We all have a little bit of Han Solo in us. Whether it is calmly flipping a cred to the bartender of the establishment where you just blasted a Bounty Hunter in your booth (you know, for the mess), or talking your way out of sticky situations (I’m fine, we’re all fine here…how are you?) or just being so damn cool it hurts (“I love you” – “I know”) we all can use a little more of Han in our day to day. Wait? You don’t have to deal with bounty hunters in your day to day life? Guess that’s just me then.
Seriously though here is an excerpt from Chapter 5(ish) of Part 2 where Mason channels a little of his Inner Han Solo to insert a small group into a large camp of Raiders. Writing this scene was fun, I think it plays out well with the interactive dialogue…
Bird did not see the new truck pulling in because he was under truck 17. The trucks were all numbered to keep track of them and make sure no one tried to steal any. When he got to the truck yard for this camp he had noticed that were several less than the last time he had done this. Empty spots seemed to pop up randomly within the area that had been fenced off for the vehicles. He thought there was one patrol out but the Brother who had turned the yard over to him had been loaded on something and did not make much sense. He had shrugged off Bird’s questions, said he was going to watch the games and stumbled off into the camp. Bird was sorely tempted to shoot the man, but resisted that urge. Instead he started in on inventory. He had counted the barrels of fuel and checked the gauges on the tanker trucks. After he updated the records for that he started to count actual vehicles. He compared that to the sheets his smoked out predecessor had left for him and had to make several corrections. That was when he passed the fuel tankers and came to 17. It was marked down as in good condition on the inventory sheet but the whole front bumper was hanging off. Grumbling to himself, Bird got down under the front end to see if the metal was in the way of the tires and if it could be welded back in place. That was when he felt the ground rumbling with a vehicle pulling into the truck yard. Whatever it was, it was coming in fast.
He started to scramble out from under 17 as fast he could. He quickly reversed his direction when he saw the truck coming right for him. He pulled his legs back in under 17 as he heard the large vehicle squeal as the driver jumped on the brakes hard. Then he heard the sound of the tires crunch-sliding over the loose ground and braced for the impact.
There was none.
He let out his breath. Bird started to scramble out from under 17 as his anger boiled to the surface. He was going to light into whoever in all of After and Before was driving the truck. As he started to get to the edge of 17 he realized that it was too close to 12 for him to actually get out that way. Grunting in anger he pulled himself back under 17 and started to crawl under the new truck. The underside of the new truck was hot so Bird had to press down as low as he could. He used his feet and hands to push and pull himself towards the side of the truck where he could get out. He reached the edge and stuck out his hand to get a grip only to have a well-worn boot come down on it. The boot was followed by the full weight of a man.
Bird let out a howl that was drowned out by the sound of the rumbling motor. He could not pull his hand back because the boot had him pinned. He started to shout for whoever the frack was on his hand to get the holy hells off of it when the motor shut off and blast of exhaust choked off his voice. Tears erupted from his eyes and who the frack only knew what poured out of his nose. Then a second boot came down and Bird thought he was free as the weight lifted from his hand. Then the first boot pivoted, grinding on his hand and he felt the bones of at least one finger pop and crunch. He choked out a cry of pain and when his hand slipped free he pulled it back under the truck. Cradling his hand he rolled over in agony. He realized that he was in a really bad place to roll over when his shoulder hit a searing hot pipe. Bird was convinced he actually heard himself sizzle. He would have howled again but the exhaust fumes had already stolen his voice.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Said a voice from above.
“It was just as I shut the engine down. Must have been this piece of garbage truck. Look at all this smoke.” replied a deeper more gravelly voice.
“Look.” Said the first voice. “It’s your friends from the guard post where we drove into the camp. I don’t think they’re happy that you didn’t stop.”
“Hey, I yelled ‘No brakes’ didn’t I?”
“You did,” The first voice conceded, “, but that one guy looked ready to shoot us.”
“Yeah, there’s always one like that. Is that them back there yelling?”
“It is. They must have run after us.”
“See? That’s what’s wrong with the world today. You can’t get decent sentries that stay at their posts and don’t chase the first thing that blows past them. ”
Bird grabbed the boot that had stepped on his hand.
“Oh Frack!” shouted the second voice, and the boot snapped back out of his grip.
Bird took the chance to pull himself out from under the truck. As soon as he cleared the edge of the truck he started up on to his knees. He looked up at the owner of the boot that he thought had broken two of his fingers. The man had dark hair and piercing eyes that seemed to swallow you in and spit you back out. Even in comparison to the nastier Brothers that Bird knew, this man had a real hard look to him. That was why it was surprising when he cracked a warm smile and reached out to help Bird up.
“Ho there brother! Didn’t see you there.” This man was the second voice.
“Under…The….truck.” Bird coughed out and pointed with his good hand to 17. He was cradling his other hand that was pulsing with the pain of mangled fingers.
