Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter V: Nazarine

She watched the gears approach the mine entrance. On the outline of the frame were remnants and wreckage of the battle of Nazerine. She was disturbed by a strange sensation. Although she understood irony -- she wasn’t an automaton after all -- she rarely felt it on personal level anymore. Like most of her feelings, it was a distraction which was relegated to the dark crevices of her mind, a remnant of her former self. Emotions were unnecessary; she could appreciate on an intellectual level that this would end at Nazerine, where it had begun.

He might have been startled if he had not been so deeply in thought. The portable relay device was receiving an almost undetectable signal from his physical tremor sensor. He knew that some forces had already entered the mine. He didn’t know how many and didn’t want to engage them in there if he could avoid it, so he laid his custom probes out, powered down his gear and waited under cover in his hide. Four days had passed and now his rudimentary alarm told him a number of gears had arrived. Still, he couldn’t risk passive sensors or anything that might give him away.His probes used a mechanical metric and sent such a weak signal that it was barely above background magnetic interference. No one would know it was there, the downside being that they relayed precious little details. They couldn’t see him and he couldn’t see them, but at least he knew they were there, which for the time being gave him the advantage.

She watched as five figures dismounted from the gears. There was the masked one, the one who called himself Quinn. He had his two compatriots with him as expected. They had been surprisingly effective at disrupting some of her operations: they had interfered with Bradwick, they infiltrated the Yele medical complex, they asked Wallcraft about Arens and they had exposed that incompetent sleeper to unnecessary scrutiny. Yes, most effective. She was almost annoyed, not that this was personal or an emotional decision. Two others were with them, one was at least 15 cycles older and vaguely familiar, while the other was only a few cycles older than those pesky kids, but he was very familiar.

He couldn’t be sure. He kept thinking he was getting some kind of signal. A long time had passed and he was tempted to try a passive scan, but he suppressed the urge. Patience,patience was something he had in abundance, or so he had always thought until recently. This brought to mind emotions and thoughts which were both unpleasant and distracting, so he pushed them to the back of his mind like he had been trained to do. He waited, and when he thought he might have figured out what was going on out there, beyond the heaps and sand, he was surprised by fresh activity. His tremor sensors recorded a small disturbance; more gears,he thought to himself.

She shifted uncomfortably in her seat watching the trideo feed. The screen in the auxiliary mechanical room had gone out after the flash grenade; she saw other feeds shake and sputter. A ball of flame shot out into the central tunnel and systems blinked error messages in the vat room. She didn’t have remote control over all the functions of the base, but she didn't need them to know the GRELs’ maturation units had suffered some damage and were now malfunctioning. She caught a glimpse of Wallcraft. He looked concerned. And now she saw her guests approaching the vat room. So much for the mercenaries Wallcraft had hired. Well, no matter. She had not counted on them doing the job for her. However, those GRELs just might.

He had managed to put the discomfort out of his mind until now. The survival suit made hygiene bearable, if a bit unpleasant. He kept his mind distracted for long hours reciting information and reading by his tiny lamp, but the pain in his back from this much time in a confined space without movement was slowly wearing him down. His sensors registered again; this time he didn’t understand the feed. It wasn’t movement, more like a sudden colossal step. Had all the gears out there just jumped up and down once in unison? It didn’t take him long to realise it had been an explosion. He desperately wanted more information, but he couldn’t afford to leave his cockpit and couldn’t chance anything that would give away his position. He had to stay the course.

She was hesitating, an unaccustomed sensation that she added to the list of extraneous emotions she had experienced over the last forty-five minutes. She could not deny the reason for it: clearly these troublesome youths had to die, but she had not expected to find him with them. She knew she should just activate the self-destruct, especially after they had terminated the GRELs, but she felt some need to speak to him, to let him know he had done well, though all of it was in vain. She considered this must be some Jan-like flaw of megalomania, but as distasteful as that vice might be to her, she realised with growing concern that it was worse. It wasn't something that they had added to her; this weakness was something they hadn't quite taken away.

She was hesitating because she felt she owed it to him to see who had done this to them. Not Wallcraft, that stupid agent had ruined ten cycles of work elevating him within the Kolsons. He deserved nothing more than quiet oblivion. Not Quinn, meddlesome as he and his party were. She could kill them without pause. He on the other hand... Ennick, deserved to know.

Something was happening. He didn’t know what yet, but his rudimentary tremor sensors were registering a flurry of activity. The large force he had first tracked was now mobilizing. He was somehow relieved. He didn't know why they were moving, for all he knew they were coming to kill him, but even that thought had an element of consolation to it. It meant that the waiting was over and he could be freed from this gear, a prisoner of his thoughts and his regrets, tortured by countless scenarios where he had found the right words to say to her.

She couldn’t speak to him, not even so much as look at him. Wallcraft had died as stupidly as he had lived. Unaware that he had been used to draw in these troublemakers, that a more valuable agent than he had ever been had been wasted to set the trap. The others stood by placidly as she explained to them they were about to die. Some might consider their stoicism brave; she had no thoughts on the subject. Her mind was elsewhere. The more she had wanted to look at Ennick, the more resolutely her physical body prevented her from doing so. Her rebirth had ingrained in her the impulse to face what she feared but deny herself anything she wanted. She had wondered how the programing would resolve this paradox. She had felt compelled to show herself to Ennick only to completely ignore him in the end. How strange.

He felt the shock even as his sensors shrieked and went dead. Something had just knocked his seismic sensor grid right out and he was blind. More troubling than that was the certainty that a large explosion had just occurred nearby and that it might be too late. That he might have missed his chance to act. Once again he stared at his lifeless control panel and considered if it was time to power up.

The screen went dead. She changed channels. “Colonel, please signal the mercenaries to close in on the remaining targets. I am relying on you to ensure a clean sweep.” “Yes, Director”, he answered smartly. Nazarine was where she had been reborn, where the CEF had failed and the true ambitions of the NEC had been seeded. It was now where her story truly ended, the final resting spot of the Kazzovs.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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