Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VIII: Going Home

“Well, that was exciting,” Riley said laconically.

Lukas, Lyta, and Todd were tightly squeezed into the sub, still panting from their recent exertion. An hour before they had been leaping off the docks of the secure export/import zone for New Baja. As luck would have it, “The Pain’s” people had drawn the attention of the security forces, allowing them to perform their slow getaway on the barge Fennec had stolen.

Once out on the lake, it was time to take their haul below the dark watery surface. To this end, Riley poked a hole in the barge with the vibroblade of his Wasser-Jager. What ensued was a rushed, almost comical donning of wetsuits as the 5-metre-high geyser of water started sinking the boat much faster than had been expected.

“It ain’t like I knew what size ‘o hole to make. I don’t go sinking barges very day,” Riley had said with a lazy smile in his usual drawl when they had reached the small cave.

Before getting there, though, the team had to secure the six sinking crates of Paxton arms with their homemade ballast tanks made from rubber dinghies. All of them save Lukas, of course, who had to deal with an unconscious Pascal Pigeon before he drowned in a rainbow mixture of cold water and oil.

It took some time to attach the devices to the cargo containers and adjust them so they sank a little but not too much. Then they had to attach them to the Gear and escort them to the small cave where the sub waited for them.

In the small cave the team flopped awkwardly onto the beach, having never walked on land with flippers. Moreover, swimming made demands on them which were unfamiliar and surprisingly exhausting given their levels of physical fitness.

Riley switched the lights on the sub remotely, leapt from the Gear, gave the team a sly smile and then dashed to the water -- swimming to the sub at an impressive speed. He was almost at the hatch before the first of them heard the humming. Fennec was the first to say the words, though Lukas had already made the connection in his mind: yellowjackets. Fennec jumped into the Wasser-Jager while Lyta and Lukas each grabbed one of Pigeon’s arms and dragged him back into the water. Todd ripped the plastic cover off the Paxton SMG and covered their retreat down to the water line. If it came to it, he could slow the swarm down with enough bullets, but he knew he couldn’t stop it. As it turned out, the bugs concentrated ineffectually on the Gear, allowing time for everyone to swim to the sub.

“I’m sorry, I was sure I’d mentioned the yellowjackets,” Riley added as the team, still catching their breath, pulled their wetsuits off. Over the comms Fennec agreed the swarm had been discussed, happy to share in the joke as she had never really been threatened in the Gear.

“Oh? I must have been distracted,” Todd said with all sincerity. Lyta snorted, Lukas glared. Riley quickly redeemed himself with a much welcomed cooler of food and beer to everyone’s delight save Fennec’s. Lukas took particular delight in complimenting the delicious meal over the comms.

A pleasant, if slow, ride ensued. Occasionally, the conversation had to be interrupted so Riley could give instructions to Fennec on how to navigate a difficult current or guide the containers through a tight passage.

“Here we are,” Riley interjected late in the afternoon as he shut down the sub’s propellers. Fennec started dragging the containers to the shore as Lukas, Lyta, and Todd followed Riley to the surface up a gently sloping tunnel. It was disorienting to emerge into the light. Not only had they been in the relative darkness of the sub for the last 6 hours, but they hadn’t seen natural light in Baja for several days. Helios shone brightly in the late afternoon sky, sending long shadows across the Karaq Wastes.

Lyta was the first to recognize where they were: the Santa Uriba valley. Some of those streaking shadows were those of giant stone heads. They had come here, the three of them, as children. This is where they were the day the CEF invaded.

It took another hour to get all six crates to the surface and set up a small shelter for the night. Riley parted ways with the team but not before giving them another cooler of fresh produce and meats to last them until they met with their caravan.  The claustrophobic confines of the sub were replaced with the wide open expanses of the desert. The moist air of New Baja was replaced with the dry wind of the Karaq Wastes. The dark monochrome of the caves now gave way to the scarlet and blood-orange rays of a setting sun illuminating the stone heads and the Badlanders who, after a half-cycle in the Humanist Alliance and an anxious week underground were, finally, home.

“That was exciting,” enthused Todd, remarking upon the similarities between the last week’s adventures and one of his books.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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