Brushing the dirt and dust off of Bird’s jacket the man responded, “Yeah, so I see. Not a very good place to sleep one off you know.” The man laughed and clapped him on his shoulder exactly where it was freshly burned. Bird winced and groaned but the man was looking around the truck yard and seemed not to notice at all.
“Mason, I’m waving and smiling at these guys and they are just fingering their guns or making rude gestures. Anything else you think we should do here?” First Voice said.
Bird looked and the first voice belonged to a younger Brother with light hair and eyes. He was standing on the side board on the far side of the truck. Looking back into the camp, he was waving with a smile plastered on his face. Following his gaze, Bird saw several Brothers down the makeshift road that led from the perimeter of the camp. Sure enough they looked pretty pissed at these two.
“Do any of them look like they need to be shot?” Mason asked with obvious annoyance. Bird noticed the man had his hand on the grip of what looked like a very large gun that was settled in a holster on his hip.
“I don’t think we need to be shooting anyone…” First Voice said out of the side of his smile. He was still looking back into the camp and waving pleasantly.
“I don’t know,” Mason sounded disappointed by First Voice’s assessment. “That first guy looked to me like he NEEDED to be shot. I haven’t shot anyone today and it’s really starting to bother me.” He then turned to Bird with a conspiratorial grin. “Right?”
“Yeah, sure…” Bird stammered, just starting to get his voice back as he cleared the exhaust fumes out.
“Whatever. Where’s the food?” Mason asked, apparently disappointed in Bird’s lack of enthusiasm for violence.
“Wait…what patrol are you with?” Bird tried to get to back to his job and get what he needed with an inbound vehicle.
“Patrol? Frack no, you ain’t pinning this piece of crap on me.” Mason shook his head and pounded on the side of the truck he had just almost crashed into Bird.
“We found this junk sitting out there all blasted up. Did you,” he poked Bird right in his burnt shoulder again, “a huge favor and limped it back in here.” Then, ignoring Bird’s wince of pain he turned to first voice. “C’er, are those crap bags still giving you the stink eye? I’m getting out of the mood to shoot people, so I’m gonna be pissed if they make me.”
“Nah, they’re moving on. It’s amazing what a smile and wave can do.” C’er responded.
“Food?” Mason and was back to Bird now.
“So you just found this out there?” Bird asked.
“C’er, do you remember this guy? I don’t remember any guys here who can’t hear. Do you know any?”
“I don’t.” C’er answered, climbing down from the truck.
Mason was back to Bird now. “Seriously, I told you this already. Pay attention. Did those fumes get to you? I keep telling you boys to stop huffing at the fuel tanks.” Mason turned away and opened the back door of the truck. As soon as he did, two large bags dropped out of the door with a thud.
“Hey! Careful with the goods sweetie.” Mason said stepping back from the bags.
“Sweetie? No, not at all. I’d shoot myself first. Better yet, I’d shoot you.” This came from a young woman who stepped out of the back seat and dropped lightly to the ground.
Bird looked at her and for a moment wondered if there was anyone else in the truck. Then he sized her up. While they referred to themselves as Brothers, there women that had joined Dathan’s army. Most offered support in one way or another, but there were a bunch who were fighters. This one definitely fit into that group. She had on loose fitting leathers and a rifle slung over her shoulder. She looked younger than Mason and despite shorter hair had an easy attractiveness about her. It was clear that she was not intimidated by the men around her. That was about the only way a woman made due around here and stayed out of the tents. That and the rifle she kept in easy reach.
“Who’s this?” she asked gesturing to Bird.
“Didn’t ask.” Mason shrugged.
“Nice.” she replied then turned to Bird. He started to introduce himself but she cut him off. “Where’s the food? I’m starving. These two idiots forgot the rations.”
Bird pointed out into the camp towards where the food trucks had set up.
“Thank you!” the woman replied with exaggerated gratitude, turned and started to walk off. “Grab the bags, will you boys?” she called over her shoulder.
Mason put an arm around Bird’s burnt shoulder and gave it an affectionate squeeze as the two men watched the attractive woman walk away. Oblivious of the man’s wince, Mason whispered to Bird, “She likes it rough.”
“I heard that!”
Mason shrugged again and then shouldered one of the bags. C’er came around the truck and grabbed the second bag. He exchanged an odd look with Mason and then started after the woman.
Mason turned to Bird and extended his hand to shake Bird’s. When Bird held up his injured hand Mason winced in sympathetic pain. “You should get that looked at.” He said turning the intended handshake into a slap on Bird’s burnt shoulder. Ignoring the sharp intake of breath from Bird, Mason turned to follow the other two. He continued talking as he went. “That gets infected and they have to chop those fingers off, you won’t be able to scratch your balls right, yah know?”
Bird looked after the strange Brother as he walked off. Then he turned back to the new truck only to see that the numbers were no longer readable. Several large bullet holes and scorch marks on the door had completely wiped them out.
Now hopefully I did not just totally profane the name of Han Solo. Let me know if I did, or what you think of this new excerpt.
As Always Contact: The Mason Chronicles, Part 1 is available at: