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The Other War (Cover)

Chapter 61 - The Other War
Babylon Star System
Pentagon Worlds, Clan Space
February 18th, 3063

Rebekah watched out the train window at the colorful canyons of Valence reminding her of Tamaron and happier days. The past month was a blur, so much had happened and some of its aftershocks would come to Babylon soon. Hopefully she could get ahead of what might happen.

News was delayed from the Inner Sphere but all everyone could talk about on this train was the latest upload and what might happen. The Draconis Combine had attacked the Ghost Bear capital of Alshain. During idle conversation with her fellow passengers during the ten hour ride from Port Logan it ranged from increasing raids on the border worlds to a invasion of Luthien. Nova Cats turned Hellions worried for their friends and family living in the Irece Prefecture between the Dragon and Bear.

She had nothing to say about the matter, not having a family to worry about any longer unless you count Cara whose ultimate fate still weighed on her. The 'turncats' castemen had become untouchable in the Kerensky Cluster and many migrated to the Pentagon Worlds or further down the Exodus Road. Rebekah expected she would never venture down, she would happily do so if asked but the present Khan's ambitions were in the home-worlds.

The train stopped at the remote outpost of Sumra, built into canyons as a redoubt during the Exodus Civil War. Rebekah dismounted the train and found no formal law enforcement checking customs or ID. Instead a squad of informal militia carrying Kaskan rifles, a copy of the ancient SKS complete with bayonet, slung over their shoulder patrolled the train looking for signs of trouble and taxes.

She paused confused at the latest change, “Where are the Rangers?”

One of the returning locals heard the whisper, “No Rangers here anymore, girl. Sumra is a Free Town now. No Clan claims us so we have reclaimed ourselves.”

The man judged the smaller blonde woman dressed in artisan made desert wear with a rucksack, and her jeep on a flatbed. “If that is not your goal you better get back on and return to Port Logan. The Shiekh doesn't want any troublemakers in his territory.”

Claims of Free Towns were always met with Warriors dropping in to remind the inhabitants of the natural order. However, she was here on an unsanctioned mission to make contact with Bandits and clearly had chosen the right place. The Hellions had abandoned enclaves throughout their territory as the Star Adder's coils tightened around the upstarts apparently not bothering to tell anyone they left.

Sumra was so small it barely registered on a map, its remote and hostile location made certain it was rarely visited. The train also ended its trip here after visiting other remote mining towns that fed Port Logan and the Diamond Shark's industrial engine around the Shoshi'i Seas. However, that engine too was winding down or moving. Rebekah had witnessed massive industrial equipment being loaded into Mammoth dropships bound for somewhere else. This was interesting enough that she momentarily broke her radio silence to inform Leo of it via their pre-arranged chatterweb drop.

She paid her fee to the locals and drove the jeep off its flatbed circling the city to find a nomad encampment set up in the lee of a ridge to protect it and the herds from howling nightly winds. Her transit from Kirin aboard the CGS Andromeda had given her confidence in the Vaga nomad culture that still existed in remote areas of Babylon only searched out by the Goliath Scorpions.

After exiting her jeep, a local girl ran up to her with a small basket in her hand containing Talasi biltong covered in fragrant spices.The basket contained wrinkly desiccated figs, small polished stones, and crudely carved bone jewelry. The girl's accent was thick and her speech hurried, it was clear that she wanted to sell these things to a safe looking lady that might appreciate them.

Rebekah slowly pulled a pouch off her tunic belt, “How much for the whole thing, including the basket?”

The girl's eyes went wide, “The whole thing! Really? I normally can't sell this much in a week.”

“Well today is your lucky day then.” Rebekah told the girl.

A quick round of bargaining came to a fair price in Diamond Shark POGS overly generous to the girl, named Jenna, on Rebekah's part as she had little need for them, “What will you do with all your time and money?”

“I can make more and help my little brother.  We need medicine cause he got stung by a baby Goliath last night and Mom is really worried about him.” She looked down, “This was all I could do.”
“It was a lot, Jenna. Perhaps I can help your brother.”

Jenna's eyes looked for some of the distinctive pouches and decoration for one of their culture's medics, “You don't look like a medicine woman?”

“I have some training and supplies.”

“What would you want? We don't have any money besides what you gave me. My father has to work in the mines to pay back my uncle for what we lost.”

“Well you have eyes and I would like that.” she points at the jeep, “Watched while I am gone. You are going to be here for a little while yes?”

“At least a week.”

“Than that is my price. I will evaluate your brother, if I can help I will, and someone will watch that for me. Its very important to me for more than its wheels, my brother and I rebuilt it almost from scratch.

“Is he coming too?”

Rebekah looked off in the distance, “No, he's not here.”

The girl apparently did not pick up the implication but said the right words in a different tone, “I'm sorry, you seem to care deeply for him. Thank you for offering to help my family.”

She was guided by Jenna to the family tent where a young woman was patting the boy's head with a damp cloth. A brazier in the back had a closed kettle atop it and was burning something foul smelling but the wind help dissipate the odor. Rebekah was not a trained medic but she had learned how to care for scorpion venom in Sibko although the ones on Tamaron were mild in comparison to Babylon.

“Mom, This lady offered to help Tarin.”

The woman had clearly not slept. Even a baby Goliath could kill an adult man, and her son was hardly 10 terran. “Why would you do this?”

Rebekah laid out her medicine bag which included anti-venom and other treatments for Goliath Scorpion venom, wisely deciding that such things might be necessary if she was wandering the desert and had a bad run of luck. She held back some tears while pulling the medicine into a needle failing to appreciate the irony of injecting something to heal something injected.
“Because I couldn't save mine.”

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