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Author Topic: The Stars Await Prequels  (Read 2986 times)
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Moderator
Zeppelin Admiral
*
New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« on: July 03, 2012, 12:32:11 pm »

Venus' weather was very easy to predict. There would be storms, you wouldn't know when they were coming but you could bet you wouldn't get more than 2 hours of clear air. There was no such thing as clear sky though, the upper atmosphere never stopped raging with storms. Today it had already been churning for a good six hours when a clear patch rolled in. Slipping his goggles down onto his scarf, Roger took the opportunity to head out to the broken down Turtle sitting a mere half-mile from the VC6 Land Port. The poor crew had marched across the rocky highlands of Ishtar Terra, the northern continent VC6 lay on the southern edge of. The Turtles were well-equipped vehicles though, so they were not left bare to the storms. The vehicle had sat there though for the last 4 days, untouchable while the storms carried on as they did. It would be a mad race to get it repaired, or at least get it to the point where it could be towed back to the Land Port, now that there was a clear patch. The crew was lucky really, many would have to wait for weeks for thirty minutes of clear air in which their vehicles could be rescued. Luckily things didn't break down often on this planet, they were designed to carry on for years if necessary.

Reaching the Turtle, it became apparent it has carried on for years. It didn't have the markings of any of the trading giants so it must have belonged to a merchant who was finally carving off a decent share of the market for himself when he bought it, Turtles weren't cheap. It had been stained by lava all across its giant track guards and had the trademark damage patterns of something that had passed along the trade roads through the lava plains between here and VC's 4 and 5 down on Aphrodite Terra. It only took a split second's examination to realise the cause of the problem was a busted tread. It was untowable. Furthermore, they would need a good hour of clear air to get a new tread on and have it rolling again. It was essentially written off.

He turned back toward the Land Port and saw exactly what he expected to see. The dust cloud of one of the little runabout bikes often used by workers whose jobs required them to be outside. They could run fine in the run-of-the-mill storms they experienced most days but weren't as heavy-duty as the trade vehicles that could move about regardless of the weather. Pretty much all of the mechanics in VC6's Land Port had one and those who didn't were forced to work as glorified cargoboys, the untrained youngsters who would haul goods about the Port, without the mobility of their runabouts. Roaches, they called them. The fact that Roger had made it here on foot and this Roach was only just arriving meant most of the mechanics were probably scrambling out from their break to take advantage of the clear air.

The bike pulled up beside the Turtle and a hefty boot smacked the ground as its owner lifted his goggles. It was Johnny Howler, the youngest of the small bunch of mechanics out in VC 6. His last name wasn't really Howler, but he once had his arm skinned by his Roach's wheel when he was working on it as an apprentice and the noise that resulted echoed its way down to the factories where the workers had been taking their breaks. He became very well-known after that. "Oh, you're that howling one!" They'd all exclaim when they found out who he was, then they'd laugh. Johnny took it in stride, embraced it even. Laughed it all off himself. The skin on his arm still appeared twisted and pale from how it had healed over though.

"Howler, we need a full Turtle tread for this one. The joints on it obviously saw one rock too many." he said to the lad as the Roach worked its way down to an idle. Johnny just nodded and revved the Roach back into life before snapping his old goggles on and heading back. Hopefully they could get a Rabbit out here with a new tread in less than ten minutes. Even if they then had to ditch the tread and head back in because of the weather it would be progress. Roger busied himself with raising the Turtle on one side and removing the busted tread. A few minutes later, the air still clear and looking like it would hold for at least a quarter hour, the Rabbit arrived. It was a small wheeled vehicle used for quick hauls and it had space for about 6 men inside, 7 including the driver.

Only four jumped out though, lining up so the could roll out the whole tread until it was flat. Replacing treads was done frequently on the smaller vehicles, the ones that were designed to move faster and wear out faster, so repairing the Turtle was a simple matter of scaling up the operation slightly. They had the tread on in twenty short minutes. It was only barely hooked up, but it was enough to allow the Turtle to be towed. The towing vehicle that had turned up a few minutes earlier, a custom one put together by some of the older engineers as heavier vehicles like Turtles and Spiders started trading with VC6, let its engine build up to full power and, once the necessary cables were in place, started chugging back to the Land Port. Roger hopped in the Rabbit with the other mechanics and headed into the Land Port just as the usual weather set back in.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 03:35:02 am by The Corsair » Logged

I think I should also mention I had a dream about this game, only Bailey was a woman...

