Author Topic: The Freedom War  (Read 520 times)

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Re: The Freedom War
« on: March 15, 2018, 11:56:54 am »
”Xander huh? Odd name, not from around here…” Henry replied. The armored van hit a light ditch, jostling its passengers slightly as to cause little harm but enough alarm some, forcing Henry to quickly place both hands back upon the steering wheel, lest his deft but unorthodox driving relegate them to a grave of rich dirt and murky water. A splatter of mud, littered with decaying leaves and various indistinguishable bits of foliage was kicked up upon the windshield, only to be removed a moment later by the voracious whirling of the wipers as they efficiently removed the obstructive debris.

”Shoot… sorry, I’m not used to off road driving,… haven’t had to drive outside of the city. Uh, can you reach in there—yes, in the glove box, there should be a map” Henry shouted over the loud humming of the van’s tired engine, forced to endure a terrain for which it had no experience and fondness for. ”David said-- David is the guy on the 50-Cal above—he told us he had some experience with heavy weapons so the Captain put him up there –, “ a gloved hand pierced the carpeted ceiling of the armored van, waved gently, then rose to the heavens once more as quickly as it had arrived, “that there was a broadcast that went out just before the main attack arrived, telling civilians to evacuate as soon as possible to a Lattimer Valley. Captain Bruse decided that we were going to retreat to there, so I think we should stick to that plan. Can you take a look at the map and try and figure out which roads we need to go to get there?”

Xander bent down, opening the compartment to examine its contents, fishing for his desired prize. A chipped, dusky flashlight, its lens blemished by a slight oblong crack, brushed upon on him, its worn edges etching a painful but short scratch upon his curious hand. A few used shell casings—the owner of this vehicle really ought to spend some more time cleaning his spaces—jingled loosely, nearly jumping like escaping frogs out of the compartment and onto the muddied floor. A few loose pieces of undistinguishable paper, then something thick, dry, and papery, crinkled but relatively unblemished caressed the tip of Xanders forefinger. Grasping, Xander pulled, exerting far more effort than warranted to remove the sought object, removing the crinkled, lightly worn map from the dim depths of the compartment and into the dying light.

Henry watched silently out of the corner of his eye, as Xander fumbled amongst the loose objects of the compartment. “Sorry, sorry, we didn’t have many options of vehicles to take. Lieutenant Atwood took SBCPD-1 to the beachhead and didn’t make it back-shoot, you think he’s dead?,” Henry blurted out, “and both 2 and 4 were out being repaired.  SBCPD-3 was Lieutenant Bransons car, he’s not known for his cleanliness, but he didn’t make it in this morning. I hope he’s alright, I mean, he had a family geez. Probably just didn’t make it in because he was helping them,.. right?”

Xander traced his hand along the stained map, each crinkle a crevasse that spoke long tales about wonders this parchment had seen throughout its vast lifespan. Locating the red ink dot that denoted Saruleah Bay City, a solitary island amongst a sea of rice and ocean, Xander estimated where the Arcadia’s escape pod had plummeted and slammed into the watery farmland, and slowly but carefully traced their path into the tree line in which they now moved hurriedly through. There, some distance away ahead of their presumed position, a winding, insignificant but nonetheless defined road wormed its way through the tree line. Forced to squint in the fading light to view the name of the road, Xander bent in, his nose inches away from the crinkled document, mumbling the name of the road quietly to himself, “I-105.”. Following the I-105 further up, each jostle of the van forcing Xander to reacquire the line to continue, he observed the line pass through another minor, black dot, insignificant enough to allow one to question whether the dot had even been part of the original map design, and had been an accidental blotch left from years of use, if it had not been nearly labeled by the author, ”Medona.” Continuing, Xander followed the dark, thin line up into a distant mountain range, as it disappeared into the rolling hills and valleys that defined the range. Xander stretched out the map, as to cover his lap with the geography of the region, a quilt of grass and woodlands, and pointed to the solidary snaking line, so that Henry could follow as best he could.

”I-105 huh?,” Henry replied, as he followed the line up into the mountain range. The van seemed to jostle ever so much more; clearly multitasking was not Henry’s forte. ”Hrmm, I think that was the road Captain Bruse said we needed to follow. We had this larger map up in the precinct building, but it was nailed to the wall and far too large…”

Xander folded up the aged map back into a tight, neat square, before placing it in his ruined trousers. He turned his focus back upon the chaotic glove compartment, search, seeking, before grasping upon the offending black flashlight, and placing it to in his trousers. Perhaps they both would be useful at some later date.

Henry continued, a light yawn stifled quickly before he continued to speak, ” That shouldn’t be too hard to find, but I don’t think we’ll get there tonight… why don’t you close your eyes for a hot bit. I’ll wake you up if we need you… okay?”

A bumpy jolt awoke a tired Xander quickly from his slumber. His eyes, unfocused, took several long moments to clear the billowing fog that blinded his eyes. The ungodly heat of the dying summer’s rays had microwaved the interior of the armored van, causing blossoms of salty water to heavily stain the various joints and crevasses of Xander’s utterly ruined uniform. This, compounded with the perspiration of the other several occupants of the vehicle, mixed an unholy salty stench that burned badly inside Xander’s nostrils, as if arcane magical wizards had teleported tiny flaming bonfires of ocean creature carcasses straight into his nostrils as he slept. Though the light rest had helped alleviate some of the pain, the awkward position and the day’s tribulations had left hard knots along his neck, a shooting pain that erupted like a new born volcano each time Xander made any effort to move, forcing a heavy groan out of his parched, flaking lips.

Henry turned his head to face a now awake Xander. His eyes, baggy with coursing blood, strained heavily from the stress of driving hurriedly through the thick, vibrant forest, observed him as he groaned. However visibly tired, he still was able to form a large, pleased smile, his pearly white teeth nearly blinding, backdroped by the darkening world in the dimming afternoon light.

