Welcome back to Nearly Finland, AKA I had several hours with no internet access and was bored. December 23, December 23, 1917̃, Gallup, New Mexico.
To the side of the small road flanking the sparsely distributed houses of the town, a small cloud of dust was being churned up. It was from a running man, one with a rather athletic build. He was carrying a securely fastened satchel over his shoulder, with the star emblem of the mail service on it. To his right the horizon was empty, with some small houses and short trees not far away, the ground over there covered in dusty green foliage. To the left, the vast, flat land also seemed to extend forever, the steppe covered in green and brown-orange shrubs, and tan grasses that blended in with the ground. He looked at the road ahead, which receded into the distance like a perspective drawing. A wide, green shrub-spotted mesa gently rose in his direction of travel, the one major obstruction of the mailman’s line of sight for miles. Even with a rare cloudy sky, the early evening sun poured down heat from above, but it didn’t stop our cap-wearing runner from keeping up a fast but steady pace. His purposeful expression was interrupted by a curiosity, though, a small dinosaur with a straight tail longer than its body, long stout legs, a purple and yellow-spotted mohawk for a crest, and a plumage that didn’t stand out much from the terrain. A roadrunner. The mailman regarded the animal as he ran past, which suddenly jerked its head up at him, a prehistorical yellow eye focused on him. Its head tilted in curiosity for a few seconds. Then its X-shaped feet flew into motion. The bird began to accelerate after the mailman, who started to feel a bit of primal fear. The roadrunner was rapidly scooting towards him, its tall mast of a tail now flat and its feet almost going in a circle. It zoomed past him, letting out a clattering noise, this bird’s very own “meep-meep”. Once it had successfully passed in front, the bird looked back at him and slowed down. The mailman took a quick swig from his canteen and brushed aside the sweat on his forehead, then gave the little bird a big grin. The race was on.
Some species are excellent sprinters. Humans are not one of those. The mailman sped up, legs pumping to keep him at a speed he could maintain, but of course he wasn’t catching up. The grin on his face disappeared, replaced by an expression of the damage his pride was for some reason taking. This was no ordinary mailman. This man, as competitive as his adversary, scrunched his face up with the determination to win, his jaw clenched, and he launched into a sprint. He was striding forward at an impressive speed, zooming by shrub after shrub, catching up with the roadrunner. Just as he got close enough to grab it by the tail (not recommended), its funny gait sped up, tearing away with its feet emulating the pedals on a bicycle in the Tour de France. The mailman was already breathing heavily, his face beginning to show the look of sad resignation. Images suddenly flashed through his head of friends, of family, of his victories.
“Look at that man! He’s faster than a horse!”
“When I grow up, mister, I wanna be just like you!”
“Nice race, Roger, wanna go get a beer?”
“Here he is, ladies and gentlemen, the fastest man in the west!”
“I’m proud of you, son.”
Roger Borotra, professional athlete, was not losing to anyone. His brain tried to tell him “Roger, you chased a train once, tripped and fell, and had to be hospitalised. Do be careful.” He wasn’t listening. Gripped by the madness of a man being chased by every monster imaginable, he put everything he had into his speed. His face formed a snarl, mouthing a battle cry as he tore after the roadrunner. Roger’s feet hurt, his lungs hurt, but nobody was listening - winning the race took priority over safety. It sounded as if both the surface of the road and his shoes would break. He was gaining. Finally, the roadrunner helpfully spread its wings and flapped away from the crazy person, landing in the brush and disappearing. Suddenly the pain of what he was forcing his body to do caught up with Roger, and he ground to a halt. But he had won. An elegant bow in the direction of where the bird disappeared, a minute to chug some water and calm down his breathing, and the mailman resumed his original pace.
By the time Roger neared his destination, the sun was setting. The clouds had gathered overhead, resulting in a colourful mosaic above his head. Purple, red, orange, and yellow clouds looked like a reflection of a landscape, with upside-down mountains, ridges, forests, and then puddles of sky. The red-stained mesa which the mailman had been chasing, almost Martian in appearance, was now off to his left, catching some of the setting sun’s golden rays. He found keeping his eyes on the road difficult, not because he wanted to continue to crane his neck upwards, but simply because it was starting to get dark. He finally ran past a column of short, almost spherical trees that somebody had planted, revealing the light streaming from a building’s window. For Roger’s job was not to deliver the mail to the people of Gallup. His destination was the Churchrock pub, which lay on the outskirts of the scattered town. As a rural mail carrier, his job was to deliver the mail to the neighbouring areas, ranches and houses with very few people around for kilometres. Their horse was apparently not up to it today, so the post office had hatched another plot to deliver the mail. As much as Sundays discouraged it, Saturdays encouraged drinking. At the start of every weekend, those who lived in relative solitude would travel long distances to the nearest pub, where they would socialise, and share news with their far-off neighbours. So rather than going to several far-flung, almost empty places, Roger could catch all of the mail recipients in one, much-closer pub. Or he could at least rent a horse for the next day. The darkening clouds startled him back to the present with a few raindrops. Stomach rumbling, lungs worn out for the day, and canteen empty, he jogged towards the rectangular mass with light streaming from the windows, and stopped at the door. First, a long gulp of air. Finally, he flung the door open ceremoniously, calling, “Mail’s here!”
1919 - Ogden, Utah
Newly promoted Major General Robert E. Lee Thiessen looked out upon the assembled recruits and inwardly sighed. What a motley band of soldiers this was going to turn out to be, he thought to himself. He supposed they had to start somewhere... and recruits out on the frontier were hard to come by, considering most eligible males were needed for work either on farms or in the mines.
The problem was that he had to train a highly mobile and effective force to patrol the frontier, and he only had eight weeks to do it before the Foreign Legion departed for good. While a few officers and soldiers had volunteered to stay behind to form the nucleus of his new Frontier Corps, they were few and far between - and scattered among several outposts.