I assure you, that incident in Singapore was all a misunderstanding.
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Moderator
Zeppelin Admiral
*
New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2012, 02:14:59 pm »

The rest of the working day was consumed by finishing the tread replacement on the Turtle and giving it a general patch-up. After filling in his timesheet, Roger strolled his way down the main thoroughfare from the Land Port to the rest of VC6. His apartment was on the outskirts, where all the heavy-industry workers lived. Most of the mechanics lived out here too, but they usually went home later in the evening. Johnny slept out at the Port, not being able to afford a place to live on his apprentice's salary. He also had no parents, like Roger. There weren't really any systems in place to prevent people from winding up in situations like Johnny's. Children without parents could go into orphanages, but very few were adopted and it became a miserable existence for most until they could leave, which was a whole 5 years after they were allowed to start working. The alternative was living in a government house for children. They were essentially lawless, but thankfully children were forced to leave once they were 13 so nothing excessively dangerous or highly illegal went on in those places. That's where he'd grown up, House 4 specifically. They kicked him out as soon as he looked about 13 and was too much of a bother to keep around. All the residents were too much of a bother really, but he'd gone so far as to get caught with Cannabis. He was moving it from one room to another in return for some biscuits but that didn't matter to the wardens, they were desperate get rid of him before it became a bureaucratic nightmare to release the kid whose age was unknown.

He went through the motions of cook, eat, pass time, sleep, dress, eat until it was time to leave for work again. The Turtle would be moving out and they would probably just be sitting around all day, some of them using the time to work on their beloved Roaches. Fixing the Turtle would have earned them a decent commission so hopefully they'd play cards and gamble for a bit. That was one thing he and Johnny were better at than the older mechanics, their youth making them somehow hard to read by the older men. It was always good to see Howler have things go his way for once when he won at cards. The kid had no parents, no home, barely a job and had skinned his arm when he was barely old enough to work. He wasn't alone though, there were plenty of people like that, stuck in an unlucky life. He was probably doing better than most of them though, because he at least had the chance to be a mechanic one day. It was just how things ended up on Venus, some people slipped through the cracks and spent their lives with nothing.

The most unusual thing about the Port was the absence of the Turtle. The traders in the smaller vehicles were hard men who left at the crack of dawn but Turtle crews generally enjoyed a bit more of a sleep-in, getting going about an hour into most people's work days. Granted, that hour was often spent refuelling and tightening screws. Obviously these ones were in a rush. Rushed trade didn't exactly occur out in the south of Ishtar. It was just an accepted fact that travel between VC6 and Aphrodite's colonies was slow and that VC6 was remote enough that travel was just as slow to the rest of the Ishtar colonies. Reaching the small iron hut that passed as their office he noticed something else odd. He was third to arrive that morning, not unusual in itself, but of the two before him neither had been Howler. The others were just as concerned.
"He's not in any of his usual sleeping spots either." said Hopper, one of the older mechanics who got his name from his days as a Rabbit driver. Obviously he had figured Roger had noticed Howler's absence.
"He's not out buying something?" asked Roger.
"His Roach is gone." replied Hopper, almost cutting him off.
That made him worry properly.
Percy, the moustachioed 40-something man who had taken Johnny on as an apprentice walked in during the silence.
"Howler's gone, his Roach is too." said Hopper.
"Merchants took him." replied Percy, almost nonchalantly.
Silence again.
"Took him where?" asked Hopper.
"Haven't the foggiest. Obviously they saw something in him. Left us a bit extra." Percy explained.
He spoke like it was all just business, and in a sense it was. There were thousands of Johnny Howlers, plenty of able young boys who could become apprentice mechanics. It was unfortunate that they should lose him, but it wasn't a big loss. Everyone geared up to swallow the sadness and get on with the day when Jean, the odd Frenchman who had chosen to move to Venus that had once trained Roger, arrived spoke up. He had obviously overheard something.
"Someone's going to have to get him." he said.
Nobody could be bothered asking the obligatory 'why?', so Jean pressed on.
"He has the keys to the tow machine and the Rabbit." he pointed out, motioning to the key hooks. Sure enough, two sets were missing. No-one else had noticed. At least it was an obvious reason to go, rather than something based off one of Jean's philosophical rambles, with which they were all familiar. "See, the thing with an engine," he would start "is that it is alive, but in its own way." and they would all roll their eyes and lip-sync to the ensuing monologue.
"I'll go. I guess I'm dispensable." he said. And it was true. He wasn't just an apprentice, but he was less important than the older mechanics who had the skills to train worker after worker. He had unintentionally made the words more venomous than they needed to be, though, and suddenly the room was filled with men dealing with fresh feelings of guilt for abandoning Johnny. They all liked him, he was hard not to like, so it was more difficult than normal to let him go, but it was what they had to do, what they were used to doing.
"I'll come" said Percy, giving a detail other than guilt for the room to cling to. He obviously felt some sort of duty to Johnny, which was odd for him. He was a 'short sentences' kind of man. Blunt, efficient. Not unfeeling probably, but he didn't exactly let his emotions run rampant and generally didn't spend much time practising compassion and remorse and those other more tender emotions. Nobody else volunteered, two was enough. They would be taking the Roaches though, which meant it wouldn't be an easy trip. Hopefully they could get a lift back in a Spider with enough room for them and their bikes.

