Wednesday, March 1, 2017
From what I pieced together it wasn't a flawless victory. GERO had been looking for something out there - some elvish ruin or artifact or whatever. And in the end they got it. But on the other side they took a heavy punch too; our little party must have put them back a few weeks and a girl I know - she's the silent type - apparently cashed in big on assassinating the heads of the corporation. So Dormicas is pretty much back the way it used to be - with bad jobs from many corps and everyone fighting over scraps and all that. But its the way I prefer it to be. I guess GERO still made a shitload of money on their grab but hey, its not like I would have gotten it anyway; or the people of Dormicas for that matter. It would still just have lined the pockets of some Union bigshot 2'000 kilometers away. So who the fuck cares?
It would be the end of Freelance, at least as we knew it. Juron had seen something dark in himself those last days at GERO and apparently wanted to continue on his own journey. Can't say I ever really liked the man, but I wish him luck none the less. The Falcons went away of course and for the rest of us sticking around and throw a welcome-home party to the Demon's Head just didn't suit any of us. So we talked about just selling the place and move somewhere else, set up a new shop and start over. At least for a while. The big city will always have its lure. But long story short, that's how I ended up in this bar in this little town. You better believe it.
And if you ask me to repeat anything of what I just said ever again I'll nail your head to the fucking ceiling. Ed's the guy for repetitive blather. Me; I prefer the silence.
Kragor took a good look around him before he continued. He wanted to be -absolutely- sure no one was following him when he reached the locker.
A few moments later he found himself in front of it - a door exactly like the 20'000 others in the storage facility, and that was just one of the floors. He took out his digital keycard and entered the 10 digit code. He opened it, left a small parcel and then closed it again.
A minute later he was gone.
The door to the small shop opened and shut quickly. Keria finished her meal and went to deal with the customer.
"Kragor? What are you doing here?"
"So the shit has really hit the fan?" she gave him a disapproving look.
"No, it hasn't. I'm just tired of the city for a while."
"Never thought I hear -you- say that."
"Goodbye Keria. And good luck."
The half-orc woman almost spilled her drink.
"Holy shit, is that you Kragor?"
"You don't recognize my pretty face?"
"Haven't seen your pretty face since you were 12. You need money or something?"
She gave him a scrutinizing look. For once he didn't put up his façade.
"By all the cursed devils... you're just here to see me?"
"No, but well... you know," she switched to her sarcastic tone, "if the kids would see you they'd have nightmares for years."
"I won't be staying long."
"You know I didn't mean..."
"Don't worry. But I'll be heading out for a while. But I'll be back."
"I've never trusted you when you'd said things like that," she grinned at him but he could also see a slight mist to her eyes.
"I got 30 grand put away in a locker in downtown - I'll be back alright."
"Finally struck some gold, eh?"
"Eh, yeah, you could say that," said Kragor, for the first time feeling a bit uncomfortable about where the conversation was going. "Even got some extra."
He handed her a small credstick.
"I don't want your money Kragor."
"Its not for you - its for the kids."
After a moment's hesitation she nodded and took the stick.
Kragor stood before the unmarked grave.
"You knew it would end this way, Kronaug. One cannot be stupid and criminal for very long."
Though he knew it was true it didn't feel quite right as the last words to someone he'd known for so long.
"But you died for a good cause, I think. It could have been worse."
He turned and walked away.
The night air was cold and he was surrounded by trees. In the distance the dark water of Noldoa-Seni reflected the light of the stars. Between him and it lay an ugly little town; most lights out at this late hour but still a few chimneys poured dark smoke into the air and some moving lights could be seen reflecting off the buildings. Kragor didn't believe in happy endings and he knew that one day - probably not so far off - the town of Sodor would feel too small and the lure of Dormicas would draw him back. But right there, right then, he felt quite content.
"And once I put my shotgun to your face, Dwavor, I promise by the gods I'll be happy for a full day."
Whistling a tune, the scarred half-orc started walking towards the town, the auto-shotgun resting on his shoulder.
We did jobs for GERO for a week - mainly patrolling the area and driving other people off the land - waiting for the damn Falcons to give the go sign. Every time I saw Boyan my trigger finger itched.
Then came the day, or rather evening as we had already pulled a full day's work. The hot-shots from GERO showed up and picked us for two top-notch escort vehicles and sent us off to a pick-up site. Boyan and a lady friend of his with similar levels of empathy was calling the shots and split us up between the vehicles. To my disappointment I get to go with the lady. With me was Juron, Erza and Lucas.
