Midnight Train

Posted on 18 Dec 2021 @ 9:12am by Game Master Andrew & Chief Warrant Officer 2 Cresslyn Mueller

Episode: From our Past
Location: Transcontinental MagLev
Timeline: Date 2081-11-19 at 0015

"Good evening passengers, this is your driver speaking up here in the cab. We have just reached our cruising speed of five hundred miles an hour, and have just turned off our seat belt signs. Our estimated time of arrival at Bozeman Metroplex is 3 AM local time, with an estimated travel time of three hours. The weather report along the central spine looks good, so we shouldn't see any delays. Stewards will be moving through the train during our trip to provide light refreshments. And again I'd like to thank you for travelling with TransCon MagLev tonight."

"You know," said an old man sitting in the seat next to her. "Back in my day, they'd call this a red-eye. Of course back then they'd serve an actual drink instead of fruit juice and soda water. And it came in a glass."

He held up the small bottle of soda in his hand, the tiny little bottle tucked into the seatback net along with the safety pamphlet.

Cresslyn chuckled "My granddad said the same thing." She said smiling at the small bottle "Some days that is needed to get through this transit." She added looking at the book in her lap that she really had no interest in reading "So what are you going up for?" She asked making conversation with the gentleman "I'm Cresslyn by the way." She extended her hand to the man after introducing herself.

"Theodore Crawley," he said and shook her hand. His grip was firm, not the knuckle cruncher that some try for as though a handshake was some sort of combination lock to pack supremacy. "And I'm going up to see my grandkids. Cassie and her boy, Cassandra being my daughter, won the Colony Lottery five years ago. Got a stake on Luna, and been working there ever since. Good money, and I get to brag to people that my Cas's is up there helping keep the lights on down here and the sea's from eating another city."

He reached into a pocket of his jacket and pulled out a hand terminal, tumbling it on to display the home screen. It showed a few apps, but the screen was mostly made clear for the image of two smiling toddlers.

"Jason, and Jessy," Theo said with pride nodding at each in turn. "They were born up there so coming down the well to Earth isn't on the card. Besides, put those Vet' Benny's to work before I age out of being able to go."

Cresslyn smiled "I have two she said and pulled out her hand terminal to show her husband and two children "Heather and Ethan." She said "They will be excited to see where I am going to be." She said "My husband holds down the fort while I'm on assignment." She said.

"Always pleased to meet another one who heeded the call. 10th Mountian, Army. Served a little before your time back during The Troubles, back when Boston wasn't just a sightseeing tour for scuba divers," he chuckled. He gave her an interrogative look. "You look too smart to be a zoomie in the Chair Force. Navy?"

"No, Coast Guard, the best of the branches." Cresslyn said "Bos'n to be exact." She said with a wide grin. She looked up as the hatch opened and her eye caught the new comer.

As the old man spoke, the hatch at the far end of the cabin cycled open and a man stepped out. Long trench coat, patched here and there with strategic layers of silver duct tape, hair braided in silver cornrows that on his paid scalp looked almost ethereal. Flickering oLED tattoo's played under the rim of his collar, rolling waves intermingled with green wheat stalks.

He staggered down the aisle between the rows of seats, pausing to ask a question to those who actively wasn't pretending to ignore him. He got to them, and presented his hands in a gesture that looked like begging. But instead of asking for hard currency, a fibre screen was weaved between his fingers like a cyberpunk cats cradle, projecting lurid images of flooded coastline cities.

"Do you have a moment to talk about the ongoing atrocities being perpetrated to American citizens by our government?" he asked in a quiet, ferverent voice.

Cresslyn watched the display for a moment and then looked at the man "And exactly what atrocities would those be?" She asked, several of her previous team had worked in those flooded coastal cities, they had pulled people out of the water, provided care to the injured, helped rebuild some of them. She could also think of atrocities greater than what this man was believing.

"The forced relocations, the 'Temporary Settlement Camps' still being used in Montana and Idaho," the young man said. He expertly flexed his fingertips, cycling the fibre screen to change images. "It wasn't the Red Cross who marched into Manhatten and forced people out of their homes, off of their property. It was the Government that decided peoples freedoms were cheaper than the cost of building workable sea defences. When people in Boston demanded to stay, they were 'escorted' out at gunpoint by the National Gaurd for their safety, and still, they are not allowed back onto their land."

The fact that a lot of Boston suburbs had sunk as sea water saturated the earth under Bean Town was glazed over.

"And now, instead of working on problems that need to be solved here the Government is spending trillions on sending the elite and powerful into space to escape Earth. For the cost of a single Navy ship, they could have built new cities on Earth for the displaced millions," the true believer said.

"Have you considered that there may be other reasons that they are not allowed back into these areas, say for instance, they're unsafe due to damage caused by the water?" She asked keeping a straight face "There are reasons for some things happening...and it is not the elite and powerful that are going up, its the everyday working man, just trying to making scratch so their families can survive..." She paused "How many people have lost their lives working the mines so that you can have your fancy display?" She asked as she took off her jacket showing her uniform "I'm one of those people and I leave my family for stretches of time to make sure they and others like you are kept safe."

Cresslyn stood up "Now, please move along so I can continue my conversation with my seat mate in peace."

"Using the tools of the oppressors is the first step in removing the shackles placed there by willing hands," the young man said. It was hard to say from the body art and sales pitch what flavour of crazy he was. There was the run of the mill disenfranchised who idolised an America that had never been. Then you progressed up the ladder from there: Noahites who saw the floods as godly punishment, 4Rock4's that were radical freedom activists, or whatever consumer-friendly version of the November Faction was out and about.

More often than not the die-hard faithful who were the front face of these groups tended to be more interested in growing a new type of gene tweaked weed and talking to the space dolphins than 'the cause'.

"The young lady asked you to leave in peace sonny, best you move along," Theo said. He might be retired, but the rod of steel in his voice spoke well of the training the 10th Mountian instilled in his youth. Like a dying spider, the radical youth folded his finger's back together, the screen drooping into lifelessness between them. He opened his mouth to say something when the hatch he'd walked through cycled open and a steward came out.

With the appearance of official authority, he hunched his shoulders and staggered away towards the back of the car.

"And here I thought there were annoying when they hijacked the news feed's with their bullshit," Theo grumbled.

"We've been seeing more and more of them. It's becoming a problem." Cresslyn said "It makes our jobs harder when we're called in to help. It breeds mistrust." She said settling back into her seat.

"Mistrust is like mushrooms I say," Theo said. "It breeds in shit, and does well in the dark. You keep bringing the light, eventually, folks'll learn. Now, if you don't mind, I'm gonna get some shut-eye."