Rainfall (episode 1)
As soon as Bryant and his team came within a mile of the suspected cave, the first soft drops of rain fell from the sky. Within seconds, the slow patter of rain became a fast rattle drumming into the ground. The soft green grass gave way to brown mud puddles with increasing frequency. They pressed on, not letting a little storm deter them from their mission. Over the next few minutes, the raindrops steadily increased in size and intensity. This little storm was turning into a raging thunderstorm as if someone had upturned a colossal bathtub and the contents were pouring down upon the earth. The rain fell so fast and hard that the sound of it fused into an all-pervasive roar, obscuring all other sounds. Bryant realized he could no longer see his team as visibility was virtually nonexistent. He came to a halt, his feet already an inch deep in a muddy quagmire. He pulled his compass out and held it close to his face. As he feared, his compass spun hastily in circles, sometimes clockwise, sometimes counterclockwise, but either way worthless to him.
“Damn it to the Nine Hells,” Bryant swore to himself. Intel reported attacks on a caravan route passing through a narrow ravine. They suspected two Hos’lathi snipers holed up in a cave, in easy striking distance, yet with limited defensive capabilities beyond the difficulty of the terrain. Commander Minuet set capturing the snipers alive as the priority. She needs to interrogate them to have a chance at figuring out who started the latest series of ambushes. Simple enough, but blast if the whole lot of Intel division isn’t full of charlatan soothsayers, always over-selling the simplicity of a mission. Just once, he would like it if they could report something of real importance. Of course, the fine charlatans never mentioned the possibility of encountering a Fool’s Rain trap. “Blast them all!” Well, bitching about it wouldn’t get the mission done.
Bryant carefully handpicked this team of Ironhide Warriors. He had worked with them all before. By now, they would have drawn the same conclusion as he and would be waiting for his signal. Normal visibility may be nonexistent, but luckily, Ironhide Warriors don’t rely on just normal visibility. Bryant reached forward on his Sizzler Ray Gun, feeling for the mode switch and put it into ident mode. Shielding the rain from his goggles, he looks up and fires a single shot into the air. Only those with specialty goggles would see the ident shot, and all Ironhide Warriors were so equipped. Within seconds, each member of his team fired a return ident shot, one to the southeast, one to the southwest, and lastly one to the east.
Bryant fired a series of ident shots into the air, conveying to his team to converge on his location and rope up. He fired an ident shot every several seconds to act as a beacon. As he waited, the ground oozed more rain-soaked brown earth. Mud puddles became mud ponds. The tree cover in this area is the only thing that allowed him to keep his footing in the quagmire the deluge created. Within scant minutes Amelia and Stanley made contact and attached themselves to Bryant via measures of rope.
Suddenly, three wild ident shots rose into the air coming from the east, where Samuelson was located. Bryant looked eastward where there was less tree cover and watched transfixed as great rivers of slick mud run down the mountain towards Samuelson’s location, dangerously close to the cliff’s edge. Bryant, now worried about Samuelson, cautiously moved the team through the muddy bog created by the rain. Every step threatened to whisk them away down the river of mud flowing all around them. Thanks to the rain roaring in their ears, their feet made barely audible sucking sounds as they pulled them out of the mud to move forward. Bryant wanted to move faster, Samuelson needed help now not ten minutes hence. Every time he tried to pick up the pace, some new piece of the countryside got in their way. First, it was the occasional thin branch stripped of its leaves, and then whole tree limbs went careening past them. More than once, they roped off to a tree to wait out a particularly heavy run of debris.
We need to move faster, but at least we’re in the right place. The Fool’s Rain confirms that. What troubles me is that no one would expend that much power without a good reason. That begs the question, who exactly is in that cave?
We hope you enjoyed our very first episode, Rainfall. Look for more illustrated episodes from us in the near future.
Next Episode: Rescue