Head Games

From the Story Arc: Grim's Gamble

Previous Story in the Arc: History Lesson by Astra Kyne Murdock (Wednesday, November 22, 2006)

Next Story in the Arc: Wings by Astra Kyne Murdock (Thursday, December 07, 2006)

(posted Wednesday, November 22, 2006)

((Written by Moriyaku, originally posted on RPC Forums))

Some things simply didn’t go together. Oil and water. Milk and orange juice. Peanut butter and mayonnaise.

Miranda Garren and herbal tea.

She held the mug in her hands, staring down at the steaming liquid rather than at the woman sitting across from her. Her fingers tightened and her hands shook for a moment but the mentalist willed herself to calm. A long breath and an even longer pause passed before Miranda spoke again.

“Look, I know John’s said that everyone’s gotten things worked out, and that Astra’s in good hand. The best hands,” she added. A smile lifted the corner of her mouth, but it was accompanied by a few tears. Miranda wiped her face with the back of her hand, finally mustering the courage to raise her head.

Vickie was watching her, her expression one of near-infinite patience and understanding. Both Vickie and Pania had been there that night at the warehouse, and neither had condemned her for those actions. And now, Vickie waited for Miranda’s words without an ounce of judgment. She gave a nod as if to say, ‘It’s all right, go ahead,” and sipped at what was probably now lukewarm tea.

“After that… that thing. Grim. After Astra…” She squeezed her eyes shut, remembering the scene on the docks and the feeling of utter helplessness that had consumed her. “After John came, I was with Garent, near one of the Arachnos strongholds. And that coward had all but barricaded himself in there, sending out those horrid deadwalkers to do his work under the over of fire from Recluse’s flunkies.” Bile rose in her throat, and Miranda took a hasty gulp of her tea, It made her physically ill, knowing that she’d been so close, but not close enough to keep someone else’s little girl from so much horror and suffering.

Miranda closed her eyes, the temporary darkness helping the words to come more clearly. “I followed him inside the base. Just enough to see him run in, Vickie. But once I did, after the Spiders-“

Brown eyes opened, the young woman’s own courage mustered to say what needed to be known. “I got in his head, Vickie. It wasn’t long enough to do more than yell petty insults back and forth, but I got in.”

Vickie’s face registered surprise at the admission. She leaned forward, studying Mori intently. “And? How far did you get in?”

“Enough to have him talk right back,” she replied. “Enough to know that he’s smug, egotistical, and refuses to engage on a level field.” A hoarse laugh escaped Miranda, and she quickly brought a hand over her mouth, embarrassed by the outburst. “I… I’m sorry. I just… I turned his deadwalkers against him, and he ran for cover. And doing that only took a surface thought, Vickie.”

The slender mage nodded again, taking in that bit of information. Moriyaku had closed her eyes again, shoulders slumped forward with the weight of her admission on them. Vickie set her tea down and stood up, arms folded over her chest. Minutes ticked by on the clock, neither one speaking as Vickie mulled over this not surprising but slightly unexpected bit of news.

“Could you do it again?” Her question caught Miranda off guard, but the mentalist composed herself. “If he was near, and you had cause, could you have that advantage again?”

Moriyaku’s expression hardened, her jaw held tight as she sent the words to Vickie with as much determination and certainty as could be said silently. If I had cause? You’d damn well believe I would.