Friday, December 21, 2012

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VI: Rock Bottom

“Tell me straight – are you here to kill me?”

There weren’t any cushions in the harem, but there were leather floor coverings and wall hangings. Lyta didn’t want to think about what kind of animal had been used to make the leather. She shook her head. “No, I told you. I’m here to get you out. Go time is in an hour and a half.”

Katchelli’s face was a mix of hope and disbelief. The scars on her wrists were a silent testament to the number of times she’d tried to get out, the only way left to her, and been denied. She took a deep breath. “All right,” she said at last. “We’ll be ready.”

Lyta nodded and rose, but a hand grabbed the back of her coveralls and forced her down to the ground. “You’re supposed to be violated,” said Katchelli softly. Lyta realized a dozen pairs of eyes were on her, expectant and hungry, and they weren’t all women. The hand at her back ripped, and the front of the cheap coveralls tore away. Strong men grabbed her, pinning her arms and legs to the ground as she struggled against them. She stared, panicked, at Katchelli, and found only dead eyes staring back.

Geddy stood over her, smiling. The machete dripped with blood, and his lips were stained crimson. “Pretty little girl…” he cooed. “You bring me such pretty toys, my love.”

He straddled her and hefted the machete. Lyta struggled against the hands holding her down, needing just one of them to be off their guard long enough to wrench herself up and run, but none of them wavered. Geddy’s expression contorted. “I don’t think she’s grateful, my love. I need to teach her gratitude, like I taught you. How loud do you think she’ll sing my praises?” Katchelli stood behind him, still as a mannequin.

The machete came down.

Lyta screamed.

There was darkness, only darkness and pain and a hand on her shoulder. She grabbed it and twisted, pulling it around and back and away and…

“Whoa! Whoa, honey! It’s Bev! I work the caravan! You’re safe! You’re on the longrunner! It’s Bev!”

Lyta blinked.

The room was dark, lit only by the small window of her quarters. The bed was next to her, and a woman below her, her arm locked behind her in Lyta’s grip. Lyta struggled to remember where she was, and it came back to her slowly: the caravan from Port Arthur to Lance Point, a ten-day trip getting her ever further away from the mine and the sick fucks it held.

She let up the pressure, and Bev stood. “Sorry,” she said.

“Must’a been one hell of a nightmare,” Bev said, massaging her wrist.

Lyta felt a pang of guilt. She nodded. “Yeah.”

“You were screaming pretty loud. I figured I’d check it out and see if you were okay.”

Lyta sat on the edge of the bed, the adrenaline still coursing through her. She tried to calm down, but her pulse raced. “Yeah.”

“Anything you wanna talk about?”

There was nothing she could say to the caravanner. Nothing she could tell her that wouldn’t reveal what they’d been doing in Port Arthur before Billy Croyden got them aboard. She shook her head.

“Okay,” said Bev reluctantly. “Look, I’m getting some cawfee. Easy enough to make for two as for one, if you want any.”

Lyta stared at the door. “No,” she said softly.

Bev shrugged. “Okay,” she said. “You know where the galley is if you want any.” She stepped out into the hallway.

“Bev,” Lyta called to the older woman’s back. Bev turned and waited. Lyta took a deep breath and stared at the doorframe. “What was I screaming?”

Bev’s expression softened. “Variations of ‘no, don’t, please,’ over and over again. You were fightin’ your blankets so hard I thought they’d strangle you. That’s why I woke you.”

Lyta was quiet a long time, and Bev watched her. Finally, she stood. “I think maybe I’d like a cawfee after all.”


The cawfee was hot and bitter, and Lyta drank it mechanically. Bev sat across from her at the narrow galley table. “You sure there’s nothing you want to talk about?” She asked it gently, tentatively, the voice so different from the usual commanding tone she used with the caravanners.

Lyta shook her head. “No. Thank you for the cawfee.” She stared down into her mug and noted that it was already empty. She didn’t remember drinking it.

Bev nodded and stood up, brought her mug over to the sink. “Look,” she said, “I gotta go take a shift at the wheel, but if you ever wanna talk, you just come find me. We got nothin’ but open road for hours.”

She waited for a response, but Lyta didn’t answer, and eventually she stepped out of the galley. It was quiet, only the hum of the engines below her and behind her to mark their movement. The cawfee wasn’t working anymore. Every time she fell asleep, she dreamed of the mines: of Melroy’s commanding presence in the arena; of scraping metal in dark, rushing water; and of Geddy having his way with her, sometimes with the machete and sometimes with his body and sometimes both.

She’d tried not sleeping, tried staying up with cawfee and self-inflicted pain. But it wasn’t working, and now every time she lay down even for a few minutes, she couldn’t escape her dreams. She wondered if she could sneak into Todd’s medkit and steal some of the adrenaline. Just a little. Just enough to stay awake as long as she could.

Lyta finally looked up from her mug, at the little galley and its many cupboards. Ti Corovan stood next to the entrance, looking out into the hallway.

“Ti?” asked Lyta hesitantly. He wasn’t looking at her, and he didn’t respond. “Ti, I’m so sorry.”

It was silent in the galley, other than the hum of the engines. Lyta stayed seated, afraid of disturbing him. “We should have… I should have told you about the money, Ti. It’s not that important. It’s not worth you keeping us away. I should have… Chambers said I should have kissed you.” A tear formed at the corner of her eye. She gripped the cawfee mug tighter. “Maybe I should have done more than that, if you’d let me.”

She stood up and took one tentative step towards him. “Would you have let me, Ti? If I asked? If I told you I loved you?” He still stared out into the hallway. He hadn’t acknowledged her at all.

She took another step and reached out for him, her hand shaking. It brushed against fabric. It rustled beneath her fingers, and then she was staring at an empty coat hung on the galley’s coat rack. Ti wasn’t there. Ti had never been there.

Lyta’s legs collapsed beneath her and she slid to the floor with the coat on top of her. She gripped her knees and started to cry, her breath coming in short, heaving gasps. She squeezed her eyes shut, blocking out the world and everything in it. She cried for a long time, releasing all the emotions of the last three weeks, of Nazarene and Ti’s letter and the fighting and the mines. She wished Ti could hold her and tell her everything would be all right.

When she finally looked up, she saw Billy Croyden in the hallway, staring at her, his expression unreadable. Lyta stared at him with red eyes. “You got something to say?” She’d meant it to be angry, but she didn’t have any anger left. She was drained, and her voice was flat.

Billy looked down at her a moment longer, then he disappeared into the shadows of the hallway as though he’d never been there.

She forced herself to stand up, to put the coat back on the rack and to put her mug in the sink. She felt empty and exhausted. “Lassanders go forward,” she whispered to herself, but her heart wasn’t in it. She shook her head and gripped the counter, feeling the vibrations of the longrunner through her palms and under the soles of her feet. She stared out the window into darkness, at what she knew was landscape moving past in the night, inexorably away from Port Arthur, hopefully forever.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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