Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter VII: Releasing the Tension

42 Spring, 1927

“Have you thought about giving it up?” he’d asked her. “You’re not responsible for their follies.”

She couldn’t remember the exact words, but that had been the gist of it. Asking her, entreating her to leave her brothers and the mercenary life they had built for themselves. Lyta wondered now whether the Doc had known, half a season ago, that this would happen, or whether he was just being generally protective of her. She supposed it didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to leave her brothers, not even if it sent her to jail. Not that she had much choice about it now.

She had woken up in the middle of the night and couldn’t fall back asleep. Too much adrenaline and too many errant thoughts. Her cell was comfortable enough – nicer than many places she had slept in the last few cycles – but she could not escape the feeling of confinement. There was no way to open the door to her cell, and the bay window was undoubtedly reinforced. There would be no way to punch through it, and nowhere to go even if she did. Not without her brothers.

She sighed and wriggled out of the sleeping bag. Fennec was breathing deeply and evenly. Lyta made slow movements to ensure she didn’t wake up her colleague-turned-cellmate.

The floor was clean, she noted as she settled herself onto it and stretched her legs out in front of her. No grit, no dirt against her heels or the palms of her hands. She exhaled slowly leaned forward into a stretch, gripping the soles of her feet. They’d be watching her, of course, but they’d be watching her anyway. She was fairly certain they would have known the first moment she opened her eyes in the darkness of the night. The trideo recorders were all-encompassing. There was nothing she could do that would go unremarked. And if they were going to monitor her anyway, she might as well do something that would give her a modicum of peace.

She released her feet and straightened, raising her arms high above her to the ceiling. “They can carry on without you,” the Doc had said. Of course they could. The skills she brought, infiltration and lock-picking and close-combat fighting, were all replaceable. Fennec did most of them already. But that wasn’t the point. The point was that they were her brothers. They were the only family she had left. How could she leave them to face danger and maybe death alone? How could she allow herself to be safe when they were not?

She lowered her arms and twisted to the right, placing her fingertips behind her as far as they would go, feeling the stretch in her back. She’d tried to get them to stop. But Lukas always insisted. There was always one more job. Even in the Alliance, where they were supposed to be laying low, they had immediately started to work, taking contracts that led to bigger and more complicated contracts. The TDI job was going to be the last one for a while, she’d sworn to herself. She’d had enough of being shot at, of watching her brothers be shot at, each time wondering whether this bullet would be the one that ended them.

She twisted around to the left and stretched her back in the opposite direction. This would have been the last one. They had money, now. Enough money to live comfortably for a long time. Maybe forever. Lukas was good with money, and the Doc even more so. They could figure out a way to invest a million dinar so that they never had to work again. They could do something… else. Something mundane. Something that didn’t involve running into a hail of gunfire.

She returned to face forward, then kicked her legs up and over her head, half-cartwheel and half-somersault, until she was standing with her arms wrapped around her knees. There would be no more jobs for a while, anyway. Not while they were in jail. She wondered if they would let her have a phone call. She wondered who she would call if they did. Anyone who might break her out of a Humanist prison was already inside with her.

She straightened her back, raising her arms upwards and then behind her, continuing the movement until her palms rested on the floor and her body bowed in a backward arch. She realized she had no idea what to expect. Not that she’d ever thought trideos were an accurate representation of the Polar justice systems, but she thought she’d had at least an idea of the basics. And then everything about the intake had gone sideways from her expectations, and she had no idea what to think anymore.

She lifted her legs off the ground and stopped them halfway through their course, until her body was vertical to the ground in a steady handstand. The whole thing was upside-down, she thought. She was already guilty. There was only the matter of the sentence, and she had no idea what that would be. Jail time and deportation seemed most likely, but maybe they would try to hypno-program her. Maybe they would try to make her something she wasn’t. The thought terrified her.

She brought her legs out of the handstand and they touched the floor silently, first the left, then the right. She continued the movement, letting her left foot slide forward until her legs were flat against the ground in a front-facing split. She imagined they would question her. For… a confession? An admission of guilt? All she knew was that anything they asked her, she would need to lie to answer. Even her name was a lie. And she was not like Lukas – she couldn’t keep the web of lies straight in her head. Sooner or later, she would reveal too much, things she wouldn’t want them to know. Secrets that were not hers to reveal.

With only a minimal touch to the ground, she shifted her body so she was facing the other way. She would have to keep silent. There was nothing else for it. If anything she said could reveal secrets, she would have to say nothing at all. She was good at holding her tongue. She had certainly done it enough.

She pulled in her legs to a butterfly position, the soles of her feet pressed against each other. She lowered her head to her toes, breathing slowly. The stretch had done her good, releasing the nervous energy that had woken her. Maybe she would be able to sleep now. There was nothing more to do, not until she had seen Lukas. Even if she was able to figure out a way to break out of the prison, she wouldn’t. Not without her brothers.

It wasn’t like she could leave them behind.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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