Monday, December 28, 2015

A Flight from Imminent Doom! - A Moment in AEthrem!

Welcome again, good reader, to another astonishing installment of Fridays in AEthem! Our series has temporarily been delayed to Monday this week, with the business of the year-end holidays at hand, but fear not! This week, we bring you something special: the opening bit of fiction from the upcoming Venture! RPG core book - "A Flight from Imminent Doom!"

From next week onward, the blog's focus will shift from setting details to specifics about the final production of the Venture! RPG book leading up to its release in the new year. Even now, final layout work is being completed on the project, so stay tuned - things will be moving quickly from here on out! Thank you to everyone who has followed the blog in the past, or who is just discovering it for the first time. We hope you all have an exciting 2016 full of THRILLING TALES!

Now, we hope you enjoy "A Flight from Imminent Doom!"



Nell Carten ran out from under the jungle canopy, her companions’ boots scraping on rocks as lush foliage gave way to black stone. She could see the cliff edge just ahead, where the ground dropped away thirty meters to the river below. Shouldering her Model 3 rifle, she scanned the empty skies in a barely-controlled panic.

A stone-tipped arrow flew past her face as Nell turned to her employees, “where are they, Tren? You said your ‘friend’ would be bringing the airship around before now!” His constant smirk faltered just slightly as he came to a halt and spat back, “listen, she’ll be here, chief. She wouldn’t want anything to happen to my pretty face, after all.” Nell’s irritation didn’t slow him down at all, “besides, the plan would have worked out fine if m’lord could actually go without being seen when swiping one measly idol.”

Bronnan hefted the strange, grotesque statue as he glowered at his accuser, “those creatures were abnormally acute. Furthermore, the official address for my title is…” The venture company’s final member cut the former Thassylian lord short, Lid Beglif’s curly hair bobbing about as she shouted back at the others, “I think we have bigger issues to worry about right now!” The others turned to see the first of their pursuers emerge from the cover of the jungle behind them.

The members of the local ss’ra tribe were short, with scales in a vibrant blue-green shade covering their bodies. In unison, the first rank of the reptilian creatures switched from bows to simple spears, as those behind kept their arrows trained on Nell and her staff. She sighted down her rifle, a prize from her days in the Legion, and noted the disconcerting way that the translucent tendrils on the heads of the ss’ra wriggled independently of one another, like a nest of worms all reaching out for something. Nell knew they were pinned, with the cliff to their backs, and was already counting more than twenty opponents.

Just as she was preparing to order Lid to go for help, Nell noticed the droning sound of props over the sibilant, hissing speech of the ss’ra. “Ha! Told ‘ya,” Tren proclaimed triumphantly as a rope ladder dropped down beside him. Nell took a few shots at the ss’ra that still had their bows ready, shouting back “save it for when we’re clear of this mess!” Bronnan fired a few rounds from his twin Y-45s, helping her keep the attackers pinned as the Beglif twins started up the ladder.

In a few hair-raising seconds, they were all on their way up the ladder, as the airship above passed beyond the cliff edge, empty air yawning below Nell in the bottom position. A rain of arrows whizzed past them still, eliciting an offhanded, “you know, if one of those pierces any of the gas cells,” from Lid. “We know, Liddy!” her sibling grunted, helping Bronnan and Nell up on the gangway surrounding the rigid airship’s gondola, “besides, we’ve got your surprise as a backup if that happens – if you’ve got it working today.” The shorter twin just glared back at her brother in reply.

Ignoring his sister, Tren turned to their rescuer – Alorrea, some kind of independent courier with her own ship that Tren had become acquainted with back in town. “Why thank you kindly, Al. I’ll have to get the next round when we make it back to Haran Olesh.” The owner of the vessel returned Tren a sad, guilty look that made the hairs on the back of Nell’s neck stand on end. She replied to him with a gentle resignation, “I’d love to, but I’m afraid a better offer has already come my way.”

The hatch beside Tren suddenly burst open, disgorging a huge figure that barely seemed to pass through. With one swing of his meaty fist, the black-uniformed man knocked the unsuspecting Tren back, toppling him over the edge of the gangway. With a blood-curdling, “TREN!” Lid had jumped over the edge as well, following her brother down. Nell brought her rifle around on the goon, scowling as his Ferridi military uniform and Khradi armband finally registered in her mind – she despised the goons that claimed Khradi membership.

With a forearm, the Khradi soldier knocked aside the barrel of Nell’s Model 3, making the first two shots go wide. As he was distracted, Bronnan dropped the idol with a dull clang and charged into their opponent, bare handed. One quick punch from the much smaller thandi stunned the black uniformed foe with unnatural force, and a second strike knocked him unconscious, rattling the gangway as he fell to it.

Nell kept a wary gaze on her remaining employee. He’d done this before, and she knew that things could get “funny” when he called on the powers of his pact. Alorrea looked terrified at first, but that eased with the sound of jackboots ringing out on the gangway. In a moment, both hatches had disgorged a half-dozen black uniformed figures, all levelling Ferridi infantry rifles on Nell and Bronnan.

The ex-legionnaire only needed a half second to weigh their odds before throwing her rifle aside and motioning for Bronnan to do likewise with his pistols. Nell spared a glance over the side, noticing the flame of Lid’s little toy flaring even through the mist of the canyon below. The rocket pack normally only carried Lid herself. Hopefully, her gizmo was enough to carry both of the twins to safety.

A small, smug officer stepped through the crowd. Nell noted the kernal’s insignia on his uniform, and how the Ferridi military coat fit him about as well as a little boy trying on his father’s suit. With a maniacal gleam in his eye, the kernal bent over, scooping up the idol from where it had been abandoned. Looking to Nell, he spoke with a thick accent, “Good afternoon, Carten. I appreciate your company going out of the way to acquire the Implement of Transcendant Protection for us. All glory to the First.” The kernal beamed like someone who had just made a particularly clever play in a game of cards as he men shouted out the rote, “all glory to the First!”

Nell Carten grunted, and made a small silent prayer to the Crafter. She just hoped His wayward priest and her idiot brother made it back to solid ground safely, and that the two of them could manage a rescue on their own. From the look in his eyes, she could tell Bronnan was thinking the same.



COPYRIGHT NOTICE

Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.