West Sunbury Us Deep S1E2 "Chase"
The Borough of West Sunbury Militia and Recce, or "BoroMiR", are tasked with keeping the area safe, and our rag-tag militia set out for their cold, wet, afternoon shift. Jacen and Mafortion take the front seats while Fairuza and Arius take the back.
Jacen takes the wheel as everyone takes a seat in the old patrol truck. The short ride to Wagner Mecha Services was largely silent after the decision to make it the first stop. As the vehicle pulls up, an red-haired human female looks up but briefly from her agitated search about the front of her shop. She is of average height and slender build and her red hair is parted down the middle as if to parenthesize a statement about her attractive face. A hooded pullover covers her upper body, but over top her coverall pants lay an array of utility belts festooned about her hips. She gives a perky wave to the party of BoroMiR militiamen before turning her attention back to the search.
Arius and Jacen step out and approach the bewildered but frantic mechanic while Fairuza surveys the scene.
"Good afternoon," led Arius followed by some hasty introductions. "You look busy. Is everything alright?"
Brienne Wagner stopped to focus on the guests at hand, but she could feel herself trying to split her attention. "This yard is a mess. I've got stuff to do and someone snatched parts from my yard!"
Fairuza surveyed the area. The ryzhevolosyy might not be the toughest of girls in the area, but she had a respectable shop. The building was a two-story structure consisting of a large two-bay garage on the first floor with a staircase on the right hand side leading upstairs to a living quarters. It was a mekhanik's sanctuary; enough room to live and plenty of room to work. The bay doors lay open in spite of the cold and within could be seen all manner of tools of the trade from machinsts tools to diagnostic equipment to hand tools to power tools. Brienne was more well-equipped than frontier bot repair stations often find themselves wishing they could be. A pallet jack lay in the right hand bay, and looking about, Fairuza could see that most of the parts that Brienne was working on were on pallets that could be moved or even lifted to waist height. The yard was a large concrete driveway in good repair. Various pallets of parts and materials were stacked about. Some were covered and some were not. Just in front of the BoroMiR patrol truck lay a pallet with a large robot arm on it. The arm was unfolded and a cover was discarded nearby. Parts were missing from an open access panel.
Jacen could hear the mixed emotions in Brienne's voice. "We can try to help you. Do you have cameras in the area?"
Brienne nodded. "There's one. It just barely covers the more important side of the yard. Help me move this robot arm inside and I'll let you at the terminal."
The terminal screen came to life, but the screen was an illegible mess of static and strange lines. Brienne frowned and touched the side of the monitor. With a few seconds of concentrated thought, the machine went dark, rebooted, then activated normally. After a few clicks and button presses, Brienne found the video and Jacen, Fairuza, and Arius settled in for a movie. The recording showed a band of six small, green creatures skulking about a ruined residence next door. The two-legged creatures then scampered across the street and into the yard, uncovering pallets of materials as they went and stealing parts from underneath.
Jacen turned a blank face to Fairuza and Arius. "You guys ever see these things?" Fairuza spoke the Russian word for them. "Goblin." "Oh, you have those, too, where you're from?" remarked Jacen.
Arius felt upbeat at the chance to track down some thieves. No one knew these woods better than him and Old Man Boyers. Arius made his way out to the yard to start looking for clues and tracks. They didn't make it easy. Whatever those things were, they tried to mask their trail and the cold drizzle made tracks difficult to find. Then after widening the search a bit, he found a lead and called back to Jacen to report it. Dassa McKinney Combined School was the hub of all education for kids in the area. With Moniteau High School in shambles and as rumor would have it, haunted, Dassa became the K-through-12 for the whole Borough and surrounding area. School is in session today, and these whatchamicallit's are heading right for it.
Mafortion looked up from his power nap. Crunchy was already back in the truck, Salty was hollering about going to hunt goblins, and Yukky was moving with a purpose not before seen in him. Mafortion smiled and settled in for the ride to the fight.
Jacen moved like a man possessed, barely pausing long enough for the rest of his team to get into the truck before slamming the transmission into gear and taking off down the unkempt roads toward Dassa McKinney Combined School. The team didn't complain much on the way given the threat. The BoroMiR were not much, but they protected what they had with everything they had.
Except luck. A period of upheaval, the ruins of a once-isolated world comprised of many civilizations, the coming of the Rifts and the horrors they let loose upon the world, a 300-year dark age of technology, and the resurgence of mankind from a time of great suffering weighed not at all on the physics of winter and high-speed driving.
The road to Dassa has always had a dip followed by a sharp blind turn in it about a quarter mile from the school. It's a treacherous place that has claimed several lives throughout history, and this time was no different. Jacen braced and compensated as the truck began to fishtail coming out of the turn, but then gunned the engine again as the school came into view. A pothole surrounded by a thin layer of dark ice sent the truck for another ride, but Jacen recovered the vehicle again and continued on the way. Lady luck threw her hands up on the third warning. Jacen had just hit the brakes for a power slide into the parking lot when all four wheels hit a large icy spot on the road. A split second later, the now sharply turned wheels caught traction again and lurched the truck to the left while the back end tried to keep going. It was too much. The vehicle spun around. One front wheel caught a rock in the drainage ditch and the truck went tumbling pell-mell until it smashed into a brick and block sign marking the entrance to Dassa's parking lot.
