormous it towered over some of the maze walls, let alone the other gears in the arena. Next was a Black Mamba, the latest off of the Territorial Arms assembly line. Lastly, a sleek-looking Cheetah ambled in. Kain smiled and looked up. No roof, just stars.

The signal flare went up, and the duel started. Slick dashed forward and leaped up, grabbing at the edge of one of the concrete walls. The little Iguana managed to hoist itself up with all the finesse of a gymnast. Sam had gotten to be quite the pilot, Kain smiled with some satisfaction. Slick crouched low and raced across the top of the wall.

The Kodiak and the Black Mamba began drawing a bead on the smaller gear as they advanced. Shells exploded all around, but Sam's firm hand on the controls kept Slick from toppling off the wall, or from getting hit. The neural net squealed a loud warning as a near miss rocked the gear. It didn't phase Sam, who pointed the gear's arm-mounted laser designator at the Kodiak. Enough of the Kodiak towered over the wall that Sam's laser lit it up.

The targeting system on Lex Talionis blinked and updated: "LASER GUIDANCE BEAM DETECTED. TARGET ACQUIRED."

Kain flicked the trigger guard up and squeezed. Nothing happened.

"FIRE!" he shouted at his gear.


"FIRE!" Kain squeezed the trigger again. This was not good. Slick was nearly at the end of the top of the wall. The laser would not be able to paint the Kodiak for much longer.





The light guided missile streaked over Lex Talionis' shoulder in a high arch, and then dove straight for the Kodiak. The big machine tried to dive, but didn't move quickly enough. It was torn to shrapnel in a direct hit.

As soon as it had begun, it was over. Gade had blasted the Black Mamba with a snap shot from his bazooka pistol as the two gears made visual contact. The gear collapsed in a heap against one of the walls, a massive hole in its side. The Cheetah stopped and powered down, surrendering. Sam jumped Slick off the wall and skidded to a stop near the deactivated gear.

Kain smiled inside his Spitting Cobra. That couldn't have gone any better.

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