Notes and Disclaimers: Madlax, Rimelda and the world in which they live are the property of Bee Train, JVC Staff, Geneon and ADV Films. They can be found in the officially licensed DVD release of the series – please borrow, rent or buy the episodes, don’t download them.
I think this is an excellent series, probably the best Bee Train has done to date. You can read my reviews of the DVD volumes at Okazu.
This story is about two adult females who are professional killers – and who are not afraid of sex. Please do not be surprised by implications of violence or sex in the story, because that would be a little silly of you, wouldn’t it? :-)
Should you enjoy this story, or indeed any of my stories, I ask two things of you: 1) Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org, and; 2) Consider buying a copy of my original novel Shoujoai ni Bouken: The Adventures of Yuriko, which you can purchase – along with great t-shirts, manga, anime and more – at theYuricon Shop.
“Worldshaking” Fanfic is a proud member of the Fanfic Revolution, because fanfic doesn’t have to suck.
On the Road To…
“What are you thinking?”
Rimelda wasn’t quite sure she had heard the question – they were moving fast enough that spoken words were pulled away swiftly by the wind, and the sound of the jeep crashing over the ruts and bumps in the roads obscured all but the loudest noises. But Madlax’s head was turned slightly to face her, with that look people get when they have asked you something and are waiting for an answer.
“I envy that gun.” Rimelda pulled her gaze from the weapon that lay casually upon Madlax’s thigh, where one hand cradled it gently while the other took up the burden of steering. Madlax never held the gun too tightly – no more than a hand draped over it protectively; ready to scoop it up, never clutching or fearful. For weeks now she had driven this way – one hand on the steering wheel, another laid gently over the gun.
“Do you want it?” Madlax cupped her hand, lifting the revolver from her lap and holding it out to the other woman.
*I said envy,* Rimelda thought, but did not say. *Not covet.* She shook her head. “No.”
*No, because without your hand to hold it…* She finished the thought out loud. “It’s just a gun.” And she wondered for a moment if this was even the same gun Madlax had held on her lap yesterday, or last week. It was just a gun. Neither of them seemed to attach the least little importance to the weapons they carried. Whatever they had was what they used. They both obsessively cleaned their current weapons, meticulously stored their ammo, always knew what they were shooting – but neither cried if a particular gun was lost in battle. They simply picked up a new one and moved on.
“Okay,” Madlax shrugged, laying the gun back down. “Are you tired?” She glanced out the side window, as if she could not make out the setting sun from the front or roofless top of the vehicle. “We probably should make camp.”
“That’s fine.” Rimelda thought for a moment, then pointed. “There used to be a rebel group that used this area as HQ. I wiped them out, but one of the buildings might still be usable.” Madlax never judged her past, never held her to any kind of standard of morality. Rimelda wasn’t ashamed of her former experience as an elite sniper and commander of a special task force. Not now, not ever.
At some point, she had decided, you have to come to terms with the fact that you killed hundreds, if not thousands, of people and ruined the lives of many people around them. And when you do, you come to forgive yourself. Because there’s really no difference to the world if you kill one rebel through the sights of a rifle or raze a village, killing dozens. You’re a killer.
Rimelda was a killer.
So was Madlax.
“I think I see it,” Rimelda stood slightly in the jeep, shading her eyes. “Yes, just over there.” She pointed again, and Madlax nodded, steering the vehicle towards the clearing. The woods crowded in close around the burnt-out buildings. If no roofs or walls were usable, they’d simply sleep on the ground somewhere. It made no difference to either of them.
Madlax stopped the car rather than drive it over tree roots big enough to be effective roadblocks. They grabbed their weapons and noiselessly reconnaissanced the area – Madlax on point, Rimelda behind. It was S.O.P. now; they had done it so many times.
“Clear,” Madlax called from inside the last of the small concrete buildings that lay scattered around the clearing.
“No signs of occupation for months.” Rimelda grabbed their bags from the jeep and hauled them to the largest of the remaining structures. “This was where the commander lived,” she said by way of explanation. “It has all four walls and most of the roof.”
There was no destination to their travel. There was no objective. They drove around, fighting to stay alive in this country that had known nothing but war for twelve years and couldn’t seem, even now, to pull itself out of the habit of war.
