Saturday, December 4, 2010

A nose for the news

Helen Luka yawned. It was nearly 11am, and the sun shone brightly as it climbed the sky. She rubbed her eyes and looked out from the stands. The PRDF demonstration range just outside of Goodland was an expansive obstacle course designed to sell the best of Paxton's wares, and Helen had to admit that it was doing its job admirably thus far.

The first half hour of the demonstration had been a simple run through the obstacle course at high speeds. The pilots were confident and well-trained. They had certainly all shown military precision in navigating the obstacles at high speeds. That is, all but the pilot of one of the Warrior III's, who drove his gear as fast as the rest, while adding a decidedly un-military flare to the demonstration with his pirouettes and skate-board grinds using the bottom of his gear's foot. Helen had done her homework: Sam Tarmalin, one one of the Badlands Caravan Guild bodyguards that Lady Hiro had been employing, was driving that gear.

"Enjoy the spectacle, Miss Luka?" Doctor Chamber had arrived, quietly sipping from a water bottle.

"Oh, it's quite something, Doctor," Helen smirked, "and you can call me Helen." She smiled at him more genuinely. "Your man in the demonstration seems to be doing well."

Chambers raised his bottle in mock-toast, impressed, "you've been doing your homework I see. Yes, Sam's an accomplished pilot, though off the record, he usually pilots a Blitz Iguana. He likes the gear's agility. You should have heard his belly-aching about having to drive a Warrior III."

"He's certainly putting his own personal touch on the demonstration."

"Well, that's Sam."

"And you feel his presence on the demonstration team is a necessary security precaution?"

"Off the record?"

Helen nodded.

"The Free Emirates arms purchase will provide a major opportunity for Paxton to gain a foothold in the Polar heavy gear market. That means more stability for Peace River, and more opportunities for President Simosa's reformist agenda to work. That's the last thing the BRF want. So they'll do their best to scuttle the deal. So yes, every security precaution is a necessary one."

Chamber's phone rang.

"Excuse me while I take this."

Helen nodded. She looked out onto the demonstration grounds. It was a clear day. Further off, she could see a PRDF hopper patrolling the dunes of the Karak Wastes, and she also knew that the testing range had a secure perimeter of automated sensor drones. She looked down across the stands. To her right in the A/V hut, she saw Captain Rosso, the PRDF liaison speaking quietly into a communicator. To her left were the Mastiff APCs they had all ridden in for the trip to Goodland. She looked over at Doctor Chambers, whose face had suddenly gone white, his eyes widening. Chambers made a dash towards Victorya Hiro, who had been chatting with one of the PRDF attaches in front of one of the Paxton gears.

Helen could have sworn she heard the sudden whup-whup-whup of a Paxton helicopter, but she hadn't seen one all day.

"Doctor, is everything--" Helen's eyes widened in comprehension. She sprinted towards the edge of the stands and dove back under the structure just as the first shells hit. There was a loud rush of air and the smell of gasoline. Helen couldn't hear over the ringing in her ears. She flicked on her V/R recorder.

"This is Helen Luka, live at the PRDF demonstration grounds near Goodland. The Free Emirates delegation here has come under mortar fire from unknown terrorists!" Helen crawled towards the edge of the stands, and looked out towards the obstacle course. More shells impacted, but Luka didn't flinch. "There are gears in the obstacle course! Coming towards us!" She kept her voice as calm as she could, as she filmed Sam and Strauss clambering into the Paxton gears that had been parked in front of the stands. She hoped she'd make it through the shelling. This was going to be big news.


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