“Okay...so...this one can move here, right?”
Casey watched from beside the enormous chessboard as his new acquaintance lifted up a white plastic knight the size of small child between dainty blue fingers. It came back down with an audible thud in front of her line of trashcan-sized pawns, and he glanced up as the full attention of the forty foot tall young woman shifted to him.
Taking one look at her bright green eyes, he became infected with her smile. She lay on the grass of the city park, hastily printed chessboard set out before her, legs kicked up without a care in the world. He was the only person to muster up the courage to approach her when she'd taken a seat here and asked, with a great deal of volume, for a partner. She'd explained that she'd only just learned the rules online, and wanted to play with someone for real. That had been not even a half hour ago, but Casey felt he and Kieema were hitting it off alright.
“Yup, that’s just right,” he replied; stepping up onto the board and crouching down behind one of his pawns. Putting his shoulder to it, he shoved it forward two spaces.
“H-hey now, I can move things for you if you prefer,” she said, ears giving a flick as he waved her encroaching fingers off.
“That’s fine, umm. It’d ruin the novelty,” he said with a chuckle, leaning forward onto the huge piece. “Your move.”
A frustrated little harrumph issued from the giant girl her breath wafting over him in a cloud of citrus and mint. Taking a seat with his legs around the pawn and smirking to himself, Casey watched her twirl a finger in her fall of white curls as she thought. He’d have never used the word “adorable’ in relation to an alien the size of a house before the Alaerin had shown up; that much was for certain.
“Umm, here we go,” she said at length, sliding one of her own pawns forward, “I can do that right?”
“Mhmm.” he replied, uncurling his legs and kicking his own pawn forward a space. “You know the move pawns have to do to capture other pieces right?”
“Yup, diagonal,” she says, sliding one of her own two spaces up next to his. “So this guy is safe here right?”
“Well,” Casey replied, giving his a shove into the empty space behind it before standing and shoving hers over onto its side. “Nope.”
“Hwuh?” Was her simple reply as she looked at him, ears giving a flick as she tilted her head in consternation.
Oh she is just too cute when she’s flustered, Casey couldn’t help but think to himself. “Well, Pawns can only move two spaces on their first turn, that’s a special case...”
“Well, there’s another special case that says, if the other player has a pawn that could have captured it if it only moved one space, it still can.”
“That’s umm…why?” Kiiema asked, fidgeting in place a little as she regarded the board with a curious, but somewhat frustrated gaze.
“Without delving into thousands of years of historical context? Because,” Casey offered by means of explanation, backing out of the way as she took his advancing pawn in turn. “This isn’t a game where it’s good to ask why in regards to the rules, to be honest. Just focus on what they can do for you.”
“Oh, well, I guess that’s fair. Any more of those special cases I should know about?” The young Alaerin asked him, gaze laser like on him as he moved back to his own end of the board. Weaving through the pieces Casey wrapped his arms around a knight and heft it up.
“Ugh..umm, nope, not off the top of my head,” he replied, stumbling his way out of his rank of pawns to let the knight fall with a clunk. “If anything comes up I’ll explain it before it causes any grief next time.”
“Okay, thank you,” she said with a courteous nod. An excited squeak interrupted any further thoughts as she reached out with a smug grin. Grabbing her bishop she hurriedly moved it through the hole left by her missing pawn to flank his knight.
“Well you can’t take it my pawns will get your bishop,” Casey reminded her.
“And you can’t move it or you’re in check!” Kieema replied with a satisfied wriggle of her shoulders.
“Oh…” Turning around the human surveyed the board again, “...well, it’s umm, hard to get the big picture from down here.”
“Spoilsport,” she accused him, “What if I gave you a lift up huh? Ooh, or we could move over to a tree you could climb when you wanted a better look.”
“I’ll take it as a handicap I think,” Casey returned with a blush, “I umm...don’t think either will be necessary.”
“Oh alright,” his opponent replied, somewhat crestfallen, waiting for him to make his move.
The pace of the game picked up, then after awhile slowed back down following that. Rarely did Casey have to explain anything and, the further they got, the less energy he felt he had to do so anyway.
“Sure you’re not tiring out?” Kiiema asked once the board had been all but cleared of pieces, the smooth plastic objects sitting in piles beside it.
“May-maybe a little, but I need the exercise,” Casey replied with a smirk, “So...now what?”
“Well, hrmm...Now checkmate?” she replied with a raised eyebrow, moving her remaining rook to his back row. Observing the state of the board for a moment, Casey nodded.
“Yup...seems you’ve got me good,” he said, walking over to his king and leaning against it.
“Hee, beginners luck maybe?” Kiiema asked, taking her rook and toppling the piece over with care, the man leaning against it sent sprawling as well. She was blushing and giggling a little when he sat back up to regard her with curiosity.
He’d heard before that if an Alaerin knocked you over there were usually only two explanations. They were a complete klutz or they liked you, one of the two. “Maybe. I uhh, I am pretty beat here. You want to find out tomorrow though?”
That lit her green eyes right up, and her smile stretched from ear to quivering ear, “I’ll get us lunch afterwards even. Sound like a plan?”