Monday, January 23, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter IV: Unrequited Trust, part 2

Lyta spurred her beast forward, launching it into a sprint to keep her face and tears out of Ti's sight, willing herself to stop crying.

Ti followed suit and charged past her armadillo. He brought his own mount to block her path, turning in his saddle so they were face to face. Ti wished he could reach out, wished he could cradle her crying figure, but more than physical distance separated them. He knew that touching her would make this harder for him.

"Lyta, I know how hard this is hard for you. I understand, I really do, but I have to consider more than just your... our feelings here." Lyta forced herself to meet his gaze. She could see he was visibly anguished, though he displayed no tears. She watched him struggle, waiting for him to speak. All he needed to do was answer her, tell her that he understood what she meant and that he felt the same way. A few simple words. She felt as tight as a bow-string against a violin.

A shadow passed over Ti's face, and Lyta realized his words would bring no comfort.

"Lyta, what I keep secret is to protect my kin and my duty. I think Lukas keeps secrets because he just needs to hold onto something, and secrets are all he thinks you have left. Torgath retreats into his books, making every tough situation into a story, a fiction that he can deal with because he knows the outcome. And you, you're just so angry. Angrier than Lukas and even more isolated than Torgath. You let your world contract to your two brothers. Everything else is a threat, including your own heart and including me.

"Now you're willing to let me in and it frightens you. It terrifies you. You'd do anything to save your brothers, maybe almost anything for me too." Again Ti paused, but the struggle was gone, the only thing left was regret.

"It means you'll place your loss above everything else. It means that if you ever have to choose between me and my beliefs, and one of those has to die, you'll make the wrong choice. That's why I can’t trust you." He turned his mount before she could speak, before she could react, but mostly before he lost his nerve, and set his armadillo back to the trail.

Lyta watched him ride off, dumbfounded. This wasn't the way the conversation was supposed to go. She'd told him how much he meant to her, how much she'd allowed him to mean to her, even as she struggled against it, and he'd thrown it back in her face.

Ti was a decent rider, but Lyta had practically lived in a saddle for four cycles, and she closed the distance in seconds. "Fuck you, Ti!" she shouted at him. "What the fuck do you want from me?!"

"Nothing I could say right now would make this easy, and what you want to hear isn't going to help either of us. Maybe after this trip we can talk about this again?"

Lyta glared at him, the tears replaced with daggers. "Oh, no, you don't! You are not getting off that easy!"

She kept pace beside him, her hands tight around the reins. "You said all your kin love you and care about you. You said you felt the same way about them. Are you this much of a bastard to them, too, Ti? Do you play these mind games with them, too?"

He bowed his head as he considered her questions and had to admit that he probably had been. To each and every one of them, he had been a bastard at some time. His mind darted to one particular conversation with Nadya that had gone a lot smoother than this one, but Lyta had a different temperament. "Probably, but I never meant for them to be mind games, just as I don't mean to be," he paused searching for the right word and realizing it was right in front of him, "a bastard now. But I am doing what I think is best for both of us."

"What you think," Lyta echoed bitterly. "Look, Ti, I get that this is your show. You're the guy in charge and you can decide whether to let us in or not. We worked on our own before and we can go back to it. But you want us to trust you. You want us to care about you. And the second one of us does, you shut me down! If you didn't want me to care, you should have just said so!"

A thought crossed Lyta's mind, welling up from the bitterness and paranoia she'd cultivated for so long. "Do you even want us working with you at all?"

Ti couldn't afford self-pity anymore. She made a valid point. Did he want to work with them? "Here's how it breaks down. I trust my kin and work with kith and I use assets. Right now, I have a problem because you guys are assets and I don't care about assets and I care about you. And don't pretend you don't know I do. You're just too damn wrapped up in your own emotions and your own pain to acknowledge that this is hard for me. Harder for me than it is for you because I have obligations! I know adding one more person to your universe is hard for you, Lyta Lassander, but letting three people into my network that I don't trust exposes the lives of dozens and imperils something more important that your crush or my childhood fancies!" Titan had been compassionate, he had been sympathetic, and he had been sad around Lyta, but she had never seen him angry, and now he was most certainly that.

"You're right, Lyta, I'm in charge. You asked to join me, and we are going to play by my rules. Rule number one is we care about each other but we don't let that get in the way of the mission. I can't let you get in the way of the mission. You want me to say I'm falling in love with you? Do you think that'll make this easier? All my kin are equally important to me. I don't choose favorites because I can't afford to. What we do is dangerous. Think about Todd in that basement. Now think about how you'd feel if you'd sent him there. And now, if you can manage another emotional leap, imagine how you'd feel if you had to choose to leave him there for a greater cause. You can't, Lyta. You let Lukas make all the hard decisions just like you expect me to now. Well, I'm making it. You want my love, well you have it, for all the good it does us. Now if you want something really precious, try and earn my trust!"

He spun his mount and rode forward, leaving Lyta gaping behind him. When she'd laid her life bare for Ti, the pain and the loss and the vulnerability, she'd thought about a half-dozen ways the conversation could end. None of them ended like this. Her mind reeled. He'd said he loved her, and it felt like a hollow victory she wished she could take back.

She refused to let herself cry. Not again, not for him. She glared at his retreating back. The sun was still only a hand's breadth over the mountains, and their shift lasted until it hit the zenith. There were hours left to go, and Lyta suspected they'd all be spent in uncomfortable and unhappy silence.

She clutched the reins and dug in her heels. "Fuck you, Titan Corovan," she whispered to herself. "This is not over."

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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