Back to the main page

Mailing List Logs for ShadowRN

Message no. 1
From: Ratinac, Rand (NSW) RRatinac@*****
Subject: Ganba (4)
Date: Thu, 5 Oct 2000 17:04:17 +1000
> Whichever, if he ever returns to station #355 the beer he ordered will be
waiting for him.


GREAT story, Simon...:)

Message no. 2
From: Simon and Fiona sfuller@******
Subject: Ganba (4)
Date: Sat, 30 Sep 2000 13:15:59 +1000
The helicopter landed, and three men inspected the burning ruins of Eddie’s
Land Rover. They extinguished the fire and spent a long time sorting through
the debris. Finally, one of the men got back into the helicopter with a
sealed plastic bag. Cross said “They’re radioing their base. They know we
weren’t in the explosion, but they’ve gotten the device back.”
“Frag it all,” said Lily, again with no hint of sexuality, “maybe they’ll
give up on us now.”
“No such luck,” Cross growled, “They’re being called back, search team’s on
its way.”
The helicopter lifted off, leaving the two men to continue searching the
burnt-out truck. Cross said “Cowboy, take them out.”
“What? No way! I’m not getting involved any further, and I’m not going to
shoot two innocent Ares employees.”
“They aint innocent, fragger. Shoot them now, or I’ll shoot you.”
“No. And if you shoot me, even if they don’t get you you’ll be dead in three
days out here without me.”
Cross growled and grabbed Eddie’s rifle. With frightening speed, the two men
were dead on the ground. “Now go!” Without waiting to see if his orders were
followed, Cross dropped the rifle and ran to the far side of the depression
and up the other bank. Lily was up and after him soon after. Eddie just sat
where he was for a long time, stunned. Half an hour ago he was avoiding a
beautiful woman’s wiles, now he was in the middle of nowhere with a pair of
murderers, while a Megacorp was hunting him down.
At last he got up and ran, deliberately at a tangent to the path the others
took. He might just survive this.

It was hours later when he heard the sound of a ground vehicle over the
rising wind. Whatever it had been, the vehicle was heavily modified. Eddie
dived for cover behind a spinifex bush and lay still as it passed. It had
some long guns protruding from it, but what bothered Eddie more was the
faint witchfire that was gathering around the barrels. There was a mana
storm on the way.
He lay still for a full ten minutes, and jumped when there was a hand on his
shoulder. “Thought we’d lost you, Cowboy.” It was Lily. Cross was close
behind. “Lets go.”
“Look, a mana storm is building up!” Eddie shouted. Even now the wind was
picking up, and the sky was beginning to flicker with sheet lightning.
“What can we do about it?”
“I don’t know”
“Well, fragging forget it and get a move on!”
This was good advice, all things considered. He was hoping to get away
quietly, but it looked like fate had different ideas. With a sigh of
resignation he followed the pair.

“Who's fragging idea was it to come to a place that had no cover?” Cross
“Yours, honey.” Lily was clearly exhausted and angry.
“Cowboy, find us a place to hide out. What about those caves?”
“No way. Look at the sky,” Eddie said. The sky was lit up like an aurora,
while veins of lightning flashed through the clear sky. Strong gusts of wind
blasted grit at them randomly from all directions. “If its this bad above
ground, we’d be dead in seconds with Ganba awake.”
“You scared of a flashy lightshow, dingo boy? Thought you had some cojones.”
“Look, you want to go into the caves, they’re a few clicks that way, but I’m
not going in.”
“We’re dead if we don’t”
“There’s worse things than death.” Eddie said, the stickman drifting past
his mind’s eye.
“Just move.”

As they walked, the mana storm grew steadily. Twice nearby spinifex bushes
spontaneously combusted, only to have the flame wink out after they passed.
The stars behind the aurora and the sheet lightning danced in place, strange
sounds echoed across the plain. Lily was becoming more and more shaken, but
Cross didn’t seem to notice. He was in his emotionless mode again, which was
strange but better than the fury that he had been displaying. Eddie was
again thinking about deserting them, it would be an easy thing to do.
Between them they had some interesting cyberware, they heard radio signals,
saw for kilometers, they almost seemed precognitive, but against an animal
or man who knew the land, they were practically blind and deaf. Low tech
beats high tech, every time. But then, it could be dangerous. And if they
were so determined to go into a cave, then they would soon be just a bad
memory anyway. His bigger problems were the Ares hunters and the mana storm,
and for them it would be better to stay with the Americans. For now, at

Some time later they came to a cave mouth. It was simply a place where the
plain had collapsed into the caves far below, about twenty metres across.
There was water down there, and greenery. And the pulsing, multicoloured
glow of wild mana leaking into the mundane world from the astral by sheer
pressure. As the trio reached the lip, a massive bolt of lightning exploded
from the stunted trees and shot up into the sky. “Well, here we are,” said
Eddie, “It looks nice, but you don’t want to go down there.”
“Yes we fragging do,” said Lily, “And you’re going with us.”
“Look, it’s been hours, they’ve probably called off the search because of
the storm. Our best bet is to keep moving.”
“Called off the search eh? Then what’s that?” Cross shouted. Eddie looked,
but saw nothing. Then the rotor sound reached his ears. He pulled on his
goggles and activated the night-sight and magnification. There it was,
bearing down on them. He dived to the ground. Cross grabbed his hunting
rifle again, and started to aim. The seconds trickled away as it came ever
closer, then Cross fired three times rapidly. Suddenly the chopper pitched
sideways and began to fall from the sky. “Yes! Fragging YES!” screamed Cross
as it tumbled toward the ground. He got up and ran toward where it was
falling, taking Eddie’s rifle with him. The helicopter hit with a thumping
crash, but there was no explosion. Soon after there was the sound of Cross’
Uzi, and Eddie felt glad he didn’t face the likes of Cross back in New
Guinea during the war. He looked around for Lily, and saw her climbing down
the edge of the hole that led to the caves. He didn’t know who was the

