You Don’t Have to Be Honest With Me

You Don’t Have to Be Honest With Me

This scene is a direct continuation from Time Sensitive Mail. When our characters returned from their mission in the unknown, they found they had been gone much longer than they anticipated (ten years, to be exact), though only a couple of hours had passed for them. Due to an epicly failed dodge roll, my character became separated from the rest of the group. I wrote this in part so they could see what happened off camera (the GM and I conducted this particular scene via private messages so the group wouldn’t know what happened ahead of time). This is as far as we got in one session, but there is sure to be more soon!
. . .

Someone had been sending the same message to her inbox for nine years. You’d think after the first thousand or so messages had gone unanswered, the sender would have given up. After all, if everyone believed she had been dead for ten years, she was obviously never going to answer.

Never answering seemed like the best possible response.

Never opening the message might have been even better.

Ves Aslun had forgotten a lot of things in the course of her lifetime, but she hadn’t exactly chosen to forget them. Her subconscious had apparently decided it was best not to hold onto certain things, so in a sense she had willfully ditched a fair amount of memories, but she couldn’t consciously choose to do the same when it came to the message.

She had tried.

Usually a hot shower helped clear her head of fog and allow her to focus on whatever task she wanted at the moment. As her first hot shower in ten years, she rather thought it would have felt nicer. But rather than ten years, for her it had only been a really rough couple of days and, given the way things had been going before she left, that really wasn’t abnormal.

In truth, she had forgotten about all the letter shortly after setting up the time-delayed auto mailer. Being square in the path of an army of zealots and god-like creatures had a tendency to drive most non-survival related thoughts out of a person’s mind. And she had been notoriously bad about returning to old thought threads of late. Not to mention that, after the battle, there had been other important matters to attend. Such as trying to forget that ShadowHunter was dead, and trying to get Ruhk and Pantriss to stop fighting and kiss. That sort of thing.

She didn’t regret sending the message, though it would have been easy to convince herself she did in retrospect. She would have thought after ten years her sister would have resolved that particular issue.

But maybe that was exactly the problem. If she hadn’t sent the message in the first place, there might not be anything to worry about. She hadn’t seen any indication that her sister was involved with the death cultists prior to her departure. Not that it would have been impossible to hide, but she thought she was observant enough to notice, especially when she was looking for the signs. Had she messed it all up again? Gone and gotten another person she cared about mixed up in all the wrong things because she hadn’t taken the time to think it all through?

She shut off the water and toweled herself dry. Slowly, trying to think only of her movements. She dressed. Spectacularly, of course. She retrieved her pad from the pocket of her slimy, discarded clothing. She hit the button and watched the video play again.

“You ask in your letter if I know about you and of course I do. I have been looking for you since the day you exploded out of my life.”

The face was familiar, and not just because of the shocking resemblance it bore to the features that greeted her every time she looked in a mirror. That she had ever forgotten she had a sister was something of a sore point. For awhile after she found her again, Ves had stared at pictures of her sister’s face, had studied her as if that would allow her to divine all the details of the time they spent apart. She probably could have had her answers if she had approached her sister back then, but she had been too frightened. Not of what her sister would do or say, but of what darkness she might visit on the woman’s life after she had so obviously moved on.

“This other information about who killed our parents is, I’m sorry to say, incorrect.”

Ves was pretty sure the information she dug up about her parent’s death was fairly accurate. After all, she had been there. Or she thought she had. But she wouldn’t be surprised if there was another layer to the whole story. Lately, her lack of knowledge and foresight didn’t surprise her in the least. She tried not to notice the circular sponge moving across the lower half of her sister’s face, tried not to see the patches of black where the makeup washed away.

“I know who killed our parents, you did.”

This, she could say with certainty, was an accurate statement.

“That’s why I have been looking for you. To ask you why, then send you to them.”

This time, the sight of the black tattoo running from the base of her sister’s nose to the bottom of her jaw made her shudder.

