Sunday, 30 October 2011

Your Move

The chess set was an old one. The pieces had been hand carved by a master craftsman, as had the board, from precious stones and metals. Intricate detail on all the pieces, even the pawns told a story on the chequered board that echoed through antiquity.

The last rays of the sun shone in through the window as it dipped below the horizon and for a moment caused the gem in the queens staff to glow with balefire before the lights seemed to fade all through the house.

Carmilla noticed the balefire in the staff and the fading of the lights and put the small glass she was sipping from back on the table and, after replacing a book mark, laid a small tome on the table by the chess set. Without looking up she smiled.
"Good evening, I have been waiting for you."

Across the table from her sat a tall dark figure, clad in a heavy cowled robe, a heavy scythe leant against the wall behind him, easily within reach. The robe nodded and a skeletal hand reached out to take the glass that had been set down by the opposite side of the chess board.
"You wish a game? To pit your wits against mine?"
"Yes. I have that right."
There was a throaty chuckle from beneath the robes.
"I will collect you one day, Carmilla, regardless you do know that?"
"Aaah yes. I have walked with you as a constant companion, but always just beyond your grasp. The Immortals dance with death but never give in to his demands...."
"Until now.... now you are dying. And there is no immortality for you. I can sense myself in you, writhing around you, an insidious death."
Carmilla picked up the small glass with the pale green liquid inside and swirled it gently, the ice cubes clinking softly. Aaah yes, Vitoc. The insidious death that is kept at bay by the daily dose of poison. Institutionalised bondage.

Carmilla set up the pieces on the chessboard and placing two pawns in the palm of her hand offered them to the figure before her.
"So what are the stakes for this game?"
"If I win, you die."
"And if I win?"
The robed figure just laughed, outside there was a howling of dogs and the lights in the room dimmed, though on the chessboard it seemed more illuminated. The robed figure took the black pawn and placed it on his side of the table.
"Let is see how the game progresses. But I dare say you'll get what you wish for.... if you win."
She placed her pawn on the table, her move made. Her acceptance of the tems made in that move.
"Then let us play. Your move...."

Friday, 21 October 2011

Time Enough....

Wrapped in a long heavy fur coat Carmilla sat on the porch of the small hunting lodge and watched. She watched everything, the stars glittering to her from deep space, the glistening ball of the planet and it's larger moons. Across the darkside of the planet the tracery of lights indicated the presence of population centres, the occasional flare in the sky as ships ascended or descended through the atmosphere. All visible in the crystal clear air of the moon she was on.

All around her the trees were covered in a coating of snow, the floor thick with it as well, save only where the carriage had travelled. Several hours earlier she had heard it arrive, the sound of doors opening and closing, and the departure. Now, all was silent.

Night fell before she stirred and made her way inside, the lights had automatically come on as the sun set, and the sparse heating of the other rooms had begun. A well stoked fire was already in the grate and the warmth was penetrating, welcoming. Sitting in her chair she saw the terminal was flashing with stored messages. She ignored it, and closed the screen down and saw the letter.

Pulling her gloves off she slipped out of the coat and poured a glass of wine, settling down infront of the fire to read. She recognised Mona's handwriting.

My Dearest Carmilla,

From the little time I have spent with you I know that you have not bothered to read the messages that are on your terminal. But I know you will be reading this.

You will have to forgive me sneaking out as I did, for I could not face you, all my resolve would have melted. I have been summoned back, my duties as your guardian are.... no longer required. And from what I understand.... you have been exiled. Never more allowed back into the Disciples.

I can't claim to understand why you did what you had to do, or why Ithiria reacted the way she did. But it is not my place. And I must do my duty.

We all must follow our own paths, you have chosen yours and I can do no less than follow mine.

Your friend,

Mona Deveraux

Carmilla read the letter several times before folding it up and replacing it in the envelope. Walking over to the terminal she flipped up the screen and looked at the flashing icon. Two messages. She ran her crimson nails over the keypad and gently pressed the purge button. The two messages dissapeared. Closing the terminal again she picked up the book that was resting beside the terminal and settled back into the chair by the fire.