 ”Ah, looks like you’re awake. Just in time, did you see a town on the map? We’ve just hit the outer limits of one. Looks like it might be a good place to spend the night,” Henry spoke softly, as if not to disturb the blemished calm that had fallen over the occupants of the armored vehicle. He removed one hand from the hard, leather-bound wheel of the van, and pointed ahead through the front window.
Xander looked up, his eyes painfully forced to refocus from the changing light, squinting into at the distant objects ahead. As they approached, the objects became more defined, even in the fading light, a stalwart, suburban house there paint peeling off its weathered sides, perhaps a shingled barn to the right, cluttered by loose materials and tools, propped up against its sides waiting for some future use. As they moved closer, the buildings grew from the earth faster, each subject a light blur until Xander focused more closely.

As the armored van moved swiftly closer, the density of the surrounding buildings grew, as if low bushland, caressed softly by frigid winds had been transformed into a thick forest of yellow corn, sweetened, but also tainted by its time in the sun. Each building, a standalone one story suburban home, clay pots upon the porch filled with dead and dying flowers of distant realms, or a tightly bound storefront with a rusting, sagging display rack propped up against the front to showcase nonexistent wares, exuded a deathly calm that permeated the air. Paint peeled from the once vibrant building walls, a testament to more elegant times, and various singles remained absent upon the many sloped roofs, weathered by torrential rainfalls from past generations. Here and there, signs of modern, industrialized life sprouted like foreign seeds carried aloft by trade winds only to be planted in this isolated realm by the sheer power of luck, a red, shining vending machine to the right that gleamed with a fresh paint job, a sleek gas station to the left, the pumps advertising their ever lowering prices. 

However, as the group drove onward into the thick forest of a town, the calm, the sound of silence, filled their hearts and minds, a rushing feeling of anxiety and fear, that paralyzed some to the bottom of their core, and readied others for a swift jump into a future fray. Not a single lively sound flew through the air, but the slow creak of moving parts, a rusted, dangling green street sign hanging from a lengthy street light and the quick, hurried rustle of loose brown leaves and dirty pamphlets as they rode the along the ground, as if carried by invisible, wispy gremlins. Not a soul, not a single animal, or a lone humanoid, or even the faint apparition of a forgotten deity let their presence be known amongst the winding streets of the town.

”… I wonder what happened to the people who lived here? It’s not as if this place has been uninhabited for a long time…,” Henry spoke softly, his voice quelled by the consuming sound of silence. ”Well the road goes through the town, maybe we’ll find out what happened as we go. I hope they’re okay, I mean, a town this size had to have at least a thousand people living here, if not more.”

The party inched forward slowly as Henry applied as little force to the metal pedal of the vehicle, as if he were walking around the mouth of a den of voracious carnivores. The van left muddy tracks in its wake, gluing the floating debris of decaying leaves and shredded loose papers to the surface of the road, a stain upon an otherwise smooth thoroughfare.

”Oh sh*t, hold up, stop dude, there’s something in the middle of the intersection!” a muffled voice-probably David the gunner-shouted through the roof of the armored van to them, rising panic intertwined with his rapid words. The van ran to a screeching halt, nearly throwing Xander from his seat had he not been prepared, having strapped himself to the chair. Something loud collided and fell to the ground behind him in the main cabin.

The van had stopped just a hair from the center of the town, a broad, asphalt intersection, dotted by numerous businesses advertising an assortment of wares in their dusty windows. Sickly, brown, deciduous trees lay planted at intervals along the sides of the path, in clear need of proper maintenance in care. Burned husks of cars and trucks, split open like chestnuts on an open fire, dotted the main street sporadically, left haphazardly, as if their owners had fled in a rush. A ruined store, perhaps an established, franchised drug store in its prime, lay burned to the bones, a few crisp timbers lay rising out of the slag like skyscrapers overlooking a sea of favelas. Some of the other business showed signs of light damage, a burn here, or a hole there, as if some deadly firefight had taken place here. In the center of the intersection before them however, a lone dark mass lay silent.

Xander squinted in the dying light at the mass ahead of them, a dirtied uniform, perhaps frilly and pink at some point earlier in its lifespan, now caked in mud, dust, and dried blood was worn by the creature, perhaps a vile beast from some far off land. Its extensive, black hair covered its face utterly from the blinding beams of light protruding in front of the armored van, as it sat upon its knees, still, silent, unmoving.

”Oh, Xander, do you think that’s a person?” Henry spoke softly to Xander, a hushed voice loud against the noisy silence the wafted over the occupants. David, now crouching into the van, his bearded, oily face shown for the first to Xander, began to speak aswell.

”F*ck that Henry, with all the sh*t we’ve seen, ain’t no way we going other there to take a closer look. Sh*t’s probably a trap by the metal heads, we don’t know what they’re capable of. Drive us CAREFULLY around,… whatever that thing is, the more distance we put between us and it the better we’ll be. If the metal heads got to the rest of the town, they’ll be back, and we don’t have the rounds in the 50 Cal to get them off us again,” David whispered, and undertone of panic underneath his words.

”David, there’s no way we’re going to leave someone out here. Night is coming soon, and we aren’t going to leave someone to be attacked out here in the open, we’re better than that. Come on, lets go see if we can help,” Henry spoke, his voice firm with determination.

Choice 1 (Strength: Mild)
A: Side with David, and get away while you can. There’s a high probability that whoever attacked the town may be coming back, and we have everyone else to look after.

B: Side with Henry, and render assistance to whoever is in the middle of the intersection. They need our help, and as officers of the government, it’s our duty to render that help.