Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Losing the Bet

 Benelice was walking on the grass in her bare feet. Technically it was frowned upon in the Alliance -- there were cute little signs with sheepish children tiptoeing around the immaculate verge -- but it was a rare luxury for a Badlander and so she indulged herself.

She saw the lights of the caravansery a short distance off. They danced on the fast-flowing surface of the Trondheim River and brought back images of the fancy party at Theresa Vendar’s she had just left. She catalogued the contacts she had made and started formulating the outline of a report for her father when her senses, sharpened by combat, alerted her to something amiss.

She dropped the shoes from her right hand and came into a low crouch. The slit on her dress gave her access to a throwing knife held in her garter as she scanned the horizon. There was an unfamiliar figure patrolling her longrunner. She moved forward silently, self-conscious of the jewelry that could give her away through reflections or unwanted sound, so she tore them away and left them on the grass. She observed the figure. It wasn't one of her people -- she knew how they moved -- and yet he was familiar.

“I nearly killed you,” she said, her voice more admonishing than she truly felt in that moment of relief. She stepped up quickly to Riley, who had been pacing the lot waiting for her. They held each other as though it had been cycles since their last touch.

“I missed you, too,” he said as he covered her forehead, then her nose and eyes with little kisses before tipping her chin up for a long, deep embrace.


She nestled into the space between his shoulder and chest, her head fitting neatly in the indentation. Riley brushed her curly bangs out of her face. “Where were you?” he asked, the first words they had exchanged in the last hour. “A party, business,” Benelice said sleepily. “Why are you back? I thought you’d be in Gardena by now.”

“Change of plans,” Riley answered simply. She felt the beat in his chest and the rhythm of his breath change. “Were the Badlanders there?” He asked. Benelice was no longer sleepy.

“I thought you were done with them after that stupid dinner. That’s what we agreed to.”

When he had first meet Broomhilda, he had mentioned how inscrutable he was. She was intrigued and suggested a wager, one which he had clearly lost when he failed to gain any further information about the Badlanders. Her prize was that she got to decide what he would do next. She, on the other hand, had been able to learn a great deal from the operatives that night. Consequently she told him to leave them alone.

“Darling, I know we agreed, but…”

“Don’t darling me, Riley Markus,” she said as she lifted herself onto her side and looked him in the eyes. “This isn’t a game. They’re dangerous.” She didn’t mean it to sound so condescending, but he had caught her off guard. He wasn’t reckless. Sure, he was adventurous and she loved him all the more for it, but this kind of danger didn’t match his particular skill set. Then she understood.

“Your boss sent you.” That was meant to sound as harsh as it came out. She rolled out of the bunk and put on a robe.

“Not this again,” he protested. “I don't want him to come between us. Unless you want me to bring up your father?” Riley said, trying to defuse the situation and failing. She considered storming out of the longrunner in her state of relative undress. When he saw her body tense it was his turn to become annoyed. “Besides,” he said indignantly, “I don't work for him. He's just a sort of investor,” he said in a less convincing tone.

“Then why are you here?” She pleaded. There was no way for her to bring up Riley's investor without raising the shadow of her father’s conflicts with him. She let out a sigh and sat back on the bunk.

“Riley, my love, these people are dangerous. They’re looking to get into a dangerous situation, I know it. I can see it.” Benelice knew that he had to look into this if Chambers asked him to. Not so much because he owed the Doc, though she could see it would be awkward to refuse his investor, but because Riley never turned down a challenge. It occurred to her he could get killed looking into them.

“I still won the bet, so I get to decide. I’ll look into them for you, for him. But this stays between us.” He began to protest but she put her fist on her hips and jutted her chin out. He knew better than to challenge her then.

Their relationship might be circumscribed by that of her father and Dr. Chambers, but she was a grown woman and she could make her own decisions and she wasn’t going to let her lover get killed over these Baldander operatives and their schemes.

“I love you, darling. You don’t mind if I stick around, just to make it look good, right?” Mind? She was relieved. This way she could keep an eye on him too. She slipped back between the sheets and he wrapped his arms around her. Besides, she thought to herself, if Chambers wants tabs kept on these people, her father might be interested.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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