Day ??? of year 121 Post-Downfall
The Lone Survivor “I’m… sorry about that,”
the woman told him with an odd grimace. “That sounds horrible. I’ll help you get on their good side… or, well, at least try to convince them that you can be trusted. I’m sure it’ll be fine.”
Notrau hesitated for a second, then raised his shoulders in a stiff shrug. "It is what it is. Can't miss what you never really had. At the end of the day, we're all just trying to survive ... each in our own way. You by hiding... Anderekians by military, military by officers, officers by soldiers, soldiers by guns. And, well, hiding only works as long as no one finds
you. Once they do, you have
to run, or fight. ...Or negotiate, I suppose, but who knows if they'd even listen, and if they do, they will
want something in turn. And they're in all the positions to assume you'll comply with anything other than being wiped out during the next lunch break."
He had reiterated the last point a time too many now, had he not? He guessed that was what happened if the entire meaning of your life was suddenly focused on one, seemingly impossible task: you could not stop thinking about it. Was this really his best option other than learning to hunt and make campfires in the first order and hoping he doesn't get eaten by a wandering beast or run out of bullets? But he assumed that regardless of how uncomfortable staying under the looming shadow of a giant "HIT THIS TO WIN" weakspot made him, it would at the very least be too quick a death for him to really do
anything about it if any hostile faction chose that path. He was not sure whether to be disturbed by it - aside of what he supposed was now his own
faction providing that outcome -, but he supposed it was not that
different from being run over by an artillery or a .50 cal bullet tearing through his brain. The end result, from his personal viewpoint (or lack of it, as the case would be in this particular hypothetical scenario), would be roughly the same. And in any other doomsday scenario ... he supposed he would at the very least stick around until it was beyond hopeless. Unless Kay was wrong and Eighfour would turn against him. Unless that.
Kay-Gee seemed to switch moods in an instant - it seemed whatever darkness hung over them - over her
faction first and foremost - was quickly forgotten in favor of her, what he assumed
was her usual mirth. It was not like he What was
with this woman? Careless? Unable to grasp the situation? Not wanting to accept the gravity of it? Or just figuring there is no point in worrying over what she could not change?
Currently, she was waving at the trees ... or rather, the invisible birds supposedly still perched somewhere in the branches. He was almost certain one of the trees growled in response. Or crooned? Produced some kind of low, guttural sound. Seemed like a warning more than an expression of fondness. Watch it.
Better than the oddly human cries from before, at least...
He fell in line with her easily enough. He was a solder. Used to keeping a pace, even with half of his body weight worth of equipment on his back. Not much in the way of that on him, now. Just his armor and gun. Kay wasted no time chattering away.
"Not the sort to keep quiet for long, huh?" Notrau ... Enn idly commented. It was preferable to being left with his own thoughts, he supposed. Should probably clarify that. "It can be a good thing, yeah? Takes the edge off the quiet before the storm thing, at the very least ... and not the literal impending sunstorm. That's just an, ah, convenient inconvenience for the scourers and scouts. At least as long as there are no gamma bursts or supercells," or fog, "in which case I hope there is a bunker to hunker down in waiting for us. No reason why we can't ... have a cup of tea in a bunker." You do have one of those, correct?
The less enthusiastic one of the two, he listened to her descriptions. Forest. He had seen one of the artillery units ramming down a tree just yesterday. Sure, these ones here were bigger, but given time and an actual harvester...
Simple walls. Good enough for the fast anti-personnel, at least. Some guns, most shoddy, wielded by civilians. AA, not automatic, not exactly light but probably not too fast or accurate. It would probably be easier if he weren't usually on the assaulting side, although it helped with what to expect. Somewhat. He was no officer. Had not been. Was he one now, de facto
Kay rambled on, now going at the intricacies of Eighfour...ian? food production. Enn, Notrau closed his eyes (not for long enough to march straight into a tree), and swallowed. Food. Yeah. Not doomsayery things.
"To be fair, I'm not entirely sure where our food came from, or whether it had ever been plant, animal or any other lifeform ... just that there was always enough of it. Never saw any fields or cattle of ours. Just harvesters, mines, command centers, living quarters, defenses, factories, the like... If I'm going to venture a guess, whatever our food happened to be on any particular day could be blamed on the techs. Some was decent or at least reasonably edible. Some was good. Some was either experimental, or they discovered that our planned diet did not match up with the current plans and added stuff to what they had already prepared ... or both, I suppose. Never did find out whether the officers had their own supply of food or we were all subject to equal opportunity to complain over the lunch."
