Friday, June 18, 2010

Down on the Street

Maia blinked away the last bit of sleep, not that she got much anyways. Okavango in Winter TN1935 was a far cry from Peace River:

The rain was incessant. Its assault on the corrugated metal roof that served as a shelter reminded her of gunfire. She was dry, but only by the slimmest of margins. No sleep.

The humidity was stifling and sickening. When you added the mosquitoes, it amounted to no sleep.

The gentle rocking of the building, floating on pontoons. Maia imagined that for an Earther, living on a planet where 70% of the surface was water, this wouldn't be a problem. But for a Badlander on Terranova, the gentle rocking was not soothing. She was no longer ill, but the feeling that she would never want to eat again was enough that she had gotten no sleep.

She stretched. Then she noticed Doctor Chambers--Tom at this point--standing at the doorway of the little shed, looking down into the square below.

"It's going to get ugly."

Maia stood, adjusting her belt and pulling her poncho over her shoulders, "well, yeah, that's why we've gone to ground..."

The Doc shook his head, "no, not that, this," he gestured towards the square. "It's going to get ugly."

Maia walked to the entrance and observed. There were scores of sajhalin milling about in a the large square bounded on two sides by rows of shops and businesses, by the building Maia and the Doc had holed up in for the night, and by the wide canal opposite the building. The rain poured down on the people as they jostled, packing into the square in increasing numbers.

A small boat slid up to the side of the canal, and two soldiers jumped off. The Emirate Guardsmen of Okavango were little more than uniformed thugs, but their shiny Paxton weapons were more than helpful in keeping the commoners in line. Maia swallowed. She could almost taste what was coming next.

The first pair of soldiers were joined by four more, while the boat was tethered to the landing. Then the soldiers began offloading big wicker baskets. Maia winced. It reminded her of the old bread distributions in the Prospects of Peace River, back before Simosa came to power. The sajhalin, sensing that their only bread of the week was now available, thronged to the boat. It didn't take long before all the bread was gone, but only a small fraction of those assembled were given what to eat.

Maia saw pushing. A fistfight erupted right in front of the soldiers. She winced. A man was pushed into the canal with a splash. Then a yell: "they've got more food aboard!" The soldiers had their weapons at the ready. The sajhalin were desperately hungry. They rushed the boat.

Maia didn't look away. She thumbed on the VR recording rig she still had on her body, and filmed as the soldiers opened fire, gunning down dozens. The victims' screams would be recorded for posterity's sake, at least.


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