Tuesday, March 01, 2011
We, The People [Session 5]
They landed in a flurry of activity, as if the welcoming party hadn’t had time to set up. Clay, Darius, even Granth, felt rather smug thinking that these people were here to greet the returning heroes (minus one, and plus another), who had a sizable sum in their back pocket for the town. They stepped off the cutter proud of themselves, if a little weary. They even saw Mayor K Peterson, his short legs taking him as fast as possible from the Town Hall to where they had landed the craft.
But as they looked around, their opinion began to change. The townspeople who were running around were in a blind panic. Many were boarding up windows or doorways with scrap timber, and others were arming weapons and sharpening blades. Cars, pack mules, carts, and even the backs of people, were being loaded up with a families belongings, as if they were preparing to leave their homes. It was chaos. And Mayor Peterson only confirmed that.
“They’re coming,” he gasped, exhausted from his run. “We’ve gone too far. They’ve got a..” another deep breath, “..a fucking army!” Eyes widened, and all three took a mental step back. They were expecting retaliation from TOWER, but an army? The three were led into the Town Hall, now a Command HQ, where a group of mercenaries stood over a paper chart of the area; the power was still out, so a sequence of lanterns hung from the roof to light the room.
Peterson explained that the mercenaries began showing up a few hours ago, sensing an easy buck for fighting alongside the townspeople. They were up against a brutal and vicious mercenary group called Red Tide Rising, and where they were well equipped, they weren’t well trained, and were little more than a barely-organised lynch mob.
Everybody was talking simultaneously. There were six main requirements; restore power to the area, acquire enough weapons, purchase armour, train the soldiers, convince nearby towns to help fight, and scout Red Tide Rising’s nearby camp for information. All of the mercenaries knew that they knew best, and all of the townspeople, those brave or experienced enough to be considered Generals, were too scared or overwhelmed to make any real decisions. “ENOUGH!” Darius shouted, smashing his fists hard against the table. There was silence.
One Cendran, clad in the usual enviro-suit they are never without, stood. His green-lit visor seemed like the only power in the area, and the Grey Pyramid on his chest, over his heart, showed his belonging to one of the major Cendran factions, this one from Eradrea. His voice was calm and smooth, modulated through his breathing apparatus. “This war will end real quickly without guns.”
Darius and Peterson nodded. Every townsperson in the room was looking towards Darius for leadership, as he had already done so much for the town; even Peterson’s decisions as Mayor would be highly influenced by him. “Okay,” Darius spoke, taking a deep breath. “Cendran, you’re with me. We’ll go get the weapons. I need another volunteer.” An Indrafil, sitting quietly at the back, raised his hand. “I’ll follow..” he muttered, and Darius nodded again. “I want three of you to begin training the people here, and prepare for more incoming. You two, scout the facility, see what you can see. Lets go.” And with that, everyone went on their way. As they were leaving, Clay approached Darius with a sombre expression; “I can’t fight this one. I’ve got.. things I need to do.” The resolve in his eyes was certain, and although they hadn’t known each other long, Darius felt as if he’d lost a good friend when he saw Clay drive off into the dust.
In a vehicle loaned by Peterson, they drove across the sands to acquire the weapons, speaking casually along the way. Zanderkar was an Indrafil, a biological construct with a connection to the Unreal, trained in the Psukhe, a sorcery based on emotions and empathy, by an off-shoot faction of Indara’s Waterbearers. Augustus Faustino Maynard, as he introduced himself with pride, was a Cendran Priest of Dunyain, travelling the area in the hopes of returning this chaotic place to stability. The three got along well.
It wasn’t long until they got to Hess, a large town well known for it’s black market weapons smuggling. The guy they were after was called Leonard Lucas, a big weapons dealer in TOWER-controlled Arcan; TOWER had near-complete control over the production of weapons, and their sale, in the territory they controlled. Lucas was one of the few people who had made a living in the otherwise very-hostile territory. The town was full of armed and dangerous people, and the team split off; Zanderkar went in search of information from the townspeople, while Darius and Augustus tried to go through more official channels.
Zanderkar found middling luck with a group of armed ruffians, who at first reluctant to release any information, were quickly convinced otherwise with Zanderkar’s silver tongue, and more important, his silver credits. After a few drinks each, they let go with the passcode to get into Leonards base of operations; sadly, they didn’t know where he was.
Darius and Augustus had just as much luck. In the Town Hall, they came across an aging Councillor, who explained the towns problem with ‘unmentionables’ coming here for the black market supplies. After a heated conversation, the Councillor admitted he had no real power to despatch men to help Viradenne Drop, and he couldn’t say where Leonard was; but, if they got rid of the black market ring, he would convince the other Councillors to act in the name of Viradenne. They left annoyed.
When the three met again in the centre of town, debating their options, they were approached by two scruffily dressed men, carrying a message. “You’re looking to buy weapons, I hear? TOWER are transporting raw materials nearby. We need raw materials to make weapons. Get what I’m saying? LL”
Combat was short and restricted. Their civilian vehicle parked across the road as if it had broken down, the 18-wheeler truck, devoid of all TOWER iconography, pulled up to see if they could help. The driver and altruistic passenger were both dressed in regular jumpsuits, just haulage workers. A third man, dressed in general TOWER security fare, was also present. The team were set up; Darius distracted the security guard, while Augustus and Zanderkar prepared for the ambush.