So it wasn't a routine day of lounging, tinkering and gambling. It was a lot more. It was frankly terrifying. Sitting on his roach, only an hour into his working day, Roger lowered his goggles onto his eyes and prepared to cross the barren planet with nothing but his tough riding clothes and a week's worth of supplies, enough to make it up Ishtar to VC3.
Logged
MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
*
United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #2 on: July 04, 2012, 06:45:19 am »

The diveships converged on the Jovian moon Io, the gigantic mass of Jupiter looming so impossibly close, yet so unreachably far. the  lurid reds and oranges of the superplanet and the fires of a massive volcano on the moon's horizon lent a fitting spectacle to the battle that was about to ensue. Five hundred diveships, more than the Confederates had ever managed to assemble in one place before, made their runs to the moon's surface, delivering their cargoes of troops, artillery, and materiel in daredevil, breakneck descents though bombardment both manmade and natural.

In theory, a 'diveship' was a specific type of warship. Smaller than a shuttle, but bigger than a gunship, well-armed for its size (usually capable of a ten-gun broadside), fast, resilient, and made for rapid, almost instantaneous transition between Aetheric and rocket- or propeller-thrusted antigravity drive, thy were supposedly a type of sloop class vessel.

In reality, at least as far as the confederates' definition was concerned, they were any type of ship with the aforementioned capabilities. everything from actual purpose-built true diveships, to the ubiquitous "tramp lighters" that competed on and above every world for cargoes to carry from Spacelocked Aetherships to their factors on the ground, and vice versa, to odd little airships converted to partial mechanical antigravity and fitted with aetherscrews for navigating aboveplanet and pressure cabins to preserve their crews and passegers in the airless void, to really just about anything that could be made to operate in both environments. There was even an assumedly mad old dutchman who flew what amounted to a converted gondola balloon! The strangest part of that story was that the old lunatic had a better Mission Completion rating than anyone else- and had even downed a couple of Union second-rates!

Bailey's craft at that time was the Busted Flush, an actual  Jovian Run diveship that had been used before the war to chase pirates. The story went that she had been found on Europa, in a drydock for refurbishment of derelicts. She had been commandeered by the High Command, her refitting and refurbishment bill footed by the then-flush Confederate Navy. Officially, she was DS-117BF, but Bailey'd been on a streak of bad cardplaying luck, and he had named her in a moment of whimsy. The name stuck, and now she was called by that name even on official channels. His crew, such as it was, consisted of a mechanic and gunner named something like Padawaru or Podlawadru, he never could seem to get it right or figure it out; he just settled on calling him "Pod." He'd had a copilot, a wiry, foul-mouthed girl named Tara Bolica, but she had insisted on going out and checking the antenna during a meteor storm, and one minute she was chattering away goodnaturedly and filthily on the umbilical system, and the next she was no longer anywhere around. They had searched for the better part of a Standard day, but not a hair nor suit scrap did they ever find. He and Pod and Willikers, the engineer, had taken up the slack since then.

They had been assigned to the 3rd Ionian Rangers, a 'mounted' (on mechanical striders) infantry unit numbering over 500 effectives at the start of the war. The Flush was one of over seventy transports aboard the Confederate Planetary Commonwealth (CPC) Trundleworth, a huge, obese-looking retired Aetherliner that had been retrofitted with gun emplacements and Diveship bays. The 3rd resided within her, in cramped conditions, on the day of her departure from Port Grumman on Io, when they had set out, as such expeditions will, with huigh hopes and expectations of busting up the 'damn Yankees' and sending them home with their tails betreen their legs. Accomodations steadily conditions became roomier, despite frequent arrivals of replacements. A good measure of how the war was actually progressing was teh fact that billets becme roomier and roomier as the conflict dragged on, and diveship bays were converted to hospitals and convalescent facilities as more and more of the ships failed to make it home.

Then came the Union Invasion, when the Union forces literally split the commonwealth in two, and Sherman's forces took Jefferson City and the rest of Io, prompting this desperate and, some thought, doomed rescue effort by the now-ragtag Commonwealth Fleet.

Sixteen standard days later, the rebel fleet, or what remained of it, fled Io and "scattered to the far stars" as General Beauchamp had put it; some vessels never came back, and others changed their names and laid low until the Armistice was signed and ratified. They had held the line, thrown the Union off of Io, Ganymede and Europa -- and then the futilty of it all was underscored when a fresh expeditionary fleet arrived from Earth, and the Confedarate leaders and the legislature fell out with one another.