Ves cut the video feed before it could finish. The technology on what had once been Moon Base, but now had some stupid name she didn’t care to remember, was a little more advanced than she remembered, but luckily she was better at talking to computers than she was at talking to people. And it wasn’t exactly as if whoever sent these messages had been subtle about it.

If her sister wanted to talk, they would talk. It would be simple. Easy. As easy as anything in her life ever was anymore.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Ves was not the cleverest member of the Immortals. She could be clever when she needed to be, but only when it came to small things. She could rig just about any type of bomb a person could have use for with whatever spare parts she could find laying around. But she let everyone else handle the big plans. They decided where to go and she followed. They decided who to shoot, and she pulled the trigger. Every now and then she suggested they might be less likely to die if they walked in a different direction, but usually she was overruled. In which case she did as she was told.

Life was easier all around if she did what she was told.

Today was not going to be one of those days. This was her problem and no one else’s. It wasn’t fair to drag the others into a mess of her own making. They all had other things to worry about; lives to be resumed, people to catch up with, weddings to eventually get around to planning once they stopped being stubborn and admitted that they really actually just wanted to kiss already and stop making everyone wait around for the good parts of the romance. Which reminded her that she hadn’t ever finished designing that wedding dress. She hesitated, resisting the urge to turn around and go back. It would be so much easier if she did.

She might have, if she hadn’t caught the flash of brightly colored hair in the crowd.

No, that was a lie. No matter how much she wanted to go back, she wasn’t going to. That’s why she’d brought enough explosives with her to cause a serious problem on the base, just in case she needed to.

Ves had never been particularly good at hiding in a crowd, but she let the one milling through the hallways here engulf her. She could be good at noticing things, when she wanted to be, and she noticed the crazy colored hair hesitate when she didn’t move, waiting on her.

She let the crowd carry her toward that hair, hoping it might carry her past the person, let her get a good look at the face.

When their eyes locked, she could tell right away it wasn’t her sister. But the man’s smile matched the one in the video for a moment before he disappeared like a street magician at the end of a routine, before the crowd could ask for their money back.

Ves checked her pad again. She was close now. Any moment, it would be too late to turn back. And already that moment had past.

She entered the section of the base that had once belonged to the Neb, the ship ShadowHunter had once commanded. A ship whose destruction was probably, in one way or another, her fault.

She took the lift up to what had once been the bridge. It was empty, aside from her. Music played, the kind of catchy little ditty that annoyed just about everyone. She tapped her foot, absently making her toe move in time with the tune.

The lift reached the top and the door swished open. Ves stayed where she was an extra moment before she leaned forward, peering from side to side.

Someone had obviously been squatting up here. Either that, or some rich sonofabitch had paid to reserve the VIP suite and given no care if they trashed it. She supposed it didn’t really matter. It looked empty now.

Ves took a deep breath and exited the lift before the doors could close again and the capsule return along its path to the lower level. She crossed the room at a stately pace, brushed some stray debris off one side of the couch and sat down. She thought about crossing her legs, then thought better of it.

She tried to think of what she would say when she saw her sister. She was sure all the others had an idea what they would say to their loved ones when they saw them for the first time in ten years, but Ves’s absence had been somewhat longer than that. And there were other factors to consider. But she rather thought she could come up with something a bit better than ‘hello.’

She caught the movement just before he lifted the gun. It was the same street magician with the same crazy hair and wacko smile.

“She has been waiting,” he announced as he raised the gun.

Survival instinct carried her off the couch cushions and into a tight roll almost before she realized what she was happening. A skill that would never cease to be useful, if she was honest. She heard the soft puff of air as the needle round embedded itself in the couch where she had been sitting moments before.

She tried to stay calm, tried to keep the tremor out of her voice. “You don’t have to shoot me. I want to talk to her.”

His smile hadn’t faltered. “Okay.” He pulled the trigger again.

Maybe it was his answer that made her hesitate. Maybe it was the smile, or some long distant memory trying to bubble back to the surface at the worst possible moment. Maybe it was a stray wrapper underneath her foot. It didn’t matter and she would never know. She felt the sharp sting of the needle as it penetrated her flesh and a light thud as she fell to the floor. Then everything went dark.

