Monday, May 26, 2014

Day Seven-Hundred-Six: The End Begins

Desert's Edge is at our backs. We're headed into the Desert Proper.

That's... not really a name, of course. Not the name. If anything it's just 'The Western Desert'. But I figure since, y'know, I said Desert's Edge... that... I could mirror my capitalization. In Desert Proper. You know?

I thought it was clever.

I might also be a little nervous. Because this year-long trip is suddenly, slowly coming to a close. And the final environment before we reach the hermit... the man I'm gonna... well, anyway...

We haven't quite reached the desert yet. Greenery is exceedingly sparse and the days are getting hotter and longer, but Nagi - who turns out to be something of an expert in desert travel, as snake people live in warmer climates - assures me that we've barely scratched the surface of the desert. The edges are nothing like the core.

"It's fucking hot," she assured me, sipping a cup of juice. "Very hot. Fry-your-balls-off hot. Only during the day, though - during the night it can become deadly cold. But that's when you have to travel."

"During the night? I'm not sure that's such a good idea." I peered out the windows of the Neo Neo Beefiary at the passing landscape, nervously aware of the increasing stretches of blanched white and wheat yellow ground. "How're we supposed to navigate at night? The sun..."

"... isn't the only thing we can use to get around." Nagi shook her head. "Cripes. You've been travelling long enough. Haven't you learned anything about moving around after dark?"

"You don't," I said flatly.

"This tub travels at night all the time," Nagi pointed out.

"Only when we have to. And we tend to drive into ditches when we try. Better to move during the day, when we can spot shit that'll gum up the tires. I don't want the Dauphine to get stuck in the desert."

Nagi laughed.  She fiddled with her drink a moment before continuing. "That's... that's smart. And also very stupid. You don't honestly think your transport's gonna take you all the way, do you?"

"What?" I gulped. "Of course it will. The Dauphine can go anywhere."

"Anywhere it has traction. Won't get that in the desert. This sand is soft as hell. I bet the Dauphine'll get stuck on the first sand dune it tries to roll over. And even if it can travel across sand, you're gonna run into all sorts of other trouble."

"... like what?"

- Sand in the wheels. And gears. And supplies. And just about everything.
- Intense heat stressing and warping the metal. The Dauphine is mostly wood, but its skeleton is almost all metal.
- Intense heat frying the crew. The Dauphine can't cool itself. Apparently we'll cook inside.
- No support from friendly towns. The only people who live in the desert are nomads. They don't carry parts for a war machine, and even if they did, there's no way to tell where they might be at a given time.
- Run-ins with storms. Apparently the western desert is infamous for its dry lightning storms. The Dauphine is prepared to deal with lightning strikes, but not every lightning strike hitting the area. it would easily be the biggest target for incoming lightning, which could cause a fire, and since water will already be at a premium...

Nagi had more to say, of course, but it all boiled down to one argument: the Dauphine can't make the trip. It needs to remain at the edge of the desert. We're okay for now, she says, but soon... soon we'll have to leave our transport behind.

Which means, I suppose, that not everyone is coming with me to see Iko. I hadn't necessarily expected a full party, but...

We'll see. Maybe Libby can come up with a miracle device that'll allow the Dauphine to complete the trip. I sure would love her all the more if she could.

Gods but it's getting hot.


Dragomir the Wanderer

No comments:

Post a Comment