Momentum was never regained after that, and while the Armistice granted considerations (even including self-rule!) that made it all feel and sound like a victory, in the end it was obvious that they were really no better  than when they had started out, and even worse in some respects. Since one consideration had been to allow self-rule, the Union military would only involve itself at the last resort -- which meant that the worlds had to police themselves, with a vastly-reduced and now-under-armed policing-force military. It was not until a plea was made by the Caucus  of  Worlds (allowed under the Armistice) for the Union to step in and restore order that any lasting law-abidingness prevailed -- at the cost of much of the liberty they had gained.

People who disagreed with things the way they were had pulled out, followed by those who were compelled to find work or starve. MW sold the Busted Flush (the irony was not lost on him), and shipped out with a merc unit going to another planetary system for military purposes, and as the years wore on, he was a mercenary in almost any unit that would take him... Until He'd met Captain Harper...
« Last Edit: July 05, 2012, 12:12:15 am by MWBailey » Logged

Walk softly and carry a big banjo...

""quid statis aspicientes in infernum"
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Moderator
Zeppelin Admiral
*
New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #3 on: July 04, 2012, 07:56:01 am »

His Roach's grunty engine growled under his belly, it had done so for two full days now. Neither he nor Percy had yet been willing to admit they should stop, so they hadn't. They had made good progress though, the storms sitting at a very mild intensity since the last patch of clear air ended. They looked like they would pick up a bit though, so they really had to stop and rest now while they could or they'd risk being stuck out on their bikes with no sleep in weather that would destroy them. It was perhaps a blessing then that a small piece of something important dislodged itself from Roger's Roach, flying off behind them. The two mechanics pulled to a stop, skidding sideways to try and see what had come loose. It was a futile act, though, the storm had already picked it up and whisked it away across the highlands.

"Bloody thing..." grumbled Percy, wiping some of the accumulated muck off his goggles as he leaned in towards Roger's bike. "Piece of shielding." he finished. That was good. Repairing that was a case of screwing a spare bit of metal over the exposed area. It would take seconds.
"We should sleep." added the muttering mechanic. So while Roger dug out and secured a new section of shielding for his bike, Percy dug out their shelter. It was essentially a tent, only far heavier. They were designed for brief overnights out on Venus' surface for prospectors and scientists and whoever else might need one. It would do.

The routine of cook, eat, sleep, dress, eat was essentially the same in the shelter as it was in Roger's apartment. It wasn't the greatest sleep he'd had, but he had also had worse sleeps in his life. Percy looked as though he had similar thoughts on the matter, so they didn't bother discussing it out loud. They packed up and carried on. What else was there to do out here?

The storms had set in heavier overnight, but not by much. With any luck, they'd stay as they were long enough for them to make it to VC3, which they estimated to be another two sleepless days away. A little ball of anticipation began growing in his stomach, he'd never been anywhere as big as VC3. 1, 2, 3 and 5 were the largest of Venus' 8 cities. There were a few little settlements of hardy prospectors here and there as well as the colonies, but they would move every few weeks after determining whether the land was worth working on. If it was then they'd sell the location to a mining company, which would send out a working party to set up a mining station. Once established they could have populations of around 300 but that was the biggest anything that wasn't a full-blown colony ever got. The colonies themselves only got constructed out where huge seams of minerals and other resources were. After the Colony 9 disaster, though, the government hadn't the money to build a new colony. The mining businesses had boomed because of that strangely enough. Knowing that the super-rich mineral deposits couldn't be sold to the government the prospectors were forced to sell them to the companies for a lot less. There were a few places now, like out where 9 used to be, where there would be about 4 or 5 full-sized mining operations in the one area, all competing to get as much out of the seam as possible. Some of them got pretty ruthless, too. There were stories of drills being sabotaged by rival workers and from those sorts of incidents came the need for guards out by the super-rich seams being mined. Mercenaries became more and more common as mining companies decided they needed armed guards for their operations. Venus was booming, but it was beyond the government's control.

He could see the vague shape of a Colony on the horizon about half way through the second day since their rest stop. It looked like VC6 in a lot of ways. There were a few more chimneys, though, vomiting their gaseous waste into the stormy swirls of the sky. The only part he didn't recognise was the awkward bulky thing out on the right side of the colony's silhouette. Then he saw a tiny black dot lift away from it. It was the Spaceport. Obviously experiencing a quiet afternoon, VC3 was said to have traffic from Space all hours of the day and night.

