Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fifteen Cycles Later... 1

3 Winter, TN1935
Badlands Homestead county of Tribeka

It was a beautiful morning in the Eastern Desert. The sun shone brightly, but still hadn’t brought out a haze on the horizon. From the top of a rocky ridge, you could see clear off to the Serpentine Mountains a few thousand kilometres away.

At least, that’s what Bart Vonyran wished. The boy sighed, sitting back in his seat as he surveyed an endless expanse of broken, flat, stone desert. He looked over his shoulder, back at the small cluster of stubby oasis towers that marked the center of Tribeka county. Even this far away, they were the only discernable features except for the low ridge he had just climbed, as far as the eye could see.

Bart sighed again.

The bike’s engine hummed softly. He leaned forward and was about to kick his bike back into gear to return home when something off in the distance shone brilliantly in the sun. A little plume of dust appeared over where a vehicle was slowly grinding its way towards the Tribeka oasis towers.

His eyes wide, curiosity burning brightly in his heart, Bart leaned down and opened the throttle, pointing the bike down the other side of the ridge. The machine growled happily, the single tread of the bike-meets-tractor kicking up rock and sand and dust as Bart sped off.

The bike was a gift from Bart’s father for his 15th birthday, and it performed very well in the Badlands, its tread giving it extra purchase in all sorts of situations. The extra time Bart spent making sure the treads were in perfect working order was considered well-spent, since Bart was always working on fixing something anyways, just like his father. He imagined that should he ever get to ride on a city street, the tractor-bike might not have the same speed as a wheeled bike, but then again, Bart hadn’t seen inside a city’s walls since he was born. The bike, built by his father’s own hands, hadn’t seen the inside of a city’s walls either.

As he got closer to the growing cloud of dust, Bart frowned. It wasn’t just one vehicle, but a column of them. There wasn’t much of a road out here, but they were going down one of the dirt tracks that the homesteaders used to drive into Tribeka. Bart watched them approach through his small binoculars as he sat back again on his bike, on the side of the road. He blinked. There were at least a dozen gears, and a pair of big bulky armoured tin cans that he knew to be personnel carriers. They were still far away. Bart’s curiosity was replaced with dread.

He kicked the bike into a hard turn, spraying the road with gravel, and headed back home. This was the sort of thing his father would need to know about, and quickly.

Vonyran Homestead
Tribeka County
3 Winter, TN1935

“Dad! Dad!” Bart had sprinted into the workshop attached to the little Vonyran home, and—“Dad! Soldiers! Gears! APC’s! On the way!” the boy was waving his arms wildly, and nearly hyperventilating.

“Ok, slow down boy, slow down!” Gade Vonyran had been waist-deep in the targeting system of a Hunter Heavy Gear, but his son’s sudden arrival had made him stand up suddenly. The workshop was a constant mess, and Gade’s head bumped into the moveable lamp that was providing much of the light for this work. The swaying lamp splashed light haphazardly all over the workshop.

“What did you see?” Gade asked again, as Bart took a deep breath.

“I was out on my track,” Bart began, hands at his sides, “just, you know, riding out to the ridge. I was gonna turn and head home when I saw this cloud off in the distance, so I went to check it out.” Bart only now considered how foolish that might have been. His face whitened.

Gade nodded soberly, though made a mental note to bring this up with the boy later, “go on.”

Relieved, Bart frowned and scrunched up his face, concentrating, “all Northern gears, a section’s worth, and I think two wheeled APCs, Badgers,” he said decisively.

“Good, ok. They’re just out of town, and it looks like we’re about to be occupied by a Northern Guard detachment,” Gade had walked over to a sensor station in the workshop and checked the passive sensors he had set up on the perimeter of his property, but with enough power to monitor much of the county.

“Umm… is it because we’re here?” Bart asked meekly, sliding up onto a stool, next to a massive, likely illegal, military-grade sensor pod.

“Oh, no,” Gade replied, smiling as he began taking stock of what was worth salvaging from the workshop, “the North and the South are probably gonna go to war. So they’re starting to really push their armies into the Badlands. We can’t get caught in the middle. So we’re gonna take a little trip.” Gade looked over at his boy. He was still scrawny, still a kid, and reminded him too much of Natty.

“Oh. Umm… where are we going?”

“Good question,” Gade had a tool rig hefted over his shoulder, “first, go pack your things. Don’t forget your Ferretzilla doll,” he called out as Bart bolted up the stairs.

“Daaaaaaaad! I’m not a little kid,” came the reproachful reply, “I don’t need a doll!”

“Bring it!” Gade called back.



There was a pause, then, “fine! But if we meet any hot chicks, it’s your doll, not mine.”

Gade chuckled. He looked over the workshop and smiled.

This was too good to last, and you knew it. Besides, the boy’s old enough to start working on a caravan. It’s best he get his education before he turns into a soft Polar like his father.


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