Thursday, August 15, 2013

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Intra-lingual

32 Autumn, 1926

Lukas walked into Gabriel’s spare bedroom to find his sister cross-legged on the bed, facing the window, hunched over something on her lap. A slim headphone fitted snugly in her ear, and for a moment she was completely oblivious to his presence. One hand trailed along the stitches of the quilted mattress, the other hovered over whatever was in her lap. He waited at the door a moment, watching her, bemused that she should be so engrossed by a task that involved no movement.

He cleared his throat.

Lyta’s head snapped up and she grasped the object in her lap closer. Lukas stepped into the room to get a better angle on it. “Are you… reading?” he asked at last.

Lyta was immediately on the defensive. “What if I am?”

Lukas nearly laughed. “Why all the cloak-and-dagger? Is it one of Grizz’s adventure books? I’d be embarrassed too.”

He maneuvered himself so that he could get a glance of the pages, and realized immediately that it wasn’t one of Torgath’s books. For one thing, there were brightly colored pictures across both pages, some with labels. The scene was full of classical-style architecture: full of columns and sculpted designs. He took a step closer so that he could see the words, and Lyta pulled the book away from him.

Lukas raised an eyebrow.

Lyta sighed and let the book fall down on her lap, still open. Larger words across the top of the left-hand page read: “Perto estas la ĉefurbo de la Humanista Alianco. En la centro de Perto estas la Acropolis, kie la Illuminatus vivas.”

Lukas’ brow furrowed. “What is this?” he asked. “Some sort of kids’ book?”

Lyta shook her head, color rising to her cheeks. “I asked the woman at the bookstore for something that would teach me Intralingua. I’m tired of not understanding what people are telling me.”

“And… she gave you a kids’ book?”

Lyta slipped a finger to mark her page and closed the book, showing Lukas the cover. “La Humanista Alianco” it said in large, friendly letters. And, slightly below that, “Oni gvidas por turistoj.”

Lukas took it from her and flipped through it, and realized midway through that there was a tiny voice issuing forth from somewhere in the room whenever he lingered over a page. After a moment of searching, he realized the voice was coming from Lyta’s headphone. He glanced at her, and she passed it over. “Ĉiuj en la Humanista Alianco estas feliĉaj por helpi lia komunumo,” said a friendly female voice in his ear, as in front of him a group of Humanists cheerfully picked up some litter in a park.

Lukas handed the book and the earpiece back to Lyta. “You know this is propaganda, right?”

Lyta shrugged.

“You couldn’t have picked some more useful reading? Technical manuals? A newspaper?”

Lyta glared at him. “If I could understand a technical manual, I wouldn’t have to read a guide to the language, would I?”

Lukas put up his arms in appeasement. “Just a suggestion.”

He walked over toward the window and looked out at the stone-and-glass architecture of Oxford. “It might serve you better to learn Universal French, if you want to pick up a new language. It’s good for the whole of the South.”

Lyta settled the book back on her lap and nestled the earpiece back in one ear. “Yeah,” she said. “But UF is harder. Intralingua is like… like you already half-know it already, even if you never spoke it before.”

Lukas’ eyes unfocused for a minute as he remembered what he knew about the Humanists’ language. “It’s based on bio-psych analysis of over a hundred grammatical systems,” he said. “Designed to be natural to learn and understandable even by non-speakers.”

Lyta shrugged. “Whatever you say.”

Lukas looked back down at her. “I say Universal French would be more useful. It’d let you send secret love-letters to your boyfriend that only half the planet could read.”

Lyta looked like she was about to throw something at him, maybe the book, before thinking better of it. “You gonna let me keep reading, or are you just gonna stand there telling me why I should throw this book away?”

Lukas opened his hands. “Perish the thought,” he said. “I’d rather have my team speaking the local language than not, and if you choose to do it by indoctrinating yourself in their propagandistic material, far be it from me to stop you. Mi kredas ke vi eraras.

Lyta stared at him. “What?”

A hint of a smile touched Lukas’ lips. “You didn’t think you were the only one who figured out that learning Intralingua was a good idea, given our current base of operations? Just don’t go petitioning for citizenship. I don’t think the Humanists would know what to do with you.”

Lyta smiled. “I couldn’t join the Alliance. You’d never stay with me.”

Lukas nodded in mock seriousness. “True,” he said. “They certainly wouldn’t know what to do with me. I’m just so pretty.”

Lyta rolled her eyes. “Are you gonna let me get back to this? Ever?”

Lukas kissed her forehead. “Get to it,” he chided. “I expect you to be delivering soul-stirring monologues by dinnertime.”

He side-stepped a pillow that Lyta threw at him and made for the door, shutting it lightly behind him. From beyond, he thought he heard the faintest sounds of a recorded female voice extolling the virtues of the Alliance.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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