*  *  *  *  *  *

Before she got in the shower, before she took as many explosives as she could carry and marched into the most obvious trap anyone had ever set, Ves had gone to Eddie. It seemed so natural. It was what she had always done. Something happened and she turned to Eddie. Somehow, Eddie always pulled her out of the fire, even if it was of her own making.

He hadn’t known as much about Noxochidra as she hoped, certainly less than she knew. But worst of all, he hadn’t pressed when she dismissed his question about why she wanted to know. She might have spilled it to him all right there in the hallway if he had insisted while they were alone. Even if she didn’t want to, her tongue might have taken control and given her away. But for all that she tended to blame him for every problem she encountered, she knew in her heart that it was usually her messes he ended up cleaning. And he didn’t deserve this one any more than the rest of them did.

But in the drug dream haze, just as the chemicals started to release her mind toward wakefulness, she couldn’t help replaying the last few moments of that meeting over and over. He hadn’t shaken her, like he had while they had still been in the slug dome in front of everyone else. Instead he had laid a hand on her shoulder as if it were all simple, as if what little remained of her world wasn’t crumbling around her ankles.

“You don’t have to be honest with me,” he said. “But if you need my help, I’ll do it, especially if it means putting holes in a few bad eggs.”

If she had asked him to sneak away with her right then, he might have said yes. But she had been too frightened. Because even a man like Eddie had limits and she didn’t know if his would survive her truth.

You don’t have to be honest with me. He told her that the first time he met her, back when she hadn’t realized she was being dishonest. But truth had a way of wriggling free of its prison sooner or later, and she’d run out of spare cages.

*  *  *  *  *  *

She woke in a shuttle. She looked at every nook and cranny, but saw no indication of where the shuttle might have come from, who it belonged to or where it was going. Not that she was surprised. Only the richest assholes had custom shuttles and, of course, she could never get kidnapped by someone ritzy. That’d be too much to ask for.

She stayed quiet, straining her ears to catch any available sound. She caught snatches of conversation coming from the cockpit.

“Finally,” one voice spat, “we can leave that place…”

Ves hadn’t been particularly fond of the new Moon Base, or whatever they called it now, but she hadn’t quite been ready to leave. Actually, this had not gone according to plan at all. The plan had been to go to the source of the message and talk to her sister. The plan had been to set off some kind of alarm or beacon if she got into trouble, the kind that was very loud and would bring her friends running before she could manage to blow a hole in the sealed environment. She hadn’t been counting on getting shot and, in retrospect, it seemed like a terrible oversight on her part.

Closing her eyes, focusing on deep breaths, Ves wriggled until she got a leg free of her bonds. Once she had a limb free, the binding was loose enough that she could escape, so long as she maintained her patience. And so long as no one came to check on her.

When she was free, she scooted as quietly as she could through the compartment until she found a panel behind which she could access the shuttle’s computer. With more time and patience she managed to hook her pad into the computer.

She sent a coded message with her name and the fact that she had been taken ‘from that place’ in a shuttle. Her friends were more than clever enough to figure out what had happened. In fact, they probably already had, but she would be remiss if she didn’t try to save herself somehow. She was relatively certain they would be willing to come for her. She only hoped they wouldn’t come to regret making the trip.

Ves disconnected her pad and returned the panel to the wall. There was little else she could do. Even if she could hide somewhere in the small shuttle craft, it wasn’t like it would take them long to find her. She couldn’t put herself back in her restraints, but she did curl up where she had been before and pretend to sleep. Though she listened for more chatter, she gleaned nothing of use on the journey. Her sense of time had never been good so she couldn’t even tell how long they had been in transit, not that she had any idea how long she might have been asleep.

Mostly, Ves tried not to think. While it was true that a little bit of thinking before all this might have kept her from getting in trouble, it was also true that thinking at the moment was only going to make the journey feel longer and harder than it already did.

Besides, she was on her way to talk to her sister, something she desperately wanted to do, and she still hadn’t figured out what she was going to say.

Please check out what my writing partner did with this one as well!

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