Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Dreams of Stars Part 34

Long section, and a bit different.

       L’lorne didn’t notice Deborah until a mutually agreed break had started. Fighting for two weeks straight was a difficult slog and made for a rather boring fight on the whole. An agreement for a pause in the action was done silently, through the movements of the eye and position of the bodies. L’lorne estimated that she had three days before the fighting would begin again and was planning what to do when she saw that Deborah had reentered the room.

      She was maybe three steps in, which meant L’lorne had missed her entrance by a couple of days, and the door was just reaching the point of closing. Why was the girl in there again? Throwing her out had been, at best, a temporary move. It moved her out of the line of direct fire, but meant little in the long run. The plan had called for her to stay, but the plan had long ago been scrapped, and L’lorne had to wonder as to what Deborah was planning to do. Not that it mattered. The only change in L’lorne’s strategy for now would be to avoid Deborah as much as possible. She may die, but L’lorne wasn’t going to be responsible for it.

      It was warm in the natatorium, warm and sticky with humidity. So warm Deborah considered taking her coat off, but with the air around her swirling and explosions of tile rippling along the floors and walls, she was afraid of it being caught in a gust of wind and torn apart. No, she wasn’t going to let her mother’s old coat get destroyed, not now. It was all she had left of her besides the picture and the memory. Everything else had been traded for food, shelter and protection on the streets, and she wasn’t about to lose all this now.

      Though what she was doing exactly she wasn’t sure. She needed a place that was relatively safe for her to watch the battle. There weren’t many places like that left. The blocks were nearly all gone, the doorways to the showers were shattered and looked ready to topple over, and the furniture she had sat on only a few minutes ago was a pile of burnt dust. The only thing left standing was a high diving board over the deep end of the now empty pool. It looked alright, stable and intact even. Well, at the very least, she would get a hell of a view.

      Why hadn’t he said anything? L’lorne ran a combo strike, trying to catch Ritch ‘arrd with the axe head, but missed during the three attempts to connect. Normally having an attack like that, he would have commented on it, telling her how to do it better or why she had messed up, but this time he said nothing. He hadn’t said anything since the fight proper had begun, and it was starting to get a bit unnerving. It was probably part of his strategy to throw her off, and it was working. With a yell she swung up the axe and pulled it down hard into the ground, ripping a crevasse into the ground that would have kept growing if she were still moving at normal speed.

      It was what made using her time dilation effects so awkward. Momentum was a constant, but as soon as it left the time field immediately around her, it would settle into the natural time line of the universe. Explosions of concrete from the walls wouldn’t exist for hours in her time, making the effect of a massive strike seem pitiful. At least Deborah was getting a bit of a show.

      The sudden rip of concrete in the ground barely startled Deborah any more. The explosions of the walls were so common and typical now she could almost tune them out. Almost. The best she could do in the face of them was to focus on other things. Which was really better? L’lorne was a confessed mass murderer, had killed dozens even in the time she had known her, and had lied about all of it up until Deborah learned the truth. She also seemed to rather enjoy the act of killing, like it was a hobby of some sort. Killing for the sake of killing and a little bit of fun as well. It made her shiver to think that she had followed her for hundreds of miles.

      Not that Ritch ‘arrd was much better. He killed his own child, and indirectly her mother, and for what exactly? Because the child was too weak and humanity was too stupid? On top of that he taught L’lorne everything she knew, taught her how to murder a planet in cold blood. To him, it was all a game, and even now, as she stumbles through the explosions and chaos, he was still playing a game, treating her like another pawn. Another explosion rattled, but she was already turning toward it, half expecting it. A rather large piece of debris was heading her way, she would only have enough time to lift her arm and hope for the best.

      Their weapons were locked together and they held their ground. There was no grunting or grinding of teeth, but there was still that firm glare each held. They had been at this one for three days now, though that was rather short. Often, the only way these broke up was with an underhanded strike, to the crotch or a headbutt of some kind. Ritch ‘arrd’s eyes blinked over, looking over L’lorne’s shoulder and he raised his eyebrows. L’lorne ignored it, figuring it was just another attempt to throw off her concentration. Still, Deborah was behind her, and if he saw something interesting, then she would need to see it soon. Another day or so, however wouldn’t matter.

      Later the next day, they had switched sides, and now L’lorne could see what Ritch ‘arrd had raised an eyebrow at. A piece of concrete, about the size of a fist, was flying toward Deborah. The girl was just reaching up, probably having just noticed it, but there was not time to dodge. If it hit, she would be seriously hurt, she might even die, her skull crushed. L’lorne let herself fall backwards, then flipped Ritch ‘arrd over her then reset for another stalemate. The next morning, they had moved next to Deborah, and L’lorne managed to push Ritch ‘arrd away, then she reached out with the head of the axe and knocked the offending piece of artificial stone straight into the ground. Then she charged at Ritch ‘arrd.

