Archive for the ‘Narratives’ Category

Lendon Fields

Saturday, August 25th, 2012

March, 2788

The old man stood quietly, an ache in his spine, and looked out over a thousand acres.  His memory conjured up an image of riotous fields, golden and heavy with ripe grain.  Now it was a land that would bloom no more.  The landscape was sowed with jagged hunks of iron, melted hunks of steel.  When it rained, a slightly radioactive thorium cloud choked off any remaining weeds that tried to sprout between the corpses of twisted metal monsters.  For thousands of years humanity had kept the barbarians from the gates.  First with wood, then stone, then iron and plasteel.  But not anymore.  The Fall of the Star League in the 27th and this centuries Succession War had seen many of the Periphery planets abandoned to pirates and warlords, mercenaries and governments that were no better than the bandits themselves.  They were taxed, supposedly for protection, but the destruction furrowed before him betrayed the lie.  His land planted with misery, watered with blood.  But I, he thought.  I will bring the harvest.

Arthur Lendon turned back to his own machine, the one he knew he would die in.  A three story, 65 ton death machine.  When she first left the gantry he heard the hoots, endured the mockery of the other mechwarriors who thought the golden grain pattern would get him killed.  On that first day, it was impossible to look directly at his unwanted partner, she shone so bright in the brilliant yellow sun.  Not stealthy enough, they told him, standing out will make you a target.  They simply didn’t understand.  He didn’t want to hide, didn’t care if a bolt of blue lightning destroyed his cockpit in the first engagement.  The only thing he cared about was that the pirates who salted his land saw him coming.  Saw the rain of missiles like seeds on the wind, ripping their metal skins like they did his wheat.

In the end, it was they who feared his beloved, his despised.  His lady, Lendon Fields, her namesake only a memory.  I will never walk this land again, the tired old man knew.  But my sons?  I will make sure they do.

Ten Things at a Time

Friday, August 3rd, 2012

Jet “Jet” Spiegel looked wearily up from his parts requisition as his two senior technicians burst into the room.  He could smell the rank combination of old lubricant and sweat that lack of decent sanitation facilities caused.  Dammit, he thought, I never remember to bring up showers when I’m with the group, where all we talk about are contracts, and tonnage, and drop costs.  These people are going to bolt if we don’t improve the situation here. 

This damn planet.  Most of it is so beautiful.  Excepting the 50 acres they had carved out of the Lendon battlefield, re-tasking as much of the non-radioactive metal as they could.  Still, sometimes Jet felt Last Chance was more backward than the lawless frontier where he grew up.

“Things in the bay are getting dire, sir,” the lead mechanic of team 1 said.  “We’re working 80 hours a week, but with the missions you’ve been going on, it’s still not enough.”  Bill Ramsbottom was a good base tech, fresh out of school, but Jet often wished he had some veteran staff.  Everything took twice as long as it should due to patching and repatching work that occurred regularly.

“You know we should have at least one maintenance team per mech, and that’s not counting battle damage.” Arline interjected.  Short hanks of greasy hair fell from her tec-helm.  Waifish, barely 1.5 meters, and probably cute under the layer of grime on her face.  At least he thought so when he hired her, but it had been so long since any of them had been really clean.  “And now you brought in that prima donna Salvatore, who won’t leave us alone.  It’s like we’ve never patched a piece of armor before, him always looking over our shoulders.”

Ramsbottom hated letting the little tech get a word in, and started talking over her.  “Look, somethings gonna happen out there if we don’t get the maintenance schedule back on track.  An actuator could freeze up in the middle of a gunfight, or a misdirected jump jet could spew plasma and melt a layer of armor straight off.”

The Karolo’s don’t get walked on, Arline thought before whacking Bill in the gut with her mag-wrench, leaving him wheezing.  “And that damn Liam wants to take up half the bay to work on that stupid Skulker.  Heck, that hunk of junk hasn’t been off the yard in 2 months, he doesn’t need the space.  We’d be better off selling it and transferring his team to Mech-maint.  Plus, the bay can barely accommodate the 4 robots we’ve got, let alone a vehicle.  You’re going to need a bigger facility and soon if you bring any more on.”

Ramsbottom raised his hands in peace as Arline prepared to give him another slug.  “Look sir, Arl’s right and we’re in real trouble here.  I’ll never leave you, and I think she feels the same, but our secondaries are all exhausted and at the breaking point.  I’d be surprised if several don’t bolt to the drop pad in town when we get our supplies next week.  At least at the mining colonies they can get some sleep, buy a beer, and carouse a little.  The fragging mayor shut down the saloon again last week, claiming we were a bad influence on the local pop.”

Jet nodded at the two techs, letting them know he understood, before holding up the requisition for parts they had requested.  It was only half finished and needed to get transmitted today if the supplies were to get on that drop ship next week.  Ten things at a time, Jet thought, as the techs let themselves out.