Thursday, January 26, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter IV: After the Storm

The climate control of the longrunner was a welcome change, a relief from the oppressive heat of the late-spring sun and the even more oppressive presence of Ti Corovan. Lukas glanced up from his siesta as Lyta entered their shared cabin and flung her cloak down on her bed. Something in her expression alerted him, and he woke up fully and maneuvered to sit cross-legged. "What's wrong?"

"I don't want to talk about it," Lyta muttered as she sat down across from him.

Lukas waited. He'd seen Lyta in moods like this before and knew it was only a matter of time before the emotional dams burst and it all came out in a torrent of words.
Lyta ignored her brother as long as she could, but she couldn't ignore him forever. Finally, she threw her hands up in frustration. "He is such an asshole!"

There was only one person she could be talking about, and Lukas kept the smile carefully off his face. "What happened?"

As he expected, once she started, it was hard for Lyta to stop before she'd relayed the entire conversation with Ti, her frustration and anger and disappointment. An outsider might have been amazed at the emotion behind Lyta's normally-icy facade, but Lukas had known Lyta longer than any of them and was not in the least surprised by this latest outburst.

Finally, she quieted and leaned her head against the wall of their cabin. "Maybe this was all a mistake," she said at last. "Maybe we're better off just working on our own."

"Aren't you a little tired of being on our own?" Lukas leaned forward. "Not that we're not doing ok. We have quite a bit of money put away now, and, if everything goes to plan, we'll never have to worry about it again. But we have needed help along the way. Ennik and that ridiculous computer guy, Ti and his crew."

Lyta shook her head. "It's not just help this time! We want to work with him as a partnership, and he wants-- I don't even know what he wants anymore!" Her face reddened, thinking about the frustrating conversation from earlier in the day. "I thought I was giving him what he wanted, what he said he needed for us to work together, and he didn't even care!"

Lukas gazed at her levelly, letting the outburst subside. "You know that's not true. He admitted himself that he cared. Maybe even more than you did."

The last sentence was said gently, but Lukas knew the reaction it was bound to evoke. Lyta glared at her brother, blinking fiercely. "You don't understand, Lukas!" she said at last. "He said it, but then he just shut me out! He said that no matter what his feelings are, he can't act on them or even acknowledge them!"

Lukas leaned forward, his voice soft. "And you're saying don't know anything about shutting people out because it's too dangerous?"

That was the crux of it, of course. Lyta blinked back tears, in vain, and wiped her eyes with the palms of her hands.

"The Koreshi. Our friends in Baja. Our parents," he added, softly. Lyta closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall, defeated. "I know you miss them, and I know you're afraid of losing someone else."

Lyta was quiet for a long time. Lukas watched her with a tenderness few outsiders had ever seen, and pulled her close so that she cried into his right shoulder. "I don't want to do this anymore," Lyta said at last, her voice muffled.

Lukas stroked her hair, gently. "We can stay or go. But I think you do want this, and I want you to have something you want. You've had so little of your own since... well, since. You know it may not work out, but that doesn't matter. Trying matters. Doing something different, something you're afraid of, matters." He leaned back, both hands on her shoulders, and looked into eyes the color of his own. "That's how you go forward."


Lyta paused with her hand on the door to Ti's cabin. It was night, well past the time that she'd normally be in bed, but she had a sneaking suspicion that Ti wasn't sleeping either. Her talk with Lukas had calmed her down enough to think about the situation, really think about it, and she wasn't happy with the directions her thoughts were taking.

She didn't have to talk with Ti, said one part of her mind. She could ignore the whole conversation and pretend it had never happened, or let herself stew in her own anger, but neither of those would help, not if they were going to work together without getting each other killed. "A Lassander goes forward," she thought, repeating her family's motto like a mantra.

She took a deep breath and knocked.

"Yes?" came the voice from within the chamber. It didn't sound groggy.

Lyta pressed open the door and stood in the frame. Ti was reading, the soft light from a wall-mounted fixture illuminating the page and the man reading it.

"Lyta," he said, and seemed less surprised than Lyta had expected him to be.

"I just came to say… I'm sorry," said Lyta before she lost her nerve. "I didn't mean to lash out at you. You were right: I didn't... I wasn't thinking about..."

She realized she was stammering, closed her eyes, centered herself, and started again. "Look, we're used to working for people who don't tell us why we're doing what we're doing. It's part of the job, a lot of times. So if you just want to give us an objective and point us in the right direction, and you promise it's for the good of the world or uniting the Badlands or whatever... that's fine. And maybe one day you'll trust us enough to tell us more, and maybe you won't. And that's okay. Just..."

She trailed off, paused, and continued. When she spoke again, the words came out in a jumbled rush, as though she had to say them all before her normal self woke up and put an end to it. "And I get what you said about caring but not letting me in because it's too dangerous and there are other people who'd be in danger if you let yourself play favorites, especially with someone like me who you don't even know anymore after we've been away for so long. I really do get it. I do. So..." She was blabbering, but at least she'd gotten it all out.

She shook her head. "That's it. That's all I came to say. G'night, Ti."

"Lyta," Ti called out softly as she was closing the door. She hesitated, then opened it slightly, craning her neck through.

He put down his book. "I'd like to share something with you. You're not the only one afraid of loss." As he paused, he swung his legs out of his bunk and got up with a slight wince. He was just wearing shorts, and Lyta saw how much his frame had changed since she'd known him as a boy. As he walked up to the hatch, she saw scars crisscrossing his entire body. "I'm afraid I'm going to fail you and that we'll never trust each other. But I'm not going to give up. Because I'd rather fail and suffer our disappointment than live with your indifference." He stood close to her, his proximity forcing her to take a step back. "I guess what I'm saying is that I'm more afraid of not trying than not succeeding."

He smiled gently, and having cleared her of the doorframe, he wished her a final "Goodnight, Lyta" before closing the hatch.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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