Saturday, May 15, 2010

13 May 2010 (Part 2) Wound up, wound down

Maia held her face neutral as she stepped into her room and gently closed the door behind her. From the inside pocket of her flack jacket, she pulled a short cylinder and watched as it immediately started blinking red. She sighed and began walking around the room. It was a game they played, she and the SRID, or whichever of their subsidiaries worked in this godforsaken region. They bugged her room, she removed the bugs, they left her alone for two or three days, and then it started all over again.

She found one new chip behind the headboard, another stuck under the sink, and crushed them both under her boot. She did one last circle of the room, just in case, but the bug detector stayed dark. Carefully pocketing it again, she sat down on the bed and pressed her palms to her eyes. That had been too close today, decidedly too close. Sometime since she had arrived her, she had gone from "technical advisor" to "cheap hired gun," and she wondered whether Ershan wasn't right that she was just another merc.

The two men she'd lost weren't going to look good on her report. The Basal Free Revolutionary Army wasn't a renewable resource, and any losses were more difficult for the rebels to replace than the ESE. But for all that she mourned them, she couldn't think of what else she could have done. The lookout just had the bad luck of not ducking back fast enough, and Vee, her nominal partner... she had seen the tripwire soon enough to avoid hitting it, but not fast enough to warn him. She could still see the explosion behind her eyes. She was probably going to dream about it tonight, and wouldn't that be as fun as a scorpion in your sleeping bag?

She shrugged off her flack suit and breathed a sigh of relief. Only superficial damage, and not even that much of it. It could have have been worse. Easily worse.

She walked over to the shower stall and paused. Even after a dozen cycles in the poles, she still couldn't get over the way they wasted water. The first time she'd had a full-body water shower, she'd felt dirtier stepping out than stepping in. She used as little as she could, and she could still hear Tanya's voice in her ears lecturing her as only a small child could about the scarcity of water. What she wouldn't give to transport just 10% of the jungle's supply to Peace River, and solve the scarcity problem forever. Maybe they'd give her a medal. She smirked.

She slipped on a dress, braided her hair, put on her makeup. She could hear the city waking and gearing up for action. She had no idea what Basal was like before the rebellion, but now its people were nocturnal, the work crews clearing away rubble under the cover of darkness so that the sun shone over a city ever-so-slightly cleaner than it had left. Of course, the day would probably bring another series of bombings, so the struggle was never-ending, but she admired the Basallites for their tenacity.

She picked up her PDA and headed down to the hotel's lobby. There was more paperwork to do, always more paperwork. Incident reports, requisition forms, and the order from Kain Delacroix... or, rather, make that Mr. Hannibal. She still wasn't sure what to think of the foursome that had mysteriously appeared in the ruins outside the city, not even any sense of which direction they were turned. Kain made her distinctly nervous, their gunslinger seemed to be ever-so-slightly off in the head (though maybe, she admitted, that was due to the gaping wound in his stomach), their mechanic insisted on being belligerent on first meeting, and the doctor... Doctor Chambers, Big Damn Hero and possibly also Big Damn Traitor. She wasn't sure who to tell about him, or even if she should. Stepping out into the lobby, she decided she'd sleep on it.

She settled herself into one of the lobby chairs, her head swimming but her face carefully neutral. If she got her paperwork done in time, she promised herself she'd send a letter to Celina. Not that she'd have anything to say beyond pleasantries, not when messages from her private terminal could be intercepted, but the thought cheered her up anyway.

Across the lobby, the team's mechanic -- what was his name? Gade something? -- was sitting with a pile of weapons and a stack of rubber composite seals. No doubt whatever he was doing was important, obscure, and interesting. Curiosity piqued, she put her PDA into its carrier at her hip, got up and crossed the room, a polite smile coming easily to her lips. To hell with it, paperwork could wait.


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