The Ghost Highway

Aftermath

“I’m pretty sure that he’s dead,” Sol’kanar says as she pokes at the sparking M.O.M. devices sticking out of what is left of Zeeb’s skull. The flesh around the sparking devices, as well as the devices themselves, are burnt or melted to a large degree from a series of fireballs thrown by the powerful psychic.

“Never can be too sure with these Crazies,” Sergeant Darius “Sarge” Hannan’s somewhat gruff voice is muffled slightly by his helmet as he fires another round into Zeeb’s rapidly cooling corpse.

“So, that was one fine shooting match I’d say,” Wooglin steps out from the large patch of darkness that had protected him from much of the enemy fire over the last few minutes that made up the ranged battle with Zeeb’s forces in the base, his elderly European voice ringing out in full flavor and heavy accent. Despite the ferocity of the battle, the adopted strategy of firing from behind cover saved them from receiving any real damage.

While all of the party seems worn out from the conflict, Sol’kanar and Jazz both appear more drained than the others, but otherwise all are whole and care little for the alarms going off throughout the base.

“Yeah, too much more of that and things might have gone from bad to worse.” Jazz says, wiping the sweat from his brow as he cancels the enchantments on his armor and removes his helmet. Despite constant training it is fair to say that the battle was almost rigged against Jazz as he had little in the way of time to replace the weapons taken from him and his only modified weapon suffered a failure during the battle, it remains where he discarded it, smoldering from a short somewhere in the firing chamber.

No one hears the approach of the large cyborg or the wolf, but the exhausted four find the pair behind them.

“It appears you have all survived, good,” the cyborg’s voice is metallic and cold, but his pose suggests relief to a degree.

“Well, they would hardly be worth your time if they weren’t,” the wolf interjects, his white coat matted with blood, not much belonging to him.

Remembering the scene from the butchers’ room Sol’kanar shudders slightly at the memory. Regardless of the fact that she could hardly care less for the dead, the fact that some of the victims of the disassembly were alive at the time of their butchery was, and still is, against even her ethical code of conduct.

“We can celebrate at a later time, but we must evacuate the area I am afraid.” The cyborg points to the passage behind him, back towards the large lift elevator, and back to relative safety.

“First I’m going to need you to give us your name, and state your purpose good sir,” Wooglin struts forward to poke his finger into the metal chest of the cyborg before continuing, “and you might as well take that armor off and let us see your face as I don’t imagine we’ll be running into any more brigands since we blocked off the passageway.”

“While we cannot truly spare the time I am convinced that you will not pursue the correct course of action until your curiosity is satisfied. Very well,” The cyborg rises up to full height and says in a strong voice states plainly, “My designation is X-13, I am a cyborg and I am an agent of the noble Xilu Federation sent to Rifts Earth on a mission of collecting candidates for possible use by my masters. Each of you has been carefully vetted before you have reached this stage in the selection process and further information will be dispatched should you survive the tests to come. The wolf and I have taken the liberty of moving those captured from Blights Village to the large lift, though a technician said that we would require the command card held by Zeeb in order to make the lift operational.”

“You mean this command card,” Sol’kanar waves a plastic card towards the cyborg.

“Yes, that appears to be the correct card, if I may…” The cyborg holds out his hand but Sol’kanar quickly tucks the card into her folded arms.

“What exactly is in this for me?” She asks, her eyes burning with both mischief and power.

“What are you talking about, Sol, we need to get out of here and that card is the only way.” Jazz walks over to Sol’kanar, a confused look on his face.

“Sorry, ‘Jazz’, but you may be willing to help these people out of the goodness of your innocent little heart, but some of us have spent considerable energy on procuring this card. As you so graciously stated, this card is our only real way out and I need a little more than gratitude to be willing to part with it. Business is business.” Sol’kanar smiles a charming and dangerous smile.

When it appears that the other three would take little action the wolf speaks up, his voice a threatening growl, “I’m not exactly sure what your companions are waiting for, but I don’t think it would take all that much energy to simple remove the card from your possession…” He moves forward, low and with his teeth bare.

“Do not think me so weak, wolf, that I am unable to defend myself!” Sol’kanar’s posture changes and the very air around her tenses with power, warm air begins to swirl around her and her eyes seem to glow. Sarge readies his rifle and keeps his sight picture moving to possibly fire on multiple targets.

Before anything can happen the cyborg steps forward and plants himself in the middle, between the two, and says calmly, “While I understand that some of you would wish to procure from this place what you would call ‘loot’ I have done my best to collect items that may hold value or utility that I am willing to exchange for your temporary compliance. Sol’kanar, I have the ability to compensate you for your cooperation and we can discuss the matter, business as it were, when everyone is safe.”

It takes a few heartbeats for the situation to diffuse, but eventually the wolf backs down and Sol’kanar relaxes and hands over the card. While Sarge and Jazz recover weapons and ammo the rest of the group patches up armor and the whole group walks back to the lift room as the alarms switch from one of intruders, to one of evacuation as the facility begins to rumble.

Jazz hits the switch that closes the large doors behind them after insuring that everyone that could be saved was in the large lift room before walking over to the control panel with X-13 to program the lift’s outer doors to open and engage the lift.

The ground beneath them rumbles as large plumes of multicolored smoke fill the air behind them as the group drives several large trucks away from the now collapsing and burning harvesting facility and back towards blights village. Instead of cutting through the woods the convoy heads out to the Ghost Highway to shorten the journey back home.

As they travel the group’s energy level increases as PPE and ISP is absorbed from the lay line and through meditation and while they recover the general disposition and mood improves for all.

Not all is well as they turn off the Ghost Highway a few hours later and being the trek through the woods to Blights Village. Jazz worries about the reception awaiting him as he dwells on what he considers a failure on his part in the events leading up to the attack. Wooglin dwells on his situation and wonders what will become of him in his new reality. Sergeant Darius worries a little about the fate of his friends in the militia and also wonders just what he has gotten himself into. Sol’kanar is mostly concerned with whether or not she’ll actually get paid as the sun rises over the fields and trees surrounding Blights Village…

Comments

Nice post, Garth! Very righteous!

Aftermath
vallack

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