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Starring: Futterman (Drae), Moultrie (Tiana), Jenkins (Dement), Avocet (Brody), Watts (Martin)
The survivors of the Vanguard carrier vessel Versailles now stand on the road outside a pub in the town of Kilkinney Pike, Australia, having just learned that the Kretonians intend to blow up the sun and destroy Earth...
Moultrie has begun to pace by now, perhaps not in a very big circut, but pacing she is none-the-less. Worry marks clear on her features as she continually glances back the way they'd come from, the Chef evidently looking for Watts, or more accurately, hoping he'll appear any minute now.
What a lucky day indeed, just over a hill appears Watts. The man is grumbling to himself as he moves, his eyes darting about. His uniform is particularly dirty at the moment, and a bloody badage cover one of his ears but tucked under one arm is a what appears to be a rolled up piece of leather.
FT is peering in the windows of the ...establishment. She uses her elbow to wipe a small circle out of the grime and peers in again. "Well," she says after a moment, "I don't know about you folks but if the world is ending I think I'd like to be full when it happens. D'you suppose we have time to eat something?"
Jenkins sighs, "I'm going to miss that pig." he murmurs, sticking close to Avocet for the moment.
Avocet tugs a foil-wrapped MRE from his pocket. "I'm not real trustworthy when it comes to food in these backwater pubs." He wanders up to stand next to Futterman as he unwraps the MRE. "That said..." He ponders, looking around the parking lot at the collection of battered hovertrucks and hovercars. He takes a bite of his MRE, chews, and swallows. "Someone inside might be willing to give us a lift to Kalgoorlie-Boulder. The Vanguard's got a military base there."
There's a moment of disbelief, then relief floods Moultrie's expression, the Chef darting towards Watts, "Brian!" She calls to him, using his first name despite herself, "What happened to you?"
"Lizzy babe!" Watts call out as he starts to trot towards the other. "Some bastard croc though he could nip my ear and I thought I needed a new pair of boots. We had a little disagreement hun." The man says as offers up the rolled piece of leather. Its at that moment he notices the rest and he straightens up. "Afternoon sir.. I think I was misplaced after landing." He salutes.
FT watches the General chew on the dehydrated 'food' with a wrinkled nose. "Yessir," is all she says as she peers back in the bar, ignoring the shouts behind her. Then she straightens and crosses to the door, tugs on her shirt-tails and tucking them back into the waistband of her trousers with little concern for anyone watching. "Guess we'll have to head on in then though, right?"
Avocet nods at Futterman, then looks over at Watts, returning the salute. "You took your damned time. Glad to see the croc didn't mess you up too badly."
Moultrie reaches out to lightly touch the rolled up leather, but it lingers for no more than a few seconds before her touch is shifted to Watts' arm; reassurance of a sort, "I was so worried they'd caught you." She murmurs, keeping her compusure quite well, actually, "I'm really glad you're okay." Even so a faint air of worry hangs about the cook, though it's quite possibly worry over the current situation, or her lack of field experience.
"Sir yes sir. The croc was not happy to see me." Watts directs over at Avocet. He looks over at Moultrie for a moment, his glaze wandering up and down for a moment. "Got out okay then?"
Not one for emotional reunions, the journalist is already on her way into the pub, waltzing right on up to the bar and settling down, chin propped on her palms and her lopsided grin beamed directly at the bartender.
"I can imagine." Jenkins mutters lightly, looking across to Watts with a slight frown before he shakes his head and moves to follow the reporter. "I hope they have a real toilet, and not one of those old ball-cock contraptions... Honestly."
"And what'll ya be havin'?" the bartender inquires gruffly. "We're flat out of ale, beer, and wine. We ain't got nothin' in the way of liquor. We're down to tap water that tastes like it got filtered through a sick wallaby's nostrils and..." He jerks a thumb toward a blunt-headed man at the end of the bar. "Jernigan's piss. So, what's yer pleasure?"
Avocet settles onto the curb outside the pub, taking the opportunity to finish his MRE while the transportation issue sorts itself out.
"In the nick of time, yeah." Lizzy replies, keeping her hand resting upon Watts' arm, "Seems we had it easier than you, too. Wrestling a croc all by yourself." There's a faint, proud smile there, but the overtones of anxiety and worry remain. She looks back to Avocet, "If we manage to get somewhere with decent supplies, i'm going to make us the biggest, best meal I can, Sir. Even if it's just for such a small victory."
"I cheated.. good thing about evolving thumbs is it makes shooting things easier." Watts says with a shrug of his shoulders. "So.. where are we off to?"
Futterman says, "Wallaby water, that's my favorite!" Caryn replies in stride. "And I was hoping maybe someone here wants to help my friend Lord Cartigan out there get us to the Vanguard base in Kalgooie? Kalgoorlie!" She thumbs over her shoulder to indicate the doorway and tilts her head. "There are six of us.""
