Sunday, September 26, 2010


It was late evening, and deep in the darkest recesses of the most obscure, run-down and quiet of the Badlands Caravan Guild vehicle bays, Gade Vonyran was toiling away in relative frustration.

“Goddamn keffer parts,” the mechanic switched to his native Equitorial Hispanic and let the offending piece of ceramic and wiring really have it. After several by-the-book attempts, Gade had even tried the tried-and-true method of hitting the thing with a wrench, but no joy. Whatever it was, it was going to have to be replaced by something Terranovan.

He looked up from his workbench at the massive hovertank sitting not ten meters from him, covered in tarps. Gade had never faced the machines in straight combat, but he could gauge their lethality in his head: it would take at least five Hunters, maybe more, to take one of these HT68s down. And they travelled in packs of three to five. He, and everyone else who fought in the War of the Alliance, still wondered how the Colonial Expeditionary Force was defeated.

Another glance at the clock, another glance at the schematics Carmichael had left him, and then another part to work on. This was the sort of thing that he’d usually get an assistant to do, but there were only four mechanics cleared to work on this project: Gade, Anastasia, Carmichael and Tessa. He’d probably get Bart working on this, but the boy hadn’t talked to him in the three days since he got back from the Emirates.

Bart. His son, now 15 cycles old and having survived a season on the Caravan under Avatanya and Tessa’s tender ministrations, was suddenly a mystery to him. They weren’t ever strangers. Gade had raised the boy on his own from the beginning. Natalia had died only a week after Bart was born. But since his return, Bart had studiously avoided his father. Gade took it in stride, after all, since the Caravan had thought he was dead, killed by the SRID in Raleigh, Humanist Alliance. It was understandable for the boy to be upset. He had been told he was an orphan. By Avatanya, of all people.

Gade reached for a screwdriver and started levering his way into a 15-cycle old part that was manufactured on another planet. His hand spasmed—the result of a recent shrapnel wound that hadn’t quite fully healed—and it dropped, skittering across the floor and out of sight under another workbench. He heaved a sigh, and stood to retrieve it.

Gade had arrived at the Caravan Guild compound, on the outskirts of the Core of Khayr-ad Din, unready for what would transpire. Ethan found him in the junkyard, drew his pistol, and challenged him. Everyone on the Caravan knew that there was always a possibility that an enemy agent could infiltrate the group with sufficient body modification. These things happened all the time, Kain had assured them. Fortunately, Ethan and Gade had both been Regulators in Baja. They had plenty of history.

Bart’s reaction was good, initially. When he saw his father, his eyes widened in shock, then joy, and then they had a happy reunion. It lasted for a few hours until the range and depth of Bart’s emotions asserted themselves. Now it was day three of the silent treatment, and Gade was unsure how to proceed.

“To be fair,” he muttered to himself as he squatted down to search for the screwdriver, “none of my friends have ever come back from the dead.” He scratched his head, and thought about that. “Well, there was that one time when Kain and Sam and Isobel had been buried alive, but we got them out quick enough…” He grabbed the screwdriver just as he heard a muffled noise from inside the hangar, rolled backwards, and sprung to his feet. Gade landed face-to-face with Bart.



“You shouldn’t be here, Bart.”

“Neither should you.”

“You, sir, have no idea.”

Bart’s face was unreadable. He stood on his tip-toes and peered over his father’s shoulder, eyes widening.

“Is that it?”

“Is what it?”

Bart glared impatiently. “The hovertank. Is that it? Everyone’s been talking about it.”

Gade would have rolled his eyes, but he nodded instead, “yup. HT68. The Keff’s workhorse during the War.”


“How’d you know I was here?”

“I asked Tessa.”

“Great,” Gade made a mental note to speak to everyone about the need for operational secrecy on this project, “look, just don’t tell anyone.”

“I won’t. As long as you let me work on it with you.”




Bart looked up at his father for a moment, squinting in the low light. He pursed his lips, “Pa, Tessa and the rest showed me all sorts of video and trideo of you and Ma.”

“Oh?” Gade felt a lump rising in his throat.

“Yeah. I…I mean, we’ve got pictures of Ma, but she was really pretty in all those videos.”

“You, sir, have no idea.”

“And I saw Gun too.”

“Did you now?” Gade couldn’t suppress a little smirk.

“Yep. That’s a fine hunk of parts you built, Pa,” Bart looked at the workbench, then at the tarp-covered hovertank, and then back up at Gade, “Pa, why’d you come back?”

“What do you mean?” the question hit Gade like a ton of bricks.

“You…Carmichael says you were a hot-shot duelist. I heard people say you were a mad-man in Gun, or any gear. You coulda taken Gun outta storage and—“

Gade put his hands on Bart’s shoulders and fixed his most fatherly gaze on his child. “Boy, I went down to the Emirates to help my friends. I helped my friends. It was a close call, and I nearly didn’t make it. But now I’m back here with you.” He looked over at the workbench, “why don’t you and I work on this here piece of junk?”

Bart nodded quietly, and the two Vonyrans sat down at the workbench.



“What about Gun?”

“When you’re ready. First, help me figure out this Earther thiggamajig.”


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