Friday, October 14, 2016

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter X: Minding the Work

“What date is it?”

“32 Autumn.”

“Why is it I can never remember the date when I am signing a document?” Doc Chambers asked distractedly. The conference room table of the Prince Gable offices of the BCG was covered in papers. Outside, leaves of another kind fell from the reddening gardenia birches.

Ellen Cranby ignored the rhetorical question. She had developed a knack for ignoring most everything the businessman said that wasn’t professional or deeply offensive. It was the only way to keep up with the amount of work that the BCG and the Doc’s other ambitions generated.

As Chambers continued signing the tax proposals, trade commission outlines and legislative summaries, she looked up at the pair of young woman waiting in the reception area.

“What are you going to say to these people?” she asked, her gaze now far in the distance.

“Only what I need to.”

“What about a thank you?” she asked idly.

Chambers set his pen down and looked up at his aide. “And what, pray tell, should I thank these mercenaries for?”

She couldn't ignore that. “You never cease to amaze me with your Prophet forsaken... Are you serious? These aren’t a bunch of random misfits or hired goons, this is… I mean these are Ti’s people. No, no, no.”

Ellen’s face was flushed and she was stammering. Under different circumstances, the Doc may have enjoyed riling her, but he was doing his best to suppress his emotions because this was…

“Lyta. I’ll just come out and say her name.” Ellen glared at him. “This is Lyta and I know how you feel about that child. And even if you didn’t have some affection for her in particular, they did just stop a terrorist from blowing the whole damned Hermes network! And the only thing they’ve had from us is threats and suspicion.”

When she ran out of steam, she stood back, unsure what to expect. She placed her fist on her hips and jutted her chin out, ready for his nasty rebuke but it didn’t come.

“Well?” she asked at last.

“Well what? She’s made it clear that my affection was unwelcomed. They are nothing more than assets. And they are not even my assets. They were tasked with a mission of the utmost importance to the safety of this planet. I am not inclined to congratulate or thank them for submitting to their duty under duress,” he said, casually looking up from his seat, the picture of indifference.

“Seriously? This, coming from you? Just try to imagine what’s it’s like to be in their position.”

“I wouldn't let myself get into such a--”

“Barnaby shit. You've been in that situation so many times you don't even know what it's like not to live under constant threat,” Ellen responded before he could finish his sentence, glowering at him.

“You're right, we do live under threat. Gustafson is just the latest example. But I am talking about a situation where one chooses one’s own personal or business interests over that of the greater good.”

“Really? So if Colonel Arthur told you to retaliate against these kids, that would be for the greater good?” Ellen spat.

“Don’t be obtuse, Ellen. The Bear is trying to destroy Terra Nova I'm trying to build it,” he said, punctuating the end of his sentence by waving at the paperwork strewn about on the expansive table. “I owe Colonel Arthur nothing, but I owe the work everything I have. That is the sort of commitment they seem incapable of.”

“You know you're become more and more insufferable. I think this NuCoal thing has completely knocked your sense of proportion out of kilter.” Ellen walked to the other side of the conference room, waving dismissively at the same pile of paper as the Doc.

“On the contrary. I have an ever greater understanding of the stakes. If it comes down to them or the Badlands, I’ll make the same choice every time.” His answer was cold and distant and his expression made her stomach turn.

“You're right, it ain't your sense of proportion, it's your sense of decency.” She tried to stab at him with her words, chiping away at the icy exterior of his composure, but he remained coolly dispassionate. Finally Ellen collapsed into a chair, her expression of mix of defeat and disappointment. “Lyta and Fennec are honest, faithful and good-hearted kids. Todd's a little special, but I know he means well.”

“And Lukas?”

The Doc’s facade slipped just a fraction and Ellen felt something behind it that betrayed deep emotion. It unnerved her. She let out a long sigh and slowly stood. Whatever his feelings for Lyta, repressed or not, it was his feelings for her brother she couldn’t fight. She didn’t even try. She walked to the conference room door, her heart heavy. “When did you stop questioning who you might be hurting? When did you become so sure you were right? About people, about the world?”

She reached the door and cracked it open. Summoning a brave face, she waved Lyta and Fennec in.

“When the world became so unsure,” he answered softly, almost regretfully.

Ellen stood on the threshold, the door’s weight bringing it to a close as the two young woman strode the few meters separating them from the conference room. Before they could reach it the Doc spoke again, the edge in his voice was back once again like a razor.

“Hard choices need to be made by those who are willing and able. That is not you, Ellen, nor is it Lukas or Lyta and sometimes it isn't even Ti. So it has to be me.”

Ellen pushed the door open wide to let Fennec and Lyta in with cursory smile and nod. They passed through and she let the heavy door swing shut.

She couldn’t hear what was said; she didn’t care to. She’s heard enough to know how this meeting would end. She walked back to her office and closed the door. For a time she simply stared out the window, deep in thought as the leaves blew about blithely in the gusts coming off the trench..

Eventually she shook off her sullen introspection. There was work to be done.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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