Mafortion clapped with delight. "That was fun, guys! …Guys?" He looked about the vehicle. Ugly was making cooties with the airbag, a very odd thing to be doing at a time like this. Crunchy's neck was probably not supposed to be bending that way or bleeding from her ears.. Yukky was awake but saying something about his ribs, probably because there was a very large bruise over half his torso. He wasn't sure how he knew what to do, but he did. "I will aid you," he said, as he reached hands out to his wounded companions. As his hand touched their bodies, Mafortion opened his thoughts and reached out with his mind to explore the wounds in his allies. Slowly, the cuts began to stich themselves. Blood vessels, broken but now reassured under Mafortion's mind's eye, began to seek out themselves and knit together again. When Yukky was well again, Mafortion turned his attention to Crunchy. Her cybernetic arms felt like cold steel walls to his psychic will, but all the rest of her was a squishy meat-sack, badly damaged. At first, he could feel her essence fading, but after a few moments of redoubled effort, Mafortion made whole Crunchy's broken shell.
Fairuza sat in a darkness growing colder. Impossibly far away yet so clearly, she could hear the voices of her predki calling out to her. At first it was one voice, then a few, then louder, then many, until she was awash in a din of related voices, all clamoring to tell her of all the gossip of the afterlife. The dark void in which she found herself gave way to a dim, grey landscape reminiscent of a sort of hodgepodge between the Russia she once knew and the place that took her in. She turned around to face behind herself and there was nothing but the talking she heard became louder and more discordant with every second. Turning back, a woman stood where there was no one before. She was taller than Fairuza, beautiful but somewhat translucent. All the voices seemed to come from her and seemed desperately trying to get a message across. Just when Fairuza could no longer bear it, they stopped, and the woman, without moving her lips, said only one thing. "I got ya, buddy."
"What…?" said Fairuza, confused, before being plunged back into darkness, but this time with a warm glow. Moments later, she awoke, rested and unharmed, but fighting mad.
Arius cursed under his breath. The truck is ruined two steps into the patrol and the questions are going to come down to the team leader. Hell of a way to start the day.
Jacen shook hid thoughts back into order and regained his composure. The truck is mangled, but that’s a small price to pay to protect the school. “It’s ok, all your parts still work. Get moving,” he told himself. In a flash, he was out of the truck and sprinting to the school. The halls were silent as he sprinted to the far back corner of the building. Rushing past the office and several classrooms, Jacen hastily scanned the rooms for signs of life. Everything seemed normal and some kids were still in class. “See? It’s all good,” came a voice from within. He rounded a corner to a fourth grade Geography and Wilderness classroom and burst through the door.
“Where the hell is he going?!” Arius shouted as Jacen left the vehicle. Fairuza was after him in her best power-walk, still shaken from her near-death experience, but invoking all her Soldati training. Jacen may be fast, but he was obviously going somewhere and was going to get an earful when he got there.
“Where the hell is she going?!” Arius remarked defeatedly. Mafortion looked at Arius without a word. “Right. After them.” The two disembarked the wreck and set out after their comrades.
Veronica Hillard had no idea where her love of maps and Geography came from, but there she was, awash in the contours and lines that represented every slope and flat, every river and lake, and it was all wrong. These maps were once the way it was, but a 300-year dark age of no infrastructure and dimensional upheaval meant that nothing was what it seemed anymore. Sure, the general idea of Route 308 still ran to Butler, and that would be fine if the old Viaduct area wasn’t flooded out, or if the big bridge wasn’t washed out. Chicora? What’s left of it is rebuilt up the hills to the Northeast. Slippery Rock? Ruins. Route 8? Now has a small ley line nexus over top of the Branchton Road intersection. Boyers? What Boyers?
Veronica had made Cartography into her life work. Strewn and posted about the room were maps of anywhere she could get her hands on. Some were old, of the Earth that was. Some were new. Some were corrections. Most were hand drawn and carefully meticulous. Like the one she was working on when a familiar face burst into the room.
“Jacen! Hera’s tits, you scared the shit out of me!”, Veronica started, rising from her seat. Jacen quickly scanned the room before his eyes came to rest on Veronica. “Are you alright? Where is your power armor?” insisted Jacen.
“I’m fine. It’s over at Brienne’s. I heard a strange noise last night and when I went out to look I found there were parts missing from my suit and it was dead. I dropped it off this morning. What’s going on?” asked Veronica, her dark hair was pulled back into a pony-tail and it danced about her neck as she moved and spoke.
“Goblins hit Brienne’s and stole a bunch of parts. Stay safe, we think they may have come this way.” Jacen left the words hang as he turned to go just in time to see a seething Fairuza enter the doorway. Jacen made to move past her, but the tall woman seized Jacen by the shoulder with a firm cybernetically-enhanced grip.
“If you ever drive like that again—“ Jacen cut Fairuza short. “—there will be a reason.” And with that, Jacen broke free of Fairuza’s grip and sprinted back toward the truck. Halfway down the hall, Mafortion and Arius turned about as Jacen sped past them. The team caught up with him seconds later just outside the front door, and all watched in disbelief as a pack of Goblin Scavengers were busy field stripping the wreckage of the BoroMiR patrol vehicle.