Friday, February 17, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter V: Tension in the Trash Heaps

Lyta wished, desperately, for the face-cloth she wore when she traveled with the Koreshi. The heaping piles of garbage that gleamed so prettily from her hotel room window were distinctly less appealing up close. Ti Corovan walked beside her, either oblivious to the smell or much better at hiding his discomfort than she was.

Something shifted in a heap somewhere ahead of them, and a rotting barnaby carcass rolled down and landed on the path in front of them. Lyta exclaimed in disgust, jumped to the side, and nearly knocked Ti over.

"Okay, I admit it," said Ti after they'd both righted themselves and moved past the dead animal, "this is probably the worst place for a first date I could have taken you."

Lyta blinked. "Is that what this is? A date? What happened to ‘not letting ourselves act on our emotions'?"

She could see the wheels turning. Ti had mostly recovered from the toxin that Todd had so inconveniently stabbed him with – an action that Lyta was still not sure she understood and certainly had not yet forgiven. She was glad that the effects were temporary, but Ti was clearly still not his usual smooth self. "We're not," he said at last. "Because after this, you'll never want to go on a date with me again."

Lyta looked around at the garbage piled high on both sides of them. "I'm gonna chalk this up to you being drugged and not thinking straight," she said. She wasn't sure if she meant the choice of venue, or the idea that Ti might be taking her on a date at all.

Ti nodded enthusiastically, wobbled a bit from the rapid movement of his head, and put an arm on Lyta's shoulder to steady himself. "Precisely," he said. "I wasn't in my right mind."

They walked a few more steps in silence. "What about Nadya," Lyta asked.

Ti stopped and looked at his younger companion. "What about her?" He frowned.

She could see by his expression that it was precisely the wrong topic to have brought up, and she cursed herself for being an idiot. "Well... you've got a really hot girl on your team... who you spend a lot of time with." Lame, Lyta, she chastised herself. That was a line worthy of Todd. Now Ti thinks you're jealous, when you're not supposed to be acting on your feelings at all.

Ti stared at her for a long moment. "There's nothing between me and Nadya," he said finally.

Lyta nodded, trying to find some way to move past this particular impasse in the conversation. She felt the color rise to her cheeks. "Right," she said. "And since this isn't a date anyway, it doesn't matter." She felt her heart sink and wondered why in God's name she suddenly couldn't say anything right.

She stared up at the trash piles, desperately searching for something else to say. "Oh, sweet Prophet," she exclaimed as her eyes swept over something white and gleaming, "are those hands?"


The hands turned out to be some sort of poultry bones, and the rest of their escapade through Khayr ad-Din was spent deliberately avoiding any conversation about Ti's team, his training methods, their shared past, or any other potentially explosive topic. By the time Ti walked her back to her hotel room for siesta, Lyta had the distinct impression that if this had actually been a date, she had almost certainly flubbed it.

Her brothers still weren't back when she woke up, but she wasn't terribly worried. Stakeouts were long, boring affairs, and they both had means to contact her if they needed help. Ti, naturally, had not stuck around. No doubt he was off doing something important or catching up with old friends, and Lyta felt a pang of frustration and guilt over her conversation earlier that morning.

She pulled on her clothes and wandered to the casino. After a week in the solitude of the desert and a half-season in the harmony of Junira Loresh, the main gambling floor of the Lucky Shot Casino was noisy, garish, and disorienting. She walked slowly, no doubt looking like a country yokel, and didn't care. It wasn't like she knew anyone, and no one was going to pay attention to one more farm-girl newly arrived in the city.

She watched the tables for a while. She had no interest in gambling herself, and Lukas had left her with little enough spending money even if she'd wanted to, but people-watching was entertaining and distracting enough that she barely thought about Ti Corovan.

No one approached her. She was vaguely disappointed. She'd half-hoped that someone would give her an excuse to get into a fight so that she could get out her frustration. Though, she reflected, it was probably for the best. No doubt fighting in the casino would get her kicked out, and she didn't want to ruin her family's reputation so soon after arriving in town.

She drifted up to the observation decks, watching the pilots prep their Gears. Announcers were giving color commentary on the big trideos that hung from the ceiling, and Lyta let herself get drawn into the energy and the excitement. She watched the bookies taking bets, but with no idea who any of the pilots were, and only the vaguest sense of how the betting worked in any case, she stayed away from them.

She'd already watched two races and was partway through the third when someone cleared their throat next to her and she turned to see who it was.

"Ti!" she said happily, then clamped down on herself and tried to maintain her best not-acting-on-her-emotions, nonchalant voice. "Hey."

Ti grinned. "Enjoying yourself?"

Lyta nodded and gestured down to the racecourse. "It's exciting," she said.

Ti moved to stand next to her. "Who's competed so far?" he asked, looking down to the floors below.

Lyta shrugged. "No clue. They announced it, but I didn't catch the names. They're all really good."

Ti watched a moment as the two gears hurtled around the course under them, then turned to face her. "You hungry?"

Lyta paused, trying to figure out if there was any subtle reference that she should be catching, and finally decided he was just speaking straight. "Yeah," she said. "A little."

"Dinner?" Ti asked. He held out his arm.

Lyta took it. "Sounds good."

They walked away from the observation deck. "So... this still isn't a date, right?" Lyta hazarded as they walked.

Ti smiled, shook his head in amusement, and didn't answer as he led her to the casino's restaurant.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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