Take the next Steppe (from the Journals of 1lt R.S. Helmsford)
Good to be out again! I don’t wish those endless rounds of questions and appearances on anyone. The wonders of IDET Earth amaze of course, how could they not? I can see trouble on horizon if I stay to long with such immodesty and hedonism about. Better to be out exploring the system than to become a side show carnival Lothario.
I have re-equipped myself to some degree with items of this Earth. Certainly I must remark on this excellent handgun the “Desert Eagle” firing the self-contained cartridge the “.50 Action Express”. The express coming to mean I understand as a stiff load of powder with considerable recoil. I have cast aside the nine millimeter for any carry except for social occasions after the dismal performance against the Velociraptors of the IDET Earth Alt Portal 11. For now I will continue to carry this XM8 as a rifle, there is strong logistical reasons for the Team to carry similar primary weapons, Miss Wickford’s unusual if utilitarian choice notwithstanding. Indeed I myself will still bring along my shotgun just adding to the pot now and again. Wild game invigorates the soul in both harvesting and consumption, I think personally.
I have done something to remedy a deficiency on my part, indeed it was a delightful as expected. Father would be disapproving at first to find I was driving myself, this would appear unseemly. Can’t very well hire a driver though, the peculiar rules of the Portals prevents it. Time spent with the trainers at Alice Springs and I can operate a fair few types of automobiles and larger cargo Lorries. A necessity for operations with our Allies and should I be able to procure some for my own home world, my Father’s lands, County Greystone, and Her Majesty’s Empire.
Enough with such trivialities! Where did we go! What did we see! Well Dear Friend let me tell you. The Mission was arranged by IDET to which it was suggested by Captain Carstairs I accompany. Both Captain Carstairs and Ms. Wickford will be engaged in procuring lodging and facilities for Her Majesty’s Trans Aetheral Exploration Squad. I have given some input as asked, however I would rather face the Mahdi Army with a sword than such drudgery as that.
IDET Team Two and myself attended a briefing as much as possible when so little is known. Then a presentation for the Journalists in attendance, and toast with General Borodin’s latest decant. Freedom! Blissful removing of oneself from the fettering tentacles commands and staffs, and onto the Fringepaths to see what is to be seen. I admit to a certain reluctance at stopping at just the next platform. What is further and even more wondrous ten or fifty platforms further?
Arriving ahead of us on the negative one alternate platform was Senor Antonio Sara’juevo. Senior Sara’juevo began assessing which portals were open and which portals were locked to us by the simple and most clever expedient of tossing a penny. Such cleverness and simplicity! If the penny passed through the Portal is open. Senor Sara’juevo was able to determine that the portal in the 2 o’clock position was open and marked accordingly with orange paint. The other 7 portals are closed to us at this time. This is not the only check we completed upon the -1 Alternate Platform before investigating the 2 o’clock portal. Mr. Egorov had opportunity to demonstrate his skill in acrobatic feats. A rope was tied about his waist and Mr. Egorov was able to turn himself come down upon the bottom of the platform which though four feet distant has a the same gravity though 180 degrees opposite. That up is our down and vice versa. Not one to let the others assume all the risk I volunteered to go through the Portal first and report back any hazards such as I might find.
I prepared for hostilities with sword and pistol and such necessities for a short stay of two to three days, then donned might equipment, goggles, and gloves. A short length of stout rope encircled my waist to be immediately tossed back through the Portal as I cleared it. This would take advantage of the pulling effect generated by the Portal should there be nothing to step onto and return me to the Platform should I be rendered dead or unconscious. Stepping through the Portal is terrifying and exciting what is to greet you on the other side? In this case, I could only chuckle after a sigh of relief. No precipice, not a hostile savage, or dinosaur to threaten ones existence. Grassland, a Steppe actually and presumably an analog to the Czar’s domain in the East, home to horsemen there and here by the evidence, but of what derivation will we find? Cool enough for a jacket and I shall have to remember to bring a thermometer next time though the middle fifties are not unpleasant really. My surprise is total in that there is no Ring! Indeed I have stepped through a shimmer rainbow effect, not a happenstance I was prepared for in any case! Members of IDET Team Two have decided to call this a “Warp” based upon terminology from some sources of popular fiction, I rejoice that it is a simple, short term personally. I returned without suffering in the slightest and the Team has decided to press through venturing onto this Steppe with Senor Sara’Juevos steam trike and the Moskovi girded for confrontation with three modern machineguns this time. To aid in locating the Portal for our return a radio beacon was emplaced that charges itself daily with the rays of the sun itself (genius!).
In no time at all we came upon a small collection of Yurts. The cloth and hide circular dwellings of the Mongolian people’s further confirming my guess as to our location within the vast steppes of central Asia, how far east I cannot yet reckon but soon we shall use astrolabe and compass upon the sun and the position of the stars at night to more accurately fix our location. We waited a discrete distance for the approach of curious residents of these yurts so as to appear less threatening. Indeed I even boiled us a spot of tea, better to greet with a cup than sword I say. We were observed with a hand telescope prior to the approach of riders so technology may be further advanced than what was a first guessed. After some exchanged it was determined we were friendly enough and invited back to the village, with a curious use of red and yellow handkerchiefs much like semaphore flags. Shrawnai, the son of the Village Headman Kedai escorted us in and introductions were made. Our equipment and especially the Moskovi makes them most curious to we can determine the horseless carriage has not yet been introduced to the Horse Nomads as yet. Curiosity and not yet covetousness yet, but that can change. I long to ride one of their ponies upon the Steppe; soon will come perhaps time for such an experience.
A night was spent with the Nomads of Kedai’s extended family and we presented gifts from the pack to secure in their minds our good intent. The next morning all was packed up for the journey to the nearest settlement called Jara. Shrawnai confessed the people of Jara know we are coming as one of his brothers has rode ahead to warn them. I shall do my best to surreptitiously emplace a radio beacon such as one near the warp should another Team be dispatched to locate us. There we were for all the world to see, a most outlandish caravan comprised of Mongolian horsemen, the steam trike driven by Senor Sara’juevo, myself driving the Moskovi, and fifty head of sheep for the market in Jara. Our observations of the citizenry of Jara astounds us as the town guard appears to have been armed with black powder arms possibly muskets versus the more primitive arquebus. I am again forced to revise my estimate as to the sophistication of their technology. We await a delegation from the village of Jara.