As the passenger and TOWER personnel began looking at the engine, a convincing Darius informing them of a breakdown and apologising for blocking the road, he got in position. It was over in a few minutes; the passenger, not wishing for a fight, ran into the distance as soon as gunshots were fired. With the help of Zanderkar’s handgun and Darius’ ‘Head Cleaver’, the TOWER guard was quickly brought down before he could retaliate, and Augustus, despite a fumble, managed to tackle the driver to the ground, and acquire the vehicles keys. An intimidating speech later, and they even gave the driver a lift back to the town.
They drove back into town, given no directions or instructions on what to do after acquiring the raw materials. They weren’t given much chance to rest; as they pulled up in the centre of town, letting the terrified driver out, they were approached by four armed mercs, who led them, sans truck, to a large warehouse just on the outskirts of town. Waiting in there were a dozen guards, and in the centre of the room, a tall balding man with a V-shaped scar running from his forehead and meeting inbetween his eyes. He was frowning.
“You’ve done well. I hear you killed the guard. Now a fan of TOWER, I take it?” The party replied in the negative, trying to restrict their words a little; the guards looked nervous. “What are the guns for, friend?”
“Viradenne Drop. A small town not far from here. Mercenaries are going to overrun the place. TOWER mercenaries. We need guns to fight back. And people too, if you’re interested..” The large man simply grinned, uncaring about Darius’ emotional please for Viradenne. “They’ll overrun Viradenne, kill everyone there, and the whole of Cain, damnit! Red Tide Rising do not play around!”
The tension was broken by the door opening, and two guards entering, dragging along the driver the party had released earlier. They threw him against the wall, and the one guard approached the larger man in the centre of the room. Words were whispered. The large man nodded, and raised his hand in an overt gesture.
“No they do not..” said a voice from the back. The large bald man, originally thought to be Leonard, stepped aside, and from the darkness strode a much younger man. With an expensive red short, bright red hair and a very young face, he didn’t look like the dangerous arms dealer so many pegged him to be; he looked more like a pop-star or model. “Sorry, we had to vet you properly. You wouldn’t believe the trouble I’ve had with TOWER lately.” He grinned. “Leonard Lucas. I hear you need guns.”
After a guided tour through the factory, and a in-depth conversation discussing the weapons at hand, the party found Leo to be an incredibly likable man, and not the bloodthirsty psychopath most weapons dealers generally were; he was calm, resolute, friendly, and very welcoming. “Take my card. Call me if you need anything else.” And with that, the party were gone, complete with two new trucks full of weapons.
Viradenne was still in disarray when they arrived back. Training had begun, and the mercenaries were doing a good job of turning these regular citizens into soldiers, albeit at a slow pace. The weapons were unloaded, and with no reports yet from the scouting team, Darius and the others decided to continue onwards; they had weapons, so they could at least retaliate, but it would do them no good if they couldn’t take the blows.
The town of
was little more than a huge factory complex, with live-in workers and a small farming community to provide food and sustenance year-round. The whole place was fenced and guarded very well, but that was no real surprise; Mason was one of the largest armouries in Cain, and supplied armour and protection to security forces across Drex, even supplying some of the lower-priority forces of TOWER. Mason
But it wouldn’t be as easy as just waltzing in and purchasing armour. They had to have a plan.
“Our of the way!” Darius proclaimed, pushing through the front doors and towards reception. Augustus trailed slightly behind, walking at a casual and regal rate, with Zanderkar behind him, staring menacingly at all who dared to look towards them; the sharp horns emerging from his forehead helped reinforce the stare. “My Lord and Master, Augustus Faustino Maynard demands the immediate purchase of armour for his personal security force back in Maynard Manor!”
The secretary, a young Eridarian male, was most definitely flustered. Looking confused for a few seconds, he muttered a gentle reply; “If you’d just wait a few…”
“Wait?!” Zanderkar roared, slamming his fist on the reception table. A Priest of the Psukhe, he could manipulate his own emotions at will, and was using it to full effect. “Lord Faustino Maynard does not wait for anybody!” Again, he slammed his fist, making even Darius jump slightly. Luckily, a salesman rushed towards reception, ferrying the trio off to lavish surroundings before Zanderkar had to back up his anger.
They were in a large room above the factory, looking across the working floor, with food and drinks provided, “free of charge” the host graciously added. It was explained that Augustus had a sizable private force, and his wealth was coming under threat by raiders; as such, he needed armour, and fast. A contract was struck out in an instant, the salesmen being exceptionally good at his job, and the armour was agreed to be delivered to Viradenne before sundown.
Augustus managed a sigh of relief through his envirosuit as they left, and the trio returned to Viradenne with the good news; the towns they passed were a desolate and harrowing sight. Most were abandoned, some were fortified to the point of letting nobody in, even those fighting to defend Cain. A few silver words here and there, and some were convinced to join the fight at Viradenne, but just as many were heading in the opposite direction, people Darius knew and recognised from his years living in Viradenne Drop. It was a painful sight for him.
They returned as sundown approached. Reports had come in from the scouting party, but with little effect; rough estimates of upwards of 600 soldiers, as well as heavy weaponry and attack dogs, but they didn’t have the men (or the courage) to stay too long. Red Tide Rising were known as a brutal and vicious private military, who never took prisoners. The men were as trained as they could be in a single day, but were exhausted, and wished only to rest.
No one knew what to do. Trenches were dug in the waning hours of light, but would good would they do? Nobody knew what to expect. “Get plenty of rest,” Mayor Peterson would urge those returning to town, “We have homes and beds for everybody here, families and all.” The tavern was filled with patrons, but most drinks were left untouched, watered down with fearful tears. Places usually replete with laughter and warm stories were hollow, and the few stories told seemed forced, getting little attention.
It would be an early night for all.