Jenkins moves through past Futterman towards the back of the pub.
"Kalgoorlie-Boulder," the bartender corrects Futterman, shaking his head with a sigh. "Anyone from Kilkinney who saw fit to go into that death trap rather than stayin' here, well, I got no use for 'em. I don't think you'll find a soul in this pub willin' to take ya and yer friends. Sorry. Them space monkeys got us all good and skittery."
"The base should have decent supplies," Avocet tells Moultrie. "Assuming the base hasn't been ransacked by the Krets." He crumples the foil wrapper for the MRE and tosses it into a nearby trash can.
"Here's to hoping. It'd be a good boost in moral, i'd think. Good meals usually make a person feel better, in my experience." Moultrie replies with a small nod and smile. She looks back to Watts, giving his arm a light squeeze, "Whatever works, I don't care. You're here now, that's what matters."
"Possibly, but I do think its probably best if we look for a safe place for now sir." Watts says, one hand patting the arm before it goes to check his bandage.
FT sighs, the puff of air blowing the stray hair from her face. "Could we borrow an erroneous truck then? There must be some extra vehicles laying about somewhere? Or someone willing to part company with theirs temporarily in favor of maybe seeing next week?" She leans back in her chair, half-turning to look pointedly at the door. "Nothing to lose by saying yes, and everything to gain."
The pilot is gone for a while, evidently he held it in on the way down.
"Yer jus' gonna die," grumbles the blunt-headed man identified as Jernigan. Nevertheless, he procures from his jacket pocket a jingling set of keys and slides them down the bar to Futterman. "W'all jus' gonna die. Might a'well take mah truck." He shrugs. "Won't spec it's comin' back now."
Avocet returns to his spot on the curb, gazing west toward Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Blue-white orbs of light seem to zip back and forth above the low mountains on that horizon.
Moultrie seems happy enough that Watts is back and her ideas not been rejected, the woman herself looking up to the sky. She stares at the Celestial bodies for a few minutes, a light, almost wistful sigh escaping her.
Watts starts to pat himself for a moment the out comes a ration bar. The man glances over at Moultrie for a moment they breaks it in half and offers one half to her.
"Oh, thank you!" FT beams and drops the keys in another of her many pockets. Then she impulsively stands to lean over the bar and plant a big kiss on the bartender's cheek before dashing back out the door, offering a wave and another "Thank you!" as the door slams behind her. Caryn produces the keys with a jingle, shaking them gently behind the General. "Shall we?" The flush of her cheeks is concealed in the darkness.
Avocet turns to regard Futterman and the newly acquired hovertruck keys. "Did you trade them Jenkins for a truck? If so, it had better be a damned good truck."
Returning from the back, Jenkins quickly jogs out behind Futterman, moving to follow her exitedly, "We got a t-" A few seconds after the door slams, a groan can be heard from the other side.
Moultrie tears her gaze away from the sky as the half of ration bar is offered to her, a kiss to the cheek snuck in as she accepts it, "Thanks hun." She whispers before taking a bite. A wrinkle creases the bridge of her nose, but she keeps eating the thing anyway.
Watts nom nom noms on his yummy ration bar. "Could be worse things we could loose then Jenkins." The marine says with a small grin before he looks back at the pub. "You light a match at least?"
FT looks blankly at the General, clearly appalled. "What?" The Jenkins in question appears before she has to stutter through the joke, though. "Um. Yeah. So, truck." She starts pressing the alarm button on the key ring, pointing in various directions, until a vehicle begins flashing and making a general ruckus. Another click of the button shuts it up, though, and the woman walks towards it. Then she stops, returns, and picks up the packs she left outside. "Right. D'you want me to drive?"
"An' better things, too." comes a muffled reply to Watts, before the door opens and the pilot steps out. Nothing appears to be injured, aside from his pride. "Hell, that almost happened - but you came back." he looks across to Futterman, and his expression changes in an instant. Apparently, something she just said horrified him.
"Give the keys to Watts," the general says, pulling open the back door of the hovertruck's extended cab. "Load up, folks. Let's get moving to Kalgoorlie-Boulder."
Moultrie remains with Watts, the Chef ready to move and climb up into the front of the cab with him once the keys have been surrendered over.
"Shall we?" Watts asks as he extend his hand to accept the keys. "Huddle down in case anything starts shooting at us."
Caryn frowns slightly at Watts as she hands over the keys. Then she tosses her gear in the back of the truck and climbs into the back of the cab.
Avocet settles into the back of the truck, yanking a pulse pistol from his holster before closing the door. He doesn't seem interested in hunkering down any more than he has to. "Mind the skies, Watts. Looks like the Krets might have patrols watching for ground traffic."
