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Old 12-26-2011, 11:33 PM   #1
Join Date: Dec 2008
Default The First Interbellum (1918-1939)

This is a continuation of the thread:

The Unity Awakens

For more about the Orichalcum Universe, see here: Orichalcum Universe: The Basics


Now we turn to that phase of history that unfolded in 'The First Interbellum', the
period from the end of World War I and the beginning of World War II (defined
as September 1, 1939). Before we can fully engage in this, however, we must
set the stage with a momentary look back across time to set the stage. So, with
no further ado, let us travel back to 19th Century Australia, and the recovery of
the Golden Egg.

The Golden Egg...

Wednesday 18 January 1871...

"Damn, but it's hot," George Garley commented, half to himself
and half to his partner Sam Chase. As he wiped his face dry with
an increasingly soaked cloth, he added, "It's damned unnatural to
be this hot in January!"

"Not down here," Chase laughed. "You're not back in England
anymore, George, this is Australia. We celebrate Christmas with
picnics and stock up on firewood when June and July roll around!"

"Tell me about it," the Englishman replied to his Australian friend.
"Positively backwards. It's what comes up being on the bottom
of the world, everything's upside down."

Garley was not really in a bad mood
per se, and his various
disparaging comments about Australia's climate were made mostly
in jest, he had certainly been in the southern land long enough
that its reversed seasons, compared to his native England, were
something he was quite used to. What was bothering him...well,
to be truthful he could not quite put his finger on just what it was
that was bothering him. All he knew was that he felt quite
uncharacteristically jumpy and nervous, he kept catching his
hand going to the handle of his revolver, as if he felt some danger
nearby...but there was no sign of anything wrong and no
discernable reason to think anything was likely to happen.

In fact, there was no sign that they weren't the only human beings
alive for many an empty mile of desert in all directions.

Maybe that's what's wrong, Garley thought to himself, it's
too empty out here. I mean I'm not someone who gets spooked
easily, but this part of the country's just too deserted to suit me.
It gets a man to thinkin' he might be the only man left in the world...

Garley and Chase had been hired to take a load of supplies out
to a remote site in the Australian outback, and paid very well to
transport the supplies without asking untoward questions. While
nobody had said or done anything that indicated illegality, the
desire for discretion had been fairly clear, and they were being
paid three times what the job would normally be worth, on the
condition that they asked no questions and answered no questions
afterward. That was quite all right with Garley and Chase.

Normally all that would have made Garley
very suspicious
about the whole job, but he had asked around and everyone who
had dealt with their current employers reported that they had been
paid as promised and on time, with no funny business, apparently
they were reputable, if secretive. Garley was certainly curious,
but for the money he and his partner were being paid, he was
quite prepared to develop a sudden case of 'blind and deaf' while
on the job, and a matching case of amnesia afterward.

Thus Garley and Chase had found themselves heading out into
the outback, and into some rather remote parts of the barely
explored desert, moving several large wagonloads of supplies
and accompanied by a handful of men they trusted to do good
work and keep their mouths shut. The supplies themselves were
fairly mundane: various digging and work tools, nails, quite a
bit of preserved food, salt, ammunition, a few bottles of whiskey,
all perfectly legal and none of it particularly unreasonable for a
remote site of some kind of activity. The first part of the trip
had been routine and boring, but now, as they neared the site
where they were to make their delivery, something was bothering
Garley. It was nothing he could quite define, but it was there.

It had started shortly after they had broken camp that morning
and hitched up the mules, they had barely been moving for more
than half an hour before Garley became conscious of
nagging at him, like a little quiet voice as the back of his mind,
or some whisper in the wind that spoke of something wrong.
At first he'd barely been aware of it, but as the morning advanced
it had grown stronger. They were planning on reaching their
destination by the end of the day, even allowing for a pause to
spare the animals and men during the height of the day's heat.

Now that the time for the midday pause had come, Garley was
jumpy, nervous, and
strongly wishing he were back in
Adelaide. Even as he watered the mules, he kept fighting the
urge to look back over his shoulder, he could clearly hear the
voice of Sam and the others as they went about their work, and
he was grateful for it, he knew he had help at hand only a few
feet away if need be...but he still kept feeling as if he wanted to
look over his shoulder.

Yet when he did, when he gave in to the impulse as he repeatedly
did, there was nothing untoward to see.

They were resting in the limited shade of some rocky hills, and
all around them was the hot, dry, mostly empty outback,
stretching out across a desolate expanse toward the horizon,
where it was not blocked by the local small eroded rocky hills.
It was quiet, but with the calm quiet of empty land, not the
ominous stillness of hidden danger. The Sun was high overhead,
pouring blistering heat down out of a cloudless blue sky, the air
was still and calm, heavy with heat, but there was no sign of any
danger or threat whatever.

Yet Garley could not put a sense of something being basically
away from himself, and his hand kept drifting toward his gun.

Damn, but I'll be glad when we get this load delivered and start
heading back, Garley thought. It's not fittin' for a man of
fifty to be this jumpy over nothing...but I'll be glad to be on our
way even so!'

Nothing answered his thoughts save the silence of the desert.

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