Chapter 12: Chance
"I can't see them...they haven't followed us" Paul observed from his lookout post at the top of the hill, his hand covering his brow for a better view against the sunlight, Galileo was motionless on a bank of raised grass, sitting in it, his guitar along his back. They had confirmed that the earthquake was caused by the Super-Weapon after some debate, and thanks to Scaramouche and her memory, she had heard of several private news-feeds detailing a large construction project from the Micro-Transceiver she took from Galileo's head during 'The Adventure of Rock' as they called it. Paul knew that a figure called 'Drowse' was leading the charge, as Khashoggi had referenced him many times. Scaramouche was looking over the bank when Paul jumped and hopped down like a spring rabbit "Looks like about twenty Troopers, and that Agent..." Scaramouche said with disdain, a twinge of anger in her hazel brown eye as she handed the binoculars back to Paul. Galileo was careful but ready, waiting for the next move. Consulting a small map Paul had drawn in the creamy dry sand, he poked at with a twig when Paul snatched it from his hand "No freelance sketches Galileo, this is serious, if you want to get out of here, we'll need this map" Paul warned, outlining a basic plan while Scaramouche descended to eye-level "Now, I know these beaches, we'll need to follow the old roads until we reach a Port or Ship Depot, there we can find a craft to escape in, it'll be easier to get to the Capital once we have a transport" He advised, Scaramouche disagreed "We can't just stroll down the road, the moment a Gunship or fighter patrol sees us we'll be toast! We've gotta take this lightly" Galileo smiled at her fierceness and admired it, during their first adventure together Galileo was always in awe of her, and that hadn't changed a bit, despite Aretha and Jackson Five advising against it, Galileo had feelings for her, somewhere. By now the sun was almost reaching the middle of the sky, and Scaramouche and Paul's bickering had reached a fine compromise, they would take the same route, yet they would be 23 miles west of the road, as to avoid any Yuppie entanglements. Paul was staggering with his bottles and boxes of supplies strapped to his back, and the empty Shotgun taken out of the Mail Office, Scaramouche was carrying light; her pistols made most the bulk on her body. Galileo watched his shoes take step after step, taking in the post-apocalyptic landscapes a few miles from the road, which according to Paul had some Inter-Speed Train line running down below it, which was the reason why the road was still so well preserved. Scaramouche scanned the surroundings "There's a forest up ahead, just past those hills" She pointed, making Paul scratch his chin and ponder "I'll need to get in contact with a friend of mine, he should be able to get us the Transport we need to speed us to the capital" Paul turned to Galileo, who didn't respond. He only hoped Brit and Meat were aware of what was happening, they were smart, surely they would have come looking for Wembley once GlobalSoft Tower was destroyed, he didn't want to keep thinking about it, it would drive him mad. They made it to a small river at the edge of the Tree-line around the forest, and Paul fiddled with his bag, before slinging it down in frustration, he opened it up and checked the spare Transceiver again...luckily Scaramouche didn't throw it away. The small thumb-sized device was vibrating "What does that mean?" Galileo said with curiosity "Direct signal" Scaramouche's tone wasn't as innocent. A slicing rectangle covered in satellites and weapons hovered above them, making the trees blow back with the force of it's humming and glowing engines, as they got low down to avoid its searchlight, it soon became clear that it wasn't searching for them. A couple of seconds later, a crystal white craft slid over them, two wide wings coming from it's side with a long dorsal fin on it's top, flanked by three F-22 Fighter Planes. The freighter and the shuttle moved along at a steady pace and slowly lowered itself once the ship got behind the sandy valley. Paul swallowed his fear "let's keep moving..." He nagged at a low pitch, Galileo rushed a nod "Good idea"
The Turbo-Lift climbed another 15 floors, Eli's eyes were fixed on the moving white button and it's continued beeping. He was stood with three Yuppies, a Naval Captain and a well-dressed Sub-Commander who's according to his constant yapper, he's only recently arrived from the Capital by shuttle. Eli was on his way to the War Room to meet Colonel Baxter and General Rammstein, the Capital has been put on full lockdown by order of Grand Governor Hanson, the Captain muttered to the Yuppies. Hanson had received word from Curtis that two highly important Bohemian fugitives were hiding in the Capital, security was upped and a fleet of four Innuendo-1-Class Starships sent by Grand Admiral Russo of the Unfree States were sent to provide backup. The lift was