The view suddenly became brown and yellow, or at least more son than it already was. Roger rolled over and over, his Roach crashing into his back once or twice. Dazed, bruised, exposed, he lay there. Percy slowed beside him, gave him a look of pity, and carried on. Roger understood completely. He had crashed somehow, there was no way his Roach could be repaired on the spot, Percy had to get in to VC3 before any worse weather set in. Roger was likely a dead man. He had their shelter though, thankfully Percy wouldn't need it. If the storms didn't reach their more violent peaks too quickly he might have a day or two left to live. He started walking in the direction of Percy's dust cloud. He might as well see if his few remaining days could get him any closer to VC3 where someone might find him.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2012, 03:01:05 am by The Corsair » Logged
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Moderator
Zeppelin Admiral
*
New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #4 on: July 04, 2012, 10:24:33 am »

His protective gear kept him safer than it did on the Roach interestingly enough. Without the speed of the Roach, the bits of dust and sand in the weather didn't fly at him so aggressively. It meant he could possibly survive in a slightly heavier storm than he would on the Roach, but he definitely risked being swept off his feet in that kind of weather. Alone on the Cytherean sands he walked, turning once to allow himself a final look at his Roach. I could probably get another one... he thought to himself. He probably couldn't though. He'd need a fairly large amount of savings really, and to add to that he still hadn't paid off that Roach. If he survived, which he wouldn't, his career was essentially over.

It was slow going, leaning heavily on his cane as he moved against the wind, bruises and scratches from his crash worsening the pain caused by his childhood injury. If he gave himself time to set up his shelter he could maybe make it half a dozen miles before night. Night wasn't really sunset on Venus though, that was every hundred or so days. Day and night were judged by his timepiece, which operated in earth-days. Apparently that was unusual, the other planets generally operated in their own time units. Venus had such a slow rotation, though, it was considered pointless to come up with a whole new timekeeping system when the first colony was built. Putting the shelter up took longer than it did with the two of them but he still got it up, which was what mattered. He made himself eat, despite the growing dread in him removing his appetite. He needed food for energy, he needed energy for tomorrow.

He woke to a clear patch, which was a bit unusual given there had been a clear patch a few days earlier. It meant that the storms would be more intense when they picked backed up. Survivable, maybe, but far worse. He did have some luck though. A bunch of prospectors were moving around about 10 miles away from Roger. There was no way they'd spot him, even in the clear air. His leather and scarf made him blend right in to the landscape and the shelter was covered in sand and small rocks from the night's storms. He tried to keep an eye on them while he packed up the shelter, but by the time it was down and in his pack the storms had set back in and were picking up. There was a vague outline for the first half hour of his walking, in which he only made about a mile of ground, but that soon faded as the wind grew in intensity and more flying sand blocked his vision. All he could to was carry on in the same direction and hope the prospectors had stopped moving, or at least weren't far away.

It was five hours until he decided he'd reached where he thought they would be. They weren't there. He was now almost no closer to VC3 in worsening weather and due to run out of supplies in two more days. The swirl of dread and depression inside him told him to curl into a ball and wait to die, but his brain gave him enough reassurance to keep moving. Earlier he had entertained the thought that Percy would send someone out for him. That helped him quicken his pace for maybe twenty minutes until he remembered Percy had given up on Howler within seconds and even then he still had to find Howler before he could start searching for Roger. He might find something else to bring him the hope that would move him a few more miles, so he figured he would at least walk slowly rather than wait for death.

There was a little part of his mind, buried in his subconscious, that thought of Roger as a survivor. It was born out of living through the Colony 9 disaster and strengthened ever so slightly by events like getting an apprenticeship, being approved for a loan with which he could buy a Roach and all those little successes. Perhaps if that little bit of his mind didn't exist he would have admitted defeat, would have curled up and died a sniveling child. Had it not existed then it can be said that Roger's life would have been very different, and not just in terms of length. He found salvation a mile closer to VC3. The prospectors weren't moving to somewhere, they were moving from somewhere. There was a cave a few yards ahead of him, barely visible through the storm. Perhaps tunnel was a better term. That was how the prospectors worked, they dug a quick series of tunnels from which they could predict whether there would be minerals readily available. The private prospectors, the ones directly funded by the mining companies (of which there were very few), dug deeper to look for deposits that might have been missed but the freelancers. These ones were shallow, but a few minutes inside one of them allowed even Roger to see there were things of value here. Coal, of all things. Someone would be on their way to VC3 right now to sell the plot to a company. They'd be out with basic shelters and mining equipment within hours of closing the deal. If he ate less to make his rations last longer he might just be able to sit down in the tunnels long enough for a deal to be made.

Please be an auction, please be an auction, please be an auction... he thought to himself as he fell asleep from exhaustion.
Logged
Stella Gaslight
Governor
Time Traveler
****
United States United States


Looking for a few good lobsters.


