Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VI: Detained, Redux

16 Summer, 1926

It was one of the more memorable outfits Lyta had ever worn: cherry-red dress with a high hem and low neckline, ruby jewelry to match, and three-inch heels. Some of the strands had, admittedly, come undone from the fancy pile of curls atop her head, and her makeup was smudged with sweat and dirt. But the zip-ties were the accessory that brought the whole getup together, Lyta thought. They matched the décor better than her dress did, anyway.

The small room – not quite a cell, not quite a meeting room – had a narrow window overlooking Khayr ad-Din, but it was too dark to see much beyond the glinting lights of oasis towers. The bulbs in the ceiling maintained a moderate light, accompanied by a low hum that was almost soothing. The door in front of her had no windows, but it did have a sophisticated lock.

Lyta let her head fall to her chest. Bill Pearce had ordered them all taken into custody, placed into separate rooms, and left alone. Clearly, he had bigger things to deal with, like the explosion in Hotel Bravo’s south loading bay, like the virus that had potentially wormed its way into the Doc’s nexus, like the madman on the loose with enough explosives to blow up an oasis tower. Compared to that, the Lassander siblings were an afterthought, and Lyta imagined she’d be spending most of the night sitting with her hands zip-tied and her head aching until someone remembered about them. Or, more likely, until someone talked to Lukas and decided what the hell to do with them. Again.

She woke to the sound of the lock clicking. She kept her head low against her chest, kept her eyes closed, kept her breathing steady and even, but her leg-muscles tensed and she pressed her hands against the edge of the chair. Geddy was still out there. Geddy had been here, tonight, and she wasn’t going to let him get a second shot.

“Lyta, honey, how do you get yourself into binds like this?”

Lyta looked up at the familiar voice. Ellen Cranby stood framed in the doorway, and Lyta blinked as her eyes adjusted to the sudden influx of light. She sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know. What time is it?”

“Almost midnight,” said Ellen as she stepped inside and closed the door behind her. She carried two plastic mugs, one of which she put in front of Lyta, one of which she kept for herself. The black liquid was still steaming.

Lyta reached for hers with her zip-tied hands, and Ellen rolled her eyes. “Prophet’s sake, Bill,” she muttered. Then, louder, “Lyta, you gonna cause all sorts of havoc if I take those off you?”

Lyta was too tired to come up with a witty comeback. She shook her head and held out her hands, and Ellen slit the plastic band around them. Lyta left her cawfee on the table and massaged her wrists. “Thanks,” she said.

“You all right?” asked Ellen.

“Yeah. Fine. Just tired. Is everyone okay here?”

Ellen sat down across the small table from her. “Frazzled, but nothin’ too serious. A couple’a burns when the blast hit in the loading bay. Everyone’s runnin’ around like they don’t have heads, but things’ll settle down.”

Lyta leaned forward, hands on the table. “And Geddy? What happened to him?”

Ellen’s eyes narrowed and her forehead creased. “I don’t know who that is. Haven’t been briefed yet, if they’re plannin’ on briefing me. Got back and found out what happened, figured I’d take a look in on you to make sure you were holdin’ out all right.”


Ellen leaned forward. “So… who’s Geddy?”

Lyta licked her lips, the memories of the CEF mine pouring back. She shook her head. “He’s… he’s really bad news. You see him, you shoot him and you don’t stop shooting until you’re sure he’s dead. And then put a bullet in his brain for a guarantee.”

“Sounds like you have history.”

“Promise me!”

Ellen blew out a slow exhale. “All right, all right. If I ever see him, I’ll make sure he’s not still alive by the time I’m done seein’ him.”

Lyta let herself fall back into her chair, her hands gripped around her plastic cup of cawfee. “What’d he do?” Ellen asked, softly.

“He’s a butcher. A mass-murdering psychopath. He…” Lyta shook her head. She couldn’t talk about the mine. Doc Chambers knew they’d gone in, but she wasn’t sure how much Ellen had been told, and she didn’t want to talk about it anyway. As long as people know how dangerous Geddy was, that was enough. Sigh took a sip of cawfee and tried to keep her hands steady. “How long are they planning on keeping us this time?”

Ellen shrugged. “Don’t know. Maybe until the Doc gets back, maybe until Bill’s had a chance to calm down. You want me to find you a room with a bed?”

Lyta blinked. “Won’t that get you in trouble?”

“Probably,” Ellen said with a shrug, “but I know you. You ain’t gonna do anything.”

Lyta sighed. “It’s okay. I’ll be fine. I don’t want you to get in trouble. We’re already in enough trouble as it is.”

Ellen’s eyes narrowed. “What’d you do this time?”

Lyta thought for a while. “I was gonna say, ‘saved all your asses,’ but I don’t think we even did that. The columns were a red herring, Karin’s necklace wasn’t gonna explode, the champagne at the party was never the explosive one in the first place, because the explosives had already been stolen by the time we found out about them, and we couldn’t even stop a madman from putting a hole in your loading bay. Everything we found out, it was already too late.” She hung her head, realizing that all the running around she’d done during the party and after it, all of it had been for nothing.

“Then why are you here, Lyta? Why’d Bill zip-tie you and your brothers and put you in holding? What the hell’s going on?!” Ellen was holding her cawfee cup so tight Lyta was afraid it would shoot upward and stain the ceiling.

There wasn’t any point in bringing up Jimmy’s virus, the one that Mads had written for him. Bill and the Doc probably wanted it kept as quiet as Lukas did. Lyta shrugged. “’Cause he doesn’t like the company we keep? You’d have to ask him.”

Ellen nodded and stood up. “I think I will,” she said. “You gonna be all right in here?”

Lyta sighed and nodded. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. At least you can’t smell the trash heaps from in here.”

Ellen might have smiled, had it not been for the fire in her eyes. “You take it easy. I’m gonna get to the bottom of this, and Prophet help me if Bill didn’t have a good reason.”

She stepped out and pulled the door shut behind her. Lyta heard the lock click. She waited a few minutes to see if anyone else was coming, maybe to take away her cawfee or replace the zip-ties, but no one did.

She put her empty cawfee cup down on the table, and then lay her left arm next to it and nestled her face into the crook of her elbow. With her right hand, she pulled at the bobby pins that held what was left of her up-do, letting her hair fall around her head as the pressure was released. When she’d assembled a small mountain of pins and was certain there weren’t any errant stragglers remaining to stab her scalp, she put her right arm down as well, closed her eyes, and fell asleep beneath the hum of the fluorescent lights.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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