Saturday, September 14, 2013

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Forming Up

38 Autumn, 1926

Lyta’s head throbbed. For the last two days they had been discussing logistics, plans, contingencies, equipment lists, infiltration and exfiltration points, and all the rest of the tiny details involved in an op of this complexity. They had taken on more complicated jobs before, but rarely on such a short timeframe and never in a location with such constant surveillance.

Lyta walked the streets of Oxford trying to clear her head. She bypassed the Oxford Institute for Physical Advancement – the formal gymnastics did not interest her, and she didn’t want to run into the perky trainer who seemed so keen on getting her to restart. She wanted to run the buildings, but stopped herself. She had promised it would only be the one time, and so far it had been. She walked aimlessly, trying to figure out what to do with herself.

She only recognized the park when she saw the gathering, part dancers, part martial artists, moving through their fluid forms. She saw Terrance in front, just as he had been two weeks ago, his movements a touch more fluid, his gestures a bit more precise, his stances slightly lower than everyone else. He was lost in the movements. They all were.

Lyta nearly turned around and left, then and there. Perfect Form didn’t interest her, she told herself. She would not submit herself to it again.

But part of her did not listen, and she stayed.

As the movements ended and the group broke up, Terrance noticed her and walked over. “Ryss,” he said with a smile as he approached, “have you come to join us again?”

Lyta’s jaw worked for a moment before she got her voice back. “No,” she said.

Terrance regarded her a moment. “You are still upset at the Perfect Form’s connection with GRELs,” he said, and it didn’t seem like a question.

Lyta supposed it was obvious. Of course it was the reason she was upset. It was the reason everyone should be upset. She nodded.

Terrance paused, then gestured over to a bench. “Will you sit with me? To talk?”

Lyta shrugged. “Sure.”

Terrance led her over and they sat. The older man took a few moments to go over his thoughts. He did not seem in a rush to talk, and Lyta had no interest in going first. She watched the Humanists in their brightly colored clothing walking past, all of them so happy and so fulfilled. They annoyed her.

At length, Terrance took a deep breath. He spoke gently, watching Lyta’s face to make sure he did not scare her off with his words. “The Earthers did terrible things to the planet,” he began. “To the people on the planet. And the GRELs were their tools. It is natural to be angry at them.” He paused, and then carefully added, “For some, the pain is more personal than for others.”

Lyta said nothing, but she was sure her face was giving away what she didn’t say. She clenched her jaw.

Terrance’s body was still, but his face was full of compassion. “It’s important to grieve,” he said. “And grieving can take a long time. Years, for some. Maybe longer. But the war is over. Anger will not make the Earthers or the GRELs leave, and it will not bring back those we mourn.”

“You’re not telling me anything new,” Lyta grumbled.

Terrance nodded slowly. “I suppose not,” he said. “But sometimes it’s important to say these things out loud, to remember.”

“I remember,” Lyta said through a stiff jaw, “but that doesn’t mean I want anything to do with them.”

Terrance shifted to face her better. “Just because they were our enemies doesn’t mean they are irredeemable. They brought many things that bettered the world after the war ended: the SNS satellites, their knowledge of genetic engineering, their administrative systems. It’s important to look for the good, despite the bad.”

Lyta glared. “There’s nothing good about GRELs.”

Terrance shook his head, almost sadly. “That is a childish statement,” he said. “It is beneath you.”

Lyta’s hands clenched and unclenched into fists. “Yeah? What do you know about it?”

“I know that you are an adult,” said Terrance in a level voice. “And adults must learn to see nuance. They were our enemies during the war, yes. They did terrible things for which they must atone. But their invention of the Perfect Form is beneficial for both them and us. We can learn from it.”

Lyta’s breathing was shallow. She was halfway to leaving, but the older man’s voice compelled her to stay. She did not want to storm off like a child, did not want to confirm everything he said. “All right,” she said at last. “I’ll stay.”

Terrance gave her a hint of a smile. “I’m happy to hear that. Do you remember the form, or do you need a refresher?”

“I remember.”

Terrance nodded. “I must get some water before the next session,” he said, rising. “I will see you shortly.” He touched her shoulder briefly and walked off in the direction of the fountains.

Lyta watched him go. She stood up and rolled her shoulders and her neck, getting the tension out. People were already starting to come back, and Lyta took her place in the middle of the block. She thought about what Terrance had said.

He was wrong. He didn’t realize it, but he was. The war wasn’t over. The hot war, the shooting war, that was over, but the cold war still raged. The Bear and the second-generation hypno-programmed agents like Ennik’s sister… they still fought. They still wanted to crush Terra Novans beneath their bootplates. Maybe one day they would start the war again for real. And when they did, there were still plenty of GRELs on the planet. They were trained to take orders. She had seen that in Port Arthur, every time she went to Minnie’s Bar. They would follow if someone led them, back into war, back into fighting. They wanted to fight. They were just waiting for someone to give them an excuse.

Lyta would learn their form, not because it might bring enlightenment, but because she might face it on the field one day. The GRELs had surprised her twice, and both times she had lost people she loved. She would not let them do it a third time.

The group gathered and they started together, the slow, precise movements of the form that the Earthers’ tools used to keep their own hypno-programmed minds in check. Lyta let herself fall into the flow. There would be time to analyze later, time to prod it for weaknesses and vulnerabilities. There would be time for equipment lists and exfiltration points, time enough for everything.

She closed her eyes and lost herself to the form, the slow fluidity of it. Time for all that later. For now, there was movement.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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