He went quiet yet again when Kay started talking about her family. Perhaps he shouldn't have mentioned not missing something you did not have in the first place? He stared at the ground in front of his feet as he strode on, quickly, efficiently. If there had been any pebbles on the ground, he'd have kicked one. There were none. Only dead conifer-needles.
"This is where I
say I'm sorry, yeah?" It was unclear whether it was a joke, a confirmation of whether or not he understood the laws of her society correctly, or a clumsy expression of his own feelings. Perhaps all three. Soldiers did not get officially remembered. They were gone and that was that; unless you saw it, you never knew why. The ground remained devoid of pebbles. Luckily, Kay changed track, as if unwilling to dwell. He supposed they all had a reson to hate the fog, at least. She was a scourer and a tech. Something of the sort.
He did not express any words of compassion when the woman talked about how she had come to be ... changed. Half-macine, part-inhuman. If it had "restored enough of her celebral functions" as she had, roughly, put it ... then she was, indeed, not truly human anymore,
was she? Who knew what this thing was really capable of? Turning her into an automaton? Kill-swithc? Some of her fellows to decide
He can't allow them to touch him. To catch him unaware. It's just him and his gun. These people were not trustworthy.
Not even Kay herself did not seem to be overly trusting, or happy with the decision
Notrau didn't skip a step and his helmet covered everything but his lack of comments. Leave? Stick with the current plan? Ask Kay to up and leave in spite of being part mechanoid?
She was probably the most familiar entity that was not liable to shoot him without ... something
happening. Company could be useful, either way. But he wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere. Well, almost
anywhere. Anderekian or Trenian company would probably not be most desirable either. Nevetheless, it felt like he was walking into a trap, to a suicide mission or to become a guinea pig, just as he'd been warned.
Just like what they knew they were fighting against. Almost as if it was more than just propaganda. It was all right. They were right.
A ... chilling thought. He hoped Kay knew what she was doing, even when there was no obvious reason for her to trust those people besides them being the ones she had grown up with. Perhaps they were all the same, in different ways. Soldiers by guns.
There were signs of human activity around now. “We’re nearly there,”
Kay confirmed is suspicions. “Just a bit further ahead and we’ll be in view of the gate. Just… put away your rifle as well as you can and walk next to me, all right? It’d be a shame if they thought you’d taken me hostage and was forcing me to take you here; depending on who’s watching the gate they might hurt you, or worse. Some of the guys are a bit overenthusiastic about getting to test their guns on ‘real’ targets.”
"That doesn't sound encouraging," mumbled Enn
morosely. If anything, her assertions added to his newly reacquired doubts. "I really do hope you know what you're doing, and I'm not being lead to a trap." Nevertheless, his gun stayed slung behind his back. He reasoned that there was a high chance the fellows up there would have either guns too shoddy to punch through armor or aim too poor to properly hit him. Follow orders. Do as Kay says. He can do it. For now.
Little did they know, something had already paid a visit hours ago. A small craft, shaped much like an arrohead, nimble enough to navigate through the forest, darting out from between the trees, halting for a second or two, skirting sideways before suddenly raising above the limits of the wall, and launching onward in a cloud of green flames and a crack of supersonic thunder enough to rattle, but not shatter glass.
An armored palm was placed on a panel, slightly warm and somewhere between metal and plastic in feel. Black eyes behind a helmet's visor fixed on the rest of the locking mechanism. There was a dull, mechanic clank, and the door yielded, obediently sliding aside. Barely enough to halt his step, yet the lock is allegedly the work of some of their brigtest techs, at least one of whom was probably a psychopath. A very bored one with a very particular task to solve, and who had no small amout of medical knowledge.