His musing was interrupted by the buglers calling to attention. Once the ruckus from the assembled recruits had died down, he cleared his throat and began to address the assembled crowd.
"Gentlemen of the West," he began, speaking in French, "Welcome to the Frontier Corps. Let me be the first to thank you, from the bottom of my heart on behalf of the people living in this frontier of ours, for stepping up to serve your country - your communities - your home. Today, you all embark on a new journey, one that will transform you in ways you will have never thought possible. Today, you begin the journey that will transform you from Men of the West - to Defenders of the West."
He paused a moment for effect. "The road ahead of you is long and arduous. Take heart; stay the course. Remember that the lives and livelihoods of many depend on your success. So then, gentlemen," he said with a smile, "Let's get to it."
He stepped down as the sergeants began to organize their respective companies and take them away to their training areas. He was met at the edge of the stage by Colonel Montserrat, the leader of the training battalion. "A very fine speech, general," he remarked, clapping his hands.
"Thank you," Robert replied, smiling slightly. "Do you think you'll be able to whip these men into shape in time for the handover?" he asked.
Montserrat put his hand to his heart in a mock gesture of hurt. "General, you wound me. I have wrestled bears and won, I can handle a few rowdy men."
Across the parade field, in a column that was waiting to march out, young recruit Private Stemson gawked at the two commanders. "Is it true he wrestled a bear to death?" he whispered to the recruit standing next to him, a grizzled mountain man by the name of Pierre.
"Who, General Thiessen?" Pierre replied, not bothering to whisper at all.
"Hey, quiet back there!" hissed Walks-with-Bears, a Shoshone tracker just ahead of the pair. Pierre replied something in Blackfoot, to which the Shoshone also replied. They had a short argument before the Sergeant came by and shut them both up.
"This should be an interesting eight weeks," mumbled Private Stemson.
OOC: Ugh, culture is such a difficult stat to increase.
Medinan is ruled by King Victor Antonio aged 42. He rules with his wife, Queen Maria Teresa and their eight children (ranging in age from 19 to 4) by his side. His heir is his second child and oldest son, Miguel, Infante de Medinan. His Government is lead by His Majesty's Loyal Servant Julio Ruiz de Santana, the Prime Minister of Medinan
OOC: 40.7 Disappearance rate :)
My analysis of the lead-up to WWI...
Kaiser Wilhelm II had little to no political acumen proportional to his territorial and imperial ambitions, in an age when imperialism was already beginning to wind down.
What's your land claim? Jw
Three Months Later
"Lone, lone on the range..." mumbled Lieutenant Jack Harkness as he rode along the dusty road to Griffinstone, Utah (RL Moab, Utah). One would never know that he was a Frontier Corps Ranger by the way he was dressed - a long trench coat, a wide-brimmed hat, a pair of cowboy boots and spurs, and he looked just like anyone else on the vast and wild ranges of Western Midamerica.
Absentmindedly, Lieutenant Harkness patted his lower left pocket, as if to assure him that the orders posting him to Griffinstone were still there. A copy of them should have been sent by courier to the commanding officer in the town already... but given the state of lawnessness in the land, especially after the recent withdrawal of the French Foreign Legion, delivery was not guaranteed. So, just to be safe, the Lieutenant had made three copies made; one was in his pocket, the other two were in his saddlebags.
Suddenly, there was the crack of a rifle, and Harkness's hat flew off his head. The hat sailed a few feet, landing in the dust in front of a masked man with a revolver out and pointed at the Lieutenant. "Manos arriba, muchacho!" the man yelled, his voice gruff and muffled by the bandana. "Hands up! No sudden moves!"
The lieutenant slowly put his hands up above his head. "I don't think you want to be doing this," he said slowly.
"Get off the horse, señor," the bandit ordered, gesturing with his pistol.
Harkness lowered his hands and swung himself out of the saddle, putting his hands back up above his head. "All right. What do you want next?"
Suddenly, there was a gunshot, and a cry of pain emanated from the rocks. The shot had the effect of distracting the bandit, giving the Lieutenant the chance to pull his own pistol and fire. His shot was true, and the bandit fell clutching his chest as blood poured around it. Harkness looked around warily, since the man who shot his hat off earlier could still be around.
He was surprised, then, when an old bearded man and a Shoshone tracker ran up to him from opposite sides of the road. "Damn, he's dead," the old man said gruffly. "Was hopin' to catch him alive."
Harkness blinked. "My apologies, but he had a gun trained on me, and he had intended to rob me."
"I know that," the old man snapped. "We was usin' you as bait." He spat. "Well, ain't nothin' to do about it now." He looked over at the young man. "What's your name, m'sieur?"
"Harkness. Lieutenant Harkness, Ranger of the Enclave Frontier Corps," he replied.
The old man's eyes widened, and he stiffened to attention. "My apologies, sir, I didn't realize it was you," he said.
Harkness raised an eyebrow. "I take it you are Sergeant Pierre, of the Griffinstone Ranger Detachment?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," Pierre replied, saluting. "This here is Corporal Walks-With-Bears, our tracker." The Shoshone tracker saluted as well, though he did not leave his relaxed pose.
"Well, gentlemen," Harkness said with a smile, "It is a pleasure to meet you, despite the circumstances." He frowned. "What were you two doing out here anyway?"
"Tryin' to trap ourselves a bandit," Pierre replied. He gestured at the body laying on the road. "That boy there was a member of the Two-Fingered Gang. We were tryin' to capture him, make him tell us the location of his gang's hideout."
"And what would you have done with this intel?" Harkness asked.
"Go in and clear the place out," Pierre replied. "Let's get into town, and I'll have Private Stemson fill you in."