As Cross returned, the wind suddenly picked up until it was screaming in the
night and filling his nostrils with dust. Cross had three assault rifles in
his arms as well as Eddie’s hunting rifle slung over his shoulder. “Here,
take these,” he said casually, passing over two rifles. He also handed Eddie
three boxes of ammunition. It was caseless, Ares must have wanted to leave
no clues. Just then a spotlight lit up, pinpointing Lily as she slid down
the steep boulders. Cross shouted and fired his Uzi at the light, but before
he could shatter the light, there was a roar of gunfire. Lily screamed for
half a second, and slid soundlessly into the caves. Eddie opened up with his
assault rifle moments before Cross’ bullets shattered the spotlight. His
former reluctance was forgotten, someone he knew had just been killed in
front of him, and that revived the old infantry training that he had since
tried to forget. They're not people, they are the enemy. Them or you, and
they won’t hesitate.
He hadn’t emptied the first magazine of the assault rifle when there was
another burst of lightning arcing into the sky, but this one was sustained.
A second and a third shot upward beside it, and then the whole chasm lit up,
and the individual beams became a single serpentine column of light,
twisting and swaying slowly as it reached the sky. Ganba. Simmilar columns
could be seen in the distance, presumably other chasms that the mana was
spilling from. The sky was now flickering strange colours, and the wind was
incredible. Clouds of fire lit up at random in the air, and above, or
perhaps beside, the roar of the wind was a strange sound, as if a thousand
invisible madmen were whispering dark promises. This was a big storm, the
biggest Eddie had seen. Cross gripped his shoulder and beckoned him to
follow, then ran around the edge of the snaking column of light, keeping low
to avoid being swept away by the winds. Eddie ran after him, for no reason
other than to avoid thinking about his situation. Soon they spotted a truck
coming the other way. They dived to the ground, and Cross opened fire. The
Ares soldiers returned fire immediately, while Eddie just stared in awe.
Here they were, about to be scoured from the face of the earth by a mana
storm, and they were still trying to kill eachother. Very few of the bullets
reached their mark, it was impossible to aim even in the pale blue light,
but still Cross managed to fell two of the heavily armoured soldiers. Then
there was a blast of fire that swept toward the truck, which instantaneously
exploded, its body lifting from the ground, spilling living and dead Ares
troops across the plain. Eddie now became aware of a stinging sensation
throughout his body, which was gradually becoming more intense. Then Cross
doubled up in pain beside him, his entire body suffused with a deep violet
glow. Eddie looked at his own hand, it had the same aura. His vision started
to blur as the pain increased, and he became paralysed, able only to writhe
in agony.
He did not know how long it lasted, but when it finally ended, the sun was
in the sky behind the slowly fading aurora and sheet lightning in the sky.
He was exhausted, stiff and feeling sick. His vision refused to focus, but
he found Cross’ corpse beside him, with twisted shards of metal jutting from
his body. Fibre-optic wires hung around him, and ceramic and plastic shards
pierced his skin. The Ares troops were similarly mutilated, except for four
that died at Cross’ hand or in the explosion, and one that appeared to be a
shaman of some sort, who was unmarked, but simply dead. His GPS, his smart
goggles, even his wristwatch were all broken and twisted. The storm had
destroyed anything manmade, including cyberware, but had left Eddie alone,
alive. Not that it mattered much, there was no civilisation for hundreds of
kilometers, he had no water, food or equipment, his clothes were torn and
his hat long gone. The sun would burn him black in half a day. In his
weakened state, he might not last that long.

Allcorp Station #355 was a mess. Four days previously a Category 4 mana
storm had whipped up out of nowhere and torn through the station. Storms got
bigger, the station had been hit by a Cat 5 six years previously, but at
that intensity the difference isn’t important. Most of the underground
dwellings were unharmed, but the refuelling point had been erased utterly
and most of the fuel was contaminated by sand and debris. At times like this
the entire town joined forces to repair what could be repaired and remove
what couldn’t, a remote town lifestyle that had survived the extinction of
that spirit everywhere else. It was noon though, nobody with half a brain
would be above for more than a few minutes at this time of day, so most of
the town was assembled in the bar. This is why they all saw the figure that
dropped down the emergency exit hatch that was serving as the front door
since the storm. His skin was blistered, his eyes nearly gummed shut with
dust. His bare feet were red and caked with dirty blood. His lips were
white, webbed with deep red cracks. The entire room stared silently as he
staggered to the bar, uttered a single word, “Beer”, and collapsed. The
story became legend at Station #355, and at all the stations along the
route. The man was a survival guide, the story went, who was camping over a
hundred kilometers away when the storm struck, destroying all his equipment
and leaving him stunned but alive. He survived by bushcraft, getting water
where he could, and on the first day killing a wallaby that was as stunned
by the storm as he was. He walked the entire distance, losing his boots on
the second day, alone through the heat with no cover from the sun, barefoot
across burning sand. The story goes on to say that he made a full recovery
with a little help from modern medicine, but there’s some dispute as to
whether he was back out in the bush as soon as he could walk or if he moved
to the south of New Zealand to farm freerange sheep. Whichever, if he ever
returns to station #355 the beer he ordered will be waiting for him.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading about Ganba (4), you may also be interested in:


These messages were posted a long time ago on a mailing list far, far away. The copyright to their contents probably lies with the original authors of the individual messages, but since they were published in an electronic forum that anyone could subscribe to, and the logs were available to subscribers and most likely non-subscribers as well, it's felt that re-publishing them here is a kind of public service.