When Enfant’s leader was destroyed, one might have expected some ripples to appear in the fabric of the world he had created. But organizations – even those run by madmen – develop bureaucracies, and bureaucrats have finely honed senses of self-preservation. Friday Monday was gone, but supply lines and trade routes, and the people who ran and managed them, remained.
It was true that many lesser leaders saw the vacuum at the top as a chance to ascend – but a civil war takes two sides, and no one person had yet been able to do more than consolidate himself as a small warlord. The habit of war was a hard one to break – especially when no one wanted to break it.
They had never discussed politics. Madlax and Rimelda had simply driven off together to salvage what life they could from the middle of this horror, agreeing to leave the past behind them and look forward from this point on. They had chosen life – but others still trafficked in death. She killed, Madlax had said, to stay alive. Rimelda had killed for duty – and glory. But they had both been killers. Good ones. The best.
Nothing was any different now, really, except the only orders they followed were their own.
They would drive. Eventually they would run into an outpost of the royal army, or maybe a rebel stronghold. They would find the commanding officer and talk to him. Tell him about Enfant and the civil war, and how it could be over – if only he would let his people go live instead of keeping them there to die. Sometimes he would listen, sometimes not. If the commander could hear past the bloodlust in his head, the men would go home, or make a home right there, with the people among whom they lived.
But far more often the commanders were angry, small men, who saw them as nothing more than prey. If he tried to kill them, they retaliated. If he held them, they escaped. If he cursed them, they absolved him – right before they shot him between the eyes.
They had no home to go to – and no objective except to stay alive.
Rimelda had built a fire, keeping it as small and smokeless as she could. Madlax pulled cans of food from their packs. They heated the cans over the fire, and ate from them. Madlax made a face at her meal and sighed.
“I could really go for some pasta.”
“The next town we come to, I’ll buy you dinner at a nice restaurant.” Rimelda smiled. She thought for a moment, then sighed herself. “What I’d really like is a nice bath.”
“Next town we come to, I’ll check us in to a nice hotel.” Madlax smiled back.
There was an extraordinary schizophrenia to their lives. One day they would sleep on the ground, eating out of cans, huddled around a small fire. The next day they would find themselves in a city, sleeping in a first-class hotel and eating in a fine restaurant. It made no difference to either of them which night was which. As long as they were together. Even when they were apart, they were together – one or the other of them off to handle a particular “mission.” But then they would be together and it would be just one more thing in their past that they didn’t discuss. From the moment they had driven away from the insanity that had brought them together, they had kept their eyes fixed firmly on nothing further ahead than the other’s back.
“I heard that an Enfant lieutenant was moving to reunite the royalist troops in the west.” Rimelda laid her empty can on the ground and stretched.
“I can go.”
“No, I’ll do it. It shouldn’t take more than three days or so.” She laid herself out on the ground, pulling her blanket around her. Closing her eyes, she said, “where will you be?”
“I’ll meet you in the capital.”
“At the usual place?” Rimelda’s voice was already sleepy.
“Yes,” Madlax said, laying her own can aside. “I’ll wait for you there.”
When Rimelda awoke the next morning, Madlax was gone.
Rimelda took the jeep west. It wouldn’t be hard to find the target. Consolidation of power leaves traces everywhere. Hunger, fear…it wasn’t hard to follow that kind of trail to its center.
This time the center was a large manufacturing complex that had been churning out artillery for years. The perimeter was guarded; she could see the towers at two corners of the complex.
Rimelda checked her watch. If she were quick about it, she’d make it into the capital for dinner tomorrow night. She had promised Madlax pasta, after all.
Rimelda could hear the door open. One hand snaked out to pull her pistol closer, but after a moment, she relaxed and left the gun where it was.
Madlax’s voice carried through the door. “I’m here.”
“Welcome back,” Rimelda said, shifting herself back into the bath. “You want to join me?”
There was a pause, then, “I’ll be in in a moment.”
She could hear noises, and easily imagine Madlax opening her pack and pulling out items that needed to be cleaned, refilled, restored. The sound of footsteps, then the door opened. Madlax entered the bathroom naked.
The light-haired woman washed her hair haphazardly, rinsed herself off, then entered the bathtub with a small sigh. She smiled happily, as she slid down into the hot water.