Far far away in space, the pilots of her new corporation were fighting, the call to be there was strong. But first.... there was the fire and the book... and the wine. Time enough to fight, time enough to die.

Time enough....

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Road Ahead

Clad in her paladins armour Mona Deveraux looked fierce, the gloss black of the armour, the heavy blade on her back and the pistols on her hips. However, even with the attire, the scowl on her face and the anger in her voice, Carmilla did not care and was unrepentant. Her torso and arms were buried in the rear sensor array of the Coercer class destroyer she was building.
"You can't do it Carm. Espcially not without telling your wife. She has a right to know."
"And she'll find out..... pass me a molecular bonder please?"
Mona looked around and picked up the tool and handed it into the hole in the ship then knelt down beside her.
"It's not right Carm."
"I have to do this Mona. But look on the bright side, you're coming with me."
"Me?" Carm smilled at the shock in her voice, "I'm not compounding your...."
"Your job is to guard me Mona and make sure I'm not a silly cow getting kidnapped, assaulted, arrested, shot, killed or a number of horrible things."
"But you are leaving your corporation!" The wail in her voice belied the look on her face.
"Yes, but I'm not getting divorced... or giving up my collar. So I still need you. Anyway... look upon this as an adventure."
"Huh, I know all about your adventures Carm. I'm not sure it's a good idea."

Carmilla pulled out of the hole and closed it, flaring up her welding torch and sealing the hatch. For the time it took to seal the hatch, smooth it down and buff the armour to a high sheen they were both silent. Mona looked across the bay, dozens of ships were here. Frigates, destroyers, cruisers, even the vast hurricanes at the far end. All of them had been built, either in part or directed by her ward. How long had she planned this?

She watched as Carm handed the gear over to the workers who were fitting in the weapon systems and making the final checks. Frowning as she watched the old orange robbed priest walk to the front of the ship and seemingly shake something at it, Carm with her head bowed. Piety? From the Destroyer? She shrugged and by the time she had walked over he had moved onto the next ship.
"What was he doing?"
"Blessing the ship. I prefer to have it done to all mine before I go into battle. And all of these will be going into battle."
"You sure you won't reconsider?"
"Nope. Now come on, we have to visit the planet below. I need to check on my estate."
"You have an estate here? I didn't know about it.... nor did Ithiria if I recollect my list of your possessions."
"She runs an entire alliance. She doesn't have time to catch up with every little thing to do with me. That's your job."
Carmilla smiled. Mona didn't.

The shuttle ride to the planet below was quiet and as they departed the coldness outside bit deeply. Snow covered the ground and the trees, their breath came out in fierce clouds. Not far away from the shuttle pad a horse drawn carriage was waiting. Lanterns were being lit around the edge of the landing pad, and down the road towards the estate. Night was closing in, the stars coming out.
"You really do like to surprise dont you. Hand lit lanterns.... and that carriage doesn't even have an engine. "
"It does, it's a horse. It's called binky."
"How do you know?"
Carmilla frowned as she walked over and patted and rubbed the animal with familiarity.
"Because I called her binky. In the back hun...."
Carm and Mona sat in the back and the driver turned to them from the seat and handed them both heavy blankets with a smile.
"Here now, you both wrap up warm. And hold tight, the road ahead is cold and could be dangerous. More wolves have been sighted in the forest."
"Never a more true word said my friend."
Carmilla looked up at the stars and sighed, a mixture of happiness and sadness. One chapter of her life was closing, and another was opening. It would be a sad time to leave the Disciples, but needs must she mused. There were things that needed to be done and promises to be kept. She reached up and touched her collar, a gesture that Mona noticed, and she saw the welling up in her eyes.
"Carm...." Mona reached over and grasped her hand gently and squeezed it, "She'll understand. Few have been as loyal or dedicated as you have been. The road ahead will be dangerous, but you will never be alone. Ever."
Carm pulled Mona towards her and gripped her in a hug. The old driver looking around grinned and started singing an old matari folksong as the snow started to fall again and the carriage jingled towards the estate hidden in the depths of the forest.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

