On the Road Again

Mark and Thunderhorse examine the wreckage of the Cadillac and the corpses of its crew.

Doc calls home. "Steve? Veronica? Are you there?"

"I'm still here," Steve replies.

"Affirmative," Veronica replies. "Gunship destroyed. I'm 200 kilometers over Lake Huron. ETA your location is 10 minutes. "

"It's okay, we've taken care of the threat." Doc replies. "The Escalade is destroyed and the Exkoreans are all dead. One died when they wrecked, Thunderhorse caught another with his axe, and the last one blew himself up trying to kill us."


"Thunderhorse took a hit but he's okay. The Jeep took some minor damage, but it's still running."

"Acknowledged," Veronica replies. "Do you need me on the ground?"

"Uh, negative," Doc says. "I think it would be better if you're in the air. That way we can call in an air-strike if we need it."

"Acknowledged," Veronica replies. She's all business in the cockpit.

Steve calls in. "The com-probe satellite I launched has swept the area. I don't see any more signs of Exkoreans."

Veronica responds. "I'll fly over for a closer look."

"Something isn't right. Why would they only send one old Escalade, not a hover version or even an armored one?"

Veronica answers, having the most experience with them. "It's stupid. They always send in a force that has only a minor advantage over the situation. It's what they calculate as an 'optimum statistical probability of victory.' They do it because traditionally, they have to conserve resources. With some planning or dirty tactics, it works for them, but a lot of times they end up spending more in resources slowly upping the ante and getting wasted than they would if they just used overwhelming force to begin with. They also have a culture of no surrender. Victory or death. Which is why the one blew himself up at you. It's cheaper to send someone on a one-way mission than it is to bring them home."

"So they will be upping the ante next time?" Doc replies.


Steve calls. "Doc, I just thought of something. Turn off that temporal tracking device I gave you. It's probably how they found us."

Doc reaches into his pocket. The little black disk has it's red light blinking away. Doc finds the switch on the side and slides it to the off position. "Done." He thinks a moment. "What's to stop them sending more? They know we're here now, anyway."

"Nothing," Steve says. "I'll keep scanning. Veronica, stay close to them. We'll let you know the instant we see something. You better get moving, too. The faster we can complete this mission the sooner we can leave."

"Got it." Doc replies. He turns his attention to Mark and Thunderhorse.

"Lookee what we found!" Mark says. He's got two more pulse ion pistols and two spare power packs. Thunderhorse is carrying two RGAR assault rifle magazines. "They got blown clear of their boat. Found their rifles, too, but they're all fucked up."

"Good work," Doc says. "Now let's get going before more show up."

The three get back in the Jeep. Brother Broderick still has his head between his knees.

"It's okay now, Brother. It's all over, for now anyway."

"[I heard the most awful things! Thunder and lightning bursting from the ground! Forgive me but I looked up. I saw fire and brimstone rising into the air! It was terrible! Is it Armageddon? Who were those men in the black chariot?]"

"Agents of an enemy nation," Doc replies without missing a beat. "They want to see the Duke fail."

"[And they too have harnessed the power of angels to draw their carriage? How is that possible if they are enemies of God?]"

"Theirs was drawn by demons. That's why the fire and brimstone when we destroyed it."

"[I see.]"

Doc checks Thunderhorse's wounds before they go. His new T-shirt has a hole in it. His body armor is blackened but not damaged. Beneath that spot, he's got a second degree burn about the size of a saucer right below his sternum. It's starting to blister. Doc slaps a burn patch and some ointment on, and gives him some pain killers.

Doc puts the Jeep into drive. They continue on their way towards the mountains.

The road is long and grows harsher as they get higher into the mountains. The steering wheel is rattling a bit. Doc thinks the tie rods got a little bent up when they landed on the rocks in the creek. It doesn't seem to effect the thing's performance, though.

They pass village after village. Some flee at their approach, but most of them just stand by and stare. One little girl waves at them as they go by. Occasionally they see what looks like a black bird moving impossibly fast across the sky. It's the Maria Bochkareva. Veronica radios in regularly to let them know she's there and nothing else is.

Brother Broderick sees her, too. On the third flyby, he asks "[What is that? I've seen it circling us for hours now.]"

"It's our guardian angel," Doc replies.


Nine hours after they left Nidaros they are approaching a small village at the foot of the mountain Oksskolten, which translates as Bull's Head. The village is in a river valley northwest of the mountain. Doc's map calls the place Korgen.

"Hilton!" Thunderhorse cries as he sees it. "At last!"

Doc is nearly exhausted from struggling with the terrain. The road has been less than a worn path for quite a few miles now. The area is littered with streams and creeks running down the sides of moutains. The ground is rocky and difficult. It has been getting steadily worse for the last three hours.

Brother Broderick seems to grasp the nature and capabilities of the Jeep's handling, and has been invaluable in guiding them through the worst of it. He had made this trip several times by horse cart when the Abbey of the Morning Star was being built. His job was to bless the journey and essentially be a good luck charm. He's worked out well for the Time operatives, so far.

The mountain before them is huge. It rises almost twenty thousand feet above the village, with four distinct peaks. Several smaller mountains surround it. There's no getting the Jeep up there. The Jeep is getting low on gas, anyway. The warning light turns on just as Doc parks behind the stables.

"[I can't believe we made it here so fast!]" Brother Broderick says. "[I heard tell of one man making the journey in six days, but in less than one? Unbelievable. Praise the Lord!]"

The party gets out and stretches their legs. They're all very hungry. Brother Broderick had shared his wine, bread, and cheese with them, but it had long since worn off.

"Come," says Thunderhorse. "We will visit the Great Hall and feast. We must find Skullfucker and Fairhairson. It will be a long trek up the mountain tomorrow."

1 comment:

Doc said...

"Now remember, we didn't come looking for trouble, so let's try and be a little subtle about this. We don't want to arrouse too much suspicion because we are going to have to leave the Jeep here and I don't want anything to happen to our only ride out of here. Brother Broderick probably knows these people and can make our introductions. We'll get some grub and a long nights rest so we can clinb the fucking Materhorn in the morning."

"Thunderhorse, I'm eager to meet your friends. How did Skullfucker get his name?"

Keep it low key, and if I have to, repeat the Mad Duke story. Hell, it's gotten us this far...