The roads between Vesper and Dinosaur Swamp are dangerous. Brigands and criminals prey on travellers and the occassional Rift opens dumping who knows what out on them.
So it’s no real surprise that Caravans out of Dinosaur Swamp are being attacked. No real surprise that supplies and people are being stolen.
What might be of surprise is that Justicars have sought the assistance of contractors to retrieve one such shipment – of medical supplies and potentially a medic to go with them.
Ardul had managed to locate Hunter last evening and enlisted the Wolfens assistance and the group started out early this morning. Whilst their destination isn’t //in// Dinosaur Swamp, it’s close enough to it. The Caravan was last reported about ten miles out from there. Too far to walk and Ardul had negotiated the use of the small hover ATV they’d used previously.
If this type of work keeps up, she might look into buying one … or something.
They’d picked up the tracks of the Caravan an hour or so ago which means Hunter has been following them, as best his instruments will let him with Pegi providing what guidance she can.
As reluctant as she had been at first to go back, Pegi puts her all into the task they now find themselves saddled with. She thinks it’s terrible that someone will attack caravans, even worse that they’re stilling important supplies! It’s probably only due to her having gotten to know someone with such medical expertise that she can understand that all the more.
Finding the trade routes in the swamps is a bit of a trick, given that the terrain isn’t all that stable in some parts, and things tend to shift now and then. But Pegi’s learned how to track, and finding something like the trail of a passing group such as what they seek isn’t as difficult as seeking signs of passing groups of ornitholestes.Again, Felipe is along for the ride. Not because he needs the money — that is only part of the reason why he and Pegi are here. Like Pegi, he also has his qualms about returning to the area so soon after their last venture, but with the news of ambushes along the roads leading back into swamp territory it is probably for the best they go check it out.
In the vehicle, the doctor stays quiet. Brown eyes are fixed upon the Saurian warrior and the path she follows, keeping his belongings close as they go. Her skills prove far more useful than his at this point. It wouldn’t do to distract her as she works. He’ll speak once there’s an opportunity to do so.Hunter is bringing up the rear though people might be forgiven for not realizing that he is the rear because he’s probably the first thing anyone looks at.
Well, not him per se. He’s got a twenty six foot tall robot that’s armed to the teeth. It may be overkill but overkill is never a bad thing, not out here in the wastes. Or the swamps.
Railguns. They cure many things.
It’s rather densely wooded out here, with trees very tall trees, growing up on either side of the track they’ve found.
As they follow the trail, Hunters instruments indicate a small camp or something a mile or so up ahead. There’s a heat signature indicating possibly a campfire and six beings. It’s not long before they hear the report of energy weapons and associated light shows.
There’s an almighty bellow and the ground shakes – not that the hover ATV necessarily feels it. But Pegi, and maybe Felipe, recognised the sound – a Switchback. A highly territorial omnivorous beast that inhabits the area. And it’s coming right at them… being driven by that weapon fire they just heard.
Such is the downside of being inside such a confining vehicle. As much fun as it is to ride in, Pegi can’t tell much of anything but sight and what might be heard outside, not to mention smell. She’s been very tempted to see if she can ride up on top of the thing like Ardul had before.
The sound that penetrates even the filtered norm of the ATV is an alarming one, however. The young Saurian lifts her head sharply, the top of her helmet bumping the low ceiling, but not enough that she’s bothered by it. “That not good,” she says, tensing beside Felipe. “We need to move away, fast!”The bellowing of the beast makes Felipe jump in his seat, forcing him to let go of his bag. It slides off of his lap and onto the floor with a heavy /thunk/. Shaking his head, he leans forward, trying to see where the sound is coming from.
“What the hel–oh /no/.” That pretty much sums up things now that a Switchback is rushing them. His grip tightens on the edge of his seat as he hastily sits back, hitting the backing harder than he should have. “–I’m with Pegi, move now, we need to move NOW!!”
He’ll deal with whomever is driving it in a moment. It’s possible they don’t mean any harm and just want the thing away from then too.
“Settle.” Arduls voice is steel as her fellow passengers panic, popping the top to exit the ATV and provide covering support, if needed. “See, Hunter is there. Felipe, take over manual control and navigate the ATV to the tree li—-”
Her words are cut short as Hunters weapons fire does indeed deflect the beast, sending it careening into the forest to their right. They can hear it’s progress as it moves. “Belay that. Stay where you are …”
The group that was driving it, comes over the low rise ahead of them. A group of Saurians. Not Pegi’s tribe, but one she will recognise. Seeing the twenty six foot tall robot, they pull to a halt. Jabbering in their native tongue.
The leader of the group seems to be a female and she steps forward cautiously, assessing the group. “Who are you?” she asks in broken language. “You chase big nash-nash away. Gratitude.”
It’s hard to calm down when you know something huge can potentially ram you and your vehicle over, and while Pegi had little doubt that Hunter’s mech could actually hold its ground, it however happens to be behind them. It’s only when she sees the ground suddenly seem to erupt in plumes of dust and small explosions of dirt that the Saurian realizes what the Wolfen is doing. Well, that’s a handy trick!