WWW
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2012, 06:58:14 pm »

Louisa Breckenridge woke up early and for once most of town was up with her during the pre-first light hours.  Titan never truly slept there was always a crew going to work and another going home and the factory blocks were always lit like day but the residential sectors lit up for only what the labor masters considered a viable home shift .During the work shift the home sectors would be in twilight to conserve power.   These sections divided the 15 day long true rotation in to more manageable chunks of time and made the transition easier for new colonists.  Lou smiled at the sounds of sweeping and general cleaning coming out from everywhere.  Her own home sector would shine like a gem today because out of the 130 home sectors hers won the right to hold the Fifth Annual Titan\Ganymede tech expo and beer drinking contest.  Today was the start of a week long holiday all over the colony.  People would come from all over to see the new ideas and for the beer garden that had no rivals.  Evey one had been working hard to deserve the honor.  The exhibition hall was the prettiest building she had ever seen.  A confection of the rainbow ribbon steel the colony was famous for and the new crystalline force glass they just patented last year.  There were cannons set up all around the square for testing the glass.  Lou smiled and brushed her hair.  It had been months worth of hard work but she had a secured a demonstration table on the main strip.  This was going to be one hell of a week.
« Last Edit: July 04, 2012, 11:54:18 pm by The Corsair » Logged

I have a picture blog thinger now
http://stella-gaslight.tumblr.com/

Look for me on Etsy
http://www.etsy.com/shop/ByGaslight
Stella Gaslight
Governor
Time Traveler
****
United States United States


Looking for a few good lobsters.


WWW
« Reply #6 on: July 05, 2012, 12:36:27 am »

Lou touched her exhibitor badge for the eight time in as many minutes.  Her display was set and the expo would open in under an hour and the smile was stuck on her face.  On her display space vines moved and flowers opened as the light fell on them.  It was only a parlor trick, a way to display the new thermo-reactive metal alloy simply. a floor show before the science.  The thing she was really proud of was the loom that worked with little flashes of heat.  It would revolutionize the industry if only she could get funding.

The day went by is a whirl.  Lou had so many people take her card she was hoping they would lead to a contract. She was grinning her way to the special brewers dinner for all the presenters.  She was half way out of the hall when she forgot a hair comb she had made specialty for the event and dashed back in to the event hall right before the hourly cannon demo to show off the strength of the crystalline force glass and got back to her stall just in time to see someone else leaving with something covered in a sheet out the back door.  She didn't think much of it until she made it back to her row.  Along five of the displays had been ransacked including hers.  There was no way she could replace it in time with her small paycheck.  Lou paused to pick up the rest of her sample and ran after who she was sure was the thief. By the time she made it to the doors they were barred and the cannons had started to barrage the walls and she was locked in until they were done for safety.  By the time she got out the trail led her to the space port than grew cold.  It was then she knew she would have to go to the stars to get her answers.  So Lou devoted her time to passing the entry exams for the improver school for spacecraft. 

She worked long in to the twilight for almost two years and finally made it in.  Lou was still driven by the mystery but the need to find out who stole her tech was still a part of things but it had taken a back seat to the thing she was learning in class.  Space was a wonderful mystery in and of itself.
Logged
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
Moderator
Zeppelin Admiral
*
New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2012, 02:22:29 am »

It was easily the worst sleep of his life so far. He spent maybe 20 minutes attempting to loosen up his back and neck with little success. He forced himself to his feet so he could at least walk some of the stiffness off. He was about 50 yards from the tunnel entrance, just far enough in to avoid being buffeted by wind and sand. He crossed over to examine the weather. It was worse than yesterday. Breakfast was half-rations. He figured it would give him a few more days of life.

The day marched its slow way by. He spent it meticulously dividing his rations so he did not risk over-eating and wouldn't have to miss any meals. He had to decide, he realised, between waiting closer to the tunnel's entrance, exposing himself to the Cytherean weather, or waiting further inside and risking not being found right away. It could be the difference between surviving or not, he realised. A brief jog deeper into the ground and back lifted his spirits before he went to bed, but it wasted more water than was safe and caused him more pain than he would have liked in his bad leg. He would have no choice but to avoid almost all physical activity now.

Maybe if the mining companies knew someone was dying out at this site they wouldn't be taking their sweet time, he thought when he ran out of food on day 3. He still had about half a day's worth of water, though. When that ran out, he resigned himself to sitting out by the tunnel's mouth, letting the wind assault his side. He did eventually curl up and close his eyes, waiting for rescue or death. He found dreams waiting for him in his sleep. Fresh, cool lakes, like those in the wealthiest ares of VC6, twisted their way through his dehydrated mind, promising sweet, life-giving drinks but drying up before his eyes as he pressed his lips to them.

When he woke again, one of the last times he would ever wake up he thought, his mouth felt as though it would split into a thousand cuts and bleed out if he dared move his lips and tongue more than millimeters. The day was just a long, sad stretch of blankly staring out into the devilish loops and whirls of the sand in the storm. The rim of his goggles started to open up the skin around his eyes, but he refused to take them off. If he wanted to see and maybe, just maybe, live then he had to keep them securely fastened to his head. As he fell asleep again after the time-twisting drawl of the day he found himself dreamless. Just as the perfect lakes had been torn away from him the night before, his final pleasure of illusions and fantasies that seemed so real had been taken from him in his last days. When he woke, he found himself dizzy and dry all through his body, like an army of living sand had marched through him and stolen every droplet they could find. He imagined that the miners were racing death to get out here and losing, them in a Rabbit and the Reaper on his horse.
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MWBailey
Rogue Ætherlord
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United States United States


"This is the sort of thing no-one ever believes"

rtafStElmo
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2012, 05:47:09 am »

Another busted game, in another backstreet pub (called something like Macy's Bull) in another hole-in-the-wall town on another planet... Uranus, it was. Too far from the Sun to be warmed much by it, if the atmosphere would have allowed it, but it couldn't, because the atmosphere was too thick and cloudy to let what little solar radiation there was get through. The landscape tended toward nightmarishly cold, impassably snowy and eerily shadowy at the best of times. So, the cities and towns tended to be under domes, and burrowed into the sides of craters and other surface features, which meant that most towns were holes in some wall or other by necessity - it was too cold, otherwise.

He had gone back to the house bank window (most places on Uranus had 'em, some kind of local statute or some such said they had to) in the back corner of the pub to try and cadge one more stake for one more game. "Nothing doing," the clerk said. It's Mad Willie Bailey, right? We been told to not let you have any more. You damn con-fed's need to get off yer butts and find jobs that pay before you gamble."

I can think of one job that'll pay REAL well, Bailey remembered saying. he couldnt really remember what he'd said, exactly, he was too angry to hear much othe rthan the hot blood of indignation in his ears by then. Not drink; he'd given that up the first time he'd nearly crashed the Flush into a mountain because of a really bad hangover. No, he was just angry. Most times he was too level-headed to pull his guns in a public house, but the man had insulted not only him, but all of his former comrades-in-arms as well, and that was always dangerous with any former soldier, no matter whose side he'd been on.

He shouldn't have gotten away with it. The House's guards should have riddled him with holes the moment he showed gunleather, but he had their little clerk at gunpoint, and little fellow was well-liked, smart-mouthed though he might have been. Bailey made it out of the pub, released teh fellow and disappeared into the crowds, making his way to the town's miniscule spaceport to find employment with a ship or a company or crew -- at any cost, and as fast as possible. That waqs how he ran into Captain Harper, finding to his immense relief that they needed a pilot.

"Well, how 'bout that!" he'd said, turning on the charm that had seen him through many a would-have-been lethal barfight and bad scrapes with the law aplenty.

"How 'bout that, I just happen to be a former diveship pilot! and your ship looks like a familiar type." Not a lie, that; he'd seen service as a pilot on just about everythinbg that flew or spaced by then, and one or two that burrowed as well. There weren't many kinds of ships, large or small, that he hadn't piloted at one time or another. They'd taken him on, and set out for a job on the Europa Lanes, and just in time, too. The Head Constable showed up with a posse just as they left the antigrav well of their berth.

When he found out later that the "job" was actually a piratical caper, he hadn't actually minded too much; their prey were all carrying Union Guards' munitions and materiel. Harper and her crew didn't seem to mind his rather wild evasive tactics, perhaps because they were the last thing the escort ships expected, and thus kept the relatively small vessel from being blasted to bits. Dodging Union gunship fire had become second nature to him years before...
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The Corsair
Defective Inspector
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Zeppelin Admiral
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PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2012, 09:28:22 am »

His dreamless sleep was broken by the reaper's scythe across his face. He felt a searing pain on his cheek, his eyes didn't seem to open, he wasn't seeing anything real. He was dead, definitely. No, wait, it was the cave still, only it looked nothing like it. His vision wasn't right or in-focus and his dizziness, now unbearably intense, stopped him from getting upright. Had there been any liquid left in him he would have thrown up no doubt, but he was stuck with painful spasmodic retching. He gasped in a breath finally and managed to force the convulsions to subside. Now still, he noticed a hot stickyness about his face and neck down the right hand side of him. He raised a clumsy hand and touched it. Blood. His head swung pathetically about until he saw a rock with a small streak of red across it. How had it hit him?