Moultrie trots up to get into the front of the cab to take the middle spot, slumping against whatever support the back rest offers. She does slouch down quit a bit, actually.
"I really hope we don't." Jenkins says flatly, moving to climb into the truck with everyone else.
Watts climbs into the truck's cab and lays his rifle across the chef's lap. "Might need that later." He murmurs before he starts up the engine. "Will do sir." He calls back to Avocet.
Futterman, sandwiched between Jenkins and the silent Boudine, fiddles with the lense of her camera, using the tail of her vest to wipe it clean, and then stores the entire device it its case.
Several of the pub patrons wander out to watch the hovertruck depart. The bartender calls out: "See y'all in hell, I suppose! Take a few Krets with you!"
Watts honks the horn happily as he gives the folks a thumbs up.. with his middle finger. He gets confused sometimes. Its the wee Marine brain.
Moultrie rests a hand over the rifle placed in her lap, after shifting it around a bit for comfort's sake.
FT leans forward, peering over Moultrie's shoulder and watching the horizon.
As the hovertruck bobs along the bumpy rural road away from Kilkinney Pike toward Kalgoorlie-Boulder, Avocet takes out his commlink and switches it on. Static crackles, but he tries transmitting anyway: "Vanguard K-B Outpost, this is General Charles Avocet. Please respond."
Jenkins watches in silence as Avocet attempts to contact the outpost, his expression becoming sombre once again as the distraction of the locals fades into the distance behind them.
The bumpy ride doesn't seem to be agreeing very well with Lizzie, her complexion paling to a vaguely sickly white. She's holding out though, silent and strong.
Watts drives along as his tries to balance sky watching with keeping the truck on the road. "Nothing?" He calls to Avocet.
Avocet shakes his head, flicking off the commlink and dropping it back into his jacket pocket. "Our commsats are out. I'm not surprised." He shrugs, clutching the pulse pistol in hand again. "We'll know one way or another in a couple of hours. It's only two hundred miles to Kalgoorlie-Boulder."
FT starts humming "99 Bottles of Beer on the wall" very very very softly, otherwise.
The pilot pushes himself downwards, not due to Kretonian scouts but because sitting in the back is pretty windy and cold, he pulls a crumpled looking picture from his pocket, staring at it blankly. "How many bottles are you starting at?" Jenkins asks the reporter.
"Only one that matters is the one that going to be in my hand after all this." Watts murmurs before he glances quickly over at Lizzie. "Whats up hun?" He whispers lowly. "Gonna be alright okay?"
"Oh jesus." Moultrie mutters to herself, her pallor managing to pale just a shade further, the hand resting on the rifle transferring to her stomach. She looks to Watts, her lower lip chewed on for a moment, "Think i'm gonna be sick again, Brian." She takes a deep breath, evidently trying not to make them have to pull over.
FT pulls back into her seat and pats her pockets down. "More medicine, hang on...I stuck the pills in here somewhere..." and the medicine is located in the pocket down by her ankle. "Here-" she picks at the pocket lint and then slides her hand up to Moultrie, bearing two small pills.
Avocet furrows his brow, glancing toward Moultrie. "Mother of God, you didn't pick up the plague in the swamp, did you?"
"Plague? What were you up to with those swamp critters hun?" Watts says finding a smile as he goes back to focus on his driving. "The base is gonna have docs.. just hold on a little longer."
"Check for boils under her armpits." Jenkins chips in, "We'll have to rub garlic on her ears if she's contracted it, else the devil will smite us all."
Moultrie shakes her head quickly just as the pills are offered, the point of no return reached, though they might help -after-, "Nngh." She manages, gripping at her stomach, free hand reaching over to give Watts' arm an insistent tugging on.
FT looks rather alarmed and withdraws her hand. "I doubt its the plague, and I hope its not because of the crash. Maybe you better pull over..."
As the hovertruck rumbles along, growing closer and closer to the mountains, five kangaroos bound across the road about six yards ahead. There's no time to stop without hitting at least one or two. Swerving hard to the left or right will take the truck off onto the shoulder and into the swampy forest (left) or through a barbed-wire fence and into some farmland (right). Plowing on through will kill most of the kangaroos, but might also wreck the hovertruck.
"Fuckers!" Watts barks as he swears the truck towards the right while trying to slow down some. "Brace!" He yells, beads of sweat start to appear on his forhead.
"Fuckers brace?" Jenkins looks up from his picture in confusion, "Oh..." he manages, his reaction to the situation? Dumbstruck.
Futterman closes her eyes and her shoulders tense, as she grips the back of the seat before her.
