Thursday, June 19, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Out of the Frying Pan

18 Spring, 1927

“Fucking Southern piece of shit!”

The ground was coming up fast as the Adder pitched forward. The warning klaxons that had been blaring over the speakers suddenly fell silent, and the control panel displays winked out. Lyta braced herself against her seat. At least the crew compartment was well cushioned – she would probably survive the impact, and she might even be able to do it without any injuries. The Gear, on the other hand, was probably little better than scrap metal at this point. It would take Fennec months to bring it back to working order, and it wouldn’t even be worth the effort.

She felt the shift in her inner ear as the Adder’s leg was blown out from under her, the whole thing tipping at an angle and rapidly gaining downward momentum.

Lyta wished with all her heart for Dervish. If she’d had her Jaguar, with its painstakingly conditioned neural net, this never would have happened. She could have danced circles around… well, around whoever it was. That was a question for later, when she wasn’t a sitting target.

The HUD had gone dark with the control panels. There would be no way to know that she’d hit the ground until she felt the impact. She let herself go limp, fighting against the instinct to tense up.

She would find out who they were, she promised herself. She would take their Gears. She would—

A shudder went through the Gear as it slammed into the ground front-first. Lyta could still hear the gunfire impacting all around her.

She took a precious second to diagnose her condition: bruised, but nothing seemed broken and she didn’t see any blood. It would have to do for now.

She unslung herself from the harness. The front-facing exit hatch was crushed against the ground, and she would have to push against the weight of an Adder to get it open. Unlikely. She hunted around for the emergency hatch and found it above her head. She contorted herself into obtain a position where she could put maximum pressure on the latch and heaved.

The hinge swung open suddenly, and Lyta tumbled out of the Gear. A bullet landed in the Adder’s hull barely a foot away from her.

She launched into action, sprinting away from the useless hunk of steel and circuitry. She took her bearings as she ran, darting back and forth to make herself a more difficult target for anyone who might have her in their crosshairs. Lukas and Torgath were keeping the hostiles engaged, but they were still outnumbered, especially since Lyta had just lost any reasonable form of firepower. In front of her, Fennec was still struggling to flip the rail switch back into its proper position. She could hear the wrenching of the metal, but so far nothing had moved.

Nothing except the train.

Behind her, the engine still careened forward towards Fennec’s Gear and the wrong bend in the track. It would not slow down, not with the conductor dead and Radsley injured. There were still hostiles aboard. Miranda was aboard.

In a split-second, Lyta made her decision and began pumping her legs as fast as she could. No matter how this turned out, it was going to hurt. There was no way she could build up enough momentum on foot to match the speed of the train. She would just have to hope that she could hold on hard enough not to be immediately flung off or crushed under the wheels.

She was neck and neck with the engine. She did not have time to see if there were windows, let alone what the situation was inside, before it had zoomed past her. She would have to figure it out when she got there.

A car rushed past, then another. She would need to jump, and soon. Her legs pounded faster against the baking ground. The wind whipped up dust and dirt into her face.

No matter what happened next, it would be tight. How much time could she possibly have before the train was on top of Fennec?

Not enough. That was clear.

Another car slipped past. Another.

Lyta twisted her head, watching as the next car drew up towards her. She saw the guard-rail at the back. She would only have one chance.

With a shout, she kicked off with both feet and flung herself at the train, thrusting her arms forward towards the rail. It nearly dislocated her shoulder as she caught it and held on for dear life. The ground rushed past, inches below her feet, as fast to her now as the train had been a second before.

As she pulled herself up over the rail and landed between the cars, it occurred to her she had no idea what to do next. She was five or six cars back from the engine – there was no way she would be able to reach the front in time to stop the train from running over Fennec. She would just have to hope that the mechanic was able to flip the switch and save her from mission failure and her probable death.

She grabbed hold of an access ladder and began climbing. “I’m on board,” Lyta said into her comms, her breath still panting from her sprint. “I’m going forward.”

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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