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Freelancer Chronicles - The Long March

22nd September, 2282 | Wendell, Commonwealth


Iona wakes with the break of dawn over the wastelands of former Massachusetts. Pushing herself up off her roll mat, she takes a small swig of the water from her canteen before she slings her long coat on and straps her armour on. With her gear on and her flask clipped onto her belt, she slings her service rifle over one shoulder and carries her slouch hat in the other. She strolls along the side of the caravan, nodding to those on watch or starting to wake up before she reaches the head of the caravan and one of the other freelancers.


"Morning, Malcolm. How we looking."


"Morning, Iona. Looking good been a quiet night very like wildlife moving about last night."


Iona frowns slightly at this.


"You would expect some at least...let those taking over know to keep an extra peeled just in case."


"You got a bad feeling?"


"I don't know yet...it just feels odd."


With that, Iona turns to make sure the caravan is waking up and getting ready to start moving. She exchanges a nod with those she passes while they are beginning to pack their gear. Iona stops while moving between two of the guards before she crouches down her hands, running over her boots while she looks out of the corner of her eye towards the movement she saw. After a while, she stands up and moves over to one of the mercs from the small team that the caravan hired along with her and the couple freelancers.


"Tell Malcolm we have watchers, and to get us moving ASAP."


The mercenary nods while he stands, putting his combat helmet on as he does so, shouldering his hunting rifle while he starts moving to the front of the caravan. Iona watches for a moment before she turns to keep moving down and getting people moving and the Brahmin loaded up with all their gear.


"Eat while we walk people, just a cold breakfast today. We are getting close so want to get a hurry on, only a few days more, and we should be reaching Boston."


She rounds the end of the caravan and starts making her way up to the front, she places her slouch hat on her head before swinging her rifle off her shoulder before she checks the loaded magazine and the ammo in. The caravan had readied itself quickly, with the almost two months they have been travelling for, they have gotten used to setting off quickly, with everyone putting their rucksacks on and doing final checks on the Brahmin.


"Malcolm, we ready to set off?"


Malcolm would be looking down the length of the caravan before he turns around with a wave of his arm above his head.


"That we are."


With that, the caravan sets off, continuing their long march from Nevada to Boston. The mercenaries make up the main outer guard of the caravan while the few freelancers are spread out at the front and back with the caravaners clustered around the Brahmin.

Iona and Malcolm keep glancing from side to side while they walk, keeping their eyes peeled for their watchers, of which they see occasional signs of to their flanks.


They have been walking for several hours now, the noon sun is high above them as they approach a body of water.


"Malcolm, we are going to have to stop for food...but."


"But the moment we stop they are going to attack."


"Aye, that's my thinking. It's what I would do anyway."


Malcolm slowly rubs his chin under his beard, which has streaks of grey running through it.


"Same."


He turns to look at the caravan while they start coming to a stop next to the water and they start to get the water purification gear out while the mercs and freelancers have taken up a perimeter guard, while they ready their weapons.


"You speak to the caravan chief, I will take a look around."


Malcolm nods to Iona while she does a final check of her gear and pulls her jacket close.


"Just make sure you are not seen, don't know who or how many are out there."


Iona just grins slightly, while she grabs his forearm with him grabbing hers in a shake before she turns away and moves out past the perimeter guard to start hunting. As she crawls up into the small rises and hills around the caravan, she keeps her self low to the ground about hugging it while she trusts in her weather warn jacket to help her blend into the ground. She moves slowly across the land, taking every rise slowly by first approaching it from the side to make sure she does not skyline herself before she looks out at the ground in front of her with her binoculars looking for any sign of those tracking them.


She keeps moving in a wide arc until she hears gunfire ringing out, back from where she came, her instinct is to spring up and hurry back, but her brain and training hold firm and she keeps slowly making her way back towards the caravan even after the gunfire ends. She crawls up to the top of the ridge looking down to the caravan. Iona slowly sweeps her gaze over the sight of the battlefield that looks closer to a massacre. The bodies of the caravan and it's guards lie looted across the ground where ever they fell, a number of the caravaners lie face down partway up the hill away from Iona.


She slowly makes her way down the hill, her rifle up and moving from side to side while she scans for any remaining attackers as she moves towards the destroyed caravan to look for any survivors or supplies left behind. She comes across one of the other freelancers who was groaning weakly in pain. Iona looks down at him with his hands pressed against his stomach where a savage wound has split his stomach open with him trying to keep his organs inside of him. She shakes her head lightly while looking at his wound before she pulls out her pistol and puts a single round through his head, giving him the final mercy. With her reholstering her pistol, she moves on before she hurries over to Malcolm once she sees him under one of the Brahmin.


"Malcolm!"


He opens his eyes slowly as he looks at her, clearly only just holding onto life.


"Io...Iona...gunners...ten of them...took prisoners..."


Iona squeezes his hand before the light goes from his eyes. After a brief moment, she slowly closes his eyes before she stands and goes about getting together whatever supplies she can, the entire air with that she carries herself has changed.

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