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Vehicle Intro: Shire HDLV

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

No hour of life is wasted that is spent in the saddle.

There were only two things that separated talented drivers from the merely mundane. In Guillome's mind, this was dead reckoning coupled with intuition. While Mars' night presented no physical danger to Guillome, safely ensconced within his vehicle, it was its danger to his livelihood that earned the selection of air-blistering curses that filled the cabin as he looked out towards the sinking shape of the setting sun.

He had long known the current job would mean travelling through the night, but that didn't mean he had to like it.

On Earth he might have spat in disgust, but on Mars colonists quickly learned that some gestures were not at all advisable in a suit.

The Shire HDLV shuddered as its heavy wheels rolled over a small rise, pitching the cabin around, the suspension mirroring the act and Guillome carefully corrected his course. The massive container hitched to his Shire rattled in sympathy, a mild warning that Guillome ignored in favour of focusing on smoothing out its path. Only then, did he glance back, twisting in his seat to look at the container. Its rectangular shape was already fast dissolving into a looming silhouette in the encroaching darkness. The sheer size of the container was one of the stranger things that Guillome had had to come to terms with on Mars.

Martian containers were rated for 30 tons just as they were on Earth, but were much larger than their equivalents because 30 tons of weight was actually 80 tons of mass. This meant heavy duty lading vehicles, like his Shire, were capable of hauling so much more than they would on Earth.

But, this was not without risk.

Guillome had seen well enough what happened when inertia and momentum acted upon 80 tons of mass to know that it was always worth being a little cautious when traversing the Martian surface.

Vehicle Intro: Shire HDLV

Another rattling jostle pitched his Shire around again as the external lights flickered into being. Guillome looked out from the cabin of the enormous rig to the Martian night. While the surface of Mars beyond his lights was dark and unknowable, the night sky was beset with beauty, brilliant stars shining against a world untouched. He turned his eyes back to the road and his vehicle's dashboard, cutting speed as he did so. On his lap, he balanced a map of the surface, his position roughly plotted.

Mars was a land without roads, a land of uneven terrain, craters and ravines. At night, these became traps that could easily see a man plunge his HDLV and trailer into disaster.

Guillome hummed to himself and used a pen to mark a cross on the map. His approximate position. Neither landmark nor signpost would help him traverse Mars. His suit chimed at him and showed an expense deducted from his account.

Land border.

He'd just crossed into another territory. He quickly pencilled in a correction on his map and checked his suit's compass, steering several degrees to the left.

The Shire rumbled, wheels churning, as if spooked, but it was with pride that Guillome saw the lights shining on the rightmost camera suddenly disappear into a dark void. The lip of a crater. Once past the crater, he corrected again, returning to the course he had set. The sight of the drop being replaced by firm Martian dirt earned a sigh of relief.

Shire HDLVs, like their equine namesakes, were gentle giants that responded well to instructions. The HDLV would see his cargo delivered intact and on time to the buyer still several hours away, but it fell to him to keep the Shire in good condition by navigating and picking the best routes.

Something that Guillome took great pride and pleasure in.

After all, a man had a duty to his horse.

And so Guillome rode on through the night,

With only his steed for company,

To answer the siren call,

Of opportunity.

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