“This is nice,” she said, closing her eyes.
Rimelda watched the other woman with guarded eyes. She’d seen Madlax naked before, but never got tired of the sight. Her body was fit, pleasantly muscled. Her skin, where it lay close to Rimelda’s, was smooth. She knew from experience that Madlax’s hands were strong – as strong as her own – with slightly thicker fingers than her own, and freckles lightly spotting the knuckles.
She shifted in the bath, laying her legs across Madlax’s, her feet almost in the other woman’s lap. Reflexively, Madlax took one in her hands and began to massage it. Rimelda’s eyes closed, then, and her head fell back along the rim of the bathtub. Time passed in a slow, relaxed haze. She could feel the tension leave her legs as Madlax kneaded pressure points on her foot.
Rimelda considered, once again, the idea of sleeping with Madlax.
She pulled her foot out of the other woman’s grasp, and lifted the other foot into its place. The released foot was set down in Madlax’s lap; just in the same place she kept her gun as she drove.
Opening her eyes, Rimelda watched her companion. Madlax had a small smile on her face, making her look a bit like a happy child with a bath toy. Rimelda wiggled her toes against Madlax’s stomach, which made Madlax laugh out loud and splash water at her.
“It tickles when you do that.”
“That’s why I do it.” Rimelda watched the water fall off Madlax’s arms and chest, noting the pert breasts and pink nipples. There was no doubt that Madlax was extremely attractive. The other woman’s hands reached up past her ankles, roughly massaging the tension from Rimelda’s calves.
Reaching into the water, Rimelda found one of Madlax’s legs, and slowly stroked her fingers up and down the shin, just where the muscle bulged past the bone. Where she found a small knot of tension, she would push into it slightly, until she could feel the muscle below her fingertip release and stretch. Madlax’s grip on her foot relaxed, then ceased. The dark-haired woman took the leg into her own lap and began to massage it firmly.
“I never realize how tense I am, until you do that.” Madlax sighed happily, lying back slightly in the bath. Rimelda watched her body move, flushed with pleasure – and desire.
It was always like this for them. There was no need to wonder if they were attracted to one another. They were. And they liked to touch one another, stroking, massaging, but never quite getting to the point where they would make love. Sometimes maddeningly close to it, to be sure, until Rimelda thought she might explode if Madlax’s hand moved just one half of one inch in a particular direction. But it never did. It wasn’t that they were teasing one another – it was more like they just enjoyed the tension between them. Rimelda knew that she, at least, enjoyed the feeling of sexual need almost more than the act of sex itself. And with Madlax that was somehow doubled, even trebled.
One day they might make love. But for now…the anticipation and tension between them was delectable in and of itself.
Rimelda stood, pushing her hair back from her head. “How about dinner? I promised you pasta.”
Madlax nodded happily, standing as Rimelda stepped out of the tub. She handed a towel to Madlax, wrapping another around herself.
“I made reservations at Cucchiaio D’argento, is that all right with you?”
“Perfect.” Madlax dressed without modesty. Rimelda sat on the bed watching her.
“After dinner, I thought we might…” Madlax’s head disappeared into a shirt, emerging from the other end with, “…get some shooting practice in.”
“Perfect,” Rimelda nodded and rose to dress, knowing that Madlax’s eyes were on her the entire time.
They were on the road again, the car bouncing along an uneven surface only partially paved. They had stayed in the capital for two days, then moved out again in a direction chosen randomly from a map.
“I heard that there was a rebel camp out this way,” Madlax said, her hand stroking the gun on her thigh. “The commander was a reasonable man, once.”
Rimelda turned her head out of the wind. “What do you hope to find?”
“A reasonable man.” Madlax met her eyes seriously.
Rimelda turned her head to look at the road ahead. “Let’s go and see if we can find a reasonable man in this unreasonable land.”
The car continued on its way down the bone-jangling road for a time in silence. Rimelda turned to look at Madlax once again. “What are you thinking?” she asked.
Smiling tightly, Madlax gestured at the rifle Rimelda cradled lightly in her arms. “I envy that gun,” she said.
Rimelda held the gun out with both hands. “Do you want it?”
Madlax was silent for a moment, then shook her head. “No,” she said at last, “without your hands to hold it, it’s just a gun.”