Clambering up out of the ATV, Pegi breaks into a smile as she sees the other tribesmen. She waves a clawed hand. “They friends! That in there is Hunter,” she says, pointing towards the looming wolflike mech. “This is Ardul. Pegi’s brother Felipe in here. We heard of attacks on caravans. You know this?”Although it’s a tall order, the doctor complies nonetheless, his heart rate going faster than it should have been. The last thing he needs right now is a heart attack from all of this. Instead of a threat of something that huge running at full tilt to knock them out of commission, the rail gun blasting from Hunter’s end is both a feast for the eyes and deafening blows past eleven for the ear drums. Hopefully his recovery time is less than worrying.
“I’ll take that,” Felipe finally breathes, barely bobbing his head in agreement with Ardul’s new instructions. He half-slumps against his seat as Pegi climbs out, losing some of the support he’s used to getting whenever he sits next to the Saurian. His calm is maintained as he takes a few more relaxing breaths, dragging a hand down his face before pausing to straighten up again. Thanks to the Saurian group, it looks like some of the attention has been brought his way again.
And there’s a tired wave. “Hey.” He doubts he can be heard inside of the vehicle, but that’s fine with him.
Hunter doesn’t climb down from his bot. Not yet. They seem friendly but they’re still armed and that Switchback is still out there. The bot does lower it’s weapons though. It’s possible that if they’re from deep enough within the swamp that they’ve never seen anything like this that wasn’t a dinosaur or monster of some form.
And for the moment he listens. The questions being asked down there are relevant.
Behind the Saurian warrioress, five other Saurians appear, one of them quite clearly injured and supported by the others. Ardul looks to Felipe – maybe he will help whilst they talk to this group about what they know.
“I am Shakta. This is Randa, Grepna, Trell and Var.” Var being the injured one.
“Caravan Raids. Bad news those.” Shakta says as Randa and Trell creep forward to look at the Wolf bot.
“You some big nash-nash?” they ask Hunter, before Shakta gives them a clip up the back of the head.
“Group went through three suns ago. Back into marshy ground and holes in the rock.” Pegi knows enough of this area to know there’s a swamp several miles along and an extensive cave system beyond that.
Pegi frowns a little, moving to clear the hatch’s opening so Felipe can get out. “Felipe…” she says, looking towards the injured Saurian of the group even as Ardul turns a look towards the doctor. Carefully she makes her way down, her metal leg replacement clunking against the ATV’s hull as she finds places to rest it until she can find better with her good leg, thumping lightly onto the ground.
“Very bad. They take important things, medicines and…a healer,” she explains. At least it seems they’re on the right track. “…hmmm.” Pegi glances beyond, nodding. “No one else go that way?” Or come from it, she’d ask, but given what the locals know of the caverns, it’s possible there could be other ways.It’s hard to ignore the fact one of the Saurians is injured. As Pegi and the others continue to speak, Felipe meets Ardul’s gaze briefly, simultaneously shifting gears to grab his bag and jump down from the hovering ATV.
“‘Scuse me,” he says softly as he steps down after Pegi moves, walking over to Var with his hands held out halfway from his body. He indicates the Saurian’s wounds with a glance. “I’m a doctor. Healer-type.” He then pats his bag. “May I take a closer look?”
The hissing noise the hydraulics make probably sounds a bit intimidating. It may be a bit of a letdown when he hops down off the back. A mere nine feet tall.
“Nash-nash? No, I’m a big wolfen. Well I’m a regular sized wolfen.” He doesn’t interrupt Felipe or Pegi. They’re doing important work here it seems.
“Wolfen…” Randa and Trell swap looks with each other and then walk around the bot. They’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Felipe gets a look from the Saurians but they let him get close enough to inspect the wound. It’s a big gash on the leg. Nasty but not life threatening. Well it wouldn’t be except out here, with the humidity any wound could prove fatal. “Green nash-nash came out of a hole at Var. Var fell.”
“Bad business, that.” Shakta says again. “No one else, not in many moons. This one, disappeared into holes, not seen again.” It might be nice to know how many there were that went that way.
Ardul glances to Hunter as he gets down from the bot, inspecting the area that they’ve stopped in. “Hunter. What do you make this…” It’s wet enough that there are still tracks from the caravans progress. It looks like there was some form of armoured escort.
With Felipe handling doctor-business, Pegi doesn’t worry too much about the possibility of him getting eaten out here. After all, aside from the other Saurians, there’s Hunter and Ardul. They can surely look after her squishy brother.
