Friday, January 6, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter IV: Exposed

32 Spring, 1925

“Take off your pants.”


O’Kang, Ti Corovan’s medic, stared at her like she was an infant having a temper tantrum. She couldn’t deny that he was skilled – the fact that Todd was still alive at all, after everything they’d been through, was a testament to that. Her brother was still sedated and his bandages already had spots of red, but he was alive, and that was the important thing. Of course, that meant that she now had O’Kang’s full attention.

“You took a bullet to the leg. I can’t work through a layer of fabric, so take off your damn pants.”

Lyta stared from the medic to his boss, standing at the window and watching the scene. She wished desperately that Lukas were there, but he had insisted that he was safer on the warehouse roof than he would have been trying to get into the car, and they’d left him behind. It still left a bitter taste in her mouth.

The silence stretched for nearly five seconds before Lyta reached down and pulled out her drevis knife. It was a wicked-looking blade and it gleamed dully in the apartment’s poor lighting. From the corner of the room, she could see Ti’s eyes narrow, and no doubt his hand would be on his gun the second he thought she was going to do anything stupid, trust her or no.

She sighed, and with one smooth motion slit the left side of her pants from waistband to ankle. The fabric fell away as easily as if it were tissue paper. And then, because wearing half a pair of pants was almost worse than wearing no pants at all, she slit the right side as well and threw the ruined garment off the bed. She glared at Ti, daring him to say something. He remained silent.

O’Kang helped her roll onto her side and did a cursory inspection of the wound. She could hear him muttering medicalese under his breath, but the few words she caught didn’t mean much to her. After a few minutes, he stood.

“There’s no exit wound, which means the bullet is still in there. Which means this is gonna hurt like hell. You want me to sedate you?”

She looked from Ti to the medic. She trusted them, sure, but Todd was out cold and Lukas was away. Someone needed to keep him apprised of what was going on. And moreover, trust only went so far. She shook her head. “No.”

O’Kang contemplated for a moment. “Okay. I’ll need Ti to hold your leg.”

Ti carefully said nothing and kept his face as neutral as it would go. Lyta stared at him, and finally raised her hands in resignation. “Fine. Whatever. Do what you have to.”

O’Kang nodded to his boss, who was across the room in three strides. He hesitated a moment, then put one hand on her knee and another on the bare flesh just below her hip, pinning her leg effectively in place. “You okay?” he asked, his voice a mix of professionalism and concern.

“Yeah, fine,” said Lyta through clenched teeth. “Just get on with it.”

“Hold onto something,” said the medic. “Preferably something firm that’ll hold your weight. I don’t want you punching me out in the middle of this.” He paused. “Not to put too fine a point on it, but you’ve got a bit of a reputation.”

Lyta’s eyes scanned the bed and the wall in front of her. There was a side-rail, and she gripped it. “Yeah,” she muttered. “I can imagine.”

She was acutely aware of Ti kneeling beside her as O’Kang readied his equipment. She stared at the wall and closed her eyes. She heard the clink of metal and felt the brush of air as the medic knelt down beside Ti, his tools millimetres from the open wound.

“Okay,” he said, “on three. One… two…”


Her watch said that it was only fifteen minutes before her wound was cleaned and bandaged, and the offending bullet nestled in a plastic baggie at the bottom of O’Kang’s medkit for later disposal. It felt like longer. She rolled onto her back and stared up at the ceiling. Ti retreated to the window.

“Can I walk on it?” she asked.

O’Kang nodded. “Yeah. Just don’t do anything stupid.”

Lyta sighed. “We don’t have a lot of not-stupid kicking around right now,” she said.

“So I heard. Speaking of which, what else you got?”

Lyta pulled herself up to a sitting position and grimaced. Her leg throbbed, but the local anaesthetic was doing its job and she felt she could probably put weight on it. “Cuts, bruises. A couple of grazes. Two broken ribs. I think I twisted my ankle somewhere back in the Hermes building—”

O’Kang stopped her. “What was that about broken ribs?”

Lyta shrugged. “Sometime in the Hermes building. Don’t remember exactly when. It might have been when I was sparring with one of the fembots. Lukas fixed it up.”