still climbing as the long faced Captain spoke to the rather ignorant Sub-Commander "If the Final Annihilator is so powerful, why doesn't Drowse just target the Bohemian HQ and let it loose? We know where they are. That would solve all of our problems" The Sub-Commander snorted, Eli rolled his blue eyes, the Captain beside him shook his head "No no no, you don't understand, Drowse has something special planned for them, the Super-Weapon is only used a motivator" The Captain continued as Eli was forced to listen. The Yuppies of course seemed engrossed in the conversation "Drowse knows what he's doing, but until his campaign is finished the Capital remains shutdown, Hanson wants to use it as his own base of operations" The Captain said in a grovelling voice, the Sub-Commander stroked his chin and grunted, he as about to release another bigoted statement when the Turbo-Lift doors opened for floor 202 and Eli slipped out, the Captain hit another button with a tanned finger and the lift shot up again. Eli thought that by now the Red Special had moved away from the refuelling facility and was making its way to join with the 9th Fleet and Curtis's Squadron. Admiral Waltz had returned to HMS Griffin after a dispute with Captain Powter, supposedly over the quality of their own vessels and the required availability to Drowse's plans. The Fleet surrounding the Final Annihilator was put there by Admiral Roc-Montreal, as a gift of good faith to Drowse. Once passing a company of Yuppies, Eli finally made it to the War Room. Entering, Colonel Baxter was standing alone in front of a table of Holograms, when Eli stepped inside, the Colonel was leaning forward over the clear blue field, his face was a incredulous mix of knowledge and concern, Eli looked over the holograms on the table, two Innunedo-1-Class cruisers were hovering over two separate locations, as figures and statics scrawled by like some long forgotten text, on another hologram, tiny images of Drowse, two ship's Captains and what looked like a Surface Marshal and a High Warlord, both crossed out in red. Baxter turned to Eli "Mr Lambert, I regret to inform you that General Rammstein will not be attending, he was called away by Lieutenant Nuce sometime ago" Colonel Baxter relayed, Eli simply shrugged "What's the situation here?" He asked, Baxter drew his attention to a Data-Tablet "Drowse had put two of his best ships in position above two frankly minor locations...so far I'm unable to raise him on Comms, I was hoping you'd be having better luck" He suggested, Eli wanted to say yes, but he couldn't. Drowse had been radio-silent for about two days now, surely Grand Governor Hanson and Minister Kintyre weren't that distracting, he knew Drowse would be focused on his campaign and his endless string of plans, the placement of these two cruisers was a definite part of it; whatever he intended to do with them. The blonde haired boy simply shook his head quickly "No, Sir, the Prime Minister has been silent with me too" Eli muttered, Baxter didn't respond. Moving around the hologram table, Eli noticed that the cruiser weren't moving, simply hovering above. What were they waiting for? As if by chance, Baxter highlighted the hologram placement of the of the two ships,they were in direct position above moderately successful towns, Eli noted. So far, the ships had done nothing...Eli traced the table with his hand, as Baxter mumbled under his white moustache "What's your move, Drowse"
The move had been played, Zappa ran from her home, dragging her younger brother from their makeshift studio. They had been Bohemians since the beginning, forming a alliance with Brit and Meat, helping too keep the Heartbreak out of reach, and too preserve their survival. But today would be different, the day started as it always did now the world was free with them, they provided a service called 'The Prince's Podcast' a radio station all Bohemians listened too, much better than that slop on Radio GaGa, Zappa thought. The station was mostly used to pump music and other items of importance to all the New Bohemians to keep them fighting and singing along to the sounds of the new rule. Zappa had heard the Raid Siren and seen the radars from the radio station, but assumed it was just a 19-77 Transport Ship, not the heavily manned and imposing wedge-shaped frame of the 1,500 mile long Innuendo-1-Class cruiser, the bulky main capital ship of Drowse's Confederation, the rumours of several other highly ranking GlobalForce officials getting involved was inevitable, and since Zappa ran a news station with several inside sources, she could easily theorise and locate different stories and rumours, and piece them together. So far, her crime-board in her bedroom had several different strands, linking high ranking democrats and military leaders to operations taking place now and years ago, Zappa was calm and logical. but now she was panicked, running from the radio station when the shadow of the cruiser first reared it nose, Zappa