Campaign of the Month: July 2011
Sins of the First Age
For most of the passengers, Harbinger was turning out to be a less than ideal mode of transit. After relocating the interns back to the hidden fortress (most of them were too disoriented to stand after the fact) Kadon had put together a harness of sorts to try to minimize the damage.
And while it was helpful, they were still strapped to the chest of a twenty foot tall robot running 300 miles per hour across very, very rough terrain. In fact, the only one of them that was unlikely to be black and blue by the time they reached the camp of the Bull of the North would be Zuko who was riding Harbinger like a rodeo bull. Well, and Scarlet as well. She wasn’t riding Harbinger so much as she was riding Zuko. There were benefits to being able to shape shift into a squirrel.
Inside the cockpit the landscape was a blur as Mnemia focused on finding the most direct path between them and the camp. But given the nature of the surrounding area that required much of her attention. She may have perfect balance and be as light as a feather when she wanted to, but Zuko would hardly be able to hide landslides and flying trees if she wasn’t careful.
“Maybe it would be best to look for a less difficult route?” Anna added softly as she came into existence in Mnemia’s peripheral vision.
“To what end?” Mnemia asked, her breathing heavy and a trace of venom in her voice.
“The less strain you place on yourself now the more capable you’ll be when we reach the camp.” Anna responded.
“This is nothing.” An obviously lie. Over the past few hours Mnemia had covered more than a thousand miles between scouting runs and playing chauffeur. Every step Harbinger took was a step Mnemia had to take. And while the woman tried not to show it, her normally precise stride was getting sloppy and her hair was starting to cling to her face.
Anna turned her gaze to the panoramic view, watching Mnemia navigate a short gap in the tree line where a small stream came down the mountain side. As the solar cleared the obstacle Anna pressed again.
“What about the others? We will need everyone at their peak and the trip seems to be taking its toll.”
“They are solars. They can enduring some bumps and bruises.” Mnemia didn’t bother trying to hide the scorn in her voice at the thought that she needed to coddle the others.
“Enough!” Mnemia cut her off. “This conversation is over.”
“No, it’s not.” Anna’s own voice rising to meet the challenge.
At that Harbinger came to a dead stop, nearly tossing Zuko to the ground as it did.
“And what, pray tell, do you still think you have to say?” Mnemia’s attention was entirely on Anna now, her caste mark starting to come to life.
To her credit Anna didn’t flinch or retreat. Though she had no physical form an angry solar was hardly something to discount.
“This isn’t like you.” Anna started. “I’ve seen you get mad like this before, but you’ve always been protecting one of us when you were. Either our children or our friends. But Aly’ and Kasi’ are fine, and right now you’re doing more harm to our friends than anyone else. So why? Why are you doing this to yourself?”
Mnemia was about to respond when something in her peripheral vision caught her attention. In the center of the viewport Zuko hung nearly upside down, his toes wrapped around Harbinger’s head to hold himself steady. His hands where on the side of his face, as if he was trying to look through a window and all he needed to do was block out the light to do so. Hanging from his shoulder a little squirrel was doing the same.
“Hello? I could be mistaken but we appear to have stopped moving.” his voice coming through twice, once audible and mostly muffled by the layers of orichalcum separating them and a second time rebroadcast into the cockpit by Harbinger’s systems.
“Kadon.” Mnemia called out in response. “I think we need to install wiper blades on this thing. I seem to have hit a giant bug.” With that she waved her hand in front of her face. As expected Zuko had little trouble disengaging from the head of Harbinger, jumping to the hand, darting through the fingers and running back up to the shoulder. Before he had a chance to say something else Mnemia was moving again, but at more of a jog while angling down the mountain instead of going over it.
Mnemia didn’t say anything for a time and Anna didn’t push. A minute later Mnemia broke her silence.
“We shouldn’t have to fight each other. Not like this…” She paused again, but this one lasted only a moment. “What we have to face is bad enough as it is. Demons and gods and neverborn and the whole lot of them. The enemy has superior numbers and equipment not to mention the fact that most of us are just now waking up. And now we have to deal with this blithering idiot and his circle of brain dead or brainwashed followers. We don’t have time for this. We shouldn’t have to fix this. We should be on the same fucking side!”
Locating a relatively flat stretch of earth Mnemia turned Harbinger back towards their destination, her pace increasing but the lay of the land making the run much less strenuous.
“And what will you do about it?” Anna asked.
“He and his circle have one chance to grow up. If they don’t, I will destroy them utterly.”
“Grow up?” Anna questioned the phrase.
“I get it, Raxin was an asshole. But the Bull of the North now has the bigger dick so it’s time to move on.”
“And what if it’s more than that? What if he isn’t just a petty fool?”
“We’ve seen the company he keeps and the wars he wages. No other evidence is needed. The man is not on the right side.”
“You can’t know that for sure.” Anna pressed.
“I’m sorry. I understand what you are trying to say, but at some point you have to stop looking for answers and act. Maybe there is a sidereal behind the scenes manipulating him. Maybe he himself has been brainwashed by the insane lunar that lends him an army. But you cannot fear the mistake so much that you fail to do what’s right.”
“I promise not to ignore the obvious in front of my face, but the longer this is allowed to continue the worse it will be. Either he and his allies come to their senses quickly, or convince us of some greater truth we are missing, or we’ll sent them to Lytek and he can sort them out.”
Anna could only nod. She wasn’t the warrior, Mnemia was. This was ultimately a decision she and the others would have to make. Still…
“Please… just promise me that you will try to bridge the gap. I’m sure if we can get the Bull and his people on our side…”
Mnemia turned her had to face Anna. “I will, I promise.”
“Thank you.” Anna said, turning her attention outwards again.
“But only if he gives me my robots back.” Mnemia finished, a smile on her face as Anna looked back.
To that the ghost had no response, rolling her eyes and returning her gaze to the mountainside.