Friday, November 16, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VI : Caught in the Milieu Mit You

The Wagoneer came to a halt 50 meters to her left with a slight shriek of its brakes. Gabrielle had her rifle bearing on the dirty windshield. Forty metres in front of her, Quinn was lying face down in the sand, his blood greedily being soaked up by the dry ground. Fifty metres to her left, Kes was approaching when Gabrielle ordered her to stop. At first she didn’t comply, so Gabrielle brought her rifle to bear on Quinn’s figure again. That did it. Even at this distance and with the rising heat of Helios’ ascent it was the fire in Kes’ eyes which Gabrielle felt most acutely.

There was the sound of pneumatics and the door on the bus opened. The rifle swung back to the left. Dirk stepped out of the bus with his hands bound in front of him. Close behind came Vulpei with a 7mm rifle, which he quickly brought to bear on Gabrielle while keeping it only centimetres away from Dirk’s right ear. Apparently the assassin had turned on the mercs.

“Alors, Dawn, I think it is time you drop your weapon, non?”

“Nope,” she said cheerfully with a big smile, assuming the role of Dawn sarcastically. If Vulpei was now fighting for himself, she wouldn’t be able to leverage Quinn for her escape, let alone for Vulpei himself. Her eyes darted to Dirk’s, who was enraged. For some reason that hurt and she wasn’t sure why.

Vulpei smiled out of the corner of his mouth, a smile that sent a shiver down Gabrielle’s back. His rifle inched left and pushed up against Dirk’s skull and she heard herself say “Nein!” and “No!” at the same time, but she realised it was Kes echoing her sentiment. Instinctively she swung her rifle far to the right and targeted Kes, who was red and looked on the verge of erupting. At that moment Gabrielle realised two shocking things: Firstly, she didn’t want any harm to come to the annoyingly literary Dirk, and that somehow Vulpei had realised it before even she had. Secondly, that she was dead. Her rifle was on Kes and Vulpei could shoot her in the back.

She swallowed. ‘Vater, ich komme.’ Her heart beat 6 times, six beats longer than she had expected, and she looked over her left shoulder to find Vulpei was aiming at her again, not Dirk, but he hadn’t fired. She looked at his expression; there was fear there. Dirk was still mad. She looked at Kes standing 50 metres downrange of her 9mm rifle and saw near apoplectic rage, and back at Vulpei who was afraid, and she realised what had happened at about the same time he did.

“I won’t shoot her, Vulpei, so long as you don’t shoot him,” Gabrielle said, her voice trembling. For the first time she worried about the wound in her leg and the blood soaking through her pants from Kes’ earlier hit.

“I could shoot you before you get that round off, Prophet-lover. I will kill you where you stand, so drop the rifle.” Vulpei stuttered.

“Are you sure? Are you sure I won’t get this shot off? I think I will, so it looks like we’re at an impasse.” As she said the words she realised it was true. She didn’t want to kill anyone else. She had nothing against Kes and she bitterly realised that she wanted no harm to come to Dirk, but she wasn’t about to surrender to this southern killer.

“Hey!” Kes screamed and Gabrielle tensed suddenly. “Are you fucks going to kill each other already or can I go save my brother?”

Gabrielle’s eyes darted to Quinn, who hadn’t move in a while, and wondered if he was still alive. There was a tense quiet. Sand swirled around helplessly; the fury of the winds which only a few hours before had seemed indomitable had abated and were now no more than an annoyance to her and Vulpei.

“Dawn, what are you doing?” Vulpei asked. Then he repeated with a slight variation, “What are we doing?”

“OK, I’m moving but I’ve still got Kes in my crosshairs, you hear? I’m going to circle behind her and then I’m going to send her to help Quinn and you send Dirk forward too. That way we’re on a level playing field.” Gabrielle started to move, but Vulpei’s voice stopped her.

“I’m not interested in a level playing field. I try and avoid fair fights as often as I can, ma chère, so perhaps...”

“Alain, my brother is dying!” Kes screamed again, interrupting the assassin.

There was a beat. Then he said, “OK”. Gabrielle moved around, circling Kes until she was behind her. Down the length of her barrel she had the girl, a little further off and on the ground Quinn, and at the far end of her axis, Dirk and Vulpei. Kes and Dirk started advancing in unison towards their stricken comrade, at first tentatively and then quickly until they were both running flat out. Kes pulled a first aid kit from her thigh as Dirk applied pressure. “He’s breathing,” he said quietly.

Gabrielle was afraid she was going to be sick again. She was getting weak as her wound kept emptying her of life. Sweat was pouring freely and her hair was matted against her face, yet she held her rifle steady, pointing it at Vulpei, who stood like a mirror image with his own rifle bearing down on her.

“Green Dawn, your Fox is 3 klicks southeast of the homestead, come get him.” Gabrielle said over an open frequency. There was a confirmation, and moments later the longrunner’s dust could be seen approaching. Vulpei watched her intently.

“How is he, Kes?” Vulpei asked. There was no response. “Dirk?” Gabrielle called out with unexpected concern. Still they worked in silence. “Kes?” Vulpei repeated more insistently.

“Fuck off! He’s stable, alright?” Kes screamed, her voice barely controlling a sob.

“Et maintenant?” Vulpei called as the dust from the longrunner settled behind him.

“Nun verlassen,” Gabrielle said with resignation.

Vulpei never let his rifle drop as he stepped back and disappeared into the longrunner. It rolled back the way it came. As the caravan retreated, Gabrielle collapsed. She suppressed a sob herself and freed a hand to dig around for a compress. Tearing it with her teeth, one hand still on her rifle, she patched the hole in her leg. After a moment she willed herself up and started limping towards the Wagoneer. Kes and Dirk watched her with daggers in their eyes. Something in Kes’ gaze alerted Gabrielle and she raised her rifle again and simply warned, “Don’t.” Kes settled slightly, her hand still on her collapsed staff.

“I’m going to kill you,” Kes seethed as Gabrielle mounted the bus.

“You haven’t learned anything, have you?” she said with pity and set the Wagoneer in motion, throwing Dirk’s Sand Rider knife out the window.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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