Friday, November 4, 2016

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter X: Leave Me Alone

Ennik had a table along the wall, where he was animatedly simulating a neck-and-neck Gear race with a soda bottle and a coffee mug.  Mads was looking on enthusiastically as the mug pulled ahead.

They both glanced up as Fennec led the team into the bar.  Lukas was leaning heavily on Lyta, while Todd and Fennec were clearly exhausted.  There was a woman with them, and she seemed on the verge of catatonia.  Everyone looked, peculiarly, like they'd been through the wash.

"Rough night?" asked Ennik, one eyebrow raised.

"Saving the world as we know it is a tough job," said Lukas.  And then he collapsed.


Lukas came to with Minnie reaching across him, tightening a dressing on his arm.  He kept his eyes closed; it wasn't often that he was this close to anyone, and he wanted to enjoy it as long as he could.  But his breathing must have given him away; seeing that Lukas was awake, Minnie recoiled, and his ready quip about enjoying the view from under her withered in his mouth.

A quick glance revealed that they were in the storage room behind the bar.  And alone.

"Hi," said Lukas.

"Hi yourself," said Minnie.  Not warmly, but, encouragingly, not coldly.

"You always seem to end up nursing me when we visit lovely Port Arthur."

"Yeah.  I patch you up, and then you're off on a new adventure."  Her tone was light, but Lukas flinched despite himself.  Minnie felt her own stomach twist slightly, and stood up abruptly. "I better check on the others--"

"Wait!  Don't...don't go."  Reaching out, Lukas took her hand.  His grip was light; it wouldn't be an effort to pull away, but she hesitated.  His hand was warm and strangely soft.  It reminded her of a summer evening.  "They're not going to let us come back to Port Arthur," he said.

"I know."

"We may...I may never see you again."

It was Minnie's turn to smother a jab about that being better for everyone.  "I know," she said instead.

"I'm sorry."

"For what?  Stone's a hardass, and Beria...well, you did cause a riot....  But you don't need to apologize to me--"

"No, not for that.  That's just work," he said with a hint of a grin that turned into a grimace as he sat up, still holding her hand.  It was cool, and soft.  It reminded him of an autumn morning.

They sat face to face, closer together than they's been in more than two cycles.

"I'm sorry for before.  I'm sorry I left.  I'm sorry I didn't come back.  I'm sorry I've never told you the truth."  The words tumbled out in a rush.  "I'm sorry I'm not better, that I'm not...good."  Lukas looked so surprised as he said the last that it seemed, for a moment, that someone else must have.

"I don't, I mean, I--"  Minnie felt flustered.  Minnie didn't get flustered; Minnie got angry.  She turned away from him, creating space, building defences.  "You don't get to do this!  You don't get a tearful farewell, from me!"  She wound up to slap him, turned to face him again, her eyes blazing.

And stopped.

His eyes welling, Lukas Lassander looked small, and young, and afraid, and as alone as anyone she'd ever seen.  And Minnie knew that she was seeing Lukas--not Quinn, not Jax, not Scar--not even the Lukas that Lyta and Torgath knew.  For the first time, Minnie saw Lukas.

For a second.

And then he turned, scraped his sleeve across his face.  When he turned back, his face was a mask.

"I know," he said.

" guys.  I don't mean to interrupt you, but, uh, there are some men out here.  And some GRELs...." said Todd from the doorway.


All things considered, Stone had been practically brimming with generosity.

He'd even made good on the payment to Ti, which rested comfortably in an inside pocket of Lukas' shirt.

Of course, if they had not literally saved the world, his little band had come damn near close to the next best thing, so a parade wouldn't have been inappropriate, in contrast with the expedited delivery to the train.

But expedition meant rushing, and that meant, as uncomfortable as their comfortable detention had been in duration, it had lacked the sort of thorough examination that might have left Gustafson's datapad in less deserving hands--instead of resting in Lukas' other interior pocket.

Stone had even offered some free advice, possibly containing a job offer.

Everyone, it seemed, was coming to the agreement that the time had come for Lukas to choose a side.

Ti had frozen him out through Fennec, it seemed.  Wisely, of course.  Lukas had done little to earn and much to betray Ti's trust.

Aunty N had strung him along for quite long enough.

The Doc had threatened, again, to harm them.

The SRID and the NGIS both had more than enough reason to want him off the board.

The Humanists, the FIB....

Who did that really leave?

Lukas wondered.

How did one begin to work for the Bear?

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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