Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter VII: Clues

He tried the “crazy hyena eyes” on her. Those always worked for that iconic 40th century-transgendered-psionic-sociologist-pirate in the Thorien Lewis novellas. Alas, she was not deterred, just somewhat scared if he read her right. ‘At least that was something,’ Todd thought.

“I’m sorry to bother you, Brumhilda, but...” she stammered. The “hyena eyes” were potent after all.

“I know you’re going scouting or something and I saw this trideo about a stake-out and I thought that maybe, well... here.” She trailed off and just resorted to placing two thermal, brown paper bags in front of Todd. Justifiably suspicious, he drew his knife and used it to spy the inside of the bags.

This made Miranda even more nervous, but she managed to clear her throat. “That one’s springer tartar roll with garlic cream sauce from the deli down the road along with a fresh herb pasta salad.”

Todd had been suspicious of Miranda from day one and, as such, had expected her to do the unexpected at any moment, but this was, well, unexpected. He loved springer tartar; he’d had it at least once a week since they’d been in Oxford.

“The other one’s a slow-cured smoked hopper in a wrap. I put some fried salted vegetable chips in there too. I thought you might like to take one with you on your scouting trip?” She offered helpfully and wrapped the tops of the two lunches.

No one had ever made him a scouting lunch. Lukas didn’t even allow him to take a gun these days, much less arrange for snacks. Without hesitation he took the  springer roll and mumbled a “thanks.” Just as Miranda was about to leave a little less intimidated by him he caught himself.

Knife still in hand he said, “Stop.”

She did so and swallowed hard. He waved her back with the long metal implement and she inched forward, holding the alternative lunch bag up as some kind of pitiful defense.

“Umm, on second thought, I better take the hopper. It’ll keep better.” She handed him the other bag, visibly relieved. She paused a second and stared at him holding both bags.

“Can I keep this one too, to eat now?” Todd asked, raising the tartar roll. Miranda broke into a wide smile and nodded and nearly skipped out of the room.

‘She’s still not invited into my pillow fort, not by a long shot,’ he said to himself as he tucked into the delicious sandwich.

“Are you coming with me to the OIPA tomorrow? It’s just I heard you guys talking with Radsley and I know you’re leaving tomorrow, but can you come part of the day?”

Lyta hadn’t really given the question any thought. Tomorrow was 'go day', or more precisely the day after was, but Miranda was right: they were headed out tomorrow. The whole OIPA job had been a fun distraction while she was in Oxford, but it always took second place before an op. Then again, Lyta thought to herself, the train didn’t leave until 18:00; she could do half a day.

Lukas might protest, but what else was new? On second thought, Lyta felt a tinge of regret that her job as a gymnastics instructor was so easily relegated to the back burner. She looked at Miranda leaning against the doorframe in the room they shared and realised that she too was pushed to secondary importance every time an op came up. A second ago Lyta had felt like her interests weren’t given enough importance and now she realised this person, this young woman, was getting just as little attention. The realisation made her feel like crap.

“Yeah. I can do half a day with you. We can grab a quick lunch before my train takes off.”

“Really?” Miranda squealed excitedly.

“Sure thing. I’ll just finish packing tonight so I’m ready to go tomorrow straight after lunch.”

Miranda rushed in and gave Lyta a hug and then left her alone to do her operational prep work. Lyta looked at the bed and all the equipment and clothing laid out and sighed. She was going to have to do something for Miranda that was in her best interest, even if it hurt both of them.


Lukas plucked the piece of tech from Fennec’s hands. “No, not that.”

“Why not? We might need it,” the redhead protested.

They were in the only room large enough to accommodate the TITAN -- the common area -- and in addition to the tactical trunk, Fennec had spread out a bunch of her favourite ‘essentials.’

Packing for an operation was always tricky; you had to anticipate the unexpected, which meant bringing more stuff while calculating for the worst, which might mean losing a lot of what you brought with you.

Fennec was unused to having access to so many ‘toys’ and wanted to bring it all. Lukas on the other hand recognized that you had to weigh what you couldn’t live without for the op against what you couldn’t replace if it all went south. If they had to cut their losses and run or, worse yet, if they got captured, certain items of equipment would go from assets to liabilities in a split-second, and replacing them would be more hassle than the bother of not having them on the mission.
“Uh, Jax, sorry to interrupt.”

Lukas turned away from the array of gear towards Miranda. “Yes?”

“It’s just that I noticed you’re going away again and I’m doing the groceries. I just wanted to know when you think you’ll be back because some stuff might be perishable.”

“Listen, Miranda, this isn't a good time. Forget the groceries, it doesn’t matter.”

Lukas suppressed an impulse to shake his head in desperation and turned back to Fennec to get on with the task at hand. The look she gave him was a chiding one. At once he realised that too much of his frustration about the planning and the pressure of this enormous deal had leaked into his voice when speaking to Miranda.

Fennec didn’t know about the family fortune, about his surgery and how they had to rebuild their nest egg, and how much this deal meant to Lukas, and to be frank, it didn’t matter. He realised he had been curt. The fact was that this kind of operation was full of uncertainties. He didn’t know for sure when they were coming back.

“Was that really necessary?” Fennec said once Miranda was out of earshot.

“I know,” he snapped.

‘She’s just doing the one thing you asked her to do. It’s hard on her, ya know?”

Of course he knew, but so did Fennec. Lukas was surrounded by orphans and all of them just wanted someone to tell them what to do. He got up and found Miranda in the kitchenette.

“Hey. Sorry,” he managed awkwardly. He should have been better at this. He had already been through it once with Lyta, cycles back. “If everything goes to plan, three days. A day to get there, a day to our thing, and a half day back.”

She perked up and swiped at a tear. “Ok, no fish then.” She gave a short laugh and put on a brave face. “I’ll go and get some stuff from the shops then and let you finish. It looks like you need to stop Marabeth from bringing the kitchen sink.”

She  grabbed some shopping bags and her keys and was out in a flash. Lukas sighed as he went back to the common room. They really needed to figure out what to do with her.

“Put it back, Fennec!”

Miranda sat in the square eating a yogurt cup. He eyes were busily scanning from side to side, darting around in a frenzy. Next to her on the bench were some light groceries. Enough for the four of them until tomorrow and then just enough for her for the rest of the week.

She counted down in her head. 184, 76, 34, 11, 4.

184 trains left in the window Ryss had given after midday. Only 76 went north, which was warmer this time of year, so you wouldn’t want a sandwich that would go off in the heat. Of those, 34 would be traveling for half a day, even factoring in connections. Half a day to get there and the same again to come back, and hot. There were only 11 trains that went to, or near, the Badlands. This was a dangerous assumption but necessary to reduce the possibilities. Only 4 of them would stop at the Badlands. Radsley said he would meet with them the day after. Only one crossing into the Badlands coincided with the time he gave and the 4 remaining possibilities.

She had to prove herself to them or they were sure to send her away. The only way she could think of was to go on the op with them and show them she could help.

As she sat in the square across from the Oxford train station reading all the departure boards, she decided she would be on Radsley’s train and meet up with them. Then she’d show them. She had to prove herself useful or they would send her away.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


Game Thug said...

'Cause this is how bad we are at what we do.

Also--wasn't Radsley's train "unscheduled"?

Certain Betrayal said...

Its true, you guys do suck.

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