Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Watching the horizon

Kain sat at the controls of the Dragonfly they had stolen in Okavango.  The Doc had finally talked Gade into going to the cargo bay for a once-over.  Kain assumed that the severity of the wound Gade had taken was delaying the pilot's turn.  Only when Kain had promised not to touch anything, "especially not the yoke!", had their erstwhile pilot relented to the Doc's insistence.

It was pretty damned unfair, being told not to fiddle with stuff by Gade.

So the ship was now in the care of the reliable, if mildly eccentric, auto-pilot.  She had a tendency to yaw slightly to the left before abruptly compensating.  Gade had said this would result in a slight diminishing of her maximum range, but would not bring them materially off-course.  It wasn’t doing anything for Kessler’s motion sickness.

Kain was grateful for the time alone; it gave him time to think about the next phase of operations.

Teg, Ben, Jo, and Peter were all pretty banged up, and could really use some rest.  The Doc would give him a more accurate prognosis, but Kain estimated that at least a week of serious rest was necessary, and even then, he figured they'd only be at 80% capacity, and Peter at 70%--60%, if that nasty bruise below his ribs was an internal bleed.

That left himself, Sam, and Chambers to do the heavy lifting.  And Sam wasn’t himself, lately.  Gone was the cheery killer from the old days.  Some switch appeared to have been tripped in his mind, resulting in an inconvenient reluctance to kill.  Kain was all for prisoners, but this "winging" was getting ridiculous.

Plus Gade, of course.  His appearance was a happy stroke of fortune.  He seemed mobile, if tender, so Kain slotted him in at 90%.

And then there was Kessler.  Her resentment was obvious; she’d experienced far more in the past week than she’d signed on for back in Basal.  She could hardly be blamed for a lack of enthusiasm;  after all, her position in the team was closer to hostage than member.  There was a 50% chance that she would slip away as soon as they reached Cimmaro.  Her curiosity might be enough to keep her around, and Kain planned to leverage it with an appeal to her worker sensibilities.  Still, odds were even that she'd disappear as soon as she could.

He turned over the possibility that she was somehow mixed up with the other side; "forgetting" a tracking device, a tracking device the likes of which she was supposed to be scanning to detect, was a serious demerit in the credibility calculation.  But she had seemed genuinely chagrined, embarrassed, and apologetic.  Further, it pushed the limits of reasonable improbability to accept that he and Chambers had somehow been maneuvered into hiring her on in Basal.  It would be a shame to throw her out of the plane and later discover her complete innocence.

Perhaps a conversation was in order.  He mentally added that to the to-do list.

Assuming that things with Bhravo went as anticipated, Kain expected that the team would be returning to Okavango to eliminate Thoras and bring Brhavo to power.  The benefits of such an action politically were manifest, as were the liabilities.  All in all, it did seem like the best thing to do, given the circumstances.

That only left the how of it.

Since fleeing from the palace, Kain had been turning over and over in his mind the moment when he swung his leg over the side of the wall, abandoning the secondary objective.  He had felt strangely emptied, as if leaving the one thing undone was a sin.  A crime against Mars.

He'd had a flash of inspiration when they were all squeezed into that dank basement, waiting for the search to pass them by.  He knew how they could go back in and eliminate the emir.

A three way assault--over, under, and around.

A small strike squad would infiltrate the palace from the air, either employing paragliders, or making a HALO jump, to get onto the tower housing the Emir.  Once in place, a second team would initiate an assault through the tunnel system below the palace.  Casualties would be high there, given that Thoras had undoubtedly located the submerged entry way, but the attack would draw troops down.

The third wave was Kain's favourite part, in which the body politic exerted its might.  A mass uprising around the city would eliminate the Emirate guard outside the palace, and assault the walls of the palace, headed by the Boy Emir, Rafael Brahvo.  This double strain on the palace's defenders should provide the distraction required for the strike team to find and assassinate Thoras.

Kain went over the timeline.

They would reach Brhavo the next day.  It should take no more than 3 days to get Ben close enough to convince the Boy to seize his own city.  That left 10 days to get to Okavango in time for the new moon.  Gade said his side trip was to retrieve supplies for the defenders of Basal; one day to travel to wherever the supplies were, a week to train the para team and prepare to grab the supplies, and 3 days to return to Okavango with the supplies and storm the palace.

That actually left 2 days more than Kain figured they really needed.  But wiggle room was nice.

He'd have to get Bill on hiring the Daks right away.  Kessler said she had a sat-link ready to go, so that would do.

Now he just had to practice keeping a straight face for the part where he told Chambers that he wanted a mini-sub from Baja for the tunnel op....

Kain smiled as he looked at the chrono.  If he knew Gade, the grubby mechanic would be returning any time to tell him a few more details about his own little side mission.


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