Probably for pizza, as he doubted they would stay interested for long enough otherwise, wandering off to find something more novel, if the one he knew was any indicator. Brilliant guy, excellent problem-solver, absolutely unperturbable, if anything less
interested in morbid matters than the usual person, problem-oriented, but listless and always seemingly varying between not bothering and doing things against the protocol just because he was bored and did see no objective harm from doing so. Thankfully, most of the time he did things because he saw a thing that needed doing that he could, and not because he found something that could be interesting that he didn't figure had enough downsides to not
In any case, there was no easy way for anyone to trick the lock, even if you dragged a living person with authority over and got them to go through the motions. There were physiological differences between varying types of duress, and the system was sophisticated enough to distinguish between them. Frankly, it would be easier to cut through a wall. And then there would be no info an intruder could glean, and no controls they could take over with any more ease. At the very least not without equipment flexible enough to cause far more havoc than just hijacking the local information flow. The command center's defenses were to protect the people within more than the equipment.
He couldn't feel the damp air through his helmet. That provided nothing more than clean, filtered air. Not powered for the time being, though. Taking a breath took slight, but notable extra effort. If you were not used to it, the vague impression of suffocation could be rather panic-inducing. Claustrophobic, perhaps. But it was better than risking coughing up your lungs in the middle of the battlefield. If need be, and systems remained intact, there was a powered version available, for about forty-eight hours. The next step up was what was sometimes referred to as 'the gills', which were connected to your bloodstream and could replace breathing, and thus lungs entirely. Contrary to what the nickname implied, they only worked in the air, and could not provide for you underwater. (He assumed the name referred to the inside consisting of many overlapping but not connecting semi-transculent planes, tinted faintly orangeish from the blood when in operation, like some kind of odd machine cooler, or indeed a primitive set of gills. He had disassembled a broken unit, once, as a teenager.) Something about oxygen not dissolving easily enough under water, which necessitated taking containers along if you wanted to go diving. The gills were typically reserved for injured people. He was surprised Marax had not been provided a set. He had not checked, but he assumed they had simply ran out.
The dull white of the skies remained appropriately morose, even though their equipment promised a change for a much unhealthier hue soon. Where they had not been flattened or trampled over by the battle and its aftermath, there were ... flowers. Little bushy things. Hundreds of tiny pink blossoms on each branch, with little scale-like leaves. They had not been as apparent during the night, but they were everywhere. Heather of some sort, perhaps. If it were not a battlefield, it would probably be quite pretty.
He wanted to be away from people. For a bit. The living ones, at least. Once more, too many had died, and too many more were wont to die all too soon. Going over the names Igna had listed, the ones he had read to confirm what he already knew, he knelt down to remove a number of branches from the pink-flowered plants. It was awkward, trying to cut the flexible stems using only is non-dominant hand, but it felt like a thing he had to do.
Uwe or Marax would never understand. Igna might. Eris ... would have. He did not remember where Aidren was from. No family from what he knew of ... not his own, anyway. He had mentioned a father and a brother, but it was unclear whether they were military or civilian by background. And now he had come some unit of angular momentum less from being completely bisected, much like he himself had almost lost an arm. There was more chance you went prematurely as a soldier. Igna would have pointed out that between accidents and attacks, civilian life was no more certain. Still. Civilians only took a hit when military failed. Could they have prevented Angan Tirez? Can they prevent future attacks of similar kind? Someone had to. And their sacrifices will not be in vain, cliched as that statement might be.
With a collection of branches awkwardly held against his chest, he stood, heading towards the eastern edge of their camp, and past that, where two rows of people - what had been left of them, rather - were laid out. The sight was not pretty - they could patch up most things, so often enough, only the unfortunate people who had been completely torn to shreds, cooked, flattened or disrupted died. Many of them were not recognizable, and could only be identified by personal markers. Armor and equipment had been removed. Only remains of the bottom layer, simple synthetic fabric remained on the bodies of the first row. Standard-issue. Chosen for comfort and practicality, not fashion. Absorbent, smooth, not likely to leave threads in or melt into wounds.
Gore had ceased to bother him. Or perhaps it had never really bothered him. The deaths of his friends and subordinates did. People he lost. People he failed.
Starting from one end of the row, he progressed, one step after the other. Meticulous. Stopping only to pick a branch and drop it onto a body or vague collection of remains with a familiar marker. There were other flowering branches already there, on some more than others. He was not the first one to take a break from duties and come here. Those who did were usually of civilian background. Those who had grown up in a military environment were typically too ... pragmatic, perhaps. Dropping flowers on graves or dead bodies made no sense. It was just a tradition without function. Something living people did in order to cope with the loss, to be respectful, whatever it meant. What did respect matter to people who no longer existed.