Holding tightly to Watts, Lizzie takes in one deep breath and holds it in, as though it might help her hold the contents of her stomach in. If it does, good for all, if not? Looks like her boytoy's getting puked on. Or at least catching most of it.
Watts manages to avoid hitting any of the kangaroos, who seem just as startled as the passengers in the hovertruck as it goes swerving off the right side of the road and slamming through the barbed-wire fence. Carried by momentum, the truck zooms up and over the crest of a grassy hill near the base of one of the broad, anvil-like red stone mountains west of Kilkinney Pike. As the vehicle slows to a stop, its headlights are illuminating the hunched shapes of two landed Kretonian patrol vessels. Shiny eyes glitter in the shadows as the pilots of those fighters set their gaze on the hovertruck. Engines ignite. In the back of the truck, General Avocet raises his eyebrows and shakes his head, sighing. "Get a bucket, Moultrie. Watts...drive like all our lives depend on it."
"Son of bitch..." Watts blinks a few times. If its the puke or the ships, its really debatable at this point. The Marine shakes his head quickly then floors it, yanking the wheel hard to the side in an attempt to put as much space between them and the ships as possible.
"Permission to shit myself, sir?" Jenkins asks of Avocet, one hand dropping to the pistol at his side, the other putting his crumpled picture back in his pocket.
"Permission denied," Avocet mutters, scowling as the Kretonian fighters zoom over the hills to pursue the truck. The barrels of the laser cannons glow red as they charge up. The general checks the energy pack in his pistol and then looks toward the fighters. "Doubt I'll have much luck taking them out with this."
Caryn pivots in her seat to peer out the rear window with wide eyes and lips pressed into a thin line. "Back into the forest, maybe?"
Moultrie scrambles over quickly in her seat towards the passenger side window, the rifle that had been in her lap tumbling down to get wedged between seat and floor. The crinkle of a plastic bag alerts her, and reaching down quickly she snags it, just getting it open in time to empty her stomach. Into it, thank god for good aim.
"Try anyways sir!" Watts calls out as he tries to pat Moultrie on the back and still drive. "Someone get my rifle! At least try to throw off there aim." The marine sweaves and tries to zig zag towards some cover.
Avocet shakes his head at the journalist. "I like our chances against the Krets better." Just after he says this, one of the fighters fires what appears to be a warning shot that explodes in the road just ahead of the hovertruck. "I think they want us to pull over." Another blast rocks the truck, front and right, taking out a big chunk of turf. "Maybe they need directions to Melbourne." His brow knits as he ponders something. A faint smile touches his mouth. "Pull over, Watts!"
"I think we'd be better off trying to throw our guns in the way of their shots." Jenkins agrees with the captain, he looks down at his pistol, keeping it on hand. "There's no point shooting at them, we should save our shots... Any way we can - nevermind."
Fumbling for anything useful, FT pulls out the projectile pistol she collected on the shuttle. "Not the wild west, indeed," she remarks softly.
Trembling from the exertion of puking that much, in so short a period, Lizzie ties the bag up as tight as can be, and looks up. One hand braces against the passenger door, a sheepish, worried glance divided between everyone in the truck.
Watts slows the truck to a halt his hand twitching for the rifle but he keeps his hands on the stearing wheel. "Sure we want to do this?" He asks nobody in particular.
One Kretonian fighter lands ahead of the truck, facing it. The other settles onto the road behind the truck. Cockpit canopies hiss open and, simultaneously, the two Kretonian pilots emerge and start scrambling down ladders to the road. "When I count to three, folks up front shoot that Kret and folks back here shoot the one behind us. Aim as well as you can. Watch for broken glass from the windows." The Kretonians touch boots on the road at about the same time. "One..." They start walking toward the truck. "Two..." Their beefy gray hands start reaching for guns of their own. "Three!"
FT takes a deep breath and aims, trying to steady her hands. "I haven't used one of these in a long time," she murmurs.
"Ugh, time to die, baboons," Jenkins pushes himself up on the mark, aiming his pistol at the Kretonian behind the truck and firing at it.
Moultrie hesitates a moment before fumbling for her own pistol and bringing it up. Her aim is shakey and uncertain, luck needed for her to hit anything.
Watts takes a quick breath and slowly gets his rifle out. At three the Marine swings the rifle up and sprays at the people in front of the truck through the windshield.
The general brings his pistol up and fires at the Kretonian approaching the truck from behind. All shots connect with their targets, with the end effect that the two Kretonian fighter pilots are now sprawled on their backs on the road, twitching in their death throes. Avocet nods in approval, brushing broken window glass off his shoulder. He clambers out of the truck and walks over to the back Kretonian, kicking the corpse to make sure it stays dead. He relieves the creature of its weapon. Then he looks over at the fighter and says, eyes narrowing, "I think we just got ourselves an upgrade."
To be continued...