The medic shook his head. “From what Ti tells me, you were exerting yourself pretty hard back there with those Mordreds: sprinting, jumping fences, dodging bullets. The ribs might have shifted, and if they did, they won’t set properly, and that’ll give you worlds of trouble down the road. Take off your shirt.”

“What?” Lyta made no effort to move.

“For fuck’s sake!” said O’Kang, his patience finally at an end. “Would you stop being a child for five minutes? What the fuck do you think is gonna happen?”

Lyta struggled to control her emotions. O’Kang was right and she knew it, but it didn’t make matters any easier. “Fuck,” she muttered, and pulled her shirt over her head, naked except for bra, panties, and bandages.

She caught Ti staring. “Looking at something, Corovan?”

Ti coughed and turned to look out the window. O’Kang was already prodding at her ribs and she grimaced. After another five minutes and a few sharp movements that he assured her were absolutely medically necessary but hurt like hell, he stood up. “That should keep. Try not to get yourself into any more gunfights. Him either.” He cocked his head at the still-sleeping Todd.

“Yeah, I’ll try,” said Lyta in a voice that suggested she doubted she would follow that particular piece of advice.

“All right,” said Ti to his man, turning back into the room, “thanks for your help. You’ve got a job to do; get to it.”

“Yes, sir,” said O’Kang, gathering up his equipment. A moment later, he was gone.

All of the apartment’s limited blankets had been used to keep Todd warm. He’d lost a lot of blood, a worrying amount of blood. She watched him breathing. For all her talk of following him into the afterlife to kill him a second time if he died on her, she’d felt her heart sink when he was shot by the Mordred and nearly collapsed next to her. If they’d killed him, she would have turned back and started shooting until they died or she did in the attempt. She was glad it hadn’t come to that.

“He’ll be up soon,” said Ti, his voice softer now that his subordinate had gone. “He’ll be okay.”

“Yeah,” said Lyta, not taking her eyes off her brother.

He sat down on the edge of the bed. “Are you okay?”

Lyta pulled her eyes away from Todd. “Yeah,” she said, not entirely convincingly, “Fine. Pass me my shirt.”

Ti handed it to her and watched as she struggled into it. She felt better with clothes on, even if her legs were still bare. Ti had been nothing but professional, but still.

“You sure you’re okay, Lyta?”

“Yes,” she snapped. “Would you please stop asking me that.”

Corovan sighed. “The best I can figure it, you tipped off SecBuro at the checkpoint. Lukas’ mask isn’t exactly discreet.”

“I know,” Lyta muttered. One day, she was going to force Lukas to get reconstructive surgery. One day when they had money. And a permanent home. And long enough in one city to stay through the recuperation time. She closed her eyes. “Let me guess: it wasn’t supposed to go down like that.”

“Of course it wasn’t supposed to go down like that!” said Ti, standing and beginning to pace. “Do you think I like putting my friends and my team in harm’s way?”

Lyta opened her eyes. “After the last few days, I’m beginning to have my doubts.”

Ti pursed his lips. She thought maybe he was counting to five. “You know better than that, Lyta.”

“Do I? All I know is that since we started working with you, we’ve all been shot up pretty seriously, and it’s only luck that the bullet in Todd’s gut didn’t hit 15 cm higher and straight into his heart.”

“As I recall,” said Ti slowly, carefully, “you were all getting pretty severely shot at before we even met up. My team had to rescue you all from the detail squads that were after you. Or are you choosing to conveniently ignore that?”

Lyta closed her eyes and leaned back against the wall. “This is the part where I’m supposed to thank you again for the rescue and for bringing in your medic to patch us up, isn’t it?”

The bed shifted as Ti sat down again. “If you want.”

Lyta shrugged, eyes still closed. The silence stretched. “You ever miss the gym?” Lyta asked at last. “Just… training? When our biggest worry was where we stood in the rankings?”

Ti sighed. “That life is gone,” he said softly. “Nostalgia won’t bring it back.”

Lyta finally opened her eyes. “I guess not,” she said.

She might have said more, but Todd started to stir. Ti stood up and walked to the window, staring out at the skyline of Port Arthur. Lyta pulled herself to her feet, tested her weight on her bandaged leg, and limped over to the closet. “All right,” she muttered, mostly to herself, “where are my damn pants?”

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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