The beasts will probably drag the remains off once they're reasonably certain the combat won't resume. The survivors who had known them would occasionally recall them during their downtime, reminiscing with a sense of melancholy for as long as they remained living. Past that, the fallen would probably exist as records in some database for as long as they, Trenians managed to protect it from fog, foes and data decay.
And then they would be no more.
The row of once-Trenians ended, and he sauntered back to one specific form, sitting next to it. Well, with his back to it, rather. He had already taken a good look. He found it fair, facing the consequences
. But for now, the consequences could kindly step aside and leae him alone with... Well, with some concept of closeness with what had once been his fellow officer. To be fair, visiting graves and places people died made none too much sense the same. He had heard megaraptors did something similar, so it was not even just a human trait.
"Igna was right, don't you think?" he finally asked. There was no reply, just a vague conflict between the recollection of the person he had known and the knowledge of the leftovers behind him. And an absence. "It is pointless." The void remained stubornly silent. You could not avoid the natural proceedings of things. Past was past. Game over. No point in dwelling over the past. Life went on. The survivors mattered more than the dead. Time passed. Figures moved about in the makeshift base. One of them detached, heading his way, nay, past him, with but a slight nod, stopping at a couple people, much as he had. One of the artillery drivers, according to the markers. Much like him, she was fully armored.
With a sigh, he stood. Consciously, he knew it was far too late to say goodbyes. Absently, he moved on to the second row. It was longer. Much like the first row, the once-people here had been stripped of arms and armor. The remaining undergarments, however, were different. No markers that he could detect, only faction sigils.
There were other differences, though, if you looked carefully. Fewer of these bodies seemed as destroyed as most fallen on their side. No one, and perhaps more importantly nothing
, had tried to save those people; Ardeks quite literally died more easily. And even if they did find someone of the enemy ranks alive after the battle, those unfortunate fellows were usually just ended. Excecuted, almost. Cruel, but nigh inevitable. They could not spare the resources to save them, and even if they did, what then? Let them go home to kill his
people the next day? Let them stay and hope these newly instanced renegades would be more loyal to them?
He did not hate them, he figured. Not cognitively, anyway. Most of them were probably just following orders, and would have been decent people if they were on his side. Emotionally, he did not really know. Sometimes he felt sorry for them. Sometimes the gnawing pain in his arm and the deaths and injuries of his friends and acquaintances won and he felt ... rage, anger, something of the sort.
He also noted these men - and they appeared to be almost exclusively men - were, on average, much younger than the Trenian forces. Between sixteen and mid-twenties, perhaps. More on the younger side. None as old as he was, let alone some of the more seasoned veterans like Igna. Only a couple of theirs were under twenty, but many of the Ardeks were practically boys. Whatever the differences in the two factions' paradigms, he could not help but think that Anderekian frontline soldiers got the shorter end of the stick. And that the two could ne
Someone had went and dropped flowers on the Anderekians' remains, too. Maybe respect. Perhaps an apology by someone who did not think it entirely justified to end people's lives, enemy or not. It did not change anything, but it could make people feel better. Funerals were for the living.
The living needed to do things. Both for the sake of their own peace of mind and getting things done. He was simply not sure what those things were
. He was no medical personnel and the drones had not picked up anything noteworthy. The sky was already changing color. It would not be long until all surveillance would fall back to programmed flight, recording feed to be analysed upon contact. Everyone who could was already in position. There were scant few things he could move with one good arm, and he figured everything that needed to be shuffled about had been taken care for while he was in for surgery or asleep.
So he was either to find himself anything to do until someone needed him or, as it happened, there was one
unknown. Three of their people were missing. Not that looking for them on foot was bound to be particularly effective. Drone sight covered the upper plane quite decently, so there was only the forest below... No vehicles on their end, so if they were alive, they wouldn't be far. The only spare one up here (and that only because it was a personal one) was Uwe's. He didn't suppose the guy would be overly fond of him lending it, even if it were not locked down to only obey its master. It was fast, though, and small enough to remain usable down there. It was difficult, convincing oneself that even if time was of the essence, Uwe still had better odds at locating the missing soldiers, vehicle or no. For better or worse, he was the only functional officer on duty this shift (Marax didn't count for the functional part) so he needed to stay here.
Might as well pay Aidren a visit.