Then he heard it. The idling engine, the scuffle of boots, the yells and cries through the wind as people regrouped. Someone was here. The rock must have been kicked up by a tread or a wheel. He tried to call out, cry for help, but he felt more like he was simply exhaling. It was just croaky wisps of sound. He had to get out there somehow.

He slowly balanced himself on all fours, struggling to move straight and not become engulfed in dry retching again. He managed to get out of the tunnel, guessing where the vehicles were from the sound of their idling engines. Then that stopped and he was utterly lost in the howls of the storms about him. And slowly the wind caught him and brushed him further sideways until eventually he tipped over and lay there uselessly, limply, on the barren ground. He would never know it, but the miners never intended to enter the tunnel he had sheltered in. They simply went over to it to check that it was there. He would have never been spotted. What was spotted, though, was the stark red of wet blood leading from the cave. He had made it a phenomenal distance given his state, but it amounted to only a few paces for those who could travel on two legs still. In this weather being a few paces away was all it took to make you invisible.

He first nudged with a boot, having been unable to vocally respond to the first call out to him. "Hello? Hello?" came into aural focus as he was nudged again. He could react, only just. He twitched his fingers and wrist in a grim wave, his lips tilting up at the corners in a painful, tight smile.
"Oh God..." came the voice again.
Then he was lifted off the ground. Did he feel heavy, out of limpness and lifelessness, or was he light without all that water in him? Maybe these were people like him, stuck out here, failing to survive. Did they take a Rabbit? Or something bigger? It was these ridiculous things that filled his head while he was hauled like a carcass to salvation. Water was pressed to his lips when he finally touched the ground again. Some of it rolled away down his chin, some of it was stripped away by the vicious wind, still fighting to make sure he died even as rescue and survival became imminent. Some important droplets carved a path through his cracked insides though, healing tiny lines of his tongue and throat. The middle of his lips could open just a bit wider now, and he shaped them instinctively to catch more water. And it came, that water, like an old friend rushing to help him, fully understanding the urgency of the situation. More words were said. They were words like 'back' and 'city' and 'alive'. They all seemed important, even in their disconnected state.

Then he was carried again, only now like an infant rather than an animal, and placed delicately in a metal box. Had it not been rumbling smoothly around him it could have been a coffin. Someone was next to him in the box, making sure he still had access to his lifeline of water. Now more was able to make it past the rusted gates of his lips and across his tongue. A tiny vibration formed down in his larynx, the water leaped to it and amplified it, carrying up to his mouth and beyond his lips.
"Thank you" it was
"You'll be alright, ok?" the man with the water replied.
And he continued to bottle-feed Roger as the box rumbled louder, kicking about as it crossed the sand and rocks of Venus.
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steamcowboy92
Snr. Officer
****
United States United States

I work for money. You want loyalty get a dog.


« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2012, 08:24:49 pm »

"Alls far in love and whar. 'member that son." his fathers words echoed through his mind even now after so many years. "Whoever wrote da rules a  engagement was a feckin idiot. There aint no sech thing as a far fight, thar's only I win, you die, by any and all manes necessary. Wannin' is the only thing 'at'll ever matter in life."

he repeated those words every night before he went to sleep. His father had been a captain in the 13th New Texas Mechanize Cavalry in the Second War of Northern Agression. together with a band of almost 200 other killers and thieves who'd been  given the choice between service or a rope, they were the terror of the union supply lines. striking hard and fast from the most unexpected directions. When something was ruptured on his Valkyrie gunbike by enemy fire, his father had died in a ball of fire, leaving command of their band of cutthroats to Talon.

without his fathers wisdom to guide him Talon began branching out his mens exploits beyond the simple raiding of supply lines. payroll transports were robbed, artillery bombardments were called in to level entire cities for no other reason than they supported the union cause.  even churches that spoke in favor of the union cause and hospitals full of civilian and union sick and wounded were burned to the ground in the dead of night along with all those inside.

his results in breaking union morale were lauded as the actions of a hero of the confederacy but when the means to those ends came to light the 13th was officialyy disbanded and its men dishonorably discharged and declared outlaws to be shot on sight. beset on both sides the remaining men of the 13th turned their considerable talentsfor hit and run guerilla warfare towards becoming rather succesful bandits until they were entirely wiped out or imprisoned on what was supposed to be an easy score against a hospital ship...
« Last Edit: July 06, 2012, 08:44:19 pm by The Corsair » Logged

I will kill you however I can , wherever I can, with whatever I have. You will regret ever making me decide to take action. -William W. Johnstone.
The Corsair
Defective Inspector
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New Zealand New Zealand


PixieOnTheMic
« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2013, 04:58:47 am »

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