Friday, May 26, 2017

Koreshi Chronicles - Chapter X: Before the Storm

They didn’t have much time. It never seemed like they had much time, but now it was particularly short. Ti’s train would leave within the hour, the first stage of the op was imminent, and there was still plenty to prep before they hit stage two.

Still. If they only had a few minutes, they had both wordlessly decided that they would spend it together. Ti leaned against a wall on the far side of the room from most of the activity, and Lyta leaned against him, her head against his chest. She let his arms envelop her, strong and secure. “I don’t like this plan,” she murmured.

He stroked her arm. “It’s not a great plan,” he agreed. “But it’s the best one we’ve got.”

“I know.” She hated to admit it. If they had only a few more days, she was sure that Lukas could come up with something better. Something less risky, less dangerous, more assured. But they didn’t have a few more days. In a few more days, the infection might already have started to spread to Junira Loresh. She closed her eyes, trying not to think about it.

“We’re doing everything we can to mitigate the downsides,” Ti said, as though it was any consolation.

“I know.”

She settled into the feel of his hand against her arm, the rise and fall of his chest beneath her cheek. “Lyta…”

She shook her head against his chest. “Don’t,” she said softly. “Whatever it is you were about to say. I know the score on this one, and so do you. This is maybe the most dangerous op we’ve ever done. Things could go bad. Really bad. And if they do…” My brothers could die. I could die. She couldn’t bring herself to say it.

“If they do, we’ll deal with it,” Ti said, because he had to say something.

Lyta scrunched her eyes closed, her breath coming shallowly as she worked up the courage to turn in his arms and meet his gaze. “Look, Ti, we didn’t… You didn’t get a chance to talk to me before Nazarene. But I have you now. I can tell you this to your face, and not just on a recording or something.”


“No, let me say it. We both know that…” She took a shuddering breath. “...that I might not come back from this. We might be facing down a betabel with nothing but pistols, and that’s probably suicide even if we win. And if I don’t come back…” She closed her eyes just for a moment, focused on his breathing, centered herself, opened them again. “...Find someone else. Find someone who makes you happy. I want you to be happy. I love you.”

She could feel the tears welling up at the corners of her eyes, and she tried to blink them back. She was not entirely surprised to find that Ti also looked on the verge of crying. “Don’t talk like that,” he whispered. “It’ll be okay.”

Lyta shook her head, dislodging a tear. “You don’t know that. Nobody knows that. We’re doing what we have to do, but that doesn’t mean it’ll be okay.”

Ti reached up and gently wiped the tear off her cheek. He leaned down and kissed where it had landed. “I have to believe you’ll come back to me. There’s so much left we have to do.” He smiled through his own tears.

Lyta looked down, resting her head against his hand. “You have to find a really comfy desk,” she reminded him, not quite obtaining the levity she’d hoped for. “And then I’ll pick you up from work and we’ll have dinner and make small talk like boring people.”

“You’ll never be boring,” Ti assured her, and kissed her forehead.

She could feel his heartbeat beneath her hands, his breath against her forehead. She wanted it to last forever.

His datapad chimed. For a strained moment, neither of them was willing to let go. “That’s my train,” Ti whispered.

“I know.”

“I have to…”

Lyta tugged on the back of his neck until he was level with her, and she kissed him, a desperate, passionate kiss that mingled with the salt of her tears. She clung to him as long as she could. Don’t go, she almost said. I don’t want to be alone. I don’t want you to be alone. Not again.

She pulled away. “I love you,” she whispered.

His arms gripped her. “I love you too. I’ll see you soon, okay?”


He planted one more kiss on her lips before he disentangled himself. “Okay.” He straightened and pulled on his jacket, set his shoulders. He squeezed her hand one last time and, with a single look back, made his way to the door and his train.


Ti made as far as the boarding entrance of the train. Other passengers filed in, around and past him, seeking out their seats, while he just stood there like a rock in the river.

The train pulled away and still he stood there, the whole world moving under his feet.

He was trying to process his feelings, but they had overwhelmed him and now he was like a taxed v-engine: overheated and seized up.

He was worried about the op and he was certainly worried for Lyta and the others too. But his overriding feeling was rage. Crippling rage.

He hated the Bear for this craven plot; he feared that they might not be able to stop it. He hated that after all that he had gone through to discover Renault’s hand behind all his doubts of the last few cycles, finally setting things right with Lukas so that they could have a clean break, he still needed him to fight this fight.

He hated feeling on the back foot when they had been, for the first time since he started unravelling this plot starting with Tantalus, finally on the offensive.

He hated that Lyta was so frightened, talking about their future as though it was no more than a dream that was already all but lost. He also hated Lyta.

Ti was livid that she has gone along with Lukas for so long with Renault. That she had lied to him again, had betrayed his trust and let Lukas use him. Ti had made every effort to spend the least amount of time with her as possible since she had admitted it to him in Prince Gable. He couldn’t help the feeling of betrayal and didn’t know how to process it in her presence.

Above all, he despised himself for hating her. He loved her, he wanted to spend the rest of his life -- a long life -- with her. He had almost vented his recriminations at the station, but mercifully she had stopped him.

The train jostled as it switched tracks on the outskirts of Lyonnesse and started picking up speed, breaking Ti free. He took a step and put his hand out to the wall to stabilize himself. It was white from being clenched so tightly for so long. He watched as blood rushed back into the pink extremity.

A small sense of relief penetrated his dark mood. He was glad he hadn’t said anything; it would have been the worst way to leave things off. He knew why she did what she did. She was in an impossible situation between him and Lukas.

He would get past it. They would hash it out someday. They would have a thousand arguments about little things and big things and Ti was willing to bet a lot of them would be, in some way, related to Lukas. Lyta stood between Ti and Lukas and always would, but in this moment, ironically, Ti and Lukas were closer than they had ever been in their resentment towards her.

With one more guilty thought for his mixed feelings, Ti took a deep breath and dislodged himself. He entered the cabin of the train and sought out his seat. Lyonnesse receded on the horizon.

This train would return soon enough. Bringing him back to help his family, back to end the Bear and back to finally start the rest of his life with Lyta.

Heavy Gear Roleplaying Game


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