Sunday, June 21, 2015

Koreshi Chronicles – Chapter IX: Waking Up

Lyta nuzzled into Ti’s shoulder as the first rays of Helios peeked through the window. She didn’t know where she was, wouldn’t have been able to find the tiny homestead on a map, but it didn’t matter. It was safe and comfortable and quiet, and that was all she wanted.

“I wish we could stay like this forever,” she murmured.

“Mmm,” came Ti’s sleepy reply.

“No one shooting at us, no mission, just… this. All the time.”

“The idea does have a certain charm,” Ti agreed.

They fell back into the easy silence of early morning. Lyta had been the one to suggest the mini-vacation when they’d returned to Jan Mayen. Even Ti had been forced to admit that once they’d turned over the intel to Oscar, Azim to the authorities, and Todd to the hospital, there wasn’t much they could do but wait, and they could do that as easily outside of Jan Mayen as in it. So they had rented an antelope and driven west long enough to find a B&B. It had taken most of a day, but it had been worth it.

“I wish we didn’t have to go back,” Lyta said.

“To Jan Mayen?”


Ti stroked her hair, slowly and rhythmically. Lyta imagined letting the motion lull her back to sleep and not waking again until late in the day. She didn’t remember the last time she’d allowed herself the luxury of sleeping in.

“Can I ask you something?” said Ti.


He rested his free hand on her shoulder. “Why do you hate GRELs so much? I mean, rhetoric aside, what did they do to you, personally, that kindled such animosity?”

In other circumstances, the question might have made her tense up and shut down. But Ti had chosen his moment well, and she only turned her head to look out the window at the dawn. Her hand traced lightly along Ti’s scars, the crisscross record of the pain he too had suffered during the war.

“They killed my family,” Lyta said softly. “Both of them: in Baja and the Bathani. They nearly killed Jonas, too. If we’d been a few minutes later, they would have. They may be doing it again, right now, somewhere. They destroyed the city where I grew up. They nearly took over the planet. Maybe they’ll come back again and—”

Ti’s hand moved gently upward and he placed a finger against her lips. “Planetary takeover isn’t personal,” he said. His voice softened. “Though the rest of it is.”

Lyta shrugged and turned on her side, cuddling up against him. “Yeah.”

Ti stroked her newly exposed back. “There are others who hurt or threatened to hurt you and the ones you love, though. The Kolsons. HIRA. Bhakir. And they were humans, not GRELs. Shouldn't you also hate humans?”

Lyta’s brow furrowed. “That’s a weird question.”

She could sense Ti’s quirky smile even though she wasn’t looking at his face. “But it’s the one I’m asking. Do you hate humans because some humans did horrible things to you, or threatened to?”

Lyta’s fingers traced lightly across Ti’s chest. “No.”

“Why not?”

Lyta shook her head. “Because humans are different. They’re people. They get to choose what they want.”

Ti’s hand continued massaging her in long, slow motions. “I don't think that's it.”

Lyta looked up at him with a smirk. “No?”

Ti’s expression was serious. “No.”

“Then tell me, Mr. Mind Reader, what’s the real reason?” She hooked a leg over his and twisted so that she was on her stomach next to him, their eyes locked.

“You don’t hate humans because you are one,” he said simply. “If you hated every human, you’d hate yourself. You’d hate me and your brothers and everyone else you’ve come to care for. When you hate GRELs, they’re all the other. They’re all something you can never be, so you can lump them all together into a single mass.”

“But they are,” Lyta insisted. “They’re cloned and hypnoprogrammed to all be the same. That’s the point.”

Ti shook his head. “You’ve seen enough of them that I know you don’t believe that.”

“I don’t?” Lyta asked, skepticism dripping from her voice.

“No. You’ve seen them differentiate themselves. Isabella Damosa, Jan Sebastopol, Jan Mayen, the ones who came with us to the ESE… You know they can be different.”

Lyta shook her head slowly. “Maybe here and there, for a little while. But they’re designed to kill. If the Earthers give the order, they’ll all fall back into line. It’s what they were programmed to do.”

Ti’s hand continued to stroke her back, its presence grounding and comforting despite the conversation. “Not if they break their programming. That’s what Perfect Form is all about: letting them live their lives the way they want, not the way the Earthers want them to.”

Lyta put her head down on Ti’s shoulder. “We don’t even know that it works.”

“We have a decade of testimonials,” Ti countered. “Every day that the GRELs in Jan Mayen live their lives – ordinary, boring lives of farming or trades or what-have-you – is just more proof. And there are researchers working on making it even more effective. The GREL on Terra Nova understand that their lives can’t be war anymore. Personally, I don’t think they want it to be.”

Lyta sighed. “Some of them don’t want it to be.”

“Some of them. Isn’t that enough?”

She could feel Ti’s heartbeat through his chest, slow and steady and calm. “I don’t know. If some of them do still want war and are just waiting for it…” She trailed off, not sure how to finish the sentence.

Ti placed a hand on her cheek. “I’m not asking you to sit around the camp-fire singing folk songs and roast marshmallows with them,” he said gently. “I'm just saying maybe you shouldn't lump them all together. Judge them the way you judge people: individually, by their own merits. That’s all.”

Lyta closed her eyes. “I don’t know if I can.”

“You’ve done a lot of things you didn’t think you could do,” Ti pointed out. “A lot of them in the last cycle and a half. What’s one more?”

Lyta grinned, and looked up to see Ti grinning back at her. “All right,” she said at last. “I’ll try.”

Ti’s eyes sparkled. It was one of the things Lyta loved about him: that he could smile using his whole face and not just his mouth. “I still don’t want to go back, though,” she said.

“Oh?” asked Ti. “I thought you just said you were going to give GRELs a fair shake.”

Lyta shook her head. “Not for that,” she said.

Ti cocked an eyebrow. “Oh? Then why?”

Lyta leaned forward and kissed him. “Because we’ve got a king-size bed all to ourselves and no one listening in from the next room. How often do you think that’s gonna happen?”

Ti shifted slightly, so that the hand that was massaging her was able to grip more firmly. “Probably not as often as either of us would like.”

Lyta kissed him again. “Better make the most of it.”

Ti’s arms pulled her in tighter. “Absolutely,” he agreed.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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