Monday, April 2, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter V : Loosening up

It was Lyta's turn to watch Bradwick. Todd had gone off to find an overwatch position with a good view of the approaches, while Lukas was looking over the new Gears they'd acquired – stolen – from the train. Which left Lyta to guard the unconscious body she'd propped up next to the cliff face.

She'd cleaned the guns, she'd prepped a small fire and set dinner roasting on a spit above it, and now there was nothing to do but wait. She watched Bradwick for a moment, suspiciously, wondering if he was awake after all. Todd had assured her the current dose of sedatives would last at least another four hours before it wore off, but still. There was no reason to sloppy.

She walked over and twisted Bradwick's ear, hard. "How you doing, sunshine?" she asked, staring down at him. There was no answer. She pushed her finger into a pressure point at the base of his neck, watching for a tell-tale flinch or grimace. Nothing.

Satisfied, Lyta moved away and held her arms out loosely in front of her, moving her wrists in slow circles. Her right thigh still twinged from where the bullet had gone through, just below the hip, but Todd's painkillers ensured that it only ached at this point. She could function on it. She'd have to.

She watched Bradwick as she stretched. "I hope you know we don't want you here," she said conversationally. "We didn't want it to go like this at all. All we wanted was intel – the stuff you knew about what was going at WestCorp. We were all ready to let you go on your merry way to Mainz or wherever the hell you were planning on disappearing to in the North."

She swung her arms back and forth, crossing them across her chest and then looping them in large circles at her side. "You shouldn't have pulled that gun on Lukas," she said. "And you really, really shouldn't have pulled the knife on Todd." She grasped her elbow behind her head, holding it and feeling the stretch in her lats. "I believed you right up until then, believed that you just thought we were the kidnappers come back or something. Maybe Lukas didn't believe you – he's better at stuff like that than I am – but I believed you." She released her arms, shook them out, and then sighed. She shook her head, then slowed the movement and turned it into a neck stretch. "Right up until you pulled the knife on Todd. Then I knew you were a shithead."

She stared down at him a moment, shrugged, and began moving her hips in slow turns. "Then again, maybe we would have taken you anyway. Ti says that you killed Ishmad and that woman. What was her name?" She paused, thinking, as she reversed the direction of the stretch. "Kinter, I think. That Kinter woman from the meeting. So maybe Ti would have had us bring you in because of that. Right after we took out that detail squad."

Lyta exhaled and settled down onto the ground, careful on her bad leg. She tucked in her right leg and bent down over the left, cupping her foot in both hands. She spoke to Bradwick as she faced the floor. "I hate detail squads, you know that? They're getting pretty high on my list of least favorite people, right up there with GRELs and the CEF." She let go of her foot and looked up, her expression a mix of exasperation and annoyance. "I mean, they shot me! And Lukas, and Todd! Who does that?" She shook her head, reversed her legs, and bent down over the right. "And what in Prophet's name were they doing back there on the train anyway? I guess Ti's gonna have to find out who paid to have that car back there. Someone from the North, obviously, but who?"

The thought made her pause, and she straightened her legs in front of her, staring directly at Bradwick. "Maybe it was you, come to think of it. Ti says you don't really exist. There's no record of a Mr. Bradwick. So maybe you're a Northern mole or something. Maybe you're NGIS and just wanted to fuck up Ishmad or find out what he's doing or something." She shrugged and leaned down over both legs. "But if you are, then you did a piss-ass job of it. I mean, you didn't leave any paper trail. What kind of a sloppy cover agent doesn't have any paperwork for his cover identity?"

She shook her head and reached her hands upwards, murmuring slightly as she felt the pull in her shoulders. She arched her back and drew her arms down, then finally straightened again. "Doesn't matter," she said at last, facing her prisoner. "Ti's people will find out. I bet he's pretty good at interrogation. He was interrogated, you know. By the CEF. Tortured, too. I mean, you wouldn't know it if you saw him move. Or if you saw him with his clothes on..."

The implication of what she just said hit home, and she blushed furiously, grateful that neither Todd nor Lukas were around to tease her. She remembered seeing Ti's scars, the ones that crisscrossed his body, and wondered whether he was ashamed of them or whether he'd come to accept it.

She shook her head and stood up, dislodging the thought. She walked over to the wall next to Bradwick, placed both her hands on it, and stepped forward, feeling the pull in her calf. She looked down between her arms at the slumped body. "Anyway. The point is that he'll find out what you know. That's the point. When we get rid of you. If we're lucky, Ti will just kill you after he's done getting the intel out of you." She sighed and reversed her legs. "But he probably won't. He's soft-hearted like that. We made that mistake once too, with Smith. And look where it got us – Kolsons on our tails and more people shooting at us."

She lifted her foot and began turning her ankle slowly, using the wall as a support. "I wonder why they stopped, come to think of it. I mean, it's not like Smith would have changed his mind out of the blue like that. Maybe his higher-ups told him to stop. Or maybe he's dead." She grinned and changed feet. "That'd be nice, if he were dead. No more looking over our shoulders for Kolsons every time we walk into a new town. I hate those guys. Not as much as I hate the GRELs or the detail squads, but I hate them. Anyone who shoots at us is on my shit-list, and that list is getting scarily big right now."

She breathed out slowly and slipped her staff out of its holster, clicked the button to extend it, and began making lazy figure eights to either side of her. She watched it absent-mindedly. "I wonder if Ti's got tons of people shooting at him. I bet he doesn't. He's too nice for people to want to shoot at him. All the people who shoot at him do it when he's with us. When he's by himself, I bet he just smiles and charms his way out of it."

She stopped and snapped the staff forward, ending millimeters from Bradwick's left temple. "He's so fucking charming." She snapped the staff to the other side of Bradwick's head. The slumped-over figure didn't move. "I don't even know if it's an act anymore," said Lyta, punctuating each sentence with another near-miss to Bradwick's body. "I hope it's not. I hope really, deep down, there's more to him than just the mission. Yeah, saving the Badlands is great and all, but you have to want something for you, otherwise what's it for? Save it for everybody else, but you can't be happy also? That's just messed up."

She straightened, pulled back, and began twirling the staff in an elaborate arc around her body. "And believe me, I know about messed up. Jonas helped me with some of it, even if I don't understand everything he said, but Ti doesn't have anyone to help him. I wish I could introduce him to Jonas." She considered this a moment, remembering that the two had met. The staff continued circling around her without slowing. "Well... re-introduce him. Bring him back so he could talk with Jonas again. I bet Jonas could help him. Jonas can help everyone. I miss him."

She stopped and used the staff to lever herself down to kneel next to Bradwick, and spoke close to his ear. "Do you miss anyone, Bradwick? Or are you just all about the mission too, whatever that is?" She watched him, a brief look of pity passing over her face. "You're not going to get back to it, I hope you know that. Even if Ti doesn't kill you, he's probably not gonna just let you go, either. He's gonna either make a deal with you or turn you over to people who don't like you very much. And you won't have a detail squad to protect you next time."

She stood up and collapsed the staff with a click. She held the collapsed cylinder lightly in her hands. "Only two days until we get rid of you. I'll be happy to see your back. I just want you to know that. I was hoping that we could all be friendly-like and just have a simple conversation where you told us what you knew and we sent you on your way, but..." She shrugged and replaced the staff in his sheath. She stared down at the unconscious figure, all pity gone, her eyes cold. "But you tried to kill my brothers. You deserve whatever's coming to you."

With that, Lyta turned and walked back to their campfire, settled down, waited for Lukas to return.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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