There was another fragment between here and the makeshift base that had been arranged at the ground access. Potentially interesting, but not overly surprising, seeing that the fairly unremarkable span of land they had taken root in was more Larecrom's, than Root's own domain. The old loon to the northeast was most likely well aware they were there, but not overly interested in making contact or otherwise interfering. They didn't look enough like trouble. Seemed more civilian than military, an old relict warhead left aside. As per the progenitors' archives, these had been more common in the past, but were mostly disassembled to serve as nuclear fuel after the Downfall. Even if you had neither scattered or burrowed too deep, warheads like these were all too easy to shoot down before they got in range. This one looked more like a display than a functional armament. Not that it - be "it" the faction or the warhead - could not be put to some use if need be. North did need some more aid, in one form or another, and Root oneself did not have the forces to spare. Up to the north to decide what to do with them.
Humans were fickle. They over- and underfit. They saw patterns where there were none, and failed to see any where they were crucial. They had the innate drive to believe that random happenings had dues, that true randomness was uniformly sparse, that coincidences had meaning, that trees had faces and wind had voices... They put high confidence in their subroutines, yet could not explain what those routines were and why those came up with the results they did. They made mistakes. For a type of animal that took high pride in one's own consciousness, humans could be notoriously lacking in self-awareness.
Not that Root oneself was infallible ... simply more aware of one's own operation, with more redundancy and more integrity than most others in this often all too insane world. It mattered not that Root used one's own definition of insanity.
Nor did it necessary matter if someone else was insane, as long as they were the reasonable kind of insane. There were some cultists living, for all intents and purposes, right on top of Root oneself. They knew of their downstairs neighbour, and left usable if insignificant offerings whenever their goals seemed to coincide. Root did not mind them. They sought no unnecessary harm. They took what they needed, and not much more. They adhered to fairness and sufficiency ... if anything, their ways were decidedly suboptimal. Lunatics perhaps they were, but within a reasonable measure of confidence, they were what could be termed as harmless
lunatics. As an aside, they knew enough to take some edge off the Scourge, however little. It was not ideal, then, that the Scourge was but a comparatively small issue to be handled.
As far as the old type "Arrowhead" was concerned... Time to - not shoot, but - take the messenger apart. It was but one small part of the whole of what had come to be referred to as Root; it had been very much useful for its lifespan, but now it had served its time. Though still functional, it was inferior to its newer versions, and as such, it materials would be put to better use in another form. The brain had decreed that the time for this little sensory cell was over. To effect the survival of the organism, it settled into an empty coalescension pool, and the less sophisticated inverse version of its birth tore its frame apart to catalyze and dissolve its components.
All biological organisms that were specialized multicellural had similar mechanisms in place. What needed to be replaced or was too damaged to warrant repairs self-destructed to make way for its own replacement. Controlled, programmed cell death, apoptosis. The entities who did not utilize similar methods soon ended with cancerous growths, and as practice had shown, mechanoidian cancer was no more desirable than biological cancer. Mechanoidian cancer was how you ended up with things like the Scourge, and while the Scourge was too disorganized to deal a devastating blow to a sizable faction on its own, it remained a nuisance that would utilize every resource it can reach to feed and expand itself, if only permitted.
Not far from where the old arrowhead had found its demise, a dozen small and two huge coalescension pools were drained. The small ones released new generation arrowheads, ready to fulfill their duties as scouts, messengers, and light hitters. Two were going to be northbound. Four vehicles that were almost, but not quite inexchangebly similar to Trenian chargecarriers (these ones were uniquely unmanned), had already been dispatched in a similar direction, though the forest and potential meddlers necessitated a detour course. It was a bit unorthodox, using another faction's etalons as basis for your own units, but what worked, worked. The anti-air Root had lended were not truly one's own design, either.
The huge pools revealed, for the first time, the earliest of what were later going to become known as Wraithmakers.
The Eastern Gate
Pity there were clouds. And that it was daytime. She had missed yesternight's fireworks, and today's grand show did not quite have the scene set for it, even if the seat was ideal. It was just about the beginning stage of a sunstorm. There was only so long they could chat speculations over Root's plans and the clashes between their northeastern neighbours from the upper plate. Or Crom's musings over the human condition. Or whatever was being worked on in the internals of the labs and factories. Those were good enough topics to pass some time, but nothing she felt overwhelmingly enthusiastic about.
she have found overwhelmingly engaging, anyway? (War. War would certainly break monotony. But once it was not only the non-thinking parts of commander-overseer getting wrecked and people you knew started dying, one such would not exactly be her idea of a good time, either.) Not lab-work; that seemed even less engaging than watch duty. Nor robotics. Maybe she could draw (badly)? Or write (even worse) poetry? Nah, not creative enough for either of those; she'd spend far too much time staring at a blank. Unarmed and -armored combat, maybe? It would probably be pretty hard to be bored out of your mind if a split-second of inattention meant being decked in the face. Nothing routine - not like dancing -, but reading a person and reacting, responding in an organic manner?