She nods at Shakta. Well, it’s definitely something to keep in mind. “Big group?” she inquires, glancing briefly towards Hunter and Ardul as they look at the imprints in the ground. “That’s a long time…” Concerning, really. Soon as they were finished here, they’d best hurry.Climate and open wounds tend to clash with each other. It’s frustrating to work with, but there isn’t any real way the doctor can control such factors. “Falls aren’t fun at all,” he replies with a soft, mirthless chuckle. All casual joking aside, the look in his eyes is telling. He knows how serious a wound of this kind can easily become infected and it’s the last thing he wants for the Saurian to experience if it progresses to that stage.
Setting his bag down, he opens it up to dig through its contents. Disinfectant. Gauze pads. Bandages. Medical tape. “This’ll sting a little,” Felipe warns, dabbing the pads with the disinfectant before applying it to the wound.
Since it’s a Saurian, he goes about the business of treating Var carefully, talking to him in between each step while Pegi gets the rest of the information needed.
“Caravan. Trucks. Supplies. Guards.” Probably not as many of the latter as needed but…
The wound hasn’t started to fester and it’s good thing that Felipe is looking at it now. Var hisses as the disinfectant is applied. “What that do?” he asks as he watches and listens as Felipe explains.
The tracks are indeed armoured transport and Ardul moves to stand next to Hunter. “They had some pretty heavy reinforcement with them. I don’t recognise the tracks, maybe you will.” If he doesn’t they’ll need to think about how they approach.
“Big big. Caravan. Big truck with lots of zap-zap. Count ten maybe more guards…”
She does not envy Var in the slightest. Felipe’s current administrations are still nothing compared to what she’d had to endure when she’d hurt her leg, but she knows the sting of what the doctor applies, no fun whether for something small or large. At least the other Saurian would still have his leg to use.
“Ooh…” Pegi frowns again, but she nods and then looks over at Ardul and Hunter to see if they’d heard Shakta. Otherwise it wouldn’t be any trouble to repeat it to them later. She tries to think of what else to ask, but getting information of that sort has never been particularly her strong point.The outcome of this tending-to is less worrisome, at least. Having to take care of Pegi’s life-threatening injury resurfaces in the doctor’s memories, reminding him of how difficult it all was in comparison. Still, his focus is honed enough to keep him from reliving that critical period of time.
“It sterilizes the wound,” comes the explanation as he searches for layman terms to simplify things. Felipe squints, looking away from Var’s leg for a moment. “Ah, well, it cleans it out, just as it would with water. Except this is more like using a strong alcohol.” He gently pats the area to make sure it’s dry enough for the next product he looks for. “This ointment,” he continues, waggling the tube in his hand, “will go on top to help the healing. Like a poultice! Less germs, less bad things happening all over this.” He taps at an empty space in the air twice. “Remember that.”
Ardul has heard the answer and smiles at Pegi. She heard and she nods, the Saurian is doing well. “Thank you.” She says to Shakta and nods to the others. “What were you doing out here and what happened with the … nash-nash?” she asks.
Shakta looks at the other Saurians “Hunting party, stopped to see Var’s wound and it came …”
With the wound dressed, there doesn’t seem to be anything else they can find out here. “Thank you Shakta” Ardul says, looking to Hunter as he mentions the vehicle. “Seems like we’re dealing with something big, then. We should get moving, before we loose the light.”
Silly Hunter. Caterpillars weren’t made of metal! Pegi doesn’t voice this, of course, figuring that the Wolfen likely means something else. City dwellers seemed to name things as they pleased.
Nodding back at Ardul, the young Saurian pauses before nodding once more as the winged warrior offers a question of her own. There are usually only so many reasons that such would be out, so Pegi hadn’t thought to ask. “Yes, much thanks,” she adds towards Shakta, giving a bobbing bow of her head. Shuffling about, she turns to step closer to he others.
“Sound like good idea. Marshlands not too far from here, but the earth holes go deep.” The thought of their dealing with something big doesn’t seem to bother her very much. Big, she can deal with. It’s something physical, at least. Not like those floaty glow balls that brought nightmares. “Felipe, you done?”Felipe dusts off his hands after finishing the tie on Var’s bandage, returning the rest of the medical items back into his bag. “Yep, all done here,” he answers, getting back up onto his feet. He nods at Var and the other Saurians before glancing back at his sister and his fellow travel companions. “Let’s go, then. The longer we stay out here, the darker it gets. I dunno if it’s my imagination, but it feels like night falls fast around these parts.”
“Good hunting to you folks…” Hunter nods. He heads back to his bot to climb back in. If they’re going to get moving again they’re going to get moving. Felipe is right. Nightfall in this swamp gets real dicey sometimes. Not as bad as on the prarie or a savannah but… still. Night is when some of the big boys come out to play.
The Saurian hunting party nods and gives Felipe something from their hunting belts. It’s payment for the service that he just gave them. It … smells.
“Back in the ATV then. Pegi, didn’t you say there was a hunting settlement a few miles on? We’ll make that tonight and continue on in the morning.” Knowing where the Caravan may have gone is a good start.
Somehow, she thinks this just got much harder.
Following up on Otmins request, the journey to find the lost caravan and medic begins
March 06, 2410