The drive to the pick-up was uneventful enough and would prove our only chance to get some sleep for quite some time. The place seemed to be some type of old facility - probably abandoned due to a fire. There were quite a few other mercs there, watching as we arrived. A truck was added to our convoy and we took position behind with Boyan and his team in front. Another long drive awaited - but now we were instructed to stay sharp.
I saw something behind us, probably because I expected to see it. Juron appeared to notice it too. There were at least two monobikes following us - and I could swear it was Hawk riding one of them. What followed wasn't a high-point in my career as a tactican, but I guess after the Falcons keeping us in the dark I wanted something to happen. I alerted our superior to us being pursued and she ordered the vehicle stopped and us to move out and take up positions. I wasn't the only one to be trigger-happy it seemed, for practically as soon as we'd gone out Erza gave the word to terminate our leader. Juron was quick on the notes and despite whatever job GERO had put into her she went down in a few seconds. The driver, who'd seen what had happened was shocked and I guess not to leave any loose ends we put him down too.
As Hawk and her companion rolled up they pointed out that we'd put ourselves in a bit of a conundrum. They wanted to know where the current cargo was heading - and GERO would probably have some difficulties trusting us given what had just happened. To be frank, I didn't give much of a shit: I had just got the opportunity to hammer someone who deserved it badly. The fact that the Falcons didn't tell us what they were planning was their fucking problem - we did our best with what we were given. On that note I called in and reported the casualties. Boyan sounded less than convinced, but told us to stick to the mission. I took over the driver's seat and soon we had caught up with the truck.
We drove for quite some time until we reached another installation which reached into a mountain side. It looked mostly like some type of mine with a few hastily constructed buildings with a small concrete wall with a watch tower protecting the entrance to the mine itself. We were taken to the barracks but weren't given much rest. Boyan came around and picked out Erza. I wanted to follow to see what was happening, but at the same time I didn't want to jeopardize our position further. But a few minutes later Boyan was back - without Erza - and this time he took Juron. It was clear some type of interrogation was going on and as I knew deception wasn't the prime skill of everyone in our team it smelled like trouble. Charles, speaking for the Falcons, agreed but insisted that he attempted to rescue our team mates while he tasked me, Ed and Lucas with blowing up the entrance to the mine.
We didn't get far until we were set upon by Boyan, who silently knocked Ed out of the game. Our excuse that we were just out to take a late night shit didn't quite go home and he tried to put his knives in Lucas, who elegantly backed away. As for myself I had been prepping for this moment for a damn week. The shotgun was in my hands almost before I knew what was happening and I pulled the trigger hard, basically turning the bastard's arm into minced meat. It didn't stop him and instead he turned his focus on me, but I had expected this should he survive and managed to dodge every attack he made. Next thing Lucas perforated his skull with a well-aimed shower of magrail bullets. Unfortunately my shotgun fire had put the guards on alert, but in that moment I was way too high to feel down. I put another round of bullets into Boyan's corpse before we dragged the unconscious Ed into the woods and started to make our way towards the mine entrance.
We managed to find some sort of mining vehicle which we used to create a ramp over the concrete wall. Inside we hid in a shed which proved to hold just what we needed: large cases filled with explosives. Unfortunately they were securely locked and while we managed to bring them into the mine our best option seemed to place them and then fire away and hope it worked. At this point the Falcons made contact and provided a better option as soon we had Hawk at our side.
Apparently the others had been busy, for our supposed sniper cover was busy elsewhere. Good thing we had a sniper of our own. Once the charges were set I made a run for it, while Lucas did a good job in taking down anyone posted in the watch tower. I understood from our com-channel that there was a communication disk that needed to be taken care of before we could call it a day and apparently that was what all the fighting outside was about. I saw a couple of guards near the disk and decided it was a good time to play a stupid orc, so shouted something about explosives in the mines and sabotage. It got their attention but before I could capitalize on the situation someone shouted "Juron, Fire!" on the com and that could only be translated as 'run like hell'. The com disk exploded in a million pieces as I threw myself towards the ground. Soon after the mine itself went 'kaboom'.
Even then, there, lying on the ground with bullets and small pebbles flying all around and pieces of broken equipment burning it felt like a B-rated action virex. But it was a virex approaching the end; those that needed to be put down had been put down and that which needed to be blown up had been blown up. Affected by this strange feeling the next couple of minutes felt like everything happened in slow-motion, with every sound as heard through a wall or a pillow over the ear late at night. But soon we found ourselves in a terradyne, driving away - back towards the city.
It would be the end of the adventure.