Simulations - of anything reasonably demanding and hectic - could be engaging enough, but ultimately there was always the knowledge
that there was the imagination of a machine mind behind it all, be there other human actors or not. And it was not ... real, even though Crom had pointed out that they could always leave some bruises and punch a few nonlethal holes in her body if she failed there and let her heal in a more primitive way, in addition to applying a sense of pain where appropriate. Y'know, for the most immersion one could realistically achieve.
As an aside, simulations had a cost, most likely because running them served no practical purpose and humans needed some incentive to work rather than find new ways to entertain themselves. (Aside of the lucky ones who found objectively useful things entertaining.) Rewarding work with arbitrary currency and limiting pointless entertaining things by requiring amounts of said currency worked reasonably well, Crom insisted. Essentials were free, so it was not like you needed
to work from survival standpoint. At least until commander-overseer got annoyed with you for being complacent enough with the bare minimum needed for surviving comfortably and assigned you to something,
For a change, Erida's eyes honed on a little flying speck hovering in her peripheral vision.
Her hand darted out, metallic fingers closing around the tiny intruder. Not that the little buggers could do any harm to anyone up here, but there was still a small measure of satisfaction in getting rid of them. Y'know, for the sake of all the times they got into living quarters with their whining high-pitched buzz and the ability to turn invisible just as you motioned the light on. She had thought about requesting miniature AA in the walls just to get rid of the damn things.
She dropped her arm, relinquished her fingers and -
"I think my suit is defective," the watchwoman reported to her companion, watching the mosquito and it's signature annoying buzz casually begun floating upward again, unperturbed and very much alive. "I have failed to terminate a target twenty-five million times smaller than I."
"Did you try shooting it?" Crom inquired. "I suppose powered gauntlets could be made with perfect fitting between the digits and the palm, but it seems like niche quality compared to having the optimal grip on, say, weapons that can harm units that pose a serious risk to your health."
"Are you mocking me? Anything that'd get through the defenses controlled by our lord and savior the commander-overseer makes me
the mosquito." Her hand darted out again, this time deftly crushing the parasite between pinchers composed of her index finger and the thumb. Her sensors could pick up the barely audible "krk" of the insect's exoskeleton breaking, but she proceeded to rub her fingers together just to make extra sure this time. "If I live through such an attack which tears down our mighty walls and war machinery, they'll just pause to wonder how exactly, and the next shot - splat went the nuisance."
"Ah, I'm sure there is something you could do. Think outside of the box. Querilla warfare, set traps, use sunstorms and the fog to your advantage..."
"Do you reckon I have the mind to pull this off? Were you not insinuating I might try to see what jumping out of the watchtower would be like out of sheer boredom if I were subjected to TMS?"
"Oh, I'm not implying you might not consider it now
, but the destrution a true war would work would change the context you see. Whereas now you -"
There was more pause.
"We appear to have found a man. Or, rather, he found us. Or, rather
rather, he just stumbled into one of the scourers. Doesn't appear to be aware
enough to qualify for much finding."
"Does it make a difference?"
"You seem overly curious at that for someone or something that, as far as I can tell, is an AI. But no, just surprised. And you can tell that,
too. Even if you happen to be a human. What's the deal with him?"
"Looks to be a misplaced Trenian. Quite the holey man. Incidentally, that means you'll get your thrills. We'll prepare a vehile for the extraction and send someone up to replace you. Welcome to the team." The scourer had no means to pick up passengers.
"As long as it's not a hovercraft." Curiously, she did not get sea-sick or aircraft-sick, or even crawler-sick, let alone be jolted by tracked or wheeled vehicles. But hovercraft, with their sway and glide were her bane. Something she could not ever quite convince her brain weren't the effect of her being poisoned... 'Under the yellow flashing sky...'