The Quafe-Noir Diaries

Carmilla Deritan sat down infront of the mirror and dried her new blonde hair while looking over her shoulder at Mona, her new guard and friend. Before her on the dresser, amongst the disordered array of makeup, lock picks and curios sat several vials of Quafe-Noir and her hypo-syringe. With a tired smile she presses play on the terminal to her right. A voice comes over the speakers, her own. Clad only in the gossamer dressing gown she sat down on the bed next to Mona and passed her glass over to be refilled.
"Thank you Mona... it had to be done..."

.....I have been addicted to many things in the course of my life so far. Love and Blue Pill the most.... deadly and fun. Khanid whiskey, fine foods, rare delicacies, like a glutton I sought them out. Hedonistic pleasures and debaucheries of the flesh. All these however you can get over and be free from.

Except maybe love.

This, however, my Quafe-Noir is insidious, deadly and more addictive than murder and theft. I know, I've done them both more times than I care to remember or reveal. It may even be the end of me, if my Mistress cannot find a cure. But I need to know what it can do to me. How it will kill me, if I let it.
But with this I can't let my self be recloned from this body. Then it will be eternal. I need to find a cure, or something before I can let myself be cloned.
(dry laugh)
Do you have any idea how difficult that is going to be? Let alone the dangers of being a damn capsuleer.... just life in general. I know I said before I like challenges... but fuck I think this is beyond even my grasps.
No matter... I have Mona watching me if I need her. She knows what to do if I get into trouble.
(click and squeel of recording)

Day one.
It has been twelve hours since my last dose. I can feel it. the pain. Radiating from me in slow pulses. Like the heart beat of the sleeping damned. If I concentrate I can ignore it. But when I stop... it floods back with a vengence. Maybe fighting it isn't the way.
Part of me wants to just take the next capsule and let the blissful contemplation of that slight prick and the pressure then the flood of clarity and well being that comes with it. The other part just wants to open up my veins and see if my blood is actually bubbling. That's what it feels like, funny that, actually... no it's not funny. Blue Pill gave me hallucinations, but at least they talked to me.....

Day two...
(pause, the sound of running)
I want to know what part of me pulses at this rate. I can find no neural or biological effect that pulses like this. Not my heart beat either, that has been going up and down like mad. And doing exercise or sleeping and resting... from one extreme to the other seems to halt the pain. But it doesn't stop me thinking. My mind is working overtime.
(pause and sound of drinking)
Thirsty too. But thats from the exercise, as I can't stand just lying around doing nothing. It's not me. I mean I could do it, but what's the point. I'd rather be working. Not that I can do too much work here. But I can exercise. I'm guessing that the amount of exercise I'm doing is equivalent to working in the fields. I can remember that from several months ago, was back breaking work.
What I have found is that I have to stop running slowly... if I stop suddenly then it hits. Hard. And then it takes longer to clear the pain away. So.. the more and longer I work.. the less pain I feel. Those bastards. Those ingenious bastards.

Day Three of.. this hell... my veins feel like they are transporting molten lead around my body. I hurt in places I didn't know existed. Each breath seems like a hardship, each step is agony. Lying in bed is all I want to do, it hurts the least, but I am too active, I keep moving around. All I can think of now... is an ice cold quaffe... or my quaffe-noir.... how do those poor bastards cope?

(Screams, long and drawn out fill this section before heavy footfalls can be heard getting closer)
This is Mona Deveraux. By day four Carmilla was in constant agony and had to be restrained. Medical treatment has been given, as well as a dose of...
...this Quafe-Noir. Some time in the night she attempted to scratch out her eyes, luckily I was able to restrain her, no permanent damage done. Bleeding through eyes, ears, nose, some basic cellular damage, nervous system was given a shock which quite frankly I'd be surprised she recovers from.....