Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Of gratitudes and debts.

Sirens rang out in the distance. Everywhere you looked were signs of the aftermath of the unrest of the last few days.

The storm shield had been closed for only 72 hours, benighting the curfewed city but the sense of relief once it had been retracted was at potent as Helios’ rays.

Perched on a hoper pad jutting from the spire, Madame Victorya Hiro was making her fairwells to President Simosa and Milani DuBeau-Slovenski. Delacroix, Tarmalin, Kessler and Chambers closed in around her in square formation. All four wore their refurbished dusters, still shiny under new coats of oil. Underneath they wore their finest functional garments and beneath those their body armour. This was their last act as personal guard for the visiting representative of the Free Emirates.

Once Hiro’s formalities were concluded she walked the crimson carpet towards her vehicle, the foursome boxing her in tightly and professionally. Half-way, they were met by their relief guard. The Sajhalin personal security detail stood at attention as Delacroix executed a formality with his counterpart and the Badlanders discharged their final duty.

Madame Hiro thanked the gunslinger for his unwavering aim, the liaison for her finesse and the soldier for his implacable resolve. Finally she turned to Chambers. There was a moment of discomfort. Their relationship had not been a clear one, nor an easy one. He was too insubordinate to be her security consultant, too mercantile to be a supporter and too arrogant to be tolerated as an equal.

"In spite of all our differences I consider myself most fortunate to have had you by my side Doctor, or at least on my side." She said, choosing her words carefully.

"I said I would protect you and this deal and I am a man of my word." Chambers offered with a slight bow.

The exchange was artificial and uncomfortable. She had trembled in his arms after multiple attempts on her life but he had also been more insolent and disrespectful towards her than any other person in her life.

"Um Doc, don’t you lie all the time?" Tarmalin asked into the strained silence. Delacroix nodded slightly "He has a point Doctor. I`m not judging, just pointing out your assertion is demonstrably false." Kessler bit her lip in an attempt to suppress her smile, she was glad the gunslinger could say what she could only think and that Delacroix, true to form, called it like he saw it.

The jibe lightened the mood but left Chambers speechless and unable to regain his poise. Something else which Kessler rather enjoyed. Hiro, ever the gentlewoman came to his aid.

"Doctor, you may not have always been an honest man, but I do believe you are generally concerned with being an honorable one. May you walk in the steps of the Prophet."

"Thank you Lady Hiro, and may you tread lightly and stay safe." Chambers said. She threw one last smile of gratitude over the party before retreating within the close formation of her new security detail whisking her away.

There was a collective sigh of relief.

"Can we drink now?" Sam asked again. "Yes" Kain said before Maia could interject that etiquette required waiting until at least… "What the hell" she offered with a shrug.

"I`ll meet you there in a few minutes" Tom said as he broke for the Paxton executive delegation a few meters away. "Milani, may I have a moment."

"I have an appointment Tom." His name stuck in her throat, she despised it when he was so casual, which he did for just that reason. "It won`t take long, I`ll walk with you."

"Very well, is it payback time?" She asked as they entered the tower and then a lift.

"No, no, just accounting." He offered with a slight shake of his head and a sheepish smile. "Some minor things and people which need attending to in the wake of the last few weeks." He gave her a data pad which she accepted reluctantly, a look of suspicion on her face.

"We had help in our successes. I want them recognized. Fenton should get a promotion, Balacan should get her emigration papers…"

"Who`s she?" DuBeau-Slovenski interjected.

"Someone who helped us, you don`t need to know how and she isn`t valuable to us or you in anyway or I wouldn`t be giving up her name so don`t bother giving the third degree OK? Just get the girl her papers. There`s going to be a substantial insurance claim on a hoper on the second terrace, help the guy out. Kessler is going to be making carreer choices. I want her to get whatever she askes for. Right?"

There was a pause as DuBeau-Slovenski lifted her eyes from the list and acknowledged Chambers.

"Finally, and this is just a request, if you seize anything from the BRF or Forzi which could replace our Guild offices I would appreciate a deal on the real state."

The executive stepped out of the lift and stopped when she notice the Doctor was not following. He held his hand on the door so it wouldn`t close.

"That`s it?" she said incredulously.

"That`s just the expenses report. Our fee is another matter and one better addressed in a more formal setting."

She looked annoyed. "Why don’t you spit it out now Doctor?"

He smiled broadly, his fine features giving him a devilish air. "Because I want to relish having you in my debt Milani." He said as the lift doors closed.


Hermes 72 - Heavy Gear RPG - Most artwork Copyright 2002 Dream Pod 9, Inc.