Thursday, September 9, 2010

The End.

Kain was walking down the halls of the palace diplomatic wing. The vaulted ceilings and gilded mouldings struck him as gaudy and offensive. He hated the palace. In fact, he was becoming increasingly intolerant of the E.S.E. as a whole.

He resented being there. He berated Ben for going down there on some foolish mission and begrudged him for getting caught and forcing Kain to come to his rescue. He disapproved of the Emirs, the populists as much as the demagogues, each in their own way. He despised the entitlement of the elite and the subservience of the sajhalin. And he had nothing but contempt for the arm-chair rebels devoid of initiative and good honest bravery.

Even the bravado of the tunnel forlorn hope, who had all died save one, was inspired by religious servility to their emir, not out of martial courage or enlightened self interest.

If all that wasn’t enough, the E.S.E was hot, humid and smelly. A swamp with little or no charm wrought by violent turmoil and undignified slaughter. In short, he hated it there.

He let himself into the Doc’s room, privacy and individual space has long since become irrelevant amongst the wary traveling band. Chambers was sunk into a pouf; an overstuffed, spineless thing typical of E.S.E. couches and to Kain’s mind, they’re people. He was enveloped in a thick cloud of grey smoke coming from a double corona in his right hand; in his left, he held a bottle.

“Where did you find the cigars” Kain said nudging a box with the end of his steel caped boots.

“I liberated them from the Emir’s tower. I don’t think Bhravo should be smoking at his age anyway. Have one, Thoras had remarkably good taste in cigars but his taste in whiskey was terrible.”

“But drinkable”

“Only to get drunk on, I swear I haven’t enjoyed a single drop.”

“I’ll come back later Doc, when you’re sober”

“If you wait for that, it might be too late. What’s up Kain, I’m not that far gone?” He put down the bottle, dropped the rest of his cigar in and capped the smoke-filled bottle before tossing it aside. He reached into a box and withdrew another cigar which he proceeded to prepare with practiced hands.

“I’m leaving.”

“The room? Or..”

“The palace, the ESE, this whole scene. Maia left this morning, Gade is heading out again. He said he didn’t want to risk what was left of his skin on the Raleigh stash; he has Bart to think about. I can’t fault him that.”

“So now you’re going too. Well I don’t see why you would stay. You always had your own agenda to attend to.”

“That’s why I’m here, I want you to come with me. I don’t know what you have going on here with the Emir? I know you offered your services…”

“And was unceremoniously rejected. Apparently he has some use for me, but it won’t be in front of a camera and it won’t buy my reputation back.”

“Your reputation may be the problem Doc. You’re not exactly a trustworthy public figure these days and it’s hard to come back from that image. You’ve got to see that too? You’re not going to be wheeling and dealing like you used to, those days are gone.”

There was a long silence. Tom Chambers had fallen from grace in an epic way in the last 4 cycles. The Lelland Endowment and the Meredith foundation were incorporated into larger city state social programmes. The Guidebank was nationalised by NuCoal, that same organisation blamed Chambers publicly for sedition and complicity in mass murder in Lance Point. His empire building days were gone, he had held an unrealistic hope that he could start over in the E.S.E., at the right place at the right time and with the right contacts, but Terra Nova was too small to forget Tom Chambers so soon.

“So what can I do for you Kain? A medic, a sniper?”

“I have no patience for you self pity Doc, you’re a schemer, a natural organiser and a born strategist. You can do what you do best, just behind the scenes, out of the limelight and for a greater purpose.”

“Greater than what? NuCoal could be the start of an equatorial power Kain, a counterbalance to polar bellicosity. It’s the most important thing I’ve ever done for Terra Nova or could ever do.”

“Except save Terra Nova. The NEC is still around, still networking, still planning to finish what they started. Everyone else has forgotten, they’ve gone back to their petty rivalries. But I know Doc, I know what the NEC has been up to because I never forgot what they did to us and what they’re capable of. I’ve been doing this for 15 cycles, trust me.”

“So you want me to help you hunt them down.”

“I need you to help me defeat them. I can’t keep taking them out one by one, it hasn’t gotten me anywhere. I need to figure out how they work, what they’re plan is and establish a bulwark against it. Those are things you could help me with.”

“You didn’t want to work with me after the Arens affair, what’s changed?”

“You. Back then you were still too arrogant and too bent on building an empire. I’m talking about fighting a war. You don’t have anything to loose now Doc and everything to gain. To put it simply, I think you are now capable of taking your ego out of the equation.”

Tom smoked quietly. Kain was right, on many scores - probably all. Tom had lost everything he had built that propped up his ego. Now he was free of all that, free to organise a resistance for a war no one wanted to acknowledge was coming. Kain was right, too much of Tom’s ego had been wrapped up in everything he did. With his reputation gone, he was free to operate with only one objective: doing what was necessary and what was right.

“OK Kain. I'm your man."

"Took you long enough."

"Fuck you very much."

"C'mon, let’s blow this shit hole.”


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