      And suddenly it was gone, smashed into the floor with such force that it created a crater and spit out pieces of tile and concrete that flecked off Deborah’s coat. She looked at it for a moment, then turned back toward the diving board. One of them had saved her, or perhaps it was both of them. Which one? Ritch ‘arrd seemed most likely. Despite what he had done to her mother, he had made an effort, an apparently honest one, to apologize for it. He didn’t need to, he could have been like L’lorne and shrugged his shoulders at it, but he apologized. Deborah didn’t know for sure if he had ever done something like that before, but what he had seen of him indicated he wasn’t a straight up murderer. He even admitted to being against the policies of his own people, ones that would have mutated everyone on the planet into something resembling what her mother looked like. On top of that, she was his game piece, and if he wanted to win, he couldn’t just have the pawn sacrificed in such a non-productive way.

      That felt cold, cold and calculating, just like L’lorne had been. Had been, she wasn’t that way anymore. Could the knowledge of her child’s death have changed L’lorne for the better? It wasn’t impossible, Deborah had managed to get her to free the diner and its prisoners, so L’lorne could do good things. She also had thrown Deborah out of the room right before the real fight had begun, and why? To, in some way, protect her, that was all Deborah could figure. Delphi had said L’lorne might be trying to win before the end came, and that seemed possible, so keeping Deborah out of the way would protect her until then at least. If that were true, saving her now wasn’t unthinkable at all, though why she hadn’t thrown Deborah back out of the room was hard to say. There was a third possibility Deborah considered as she put her hand on the ladder: They both did it, together, for their own reasons but as a kind of team. Maybe there was hope for both of them, maybe.

      That last dodge was rather slow for him. L’lorne pulled back and tried to maneuver over a pile of debris and mid creation explosions. He had done that a few times now, that last time was most apparent. Slow was not like Ritch ‘arrd, so it meant something. She shot a quick scan across the room, trying not to make it seem obvious that she wanted a detailed power distribution of Ritch ‘arrd. As expected, he smacked it down quickly, but she had just enough information to build a hypotheses. He was moving slower, not just for immediate actions, but just generally slower. Time state was alright, set even with her currently, but his base speed had dropped by almost 20%. For all practical purposes, he was only minutely faster than she was now.

      Why? He was conserving energy. Actually, it was more like saving it up for another time state boost to match her next one. He generally stayed away from time manipulation, while L’lorne had practiced it frequently. That meant as the levels went higher and higher, it took more and more energy and concentration to push it up to the next level, and without practice, it could take even more. She had expected that he wouldn’t have let the battle go this long, he should have switched to a power setting, triggering the battle that would surly destroy this planet, but he hadn’t. Over next to the diving board, her foot just up on the first rung was Deborah. He was waiting for her, buying her time. Time for what? She didn’t get a chance to consider that as Ritch ‘arrd attacked.

      What about hope for her? What did Deborah have to look forward to after this? She hadn’t considered it much before, at least not since her mother had died. A quarter of the way up the ladder, a hard wind blew past her, fluffing out her coat for a moment. Going home wasn’t much of an option, not unless she wanted to “make a proper living” as Danny always said. She couldn’t and wouldn’t do that, not now not ever. That left either going off on her own, or going with them. Already she could see how L’lorne would treat her: As a replacement child. Maybe she wouldn’t have before, but now, most definitely, and Deborah did not want that. She had a mother, though now dearly departed, and she would be damned if she got another. Any relationship with L’lorne would have to be Deborah’s terms, and that would be very hard.

      Ritch ‘arrd was a different story. What would he need with a game piece if the game was over? More than halfway up the ladder of the high diving board, the obvious though occurred to Deborah: Promotion. The pawn in the game reaches the other side of the board and gets promoted. Deborah would be Ritch ‘arrds new student, that’s what he probably wanted. And what of L’lorne? Death, knowing what she did about him. She didn’t want that, L’lorne had done a lot of terrible things, and probably deserved it, but neither of them should die. No, death wasn’t the answer. Maybe, just maybe, they could all live together, almost like a family. As much as she didn’t want L’lorne to be her mother, or Ritch ‘arrd to be her father, if both were spared, maybe she could help them. As she crawled up onto the diving platform, she finally let her hopes get high. Maybe, just maybe.



1. What kind of person is Lcorn L'lorne? What does she look like (in your mind)?
2. What kind of person is the Deborah Ignigus? What does she look like (in your mind)?
3. What kind of person is The Ritch 'arrd? What does his human form look like (in your mind)?
4. Does the setting seem fitting? Would you like to know more?
5. The formatting for this section is very different than previous ones, does it make sense or seem difficult to follow?

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