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Memories of Lori Part 4: Doorknobs & Boomsticks

 
Lance Striker's picture
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                                                              06:00 May 12th 2144

 

                                        Gaia


   

Gaia was slowly beginning to wake up, her people rising to greet the morning sun. Striker, by contrast, cursed

the sun, the people and the noise they were making. Lori was nowhere to be seen and so he set off towards Ranger

Hall on his own through the winding pathways the Vista had dug into the lush, verdant hills of the settlement.

   The way forward became more crowded the closer he got to the city entrance; rangers on night shift were

flooding back to the residential villages, each as tired as he was. The older amongst them nodded at him with a

silent respect, the younger ones would point, wave or greet him in a manner too loud and enthusiastic for his

taste and he would simply nod or grunt in return.



   Ranger Hall loomed ahead as he pushed his way through the crowd of people. Out of the corner of his eye he

noticed a delegation, if such a thing applied to them, of CHOTA being tended to by a Caretaker. He eyed them

with interest as he made his way up the wooden stairs and opened the door.

   Inside, the noise of the city made way for the gentle crackle of a fireplace as he closed the door behind him.

In the corner of the main room, stood a pleasant-looking dark-skinned man, bearded and smiling. He gestured at

the sofa beside him.

   'Ah, Striker. Please, have a seat and... where is Miss Bennett?' He asked, still smiling.

Striker nodded, moved over to the sofa and sat down with a light groan.

   'I have no idea, I thought she'd be here.'

The man shook his head, poured two mugs of a caffeinated tea brewed with chicory root and smiled at Striker in

a thankful manner before placing them down on the table in front of them.

   'I see, well we can wait a few more minutes.'

Striker gave him an apologetic look.

   'How goes it, anyway, Ranger Fairburn? I'd heard you had a nasty run-in with those mutants and their wolves a

   few months ago.'

Fairburn let out a chuckle, taking a sip of his coffeeweed.

   'Not many alive can claim that. Ah, but it was a close thing, my friend. Damn near lost my leg, but you've trained

   these greenhorns well. Managed to kill the thing before it could close its jaws. I owe you one.'

Striker managed a tired smile and opened his mouth to speak when the door burst open – much to the dismay of his

weary mind. Lori spilled through the opening with a mountain of gear and managed to get a backpack strap caught on

the door handle. She tugged in annoyance, letting fly with language so colourful that even Striker managed a blush of

embarrassment. Fairburn smiled at Striker.

   'I'd heard you were out on late night patrol, I'm surprised you'd agree to be out again so soon.'

Striker sighed, looking over at Lori who was locked in fierce combat with the door.

   'You're not the only one...'

Fairburn laughed understandably.

   'I see, I see. Do try and hang on to her though, won't you? Life can pass you by so quickly. Well...for those of us without

   those strange collars at least.'

Lori, victorious, dropped their gear on the floor and darted over to the sofa to join Captain Grumpy.

   'Hi, Carl! Uhh...Ranger Fairburn.' She corrected herself, snapping off a salute.

Striker frowned at her and she folded her hand back into a British salute. He nodded in approval and she grinned.

   'Good of you to join us, Miss Bennett. Your enthusiasm in volunteering yourself, and your superior, in the search for

   the missing greenhorns is appreciated.' He smirked, rising to make his way over to a large trail map of Kaibab Forest on the wall.

Lori eyed the coffeeweed steaming in the mug at the table and nonchalantly took it for herself. Striker rubbed his eyes

with forefinger and thumb, his defeats mounting. Fairburn tapped his finger at a grid section on the map.



   'Let's go over the situation one more time. For clarity.' He said, smiling at Lori. 'As you know, a non-trivial amount

   of greenhorns have been disappearing over the past few months. We haven't been able to discern any pattern in these

   disappearances and there is no known common link between the recruits beyond their rank and age.'

Striker leaned forward, if only to free himself of Lori slurping his drink in his ear.

   'Rangers have scoured the forest in most sectors but have yet to find any sign of the missing. Not a god-damned thing.

   We want you two to head to this sector here, to the east.'

Lori nearly choked on her drink. Striker knitted his brow as he looked at the map.

   'That's mutant territory. You want us to go into mutant territory?' Striker said with a mote of disbelief.

   'There's more.' Fairburn replied, leaning over the table at them. 'What I'm about to say doesn't leave this hall, understood?

   This comes down from the top.'

Lori nodded eagerly at the prospect of secrets. Striker just listened.

   'The First Speaker is concerned about growing unrest in the community. Some feel that we should do something about

   Hoover Dam before it's too late. There's... talk of an exodus. Separatists.'

   'What does this have to do with the greenhorns?' Striker asked.

   'Nothing, hopefully, but you're under orders to keep your eyes and ears peeled for anything. This is strictly a

   reconnaissance mission, we don't want a war with the mutants. You're to infiltrate their territory, get eyes on, and get out.

   Maintain radio contact and find our people. Any questions?'

The pair shook their heads, looking at each other. Lori was visibly excited; as a Caretaker, her expertise lay more in

botany and reclamation, but she had always wanted to do something more, in her own words, “cool”. Striker was calm, perhaps

from a lack of sleep, though he was used to this kind of thing.

   'Good. Prep your gear and set off as soon as possible.'

Lori leant into Striker, hugging him tight then ran off with her gear out of the door.

   'I'll go ready the horses! Catch you in a bit, slowpoke!'

   'Wait!' Striker sighed, she was long gone.

Fairburn laughed. Striker rose to his feet slowly, his gas tank was as empty as Lori's mug. He grabbed his pack off the floor,

slung his L119A2 over his shoulder and made his own way to the door before Fairburn stopped him.

   'Striker, wait...Before you go. There's something else I need to tell you.'

   'Shoot.' he said, turning back toward him.

   'It's my son, Dustin...He's missing too. Please...Please find him, Striker. Ever since his mother died he's all I have left.

   He's terribly fond of you, those hand-to-hand lessons really helped him get through it all...'

Striker cut him off before he fell apart.

   'I'll find him, Carl. He still has work to do to shore up his knife-work and you know how strict I am.' He smiled at him.

Fairburn also managed a smile, feeling slightly reassured at his confidence.

   'I'm glad it's you out there tonight. Live up to your legend for me will you?'

The men nodded at each other and Striker made his way out of the door.

 

Comments

Lance Striker's picture

(( I'll try not to leave it 5 years before the next part this time.

Lonely are the brave...

Joe Spivey's picture

Nice... Soooo, off to Scotland then? Over the wall? ... Oh wait, I'm thinking of something else.

Stick with me kid and you'll be farting through silk.

Lance Striker's picture

Glasgow and Shiva camps have an awful lot in common.

Lonely are the brave...

Hyle Troy's picture

(( I am thinking more this is Apocalypse FE..  "I love the smell of coffe in the morning...!   Smells like....  well... coffe :D"

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers



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