Introduction – Gregor de Cago
We are introduced to Gregor’s car before we meet him. Tearing across the wastes with a convoy, fleeing a party of Soudaska raiders, Fourthhorse, driven by an anonymous Wheelman and defended by Clark de Sprigfeld, fights to protect the Eighteener at the convoy’s center. A car covered in pike-wielding raiders comes rushing up besides Fourthhorse, the fight becomes one between individuals as Clark crawls across his car to fend them off in single combat, all the while shouting updates to the Wheelman, who responds with shouts of encouragement. The numbers are overwhelming, and Clark is nearly thrown from the vehicle. Undefended, the Wheelman is speared; screaming words of righteous fury, he sets Odessa to autopilot and leaps onto the enemy vehicle and detonates the grenades on his belt. Clark roars in dismay, but is forced to watch from his point of disadvantage. The raiders are driven off, and we see Fourthhorse fall in line at the rear of the convoy. We cut to the next morning, with Sconsin’s priest reading off the achievements of Fourthhorse’s late Wheelman. He then begins listing the lineage of the next Wheelman, Gregor. Gregor himself has not accrued any glory, but we get a picture of his ancestors – his grandfather was a renowned Eighteener, his father was a notable Wheelman, and his grandmother had served as a mechanic-priest for decades. Gregor’s career thus far, as the priest explains, has consisted of riding along in hunting parties, gaining necessary skills as a mechanic and driver. This should help explain that Gregor has been chosen not because he is a “chosen one” character, but rather because this is how the tribe works. With the ceremony concluded, Gregor walks over to Clark, and they share a tense moment as they both come to the understanding that Gregor must put his life in the hands of a man who has already failed to defend his Wheelman. Clark recites the Lancer’s creed as he stands before Gregor’s uncertain gaze, a speech promising that his life is second to not only the holy vehicle, but to Gregor’s as well. Despite Gregor’s apprehension, they clasp each other’s forearm in a sign of solidarity, and the scene ends.
Fourthhorse and its crew are part of an escort group defending a trade caravan. Just before the caravan is able to reach the Sconsin border, they are attacked by a Soudaska raiding party. The raiders are fewer in number, but are much faster than the traders’ trucks. Fourthhorse and the others form up tightly around the trucks at the core of the convoy, with the Lancers facing outward. The raiders, in spite of their inferior numbers, hope to punch a hole towards the rear and crash one of the trucks. Lancers exchange blows with Soudaska warriors as the raiders swing up beside the caravan. After a series of fights, Fourthhorse is pulled from the pack and swarmed over by Soudaska. The Lancer, Clark, does his best to fight them off, but ultimately he is driven far enough out of position for the raiders to kill his Wheelman. Backup arrives too late as another Lancer helps drive the raiders back onto their vehicles. Clark recites the Rites of Autonomy (instructs the onboard AI to turn on autopilot).
Once the Soudaska are driven off, the convoy is able to return to Sconsin, where Fourthhorse must be given a new Wheelman. Gregor de Cago is chosen – he is not particularly special or of important lineage, but the priest deems him a suitable candidate. Act 1: Sometime after Gregor was assigned to Fourthhorse, the Queen of Sconsin decides to send an emissary to Montadan with a request for military support against the threat up enemies moving up from the South. Fourthhorse is designated as an escort to the convoy, which will be travelling through Soudaska territory in order to avoid entering the heavily guarded lands of Ontus.
By this time, Gregor and Clark are familiar, even friendly, but the stigma surrounding the death of Clark’s last Wheelman hangs over their relationship.
The convoy sets out at midday, knowing that this will place them at the border of the wastes as the sun sets, offering the cover of darkness to mask them from the searching eyes of the Soudaska.
Fourthhorse loses its Wheelman in a Soudaska attack, Gregor is assigned as the new driver.
1. Gregor’s convoy sets off from Sconsin, entering into the Northern patch of the wastes
2. The convoy are stopped a party of Soudaska Tribals. The tribals drive up close for a bit of probing, but conflict is narrowly avoided
3. The convoy enters the deep canyons of the Soudaska Territory
4. A rockslide damages the emissary’s rig, leaving it stranded until it can be repaired. The emissary is moved to another vehicle and the convoy continues without Gregor, the mechanic, and a few others, who are left to repair the rig.
5. On the second night of being stranded, Gregor must fight off a band of Soudaska Raiders. Many are killed and the rig is towed away when Gregor is driven away.
6. Recognizing his failure and the loss of a holy vehicle, Gregor, Clark, and the mechanic resolve to track down the Soudaska Chief and steal back the rig
7. Gregor ambushes a lone Soudaska and steals their vehicle and clothes, and transfers Odessa so that she can trace the rest of the tribe.
8. The ploy works initially, but conflict breaks out under close inspection. A hopeless fight breaks out as the Soudaska rally to deal with the intruders. Clark sacrifices himself in hopes of atonement, allowing Gregor to reach the rig. Odessa takes over as escort as Gregor takes the rig on a mad dash out of the camp.
9. Gregor communes with the spirit (AI) of the rig and sets it to return to Sconsin. He jumps to the Soudaska chief’s rig in a last ditch sacrificial effort, allowing the rig to escape
10. Odessa returns with the rig, and relates the tale of Gregor de Cago’s feats.