A certain incredibly awesome thing was written for me, based on the characters of Merriman Lyon and Kaylee Frye from the Milliways RPG community. I do not consider this response to be anywhere near as awesome as the original thing -- but it is a response nonetheless.


Chess Metaphors: Passed Pawns

He has described the game to others in the past as a game that is often best left to old philosophers or to young warriors. One for the contemplation and deliberation involved, the other for the study of strategy and tactics. But those are not the only reasons to play chess.

They share bits and pieces of their worlds with each other across the chess board, sometimes deliberately and sometimes unknowingly. She explains the concept of digital paper, and what it means to send a 'wave' to someone. He, in turn, tells her about letters carried across the oceans by clipper ships, and the system of dots and dashes used to send messages at speeds that had never been dreamed of once upon a time. But they are only bits and pieces, mentioned in passing between moves or when a game has been concluded.

They respect each other's boundaries. Out of necessity, of course, and also out of deliberate choice. The barrier that keeps him from going forward is not the same as the one that keeps her from going back, but the barriers exist nonetheless.

Earth-That-Was.

Earth-That-Will-Be.

So when they catch glimpses of each other's worlds and times, they are only glimpses.

He wonders, on occasion, if people in her time have solved most the problems that once plagued his own. Or if circumstances have changed enough for some of those problems to simply not exist any longer. And if so, what new ones have arisen in their stead, and what kind of arguments are being used to consider those problems. And then he remembers that those problems are none of his concern.

The movement on the board in front of him brings his mind back to the game, and his eyes narrow slightly when he sees that Kaylee has moved her Queen's Rook pawn all the way across the board.

(Truthfully, he should have prevented it from getting that far. But she has somehow presented him with a rather complex problem in the other corner of the board, and all of his recent moves have been devoted to extricating one of his knights from a situation that he should have seen coming several moves ahead.)

'Well played, Your Majesty,' he murmurs, and slides one of his rooks backwards to provide an additional layer of protection for his king before renewing his assault.

'Beg pardon?'

He looks up. Kaylee is regarding him with a wary sort of half-smile, as if she can't quite tell whether the remark was meant to be teasing.

'I was addressing your new queen,' he replies simply, gesturing to the pawn. The baffled look in her eyes prompts him to elaborate. 'When a pawn reaches the other side of the board, it is promoted to the status of a queen. Same ability to move, same standing as an actual queen.'

The baffled look lasts for a moment longer, but then a tiny smile dawns on her face.

'Well then,' she says, eyes dancing at him. 'Two queens, huh? Didn't expect that to happen -- I just wanted to get it out of the way of that bishop of yours.' She points to his remaining bishop, the piece that had most recently had her king in check.

'Usually a good opponent will be able to intervene to stop a pawn from promoting.' He sounds suitably dour at the admission of his own oversight. 'But yes, if a pawn can make it all the way across the board, then the reward is promotion.'

The small smile widens considerably. 'I think I like the sound of that.'

Any number of replies leap immediately to his mind. It is not the wisest course of action, in proper game play. A queen's worth can be overestimated. Placing too much reliance on a passed pawn can endanger the remaining pieces, which may be more central to the endgame. Not even an extra queen can guarantee a final victory.

But there are boundaries that need to be respected.

So he merely reaches for his cup of tea, and nods to her. 'Your move.'


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