and her brother took to the alleyways and streets, making for their house. People cried and fled in the streets, the shop vendors had bashed their own stalls and ran for cover or simply into the distance. At the time Zappa was making an alert for the recent appearance of a Fahrenheit-2-Dreadnought cruiser over ColdHand Island, and the recent appearance of a larger fleet surrounding the HighLeaf Trail. The report was halfway through being aired before the proximity sensors went wild all of a sudden, the Bohemian city guard scrambled but found all communications off and unable to be repaired. Zappa was short, with deep brown hair and a striking green streak on her small fringe, the small slum-like town was on a surrounding border of a larger city and political complex, dull green and grey eyes, and a almost cute facial structure, she was dressed in a dark green tank top, and black leather jacket, she wore ripped jeans and knee high combat boots on her bottom half. The island they lived on was a former farming hive for GlobalSoft; despite the famine's across its jagged history. Her brother was smaller and younger, wearing a red sweater and a slightly more formal set of trousers, he had never found a Bohemian Name, so simply went by "Otto" due to the first four digits of his GaGa Identity Code; O770GSIC, the long triangle-shaped shadow loomed above them, Otto held onto Zappa's sleeve "What now Sister? Are we..will we-" He spluttered, Zappa's eyes snapped to him "No, we'll be fine, let's just...the ship yard" Her mind found the solution, she dragged Otto along the concrete as everyone around her panicked while the Innuendo-1-Class cruiser did nothing. Merely sitting and waiting in shadow, Zappa had spoken to Scaramouche from the Capital during the old times of the Killer Queen, before the chance encounter and the defeat of GlobalSoft High Command, she had personally witnessed the shaming and death of High Colonel Foster, the Sector-Command staff running the Nation's Head Office at Storm's Mount. The local parliamentary Committee had fled away, leaving her to be surrounded by New Bohemians who once served her, savagely beaten, stripped, and beaten again. A few days later, she was found dead in the street, with several stab wounds. Zappa had to make that her first ever report from Radio Rock. Zappa's voice was now part of a new age, and she'd hate to see that extinguished today. Passing a friend of hers called Moonie, she gestured in admiration to him "Where are you going?" He said in a thick accent, reaching for her wrist, Zappa wrenched it away from him "We're leaving on a Jet Plane, don't know when we'll be back again...but we need to get out of here" She said with courage, inspiring her brother Otto who nodded. Moonie could've joined them, but had some odd and brutal vendetta to end with a shopkeeper before he left. Otto watched the plain faced boy make a run for the market as everyone else ran the other way. The ship yard was in sight as Zappa started to think, why was that Cruiser holding above them? They wouldn't be releasing any aggression; the Désespoir Region was an example of that. An attack on Wembley HQ almost crippled the Bohemian Leadership, but that was seen as show of strength, so it wouldn't make a impression that's already been made on the GlobalSoft Parliament and the Intelligence Devision, Zappa stopped. Otto stopped as he was forced too, not wanting to let go of her sister's hand "What's it doing?" He asked with a innocent glare up at the Cruiser...Zappa didn't know for sure "I think it's preparing for something" For what Zappa had no idea. The Cruiser had let go no Shuttle, Landing Craft, Fighter Plane Detachment, Infiltrator Drones or Probes. Zappa looked up as she pulled Otto to the Ship Yard, tossing a coin to the guardsman, still standing at his post after a good few hours of preparation and panic. The Cruiser suddenly began to move, downwards, it didn't cut or destroy anything...until a few seconds later. Zappa could've left in a ship by now, but she didn't, almost too anxious to see what the Cruiser would do. But what it finally did would change this town forever. An absolute horde of green heavy laser fire began to obliterate the concrete, buildings and people. The emerald laser beams had enough power to take out a whole Truck full of men in one blast. The devastation wasn't even enough for Otto, he cowered onto Zappa as she saw a local boy shredded in one shot, the bolts tore through buildings, the guard was killed in a sudden moment by a stray blast, Zappa had to choose now, Save her brother "Run! I'll pilot the ship!" She ordered to him, Otto ran, he let down the ramp of the small pod-like circle ship nearest to him and clambered in, just as he did, a green blast exploded it into a million pieces. Throwing Zappa back, she couldn't feel sad or angry or broken for a moment as she hit the cracked concrete with a smack. Zappa's thoughts were on her brother as a green flash and white hot light filled her next.